Monday, 25 June 2012

DIY wasabi crisps

The horror! The Japan Centre no longer stocks my favourite wasabi rice crackers. Sob. I am quite bereft, and no amount of googling has turned up another supplier.

So, I've resorted to making my own eye watering snacks, which almost make up for the loss. Made with seasonal spring greens, these are packed with vitamins and only contain two teaspoons of oil, so I can graze on them through the day, guilt free.

The oven temperature for this may seem long and low, but persevere - think of it more as dehydrating than cooking. You're aiming for unsinged, crisp wafers, so plenty of patience is required.


150g spring greens or kale (weight after removing the tough central stalks) about 4 well-packed cups
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 tsp soy sauce
4 tsp powdered wasabi

1) Cut the spring greens into large crisps, about 5x8cm pieces, then wash and thoroughly dry them with a tea towel.

2) Toss the greens in a large bowl with the rest of the ingredients, except one teaspoon of the wasabi powder, then use your hands to make sure that all the leaves are evenly covered with the oil.

3) Spread out evenly in a large roasting tin and bake at 275f / 140c / gas mark 1 for about 90 minutes, stirring through every 20 minutes to ensure they all dry out evenly. Try to keep the leaves flat if possible, so they don't clump together. If they fold over each other you will find that some will not be as crisp as others.

4) When all the leaves are crisp and dried through, allow them to cool before tossing through the remaining wasabi powder, and store in an airtight box.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Chicken of the woods with HRH wild garlic

Apologies for the deadly silence of late, I've been caught in a frenzy of what-to-wear? brought on by those summer events that demand something shiny and new.  Does it really take that long to pull together a few outfits for a couple of weddings and a festival you may very sensibly ask... Yes, if like me you are stricken with the indecisive gene.  Plus, the weather hasn't been very forgiving recently so my summer frocks need buddying up with something more sensible for the foreseeable future.  Anyway, crisis over, frocks found, and the world has been put to rights again.

Back when I still had free time, I was foraging again with the boy and struck gold - mushroom gold!  Chicken of the woods is supposedly quite common in the UK but had previously eluded me.  If you've not seen it before, it's a bracket fungus that grows off deciduous trees like oak in clustered plates, in the most incredible vibrant sulphur yellow that just shines out from the tree when you spot it.  It is like finding treasure!

I'm afraid I was too eager to tuck into our bounty so totally forgot to take a good picture of it before we chopped it up, but you can see the brilliant colours and marbling in the first photo above.  Beautiful.

Since it was our first time eating COTW we cooked it very simply, in butter with a little sea salt, until it was crispy at the edges and had turned an even deeper shade of orange.  And oh. My. God.  It was ridiculously delicious.  I wasn't sure if the name would ring true, but it really does taste like chicken, in the sense that it's rich, deeply flavoured and firm textured.  It's like the chicken that I remember from when I was little.  Essence of chicken.  Partnered with a poached egg and some pan fried wild garlic (foraged also, from the grounds of a Royal Palace no less!) and spinach, it made the perfect toast topping to start the day.

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