Sometimes the greatest ideas, the most obvious combinations lead to naught. I don’t mind my dinner being a bit rubbish if I haven’t made much effort. But when I have followed a recipe to the letter, not making any substitutions (which is exceedingly rare) and it still tastes a bit, well, blah, then I feel cheated. Tonight I made Nigel Slater’s pork with lime, chilli and peanuts. I love all of those ingredients; I especially love them combined, as they were, with garlic, lime juice, fish sauce, spring onions and herbs. But it didn’t work or at least it did nothing for me: there was no fresh zing, no sense of the flavours working together and all I could taste was lime and chilli.
The recipe came from Nigel Slater’s Real Food which was, I think, his fifth book. I wonder if, like other writers, food writers improve with practice and age and he had yet to reach the heights of The Kitchen Diaries; however that makes no sense because his first book is brilliant. But the whole situation leaves me not only hungry but with a dilemma: I don’t want to share a recipe that doesn’t work but, this being a Mon-Fri blog, I must share something. So, since I have to return Bill Granger to the library this weekend (I’ve renewed it seven times; might be sensible to just buy it) here is his fabulous coriander salsa recipe which I make a lot. Like the pork, it is full of wonderful ingredients, albeit fewer of them; unlike the pork it tastes of something. BG serves this with a marinated spicy steak; I usually have it with a grilled sirloin though something tells me it would be lovely with pork too. I wish I’d used my chillis and lime juice on this instead.
Bill Granger’s coriander salsa
You will need:
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
plain oil (e.g. sunflower), 60ml
caster sugar, 1 teaspoon
freshly ground black pepper
fresh coriander, 50g
lime juice, 2 tbsp (I find that one lime yields this much but it will depend on the size and ripeness of the fruit)
large red chilli
Thai fish sauce (nam pla), 1 tbsp
1. Rinse and chop the coriander (include both the leaves and the stems) and de-stalk and chop the chilli. You can de-seed the chilli too if you like but I never bother.
2. Juice the lime and measure out 2 tablespoons.
3. Mix everything together and serve with something chargrilled, like a steak or a pork chop.