Prawn Fried Rice

DonQui really loves rice. In fact if he had his way he would probably serve it with just about everything.

When he cooks rice he often makes more than he needs and saves what is left over to make a fried rice dish the next day. There is a bit of a myth that one should not re-cook rice. However, as long as the rice is kept in the fridge and not left out at room temperature for any length of time, then there is no problem. If concerned you could always cook the rice on the day rather than using left-over rice.

rice serve

He plays around with the ingredients depending on his mood but this is one of his favourites.
Ingredients

cold cooked rice
coconut or vegetable oil for cooking
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
4 spring onions, finely sliced
grated ginger root (about 1 cm or to taste)
1 red chilli, finely sliced
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 egg, beaten
frozen peas thawed and blanched
cooked prawns
soy sauce to taste

Method

rice 1

Heat the oil in wok or large frying pan. Add the spring onions, garlic, ginger and chilli, then cook for a couple of minutes

rice

Add the turmeric and cumin and stir together for a couple of seconds.

rice add rice

Throw in the cooked rice, and mix it all up for a minute or two until the rice is evenly coloured.

rice eggCreate a well in the middle of the rice, pour in the beaten egg and scramble it together with the rice for a couple of minutes.

rice prawns

Then add the peas and prawns, stirring together with a good splash of soy sauce until everything is nicely blended and warmed up. DonQui often puts a lid on the pan for the minute to help it heat up.

rice lastServe with extra soy sauce and sliced spring onions on the side.

A Medieval Chicken

Back home now after his various wanderings, it is time for DonQui to get cooking again.

limona book

Now DonQui’s interest in history is as strong as his love of good food. When he was in France earlier in the year, he came across a beautiful little book — La Cuisine du Moyen Âge, by Brigitte Racine.

limona illustration

DonQui decides to try out the Limonia — a recipe for lemon chicken adapted from the Liber de Coquina which is believed to have been written by a Neapolitan chef in the 14th century.

The original recipe, which uses egg yolks to thicken the sauce, has been adapted by Brigitte Racine in her book and DonQui in turn also makes a few adaptions of his own.

Ingredients (for 2 people)
3 or 4 Chicken thighs
1 onion finely chopped
a handful of lardons (or thick smoked bacon pieces)
500ml/1 pint of unsalted chicken stock
oil and butter
juice of 1/2 lemon
lemon zest
a handful of blanched almonds
1 teaspoon ginger powder
salt and pepper.

Note: it is best to use unsalted liquid stock and not bouillon or stock cubes. The reason is that stock cubes are mostly salt and with the smoked lardons the dish will be too salty. In the UK DonQui gets his stock from Waitrose which he tends to stock up on (pardon the lame pun) and freeze until needed.

Method

limona lardons

Fry the onions and lardons in a little oil until the onions begin to brown. Take out and reserve.

limona brown chicken

In the same pot, brown the chicken thighs in a mixture of butter and oil

limona simmer

Add the ginger and pepper and put the onion/lardon mixture back int the pot. Stir together for a minute or so then add the chicken stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for approximately 30 minutes.

limona almonds

Meanwhile toast the almonds under the grill or stir fry in a little butter until they begin to brown. DonQui prefers the latter method as it adds a bit more taste.

limona lemon

After 20 minutes take the lid off the pot, add the lemon zest and let the sauce reduce for the last 10 minutes of cooking. If you want a thinker sauce then take the chicken out to keep warm while you reduce the sauce further. Add the lemon juice just before serving.

When using lemon juice DonQui always adds it at the end as the vitamin C is destroyed by long cooking.

limona serve

Season to taste and serve covered with the sauce and almonds.

limona final

To be true to the medieval origin of the recipe DonQui served the chicken with beans, kale and bread. The latter would have been the most usual carbohydrate accompaniment to a 14th century meal. The potato was unheard of and rice was an expensive import, not cultivated in Europe until the 15th century. Pasta would have been a historically correct possibility as variations on it had been around in Italy since Roman times. Contrary to popular myth, pasta was not brought to Italy from China by Marco Polo.

Very simple to cook, DonQui thought the taste was utterly delicious. With its lemony/ginger/almond sauce it had a depth of flavour that reminded him of modern Moroccan cuisine. DonQui has since seen that the original recipe was thickened with ground almonds, much like some Indian dishes. He will try doing that next time.

For Latin readers the original recipe from the Liber de Coquina is as follows:

De limonia: ad limoniam faciendam, suffrigantur pulli cum lardo et cepis. Et amigdale mundate terantur, distemperentur cum brodio carnis et colentur. Que coquantur cum dictis pullis et speciebus.
Et si non habentur amigdale, spissetur brodium cum uitellis ouorum.
Et si fuerit prope horam scutellandi, pone ibi succum limonum uel limiarum uel citrangulorum.

England’s Atlantis

DonQui is relieved to arrive back in England to crisp, sunny, autumn weather. Although it certainly feels cold after Tanzania’s mid 30° temperatures, at least it is not grey and rainy.
It being that day of the week, DonQui decides to partake in the English ritual of a walk in the country followed by a Sunday roast at a suitable pub.

One of his favourite places to do this is Dunwich.

Dunwich beachNow not many people have heard of Dunwich and with good reason… Like Atlantis, most of it lies under the sea.

Yet back in medieval times Dunwich was one of England’s most important towns. It was in the top ten listed in the Doomsday Book of 1086, growing in size and prosperity over the next 300 years. Trade with Flanders and the royal shipyards made Dunwich the most important port on the East coast, second only to London. It was here that King Edward III’s fleet was built for the invasion of France in the Hundred Years War.

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However, the sand cliffs on which Dunwich is built are highly vulnerable to erosion. A great storm in 1347 swept away 400 houses as the cliffs crumbled and fell into the sea. In the years that followed the once great port silted up and the Blyth River changed its course. By the beginning of the 17th century Dunwich had lost 3/4 of its original size and the erosion continues still.

Dunwich greyfriarsToday all that remains of the once great medieval city are the ruins of the Greyfriars monastery and St James’ chapel which once administered to a leper colony. Both of these buildings were inland from the original city walls. All that was once inside the walls is now under the sea.

Dunwich museum

The more than 5000 inhabitants of medieval times has shrunk to a modern population of less than 200. A rather good little museum tells the story

Dunwich Ship

Tucked in amongst the cottages of modern Dunwich is the Ship Inn — one of DonQui’s favourite pubs in the area. After a circular walk over the cliffs, through Greyfriars’ Wood and around the monastery DonQui is ready for a pint and some roast beast with all the trimmings.

Dunwich inside

The Ship is a free house serving an ever changing selection of local beers and ciders. This is a rarity in these parts where most pubs are tied to Southwold’s Adnams’ brewery. Now in the past there was no love lost between Dunwich and Southwold so it is perhaps not surprising to find the Ship maintaining its independence. Although DonQui is a great fan of Adnams’ beers he finds it refreshing to have a wider choice every once in a while.

Dunwich bar

He samples the Jenny Morgan, and finds it quite refreshing with a light hoppy taste. Brewed by Green Jack of Lowestoft it is apparently named after a girl in an old mariners’ song who waits at home for her sweetheart who is out at sea.

Dunwich menu

Unlike many pubs on Sunday, The Ship offers other options in addition to the traditional Sunday Roast. However it is roast than DonQui wants, choosing the beef while Duchess goes for the pork. They also decide to share the watermelon, feta, pumpkin seed and basil salad as a starter. It simply sounded too interesting to pass up and DonQui was glad he didn’t — it was utterly delicious.

The Ship always does an excellent roast and this time was no exception. Both were very good but DonQui thought that the pork possible had the edge on the beef. Unfortunately he tucked into the food right away rather than taking photographs.

Dunwich knickerbocker

However he did remember to capture the image of the rather spectacular knickerbocker glory which served as an excellent shared desert.