Valentine’s Evening

A lovely menu for two.

Starter.

Tiger Prawns with tai dipping sause.

Main.

Pan-fried Salmon with a sesame crust on wasabi mash

Dessert

Panna Cotta Hearts and poached red fruit

Valentine’s day should be shared over a light meal.

The tai prawn salad will be a finger-licking delight as a starter. Followed by a lovely pan-friedsalmon sesame covers salmon served on mashed patatoed fried with the mustardy zip of wasabi. The dramatically dark pouched red fruits are partnered with creamy yoghurt panna cotta hearts to bring this meal to a romantic end.

Side tip: The orange zest will give the dish a great citrus edge.

Edit

Tiger prawns

with a Thai dipping sauce

The tiger prawns will be served on a bed of crisp lettuce and coriander doused in a tangy Thai-style dressing and dipping sauce.This will make for tenderly delicious starter.

You will need:

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes 

For the prawns:

  •  10 raw tiger prawns, peeled with heads off, tails on.
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (15cm)
  • Salt and pepper

 

For the dressing:

  • 1 tbsp Thai fish sauce (nam pla) (15ml)
  • ½ red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 kaffir lime leaf (fresh or dried)
  • ½ stalk lemon grass
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ¼ tsp sugar (1,25ml)

For the salad: 

  • Small bunch coriander
  • ¼ iceberg lettuce 

Cooking instructions:

1 To make the dressing combine 5 tbsp water with the fish sauce, then add the chopped chilli and kaffir lime leaf.

2 Peel away the tough outer layers of the lemon grass, finely chop the more tender inside and add to the dressing. Add the lemon juice and sugar and leave to marinate.

3 Meanwhile, pluck 10-20 coriander leaves from the bunch and set aside. Chop the rest of the coriander finely.

4 Shred the lettuce very finely then arrange it on two plates, putting the coriander leaves on top.

5 Pour the dressing into a small saucepan and warm through over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes.

6 Put a non-stick frying pan on the heat and add the vegetable oil. Fry the prawns in the hot oil, cooking them for just 1 minute each side till bright pink.

7 Once the dressing is well warmed remove  the kaffir lime leaf. Just before serving add the chopped coriander and stir

8 Arrange the prawns on the lettuce and coriander and spoon over some of the dressing. Serve the rest of the dressing in a pretty bowl for dipping. Have finger bowls of warm water with slices of lemon  in ready to clean sticky fingers after the course.


Pan-fried salmon

with a sesame seed crust on wasabi mash 

This stylish dish is infused with subtle Japanese flavours. Served on a bed of wasabi flavoured mashed potato is a tender pan-fried salmon that is encased in a delicious sesame crust. Lightly cooked mangetouts and courgettes complete the meal.

Cooking notes: Wasabi is known as Japanese horseradish and has a lovely peppery heat that teams well with creamy mashed potatoes. It’s green in colour and you can find it dried or in a paste form (just like English mustard). It is usually served with sushi but works well when incorporated into mashed potato – just like a grant mustard or regular horseradish does.  

You will need:

Preparation time:

  • 10 minutes for the salmon
  • 15 minutes for the vegetables


Cooking time:

  • 8 minutes for the salmon
  • 15-20 minutes for the potatoes
  • 5-7 minutes for the mangetouts and courgettes 

For the salmon: 

  • 2 x 175g (6oz) salmon fillets, skin removed.
  • 55g (2oz) sesame seed
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil 

For the wasabi mash: 

  • 450g (1 lb) floury potatoes, peeled and chopped into even 5cm (2in) chunks
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) milk
  • 1½ tsp wasabi paste ( substitute horseradish sauce if you can’t find wasabi)
  • 25g (1oz) butter 

For the mangetouts and courgettes: 

  • 175g (6oz) courgettes
  • 175g (6oz) mangetouts

Pan-frying the salmon:

1 Combine the lemon juice, soy sauce and ginger in a bowl. Lightly brush the fillets with the mixture and then dredge well with the sesame seeds.

2 Heat the oil I’m a large non-stick frying pan and fry the fish over a moderate heat until the sesame seeds are golden and the fish is just cooked – approximately 4 minutes on each side depending on size.

3 Place the salmon on top of a serving of the wasabi mash.

Making the wasabi mash: 

1 Place the potatoes in a large saucepan of cold salted water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 20 minutes till tender. Drain, return to the saucepan and mash.

2 Add the milk, butter and wasabi paste ( or horseradish sauce), and mash to a very smooth consistency. Season with salt and pepper and serve as a bed for the salmon.

Cooking mangetouts and courgettes: 

1 Top and tail the mangetouts. Cut the ends off the courgettes and slice diagonally to create oval shapes.

2 Place the vegetables into a steamer for 5-7 minutes until just all dente.

Tip: If you prefer for vegetables with crunch and punch, heat 1 tbsp groundnut oil in a wok and fry 2 cloves of crushed garlic until it turns golden. Add the mangetouts and courgettes, season and stir-fry until just tender.

Panna cotta hearts 

with poached red fruits 

A perfect end to the meal, rich creamy yoghurt panna cotta hearts with poached red berries. Served with hot or cold poached fruit it makes a romantic and dramatic dessert.

You will need:

Preparation time: 10 minutes 

Cooking time: 7 minutes 

Equipment: 

  • Heart shaped cookie cutter
  • 18 x 17 cm (7×11 in) baking tin, lined with baking parchment.

For the panna cotta: 

  • ½ x 11.7g sachet powdered gelatine
  • 142ml carton double cream
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 40g (1½oz) caster sugar
  • 250g natural wholemilk set yoghurt

For the poached berries: 

  • 225g (8oz) mixed red berries – redcurrants, blackcurrants and blackberries
  • Zest of ½ orange finely grated
  • 25-55g (1-2oz) sugar to fast

Making the panna cotta: 

1 Make the panna cotta by putting 4 tbsp water in a small bowl, shake over the gelatine and allow to dissolve.

2 Pour the cream into a saucepan. Slit the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape the seeds into the cream. Add the sugar and heat until the sugar dissolves – the cream should be hot but not boiling. Remove the cream from the heat pour in the gelatine mix and whisk well allow to cool.

3 Put the yoghurt in a bowl, strain the cream mixture onto it through a sieve and whisk it together. Pour the mixture into the lined baking tin and leave to set overnight

4 Using the lining paper, lift the panna cotta square out of its tin and cut 4 heart shapes with the cookie cutter. Carefully move to a serving dish with a spatula. Serve with the berries.

Poaching the berries:

Put the berries, orange zest, 5 tbsp water and 25g (1oz) sugar into a saucepan and cook for 5-10 minutes until just soft. Taste and add more sugar if required. Serve the berries hot or cold.

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