Korean Calamari with sushi rice

This adventure in food included me:

  1. Trying a new recipe courtesy of Nigella Lawson’s cookbook, “Kitchen”
  2. Eating squid.  I LOVE SQUID
  3. Totally messing up the cooking of sushi rice and having to re-cook it

Serves two people



  • 150g Sushi rice
  • 6 baby squid (defrosted)
  • 2 tbsp rice wine
  • 2 tbsp Korean Gochujang paste
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 75g baby corn cut into 1cm pieces
  • 3 large or 6 small spring onions sliced


Before going onto the method for this simply delicious dinner….

  • If your baby squid is not quite defrosted, run in under cold water until it’s ready
  • Gochujang paste is available in Waitrose.  From what I can see online, both Tesco and Sainsbury’s stock a sauce but I’d advise sticking to the paste if you can get it purely because the sauces are a lot more liquid which your rice shouldn’t be swimming in


  • You can use alternatives to non-flavour oil to groundnut such as rapeseed or vegetable oils


1. Make sushi rice as per packet instructions – see my drama with this rice below

2. Cut the calamari into rings and soak in the rice wine for 15 minutes.  Keep the tentacles, they are also very tasty!


3. Remove the calamari from the rice wine and add the Gochujang paste, sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil to the wine


4. I used a wok here.  Heat up the wok with the groundnut oil.  I always use a bit of kitchen towel to spread the oil over the entire surface of the wok to coat the pan and allow for the oil to be heated up evenly

5. Stir fry the vegetables for two minutes


6. Add the calamari and cook for two minutes


7. Add the sauce and cook for a further 30 seconds, or until piping hot

When cooked serve with the sushi rice



I’ve only recently taught myself how to successfully cook white fluffy rice.  It’s quite embarrassing really!

Generally I don’t eat refined white breads, rice etc.  But sometimes, particularly with curries, basmati rice is my preference.  But, despite what I learnt about cooking white rice (thanks, Jamie Oliver), I followed the instructions on the Waitrose pack of sushi rice.  No pre-washing, nothing – measure out the rice and water, pop in a pan and wait 18 – 20 minutes.

Waitrose, your instructions for cooking this rice are incorrect.  It turned into a soggy mass of starch whilst I stood there the entire cooking time keeping an eye on it.

The disaster rice, cooked according to instructions

Take two: I followed Jamie Oliver’s instructions and remade the rice.  Successful white sushi rice.  Not gloopy!

Sushi rice according to Jamie Oliver’s perfect fluffy rice

I hope you try this recipe out.  It took under 30 minutes to cook and was delicious, I can foresee this becoming a regular meal for me and I’m looking forward to exploring more ways to cook with Gochujang paste.



Snowy Mountain – a chocolate wintry dessert

This is an old favourite of mine that I’ve made nearly every Christmas for the last few years.  It’s no bake (win) and isn’t too sweet.  With a chestnut and chocolate centre and a snowy frosting, this dessert looks pretty and wintry.

Serves six to eight


Chocolate Centre

  • 100 dark chocolate (70%) broken into pieces
  • 50g diced unsalted butter
  • 435g chestnut puree
  • 75g golden caster sugar
  • 100g extra thick double cream
  • 1st vanilla extract

Snowy Frosting

  • 1 medium egg
  • 75g sifted icing sugar
  • 25g sifted plain flour
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 90g unsalted butter


1. Set the chocolate and butter over a pan of simmering water and gently melt. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.


2. Place the chestnut puree, sugar, cream and vanilla in bowl of a food processor and whizz until creamy. Add the chocolate mixture and mix again until you have a smooth puree.


3. It should be firm enough to shape into a mountain shape, but if not, you can place in the fridge for a few hours until set.


4. To make the frosting, whisk the egg and icing sugar together until smooth, then whisk in the flour. Bring the milk to the boil.

5. Whisk the milk into the egg mixture. Transfer to a non-stick pan and cook on a low heat for a few minutes.  Let the mixture bubble (but not boil) and keep stirring to smooth out any lumps.

6. Continue to cook until thickened into custard, pass through a sieve into a bowl. Stir in the vanilla and leave to cool completely.

7. To complete the frosting, beat the softened butter in a bowl until light and creaming. Using a handheld electric whisk, gradually whisk in the cooled custard.  Whisk at a low speed to begin with, then on a higher speed for a few minutes until it looks pale and fluffy.

8. Using a palette knife, smooth the frosting over the mountain. Finish with grated white chocolate and a dusting of icing sugar.


It’s best served after about 30 minutes out of the fridge and will keep well for a few days.





Leave the gun, take the cannoli

In Coppola’s GREAT film The Godfather, this is the instruction given by Peter Clemenza to Lampone after a murder on a deserted road. Cannoli was further immortalised in The Sopranos during one of Tony’s dreams where Dr. Melfi says, “Tony, I love your cannoli”. Saucy!

Hailing from Sicily, cannoli is one of my favourite pastry sweets.  I love it so much that I will go through the hours of preparation to have one!  If you’re a cannoli purist, look away now: I use marscarpone, not ricotta.  Ricotta does nothing for me, marscarpone is an equally good variant to use.

I’m not sure where I acquired this recipe from, I’ve used it for about four years and it never fails.  It’s time consuming but as in all love affairs with food, the end result is worth it.  This recipe makes about 15 cannoli tubes which can be stored in an air tight container for up to two months.

Items you will need

  • Cannoli tubes are essential (I use these – they have a good spring to allow you to pinch the tube and easily slide the cannoli shell off after cooking)
  • Pasta machine
  • 3.5 – 5 inch diameter pastry cutter
  • Pastry brush (if you haven’t already, get silicone!)


Ingredients: shells

  • 190g white flour
  • 25 white sugar
  • 3g ground cinnamon
  • 20g butter (or shortening)
  • 1/2 egg
  • 1/2 egg yolk
  • 60ml sweet Marsala wine
  • 8ml distilled white vinegar
  • 30ml water
  • 1/2 egg white
  • 470ml oil for frying


Ingredients: filling*

*this will fill about four cannoli, so adjust accordingly to how many you plan to eat.  And DON’T fill the cannoli in advance of eating as this results in the pasty becoming damp and you will lose the lovely crunch of the shell. 

  • 250g full fat marscarpone
  • 3 tsps icing sugar (adjust the sweetness to suit you, anything more for me is too sweet and ruins the taste of the marscarpone)
  • Chocolate pieces (cut up small, I use 65% dark)
  • Ground pistachios for the edges

Now, prepare yourself for a few hours of preparation and fun!

  1. In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar and cinnamon.  Cut the butter into the bowl (no bigger than pea size). Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg, egg yolk, Marsala wine, vinegar and water.


2.  Mix with a fork until the dough becomes stiff, then finish off by hand, kneading for about ten minutes on a clean surface. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.


3. Divide the cannoli dough into thirds and flatten each one just enough to get through the pasta machine.  Roll the dough through the setting until you get to the machine’s thinnest setting.  (Dust with flour if it’s sticking) Place the sheet of dough on a lightly floured surface and use the pastry cutter to cut out circles.  Dust the circles with a light coating of flour and roll the pastry around the cannoli tubes, sealing the edge with a bit of egg white.


4. Heat the oil to 190 degrees C.  Fry the shells on the tubes a few at a time for 2 to 3 minutes until golden.  Use tongs to turn the shells if needed.  Carefully remove the shells from the tubes and place on a cooling rack over paper towels.


Mix up the filling.  You can of course use whatever filling you like, if you don’t mind ricotta then that’s the more traditional filling.  Candied fruits are quite popular decoration, I LOVE pistachio so I prefer to have that on edges of the filled shells.


Creamy, chocolate goodness!


And enjoy!



Bibigo: Korean food in London

If you’ve seen the film Oldboy (the original, naturally), or you are familiar with Korean cuisine, you’ll know that live baby octopus is a strange feature of the Korean menu to a total outsider. Yes. Live. Baby. Octopus. Eaten. Alive.  It’s called Sannakji.

A couple of weeks ago, I joined some colleagues for dinner after work at a Korean restaurant, Bibigo.  With no live baby octopus on the menu, and I can’t say I was disappointed, we proceeded to have a thoroughly delicious, filling dinner.


At excellent value for money – three courses for a mere £13 – we tucked into fabulous tastes from a preset dinner menu.  My stomach loved these dishes.

Course One: Korean Chopped Salad 

A very understated looking salad, but an absolute winner with those of us that ate it.  Hints of sesame dashed with crispy fried spring roll pastry and soy dressing.


Course Two: Baby Squid 

I’m a huge fan of squid in any form (dead, preferably).  Served with lemon and a tiny bit of okra.


Course Three: Grilled Chicken

Beautiful with delicate rocket and some steamed riced on the side.


Bibigo’s has two restaurants in the UK, both in London (Soho and Angel).  The gorgeous food aside, the Angel restaurant is super stylish and the staff are attentive.

Good to know:

  • My pet hate is the assumption of any restaurant to add a 12.5% service charge.  Bibigo’s is no different so it expect to see it on the bill.
  • You’re presented with chop sticks and a single silver spoon, get acquainted with the sticks ahead of your adventure!
  • White wine starts at £18 a bottle.
  • Prepare to have your taste buds tingled.
  • Portions are generous.  Did I already mention the value for money?!

Do yourself a favour, pop in for lunch and dinner and feast.