Delicious, warming and a little spicy.
Despite the humble leek’s firm association with Wales, it does lend itself rather well to Asian dishes. With that in mind, I looked east this week, creating something warming and a little spicy for a cold autumn evening.
Scallop-and-leek ramen with spring rolls (serves 4)
6 sheets filo pastry
Half a bok choi, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1tbspn soy sauce
1 red chilli, diced
50g butter, melted
A splash of sesame oil
2 leeks, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2tbspn grated ginger
3tbspn soy sauce
1½ litres chicken stock
200g udon noodles
1 bok choi, sliced
200g Japanese mushrooms, such as shiitake, enoki, bunashimeji or eryngii, sliced
8 king scallops
Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 4. Grate the carrot into a bowl and add the bok choi, crushed garlic, soy sauce and red chilli. Mix well, then spoon a small amount onto the end of a sheet of filo pastry, fold the ends in and roll. Repeat with the remaining sheets and mixture, brush rolls with melted butter and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until gently browned.
Heat sesame oil in a large pot and add the leeks and garlic, stir well and cook until softened. Add the ginger, soy sauce and mirin, then fry briefly before adding the chicken stock. Drop in the udon noodles, bok choi and mushrooms and simmer for about 8 minutes. Just before serving, add the scallops (with the muscle removed) and cook for a further 3 minutes. Spoon into bowls and serve immediately, with the spring rolls on the side.
More ways with leeks
Super-speedy seafood gratin with puff-pastry stars
Cut stars from a sheet of puff pastry, brush them with beaten egg and bake for 15 minutes in a hot oven. Wash and slice two leeks, then fry in an ovenproof pan with a little butter and seasoning until soft. Remove from the heat and arrange 8 scallops and a handful of prawns among the leeks. In a separate bowl, whisk together 300ml crème fraîche, 50ml white wine, seasoning, 3tbspn capers and 2 crushed cloves of garlic. Pour mixture over the seafood, sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs, seasoning, lemon zest and cayenne pepper and bake in a hot oven for 5 minutes. Serve immediately with a squeeze of lemon and a puff-pastry star on the side.
Cheesy leek-and-butternut muffins
Combine the following in a bowl: 60ml olive oil, half a sliced and gently fried leek, 1 clove crushed garlic, 200g cooked butternut squash in small chunks, 350g self-raising flour, 100g Parmesan, 1 beaten egg and 300ml buttermilk. Spoon the mixture into a greased muffin tin, sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and bake for about 25 minutes. Serve warm.
A simple side of leeks
Wash and trim 4 leeks. Halve them both length and width ways, arrange in an ovenproof dish and pour in enough chicken stock to just cover them. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and Parmesan, plus a scattering of fresh thyme. Place in a hot oven for 25 minutes and serve as an accompaniment to fish.
When autumn arrives, it brings with it the most amazing excuse to eat comfort food.
Wild mushrooms are a forager’s dream.