Bowled over

A guilt-free bowl of good­ness, this trop­i­cal Hawai­ian clas­sic is given a Bri­tish twist us­ing home-grown veg and ten­der veni­son

Sporting Shooter - - One For The Pot -

I’m not usu­ally one for food fads. You’re more likely to find me flip­ping through a copy of Mrs Bee­ton’s Book of House­hold Man­age­ment than try­ing out the lat­est trend to take the culi­nary world by storm. But the re­cent heat­wave changed all that.

Af­ter three days of mer­cury-soar­ing tem­per­a­tures, dur­ing which my only so­lace was ly­ing on a bare wooden floor while pray­ing for even the slight­est breath of air to come through the win­dow, I knew that stand­ing in front of a hot stove was the last thing I wanted to do – but how to make salad ex­cit­ing for the third day run­ning?

Look­ing for in­spi­ra­tion in my vast col­lec­tion of recipes, I came across a recipe for poke (pro­nounced ‘po-kay’), a dish that re­cently hit our shores and quickly gained pop­u­lar­ity on the ‘trendy’ food scene. Com­monly served in a bowl as an ap­pe­tizer, poke is a Hawai­ian sta­ple of raw fish, veg­eta­bles and rice.

Bowl food is hav­ing a ‘mo­ment’. Sounds ridicu­lous, doesn’t it? Peo­ple have been eat­ing from bowls for cen­turies! But the dishes that are as­so­ci­ated with this ‘re­cent phe­nom­e­non’ are quick to pre­pare and healthy – with a nu­tri­tious bal­ance of pro­tein, grains and veg­eta­bles – of­fer­ing a ‘pick and mix’ type of din­ing, where you, the diner, are the cre­ator of each fork­ful, each one pro­vid­ing a dif­fer­ent flavour ex­pe­ri­ence.

Its in­for­mal na­ture also ap­peals, es­pe­cially when you’re boxset-bing­ing ev­ery night of the week. Or you’re in need of a quick meal be­fore head­ing out lamp­ing.

But the real joy of bowl food is that it’s so flex­i­ble: pick your favourite in­gre­di­ents, fill up a bowl and away you go – the pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less.

Al­though cook­ing would have been kept to an ab­so­lute min­i­mum if I’d used raw fish, as is tra­di­tional in Hawaii – tuna or salmon, for ex­am­ple – I opted to put my own spin on things and create a game ver­sion, us­ing veni­son loin. Rather than keep­ing the meat en­tirely raw, I seared it for a few short min­utes in a very hot pan, giv­ing it just enough time to form a crust, for colour and tex­ture, but not long enough so as to lose its pink­ness in the mid­dle. The only other bit of cook­ing in­volved was to boil up the rice.

I also cre­ated my own marinade and veg­etable com­bi­na­tion to com­ple­ment the veni­son. But, don’t feel you have to stick to this recipe re­li­giously; tweak the marinade to your taste and use al­ter­na­tive veg­eta­bles that are in sea­son – just make sure they’re fresh and crunchy to add bite to your poke.

It’s never too hot to cook with game; even when tem­per­a­tures sky-rocket there are quick ways to bring your hard-earned prize to the ta­ble, leav­ing you more time to en­joy the long day­light hours and that long-awaited breeze.

POKE-STYLE VENI­SON (Seared veni­son with pick­led veg­eta­bles and rice)

Serves 2 Prepa­ra­tion and cook­ing time: 35 min­utes

IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

250g veni­son loin olive oil 150g jas­mine or sushi rice 2 tbsp Ja­panese rice vine­gar 2 tsp caster sugar pinch of salt ¼ red cab­bage, finely shred­ded ½ car­rot, grated 50g radishes, sliced 2 tbsp soy sauce 1 tbsp sesame oil 1 tsp grated fresh root ginger 1 red chilli, finely chopped ½ tbsp honey 2 spring onions, finely chopped

TO SERVE

1 tbsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted in a dry pan gherkins (op­tional)

METHOD

1. Brush the veni­son with a lit­tle olive oil and sear in a very hot pan for 2-3 min­utes un­til browned all over. (I have left the veni­son quite rare here – if you pre­fer it medium-rare, cook for an­other minute or so.) Re­move from the pan and al­low to rest.

2. Cook the rice ac­cord­ing to packet in­struc­tions; drain.

3. Mix to­gether the vine­gar, sugar and a pinch of salt. Stir half through the rice. Toss the other half with the cab­bage, car­rot and radishes.

4. Mix to­gether the soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, chilli, spring onions and honey in a bowl.

5. Slice the veni­son as thinly as pos­si­ble and add to the marinade. Leave to mar­i­nate for 5 min­utes.

6. Di­vide the rice be­tween two bowls. Top with the veni­son and cab­bage. Sprin­kle with sesame seeds and serve im­me­di­ately, with a gherkin on the side.

‘Tweak the marinade to your taste and use al­ter­na­tive veg­eta­bles that are in sea­son – just make sure they’re fresh and crunchy to add bite’

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