It may be a little obvious from the lack of posts on here lately but I have been taking a bit of a break from blogging. Cooking at the moment is a little limited (I’m one of those cooks who take over the entire kitchen when cooking, and never cleans up as they go – not ideal behaviour while we’re staying in someone else’s house!), not to mention the fact that my styling props and camera equipment are spread out across my car, a cupboard at Mum’s place and a box stashed in the spare bedroom here, making it somewhat of a challenge to shoot whatever I make.
When we first realised that we would need to move out of our place for a few months while it was being renovated, not being about to cook/style/shoot new creations – or ‘create’ in the first place, worried me a little. This is my main hobby and a creative outlet that I have come to love and look forward to. Yet it’s actually being a really refreshing break to have a bit of a spell – to know that I don’t have to come up with a new recipe each week, and then shoot and style it to put on the blog. Don’t get me wrong, I do love this process, but it’s nice to not have the pressure that I sometimes put on myself to produce new content for the blog every few days. It’s made me remember why I created this space in the first place, which was to share my love of cooking, which gets a little lost when I’m churning out dishes and posts just for the sake of it.
But – while I am enjoying the break and doing different things in my spare time – I am very much looking forward to cooking, and photographing, in my new kitchen which is now only a few weeks off. Can. Not. Wait.
One dish I have been playing around with a bit over the past few weeks is this san choi bau salad. This dish was actually created after somewhat of a cooking fail – I was attempting to make san choi bau in the traditional way (albeit a vegetarian version) and the lettuce that I was using to wrap the mixture in kept tearing and breaking, spilling the contents all down my face, shirt front and onto the floor, much to my disappointment and the dog’s delight – she happily lapped up all of the pieces bouncing off my lap and falling messily onto the floor. I’m not sure if she actually liked the spicy pieces of lentil and mushroom that she quickly gobbled up or if she was just happy to be eating the same food as I was. I often snack on raw carrot sticks and she will sit next to me ever so patiently until I share a small bite with her – yet if I ever put carrot in her food bowl she refuses to eat it. Fussy much!?
The recipe for this san choi bau mix contains a slightly long ingredient list though I recommend sourcing as many ingredients as you can to get the best flavour. Most of the ingredients can be found at any supermarket – or you may even already stock them in your pantry. I first cooked this recipe at my Mum’s place, and she has a jar of white pepper left over from a previous dish but when making it at home I substitute finely ground black pepper here. The taste is different but the amount is small so it should still work fine.
Though the novelty factor isn’t quite there with this salad as opposed to the wraps, it makes for a much simpler and easier to assemble dish, and the flavour and texture is still the same with the bed of crispy, cool salad greens nursing the warm filling.
- 250g mushrooms, diced
- 1 can brown lentils
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 small birds eye chilli, diced
- 1 Tbsp chopped coriander root + stems
- 2 Tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)
- 1 rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp white pepper
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- ¼ cup loosely packed coriander leaves, plus extra to serve
- Mixed salad greens
- Combine the tamari, vinegar, ground coriander and pepper in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large fry pan, and add the aromatics ((garlic through coriander stems) and fry around 1 minute until fragrant.
- Add mushrooms and cook 3 - 4 mins. Add the lentils together with the sauce and cook a few minutes until the sauce has evaporated.
- Stir through the sesame oil and chopped coriander leaves. Allow to cool slightly then serve over salad greens, topped with extra coriander.