Charlie’s blog Hotly Spiced is a fantastic blog, the perfect combination of hilarious stories and mouth watering recipes. I’m absolutely honoured to have her guest post on my blog while I’m away.
Thanks so much Clare for having me to your special space. I love your site and it’s an honour to blog a guest post for you.
The weather in Sydney has been so lovely lately and it’s not only been hot during the day, it’s been quite mild at night too. In our family we’ve transitioned from eating a lot of comfort foods to eating a lot more fresh produce and salads have made their way back onto our dining room table.
A few years ago my family and I were on holidays on the Sunshine Coast. During the holiday we celebrated our wedding anniversary and so Carl wanted to take me somewhere special for dinner. We had no idea where to go but we spoke to a number of people and they all recommended a Thai restaurant out in the hinterland called, Spirit House.
After looking it up on the map, we weren’t too sure as it did seem to be out in the middle of nowhere but we took the advice that was given and drove to Yandina.
And we’re so glad we did.
Spirit House has become our all-time most favourite restaurant. Started by Helen Brierty and Annette Fear who had spent a lot of time in Thailand and wanted to re-create something authentic here in Australia, this is the most incredible dining experience. When you enter the Spirit House property you step into a green jungle sanctuary filled with palms, bamboo, and tropical exotics. At dusk the restaurant turns into a magical wonderland with flickering candles, fairy lights and bamboo flares reflecting from the lake.
It is such a beautiful setting that is only surpassed by the incredible and magnificent cuisine.
I can’t remember what Carl and I ate that night except that it was all exceptional and on the way out, Carl bought me the Spirit House cookbook. It’s a cookbook I have loved and adored. It has taught me how to cook Thai food and if I’m ever in doubt, the chefs from Spirit House are only too happy to take my phone calls and give me assistance.
If you’re ever in the area, Spirit House also runs an incredibly successful cooking school where you can have that hands-on experience.
Here’s a salad that’s a family favourite from the Spirit House cookbook:
Vietnamese Lemongrass Beef Salad with Rice Vermicelli
Degree of Difficulty: 3/5
Cost: Thai ingredients generally aren’t expensive. We find this to be an affordable family meal.
400g beef rump, thinly sliced
3 stalks lemon grass, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbspns fish sauce
1 tspn white sugar
ground white pepper, to taste
2 tbspns vegetable oil
1 small red onion, finely sliced
1/4 cup coarsely chopped peanuts
1 tbspn crispy-fried shallots
1/2 cup Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce
2 cups finely shredded lettuce (cos or mignonette)
1/2 Lebanese cucumber, peeled and julienned
1 cup bean sprouts
1/2 carrot, juienned
1/4 cup basil, shredded
1/4 cup mint or Vietnamese mint, shredded
200g rice vermicilli, cooked according to instructions on packet
To make the beef: in a bowl, combine the beef, lemon grass, garlic, fish sauce, sugar and pepper. Mix well, cover and set aside.
To make the salad: combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Divide the noodles between individual serving plates then portion the salad into individual bowls.
To cook beef: heat oil in wok until smoking, add onion and stir-fry briefly until layers start to separate. Add beef slices and stir-fry until just cooked, about 5 minutes. Spoon the beef over the salad, garnish with the peanuts and crispy shallots. Serve with the dipping sauce and season to taste.
Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce:
1 fresh red chilli, de-seeded
1 clove garlic
1 tspn sugar
1 tbspn rice vinegar
3 tbspn water
3 tbspn fish sauce
2 tspns shredded carrot
2 tspns shredded daikon
Pound the chilli and garlic to a fine past in mortar. Blend in sugar, slowly stir in vinegar, water and fish sauce. Transfer to serving bowl with carrot and radish shreds.
Are you a fan of Thai food? What’s your favourite international cuisine?