Do I Make ... ?
'Splodge' is a dish I developed over the years as being
a very cheap, quick and filling meal. It is based upon
a vaguely Italian theme, but adaptable to whatever you
may have lying around in tins or the refrigerator -
things that need using before they go off. I am sure
many of you have thrown together similar recipes in
I have since made this dish in China many times,
but again due to what is available here, the ingredients
vary, although the overall result was pretty much the
same. I will first detail the version from Blighty,
and then the Chinese one secondly:
||Jonno, China Expats, Foshan, China
|Jonno is a keen chef for friends
and family. He has cooked and interpolated many
dishes over the years, and invented ones of his
own: Most notably 'Splodge', which is vaguely
based upon Italian cuisine
If you use salt in any parts of this recipe,
then always add it last. My personal experience confirms
that salt enhances and 'fixes' the final flavour of
the dish, at the point it is added to the process. Meaning
that if you add herbs and spices afterwards, then they
really won't work very well.
oil is also very important. Olive oil works far better
than any other.
3. This dish is
very much 'thrown-together', therefore not all quantities
are defined, and definitely never weighed. Please use
4. Please note: a 'Wardrobe' of garlic means the whole
bulb. It is British humour for where you put your 'clothes'
|Let's get started:- Jonno's Splodge
- British Version
|• 1 tin ready-mix minced beef
• 1 tin cheap tomatoes
• 1 large or 2 small white onions,
2/3rds diced, 1/3rd chunks
• Olive oil
wardrobe of Garlic, peeled, trimmed, squashed
• 2 inches cubed of fresh ginger, finely
• 10 Button mushrooms - excellent!
• Chopped Capsicum Peppers - differing
colours make a great presentation
• 1 dessertspoon Oregano
• Salt and Pepper
• Smallest pinch of turmeric
• Variables, listed below
|Obviously this dish is slightly
different every time, depending upon your mood,
and what is easily to hand. Here is a brief list
of some of the more common additions I regularly
| Ripped fresh basil leaves
1 potatoe diced into 1-inch cubes
Chopped Celery (3 minutes cooking only)
Herbs and spices:
• Fresh Chinese coriander leaves are
sold everywhere, and a bit harsher in flavour
than Western versions. However, they do work very
well with this dish, and as a substitute if you
cannot find Oregano.
• A hint of Cinnamon works well, as
does a sniff of nutmeg, and Thyme.
Turmeric powder is very powerful + an excellent
health additive. If you use too much it will take
over the entire flavour of this dish with an unwelcome
dry sensation. Use a tip of a teaspoon to start,
and increase with practice until it blends without
becoming obvious. However, I have found this essential
to bind the various ingredients, and for colour
|1. Put the pasta
shells into a very large saucepan and cover well
with water, add a pinch of salt and set aside.
They will hydrate without heating. You can just
as easily use Penne, as I like a pasta that can
hold some of the main dish fluids.
2. Add olive oil to a medium
sized saucepan, adding the garlic, ginger, and
half to 2/3rds of the diced white onion. The remaining
onion is not diced, but cut into large chunks
and added within the last minute of cooking. Heat
and stir continuously. Add oregano and a very
little turmeric. Turn down heat to low simmer
and let this sweat for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
The idea is to bring all these separate ingredients
together as a composite single taste.
3. Add the
tinned tomatoe chunks and bring back to a reasonable
4. Add black pepper
5. Now put in the
tin of ready-mix minced beef in gravy, and stirring,
bring back to a good simmer. Cover and leave for
10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
If you are using any ingredients such
as potatoes or parsnips that need cooking for
a while, then add these now.
7. Start heating the pasta by
bringing it to the boil, and then reduce to a
happy simmer. This should require 5-minutes, but
check to ensure they are cooked properly, and
not chewy (Nothing worse).
8. Open a bottle of Chianti Ruffo
from the refrigerator (4 degrees C is best), and
whilst setting aside to rest, help yourself to
an ample glass for tasting purposes only.
Once the pasta is cooked, this dish comes together
If the sauce of your main dish thickens too much
during cooking, then add a little hot water from
the kettle and stir-in thoroughly. You are looking
for something with the constitution of whole cream
milk (Shaken, not stirred).
I nearly always add button mushrooms,
so these go in 3-5 minutes before serving. I want
them heated through thoroughly, and just enough
time for some of their juice to extend into the
10. Drain the pasta
and immediately add the contents of the other
saucepan to this one; folding gently so as nothing
sticks to the bottom, yet retain shape and texture.
11. Now add the sliced peppers,
remaining onion, and chilli's or chilli sauce.
About 1 teaspoon of Encona Brand West Indian Hot
Pepper Sauce should be ideal.
12. Stir for 1
minute under a good heat and check the flavour.
If it is OK, add the salt. If not OK, adjust and
then add the salt.
13. Stir for a further 1 minute
and serve. Sliced french flour baguette with butter
and a side salad makes an ideal accompaniment.
Alternative serving suggestion:
Drain the pasta and retaining it in the saucepan,
immediately add a large knob of butter. Coat the
pasta with this, and then sprinkle a little fresh
parsley or fresh coriander leaves on top - finely
diced of course. Serve as a separate dish. A hint
of fresh mint leaves also works.
Follow the steps above for the main dish, and
serve separately. If using this delivery, then
consider cooking the potatoes with the pasta.
To freeze, combine both saucepan contents and
stir under heat for a minute or so. Spoon out
into freezer containers that hold about 1lb weight,
or about 1 pint of fluid. Allow to go cold, put
lid on and put in the freezer.
The whole emphasis of this dish is that it is
very simple, extremely tasty, and filling for
a hungry boy.
Given you now have the essentials, I will now
tell you how I have adapted this for China - a
land where tinned mince and cheap tinned tomatoes
do not exist.
|Jonno's Splodge - Cantonese Version:
|The main problem with making this dish
in China, is that there are no tins of minced beef on
supermarket shelves, and the tomatoes are either incredibly
expensive (tinned), or that fresh ones are useless for
Tomatoes: China does one kind of general
tomatoe. It looks OK, but turns into a brown mush on
the forth day in your fridge. Not good. Cutting one
open reveals the inside to be mainly composed of something
pithy and yellow. You cannot cook with these things
- and believe me I have tried many times. Seasonally
you can get 'Beefeater tomatoes', and these are ok for
cooking with, but very expensive.
However, all Chinese supermarkets sell 'Del Monte' Brand
Italian tomatoe sauce mix in double sized cans. These
are excellent, and although they cost a couple of pounds
each, they actually work - probably because they contain
Italian style plum tomatoes = essential. The herb version
is probably best suited to this dish, but the others
There is often another brand on sale called 'Hunt's'.
This is notably cheaper and ideal for making pizza base
tomatoe sauces. It is not suitable for this dish, which
has a far lighter ambience.
This is another area where there is nothing remotely
viable, so after much trial and error, I decided that
the balls of beef with black pepper where about the
closest to what I required tastewise. Supermarkets everywhere
sell these things in frozen packets, but pay a little
more for good ones.
First I boil these if frozen, but only so you can cut
them with a table knife. Alternatively, you could wait
for them to thaw out? I want to keep the juices for
the main dish. If you do this, then put this juice to
one side, and add to the main dish instead of water
if it thickens more then you like.
When only just cooked, I chop these into small pieces
using any kitchen knife. I am trying to replicate minced
beef, so that is your size guide.
Incidentally, I did get up and go to the local wet market
for 6am one morning in order to buy fresh beef, which
I accomplished. It was disgusting to the point I would
probably not even give it to the dog! Anyway, this dish
is all about taste and being immediate with what is
China is awash with a plethora of chilli sauces. Do
not use chilli sauce based on the rounded square Sichuan
types (Scotch Bonnet) - this has the wrong flavour totally.
For a hot one, use Lantern Brand from Hainan island
- it is sold everywhere. For a fuller flavour, and one
that truly compliments this dish, use Guilin chilli
sauce - also available everywhere. If your supermarket
does not sell these jars, then choose a proprietary
brand chilli and garlic sauce.
China is always a land of contradictions;
Therefore; if you want a mild chilli then buy some red
ones. Now I know that green chilli's mature and turn
red, getting hotter as they turn - I grow my own. But
this isn't how it is in China - a land where Green chilli's
are always hotter. For this dish I am looking for a
palatably playful Gutierrez (wrong spelling I am sure)
chilli of Indian decent, as common in UK. These are
the gnarly ones about 4-6-inches long, that rate as
factor 7-8 on the international chilli-geiger counter
Everything else you need for this dish is readily available
everywhere - except Oregano and similar Western herbs
and spices. I bring back catering packs of the stuff
when I go to UK, although you can find it presented
in miniscule fancy jars in Hong Kong, at vastly inflated
In particular, China is fantastic for mushrooms as the
choice is incredible. The best ones are the ones that
look like small grayish eggs, although all the versions
of button mushrooms are as you would expect.
If you buy pasta loose from the supermarket, then know
the white looking pasta shells are made from rice flour
and don't work. The yellow coloured ones are made from
wheat flour, which is OK.
If you have time, then emulate the tinned minced beef
by adding 3 parts cornflour and one part Bisto (Again
bought in UK, and expensively available in Hong Kong)
to a saucepan, add a little water and heat stirring
continuously. And I mean - continuously! You can also
add a hint of black pepper to this for taste. Add more
water as soon as it looks like a goo. With your other
hand, add in the diced meatballs and a little diced
onion. Keep stirring! When bubbling away happily at
a nice viscosity, add a pinch of salt to fix the flavour,
and put aside - or ladle meat straight into the main
saucepan if your timing is right.
Note: You will probably not need all
of this sauce, so what is collected naturally on your
ladle with the meat is fine for the main dish. Freeze
leftover sauce once cooled (Any plastic bag is fine),
and use as instant gravy - or for your next splodge.
If at any time you feel harassed during the cooking
process; then simply switch off all the heat, cover,
and re-taste the Chianti, allowing one full glass from
a new bottle for yourself, and a second glass from the
rested bottle for your girlfriend. If things go very
well, you can always finish cooking this for breakfast
However; she will be far more impressed with you if
you finish cooking the dish and present it well. Some
'Home made' French bread - Baguette is best (The stuff
sold in all Chinese supermarkets is probably made with
wood pulp, and designed to beat wayward Donkeys with);
butter curls, and a side-salad are very good with this
I'll add a picture and/or video walkthrough next time
I make it.
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