Reidbury's Kitchen

Food thoughts, recipes and billowing smoke from a home cook's kitchen in London

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Thai Chicken with Basil and Chillies – Old School Style!

Thai Chicken with Basil & Chillies

Thai Chicken with Basil & Chillies

Whilst I was at home over Easter I had my obligatory hour or so looking at all of Momma Bury’s cookbooks. She’s got hundreds and whilst my Dad might not fully understand why she keeps ‘needing’ to acquire more, I can’t help but agree with her! Cookbooks sit on the shelf, full of possibility, and sometimes they are like little historical artefacts that take you back in time and remind you of your previous food phases. And as I was flicking through the bookshelves  I saw a book that took me right back to my youth – it’s a dated looking book called Home from Work Suppers by Sara Buenfield and if you want to see the retro cover it’s available here. I remember my Mum re-finding her love of cooking and I’m sure it was around the time she bought this book. There’s actually some lovely recipes in there, but the one I remember being a favourite when I was around 15 was Thai Chicken with Basil and Chillies. It was slightly ahead of it’s time – nowadays there’s huge volumes dedicated to every type of Asian cuisine, but this recipe still had to describe what fish sauce is, and how to substitute it if you can’t get hold of it. Now I LOVE Thai food, and so does Paul, so I wanted to see if this recipe would live up to my memory, especially given the ingredients that are now so prevalent in even the smallest of supermarkets (galangal, palm sugar and the like). 

Now, whilst I wouldn’t say this recipe is the best to try if you want to turn your hand to an authentic Thai stirfry, it is a really tasty stirfry that’s quick to make and easy to eat. And it’s one that I’ll cook again. Paul liked it which was important, but I loved it as it took me right back to the kitchen in Bolton where I’d help Mum with the preparation and Dad would dig out the wok!

KB rating 8.75/10. PR rating 8.25/10. (He said it would’ve been higher if I’d added more chilli)

Thai Chicken with Basil and Chillies (serves 2)


  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1-2 fresh green chillies (I used 2, and whilst it might have been the strength of my particular chillies, I felt it needed a bigger heat kick)
  • 1 large red pepper
  • 90g sugar snap peas or mangetouts
  • 4 spring onions
  • 7g fresh basil
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp soft brown sugar


First prepare all the ingredients, as there’s not much cooking time. Slice the chicken into bite-sized strips. Chop the garlic, seed and finely chop the chillies and roughly chop the red pepper. Top and tail the sugar snaps or mangetouts. Chop the spring onion at a slight angle to make fine shreds. Shred the basil.

Mix the cornflour with the fish sauce until smooth.

Heat the oil in a wok over a high heat until very hot and then toss in the chicken, garlic, chillies and stir fry for 2 minutes until the chicken changes colour.

Add the red pepper, sugarsnaps/mangetouts, spring onions, ground coriander and sugar and stir fry for 4-5 minutes. Stir the cornflour mixture before pouring over the chicken and vegetables, stirring constantly until the juices thicken.

Throw in the basil and remove from the heat. Serve immediately with jasmine rice.

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Thai-Style Steamed Fish

Thai-Style Steamed Fish, BBC Good Food

Thai-Style Steamed Fish, BBC Good Food

Now I’ve started going back to the gym again, I’ve wanted to dig out recipes that are healthy but tasty. And this recipe was one of the old favourites – Thai-Style Steamed FishAt less than 200 calories (excluding the rice), it’s so good for you but you really don’t feel like you’re missing out on a good dinner! Add in the fact that it only takes 25 minutes to do start to finish and it’s a really good mid-week dish. Whilst the recipe states trout fillets as the chosen fish, this will work equally well with most flaky fish. And there are so many other swap outs you could do – swap pak choi for any green veg (green beans, peas, asparagus spring to mind). Swap out the lime for lemon, or the soy sauce for hoisin  – the possibilities are all there depending on what you have sat in your cupboard.

The end result is soft, flaky fish with a really fragrant sauce. Serve with jasmine rice and you’re onto a winner. It’s also nice cold – but maybe it’s just me who thinks that.

And regarding the steaming technique – I have one of those three-tier steamers, which is one of the best purchases I’ve made. Given space is at a premium in the Reidbury Kitchen, it’s great as you can cook carbs in the water at the bottom, and then sit the fish or chicken on the layer above and then veg above that. But for this recipe, you could easily just get a regular pan of water, sit the fish parcel on a heatproof plate on top and then place a lid on top of the plate.

PR rating 9/10. KB rating 9/10. WW Points: 5 (if using trout and not including rice)

Thai-Style Steamed Fish (serves 2)


  • 2 trout fillets (or any other fish fillet of your choosing)
  • Small knob of fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 small red chilli, finely chopped (the recipe says ‘not bird’s eye’, although that’d work if that’s all you have)
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 3 baby pak choi, quartered (I can never find baby pak choi, so I just use one whopping one instead, still quartered)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce


Take a large square of foil and nestle the fish fillets side by side. Scatter over the ginger, garlic, chilli and lime zest. Then drizzle the lime juice over the top and scatter the pieces of pak choi around and on top of the fish. Pour the soy sauce over the pak choi and then loosely seal the foil to make a package – make sure you leave space at the top so that there’s room for the steam to circulate as the fish cooks.

Steam for 15 minutes – by this time the fish will be cooked and flaky, and a little sauce will have gathered at the bottom of the foil. Honestly, the trickiest part of the whole recipe is not spilling the sauce out of the foil when you’re pouring over the fish!

Serve with jasmine rice. Feel very healthy and smug.

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Some Recent Restaurant Experiences (And Some Fab Festival Food)

Well it’s been a while since I updated this blog, so lots to talk about. But in this entry I’m going to focus on a number of great restaurants I’ve been to over the last couple of weeks. I’ll start with Bocca di Lupo, an Italian restaurant nestled on a side street in Soho. I was really surprised how small the restaurant was, which added greatly to the atmosphere. The menu is a great combination of sharing food and full dishes. Pretty much anything on the menu comes in two portion sizes, which is great if you want to sample as much of their food as possible. The menu also changes daily. Particular highlights for me were the Courgette Flowers with Mozzarella and Anchovy and the Sea Bream Carpaccio which we shared. As an anchovy cynic I was a bit unsure about the Courgette Flowers dish, but thank God someone else gave it a whirl – the flavour in such a small mouthful was surprising! Paul had Roast Suckling Pig & Grapes as his main which was fantastic although a massive portion. I had the Saltimbocca alla Romana which was a brave choice for me. Very enjoyable but think I’d try something else next time! Desserts were also a triumph, and I’d be interested in going to their shop across the road, Gelupo, for gelato at some point.

Another restaurant we went to over the last few weeks was our tried and tested Thai local, Thai Room, located in Bow Wharf. What looks a bit like a portakabin from the outside is actually a lovely, cosy restaurant that serves some of the best Thai food I’ve eaten. Part of the fun of eating in a great local restaurant is ordering the usual faves! It’s a bit like digging out your favourite jumper when summer starts turning to autumn – comfortable and cosy! We ordered Drunken Beef, Crispy Trout with Three-Flavoured Sauce, Green Curry with Chicken and Pad Thai. All fantastic as usual.  

I was lucky enough to eat in two of my absolute London favourites over the last few weeks. Whilst they sit at extreme ends of the ‘Price Per Head’ scale, I get such huge enjoyment from eating at both of these places – Gaucho and Mien Tay. I do get pretty giddy at any excuse to eat at either and often know what I’m going to order from the moment I find out we’re going!

First up was Mien Tay which, in my humble opinion, is the best Vietnamese on the Kingsland Road. Not only is the food phenomenally good, it’s cheap AND it’s BYO with no corkage fee. I literally couldn’t ask for more! I went with a group of work friends so we didn’t necessarily all share dishes (which I think is the best way to eat at Mien Tay) but I did manage to get some of the classics onto the table. The Crispy Sea Bream with Lemongrass and Chilli was great but, if anything, slightly drier than previous times I’ve ordered it. The Quail with Honey and Spices was as good as ever and I think garnered a few converts! Perhaps the best dish this time was the Beef Wrapped in Rice Paper which I’m sure few people order because the name belies the flavours involved! All in all a great meal – all washed down with some good red wine at Off License prices. Perfection.

This week Paul and I went to my other ‘treat’ restaurant – Gaucho. This time we went to the one in Canary Wharf, and felt very extravagant by going on a Tuesday! This was the first time we’d gone back to a Gaucho since going to Hawksmoor (Seven Dials location), so I was interested in seeing how they compare. Hawksmoor was fantastic and I’m a bit of a cocktail obsessive, so their cocktail menu won me over right from the start. Add in Oysters with Sausage as a starter and I’m pretty much in heaven. Could Gaucho, part of a chain, still deliver? Erm, YES. Definitely YES. We had a brilliant time. We decided to forego the starters and skip straight to the steak – I had my usual 300g Rump whilst Paul went a little off piste and went for a 300g Fillet. Both were unbelievable good – great flavour, cooked to perfection and with a Bearnaise sauce on the side I was a happy bunny. We followed this up with some cheese – I always enjoy it when the waiter shows the cheese selection and the strategic decision to avoid starters was well made! Shame they don’t do Malbec chutney anymore though – it’s now two types of  paste. A Malbec paste and a Torrontes paste – both lovely, but that chutney was special!

Finally, Paul and I went to the Big Chill Festival a few weeks ago. Not only was I concerned about the toilets, the crowd and the weather, I was also worried about the food options (in no way am I the sort of person to take a camping stove and watch some pasta boil for 3 hours). Turns out there was no need to worry about anything, especially the food! We both ate like Kings with a huge range of options.It is a truly global affair as I enjoyed food from France (Boulangere Potatoes with Sausage), India (Vegetarian Thali), Lebanon (Mezze), America (Potato Wedges!), Britain (Pie, Mash, Peas and Gravy) and North Africa (Spicy Fish Bourek – a type of filo parcel). Add in Paul’s choices from Jamaica (Goat Curry), Thailand (Green Curry) and Greece (Harissa Chicken Wrap) and we covered a hell of a lot of the globe!

And special mention to some fantastic drinks at the festival too – firstly, the Cider Bus! No matter what the weather, they had an option that just seemed to work perfectly. In the rain, their hot spicy cider warms you up. When it’s overcast their medium cider hit the spot. And when it was glorious sunshine their Orchard Mist(basically a ‘Somerset Pimms; with cider brandy, lemonade, mint and raspberries) refreshes. God bless the apple.

The Cider Bus, The Big Chill Festival 2011

And an unexpected boozy treat came from the Grand Marnier tent of all things. My experience of Grand Marnier to date is either marinated oranges, done by my Mum as a dessert, or as part of a Crepe Suzette. Turns out if you mix Grand Marnier, Elderflower Cordial and Soda Water and serve in a jug with oranges, lemons and strawberries you get a Grand Espirit. Or in other words, a little taste of summer heaven. Mmmmmm.

The Grand Espirit, Big Chill Festival 2011