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JUNE: Gawai

I am half Iban, the Iban are a tribe in Borneo, predominantly in the Malaysian state of Sarawak. Gawai is our harvest festival, so each year I try to celebrate it, which is around the beginning of June. This year I had a garden party. It was wonderful! I cooked for 22 people. Everyone brought bubbles of some kind to start the day off, and I served riesling with food - kung fu girl (from Washington State) and Farmingham (from New Zealand).

This day is what London is to me - family, friends and sharing good food and wine. 

I cooked beef rending from a recipe from my mum, obvs (recipe at the bottom). I also marinated chicken - can't remember what, something chilli, garlic, ginger no doubt, classic stuff.

I made sweetcorn ice cream, which is hugely reminscent of my childhood in Malaysia. I used Dan Doherty's peanut butter ice cream recipe, and used three tablespoons of sweetcorn. The key with ice cream is about the sugar, and I figured peanut butter and sweetcorn had similar sugar contents. The other key thing is not to scramble the eggs, which I did! That's because I'm terrible at doing one thing at a time, a second with my eye off the cooking eggs are scrambled!

Mum cooked sticky rice. YUM! There was durian! YUM!

Here the photos from the day (taken by me, Vera Chok, Caroline Teo & Selena Truong - mainly instagram ones!).

Beef Rending 
Serves 8 Preparation 20min Cooking 3hr. I of course tripled the recipe.

• Tamarind concentrate (block form) is available from Asian food shops.
• Daun salam leaves, also known as Indonesian bay leaves, are available from Indonesian food shops.
  • 1 tbsp tamarind concentrate (block form) (see note) or 2 tsp tamarind purée
  • 2 onions
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 6 long red chillies, seeded, chopped
  • 500 ml (2 cups) coconut cream
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 6 dried daun salam (optional) (see note)
  • 1 stalk lemongrass or 1 strip lemon rind
  • ·  1 tsp grated fresh galangal 
·  1.5 kg beef chuck, blade or round steak, thinly sliced into strips 
·  2 tsp caster sugar 
·  steamed white rice, to serve
Soak tamarind in 125 ml hot water for 10 minutes. Squeeze to dissolve pulp in the water, then strain, discarding seeds and fibre.
Meanwhile, put the onions, garlic, ginger, chillies and 125 ml of the coconut cream into a food processor and process until smooth. Pour into a large saucepan and add remaining 375 ml coconut cream. Add 1½ tsp salt, turmeric, chilli powder, coriander, daun salam, lemongrass and galangal, stirring to combine. Add the meat and bring to the boil.
Reduce heat to medium, add tamarind liquid and simmer until sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and continue simmering for about 2½ hours or until sauce is almost dry, stirring frequently to ensure the mixture does not stick to the pan. When the oil starts to separate, add the sugar and stir to dissolve – allow the meat to cook in the oil until it becomes dark brown. Serve with rice, one or two vegetable dishes, sambal and prawn crisps.


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