Guest Recipe: Rhey’s Jambalaya

My American friend Rhey and I made this together over Skype on Thanksgiving. It’s not strictly authentic, but personally I prefer Rhey’s less-meat-more-vegetables take on this traditional Cajun dish.

Cut 1 small plantain and 1 small sweet potato into large chunks and place on a baking tray with a drizzle of oil and a few cracks of black pepper. Roast at 180°C while preparing the rest of the dish. Cut 2 pork sausages into chunks and brown in a little butter in a large saucepan. Remove the sausage chunks and fry 1 onion, roughly chopped, and 2-3 cloves garlic, finely diced, until beginning to soften. Add 1 red or orange pepper, cut into chunks, and a large handful of red cabbage, roughly chopped. Fry until the onion becomes translucent, then add the sausage, 1 cup long or short grain rice, 2 cups hot stock, 1 tbsp paprika or smoked paprika, a pinch of salt, a generous crack of black pepper, cayenne pepper to taste, and a splash of Worcester sauce or soy sauce. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20-30 minutes until the rice is almost cooked through, lifting occasionally to prevent the rice sticking to the bottom of the pan but not stirring. Take the plantain and sweet potato out of the oven and mix it into the jambalaya with a large handful of pre-cooked prawns. Cook for a final ten minutes or until the prawns are heated through and the rice is done, then serve.

Makes 3-4 portions, depending how hungry you are. Keeps in the fridge for a few days.

Variations:

  • Instead of prawns, Rhey used chicken, cooked with the sausage. It’s traditional for jambalaya to have two meats, but it’s not vital.
  • What vegetables you add to the jambalaya depends on what you have lying around. Any other hard vegetables, such as carrot or parsnip, can be roasted with the sweet potato. Soft vegetables like peas or sweetcorn could be added towards the end of the cooking time; vegetables like green beans or broccoli would probably be best steamed separately and again added with the sweet potato.
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Thai Prawn Noodle Soup

Adapted from a BBC Good Food recipe I tore out of a magazine years ago.

Snap and cook 1 portion of noodles (egg, udon, instant etc) according to packet instructions. While the noodles are cooking, thinly slice 1/4 green bell pepper, 1/4 courgette and 1 clove garlic, then fry in oil over a high heat for 2-3 minutes until beginning to soften. Turn down the heat and add 1 tbsp curry paste, 2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup coconut milk, a pinch of chilli flakes and a large handful of frozen cooked prawns. Cook for 3-4 minutes until prawns are heated through. Stir in the noodles.

Serves 1; the soup base keeps in the fridge for a few days but it’s best to cook the noodles fresh for each portion otherwise they go soggy on reheating.

Variations:

  • Also very good with sliced button mushrooms, added with the prawns.
  • The original recipe called for pak choi; I’ve also made this with spinach and chard. The stalks can be cooked with the garlic and leaves added with the prawns.
  • For a hotter variation use a thinly sliced chilli pepper instead of the chilli flakes; fry them with the garlic
  • You can use thai curry paste for this, although I don’t usually have it in the cupboard.