Light year ahead: Bill Granger tickles the tastebuds with his New Year's Eve recipes
Tradition, over-indulgence, heavy foods… it's time to shake off the shackles of Christmas, says our chef.
I live with people who have huge expectations for Christmas. I try my best to be relaxed, but my family still insists they want the turkey, ham and everything else that goes with it. I guess it's my own doing.
When I first took over Christmas cooking from my mother and grandmother I was a naïve novice, so very determined to do it all. Well, that over-enthusiasm has certainly caught up with me – let's just say I'm now ready to pass the baton…
Not on New Year's Eve, though. For one thing, it's not as emotionally fraught. I can finally break free from the shackles of tradition and do my own thing – it feels like a breath of fresh air. As an Australian who lives in London, I'm always surprised when it's cold at New Year's.
I don't know whether it's that or the fact that I'm still so full from the over-eating at Christmas, but for this meal I like to keep it light, and bring a taste of festive Sydney to the house. And that can only mean one thing – lots of fish and seafood. Although I am grateful that I'm not going to have to brave the huge queues that form outside Sydney fishmongers at this time of year!
These recipes couldn't be simpler and they have plenty of South-east Asian zing to freshen up your tastebuds, ready for the gastronomic adventures of 2013.
Bill's restaurant, Granger & Co, is at 175 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7229 9111, grangerandco.com
Crunchy prawn and mango salad
I love the prep-ahead element of this salad. You can have everything in bowls, all ready to bring together at the last minute.
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
600g/1¼lb king prawns, cooked and peeled
2 shallots, sliced
Small bunch dill, roughly torn
Small bunch coriander, leaves picked
1 large ripe mango, peeled and cut into chunks
80g/3oz toasted peanuts, roughly chopped
For the dressing
3 shallots, sliced
4 tbsp light-flavoured oil, for frying
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp light-flavoured oil
Juice 1 lime
1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, finely chopped
1 red chilli, sliced
Start with the dressing: fry the shallots in oil until crisp and golden then set aside. Combine all the remaining dressing ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
Now, in a large bowl mix the fennel, prawns, shallots, and herbs together. Just before serving, fold in the mango and transfer to a serving dish. Stir the fried shallots into the dressing and spoon over the salad. Top with the peanuts and serve.
Baked Chinese-style sea bream with bok choi
Pop the fish in the oven as you sit down for the starter – if you're not keen on fiddling with fish bones use fillets instead; just reduce the cooking time by half.
3 x 550g/1lb sea bream, gutted and peeled
1 lemon, sliced
2 cm ginger, peeled and shredded
For the dressing
2 tbsp light-flavoured oil
8 spring onions, shredded
3cm ginger, peeled and shredded
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 red chillies
2 tbsp soy
2 tsp sesame oil
For the bok choi
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
Squeeze of lemon juice
4 large heads bok choi, halved
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Make three deep slashes on both sides of the fish and stuff each slice with a piece of lemon and a little ginger. Stuff any left over into the cavity of the fish and lay them in a large baking tray. Splash the fish with 2 tbsp of water, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes.
To make the dressing, heat the vegetable oil in a wok over a high heat. Add the spring onion, ginger, garlic and chilli and stir fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to a bowl and stir in the soy and sesame oil. Set aside.
For the bok choi, put the soy, mirin, lemon juice and 50ml/2fl oz water in a large wok or frying pan and bring to a simmer. Add the bok choi, cover and steam for 6 to 7 minutes until tender.
Remove the fish from the oven, place on a platter and serve immediately with the dressing spooned over and the bok choi on the side.
Coconut rice pudding with lemongrass-and-lime syrup
I'm a great fan of comforting, warming desserts, and nothing fits the bill better than a creamy rice pudding. Traditionalists would insist that to keep with the theme of the menu I should have made a chilled version, but like I said, I'm done with tradition this year and however much I'm trying to ignore it, it is winter after all.
200g/7oz pudding rice
1 litre/1¾ pints whole milk
75g/3oz golden caster sugar
75g/3oz desiccated coconut
400ml/14fl oz can coconut milk
For the lemongrass- and-lime syrup
100g/3½oz golden caster sugar
100ml/3½fl oz lime juice, plus grated zest of 3 limes
2 lemongrass stalks, bashed
4 passion fruits, halved and flesh scooped
Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas2. Place the pudding rice, milk and sugar in a shallow, oven-proof dish. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
Stir in the desiccated coconut and coconut milk and bake for 40 minutes.
Give the pudding a good stir and bake for 1 hour, or until the rice is tender and a skin has formed on the pudding.
To make the syrup, put the sugar, lime juice, zest and lemongrass in a small pan over a low heat with 150ml/¼ pint cold water. Stir until all of the sugar has dissolved.
Bring to a simmer then allow to bubble for 5 minutes, or until the mixture is slightly reduced and syrupy. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
Scoop the rice pudding into bowls, drizzle with the syrup and serve with the flesh of the passion fruit.
Life & Style blogs
Guest post by Richard Sexton, business development director of e.surv chartered surveyors
Plus lateral thinking and living on London's waterways
Other popular areas include Didsbury, Clifton in Bristol, central Cambridge and West Bridgford
Living with Google Glass: what are they actually like to wear?
Microsoft's Xbox One: Have the price (£399) and release date (30 November) been leaked by online retailer Zavvi?
Splint made by 3D printer used to save baby’s life
The 10 Best road-trip gadgets
Google Glass: First images taken on Google's new glasses appear on Twitter
- 1 Woolwich attack exclusive: Man in bloody video - named 'Mujahid' - was known to Anjem Choudary's banned Islamist group Al Muhajiroun
- 2 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
- 3 Grace Dent: I’m not sure how these people can avoid being called ‘bigots’. And the more ‘civilised’, the worse they are
- 4 Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, the mother-of-two hailed as a hero for confronting Woolwich attackers, thought: 'better me than a child'
- 5 Woolwich attack: The EDL will seek to exploit this evil crime for their own evil ends
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.