The playground in my primary school at Scarborough had these great leafy trees growing that would drop lumpy, vibrant green pods on the ground. We would spend lunch time climbing and throwing them at each other.
One day a teacher came by us, picked one up and starting chewing on the insides. “Tamarind” he said and kept patrolling.
We just thought he was odd.
It would be years before I realised the potential of our playground playthings.
I got a second hand slow cooker from my Bro and his partner this week. Couldn’t have been more timely with the weather as it is in Bris.
I’ve never used one to be honest.At work we use large bain maries covered in foil in a very low oven. Often overnight.
It’s all about scale sometimes, cooking.
Caramelised Beef Shin w/ tamarind and shao xing (rice wine).
I got this on in the morning and it was done when we got home from school pick up. Brown the meat and place all the ingredients in a slow cooker, making sure everything is submerged with the lid on, turn on low and come back in 7-8 hours.Firstly, gently skim the fat off the top with a spoon. Next remove the vegetables and discard. Pick out the spices ( in hindsight a spice bag is a great idea) and run the liquid off through a strainer into a pot or pan and place on the stove on a high heat. Reduce the liquid until it becomes thick and sticky. This will take a while, about 45 minutes in our case. In the meantime remove the bones and any connective tissue from the beef. When the sauce is ready add the beef and toss well. The beef should be chunky, falling apart and sticky delicious.We had enough here for probably 6 people, unless you want seconds, which you probably will. We did. This a very rich, sweet dish and needs an appropriate accompaniment. Kid?
What Kid Did
Viet Style Green Salad. Ingredients – 1 zucchini, 1 continental cucumber, 1/2 a bunch spring onion, 1/2 a bunch Viet mint, 1 lime, 1 teaspoon fish sauce and 2 teaspoons of palm sugar, half a cup of raw peanuts.Kid peeled the cucumber and zucchini and I sliced them. Next the spring onions are washed and sliced thin. Kid toasted the peanuts on the stove and then ground them in the mortar and pestle. It’s important to let them cool before crushing, other wise you’ll have peanut paste.For the dressing combine the fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar and stir. Pick the mint and place everything in a bowl to toss. Do this as close to serving as possible to keep everything crisp. We also added some fresh wide rice noodles to our plates. Scatter extra peanuts on top and some sliced chilli for the big kids.
Ossobuco – osso – bone, buco- hole in Italian. Traditionally veal shank, we’re using the same cut from yearling beef. Short rib or cheek would do equally well in terms of flavour, texture and gelatinousness ( well it’s a word now anyway.)The same day I started making this dish, my dear friend Varunee posted photos of her husband and herself picking a heap of tamarind from some nearby trees, not far from my house. And here I am using a jar. (Varunee is an amazing Thai chef I once worked with, so I know something great will happen with these.)
Coincidence? Or part of some greater collective consciousness.
Or just something in the air as they say.
¶I wouldn’t pay it any mind, it’s just a shadow,
that he’s chasing.¶
I enjoy these cooking sessions with my daughter more and more. I don’t expect she’ll be making everything all by herself, it’s not about that. We buy the groceries together, do the prep together, cook and then eat together. And talk the whole while……
¶In a jingle jangle morning, I’ll come following you¶