Jeow Mak Keua


I took part in two cooking courses last summer: one in Vietnam and one in Laos.  Despite preferring Vietnamese food generally, it’s two Laos dishes I’ve found myself making most at home.  The first is stuffed lemongrass.  It’s a cracker of a recipe and I’ll share it very soon.  The second is Jeow Mak Keua – a very spicy aubergine dip/paste.  It’s one of my favourite things right now.   I like to eat it with brown rice and nothing else but it’s very nice as a side dish for grilled meat.

Jeow Mak Keua (As learnt at Tamarind cooking school)

1 medium aubergine 

1 large red chilli

2 fat cloves of garlic

Fish sauce

1 spring onion, chopped

Small handful of coriander. chopped

  • Prick the aubergine all over then thread it on to a skewer along with the garlic and chilli.  Cook under a hot grill or on the BBQ until charred on the outside and soft on the inside.
  • Peel the garlic and chilli and pound to a paste with a pinch of rock salt using a mortar and pestle.  (Remove the seeds from the chilli if you don’t want it too hot)
  • Peel the aubergine and cut into rough chunks. Add to the mortar and pound with the chilli/garlic paste until combined.
  • Stir in coriander and spring onion then add fish sauce to taste.

Tourist at Home

We had visitors from London up this holiday weekend (Hello Priya!).  Spent the weekend showing them around some of my favourite places in the area.  It was so good to take time out and just enjoy our where we live – I haven’t done enough of that in the last few years.  We sailed down the Caladonian Canal; visited  Glen Affric and Plodda Falls; shopped at the Cromarty Pottery and ANTA; dolphin spotted at Chanonry Point; and went to The Storehouse for lunch.  The sun was very cooperative; the dolphins and seals were not.

(Bigger versions of these photos can be viewed here – the Glen Affric photos – fifth and sixth – are well worth seeing in a larger size)


Whilst in the Netherlands, we visited Keukenhof, an enormous spring flower garden located just outside of Amsterdam.  To be honest, I had been hoping to cycle or walk alongside the agricultural bulb fields in the North Holland countryside but it wasn’t to be.  A stroll through these impressive gardens was a rather lovely second choice though.