Tag Archives: food

Tom Kha Goong – Thai prawn soup

WR8A9383Until I worked with Thai chefs I thought Tom Yum soup was Tom Yum soup. There are actually many variations; all different and delicious in their own way. Now here’s a quick Thai lesson as I see it:

Tom Kha = Creamy soup (coconut cream or evaporated milk)

Tom Yum = Clear soup

Gai = Chicken

Goong = Prawns

Talay = Seafood

Here is my recipe for my favorite Thai soup, Tom Kha Goong, or spicy prawn and lemongrass soup with coconut and mushrooms. Feel free to use chicken stock but I actually prefer to shell the prawns and use the heads and shells to make my own prawn stock.


Tom Kha Goong
Serves 6
Thai prawn, coconut and lemongrass spicy soup
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Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
45 min
  1. 200g Prawns
  2. 800ml Chicken Stock (or prawn stock)
  3. 2 sticks Lemongrass
  4. 3-4 Fresh red chilli
  5. 100g Straw mushroom (canned is still ok)
  6. 100g punnet Cherry tomatoes
  7. 3cl Garlic
  8. 1knob ginger (or galangal)
  9. 2-4 Limes (juice)
  10. Fish sauce (nam pla) - to taste
  11. 1/2 bunch Coriander
  12. 200ml Coconut cream (or evaporated milk)
  13. 6 Kaffir lime leaves
  1. Peel and slice the ginger, slice the garlic and slice the lemongrass and chilli (reserve some chilli for garnish).
  2. Pound lightly the kaffir lime leaves with your knife handle to release some of the oils.
  3. Bring the stock to the simmer and add the ginger, garlic, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and chilli. Infuse for 15-20 minutes. Halve the mushrooms and add to the soup with the whole cherry tomatoes and prawns and gently cook until the prawns are just done.
  4. Add the coconut cream.
  5. Season with some fish sauce and lime juice and a little sugar if you like.
  6. Transfer to bowls and finish with some of the reserved chilli and coriander.
MacLean Fraser http://macleanfraser.com/

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Brawn w smoked oysters, celeriac remoulade and cider reduction

Brawn w pickled tongue, smoked oysters and vanilla cider reduction

You can’t get much more old school than brawn. If you haven’t tried it you’re really missing out, just don’t be put off that it is essentially a jellied boiled pigs head. If you don’t want to make it with the other accompaniments then you can serve a big slice of it with some crusty baguette and chutney. 

Brawn with smoked oyster, crackling, cider and celeriac
Serves 12
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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Total Time
4 hr 45 min
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Total Time
4 hr 45 min
  1. 1 pigs head
  2. 2 carrots
  3. ½ leek
  4. 2 sticks celery
  5. 3 cl garlic
  6. 3 bay leaves
  7. 2 sprigs thyme
  8. 1 onion
Pickle mix
  1. 400ml Red wine vinegar
  2. 400g Sugar
  3. 800ml water
  4. 4 star anise
  5. 4 cloves
  6. 4 bay leaves
  7. 2 sprig thyme
  8. 12 peppercorns
  9. 8cl garlic
  10. 1 tspn Coriander seeds
Pork crackling
  1. pork skin
  2. salt
Tea-smoked oysters
  1. 1 dozen oysters
  2. 50g Brown sugar
  3. 50g Jasmine tea
  4. 50g Rice
Vanilla and Cider reduction
  1. 500ml Cider
  2. 200ml Apple juice
  3. 1 Vanilla pod
Celeriac Remoulade
  1. Celeriac
  2. Mayo
  3. Wholegrain mustard
  4. Italian Parsley
Brawn part 1
  1. Remove tongues and set aside to pickle.
  2. Soak heads in running water to remove any blood.
  3. Place in a pot with the peeled carrots and all other ingredients, top with water and simmer until meat is falling off the bone.
For the tongues
  1. Simmer tongues in pickling mix until very tender (may need to top up with water if it evaporates too much).
  2. Set aside and remove outside skin and any fat etc. Roughly shred.
Brawn assembly
  1. Pass and keep the veg.
  2. Shred the meat medium coarse, discarding any sinew and skin/bones.
  3. It’s nice if you keep some skin, fat and anything that isn’t bone.
  4. Dice three carrots and mince with your knife one onion and one leek. Mix together with the pickled tongue the meat and veg, season, roll tight and torque in glad wrap (or set in a terrine mould) and leave to set overnight.
For the crackling
  1. Scrape fat off back of pork skin and score, cut into 1cm x 5cm pieces, season, press and roast in a hot oven until crispy.
For the smoked oysters
  1. Allow smoke mix to get going well before placing oysters on rack over it
  2. Turn off flame-cover loosely –allow to infuse, store in light olive oil w bouquet garni.
For the reduction
  1. Split vanilla pod and scrape the seeds out into the pot, combine all ingredients and simmer to a light syrup.
For the remoulade
  1. Julienne celeriac, soak in acidulated water.
  2. Drain and dry, fold though mayo, add dijon to taste and chopped herbs.
  3. Season.
MacLean Fraser http://macleanfraser.com/


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Why I love Thai food


As I sit at the over water bar on my day off, computer on my lap and cocktail in my hand, I turn to my wife and ask what “would you like to do for dinner?” This is always a big decision for me and sometimes drives my wife up the bend. Despite what most people think about chefs, I am not a fussy eater, I will try almost anything and enjoy any food no matter how simple or humble if it is done well. Deciding what to eat sometimes can be a big decision; sometimes it’s all so good! “Let’s have Thai” my wife responds and I happily agree.

View from Italian looking over pool bar

I am all about Thai food right now and have always appreciated it since trying “real Thai” during my first posting in Asia. When at Pacific Regency hotel in KL I had the pleasure of overseeing a Thai restaurant. Luckily for me the whole Thai kitchen brigade were Thai and were led by a very talented cook Alex (real name unknown). Most of the experiences I had (thought) I had with Thai food back home had actually been watered down and “westernized” versions of stock standard Thai staples. Often cooked by non-Thai and executed poorly.


Why do I have such a soft spot for Thai food? Perhaps it reminds me of good times. It’s fresh and spicy with clean, vibrant and clearly defined flavors;  many things that many great dishes aspire to be irrespective of style or country of origin. It has appeal to everyone, whether sitting in the fine dining Thai restaurant on the 23rd story of my old hotel in KL with my then girlfriend (later my fiancee then wife) or sitting with old friends in a car park on cheap plastic tables and chairs in Bangkok it’s just so goddamn enjoyable. Apparently there’s a chemical in chili’s which react with the receptors in the tongue the same way as heat (no shit) and register as burning, this pain causes the body to release endorphin’s. So it’s fresh, spicy and gives you endorphin’s… what more could you want?!


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Lamb rack recipe and E-book on it’s way…

Here’s a preview of the upcoming E-book. For this particular recipe I used  Leelands lamb shoulder racks. Leelands Lamb is run by Bill French in Invercargill, New Zealand and in my opinion their lamb is one of the best in the world. Here I have used a lamb shoulder rack and cooked it pink. Unless you have a very high quality lamb shoulder then I would suggest you use a traditional lamb rack for this.

Dukkah crusted lamb w artichokes, beetroot & brains


Spice crusted lamb shoulder rack, salt n pepper brains, Jerusalem artichokes, broad beans, beetroot puree
Serves 8
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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
30 min
Lamb brains
  1. one per person
Lamb racks
  1. ½ rack per person
Court Bouillon
  1. (see basics)
Salt n pepper flour
  1. 500 gr tempura flour
  2. 2 T gr. black pepper
  3. 2 T sea salt
  4. 2 t seven spice
  5. 2 nori sheets toasted-ground
  6. Spiced beetroot puree
  7. 20g coriander seeds
  8. 20g cumin seeds
  9. 5 g allspice
  10. 1kg beetroot
  11. 60g greek yoghurt
  12. 30ml olive oil
  13. 2 tspn balsamic
  1. Jerusalem artichokes
  2. Broad beans
  1. Store bought or make your own (see basics)
For the spice flour
  1. Grind together the spices and mix well with the flour.
  2. Keep in an air tight container.
For the brains
  1. Combine all the court bouillon ingredients together and simmer for 15mins to infuse.
  2. Drop the brains in, simmer for 2mins and then remove from the heat and leave for 5-10mins, then drain.
  3. Can cool in the fridge for later use or use straight away.
  4. Dust in the salt n pepper flour and deep fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and season.
For the puree
  1. Bake the beetroot in the oven at 160 with a cup of water until tender. (This will take about an hour). Check half way through to make sure the water hasn’t evaporated; you only need about a centimetre in the bottom of the tray.
  2. Once cooked remove, discard the water and rub off the skins while still hot. You will want to use disposable gloves for this.
  3. Roast off the spices and grind to a powder.
  4. Cut the beetroot roughly and while still hot blend together with all the other ingredients.
  5. Season.
For the veg
  1. Peel the artichokes and cook in salted water until just cooked.
  2. If you overcook they will turn to mush.
  3. Peel the broad beans and wash.
To serve
  1. Roast the lamb roll in dukkah after resting for 10mins then carve.
  2. Pan fry thin slices of the Jerusalem artichokes in a little oil, butter and garlic.
  3. Add broad beans at the end.
  4. Serve the lamb on the artichokes and broad beans with beetroot puree, the fried brains and a little jus and herbs.
MacLean Fraser http://macleanfraser.com/

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The Nasty Bits

imagesI was reading an interview with a chef recently who when asked for his favorite quote replied “you can’t polish a turd”. Despite bringing to mind the Coogee Bay Hotel saga (go on, Google it) in my opinion he’s right. And wrong… It’s near impossible to take something that is bad quality and make it into something fine dining but what is the definition of a ‘shit’ ingredient? Too many people equate high quality with the choice cuts, the expensive parts; so much of the definition of what is good and bad is dependent on what is in fashion at the time. What makes a fillet for example ‘better’ than a trotter or the tail, because it’s fast or easy? If you go back a while lamb shanks were discarded or animal food, in the 90’s lamb shanks were on everyone’s menu. The same can be said about oxtail and pork belly, although some things like tripe have never come into the mainstream of what is cool. I think there has been a fascination towards the ‘nasty bits’ as Anthony Bourdain has put it; that which was made edible through invention born of necessity many years ago has become somewhat desirable. Take for example the popularity of St. Johns and the nose to tail books.

Cooking is all about transformation. In its simplest form it is the transformation of something inedible to edible through the direct application of heat. When our ancestors discovered fire and the most rudimentary forms of cooking it’s what allowed us to have a high protein diet and made our brains grow bigger (so I’m lead to believe). Anyone can take a piece of beautifully marbled prime beef fillet and with the most basic of instruction produce something sellable. Taking something that most people would normally throw away and turning it into something delicious that people would pay a premium for is where the true skill lies (and also helps the bank balance). A terrine made of all the odds and ends that normally end up in the bin can be a thing of beauty. Where is the skill in taking something already great and turning it into something that is equally great. If you have the most amazing ingredients then why bother transforming them at all? A beautiful piece of freshly caught Tuna or Salmon, all you need to do is slice it and put it on a plate, is it really any better after you’ve seared the edges? That comes down to someone’s personal taste but if you cook it to well done surely it is ruined.

Using “bad” ingredients is good for the world. I hate to think how much food is put into the bin every single day. If anyone thinks that wastage doesn’t matter they should read the chapter in Thomas Keller’s French Laundry entitled “the importance of rabbits”. I read that and couldn’t agree more. I think people are blasé about throwing food in the bin because it has become all too easy, there’s no work in making food anymore. I know of someone who was a “vegetarian” but would eat meat if it was ground into mince but refused to touch it without gloves, but was then quite happy to ingest it. No doubt well done and with an abundance of processed tomato sauce. How did we become so disassociated with where our food comes from?

Food is what comes out of the box and into the microwave, chicken is what you get skinless and boneless and vacuum packed in the poultry section of the supermarket. I wonder would you think twice throwing away that drumstick if you had to grow the chicken, feed it for months, pluck it and had to have looked it in the eye as you brought down the axe…? But that’s the reality, animals need to die in order for us to have the pleasure of eating them and the very least we can do is have the respect to make sure we use every part. And in today’s economic climate with people concerned about increasing costs and decreased revenue as a chef it also makes economic sense.

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