Early on in my Adelaidian life, my new American buddy Leena of www.leenaeats.com introduced me to pho, a Vietnamese beef and noodle soup. Pronounced "fuh," like the first part of the bad word, or like "fun," since it's tasty, not ucky. It’s quite a deal at around $6 for a huge steamy bowl of rich belly pleasing goodness. Here’s a pho-to (get it?):
Leena and her hubby Adam also took me to a huge bar/restaurant/driving range/ lounge, The Tap Inn. Although we were too late to eat the food, I was astonished at the size of the menu. And they had swings. And Coopers on tap. So it’s worth mentioning.
Because we were too late to chow at the Tap Inn, we swung by the Garden of Unearthly Delights for some late-night grub. Our options were numerous. There was a grilled corn-on-the-cob cart, replete with drunken Aussies elegantly demonstrating how they eat corn-on-the-cob-on-a-stick in this part of the world…
There was a yiros (nope, that’s not a typo, that’s how they spell it here. Silly Australians) cart, and also a “hot chips” (aka “Freedom fries”) cart. The obvious choice for me was the hot chips. Much to my immense delight, they serve fries with a wide array of condiments: aioli, sour cream and sweet chili sauce, and tomato sauce (aka “ketchup”)! Who doesn’t love a free plate of condiments?! And I couldn’t believe the gourmet interplay of sour cream and sweet chili sauce on the palate… what a delight. Leena gives it a thumbs up, too.
The next morning my classmate P and I attempted to take a daytrip to the country. When the bus didn’t arrive after we waited for an hour, we decided, what the heck, let’s just EAT instead (that’s what we wanted to do anyway). We took a short walk to The Greek Mezze on Gouger Street, a restaurant that is literally in my backyard – er, back-concrete parking lot. I had a salad of grilled haloumi over rocket (arugula), red onion, and grapes.
We shared a platter of pickled octopus, fried sardines, and tiger prawns wrapped in kataifi pastry and fried.
Soon thereafter I was very happy to be invited to ML&A’s house for another scrumptious feast. ML had just taken a trip to Sri Lanka with a friend who was in town so they made Sri Lankan “tapas”, an assortment of 10 – 15 curries – there was a cashew curry, spicy pineapple, wild rice, beef, green beans and water chestnuts, a cauliflower curry, so many I can’t remember them all, with pappadums and of course, top-notch wine. We sat outside in their lovely yard as the sun set, a beautiful backdrop to an amazing meal in great company.
After class the following week, my classmate Jackie (hi Jackie! Are you reading this?!) invited me and another classmate to her gorgeous home for a gorgeous impromptu dinner with her gorgeous family. Boy, I wish my impromptu dinners tasted like this! She just whipped us up a Thai spread of red curry with prawns and eggplant, and lemongrass beef stirfry. YUMMM. I have since made the curry THREE times. I am obsessed – you MUST try it! Quick, delicious, perfect!
Jackie’s Thai Curry with Prawns
1 tbsp vegetable oil
5 tbsp Thai red curry paste
1 tsp ginger, julienned
1 clove garlic, julienned
1 ½ cups coconut milk
1 cup (or more) chicken stock
3 kaffir lime leaves
1 small eggplant, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 lb prawns (shrimp)
½ bunch coriander (cilantro), chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1 -2 tbsp fish sauce
Steamed white rice
In a medium Dutch oven, heat vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add red curry paste, ginger and garlic, and stir fry on medium low heat until fragrant. Pour in coconut milk and chicken stock (you want the sauce to be a thin gravy, so add more or less stock as needed to correct the consistency). Place kaffir lime leaves and eggplant in sauce and simmer until eggplant is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add prawns to sauce and simmer until prawns are just cooked through, then add coriander, lemon juice, and fish sauce. Remove curry from heat immediately and serve with rice.
1 lb beef, cut into thin strips
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tsp ginger, grated
4 stalks lemongrass, finely sliced
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp lime juice
4 tbsp fish sauce
4 tbsp ketjap manis (sweet Indonesian soy sauce; can use regular soy sauce with 1 tsp added sugar)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 red onion, sliced
½ lb green beans, cut in half
Steamed white rice
Combine first 5 ingredients and allow to marinate while preparing the remaining ingredients.
Mix together lime juice, fish sauce, and ketjap manis for sauce.
Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a wok until smoking. Brown beef in batches, removing to a plate as browned (do not cook meat long, as it will finish cooking in the sauce). Once all meat is browned, fry onion in wok then add green beans and stir fry for a short period of time. Add beef back to the wok with the sauce. Heat through and serve with rice.