Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Defying The Odds

For some reason, as we were moving up here to Stirling from the Adelaide Plains we forgot to ask about the rainfall. In the ensuing 6 years we have discovered the bleeding obvious - it RAINS & RAINS & RAINS!

In fact Stirling is the wettest place in South Australia, receiving an average of 1200mm. (47 inches) of rain per year - more than twice the average of Adelaide. The mean Summer temperatures are about 5C. (9F.) lower than in Adelaide, attested by the plummeting thermoter in my car as I climb the Freeway home from the city in the late arvo.

It also explains why Stirling is often recommended as a good place to lob for new arrived Pommie migrants, again attested by a recent conversation overhead at the Stirling Chicken Shop between the owners Zack, Luke & Jim & a couple of newly transplanted Pommie locals. 'For the 50th time we don't have cod & chips on the menu, & just because it's called butterfish doesn't mean it's deep fried in butter!!!' Our Winters too are decidedly chilly, with average maximum temp. across June/July/August & often beyond, of a nippy 11C. (52F.)

So I reckon these pics of our Kaffir lime tree & red hot chillies are a minor miracle, seeing as we have just had another rubbish Summer, following on from last year, where I wore a cardie right through January! The kaffir was brought up from our old house at Unley & has amazed us with it's vigorous growth up here in Chillsville. It's now over 7' tall & continues to provide the entire neighbourhood & most of my clients with their regular supply of leaves for Thai cooking.

The recipe below is one of my favourite ways to use up the chillies & lime leaves & although it's very fiddly, is well worth the effort. It's a Saturday arvo job & after a good simmer in the sauce, the meat from the short ribs just falls from the bones.

Thanks to you all for your excellent messages of sympathy & support re the dodgy knee. I'm feeling a lot better today & managed to drive to Foodland & shuffle around with the trolley. Back to work tomorrow for a very big day, more of that to come. Suffice to say, that metaphorical train I've been on is just about to pull into the Station big time!

Red curry of beef with green peppercorns, wild ginger and holy basil (from the gorgeous
Martin Boetz of Longrain)
Serves 6
Prep time: 45 mins. Cook time: 3 hrs 30 mins (plus cooling)

150gm. coconut oil
1kg. meaty beef short ribs, (Martin uses boneless but I prefer them with the bones) cut into 4cm. pieces (my butcher Chris is always happy to do this for me, bless him!)
500ml. (2 cups) chicken stock, brought to the simmer
300ml. coconut cream, brought to the simmer
50ml. fish sauce, or to taste
1 tablespoon palm sugar, or to taste
1 tablespoon wild ginger (which is labelled as krachai in and is available in jars from the Asian grocer)
3-4 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
1 long red chilli, deseeded & thinly sliced
1 stalk fresh green peppercorns (generally hard to find so I substitute a dessertspoon of the preserved ones from the jar, sorry Martin)
1 cup each (firmly packed) holy basil leaves (Stirling Fruit Shop is now stocking them - yay!)

Red curry paste
1 red onion, roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
4 coriander roots, scraped and cleaned
(4cm piece) fresh galangal, thinly sliced (easy to find these days, hooray!)
50gm. smoked trout, coarsely flaked (MOTH scoffs off the remainder in a flash on a cracker bikkie with a slurp of horseradish cream!)
10 long dried red chillies, seeds removed, soaked in warm water for 15 mins, drained
1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon dried shrimp paste, roasted in a piece of aluminium foil in the oven for a few minutes until 'fragrant' (I keep ours stored in an old Moccona coffee jar which MOTH has stuck a label on that reads OO PONG Shrimp Paste!)
1 tablespoon white or black peppercorns, coarsely ground in the little mortar & pestle (no need to bring the Big Daddy job out for this!)

Cucumber relish
200ml rice wine vinegar
150gm caster sugar
2 coriander roots, scraped and cleaned
1 pickled garlic head (again picked up in a jar from the Asian grocer)
1 Lebanese cucumber, diced
5cm piece of fresh ginger, cut into julienne
1 red shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 long red chilli, deseeded & julienned
1/2 cup loosely packed coriander leaves

1. For red curry paste, pound onion, garlic, coriander roots and galangal in a large mortar and pestle to a coarse paste, then transfer to a food processor. Pound remaining ingredients (except peppercorns) with 1 tbsp sea salt to a coarse paste, then add to processor or blender and process to a smooth paste, stir through pepper. Makes 250ml. (stores in the fridge for 5-6 days & freezes really well in a little glass jar clearly labelled)

2. For cucumber relish, combine vinegar, sugar, coriander root and garlic in a small saucepan, bring to the boil, remove from heat, strain and cool to room temperature. Combine cucumber, ginger, shallot, chilli and coriander leaves in a bowl, add vinegar mixture and set aside. Makes about 300ml.

3. Melt coconut oil in a large saucepan over low-medium heat, add curry paste and 1 teaspoon sea salt, stir until fragrant and roasted (10-15 mins). Add beef, cook until sealed (2-3 mins). Add stock and coconut cream, cook until fragrant (2-3 mins). Season to taste with a slurp of fish sauce and palm sugar, cook over low heat until meat is tender (2½-3 hrs), adding more stock if necessary. Add ginger, lime leaves, chilli and peppercorns and season to taste – it should be hot, salty and sweet. Add basil, simmer for 5 mins, then serve scattered with kaffir lime and chilli, with steamed rice and cucumber relish to the side.

Image & recipe: Gourmet Traveller



  1. Glad you are at least back on your feet!
    This sounds delish but maybe a bit ambitious for one learning to cook things that take 5 minutes and are edible!!!!!
    This summer has been rubbish everywhere! I am on call again (Red Cross) to go to Cowra or Forbes but with bag and car packed dogs organised for the kennels it seems that fortunately it is not as bad as they thought it might be so I will probably sleep in my own bed tonight!!!

  2. What time will it be ready and shall I bring red or white?

  3. YUMM! That sounds (and looks) seriously good.

    Glad to hear you're feeling a lot better Millie... and have a good day at work, no matter how big the day


  4. Millie - How can you possibly be ready to go back to work!? Surely you need a few more weeks to recuperate? Is this platform 9 and 3/4 bound for Hogwarts? Oh do tell. What excitement. I can hear the background melody: "Head and shoulders, knees and toes." Don't slip in the wet. Deb x

  5. Cod & chips sounds good, but so does Australian fish & chips - that's the one thing I miss about Australia the most!

    Good luck going back to work - I can't believe you are returning to work so soon!

  6. I was surprised to hear from, your recovery time must be record breaking. I can't wait to find out the details of the next stop on your railway of life. We do not want anymore train wrecks. I am so amazed at the food you cook up, there is so much Asian influence. Some of the ingredients, I have never even heard of. Exotic! or maybe I'm just country. No matter, I would love to try them all. I hope you really are doing better and not just making out for our sakes. All my love, Heidi

  7. Last things first. The recipe had my tastebuds a tingling just reading through the ingredients and it's now filed in my 'must try' recipe folder - thank you.

    As for the knee and returning to work - 'Yikes!' - I hope that the remainder of the week is gentle and you've got a good cushion you can elevate the leg onto.

    Your geography lesson was terrific as yours is a pocket of the world I know very little about and yet from following 'The Hedge', am totally intrigued by - once again, thank you.

    Here's to a smooth ride into the weekend Millie!

  8. I hate hearing about your knee, S.O.M., if I lived closer, I'd come run your errands and cook this delicious curry for you! Here's to the train coming in, I hope it is a wonderful, wonderful thing.
    xo isa

  9. Hi Millie,

    You are not the only one to have a rubbish summer, it has been like that over here too.
    The first year that we have not been swimming in the sea, shame on us... sookies we are, I know.
    Glad to hear that you are feeling better and good luck with going back to work.
    Look forward to hearing about the train arrival.


  10. Millie,

    I am sending you a "Hello" from across the miles. I am trying to get on a new train but so far it is taking a different route. I hope your train soon comes chugging along. Like the little train that kept saying "I think I can, I think I can," You will!!!


And none will hear the postman's knock
Without a quickening of the heart.
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?
~W.H. Auden

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