Monday, 30 November 2009

Sherpa's Pie

I enjoy experimenting with ideas. Especially when it comes to food and even more so if it involves a healthy amount of punning, such as with Mussel Re:Laksa and Ham Hockusai. One idea that Gilly and I developed was around the idea of fusion food, but rather than being based on the cuisines of the Pacific Rim, it combines and merges the foods of the British Empire.

We thought it would be fun to take classic English dishes and give them an exotic twist. And on other occasions take exciting dishes from the old British Empire and give them a British spin. Our best example so far is Sherpa’s Pie which, essentially, is a lamb curry with turmeric mashed potato on top - a Himalayan twist on the classic Shepherd's Pie. We loved it as an idea because it seemed to capture our silly concept perfectly. And I love it even more now that I’ve made it!

All you need to do is rid your mind of preconceptions and any niggling doubts about the lack of authenticity and embrace an interesting idea. Here’s how to make it.

Toast a sprinkling of fennel seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and cinnamon. Then grind to a fragrant dust and add garam masala. Then add 3 finely chopped chillies, a large knob of grated ginger and some rock salt. Add some oil to form a spicy paste and then rub most of this all over your shoulder of lamb.

Add 10 quartered and deseeded tomatoes to the roasting pan along with 4 roughly chopped onions. Cover the tomatoes and onions in the rest of your paste and drizzle with oil. Roast in a hot oven for 20 minutes until the top has browned. When you open the oven door the smell should have you gasping for air and yearning for more at the same time. Turn the shoulder over so the spices on the underside turn brown as well. Roast at a high heat for a further 10-15 minutes and then transfer to a cooler oven (of if you’re not using an Aga turn the oven down). Let this burble away for 4 hours. When the meat starts to yield pour a jar of passata around the outside. Cook for another hour and then when you can see that the meat is yielding remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Spiced shoulder of lamb

Now, boil a panful of potatoes in salted water and sprinkle around a tablespoon of turmeric into the water. It should turn the potatoes an alarming shade of yellow. Once cooked drain and mash with butter, milk and plenty of seasoning.

Layer of spinach

Sherpa's pie in the oven

Pull the, now cooled, lamb shoulder apart and shred the meat. It should tease apart with a fork. Remove the bones and any superfluous fat. Transfer the meat and sauce to a casserole dish and test the seasoning. Then add a layer of spinach followed by the yellow mashed potato. Place this in the oven to heat through and mingle.

Spooning Sherpa's Pie

Serve with a bottle of Cobra beer.

Sherpa's Pie

I grinned throughout the cooking process and even more so when it came to eating it. I’m sure many people would be horrified by the idea of putting mashed potato on a curry. But I can assure you it worked brilliantly. Some have suggested using goat or yak for a bit of added authenticity. I will next time!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Our Worst Lunch of the Year at The Albany, Thames Ditton

Inspired by our successful gourmet cycling expedition to Lewes, we embarked on a more local mission across Richmond Park for Sunday lunch at The Albany. The restaurant’s website and reviews inspired confidence. In particular the prospect of a rotisserie and wood fired oven made pedalling seem less strenuous.

Our cycle ride was not without incident. A diversion in Putney sent us on a comical route around Roehampton back to the same place in some sort of Winnie the Pooh-esque hunt for Heffalumps in 100 Acre Wood. But in general the route was a doddle. The highlight was a safari ride through Richmond Park where we dodged deer and half spotted mushrooms that reminded us of the time we almost poisoned ourselves.

The Albany is slick. Too slick. It’s all gloss and marketing without the substance to back it up. As the old marketing director at P&G would say – it’s all sizzle, no sausage. Whilst the first impressions and river frontage were encouraging we soon found that beneath the veneer was an inept kitchen and service that would make Basil Fawlty cringe.

Things started well, with two glasses of refreshing white wine and a decent, shared antipasti served on top of a micro thin pizza base. But there were warning signs. By this point we’d already moved tables having been dumped initially behind a pillar that made the Berlin Wall look friendly and sent back stale bread that was then served to the next table. We also should have read more into the innumerate construction of the menu. Dishes were described by adding the ingredients. But why would you write this: “Porcini Risotto + Arborio Rice + Mushrooms + Marsala + Truffle Oil”? And why would you then write “Antipasti – Cured Meats + Dolcelatte + Roasted Vegetables + Parmesan + Rocket + Stuffed Peppers + Green Chillies + Baked Flat Bread” etc.? If you’re going to use mathematics on a menu then at least make it logical. Also, given that I work in booze marketing, I should have also paid more attention to the fact that the drinks menu was riddled with advertising.

We had cycled for 2 hours to enjoy ourselves so didn’t let these minor issues get in the way of us enjoying ourselves. Cowie beat me to it and ordered a Romano lamb shoulder flavoured with anchovies whilst I ordered spit roasted duck with sweet potato mash. And given our energetic endeavours we decided to have some chips with aioli as a treat as well.

Either the kitchen is incompetent or they went out of their way to see if we would actually eat the stuff they sent out. My duck had not been spit roasted as promised. It was tough, flabby and if it had been seasoned at all, I’d be shocked. But it was like ambrosia in comparison to Cowie’s lamb. It had the texture of beef jerky and flavour of pilchards. If someone had told me it had been cooked in Sizewell B’s nuclear reactor I’d have believed them. Even the shoulder blade was burnt, and that takes some doing. The chips we had indulged in were cold and topped with the most astringent aioli that had me gagging for a new mouth.

We sent the lamb back in exchange for cod with Tuscan beans. In their haste to get the food out to us they had cooked the cod far too fast that resulted in the flesh feeling clenched rather than flaky. Cowie tried to add some flavour to it with a few twists of pepper only to realise that the mill was full of white pepper. Maybe it’s just our peculiar taste, but why use white pepper when black pepper is far more appropriate? White pepper drags me back to the horrid pepper we had at school that just seemed to make the food taste even worse.

We shunned dessert in favour of the bill. I asked the waitress whether they might consider taking Cowie’s main course off the bill given that we hadn’t had the chance to eat at the same time. She said she would ask the manager. And then a bad meal turned into a shocker. He stood above us spent the next few minutes shrugging his shoulders, telling us he wasn’t being rude and generally making us feel like we’d just weed ourselves at primary school. So I escalated things and complained about the cold chips and foul aoili, the stale bread, my un-spitroasted duck and the feeble cod. I was at pains that we weren’t the kind of people who normally complain (we’re British afterall) and that we weren’t trying to wangle a free meal. We were simply making a point that their food was sub standard. He eventually yielded and gave us our wine on the house – which is about as farcical as the +s and –s on the menu.

This sort of experience leaves a bad taste in the mouth. So bad in fact that we headed straight to a petrol station to buy some chewing gum. On top of that I couldn’t bring myself to eat until lunch the next day. If that’s not a scathing indictment then I don’t know what is.

We zoomed back through an empty Richmond Park as the sun dipped down behind the deer park behind us still fuming. The Albany is definitely not worth cycling to, no matter how close you are to it.

So we’re now looking to our next place to cycle to for lunch. If know of a relaxed, fun place that does a decent lunch within a 3 hour cycling distance of South London leave a comment below.

Albany Pub & Dining Room on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Essaouira Night Market

Cowie and I went on holiday to Essaourira at the beginning of September. We couldn't get out of Marrakesh fast enough. Within a day we had escaped the panic inducing heat and feral bustle in search of sun, sand, waves and fish.


We're going to take you on a culinary journey of tagines, fresh fish and Moroccan imagination but only once we've set the scene with some photos. The first couple are from the dock at night and the ones that follow are from the incredible market that electrifies Essaourira on a nightly basis.


Boats at night

As soon as the sun dropped an air raid siren announced the transition of day into night. Within seconds the narrow, bustling, twisting streets emptied as the residents all raced home for supper. Our holiday coincided with Ramadan which gave our week an extra cultural dynamic.

Half an hour later and the streets returned to their normal chaotic state and the night market kicked into action...

I became slightly obsessed with the graffiti on this doorway (which according to Joshua's comment is by a French artist called C215). It seemed weirdly out of place. But this is part of Essaourira's mystique. It's well known as an artistic and cultural hot-spot. Not only did Orson Welles film his epic tale of Othello here, but Jimi Hendrix also wrote a song called Castles Made of Sand inspired by Essaourira. It's a city that is buzzing with artists who flock here for the stunning light and never leave.

Graffiti face

 Graffiti face people

They take great pride in the way they present their wares. Nothing short of perfect pyramids is allowed. We watched from afar as young men carefully groomed their colourful tetrahedrons and wondered whether they'd better off not all selling exactly the same thing.


It seemed like the olive vendor must have come from the same stack is high sell it cheap school as the spice man. In fact they probably had the same geometry teacher.

Olives galore

This is one of my favourite pictures. I had to lean against a rickety wooden strut to keep the camera still enough to let the light in. It really captures the vibrancy of the colours and reminds me, in a silly way, of Rick Stein's "Coast to Coast" book cover. These preserved lemons made the ones you get in a jar from Belazu look very ersatz.

Preserved lemons

We were overwhelmed by the variety and volume of dates on display. It made me feel very ignorant to have thought that there might only be one type of date, when in fact there seem to be hundreds.

Dates anyone

Which is why I like this picture of the date seller looking forlornly out, over his stall, for customers...

Dates galore

... and this one that makes a necklace of dried figs look like a piece of tribal jewelry.

Strings of dates

I had to wait for ages for a break in the traffic to take this shot of a man selling mint by the bucketload. Mint tea is to Moroccan culture what a mug of milky, sweet builders is the Britain. No meal, conversation or negotiation is complete without it. We thought we'd prefer it without sugar, but soon learned it's a lot better laced with something sweet.

Mint man

We bought some deep fried cinnamon sweets that looked like worms. They were brittle, sticky and luckily not very moreish. Otherwise we could have been there all night and we'd both now be diabetic.

Deep fried cinamon squiggles

Cinamon sweets

But my favourite photo of the whole lot is of this boy holding what looks like a conger eel. In this context it is as natural as anything. But can you picture it happening back in London? Behind him is Essaourira's famous fish market where you choose your fish from the slab and they grill it for you as you try not to get freaked out by the fish guts that have seeped through your flip flop or by the number of of bugs that are about to find their way into your body! I'm sure it's where Mitch Tonks got his FishWorks idea from.

Boy with eel

Essaourira is a mesmerising place. Almost every vista is worthy of a photograph. We'll tell you about some of the amazing food we ate and experiences we had soon.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Bourbon, Honey and Mustard Glazed Pigs Cheeks

I’ve had pigs cheeks a couple of times. At Wild Honey they were amazing. And the other time they weren’t quite bad enough to be memorable. But they were pretty bad. Cook them with patience and care and you’ll be rewarded with unctuous, deep, savory flesh that teases apart and makes you realise what proper meat tastes like. Undercook them and they’ll behave like rubberised boulders.

I was going to cook bourbon glazed pork chops. But Waitrose had 7 pigs cheeks left on the counter and I couldn’t resist. I did a quick calculation and realised for an extra hour or two of cooking I’d be saving around 5 pounds. It’s very rare that I am successfully thrifty – so my trek home from Marylebone to Brixton with a rucksack weighed down with root vegetables was full of frugal bounce.

I quickly got to work by making a marinade for the cheeks. I combined a glug or two of soy sauce, three spoons of Dijon mustard, a spoon of honey and about 100ml of bourbon. I then threw the pigs cheeks into the mixture and set about getting doing something wintry and imaginative with my vegetables (I won’t bore you with the details of my leek gratin or with my celeriac mash).

After 20 minutes, or longer if you’ve got the time, fish your cheeks out and sear them in a hot, lightly oiled, griddle pan. You don’t want it to be so hot that it singes the honey, but you do want it hot enough to leave delicious brown stripes on your meat. It should only take a couple of minutes to achieve this. Remove your cheeks and put them in a small roasting tin. Then pour in the rest of the marinade. Deglaze the pan off the heat with some bourbon and add this to the pan along with a generous knob of butter. (You probably won't need any salt at all because the soy sauce doesn't hold back.)

Cook at 150’c for around an hour and half. Baste and turn intermittently. You don’t want your lovely cheeks to dry out. Once they’ve changed their feel from being hard and bouncy like an athlete’s six pack to being soft and tender like toddler’s thigh you are in business. Remove the meat and rest it in a warm place. Then pour the juices into a pan and reduce aggressively. Add more bourbon and as much honey as you think is necessary. This will help to give your sauce a rich, glossy depth. By this time your house should smell like bliss.

Pile your plate high with celeriac mash, flank it with leek gratin on one side and steamed broccoli on the other. And adorn with your sensational balls of pig cheek. Then pour over your glossy, sticky sauce and grind some pepper.

Bourbon honey and mustard glazed pigs cheeks

All that’s now left to do is to pat yourself on the back. This is a serious supper for evenings of Lear like weather when nothing but the most blanket-like of comfort food will suffice.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Punjab House - No Frills Curry in Balham

The Holy Cow spoils us. They aren’t just a take-away-service. They deliver tandooris of comfort and joy that have got us all hooked like smack fuelled mackerel. Whenever our moods are low the HC lifts us up like a whack of valium.

But we’ve begun to worry that we might be exhibiting signs of addiction such as “borrowing curry money” and having our supplier on speed dial. So we decided to go cold turkey on the Holy Cow for a week or so and experiment with some of the local curry dealers in Balham.

No sooner than we ditched the good stuff than we found ourselves in the Punjab House. If Holy Cow is Selfridges, then Punjab House is a cash and carry on the outskirts of Watford. Their imaginative tinsel decorations stay up all year round, the restaurant is typically empty and the lighting would make a prison look like an artist’s studio. But the main selling point is their dramatic closure for a "rodent infestation" at the beginning of last year.

Alex and I were oblivious to the health inspector’s damning report when we visited. (This could explain the owner’s deep suspicion of a posh chap taking photos in his deserted restaurant!)

The food is served from a small canteen by a very quiet lady. We thought it would have been rude not to sample all of the dishes, so we smiled at the lovely lady with ladle and got stuck in.

The food was surprisingly good. Richly spiced. Distinctly flavoured. And deliberately simple. They all looked muddy and boring, but tasted fresh and alive. We particularly liked the thought that had gone into the names of the dishes.

Punjab House 1

“Chicken with ginger” was light, boisterously spiced and generously chickened.

Punjab House 2

“Lamb with ginger” was identical, but for the tender chunks of meat that studded the sauce. It was one of the better lamb curries I’ve had for some time in a frugal, authentic sort of way.

Punjab House 3

“Chicken on the bone” was impressive. My lips smarted from a burst of chilli heat, almost before the sauce had made contact. But the heat was as transient as the chicken was tender. It brought back a painful memory of a friend’s mother who always asked the Nepalese takeaway for her chicken Madras to be made with breast meat only. (No. No. No.)

Punjab House 5

“Mixed vegetable curry with chickpeas” was a rich and filling spicy vegetable stew that puts most vegetable curries to shame. It was almost identical to the tin foil tub of veggie curry we bought on the train from Ernakulam to Goa and brought back a flood of memories that revolved around dodgy massages, tea plantations and awesome food.

Punjab House 4

“Lamb with spinach” looked like the slimy green moss you get on the rocks that pop their heads up above the tide on the beech. Luckily, it tasted great. Mildly spiced, but deeply flavoured.

But the best was still to come. As we chatted to the owner about the fact that he doesn’t care where his produce comes from and thanked him for a memorable supper he asked us to clear our plates away with an aggressive waft of the hand. Feeling stumped, we diligently scuttled back to our table, stacked our plates, wiped the table with a napkin and delivered the plates back to the counter. We then left in a fit of giggles with a bizarre new addiction to Punjab House.

Punjab House isn’t for the faint hearted. Their hygiene track record is far from squeaky clean and their manners are hilariously bad. But they make a very decent curry for hardly any money at all. So if you are looking for a back alley curry fix in Balham, Punjab House is the den for you.

Punjab House on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

A Breakfast worth Cycling 61 Miles For

Rather than blow a fortune on a romantic weekend in Whitstable, with dinner at the Sportsman, we decided to cancel our reservation and cycle to Bill's in Lewes, near Brighton instead. We’d heard such great things about a little place called Bill’s that we felt we had no option.

So at 10am on a sunny Saturday we set off to the South Coast on our bicycles… We left Balham, Tooting and Mitcham in our wake before emerging in Surrey rather than Sussex. In our infinite wisdom we’d decided against taking a map. Rather than taking the direct route on the A237 we had gone on a tangent on the A217. Banstead Downs, it turns out, is around 12 miles off course from Caterham, which was our gateway out of London and into Sussex. Cowie only told me how far we had deviated when we got to Lewes. Hopefully the map below will help you to understand how much further we had to cycle. What it doesn’t show is the small mountain range that runs through South London…

Inside M25

Having got back on track we were then assaulted by a disgusting hill coming out of Caterham. My cheeks were bright red and the air was blue with cursing. But when we got to the top of the hill the view across the M25 was spectacular.


The London traffic dispersed and the fields opened up. We found ourselves wiggling along down beautiful country roads. Planes rhythmically lined up to land at Gatwick, spewing carbon dioxide only marginally more disastrously than my lungs.

We’d been told to avoid the A22 and if we landed up in East Grinstead, then we’d gone badly wrong. So what did we do? We found ourselves rumbling along the A22, which if you hadn’t guessed, is the main trunk road from London to Eastboune. Every now and then we could hear the squeal of tyres as a motorist got too close for comfort. Lorries the size of Simon Cowell’s ego and huge buses of pensioners did their best to barge us off the road. And then we landed up in East Grinstead! Apparently we should have taken the little country roads that run parallel – by contrast they are safe and pretty.

So when we got to East Grinstead we popped into a BP garage to sneak a peak at a map. The assistant went one better and told us we were not only on course but only 15 miles away. This gave us second wind as we calculated being only an hour or so from lunch.

Route to Lewes

On leaving East Grinstead we discovered Ben Nevis. If you were under the illusion that Nevis is in Scotland, then you are very, very wrong. It’s 2 miles south of East Grinstead on the A22. We snaked up the mountain, constantly being deceived by the way the road curled back on itself. Several false summits later we stopped and gathered our breath before our final assault. We stormed to the top, only to be confronted by the most soul destroying road sign, I’ve ever seen which looked something like this…

Feeling despondent we ploughed on and were delighted to discover that it was downhill all the way to Lewes. We zoomed along ridges, flanked by cows and dive bombed by birds. This final stretch of cycling was spectacular.

We arrived at Bill’s at 3 o’clock. I was so hungry that I’d considered eating my front wheel and bicycle chain. It was throbbingly busy with people devouring breakfasts and wolfing down impeccably sourced food.


Bill’s is famed in Sussex for serving stonkingly good organic produce. But most importantly, they do one of the best breakfasts in the South East.
When we ordered pretty much everything on the breakfast menu the waiter suggested we had asked for too much. So we asked for some crumpets as well!

Bills Breakfast

My full English was excellent. Plump sausage competed for primacy with two wonderfully poached eggs, two rashers of immaculate bacon and a mushroom, that had been dusted with thyme leaves. The only concern was an over exuberant application of basil leaves and a paucity of sourdough toast.

Smoked salmon and scrambled egg

Cowie’s scrambled eggs with smoked salmon was served cold. So we sent it back. We listened to a tell tale ping but none came. Moments later Cowie was tucking into a fantastic pillow of runny scrambled eggs, that oozed over a generous sheet of smoked salmon. Apart from the false start, this deserved full marks.

Bills Salad

Cowie, being Cowie, devoured a platter of salads and vegetables with indecent speed as I guzzled my rhubarb smoothie like a child who likes annoying everyone when they suck the final dregs out of the glass.


We had several long chats to the staff who were charming throughout who were giggling at the fact that we’d cycled 61 miles to be there. They all clearly love working at Bill’s and their passion ensures all the customers leave with a smile on their faces.

We loved our cycling expedition so much we’re going to make it into a series. Although I doubt we’ll do too many that require 5 hours of cycling! If Michelin gives stars to restaurants depending on how far you’d drive out of your way to eat at them, then it might well be time for Bianchi or Trek to launch a new guide that is based on how far you’d cycle for breakfast. We’d suggest that Bill’s deserves the full 3 star rating.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Mussel Re:Laksa

Following on from the pun-tastic Ham Hockusai, I thought I’d stick with the Oriental theme and attack the laksa. As ever, I hadn’t really appreciated what I was letting myself in for. Laksa, far from being a simple dish, is pretty complicated. For starters there are two distinct types: curry laksa which tends to be a coconut curry with noodles and asam laksa which is a sour fish soup with noodles (and not a type of tea).

It is commonly found across China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and increasingly across Australia. It derives a lot of its flavour from ground, dried shrimps.

I decided to make a curry laksa sticking relatively closely to a very authentic recipe I found, shamefully, on Delia’s website!

I bought my mussels from Moxon’s just outside Clapham South tube station and went in search of the other key ingredients in Balham where I managed to find everything except dried shrimp paste. Bugger.

After some excellent suggestions from Lizzie, Essex Gourmet and Kelsie Mortimer decided to mash up some prawns with a dash of anchovy essence, Worcester Sauce and lemon juice. It’s clearly not ideal, but it seemed to do the trick!

Here’s how I made my mussel and prawn laksa:

Empty a kilo of mussels into a colander and run under cold water. Pull out their beards and give them a good rinse. Leave them on the side as you’ll only need them a fair bit later.
Then you need to make your spicy paste. To do this grab a handful of chillies, two stems of lemon grass, a few shallots, a spoonful of turmeric, a knob of galangal (or ginger) and your home made shrimp paste (or better still, the real deal if you can find it). Add some liquid and blitz this in a blender and you’ll be left with a wonderfully orange, fragrant, spicy paste that will be the base of your laksa.

Paste frying small

Then toast a handful of nuts in a hot wok so that they turn golden. Remove them and then fry your paste in a glug of vegetable or groundnut oil. The aromas should almost knock the pan out of your hand. Let this sizzle for a couple of minutes and then add a can of coconut milk and the same amount of chicken stock.

Mussels simmering small

Allow this to simmer for 10 minutes and then add the mussels, a pack of prawns and enough vermicelli noodles for two. When they are almost done add half a bag of beansprouts and scatter with half of the toasted nuts. Season and then ladle into deep bowls.
Garnish with a wedge of lime, some crushed toasted nuts and Vietnamese mint if you’ve got it.

Mussel Re Laksa small

Mussel Laksa small

It was comforting, spicy, vibrant and a joy to eat. Slurping and guzzling sounds are a sure fire sign of culinary satisfaction! I sank back in my seat and sighed. Muscle relaxer indeed.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Ham Hockusai


To say my parents are keen gardeners would be like saying that Prince Phillip is a trifle conservative. Mum writes gardening books and is a garden designer. Dad spends every second he’s not at work in his overalls doing as Mum says…

Our garden has developed over the 20 years we’ve lived there from being a bunch of fields into a gallery of different artistic rooms . Mum and Dad have created amazing garden rooms inspired by Hepworth, Monet, Rothko, Mondrian, Kandinsky and Hokusai.






Mondrian taxis at junction

It’s a very lateral approach to gardening that oozes creativity. The idea is not to copy or try to replicate the art/painting but to capture the mood and the concept behind it and express it as a three dimensional piece of living, breathing art that might otherwise be called a garden!

So I thought it would be a good idea to pick up where Mum, Dad and Hokusai left off and create a dish that’s inspired by an artist. And when I picked up a cheap as chips ham hock in Waitrose I couldn’t resist creating a dish called Ham Hockusai.

Feeling excited and bubbling over like a glass that’s full to the brim with water and then is depth charged with Berocca, I sought help on Twitter. Lizzie came to my help and suggested braising the pork hock in a mixture of soy, ginger and mirin. We used this as inspiration to create what might otherwise be called a ham hock ramen…

Trim your ham hock. Because you are going to slow cook it you don’t want too much fat floating around. Then put your hock in the slow cooker (AKA Stewie Grifin) and pour in half a bottle of light soy, a sachet of miso soup powder, and enough stock to cover the hock. Then throw in some spring onions, a generous amount of root ginger, 2 star anise, a few chillies and a glug of sake and mirin. Turn on the slow cooker and allow it to bubble away for 5 hours, or until the meat yields.

Pork Hockusai Cooking

Then separate the meat from the liquid. Set the meat aside and strain the liquid to remove the floating vegetation. This liquid is like gold dust, so don’t spill any like I did!

Pour the liquid into a pan and place on the heat. Meanwhile, pull the pork apart and keep nearby. Heat a wok and make a stir fry of enoki and shitake mushrooms, pak-choi, beansprouts, garlic, ginger and more chilli. Then add the meat to heat through.

Add some ramen noodles to the broth and once they are soft assemble your Ham Hockusai in a large soup bowl and garnish with sesame seeds and spring onions. I did my best to recreate the Great Wave off Kanagawa but gravity got the better of my noodles!

Pork Hockusai Wave

This has no pretention of being the most authentic Japanese dish. But it was not only huge fun to cook, but incredibly tasty and healthy to eat. The depth of flavour from the stock just kept on going. The pork itself was a delight. It transformed from being tough, flabby and generally being a bit like a tight-head prop into a graceful winger.

Next time, we’re going to cook Ham Hockney – I’m just less sure how to cook it. If you’ve got any suggestions about how to make a piggy David Hockney dish or any other artist inspired recipe I’d love to know.

Have a look at Mum's website and blog to find out more about the garden. It's open to the public a handful of times a year and you can also book for private groups.


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