Saturday, August 15, 2009

Kenya's Tusker and France's Desperados

Yes, you are in luck today. I'm also going to do a couple of beer reviews. I mean, I may as well, I'm drinking anyway. This is Tusker, the national beer of Kenya. This is the first African beer I've ever drank, and it's not bad at all. At 4.2% it's not the strongest lager in the world, but it's got a surprisingly robust flavour for how light it is. It's a pleasant dim amber colour and probably fits heavily into the 'thirst-quencher' category that a lot of beers from warmer climes tend to abide to. In a way, its quite similar to Keo, although I think that Cypriot beer may well be quite a bit stronger. Anyway. I like it a lot. Good fact about Tusker that I learned by reading the back of the bottle: Did you know that Tusker was the name the elephant that killed George Hurst, one of the founders of the brewery. And for some reason they saw fit to immortalise the homicidal pachyderm by naming the beer after it.

Let's be honest. Desperados is a girl's drink. I don't care if it's 5.9%, has tequila in it, or has a tough, Mexican wanted poster typeface on the bottle. El Mariachi or even Inspector Yuen from Hard Boiled would probably spit it out if they drank it. It tastes like Babycham. It pretends to be Mexican, when it's not, and it pretends to be a guy's drink, when it's not. It's a girl's drink. Fact. I'm just telling you this to put the review in context. I don't dislike it, the limeyness is pleasant, and it goes down very easily. It is very noticably intoxicating though, even though you can't really taste the tequila in it. There's also something very dry about it, putting it firmly in the 'drink to get pissed' rather than 'thirst quencher' category, which is what I like about Corona and Sol, the beers that Desperados seems desperate to ape, albeit in a much stronger way. Put it this way - I would buy a crate of this if I was trying to get blazing, but not just for the pleasure of drinking. Having said that, I gave one of the bottles to my wife and she said it was the best beer she had ever tasted. Ergo: girl's drink.

Cook Like A Bastard - Episode 2: Singapore Noodles

Ni hao, motherfuckers. You know, helping people is my game. I like to help people make delicious dishes to eat and enjoy alone and in company. I like to help share my knowledge and help show the poor, gastronomically retarded people who shop at Iceland and eat the same food all the time that it is easy to cook a decent meal from scratch for a decent price. And if you fuck with me, I will help you in another way. I will help you to die.

It's not just Ramsay I dislike, weak and ineffectual Jamie Oliver also ires me. Middle-aged women may love you, Jamie, but I can see through you. Jamie Oliver wouldn't last two seconds in the joint, unless he shaved his ass and became somebody's man-wife. He'd turn punk in a second, no doubt.

Enough of this sorry shit, Oliver.

This episode, I intend to show you how to make Singapore noodles, a curry-based noodle recipe that is the ultimate collision between Indian and Chinese cuisines. Quite how the Chinese got hold of curry, I don't know, but they certainly put it to good use in this spicy, savoury and deeply delicious dish. All qualities are relative. Feel free to jack up the chili rating if you so desire. Something that I didn't do, but would probably work well, is to add ground peanuts or cashews to the mix. Maybe next time.

What you need:
Noodles (rice noodles if you have them)
Mushrooms, chopped
Mangetout or petit pois
3 tablespoons groundnut oil
1 1/2 tablespoons of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
2 chilis, chopped
Water chestnuts, chopped
3 spring onions

And for the curry sauce element:
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
3 tablespoons store bought madras curry paste
2 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar or Shaoxing rice wine
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Half a can of coconut milk
175 ml of chicken or beef stock

For the egg element:
Couple of eggs
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

For the meat element:
Pork, ham, chorizo, prawns, chicken, or whatever meat you want to put in it

I find it helps to split this recipe into five phases: meat, spice, vegetable, curry, and egg. This recipe is actually unbelievably quick to put into practice, you will find that it's all the chopping and mixing that takes all the time. Prepare all the materials above before you start, mixing the curry and egg elements in separate bowls. First things first, boil your noodles for 3 to 5 minutes, then sieve it out. Then pour through some cold water and toss with a little sesame oil. This will stop the noodles from congealing in an unpleasant manner.

Put the noodles to one side and heat the wok. Always heat the wok before adding oil. Not quite sure why this is but I am reliably informed that it is good practice. If you are using pork or chicken add it now and stir fry until sealed. For chicken, give it a little longer. You don't want to mess with chicken. It can be a most unforgiving meat. When you don't see any pink left, pop in the garlic, ginger, chillis, onions, and stir fry that sucker until the meat is coated in its goodness. Then add the mushrooms, water chestnuts, mangetout or petit pois and spring onions. Stir fry until the mixture shrinks.

Now comes the moment of truth: dump in the noodles and stir like a maniac. Make sure it doesn't stick. You should add your curry mixture - which should be a thin and oily sauce - now. Continue to stir, making sure it doesn't stick. Give up around five minutes until the moisture has evaporated off. Then add the egg mixture and stir until the egg sets. Garnish with coriander leaves, or don't bother if you're a pleb, and serve with Tsingtao beer. Job done.

Give me a show, BBC.