Thursday 26 January 2012

Storms - pictorial

But never have I been a blue calm sea
I have always been a storm
               Stevie Nicks

Darwin has recently been subject to a period of hot dry weather. We recorded 8 days without rain. This is a little unusual in the middle of a wet season, not out of the ordinary but it had the locals up in arms demanding rain and the cooler weather that it brings. Our local newspaper, The NT News, which on a good day has little to report and generally fills the paper with stories about crocodiles and people catching fish, made a meal of this with headlines such as "It Might Rain".
I made the most of the time, photographically, as we get some spectacular sunsets with the sun setting directly over the ocean and often with monsoonal cloud formations.
Sunset looking West from Fanny Bay

But eventually a "monsoonal system" moved in to the top end. Don't ask me what a monsoonal system is, the person on the weather report drops that phrase like he is dropping litter along the Arnhem Highway. (There is a lot of litter along that stretch of road).
The monsoonal system brought rain and strong winds. This brought a week of light rain culminating in a torrential downpour of 177mm on 25th January.
Along with the wind came some storm driven swells that turned our normally placid ocean into pounding surf.

Nightcliff Jetty - closed due to the conditions.

Storm Waves
Risking a dumping
Now I know that many readers, both of you, can probably show pictures of bigger waves, but it is all relative, normally this is as flat and calm as a mill pond. It is all relative.

As a final point, all outdoor celebrations for Australia Day (26 Jan) have been cancelled due to our inclement weather.
The Bludger is keeping dry inside.

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Cooking with Rambutan

Rambutan are fairly cheap and plentiful at the moment and I have been eating a fair few. I have learnt however that they don't last long on the shelf. I have since learnt to keep the majority in the fridge and pull a few out each day.
However I wanted to discover if there was more that I could do with these fruits. So a bit of Googling later.
The seed is quite large and looks quite appealing, I wondered if it was edible. The answer is no the seeds are not edible as they contain a toxin. However the Thais prepare them in a sort of Chutney, they boil the seeds which must leech the toxin out. That did not seem appealing.
Oil can be extracted from the seed. This can be used to make Candles. I wonder what happens to the toxin in that extraction process?
I did come across a recipe called Savory (sic) Stuffed Rambutan  there were a couple of sites that had variations of the recipe, the above one was the most complete recipe.
However this lacks some detail. What gets stuffed? In fact as far as I could see nothing. How are the Rambutans prepared? Cut? Sliced? Whole? No idea and no details.
Despite the lack of detail I decided that I should try to make a variation of this. What sprung to my mind was cooking the above and presenting it in lettuce leaves. Very much like San Choy Bow. It would need a slight modification to the recipe. Here is what I came up with.

Recipe - Savoury Rambutan in Lettuce Cups.
This made 5 lettuce cups. Quantities are approximate, not strictly measured, vary to suit your own palate and number of serves.
1 Garlic Glove - finely chopped, not minced.
1 Carrot - finely diced.
1/2 small white onion - diced finely.
75g Mixed Pork(55%) & Veal(45%) Mince. You could use all Pork.
1/3 Cup Coriander Root finely chopped
1/3 Cup Coriander leaves coarse chopped
2 Tablespoons crushed roasted peanuts
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon brown sugar, the original recipe called for Palm Sugar
1 small chilli (hot) chopped and deseeded
5 Rambutans, removed from shell, flesh taken off the seed and coarse chopped.
Small quantity vegetable oil
4 - 6 Lettuce Cups. I used a Cos as it was all that I had available. Iceberg gives round cups.

Ingredients ready to go.
 In a frying pan cook the coriander root and garlic until the flavours are released. About 60 seconds.
Turn up the heat and add the meat, cook until the pink dissapears, then add the Onion, Carrot, Peanuts, Soy Sauce, brown Sugar and Chilli. You are looking for a fairly dry consistency and a quick cook. Fry it don't let it stew in any juices released from the meat.
Add the Rambutan and Coriander Leaves. Stir for another 30 - 60 seconds.
Spoon the mixture onto Lettuce Cups and serve.
Served and ready to pop into the mouth

It tasted OK and would make a viable alternative to San Choy Bow as an entree or starter. There were a few crunchy bits when eaten, I don't think that they were intended. I could not work out whether this was bits of skin left on the Rambutan, the sugar (which was crystalline) or the Peanuts or I had not washed the lettuce thoroughly. I think it was the sugar with hindsight, I probably should have put that in with the meat before the other ingredients.
The Bludger did not go hungry that night.