Oxford, a centre of learning for centuries, its cobbled streets, medieval buildings and twisting streets make it an excellent place to visit as a tourist. Sights include of course; the colleges and their libraries but, if it takes your fancy you can go punting or spend the afternoon just wandering around the city, discovering things for yourself. This is exactly what we at ‘The Portly Gourmet’ did. With this being our first trip to Oxford, and being based outside of Cambridge, we were all ready to make comparisons between the two cities, and whilst it is true they are very similar, the two cities have their individual characters. Oxford feels a lot busier and more cosmopolitan, where as Cambridge feels slightly more relaxed and less rushed (although these are purely personal opinions.)
Anyway, whilst we were given a whistle-stop tour of the University Town, and then it was down to more important matters such as food and drink. After popping into a couple of bars en route to the restaurant (the Mitre and Cape of Good Hope, respectively) we found ourselves in ‘Thai Orchid’ on St Clement Street. The surroundings were very pleasant, lots of carved wood in the shape of dragons and other Asian designs (Pictured). Having been seated and handed our menus, we came to the conclusion that Thai Orchids banquet dishes would be the best way for us to experience a wider selection from the menu. So when asked if we were ready to order we simply ordered each banquet meal.
Each Banquet came with an assortment of Thai starter dishes such as Spring Rolls, Chicken Satay and Filo Wrapped Prawns, the mains however, varied greatly Banquet A ‘House Special Selection’ came with a variety of different dishes designed to give the diner a fairly rounded Thai meal experience with dishes such as Meat and Seafood Stir Fry, Thai Curry and Jasmine Rice. Banquet B was ‘Hot and Spicy’ and let us tell you it definitely was! Banquet B, came with a starter of ‘Tom Yam Gai’ a spicy chicken soup with a savoury finish, it was wonderful. Finally Banquet C, ‘Seafood Selection,’ this was just wonderful, dishes included a Squid and Prawn Stir fry, Thai Style Chilli Prawns, Whole Deep Fried Sea Bass and Seafood Green Curry. The flavour combinations of all the of dishes gave the diner a sensory adventure from the sight of the assorted food covering the table in its multi-coloured glory to the smell and taste of the authentic ingredients and spices used in the cooking process. We would highly recommend eating at Thai Orchid as we thought the food was excellent and the price reasonable.
Our trip to Oxford and our Thai Food, has inspired us to share some favourite Asian Style Dishes with you first in an Extremely Simple Red Thai Curry:
- ½ Jar Red Curry Paste
- 1 large Chicken Breast sliced thinly
- 2 courgettes, chunked
- ½ red pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 red chilli sliced with seeds
- 1 tin coconut milk
- 1 cup rice
- 1 cup water
In one pan tip the rice and the water, bring to the boil and then simmer for ten minutes. After ten minutes turn off the heat and leave the rice in the pan do not remove the lid. In another pan of wok, begin frying off the chicken strips in a little oil. Once the chicken begins to brown add the peppers, the chillies, the courgettes and the curry paste and fry for around 1 minute. Then add the coconut milk and simmer for another 10 minutes, once cooked serve in bowls with the rice.
Whilst in Hong Kong, Singapore noodles become somewhat of a comfort food, this is an adaptation we have made, for a quick and easy snack.
- 1 cup rice
- 1 cup water
- 2 garlic cloves , crushed
- 2cm piece ginger , grated
- 1 red pepper , sliced
- 2 tsp curry powder
- ½ onion sliced
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 egg , beaten
- 2 red chillies , sliced
In one pan tip the rice and the water, bring to the boil and then simmer for ten minutes. After ten minutes turn off the heat and leave the rice in the pan do not remove the lid. Once the rice is cooked fry off the onion, red pepper and garlic in a wok, then add the spices, egg and soy sauce. Stir fry for around a minute and then ad the rice and cook for a further 3-4 minutes.
- Beef Skirt
- 1 Garlic Clove (crushed)
- Soy sauce
- Red wine or Rice wine vinegar
- Honey or Black Treacle
- Splash of oil
In a bowl, mix the soy sauce, vinegar, honey and garlic clove. Add the beef and leave to marinade for at least an hour, or if you’ve time over night. Once the beef has marinated, grill the beef (or in the summer BBQ) until it’s crispy but still rare in the middle. Once cooked slice the beef and serve on a platter