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I love Christmas, so much so that I didn't even mind putting up the Christmas decorations
in the middle of summer in order to film this programme.
It's one of those strange little eccentricities of working in television.
Christmas specials being filmed in June!
But I'd just returned from filming my latest series all around the Far East,
an odyssey which inspired me to come up with the answer to that big cooking dilemma
facing us all at Christmas time.
What to do with that cold turkey.
Well, I think that's it really. It's looking really quite Christmassy.
-It's looking really quite Christmassy now, can we start?
Well, come on, it's Christmas!
My journey throughout the Far East took me from Indonesia, Cambodia,
Thailand through Malaysia and Vietnam to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Everywhere, I was bowled over by the perfectly balanced fresh food.
In every dish, there were lots of vegetables, plenty of rice and a little protein.
They don't actually celebrate Christmas in any of the countries I visited,
but they do have more than their fair share of religious festivals and celebrations.
Unlike us, they do sit down regularly for meals with the whole family.
They don't waste any food and they know how to eat healthily.
At this time of year when we're building up our annual blow-out with the family,
I know we can learn a lot from the way they do things out East.
Food is not just a meal to them, it's almost a religion in itself
and every meal becomes a joyous celebration.
So this Christmas, give a thought to ringing the changes and say nasi goreng, so popular in Indonesia.
It's a perfect dish for left-over turkey and great for breakfast.
Another contender is a Thai noodle dish made with prawns and chunks of cold turkey.
and then Sri Lankan curry made with lashings of coconut, cinnamon
and specially roasted spices bringing out lots of flavour.
But it's not just about left-over turkey. This is one of my favourites.
Poached chicken with ginger and star anise served with rice, cooked with a broth made from the chicken.
One of the things that really excited me about my trip through the Far East
is the thought of what to do with left-over turkey meat.
Much more refreshing things and not the old standards. Some salads.
A particularly special curry. And one or two other things and while I was away, I was thinking, yes!
You've got all that lovely white meat. There's things you can do.
Spicy, spiky things, like this salad I'm just about to make from Vietnam.
You'll see by the end of it, you'll be saying, that's what to do with a turkey!
So I'm just slicing these up to go in the salad.
I hope you like my decorations.
I mean, you might think they're a little over the top.
I went mad in the supermarket.
It's not quite Nigella.
I think hers is a bit more sort of faultless and understated. But I like them.
I'm using Chinese leaves to make up this salad.
But any crisp type of lettuce will do the trick.
You want to end up with a bit of a bite to it.
Shred it or chop it fairly finely and chuck it in with the turkey meat.
So now I'm going to cut up a couple of bits of carrot using the mandolin here.
The mandolin's an easy way to cut the carrot into thin strips called, julienne.
That's better than grating, it looks better.
Then on to that put a handful of crisp bean sprouts.
A similar amount of finely-chopped shallots and some chopped peanuts.
One of the things that really distinguishes these salads from Vietnam
is the enormous amount of herbs that go into them.
They grow the most wonderful aromatic herbs,
some which you find quite difficult to get here, particularly one called Vietnamese mint.
Although I have grown it in my garden, but it was killed off in a savage winter.
But this time, I'm just using mint and coriander and basil
to sort of approximate that Vietnamese mint flavour and it does really quite well.
To get a piquant dressing, add some red chillies to some chopped garlic in a bowl.
Put in a good amount of sugar. It doesn't have to be palm sugar, but that would be best.
Then some fish sauce, and a splash of rice wine vinegar and a lot of lime juice.
Perhaps use a couple of limes.
A quick whiz round to dissolve the sugar
and dress the salad as normal to get everything well and truly coated.
It should look all wet and glistening.
Don't forget that it's one of those salads that is best made immediately before going to the table.
That is so nice.
And one of the things about turkey meat,
it is quite strong and that's one of the things I'm really not sure I like about left-over turkey dishes.
But this works a treat because there's lots of other robust flavours with it.
You've got chilli. You've got lime.
And you've got lots and lots of herbs. And the turkey meat.
It's in harmony.
Harmony was a concept that I found all the time in the Far East,
especially in dishes like Vietnamese fir soup with its finely sliced beef and fresh herbs
in an intensely flavoured broth.
The textures and flavours all exquisitely balanced.
Or marinated chicken pieces wrapped in lime leaves with a spicy Vietnamese dipping sauce.
One of the most inspiring people I met on my trip was Cathy Danh
whose understanding of food so resonated with my own.
So what does Vietnamese food and cooking mean to you, Cathy, then?
Erm, it reminds me of just like growing up.
Erm, like I know when I was away at college, I would go out for Vietnamese food
and that just brought a huge smile to my face
because it just brought back memories of, like, you know, mum, grandma.
But I also introduced my friends to the cuisine as well.
-As I say, food is a great way of communicating.
Once you move out of, you know, whatever country of origin,
it's hard to retain culture because language can easily be lost.
But food is something... I mean, you have to eat three times a day.
So, you can really retain this aspect of the culture
and appreciate that.
Cathy told me about this dish, which is duck stewed in orange juice.
It'll be brilliant for Christmas time.
First of all, you fry off the duck pieces, because you don't want the duck fat in the finished dish.
So drain that off.
Next, loads of garlic.
Seven or eight cloves which you roughly bruise.
And now fresh ginger, about half a dozen slices.
And the orange juice. I have to say I've cooked this dish for loads of people and they just love it!
Now, a good tablespoon of fish sauce.
Half a dozen stars of star anise and, of course, chilli.
Now I bruise some lemongrass. Think I went over the top there. More of a bashing!
Palm sugar for the sweet element.
And then a seasoning of salt and pepper.
Cook that for one and a half hours and then add some spring onions
which need to soften in the sauce for another half an hour.
And when that's done, it's ready to dish up.
This is why I like travelling to countries I've never been to before, like Vietnam,
bringing a dish like this home.
Place the duck pieces onto a warm dish and then slightly thicken the sauce with corn flour.
I think this will be a great dish to have on Christmas Eve.
It's all in one pot and fills your kitchen with the spicy smells of Christmas.
The perfect thing to look forward to when you come back from carol singing, via the pub maybe?
I suppose my lasting memory of Vietnam,
an endlessly fascinating country,
was going to this village which was for heroes from the war. Soldiers and sailors.
Now their children and grandchildren live there.
I guess I must have been a totally odd sight.
'Come on, then!'
I don't think they'd ever seen a Westerner before.
I felt like the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
Nearly all of the Far East is heavily influenced by religion, and none more so than Bali.
It forms and informs nearly every aspect of life on the island.
A Swiss chef who's lived there for some time told me about their attitude towards life.
He said that they always see something good in whatever comes their way
and that nothing is undertaken without some reference to their gods.
It makes them a very calm and tranquil people.
OK, admission time.
When I saw that wonderful Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, South Pacific,
I thought that haunting song, Bali Ha'i, was about the island of Bali.
In a way I still do, because it evokes a type of paradise we all strive for in our minds.
It's an escape to a place that's calm and serene.
And although 50 years on I know that the island and that famous song was an entirely different place,
the sentiment is still the same.
But my reason for being there was for the special food.
And it didn't come more special than this.
Now, I know a lot of you will be cooking a pork joint at some time over the Christmas period.
So I thought this might set your juices flowing.
It certainly had quite an effect on me.
That is fabulous. I just know looking at that, that I will never taste
more succulent or crispy crackling and pork in my life.
And watching it, I just thought when I was setting out on this journey
to Southeast Asia, that this is the sort of thing I was thinking of.
Wood fire. Whole pig.
Rather hot and sweaty.
Lovely aromas. I mean, this babi guling is it.
Babi means "pig", and guling means "tumbling" or "rolling".
I mean, his skill is marvellous.
I'm just watching him just dampening down the flames, because of course,
pork is very fatty and it could just all flare up.
And it sort of reminds me more than anything of, of sort of like Tudor England,
the roast beef of England
where some guy like this would be right up to the spit turning it and getting incredibly hot,
as indeed he is, just to see that the thing was cooked perfectly.
Here's what I mean about Balinese spirituality.
Even the cooking process needed the security of offerings
to the relevant gods in an effort to ensure success for the enterprise.
What I'm learning about Balinese culture is incredible intermingling of religion and food.
And I mean this is almost like a religious ceremony in itself.
And it's a new sort of dimension to food to me, the sort of religiousness of it,
but just thinking, imagine in the Church of England
if you went into church and you had roast beef and Yorkshire pudding as part of the ceremony.
I'd be in there every Sunday!
Perhaps that's one of the things that makes Christmas lunch
such an essential part of the festive celebrations.
The anticipation of the meal is almost as important as the eating.
I feel with a lot of cookery programmes, myself included, that it's too much about the recipes.
Some of this goes in, some of that. And not enough about appetite. About hunger.
About the absolute anticipation
and watching that pig being cooked over that smoky fire
and the realisation that the skin was going to get ever crisper and ever more delicious.
So, here's to appetite, and to me, at the moment,
I'm thinking this will be about ten on the Richter scale.
One of the most impressive things about the Far East
was the way they don't waste a square inch of productive land.
It makes for a lush, green landscape which, when you look closely,
contains every ingredient you need for a good meal, from starters to that all-important drink at the end.
When you reach for the coffee after your Christmas dinner, think about this as an exotic change.
Well, this is a civet cat and what I'm giving him to eat
is what he eats all the time, which is coffee beans.
Some very bright Balinese person worked out that if the entire diet of the civet cat was coffee beans,
then they must know a thing or two about the coffee bean.
And indeed they do, because they always select only the very best beans
and they reject the acidic ones or the over-ripe ones.
And then, well, out they come as, erm, civet cat poo.
And this Balinese person noticed that, actually, the coffee bean is only partly digested.
This is the husk and inside the bean is retained in its perfect form.
So don't think that drinking Balinese coffee
from civet cat poo might taste of anything,
it only tastes of pure beans and it is the best coffee known to man, and also the most expensive.
# I love coffee, I love tea... #
Well, back in Padstow,
I thought it would be a very good idea to challenge my staff
to a blind tasting of coffees.
So we gathered together in the cafe courtyard
just to see if they can actually tell if the civet cat coffee does indeed stand out.
So, er, here we are. It's all set up.
We've got a Kenyan coffee, a Costa Rican coffee and a Brazilian coffee,
and there's an awful lot of coffee in Brazil, as we know.
And finally, the the Balinese cat poo coffee. So which is which?
It's going to be really interesting.
Bring it on!
This is coffee A. Hm.
notes here already.
I mean, one of the things that's interesting about the the Balinese cat poo coffee
is they think that the gastric juices of the civet cat actually affect the flavour.
So, I'm sniffing for gastric juices here.
-What can you detect so far?
-I think that one's quite light and it's sort of bit acidic on your tongue,
but a fruity aftertaste, so I'm going with Kenyan for that one, I think.
I'm tasting sort of Brazilian, like a barbequey kind of beach life affect, I'm into that.
It just tastes like a run of the mill coffee, so I hope it isn't the expensive one.
I was quite impressed by these responses. I mean, if we were doing this 20 years ago,
it would be, "Well it's just coffee, isn't it? What are you going on about?"
-Coffee B, what do you think?
-I think we're all in agreement there.
-Oh, I don't know that I am.
Hang on a minute.
We moved quickly through the various coffees in the hope of detecting something of the feline nature,
but not too much, if you catch my drift.
And then we were ready to decide which coffee might have come from a cat.
Who thinks that coffee A is the Balinese cat poo coffee?
B? Who thinks that coffee B is the Balinese cat poo coffee?
Coffee C? Who thinks that coffee C is the Balinese cat poo coffee?
Zero. And finally coffee D.
-Who thinks that... Two.
-I don't really.
Right, here we go. Right, coffee A...
-is Kenyan AA coffee.
Right... Coffee B.
-Well, what do you think?
-Cat poo coffee!
Well, there you go.
Most of us got it right, apart from my son, Jack and Paul,
who are excellent chefs and supposed to have good palates, but...
# Coffee and tea And the java and me
# A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup Oh... #
The rice fields of Bali are works of art in their own right.
They go back over 2,000 years, creating these wonderful terraces
where the water cascades down as many as 30 levels.
And rice, like everywhere I went in the Far East, is the key to life
and never more so than in this dish called nasi goreng.
This will be an excellent dish to have on New Year's morning for breakfast,
and here's how you make it.
So having got my wok really hot, I'm just adding in two or three tablespoons of oil,
ordinary vegetable oil, some garlic and two types of chillies.
The first just some medium hot ones and then just a little hit of bird's-eye chillies.
And some sliced shallots.
Now just stir-fry those together.
And nasi goreng, it just means fried rice. You can get it all over Indonesia
and Malaysia as well, as it happens.
And if you're me, you get it all over your shirt as well. And now some carrots.
You want to take the crispness off them, but they still want to have a bit of al dente-ness to them.
There we go. And now the spice paste. In that goes.
Lovely, lots of spice paste because that's where all the flavour comes from.
And if you want to know how the paste is made, wait for it!
Black pepper, sesame seed, nutmeg, macadamia nuts, shallots, lemon grass, ginger, galangal, garlic,
fresh turmeric, chillies, palm sugar, shrimp paste, lime juice and a little oil all mashed together.
And now a little bit of tomato puree just to bring the colour up like that.
And very important in Indonesian cooking, some ketchup manis.
Obviously, where the word ketchup comes from. Not an American word.
Just stir that in a little bit.
And now for the rice. And it is a way of using up lots of leftovers
with rice and obviously in that case this is a perfect dish for turkey.
So, in that goes.
I'm going to put some prawns in too,
just to give it bit of deluxeness, make it a really special dish.
Right, now, just going to put some green beans in there, just to bring out the colour, and again,
you know, Indonesians, like all Southeast Asians, looking for texture as well as lovely colours.
And now the turkey. I've cut it into inch slices.
And this goes in right at the end because you don't want to break the turkey up,
it's already cooked, of course.
And a good lot of spring onions,
just to go in at the end, so you've got that slightly raw taste of the onions.
Some soy sauce, a tablespoon or so.
Just stir that in very gently, and that's it, except from a fried egg.
This is what I had for breakfast nearly every day.
The fried egg seems to make it just right.
Oh, by the way, you sprinkle some slightly crispy fried onions on top of the egg, almost like a seasoning
and then you add a bit of tomato and cucumber as a garnish.
And now, Sri Lanka. A place I'd never been to before.
I had been told that some of the fishing scenes in Sri Lanka
would be some of the most visual I was likely to see anywhere,
but I must say it's exceeded all my expectations.
I mean, it's like central casting fishing wise.
I mean, when I first saw it, I just thought of Newlyn of those Newlyn school of painters,
people like that Stanhope Forbes from the last century,
from Victorian times, because all those boats are still powered only by sail.
These ones here which are motorised just bring the fish into the shore from the bigger boats.
But to me, it's just like I can hardly believe I'm here.
This teardrop-shaped island was all about fish and coconut and cinnamon.
This was a first for me.
It's a spice so associated with Christmas and one I've used all the time I've been cooking,
but I'd never seen it in its raw state before.
Today, Sri Lanka is still the leading source of this fragrant bark.
I imagine that's incredibly difficult to do, I could never master it.
But he's trying to get them off in one long sort of roll.
This wonderful, I mean as a cook, I've been using cinnamon for about
40 years, I suppose, just taking it out of a jar and snipping a bit off.
I never realised there was so much skill going into packing these lengths of cinnamon,
apparently three and half feet long, as tightly as possible.
The other really important product from this island was the coconut
and particularly the oil that was extracted from it.
Once they'd been smashed open, they were dried over husks of other coconuts that had gone before them.
It's this process of drying the flesh of the nut I suspect,
that will make you either love coconut oil or hate it.
All this machinery would have been here when Ceylon was painted pink on the world atlas.
That's if you're of a certain age. Here, they were squeezing the flesh to extract that essential oil.
It was by far the most common cooking medium on the island.
That smoky, coconut taste and aroma
that was all pervading in most dishes and in the air.
I visited an old friend called Geoffrey Dobbs, who owns a very nice house on the island of Taprobane.
He was there during that terrible tsunami a few Christmases ago.
These things happen even in paradise.
Well, I think it's the first time I've had to wade to somebody's house.
Oh, it's fabulous.
This house was built in the 1920s by a person called Count De Mauny.
He came here with Sir Thomas Lipton. Built this sort of rather fantastical house here.
Unbelievable. And what does it feel like to have your own island, then?
Well, sometimes I can't really believe it, you know?
Sometimes I pinch myself and, er, but when I wake up every morning and I look out to the South Pole,
-Nothing in between?
-There's nothing between here and the South Pole.
I was intrigued to know how he survived on that Boxing Day in 2004
when the tragedy happened.
I was swimming in the sea just on the other side of the island and I experienced a very strong current
and, er, you know, there was none of this big wave which everybody... Well, not in Weligama.
But then I looked at the island and I was about 18 foot higher
so I thought, well, there's something very wrong at the moment
and then I was taken across the island and I landed up over there
between a palm tree and the top of that house, clinging onto one of these orues,
which are these native outrigging boats, and for five minutes I just hung on for dear life.
And then this whole bay, which is the second biggest bay in Sri Lanka, just emptied of water.
And it was an incredible sight. I mean, I go diving quite a lot
and I could see dive sites I could have walked out to dive sites,
-actually, if I'd wanted to.
The tsunami is very brutal, you know.
It either killed you or left you alive and I was lucky to be left alive.
Well, all I can say is admire your British understatement saying you were lucky, you know?
That particular Christmas time certainly changed a few lives there
and nothing was ever going to be the same again, especially for a bunch of kids further inland.
This hostel at Savan Sarana is run by Carla Brown
to help disadvantaged children.
On the day we visited, there was to be a feast and a blessing by the local Buddhist monks
for a new long sought-after dormitory.
They're very good indeed. Very nice.
Just frying outside,
which seems like a good idea to me so you don't get all that oily smell in the house,
not that it matters too much, but he's frying some river prawns
with flour, egg, salt,
a little bit of coriander leaf and some turmeric.
And they're jolly good.
It was the tsunami and the desperate need of these children that made Sri Lanka Carla's home.
They're the forgotten children and in Sri Lanka, it's a stigma,
and the families are very, very poor.
So...they're here and probably their lives here are better than at home.
I mean, it's... But they're lovely kids, you'll see them, they're beautiful kids and lost.
So it's that building at the back
that is being officially blessed today?
It is today and alms giving is when the monks come and chant and we prepare the food.
We give them food. The children will have a wonderful meal today,
-because not every day do the children have food.
Because there's not much funding for this hostel, so sometimes
they think that food is going to be given by the people and it doesn't turn up.
So the monks were there to bless this new building
and alms, in this case food, were given to them.
From what I could see, there were about ten different curries on the table from fish to cashew nut.
All served with the local red rice.
It was considered a privilege to serve the monks
and I was happy to join in and be included in the ceremony.
Also, I was interested to notice that they ranged from older,
more experienced ones right down to youngsters.
As I understood it, the boys had their horoscope looked at by the local village wise man
and he decided if they should continue to be monks or not.
Apparently, it doesn't suit them all.
This dish stood out that day. The cashew nuts were so satisfying.
It's made with lemongrass, garlic and chilli,
fried onions, turmeric, the essential Sri Lankan roasted curry powder,
pandanus leaves and, of course, a generous dollop of coconut milk.
And then a handful of fresh curry leaves and some green beans for that bit of crunch.
Now, cashews. I couldn't get fresh ones so I bought salted ones and let them soak in water.
They were lovely.
To finish off, add some lime juice.
A bowl of this curry is amazingly tasty and satisfying.
I'd really love this during the Christmas break.
The best day I think I had on my trip to the Far East was this.
I was privileged to go out with some local fishermen in one of their oruwa,
a traditional Sri Lankan outrigger,
and what great fun it turned out to be.
So the reason they keep jumping into the sea is to scare the fish into the back of the net.
This is the open end of the net.
So they're making as much splash and as much movement
with their hands so the fish will all swim down that end.
Must be a great job, that. I feel like jumping in myself actually.
Go on, then.
But the catch was good and they took a couple of those handsome parawer fish
back to cook the local way in a fish stew.
One of the fisherman's wives made a sort of ratatouille of vegetables.
There was tomato, chilli, garlic and onion, curry leaves and ginger.
Then the fish stew and vegetables were put in layers onto a single plate.
It was delicious. Catching the fish and eating it.
I'll never forget that wonderful day.
Of all the food I covered on my odyssey, Thai food is the most popular here in the UK.
20 years ago, no-one had even heard of Thai fish cakes.
But now they're on the blackboard of nearly every pub I've been to.
I've come to the conclusion that it's virtually impossible
not to get good food in Thailand.
I mean, even on a train you eat well.
I mean, here I've got some crispy fish in a salad
with a little fish sauce, lime juice and chilli, of course.
And some deep-fried prawns and fish with some pepper sauce.
Just reflecting on this one...
In Britain, on a train, what would I be getting?
Well, if I was lucky, I'd get a bacon bap with tomato ketchup.
That is, if it hadn't run out or the microwave hadn't broken down.
My guide was Toto.
He took me to his friend's house, where they grow oyster mushrooms
in profusion in this hot, moist climate.
But it was a visit that wasn't without its problems.
Well, I'm afraid I'm a bit accident prone. I'm always banging my head.
They said to come and see the mushrooms.
But I had to go down this long dark bit and I didn't see the beam.
And Toto said, "Thai people are quite small."
Well, I'm blowed. What a chump!
The women were making the famous tom yum goong, a spicy prawn soup.
The oyster mushrooms play a key part, along with coconut milk.
Then there's garlic and shallots and half a field of chillies.
It's about 25.
-That's going to be terribly hot.
-It's for Thai people, it's simple.
Then there's galangal, lemongrass and lime juice, of course.
I'd love this towards the end of the Christmas holidays.
It's very reviving.
She's just putting some sugar in now.
I must say, I'm fascinated by this.
I mean, you can read recipes for tom yum...
-tom yum goong.
-Tom yum goong.
Say it one more time.
-Tom yum goong?
-Tom yum goong.
-Tom yum goong.
-Tom yum goong.
I still can't get it.
This soup was jam full of amazing flavours, and they all worked together
to create something that was very hot and very satisfying.
In went all those chillies, lime juice and uncooked freshwater prawns, already peeled,
and those home-grown oyster mushrooms, picked at some expense to me.
The thing that really is impressing me is how much of everything is in there.
25 chillies, for a start!
Probably a kilo of prawns.
This is probably for five, six people, I suppose.
Masses of mushrooms, loads of tomatoes, five limes!
Tons of coriander, the root as well.
And this is just bang, bang, bang, bang,
and that's why when you taste it, it's got such a great deep flavour.
What you saw going in then was nam prik pao, a roasted chilli paste not for the faint-hearted.
Before serving, the ladies completed the soup by adding more of the fresh ingredients like tomatoes,
coriander, spring onions, kaffir lime leaves and, of course, more lime juice.
A quick taste determined the need for a little more fish sauce.
I began to understand why tom yum goong is so highly regarded as an icon of Thai cuisine.
It's good. It's really good. Yeah.
SHE SPEAKS IN HER OWN LANGUAGE
Very good! Very good.
It's got enormous depth of flavour.
It's fantastically sour.
Fantastically hot! Beautiful soup.
I think Bangkok is one of the foodie destinations of the world now,
and it's so much better to explore at night when you've got a real appetite and the city comes alive.
Every corner you turn, there's a feast for the eye.
I found street food like I'd never seen before,
but some dishes were well known to me, especially pad Thai -
spicy noodles often served inside an omelette.
I love the whole business of eating in street stalls at night.
There are lots of crashes and sparks and all done with energy and good humour.
If I was dreaming about a street market
with some of the most attractive and appetising food I could think of, it wouldn't even come near to this.
I mean, you've got prawns, cockles, crabs, you've got charcoal. You've got masses of activity.
I've never seen cockles cooked like that over charcoal, just waiting till they pop open.
And these guys that... Well, they look out of Central Casting as far as cooking outside is concerned.
I mean, well, it's street food nirvana!
But the mornings felt very different again and the food was very different, too.
It was more mellow and soothing.
Well, this is an incredibly popular restaurant, right in the centre of Phuket town.
And virtually there's only one dish on the menu. A few variations, but it's just chicken and rice.
You can actually get roast pork or crispy pork as well, so I've got the lot.
But it's the chicken that's the thing.
And I tried to get the recipe from the lady about how the chicken is cooked.
Basically, it's just simmered in lots of spices, but she won't give it to me.
She actually said to Toto people are dying for the recipe back in Bangkok,
she won't give it to them, so little old me certainly isn't going to get it.
I suspect there's quite a lot of cinnamon in there because I can taste that.
But I love the restaurants where you've just got one dish.
You've got no problems, no, "Oh, what about, you know, what am I going to eat?
"What am I not going to eat?" You just go there for the chicken rice.
Well, I'm determined not to be beaten by someone who won't give me a blinking recipe.
I'm going to cook this at home.
Now, I'm dropping the chicken into the boiling water,
but this isn't any old boiled chicken. Let's call it poached chicken, it's more romantic.
I'm now going to put in, after a bit of salt and white pepper,
there we go, I'm now going to put in a lot of Southeast Asian flavours.
First of all, spring onions, of course.
Then about three stalks of lemongrass.
Then a couple of star anise, whole ones. Don't they look nice?
Then ginger, lots of ginger. That's the most important ingredient in the whole stock.
And finally, garlic - lots and lots of garlic.
So I'm going to leave that now to poach for about 15 minutes,
then I'm going to turn the heat right off and just leave it to carry on cooking in the water,
and that is the secret.
It just makes the chicken really, really moist.
When that lady said she wouldn't tell me the recipe, I reckon I've got this pretty well right.
And in Thailand and in Malaysia, it is so sought-after.
It's a bit like in Vietnam, you've got fir, which is the beef and noodle soup, or bun cha,
which is the pork with noodles and greens.
Everybody's looking for subtlety, and you go down the street somewhere like Phuket
and you know which the best chicken rice restaurants are and you make a beeline for it
and you see the same people in there day after day, because it's their favourite chicken rice place.
I mentioned cinnamon in the restaurant.
Actually, I came to the conclusion it was probably star anise.
So now, here's the best bit of the whole dish, the chilli sauce.
Not particularly hot but very, very subtle.
It's got this lovely smell because it's got yellow bean sauce in it
as well as, obviously, chilli and garlic and ginger and sugar and soy sauce.
I found a recipe for the rice.
It's been lightly fried in chicken fat, then it's cooked in the stock made from poaching the chicken.
It's a great combination. Chicken, rice, chilli sauce and broth.
I ended my trip to Thailand with a little reflective stroll on the beach.
And as I started this chapter by saying I was a bit accident prone, I finished it in the same vein.
Can you see that, erm, wound on my head?
It doesn't look very nice.
The thing is that Thai people are so small, so I keep bumping into beams and things.
Well, you'll have to buy a hard hat.
I can't wear a hard hat!
People often ask me where I get my oriental ingredients. The answer?
St Austell in Cornwall.
Uraiwan owns the local Thai store.
So what would she do with left-over turkey?
Right, I'm going to cook garlic turkey with king prawn.
Left-over turkey, of course.
-And egg noodle.
-So you've got oil in the pan. What goes in first?
-Right, garlic, of course.
-You've just added the cooked turkey now.
-That's correct, yeah.
The one left over from Christmas.
Would you do something like this in Thailand?
Because we usually find turkey in the zoo.
-In the zoo?!
How do you mean? Don't you eat turkey?
-No. We usually eat chicken or pork instead of turkey.
I know but, you know, when we first came over here,
when my mother-in-law cooking turkey for me and I'm thinking, "Oh, my goodness!"
So you think we're probably these dreadful turkey-eating foreigners?
I suppose it must be like us eating pandas or something - not quite the done thing.
Anyway, in with the turkey, some succulent prawns and some chopped spring onions.
When they're well under way, in go some red chillies without their seeds.
Mmm, very interesting - a Thai woman removing chilli seeds.
She's been in England too long!
Then, of course, plenty of coriander leaves and some chopped peanuts.
Always an important addition.
There we go, and now we can season it.
Then the fish sauce and, naturally, plenty of it.
Four spoonfuls she's putting in.
But that will be counteracted by the palm sugar.
I can sense she's keeping everything very simple. A basic Thai stir-fry.
But if you are dealing with left-over turkey,
I think it would be so much better than simply making a stew.
What on earth are you doing there?
-Oh, I massage lime to get the most juice out of this lime.
-I never knew that.
Right, now what we do is we cut it in half.
She's right, you know, I've tried it.
If you massage the lime for a minute, you definitely get more juice out of it.
Now she adds some flat noodles, simmered for a couple of minutes
and then run under some cold water to stop them cooking.
That looks absolutely lovely. I'm really impressed with that.
-I can't wait to try it.
I noticed you took the seeds out the chillies. Would you normally do that in Thailand?
Er, no. But the reason I do it here is because my husband's English
and if I put it too hot for him, this might be...
make him get a red cheek for Christmas.
-Right, now this is done.
-You are funny.
From the beginning to end, it didn't take more than 12 minutes.
And there's enough here to feed four.
Very, erm, economical in your cooking.
Thank you. This dish, especially, is you get three flavour.
One is from fish sauce.
-One is from palm sugar.
And one is from fresh lime.
Absolutely. And it's a lovely balance.
It's very healthy, too, actually.
Lots of people like it and my husband likes it too.
My husband is number one... My, you know, fan club of my cookery.
I bet he is! He's a very lucky man.
Oh, thank you.
As this programme is predominantly about taste, there is one particular place which is historically
one of the most important places in the culinary world -
Malacca, towards the southern tip of Malaysia.
I've always associated it with spice.
Think Malacca, think Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, mulled wine and mince pies.
I think you really have to come to somewhere like Malacca
to really feel the importance of spice, historically, to our own country.
And it's only when you, you sort of smell the smells and feel the heat
that you realise that spice here virtually grows wild, and it's cheap, it would have been so cheap,
but take those spices which would be so distant to life
in the 13th, 14th, 15th century in Britain
and bring them there, no wonder they fetched such enormous money.
I mean, apart from anything, half the stuff
I imagine that they ate there was sort of verging on the rotting,
so it had an enormous import in making food palatable and pleasant.
But just think of the sort of the smell of something like nutmeg or cinnamon or cloves,
or even pepper to somebody in the 14th century in England, how exotic it would be. It would be like...
It would be more wonderful than gold.
Malaysian cuisine is made up of three things - Chinese, Nonya,
a cross between Chinese and the indigenous Malay, and Indian.
I was taken to this restaurant where they cook a whole variety of curries on the most amazing scale.
The best time to go there was lunch-time, and their most popular dish was beef rendang.
The way I make it at home is like this.
I'm using some blade or chuck steak, which I fry off in some coconut oil.
Then I put in a very specific curry paste which I made with a pestle and mortar earlier.
It's a mixture of fresh turmeric, galangal, chilli, grated coconut,
shallots, garlic, coriander and cumin.
Then in with some coconut milk.
Now, the bit I really like doing, smashing the lemongrass.
Next, cinnamon sticks - they always remind me a bit of dried up cigars -
and lime leaves roughly torn up.
And then some tamarind juice for sharpness.
A little salt...
And, lastly, palm sugar.
I asked practically everyone I came across in Malaysia
what their favourite dish was and without hesitation they said beef rendang.
While I was in Malacca, I met a very popular man called Chef Wan.
He was a sort of Delia and Jamie rolled into one exuberant galloping gourmet,
quite irrepressible and full of local culinary knowledge.
Honestly, I had no idea how popular he was. Everywhere we go,
in Malacca, they're saying, "Hello, Chef Wan!"
And actually, they're much more...
They're very... Like in England, people say, "Oh, that's Rick Stein."
Over here it's, "Hello, Chef Wan!"
He wasn't just a TV chef, he really knew his stuff
about the spice trade in Malacca. But what were the spices?
-Many. We're talking about, you know, clove?
Clove. We have black pepper, we have cardamom, we have cinnamon, and then the whole of the spice
and then all over into Indonesia, and that today you find many of these spices being traded back and forth.
Coming from this part of the world, from the East to the West, and then what about the monsoon?
The northwest monsoon and northeast monsoon that help traders because back then there was no oil,
because everything was all sailing and you have to depend on the wind to blow them.
And so this ship had to bring, have to bring all the traders
and all their goods, you know, from that part of the world.
Came out here from Africa, from Sri Lanka, from Turkey, you know, arriving to this shore.
And the Arab, the Gujarati merchant and, of course, while they arrive, darling,
we took all the spices and we steal them.
-And we make them our cuisine and mix in all the...
-Oh, OK, OK! Just one last question.
How long have you been doing this for, then, Chef Wan?
Oh-ho! I no spring chicken no more!
21-years-old. 21, I think, yeah.
-That long, huh?
-I've got a bit to learn from you, Chef Wan.
-I'm learning more from him.
He is the guy who inspired me, OK?
I have all his books. I love his programme.
-I love his seafood stuff and all this... And thank you for coming to Malaysia.
-It's a delight.
Anyway, my journey ended in Bangladesh,
a place integral to our love of curry back at home.
It's no secret that chicken tikka masala has ousted fish and chips
as our most popular dish,
and probably 90% of the restaurants selling it will have connections back in Bangladesh.
But here I find a place that's specialised in yet another very popular and well known Indian dish.
Just look at this.
Cooking on this scale isn't something you come across often.
And what was so impressive was that everyone seemed to know exactly what to do and when to do it.
At first glance, it looked a fearful place to suddenly find yourself having to work.
But there wasn't any confusion or uncertainty.
I need hardly say that this is very exciting for me. I mean, erm, you may not like the look of it.
You may want your biryani made in a nice hygienic bratt pan back in the UK
but, for me, I just know that when I get to taste this biryani it...
Thanks, thanks. I'm just talking to the television just for a minute, I know it's a very odd thing to do.
You know when I get back to the UK, I'll remember this as being the best biryani I've ever had.
There is so much sophistication going on here, it may not look like it to you,
but the stages that it's made, the way that the meat is first boiled and then gently marinated
in all these spices, some of which I still don't know what they are, but there's about 20 spices in it.
Then the meat is very slowly cooked with potatoes and onions and garlic over charcoal and just look at this.
You've got little piles of charcoal anywhere that you want to put them.
If they fancy cooking the biryanis over there next week, no problem.
And the big gas burners are for the fast cooking,
but the gentle simmering is done here with the charcoal with a covering of pastry,
of bread, I guess, to seal it all in.
So I just know this is going to be, as I said, the best biryani I've ever had in my life!
So I sat down to enjoy the feast with the boss and his trusty managers.
I mean, that is just so fragrant.
It's got lovely flavours of rosewater and saffron.
And the mutton, I think, is absolutely the best meat for a biryani. That is tasting so well.
And, do you know? In truth, this is the biryani by which all others will come to be judged.
Going there was an eye-opening experience, and I'm so glad to have had the opportunity.
I don't think I would make a biryani with my left-over turkey.
Out of all curry recipes,
the best one I found was across the Bay of Bengal in Sri Lanka.
You start by frying off some spices.
They are cloves, cardamom and some cinnamon.
I'm cooking this in coconut oil, which you can get here in Asian supermarkets.
Into the spices go some finely chopped onions.
They're allowed to soften until they're transparent.
Then a spoonful of crushed garlic, a loving spoonful - well, it is Christmas -
and about the same amount of ginger. Loving again.
Now, some roasted Sri Lankan curry powder, which has a great depth of flavour,
chilli powder and some ground turmeric.
Get that all mixed through and then put in some chopped and de-seeded fresh tomatoes.
Best not to use tinned ones for this.
They're a little bit sweet and you want to end up with a sharper taste.
Now put in a twigful of curry leaves and while they begin to infuse the curry,
you can soften up a couple of sticks of lemongrass.
Don't bash them too hard this time.
Then, some pandan leaf, coarsely chopped.
Very subtle, a must-have in Sri Lankan cooking.
I'm sure they'll be in the supermarkets in a year or two.
And lastly, to finish the sauce, a tin of coconut milk.
I just remembered saying not so long ago that, erm, one of the things I remember about the left-over turkey
was the curries that we always had when I was a child and how it sort of like wasn't the best thing.
Well, I mean, you know, I like my mum's curries.
They had, erm, sultanas, desiccated coconut, apple in chunks and tinned curry powder
but, er, this is slightly different.
I mean, Sri Lankan curries are a bit of a revelation to me anyway.
I mean, I'm rather used to the, you know, 90% of all the Indian restaurants in Great Britain
that originated in Bangladesh, so coming on to Sri Lankan curries was just marvellous,
and that sort of trinity of flavours in most Sri Lankan curries -
pandan leaves, curry leaves and cinnamon -
and when you taste that, it takes you right back to that lovely island.
Now for the rest of that cold turkey, whatever you've got left.
I've still got some white breast meat to use, but the legs are just as useful.
Hopefully, you'll have some reasonably chunky pieces because they will be more satisfying.
Season it all with some salt, and then for that specific bit of fire,
put in four or five hot chillies, seeds and all this time.
Let's not be shrinking violets about this, you want some heat.
Lastly, the juice of a lime.
I wish I'd learnt the trick of massaging the fruit before we filmed this bit
because it certainly does make it easier to get more juice out.
One of the things that I need to add here is that when you're stirring these curries,
or other dishes of left-over meat, do it very gently
otherwise it all breaks up, just goes into a rather unattractive sort of mush. You want lumps.
That's it! That is delish!
Serve with rice. And that's the end of your cold turkey, oriental-style.
ORIENTAL SINGING AND MUSIC
Well, I hope these reminiscences of my trip to the Far East
have given you a few ideas about how to survive the festive indulgences
and ring the changes on those Christmas evenings.
For me, it was a chance to relive some of that wonderful trip
and bring back to mind a few culinary discoveries.
I don't think I could have had a better part of the world to visit
and find such a rich source of ideas for a fresh look at an annual problem.
You may feel that it's a step too far from the tried and tested Christmas that we're all used to.
But if you're bold and have a go at something different,
then maybe your Christmas will be even merrier than usual.
And, you never know, you may find yourself embarking on your own odyssey.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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Having returned from filming his odyssey all around the Far East, Rick Stein was inspired to come up with the answer to that big cooking dilemma facing us all at Christmas time - what to do with that cold turkey?