7 July 2013

Missed posts

A few weeks back we had our neighbours over for a barbecue. We'd been talking about it for ages, but with the changes in climate in the UK, Spring has been the coldest for some 50 years, not to mention the rain. And so, a date for a barbecue has been difficult to find. But we did it finally.

I got some lovely chicken breasts and lamb leg steaks from our butcher and kicked off two recipes from Ye Olde Recipe Collection - Lamb Steaks with Chick Pea Mash from January 2010 and Yakitori Kebabs from March 2006.

The barbecue went well, even though the grill itself refused to co-operate and some of the dishes didn't work out. But I didn't get a chance to take photos and I completely forgot to blog about it. So here goes.

Lamb Steaks with Chick Pea Mash

Serves 4

600 ml vegetable stock
2 cans (of 400 g each) chick peas
1 tsp ground turmeric
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
40 g fresh flat-leafed parsley
salt and pepper to taste
4 lamb leg steaks of about 150 g each
1 tbsp Belazy Rose Harissa paste


  1. Make up the vegetable stock - I used 2 Oxo cubes to 600 ml boiling water - straight into a large deep pan and keep it boiling.
  2. Drain the chick peas and add to the stock, along with turmeric and stir in well, then let simmer for 5 - 10 minutes.
  3. Drain the stock away and mash the chick peas in a food processor to achieve a coarse texture.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice and olive oil.
  5. Cut the parsley coarsely and stir in as well, then season and set aside until needed.
  6. Trim off fat from the steaks if needed, then rub in the harissa all over and grill them to desired done-ness.
  7. I recommend turning the steaks every minute, rather than leaving for longer on each side, this way, the steaks tend to remain juicier.
  8. Serve with the chick pea mash.

The lamb leg steaks were really nice, the butcher made them to order and was only able to keep the bone on two of them. The harissa was fairly mild, I would have preferred the meat spicier. But on the whole very tasty. The butcher recommended using rump for steaks - perhaps not as flavourful, but a bit more tender.

The big disappointment was the chick pea mash and partly my fault, I put too much lemon in the mixture, so it was quite over-powering. However, the texture was nice. Just make sure to start with smaller amounts of spices and taste and add to reach a good balance. I also made the mash a day in advance.

Yakitori kebabs

Serves 4

400 - 500 g chicken breasts
4 tbsp Japanese Soya Sauce
2 tbsp Yutaka Japanese Mirin
1 tbsp honey
2.5 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 large clove of garlic, peeled and pressed


  1. Trim the chicken breasts and cut into thin strips, about 1.5 cm thick.
  2. Place the chicken strips in a double plastic bag, then add the remaining ingredients to the bag.
  3. Tie each of the bags separately, try to squeeze out most of the air.
  4. Toss around the bags to coat the chicken with the marinade, then leave in the fridge overnight
  5. When ready to grill, either skewer the strips onto bamboo skewers or simply cook in a barbecue wok for a few minutes.

I ended up marinating these for over 24 h and Lundulph who was managing the barbecue itself over-cooked them as the temperature was too high and the skewers wouldn't play along, so he transferred to the barbecue wok and blackened everything to make sure we wouldn't eat raw chicken.

What we ended up with was fairly similar to the shredded duck available at Chinese restaurants and take-aways in the UK. The marinade was rather good. I didn't know what Mirin is, so I can tell you now - it's white wine. I guess made on rise or such. It tasted funny, so definitely cooking ingredient rather than accompaniment, but perhaps it was the brand that was at fault here and I'm not an expert, far from it.

But the chicken was really nice and I'd definitely make it again.

I also decided to make kyopoolu, but again due to the difficulties in working the barbecue in the windy weather, the aubergines didn't cook properly and the goo I ended up with released loads of liquid and refused to keep together even after removing loads of the stuff. Obviously our dear neighbours were very nice about it, but it was horrendous and this is the first time I've truly failed at this simple dish.

I ended up making a second batch from frozen stock (made in the pepper roaster!) just to assure myself that I've not lost it all together and I've just today bought some lovely big aubergines and peppers and will try to make some more tomorrow and also take some to the neighbours so they get to taste the real thing.

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