This week, on the cusp of school holidays, we started a virtual food tour of the world. Looking  at a huge world map, we headed north east to the continent of Asia where we discussed rice being a staple food and the children listed  all the Asian dishes they knew of that were based on rice. We continued that discussion by looking at what countries the dishes originated. The rice dishes on our menu to cook were sushi, from Japan, and pad thai (using rice noodles) from Thailand.  Another dish we cooked and discussed was okonomiyaki – a Japanese savoury pancake. We used this dish to touch on multiculturalism and fusion foods. There were some fresh warrigal greens picked from the garden so we created our own fusion dish by adding these Australian greens to the okonomiyaki. We also made a chicken and sweet corn soup. The students particularly enjoyed slowly pouring in the beaten egg and seeing it transform in the soup as it cooked. Our final dish was crunchy steamed green beans with honey soy dressing, again, a combination of cultures. We were extraordinarily fortunate to have a gloriously sunny afternoon, so we took all the food outside and had an end of term picnic-style celebration.

The kitchen garden homework for the holidays is 3 fold – one, be a conscious consumer (understand what you are buying in terms of ingredients and provenance); two – try something new foodwise (if you are going overseas this is a wonderful opportunity to be a risk taker and open minded about the food of the world); three – cook something for your family. A wonderful idea I saw was a blog created by a 10 year old boy on a family holiday to India & Sri Lanka. He documented the new foods he tried with a photograph and description and then ranked the dishes out of 10. He also included his siblings ranking scores. I really encourage you to try this with your family. You can do it without leaving Melbourne, by planning trips to some of the fantastic restaurants we have that specialise in a country’s cuisine. Happy holidays!

 

Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup

Ingredients

4 corn cobs, kernels removed

¼ cup oil

2 onions, finely chopped

2 tablespoons ginger, grated

12 cups chicken stock (12 cups water ~ 3 litres + 4 stock cubes)

2 tablespoons soy or tamari

3 tablespoons Shabbat wine

4 eggs, lightly beaten (do this in a measuring jug)

spring onions, finely sliced to garnish

 

Method

Remove kernels from corn.

Heat oil in a pot and sauté onions and ginger for 2 minutes.

Add 12 cups of chicken stock and bring to the boil.

Add corn, soy and wine to stock and stir.

Very slowly pour the beaten egg into the soup in a slow and steady stream stirring continuously.

Garnish with spring onions.

 

 

Green Beans with Honey & Soy

Ingredients

1kg green beans, trimmed

100g sunflower seeds

1 teaspoon of olive oil

dressing

1/3 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons of honey

3 tablespoons soy (or tamari)

1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard

 

Method

Toast the sunflower seeds in the teaspoon of oil until golden.

Cook the beans in a saucepan of simmering, salted water until just tender (do not overcooks – only 2-3 minutes). Drain. Rinse under cold water. Drain again and set aside.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients.

Pour dressing over beans, toss to combine and then sprinkle over sunflower seeds.

 

 

Okonomiyaki – Japanese Pancakes

Ingredients

2 cups flour

1 cup cold water

2 teaspoons soy sauce (or tamari)

4 eggs, lightly beaten

salt to taste

4 spring onions, finely chopped

2 carrots, grated

4 cups finely shredded Chinese cabbage (wombok)

rice bran oil to fry

 

sauce

¼ cup mayonnaise (or Kewpie)

1½ tablespoons sweet chilli sauce

1½ tablespoons of soy sauce

 

Method

In a bowl mix flour, water and soy sauce. Add eggs and salt. Mix thoroughly with a whisk until the batter is smooth. Mix in the vegetables and make sure they are well coated in the batter.

Heat oil in a large frypan. Place spoonfuls of the mixture into the oil and flatten slightly with the back of a sppon. Cook for 2 minutes on each side or until golden.

Drain on a paper towel.

Whisk the sauce ingredients together and drizzle over pancakes or serve on the side.

 

 

Sushi

Ingredients

1kg uncooked sushi rice

150ml sushi rice vinegar OR 1 cup rice wine vinegar + ¼ cup mirin + ¼ cup sugar

1 packet dried nori sheets

1 avocado cut into strips

1 cucumber, deseeded and cut into thin strips

1 carrot, peeled and grated

1 can of tuna, drained and mixed with a tablespoon of mayonnaise

Omelette made with a spoon of soy and sugar

Toasted sesame seeds

 

Method

Cook rice in rice cooker. Whilst hot, spread on a large tray. Pour over seasoning and mix thoroughly. Let cool to room temperature.

Place a sheet of nori (shiny side down) on a bamboo sushi mat. Using moist fingers press approximately ¾ cup of prepared sushi rice evenly over the seaweed, only going up about 2/3 of the way.

In a horizontal row near the bottom of the rice, place veggies, tuna, etc and sesame seeds. Roll up into the sushi mat, pressing down and in so that a compact roll results.

Cut into 8 pieces and repeat with the rest of the rice.

 

 

Pad Thai

Ingredients

1 zucchini, peeled into ribbons (stop at the seeds)

3 carrots, grated

4 spring onion, finely sliced

250g firm tofu, drained and cut into small cubes

3 silverbeet leaves, finely sliced

1 large handful of snow peas, sliced into thin strips

1 handful of beanshoots

400g flat rice noodles

 

¼ cups soy or tamari

¼ cup water

¼ cup tomato paste

2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar

1½ tablespoons of sugar

1 teaspoon chilli flakes

½ cup of chopped coriander

1 lime or lemon

rice bran oil for cooking

Method

Sauce

Whisk together the soy sauce (or tamari), water, tomato paste, rice vinegar, sugar and chilli flakes.

Noodles

Prepare the noodles by placing them in boiling water for 4-5 minutes. They should be slightly undercooked as they will be cooked again with the veggies.

Pad Thai

Heat a large frying pan to medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of rice bran oil and then the tofu cubes. Fry the tofu until golden brown then remove the tofu from the pan and set it aside on a plate.

Add 2 more tablespoons of oil to the pan then add the spring onions, snow peas, been shoots and silverbeet stalks. Fry for 2 minutes then add the carrot, zucchini and silverbeet leaves and mix through. Fry for about another 2 minutes.

Add the tofu and half the sauce and mix well for 2 minutes.

Add the noodles and remaining sauce and toss to combine everything together. The dish should be moist but not mushy.

Serve with coriander garnish and fresh lemon juice squeezed over it.