Sorry, No Sushi tonight!

Last night for iftari we ate Japanese. Anyone who knows me knows that I love sushi, however in order for my family to eat the meal the remit was that it should be sushi free!!! Obviously being Ramadan we all want and probably need a hot meal at the end of a long day.

I’ve often wandered past Wasabi and looked longingly at the steam escaping their cooked dishes and thought they looked very tempting. Sadly, none being gluten free I’ve never had the pleasure in trying their delights. It was quite challenge trying to firstly find dishes that were hot as a) I didn’t know the names b) the Japanese seem quite secretive about this angle of their cuisine c) there was a lot of fish, and sadly everyone isn’t as pro-fish as I am d) there was tons of pork!

Some of the dishes had to be altered significantly just to create an appropriate taste balance after all when omitting sake (rice brew), mirin (rice wine) etc I feel it is important to put something back into the dish otherwise you aren’t left with much. The end result might not be authentically Japanese but I feel that it tastes good and left me feeling as if I had eaten Japanese.

Our menu consisted of:
Prawn and Vegetable Tempura
Tsukure (minced chicken balls)
Rice Shapes
Ingen No Goma-ae (green beans in sesame dressing)
Beef Teriyaki
Berry Uire cake

Prawn and Vegetable Tempura
Tempura, in the modern world sounds very Japanese and indeed it is. However, looks can be deceptive and this was a coloniser import. The Portugese may have brought Tempura to Japan, however the Japanese have added their own twist to things making the batter lighter and crispier than other battered food that I have ever tried. The trick with Tempura is not to over mix the mix, don’t leave it to stand and only make it as you need it.

1 cup of plain gluten free flour (I used Doves Farm Plain Flour)
1 egg
Very cold or iced water to mix
Oil for frying (I used rapeseed oil)
Thinly sliced vegetables
Whole raw prawns / bite sizes pieces of fish

Place the flour and egg in to a bowl, gradually mix in enough very cold water/iced water to create a thin batter (thick enough to hold on your finger). Mix using a knife or chopsticks, this is so that the batter is not over mixed. If you have occasional small flour lumps in the batter this is ok!

Dip the vegetables and seafood in the batter and deep fry in hot oil until the seafood is cooked and batter is crispy.

Tsukure (minced chicken balls)
1 small chicken breast
1 clove garlic
1 piece of lemon peel (zest only) the size of your thumb

Slice the garlic thinly, slice the lemon peel in to thin slithers, chop the chicken. Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until the chicken is mince. Form into golf ball sized balls. Each chicken breast should produce approximately 4 balls. Grill or deep fry until cooked all the way through.

Rice Shapes
For the rice shapes, I used a ‘toy’ that I bought in Malaysia. It is absolutely fantastic, you place the hot rice in to the moulds, push on the lid and then push out the shaped rice. If you do not have a similar gadget, I would suggest placing the hot rice into a dish with an edge about an inch deep. Pack the rice in and either score squares out and remove or cut out into shapes using a biscuit cutter. Ideally you don’t want to use shapes that are too big, a mouthful size is ideal.

1 cup of rice that has a high starch content eg sushi rice (I used a supermarket ‘basics range’ long grain rice that has a very high starch content). Leave the rice to soak for about an hour in water. Then rinse only once. It is very important that the starch stays in the rice as this is what will hold the shapes together. Cook the rice using a method where the rice soaks in the water, rather than one where you pour the water off. Once the rice has cooked either use a mould or pack into a tray and then shape the rice.

Ingen No Goma-Ae (Green Beans in Sesame Dressing)
For the dressing
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 tablespoon tamari sauce (naturally gluten free)
2/3 tablespoons of water

1.Toast the sesame seeds without oil in a heavy based pan until they are golden. Then transfer to a pestle and mortar and break down until they resemble breadcrumbs.
2.Blanche the green beans, and then spread the sesame seeds over them.
3.Mix the caster sugar, tamari sauce and water together then pour over the green beans.

Beef Teriyaki
Alhumdulilah we are very lucky that our butcher actually does know his cuts of beef. Most halal butches in London tend to have a slab of beef wrapped in plastic in a corner from which they cut slices upon request. If I ever asked what part of the animal the meat came from they would normally respond with a grunt. If you ask if it is suitable for steak they say yes, if you ask if it for stewing they say yes! How can it be both? If your butcher is like the aforementioned I suggest taking in an illustration of where the sirloin can be found.

Thin Serloin steak slices
Tamari sauce
1 clove garlic sliced
1 inch ginger sliced
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
5 Victoria plums (if you use other plums make sure they are small)
1 onion
1 red chilli

1.Boil the Victoria plums in enough water to cover the plums until they are cooked all the way through and their skins have come off. If the skins do not come off, remove them.
2. Place the sirloin steaks in to a container big enough to hold them.
3. Cover the steaks with enough tamari sauce so that they are covered in the sauce
4. Place the sliced ginger, slice garlic, rice vinegar, sugar and boiled plums into the container along with their juice.
5. Leave to marinate for approximately 3 hours
6. On a hot griddle pan, cook the steaks. Place them straight on to the pan and do not move until you are ready to change sides.
7. While the beef in cooking, put one thickly sliced onion in to a saucepan and place the marinade on top. Cook at a high heat for approximately 10 minutes to cook off any impurities that may have been in the meat. While you are doing this the mush the plums so that they come away from the stone and remove it.
8. Serve the beef teriyaki with the sauce on top of the meat and place the sliced chilli on top.

Berry Uire cake

To call Uire (pronounce ooo-ree) isn’t exactly truthful. Traditionally cakes are not eaten at the end of meal, instead the Japanese had accompaniments to the traditional tea ceremonies and this is one of those accompaniments. Considering the amount of sugar in this, this isn’t very sweet but it is a very tasty end to a meal. If you want a sugar rush I suggest replacing the fresh/frozen fruit with jam.

125g of ground rice
75g raw cane sugar
75g frozen mixed berries

1.Microwave the berries until they become soft and liquid starts to release (approximately 3 minutes)
2. In a separate microwave suitable flat container mix the ground rice and sugar with ½ cup of water. Then microwave for 3 minutes.
3. Remove from the microwave and mix in the berries, their juice and additional ¼ cup of water
4. Pack in firmly into the microwave container and microwave for 5 minutes (5-7 minutes) until it has puffed and cooked.

5. Allow to cool before cutting into squares or cutting with a biscuit cutter.

My apologies regarding the absence of photos for each item…I forgot!

Breakfast Bars

A big issue among coeliacs is breakfast. Breakfast obviously sets you up for the day. There is never a time when this is more in important than in Ramadan. After all Sehri/Suhoor needs to set you up for something like 17 hours if you live in the UK this year. Compare that to a winter fast where the day was barely 10 hours!!

Finding food which fills you up for a long time is a major issue if you are coeliac. Foods which contain whole grain, slow releasing carbohydrates are excellent like wheat, rye, oats and barely…its just that as a coeliac we cannot eat them…not even a grain! Although my body can tolerate pure oats (oats which have not been milled with gluten containing ingredients) I still can’t eat them in large quantities and have to be careful so as such am constantly on the hunt for something which will fill me up and which is obviously gluten free.

Alhumdulilah I discovered that corn meal was really filling when I made mealie pap a few weeks ago and since then I have been experimenting to find other ways of eating it.

These breakfast bars are great, they are very filling. The corn meal is wholegrain which is fantastic for coeliacs and non coeliacs alike, it is also a complex carbohydrate which stays in the body for longer. The sunflower seeds contain magnesium which is important for healthy bones, a must for coeliacs.

When making these bars, I wanted to make something which wasn’t sweet. I appreciate the fact that everyone has different sugar tolerances and so suggest that if you have a sweeter tooth add some more sugar at the start. The sour cherries balance out the sweetness of the dates, while the sunflower seeds add texture. Inshallah this will help fill you up for the long days ahead.

Ramadan Kareem

50g pitted dates chopped in to quarters
25g sour cherries (sweetened dried sour cherries)
25g sunflower seeds
25g sugar (add more to suit your taste)
1 cup of fine corn meal

1. In a pan place ½ a cup of water (this must be the same size cup as you use to measure the corn meal) with the pitted chopped dates
2. Place the pan on a low heat until the dates are soft and the water has taken on the colour of the dates.
3. Pour the sugar into the date water and set aside.
4. Measure out 1 cup of fine corn meal and mix it with ½ of hot water to form a crumb texture.
5. Set aside a ¼ of the corn crumbs
6. In the remaining ¾ corn mix slowly a little water so that it sticks together but is still stiff
7. Add the stiff corn mix to the dates and water and keep on a low heat
stirring all the time, use either a silicone spatula or a wooden spoon.
8. When a ball forms add the remaining corn crumbs and stir
9. Add the sour cherries and sunflower seeds
10. Line a tin/oven proof dish with baking paper (the tin should be
approximately the size of a normal paperback book) and pack the mixture in. Pack it in quite well so that there are no hidden air bubbles.
11. Place in a 200 degree oven on the bottom shelf for 15 mins.
12. After 15 remove from the oven allow to cool, chop into approximately 6 logs.
13. Place the logs on a baking sheet and bake again for a further 20 mins.