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  • Writer's pictureKay Redrup


Lychee Martini Cake was the pivot for this pop-up. I adore lychee martinis and Dave (who elfs for my pop-up when he's in Istanbul) brought me several tins for us to enjoy our private happy hour when he's over at mine. 2 tins later and ... how amazing would it be to have a lychee martini dessert. And I found it on google and it is amazing. I did change a few bits, instead of using lychee liquour (because I didn't have any, nor could find it here in Istanbul) I mixed a cocktail or two or was it 5 or 6 but added lychee cordial and martini to give it that slightly bitter back hit. The basic sponge of the cake was the best I've ever done. I think it's now going to be my go-to for every recipe. It was soft, moist and light.

Sometimes when I'm watching something that doesn't require my full visual attention (this month's binge watching Leah Reimini's Scientology) I draw designs for a centre piece for pop-up. You know you can't always cook as your sole creative outlet.

On the table was my childhood favourite ikan bilis and peanuts (not altogether thai but who cares) and green chillies (again could not get those tiny bird's eye chilli so had to go with massive jalapenos.

Starter 1 was fresh spring rolls with fried tofu and served with spicy peanut sauce. Sweet corn fritter with sweet chilli sauce and a fried tofu, tomato, red onion and carrot salad topped with crushed peanuts.

The 2nd starter was the triumph of the night (together with the peanut sauce and dessert). Gordon Ramsey's hawker noodles. OK this is technically not Thai but I was too excited not to welcome it onto a pop-up table. I'd watched Gordon Ramsey's video on making 10 minute street noodles. I decided to try it for my son and myself. The first bite we knew it was a winner. What I really liked about this was that Gordon Ramsey proved you don't need to be Asian, brought up in Asia, to be able to cook kick-arse food. I fight this prejudice often when my book, 'The Expat Alchemist cooks Punjab' came out. I lean on my Sri Lankan roots on this but in reality I want to say, 'Don't need the DNA to cook other countries food'. What you need are the 3 T's - talent (humble - what me?), technique & tastebuds. I couldn't wait to tell everyone that the recipe is GR's and doesn't contain MSG (go suck on that Uncle Roger). In this dish I put in beef Chinese sausage (non pork eaters at the dinner - also my bacon hoard in the freezer is for my personal consumption) and used the flat large rice noodles.

The main course was Chicken green curry which I served with lemongrass rice. Squid with roasted red and green peppers, garlic and fish sauce (I thought this recipe was amazing). Actually it was my recipe, the original contains sugar and sweet chilli sauce and I felt the meal needed more balance with Son-in-law eggs containing so much sugar already. Two salads - another favourite - steamed aubergine with garlic, crushed coriander root and chilli topped with dried shrimp pounded to a floss. Cabbage in coconut milk topped with fried garlic, chilli and spring onion tops.

For more pictures see Facebook page Pop-up dinners Istanbul

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