“When someone cooks with love, the meal deserves to be celebrated. You get dressed, choose a killer playlist, and pour a glass of wine then sit down to share the magic with your loved ones.” — Brendon D’Souza
Hello Everyone! How’s life? It’s Brendon D’Souza from CookWithBrendon.com here. By day I work in sales and around the clock I spend the countless hours we have in lockdown doing my favourite thing – cooking for my loved ones and developing recipes for my blog.
After 6 years at my former blog Brendon The Smiling Chef, I realised there might be a space for online cooking classes and social get-togethers for like-minded foodies. After running a number of free workshops with my colleagues and friends I’m so ready to take it to the next level and open up the classes to the world. Let me know if you would like to join in the fun!
Now more than ever is the perfect time to try and find clever little ways to use up leftover bits and pieces you find in the kitchen. This curry will allow you to do exactly that, and is inspired by the flavours of Laos, Thailand, India, and Australia altogether.
By no means do I claim to be the creator of this dish. As I’m sure you’ve seen over your socials it gained cult status recently when Nigella Lawson wrote about it in her 2020 TV series and cookbook Cook Eat Repeat. It’s such a great way to transform something that would otherwise be destined for the bin. I was surprised to learn that banana skins are packed full of potassium so I’m hoping it’s doing that extra bit of good for my insides too.
I’ve also taken the liberty to use up some leftovers for this dish including a batch of leftover marinara sauce and some roast sweet potatoes. So you can absolutely feel free to swap out some of the ingredients for others which you may have at hand. Don’t forget to tag #CookWithBrendon so I can see your creations. Let’s cook!
PREP TIME 30 MINS| COOKING TIME 30 MINS| SERVES 2-3
2 ripe bananas
2 medium red onion, sliced
1/2 tbsp castor sugar
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup basmati or jasmine rice
1 can coconut milk
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 cup canned tomatoes
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 cup diced sweet potato (or use regular potato)
1/2 cup frozen peas (or any other fresh or frozen green veg)
1 bunch coriander
Start this recipe 1 hour before serving time.
Banana Peel: Peel the bananas. Slice off the tops and tails.*
Place the banana peels into a large heatproof bowl with 1/2 tbsp salt. Cover with boiling water and leave to soak for 30 mins. This helps to tenderise the skins and they will change in colour from yellow to brown which is totally fine.
Pickled Onion: While the bananas are soaking. Finely slice 1 onion and place into a glass or ceramic bowl with the rice vinegar, castor sugar and 1/2 a tablespoon of salt. Give it a stir and then set aside. Repeat every 10 minutes or so while you’re making the curry and the onions will turn a vibrant pink and tenderise by the time you’re ready.
Remove the banana peels from the soaking liquid** and pat dry with a paper towel. Slice the peels finely into batons.
Coconut Rice: Place the rice into a medium heatproof saucepan. Cover with enough cold water to reach 2-cm above the level of the rice, then add the coconut milk. Place over a high heat and bring to the boil. When it is bubbling, immediately turn the heat off and pop on a tight fitting lid and let it sit there***. The rice will continue to absorb any liquid while you prepare the curry.
Banana Peel Curry: Heat a medium saucepan over a low heat. Add 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil, the cumin, coriander powder, and turmeric. Cook, stirring for 1-2 minutes to toast the spices, and then add the marinara sauce****.
Add 1 tablespoon of crushed ginger and the banana skins, and cook, stirring over medium heat for 5 minutes.
Add 1/2 a cup of vegetable stock or water and bring to the boil. Cook for a further 5 minutes or until the banana peels are tender.
Add the sweet potato, frozen peas, coconut milk, and chopped coriander stems, and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the veggies are cooked through. Finally, add the coconut milk and stir until combined.
Serve with the coconut rice and pickled onion. Enjoy!
*These can be composted. Save the banana flesh for another use (I’m thinking everyone’s favourite lockdown banana bread!).
**The minerals found in the banana peels such as potassium, phosphorus and calcium, will leach into the water. You can then use this liquid fertiliser for your plants.
***I use my Mum’s absorption method trick to cook my rice and it works every time!
****I’ve used 1/2 a cup of leftover marinara sauce with onion in it but you could easily substitute for 1 small onion and 1/2 a cup of crushed tomatoes.
Give this recipe a try and if you do be sure to tag #CookWithBrendon in your posts when you do!
I’m trying really hard to grow @cookwithbrendon on Instagram and now TikTok so if you have a second to visit and give both a follow I’d be so grateful.
Hello everyone! This will be the second and last dish that I will be sharing on our quick trip to Laos. As I mentioned in my previous post, I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to Lao cuisine and will only be sharing recipes that I am familiar with in terms of taste and similar dishes from their neighbouring countries.
Khua Mee, or in English, Fried & Caramelised Rice Noodles, is the Laotian cousin of what Pad Thai is in Thailand. Now, while I’ve never had Khua Mee before until I experimented for Amcarmen’s Kitchen, I’ve had plenty of Pad Thai before, from my trips to Thailand, or just a visit to an authentic Thai restaurant back home in Brunei, and when I was living in Australia. Khua Mee is actually more sweet than savoury, and has a more unique flavour to it. This flavour comes from caramelising the sugar at the start of the cooking process which is then accompanied by other savoury flavours such as oyster sauce, fish sauce, and soy sauce. The sweet and savoury marriage of flavours is what sets this dish apart from other noodle dishes.
The dish is fairly easy to put together. I guess the only tricky part would be the caramelisation of the sugar if you’re not used to it. You want to keep the heat on a medium-low temperature and watch it like a hawk so that the sugar does not burn. Traditionally, this noodle dish is topped with a fried egg omelette and bean sprouts. If you want to make this dish more substantial, you can also bulk it up with beef, pork, chicken, or prawns. To keep this ovo-vegetarian friendly though, my choice of protein was firm tofu. I also used mushroom sauce instead of oyster sauce, and omitted the fish sauce by adding more salt, as needed, instead. To add more flavour, I used homemade vegetable stock instead of water as the liquid base for the rice noodles to soak up.
Push the Pad Thai aside for now because once you take a bite and get a mouthful of these caramelised noodles, fried omelette, fresh herbs, and fried chillies, you will know why this is a much loved Laotian dish. It’s also a perfect potluck party dish as it tastes even better when served at room temperature.
PREP TIME 30 MINS| COOKING TIME 10 MINS| SERVES 4
For the fried omelette
4 large free range eggs
Spring onion, green part
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp cooking oil
For the fried noodles
1 packet (500g) rice noodles
4 tbsp cooking oil
4 tbsp white granulated sugar
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 small red onions, halved then sliced thinly
1 & 1/2 cup homemade vegetable stock*
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp mushroom sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 cup bean sprouts
Fried red chillies
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Calamansi or lemon, to garnish
*You can use store-bought vegetable stock, or water instead.
Noodles: Soak the rice noodles in room temperature water for 30 minutes. Set aside.
Fried Omelette: While the rice noodles are soaking, whisk the eggs in a medium-sized bowl, season with salt and cracked black pepper, and add the spring onion.
Add cooking oil in a large pan over high heat. Pour in the egg mixture and cook until firm and slightly brown around the edges, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook for a further 1 minute then transfer to a plate and cut into long strips. Set aside.
Fried Noodles: Add the 4 tablespoons of cooking oil in the same pan, and bring the heat down to medium-low. Add the sugar and caramelise until melted and lightly golden in colour.
Add the minced garlic and onions, and cook for about 30 seconds. Don’t cook it for too long as the sugar will start to darken faster and most likely burn at this point.
Immediately add in the vegetable broth to stop the caramelisation process of the sugar, followed by the light and dark soy sauce, mushroom sauce, white part of the spring onion, and season with a pinch of salt. Turn the heat up to medium, mix, and then leave to simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes for the flavours to develop.
Add the soaked rice noodles and cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed before adding the bean sprouts, fried tofu and fried omelette slices. Mix and cook until the liquid has been absorbed then add in the green part of the spring onion and the fried red chillies.
Transfer to individual serving plates and add a squeeze of calamansi or lemon juice before eating. Enjoy!
Hello Everyone! For the later part of June, we’ll be saying goodbye to Indonesia for now and will be venturing off to Laos and since I am not very familiar with Lao dishes, I’ll only be covering two dishes that I’ve had similar experiences with.
The first Lao dish that I will be sharing tonight is known as laab (can also be spelt as larb). Laab is a type of Lao minced meat salad that can be made with either chicken, duck, beef, pork, fish, or mushrooms. It is seasoned with fish sauce, lime juice and padaek, a traditional Lao condiment made from pickled or fermented fish that has been cured. It is thicker and more seasoned than the fish sauce. Chillies, assorted vegetables, and fresh herbs such as mint, are also added to give the salad more flavour.
Though this is the first time I’m tackling a Lao dish, I am familiar with the process and taste of laab. My Thai aunt taught me how to make the Thai version of this dish using chicken, beef, and pork; this was way back when I was still in university and used to eat meat. Even though this is the ‘unofficial’ national dish of Lao, it is also eaten in a certain region in Northern Thailand where the majority of the population is of the Lao ethnicity. Variants of this dish can also be found in Myanmar (Burma) and in the Yunnan province of China.
I’ll be sharing a pescatarian-friendly version known as Laab Paa, or in English, Fish Herb Salad. It is refreshing because of the fresh mint and fresh ginger slices that cut through the saltiness, sourness, and spiciness of the dish as a whole. While the fish meat is soft and tender, you also get a different texture from the crispy-fried fish skin that is mixed into the salad. The dish is served at room temperature and usually with a serving of sticky rice and raw or fresh vegetables. You can even serve them as lettuce wraps. We served ours with rice noodles instead.
PREP TIME 20 MINS| COOKING TIME 5 MINS| SERVES 2
500g minced fish, I used red grouper fish
Salt, to taste
2-3 red chillies, minced
1 small red onion, halved and sliced thinly
1 thumb-sized ginger, julienned
1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
Juice of half a lemon
Handful of blanched bean sprouts
Add about a tablespoon or 2 of cooking oil in a medium-sized frying pan over medium-high. Add the minced fish and season with salt, to taste. Cook until translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes.
While the fish is cooking, heat oil in a separate pan and fry the fish skin until browned and crispy. Once fried, break them into smaller sizes. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, toss the cooked fish together with all the remaining ingredients. Adjust the seasoning to your liking, i.e. add more fish sauce for saltiness, or more lemon juice for sourness.
Plate up and top the laab paa with the crispy-fried fish skin. Serve and enjoy!