Risotto with tuna and parsley

When you live in Geneva, you can’t have too many variations on Things to Do with Tuna, on account of how it’s probably going to be the main non-veg ingredient you can afford. I’m amazed at how well red wine worked in this, we are so used to ‘fish = white’. I will never be able to replicate this exactly as my red wine right now is an amalgam of various bottles people haven’t quite finished lately, including sparkling shiraz and cab sav.


  • Risotto rice
  • Shallot
  • Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Butter
  • Chicken stock
  • Parsley
  • Chilli
  • Tinned tuna
  • Red wine


While the stock is brought up to a simmer: gently fry the shallot and garlic in the olive oil. Add the rice and coat well with the oil. Add red wine – for two people I made that several generous slugs – and raise heat to burn off. Break up the tuna in the pan at the same time. Pour in the juice of the tuna if there’s any left in the tin and quite a bit of the stock. Leave at a fairly vigorous simmer. Start stirring and keeping an eye on it after five minutes (maybe more, I didn’t time it). Add lots of parsley, chopped, and the chilli. When it seems like it’s about done, stir in the butter.

That’s about it. Sorry it isn’t the traditional hover over it the the entire time earnestly stirring, but I find reading a book during that period has no damning effect on the risotto and it’s more fun.


Char Kway Teow

Serves 6-8.


1 kg/2 lb fresh rice noodles
250 g/8 oz barbecued pork
250 g/8 oz small prawns
2 lap cheong (Chinese sausage)
125 g/4 oz fresh bean sprouts
3 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
3 shallots, finely sliced
3-4 fresh red chillies, sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 eggs, beaten
4 spring onions (scallions), chopped
salt and pepper to taste

I wrote this up in Geneva some time ago….now I’m in Australia and fresh noodles abound.

I’m in Geneva, so mine is missing fresh noodles – arrgghhhhhhhhh! I am assured that I can make do by cooking dried noodles the night before and then have them sit in the fridge until using them the next day. We will see…

Also, I’m not a big fan of Chinese sausage, so it’ll be getting the gong.

These directions are from Charmaine Solomon Encyclopedia of Asian Food


Pour boiling water over noodles to soften and separate them. Drain in a colander. Slice pork finely. Shell and devein prawns. Steam sausages for 5 minutes, and when plump and soft, cut into thin diagonal slices. Rinse bean sprouts and pick off tails.

Heat half the oil and fry garlic, shallots and chillies until soft. Add pork, prawns and sausage. Stir-fry for 2 minutes or until prawns change colour. Add bean sprouts and toss for 30 seconds. Turn mixture out of wok, heat remaining oil and stir-fry the noodles to heat through. Add soy sauce and oyster sauce and mix. Push noodles to side of wok, pour eggs and spring onions into the centre and stir till set. Return fried mixture and toss with the noodles. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Spaghetti with mussels

I’m tiring of the format, reporting how many centimes I’ve spent on garlic and whatnot, so I expect everybody else is too. Instead I’m going to cost dishes from time to time.

Eat seasonally.

It is the mussel season here. I always buy mussels from Globus, having had a dreadful experience at Manor. It’s the old story, you get what you pay for. At Globus the sign may say 15.90CHF/100g for mussels, but it does mean 15.90CHF/kg. So that’s alright then. They are cheaper than truffles.

Today we had them like this.

Spaghetti with mussels

Ingredients for two

200-250g dry weight spaghetti
500g mussels (a generous quantity, it could certainly feed 3, 4 at a pinch)
garlic finely chopped
shallots finely chopped
fresh chillies finely chopped: I used 3 bird’s eye
100-200g good quality tomatoes seeded and slivered
spring onion green tops snipped into small rounds
olive oil for cooking
up to 1 cup of dry white wine


While the spaghetti is boiling, clean the mussels, discard any that are open.

Heat the oil and gently fry the garlic, shallots and chilli until softened. Raise the heat, add the wine and let the alcohol burn off. Add the tomatoes and leave on a low heat, get all those flavours mingling.

1-2 minutes before the spaghetti is cooked, raise the heat to high, throw in the mussels along with the small amount of liquid that will have accumulated with them. Put a lid on the pan. While they are bubbling away, drain the spaghetti – I don’t do this too thoroughly as the whole thing probably needs a little more liquid still. Throw the spaghetti into the pot with the mussel sauce, stir thoroughly, turn off the heat.

Serve with the spring onion scattered on top. You need a bowl for shells and, if you are being posh, finger bowls, it’s a fingery sort of dish.

It is SO good! If you can’t get good tomatoes, consider something more like a vodka cream sauce. Might report on that another day.


mussels 8
spaghetti 1.50
wine 1
tomatoes 2
sundries 1

Total 13.50

Definitely an extravagance, but worth every penny and as I said, the two of us could have made do less mussels without feeling the least hard done by.

Fish cakes as the English have them.

Boys love this. Surely that’s evidence of intelligent design, how easy it is to keep boys happy.


Ingredients for two

A smallish tin of tuna in oil preferably, but drained
2 largish potatoes
Thai fish sauce
Lemon rind finely chopped or grated
Freshly ground pepper. Salt if you please: it might depend on the tuna.

For the crumbs:

Flour in a flat-bottomed bowl
A beaten egg
Dry breadcrumbs, preferably made yourself, honestly, it’s worth it.


Peel the potatoes and chop, then boil until cooked.
Mash and thoroughly mix in the other ingredients. The fish sauce is imperative.

When cool, pick up a handful or so and flatten a little. Cover with flour, then egg and lastly dry breadcrumbs.

Cooking: heat butter, ghee or olive oil in a pan. Don’t be mean with it, enough to make the crumbs happy – they love fat. Fry until golden brown on both sides.

There just isn’t a way to serve seafood with vegetables except potato, of course, so that’s it. A few of them on each plate and serve.

Feel good food for any time.

Prawns with cocktail sauce

One of the things I’ve been doing in excess while in Australia is the devouring of South Australian king prawns. This is a favourite way.

Rick Stein’s cocktail sauce it is the only way I drink whiskey and I really do mean drink. I can stand at the fridge, door open, shovelling this into my mouth. If you happen to have prawns about, so much the better.

Ingredients for sauce:

* 4 tbsp mayonnaise
* 4 tbsp tomato ketchup
* 2 tbsp single malt whiskey
* 4 tbsp natural, unsweetened yoghurt

Mix the above and serve with prawns.

I buy green king prawns and cook them myself: a large pan of water to a good rolling boil, toss in the prawns, they will rise to the top and be pink after a couple of minutes or so. Quickly plunge into cold iced water and then chill until needed.

If you are serving this formally in glass bowls with salad leaves underneath and prawns mixed into the sauce, then I guess you shell them. If you are simply serving the prawns as a free for all fight, maybe best not to shell them, this is probably supposed to be part of the fun of the dish.

One of my favourite Christmas Day dishes for when I’m in the climate God surely intended for that occasion.

The one the restaurants always get wrong

Manny looked a bit sad when I told him what lunch was, and I can’t say as I blame him. It’s the dish restaurants always make so badly you can’t even believe it. You order it several times at several places thinking this time will be better, but eventually you wise up.

Spaghetti with smoked salmon sauce


Shallots, finely chopped
Garlic, finely chopped
white wine
spring onion green part cut into small rounds
smoked salmon
parmesan for those that must


While the spaghetti is cooking:

In a wok, gently fry the shallots and garlic in the butter until soft. Increase heat, add wine and vigorously reduce. Turn down heat and add cream. When the spaghetti is cooked, add to the sauce along with the salmon and toss thoroughly.

Serve with the spring onion rounds on top and lashings of freshly ground black pepper. Best practice, in my opinion, is for everybody to have their own pepper grinder.

Livers I have eaten

Lunch yesterday was fois gras spread on toast and a salad of rocket, pear and pecan. Not that I disliked it, but I suspect I must be too peasantine to appreciate liver presented as a product.

More to my taste was a dish I had in Finsbury Park a few weeks ago at Season Kitchen, which describes itself as modern British. Most of us had pheasant for our main course, but I began with a mixture of livers, duck and chicken. That was almost all there was to the dish. They were cooked not quite whole, but in chunky pieces, very plainly and acceptably timed. It’s hard for a restaurant to cook liver correctly as in general they need to err on the side of over-cooked, this being what the average diner is prepared for, not to mention, in the distance it takes to get from pan to table it is still cooking and those few seconds can make all the difference. I want my liver to be soft, but not bloody…

…and to be frank, I want it dead, which was not quite how I had it in Japan a few years ago. I appreciate the Japanese insistence on freshness, but may there not be some trust in the transaction between chef and customer? Here the liver we ate was from a squid which had been chopped in the kitchen but was still alive as it was cooked in front of us and even when it was on our plates. Like it hadn’t put the pieces together yet: I guess it was the squid equivalent of a still-live but headless chook.

At any rate, a fairly plain way to have liver which I can’t cook at the moment because Globus has stopped selling chicken livers and I know not where else to acquire them in Geneva, is this Italian style. I wrote it up a while ago here.