Category: Dill

Frikkadels – The Danish Girl Goes To Sri Lanka

I am reading The Danish Girl for  book club.  I am not that far into the book  – so there are  no spoilers here for anyone who may be concerned but there was a part very early in the book that blew my teeny mind and most likely not at all for the any of the reasons you might be thinking!

Here is the passage:

Even with his eyes closed, standing shirtless in front of his wife felt obscene.  It felt as if she’s caught him doing something he had promised he would avoid – not like adultery, but more like resuming a bad habit he’d given his word he would quit, like drinking aquavit in the canal bars of Christianshavn or eating frikadeller in bed”

 – David Ebershoff, The Danish Girl

In Sri Lankan Burgher cooking, we have a delicious meatball called a Frikkadel.  The name was too similar to the frickadeller found in The Danish Girl for me not to undertake some extensive research.  (Otherwise known as googling the word Frikadeller.) And yes, they are pretty much one and the same.

Knowing this also helped to fill a gap in my knowledge about these meatballs.  I have long wondered why they are flavoured with dill which is not used that much in Sri Lankan cooking.  But it is used a lot in Scandinavian Cooking.  Mystery solved!

I cooked some ages ago and never got around to posting them so here are my Friikkadels. 

FrikkadelsSri Lankans would not normally eat frikkadels in bed but they would be quite commonly handed round at a drinks party as a “short eat” which is what we call finger food.  

Here is the “official” description from the delightful ( but totally demented) Daily News Cookbook, a bastian of Sri Lankan Cooking.

“The term “short eats”  was originally used to describe the dainty sandwiches, dry cheese or other savoury biscuits, potato chips and miniature sausages accompanying the drinks at sherry or cocktail parties which usually began at six o’clock in the evening and lasted for a couple of hours at the most….

The chief requisite of short eats is that should appeal to the eye as well as the palate; but they must also be easy to eat –  that is, small enough to be conveyed to the mouth with the fingers or, at the most, a small wooden pick”

Frikkadels2My frikkadels were eaten as short eats with a dollop of date and tamarind chutney and a garnish of coriander. However, the best, best, best way to eat your frikkadels – better than a short eat or even in bed is as part of a lampries.

Part of a what you ask?  One day, when I have an infinite amount of time on my hands I will make one for you.  And your minds will be blown by the awesome deliciousness of them.  It’s unlikely to happen in the foreseeable purely because of the seven billion things that need to be included.  For the lampries is a little pack of many items of Sri Lankan delciousness.  Traditionally this would be cooked and served in banana leaves but nowadays alfoil is also used.  The lampries contains:

  • Ghee rice
  • Lampries Curry – made with chicken, lamb beef and pork.  I know it sounds mental but it’s so good! 
  • Frikkadels
  • Brinjal Pahi – which is an eggplant pickle
  • Coconut Sambal
  • Prawn Blachang – which is a dried prawn pickle type thing.  Ish.

Now do you see why I will most likely never make this myself? Not only do you need have all of those things.  But they all have about twenty ingredients each.  To make lampries tis a labour of love.  Which is why we buy them frozen. The best are straight from the kitchen of a little old Sri Lankan  lady.  Next best is from your local Sri Lankan cafe or restaurant. 

And here is one that I ate at The Dutch Burgher Union when we were in Sri Lanka last year:

Lampries with Frikkadels

This was voted the best lampries in Colombo in a Yamu Survey:

My favourite way of eating a lampries is to eat one of the frikkadels first.  Then the rest.  Then the second frikkadel as the very last thing.  Kind of like the cherry on the top!

Frikkadels came to Sri Lanka from the Dutch who borrowed them from the Danes. There is also a South African version also via the Dutch.  Frikkadels can also be found in many other countries of Northern Europe.  This is certainly the little meatball that could!

Delicious Sri Lankan /Dutch / Danish meatballs
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  1. 500g minced beef - do not use the leanest type, you need a higher fat content to keep the frikkadels moist
  2. 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  3. 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  4. a piece of ginger about the same size as the clove of garlic, grated
  5. 1 tsp black pepper
  6. juice of 1 lime
  7. a large pinch of ground cloves
  8. a pinch of cinnamon
  9. a pinch of grated nutmeg
  10. 1/2 tsp salt
  11. 2 sprigs of dill, finely chopped
  12. 2 eggs
  13. 1 cup of bread crumbs for coating
  14. Oil for frying, ideally coconut but peanut will do
Optional Ingredients
  1. Lime wedges to serve.
  2. Coriander leaves to serve
  3. Chutney or sweet chilli sauce to serve
  1. Separate the eggs.
  2. Mix the minced (ground) beef, onions, ginger, garlic, pepper, lime juice, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg dill and salt thoroughly with the egg yolks.
  3. Form into balls the size of large marbles.
  4. Beat the whites of the eggs with a fork just enough to break them up but without frothing.
  5. Dip the balls into the eggs whites then roll in the crumbs so they are well coated.
  6. Heat the oil in a deep pan until boiling then fry the frikkadels a few at a time.
  7. When cooked through they should be crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside.
  8. Keep hot, draining on kitchen paper.
  9. Serve with a wedge of lime, chutney or as part of a lampries.
Adapted from The Daily News Cookbook
Adapted from The Daily News Cookbook
Retro Food For Modern Times
 Why not try some at your next party?  Or in a lampries?  Or even in bed?

The Danish Girl does not open here until the end of the month.  Have any of you seen it?  What did you think?

Have a fabulous week!

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The Dishiest Dish- Fennel, Olive and Dill Toasts

I have wondered for a long time how to get more posts out each week and I think I have finally figured out how to do it.  My plan is that each week I will do a very quick post on the best thing I have made that week.   It may come from the huge list of recipes I want to cook, a Tasty Reads or other cook-along selection or even a retro recipe that I would not have otherwise blogged about. 

Fennel, Olive and Dill Toasts2

To kick things off, here is a recipe I made for Fennel, Olive and Dill Toasts which was super!  This is a recipe which may never have seen the light of day – I have this thing I where, when I go on my mid year holidays, I take a stack of food magazines with me.   Whilst on holiday, I clip all the recipes that appeal.  And they become my “master list” of recipes to cook over the next 12 months. 

Weird and convoluted I know.  But it works for me! 

Fennel, Olive and Dill Toasts4

When I went through my magazines this year, I found the recipe which was the basis for the Fennel, Olive and Dill Toasts.  And I had not even marked it as a recipe to cook when I initially marked up the magazine!

I came quite late to fennel.  I am not a great fan of liquorice //aniseed and so I think, back in 2002 which is where is recipe came from, the double dose of fennel and dill would not have appealed to me.  Now, I love them both!

Fennel, Olive and Dill Toasts3These toasts were delicious! It is such a great combination of ingredients, the creamy goat’s cheese, the sweet caramelised fennel and onion, the salty olives and the zing of fresh dill and lemon zest.  Add in the crunch of toasted bread and you have a lovely appetizer! 

The mix would be lovely placed on tiny toast rounds for a one bite canape.  Or would be equally amazing as a pizza topping!!! 

The original recipe did not have the goat’s cheese and to make it without would change this from a super vegetarian option to an amazing vegan choice!

Here’s the recipe:

Fennel, Dill and Olive Toasts
My meal of the week! These fennel, dill and olive toasts are super easy, super delicious and look gorgeous!
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  1. 2 bulbs of baby fennel, ends trimmed, sliced thinly lengthways
  2. 1 small red onion ,cut into thin half moons
  3. 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  4. 2 tbsp water
  5. 2x1 tbsp olive oil
  6. 1 baguette, cut into 1 cm thick rounds
  7. 40g kalamata olives, sliced
  8. 2 tbsp fresh dill leaves
  9. zest of half a lemon
  10. 100gm goats cheese (optional)
  11. Salt and pepper
  1. Heat one tablespooon of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the fennel, onion and garlic and stir until they are well covered in oil.
  3. Add the water and reduce the heat to medium low.
  4. Cook, covered, stirring occaisionally, for 4-5 minutes until the mixture is golden.
  5. Preheat your grill to medium high.
  6. Drizzle the baguette slices with the remaining olive oil, place on a baking tray and cook under the grill for 2-3 minutes each side or until golden.
  7. Zest the lemon, then stir the zest, olives and dill into the fennel and onion mixture. Season to taste.
  8. Spread the toasted bread with the goat's cheese, top with the fennel mixture and serve.
  1. Omitting the goat's cheese makes this vegan.
Adapted from Good Taste Magazine 2002
Adapted from Good Taste Magazine 2002
Retro Food For Modern Times
 This week I am excited about cooking:

  • A strawberry cheesecake with a white chocolate and macadamia nut brownie base (adapted from I am making this for a friend’s birthday.  Lord,  I hope turns out well!
  • Duck Meatballs  – we are reading  and cooking from this book for Tasty Reads this month.  A friend lent me her meat grinder so I can make these.  I hope they are worth the effort.
  • The River Cafe Spinach Rotolo for a very long overdue contribution to the Cookbook Guru.
  • This salad from my “to be cooked” list.  The combination of ingredients had me at hello. Oh yeah, I smoked some duck the other night.  For serious.  I feel like Martha.  Or Nigella.  I feel like I should start a girly band called Martha and The Nigellas.  That is how high my domestic goddessery is running this week!  (Dammit, Martha and The Nigellas is a really good blog name…wish I’d thought of it three and a bit years ago!!!). 

Stay tuned, one of these may be the dish of the week next week!

Fennel, Olive and Dill ToastsAnd because I am totally nosy and love to know everyone else’s business, what was the best thing you made this week? 

And, what are you looking forward to making next week? 

Do you even know?  Are you a spontaneous cooker or a mad planner like me?

Let me know in the comments. PLEASE!!!!  I”m dying of curiousity!

Have a fabulous week everyone!  Happy Cooking!

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Cha Ca La Vong

Let’s step back in time to a few years ago and a completely imaginary pub quiz.  Let’s suppose I am poised on the brink of winning the meat tray.  Believe it or not, a meat tray is a valid prize in Australian pubs.  I won one once. It was awesome. 

Cha Ca
Cha Ca

it was a whole tray of steaks and chops and sausages and, if I recall correctly, some very nice bacon.  You may scoff, but it’s actually a pretty good prize.   As long as you’re not a vegetarian. 

And here comes the question.

And for the tray of meat “What is a Cha Ca La Vong?”

“Oh……:A Latin American Dance?”

“No, wait a moment…isn’t it the name of the slutty girl from Grease?  The one stole the dance competition from Sandy?”


No, Cha Ca La Vong is not the name of the best dancer from St Bernadette’s (with the worst reputation) or the type of dancing she may engage in. 

It is a super delicious Vietnamese dish of fried fish with turmeric, dill and tomatoes.

I first came across this dish last year when I did the awesome Hanoi Street Food Tour with Mark Lowerson from Stickyrice.  You can read about that here.

Cha Ca
Cha Ca

 When I had Cha Ca with Mark it was a soupy style.  And it was super, very fragrant and possibly my favourite dish (apart from the a-may-zing coffee with yogurt) of the whole tour. 

This year however, I discovered a new way to have Cha Ca.  We read about a restaurant called The Gourmet Corner.  And being cautious, we dropped in one afternoon for a cocktail.  I like to call it scoping out a restaurant before commiting myself.  You can call it afternoon boozing if you wish.

Well, one meal later this became our favourite place to eat in Hanoi. I think we pretty much ate there every night after that.   Fabulous food, great cocktails, and 360 degree views of the city. And all as cheap as chips!!!!

Cha Ca La Vong - Gourmet Corner Hanoi
Cha Ca La Vong – Gourmet Corner Hanoi

Their Cha Ca?  O. M. G.  One of the best things I have ever eaten. In. My Life. 

First up, the combination of fish and dill and onion took me right back to my first ever time in Hanoi, my first ever full day in Hanoi and the tour with Mark.  Kind of like Proust’s madeleines.  But fishy.  And second -So, so  tasty.  Perfectly cooked fish, perfectly spiced, the most amazing flavour of the dill and the tomato and the turmeric….I ate this EVERY night for pretty much a week.  And I had such a craving for it the other night, I decided to make my own!

 Two disclaimers.  One.  My version, whilst being pretty damn good, is not a patch on either version I had in Hanoi.  There really is something about eating in situ that can make any meal super special. But, that being said…it doesn’t totally suck either.  It’s actually pretty tasty.  And so fun to eat! Particularly if you have a group of people.  Set it all out and people can wrap and roll what they want.  It would be best served outside on a tiny chair and table as at a Bia Hoi Bar and washed down with some icy cold beer but failing that, your own home or garden would also be fine. But do have that ice cold beer!

Cha Ca
Cha Ca

 Which leads me to my second disclaimer.  It’s an absolute bastard to cook.  Not difficult but there are a lot of moving parts.  Don’t even try to do what I did and make it all in the same day. Do the pickles at least one day ahead.  I would also try to do the tomato and dill mixture the day before too and just heat it up when you need it. 

Cha Ca Quick Pickled Vegetables

I couldn’t find the right sort of rice paper rolls and the ones I had turned into a hot mess so I  I wrapped my Cha Ca in lettuce leaves.  They added a nice crunch.  You could also use tortillas to make it into a kind of Vietnamese Fish Taco.  

Alternatively, ditch these all together and make a noodle bowl – I had one of these with the leftovers the following day and it was super. 

Cha Ca Noodle Bowl
Cha Ca Noodle Bowl

I’ve added a few photo’s from Hanoi.  I’m really starting to love that city!  And I think even possibly more that Saigon is a great food city.  Food is everywhere and in such fresh abundance.  I hope you get a feel of the city from these…looking at them and eating the Cha Ca really took me back to our holiday.  And got me thinking about the next….

Hanoi Street Sellers
Hanoi Street Sellers


Hanoi Street Food
Hanoi Street Food – Suckling Pig and Duck
Hanoi Coffee Shop
Hanoi Coffee Shop


Hanoi  - Freshly Made Tofu
Hanoi – Freshly Made Tofu


Hanoi - Street Market
Hanoi – Street Market…and a fabulous rose dress


Hanoi - Banana Shop
Hanoi – Banana Shop


Hanoi Chickens dressed with roses
Hanoi Chickens dressed with roses for a festival day


Hanoi Cooking School
Hanoi Cooking School – So Proud!


Tanned and Happy At The Gourmet Corner
Tanned and Happy At The Gourmet Corner
Hanoi - Street Scene
Hanoi – Street Scene from a Bia Hoi bar.

 To make your week fabulous why not cook something from a place you love?  And don’t forget to tell me all about it!

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Cha Ca La Vong

Cha Ca La Vong


    For the Fish
  • 500 firm white skinned fish (I used kingfish)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/2 tbsp chilli powder (optional)
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • Peanut oil for frying
  • For the Pickled Vegetables (optional)
  • 2 carrots, finely julienned
  • 1 daikon radish, finely julienned
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 2cm piece of ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 birds eye chilli, quartered (optional)
  • 1/2 cup vinegar - rice vinegar would be traditional, I used white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • For the Dill Mixture
  • 1 bunch of dill, roughly chopped
  • 8 Spring onions, finely sliced
  • 18 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 chopped red chilli
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp olive oil for sauteing
  • 125g vermicelli
  • Iceberg Lettuce Leaves / Tortillas / Rice Paper (optional)
  • Accompaniments - All Optional
  • Pickled Vegetables (as per above)
  • Chopped roasted peanuts
  • Crispy Fried Shallots
  • Herbs - I used coriander, mint and vietnamese mint, roughly chopped
  • Lime Cheeks
  • Soy sauce
  • Nuoc Cham,
  • Pickled chillies


    For the fish
  • Cut the fish into 2 cm chunks. Sprinkle the pieces with salt and let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  • Mix together the fish sauce, ginger, garlic sugar and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Add the fish to the bowl and ensure that all the pieces are coated. Place them on a plate, cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
  • Heat your oven to low.
  • If using the chilli powder add this and half the turmeric and half the rice flour to a small bowl and the remaining turmeric and rice flour into another bowl. If not using the chilli powder, add all of the turmeric and rice flour into one bowl.
  • Coat each piece of fish in the flavoured flour.
  • Heat the peanut oil in a frying pan or wok until very hot. Add the fish in batches, and using tongs turn and move the fish until it is evenly cooked and golden brown. (The chilli fish will be a darker colour than the turmeric coated one).
  • Once cooked through (approximately 4-6 minutes) use the tongs to transfer the fish to an oven safe wire rack lined with paper towels and place in the heated oven to keep warm.
  • For the Pickled Vegetables
  • Mix together the vinegar, sugar and salt in small pan. Heat until the sugar dissolves.
  • Pour this mixture over the carrot, daikon, onion, ginger and chilli.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes before serving.
  • For the Dill Mixture
  • Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onions and allow to soften. Add the garlic and chilli and cook until they have also softened. Add the dill and the cherry tomatoes. Saute until the dill wilts and the tomatoes have softened slightly. Squeeze some lime over the top.
  • For the Vermicelli
  • Boil a kettle of water.
  • Place the vermicelli in a heat proof bowl.
  • Pour the just boiled water over the top and let sit as per the directions on the packet.
  • Drain.
  • To Serve
  • If using tortillas or rice paper prepare them accordingly to the packet directions.
  • If using lettuce leaves, pull them off the head of lettuce and stack them on the platter.
  • Add your fish, vermicelli, dill mixture and the pickled vegtables, arranging them around your platter so they look pretty. Add the mixed herbs, peanuts and fried shallots. Depending on the size of your platter you may have use separate bowls for some ingredients. Ensure that you have serving implements for each part of the meal.
  • Using the lettuce leaf / tortilla / rice paper as a plate, guests can add the fish, vermicelli, dill mixture and any of the accompaniments they desire, then roll up their meal.
  • Alternatively, the vermicelli, fish and dill mixture can be placed in a bowl and guests can serve their own accompaniments.
  • Best served with an ice cold beer!
  • Enjoy.

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