Bring a stunning array of South-East Asian flavours to the dinner table with this fancy dish - perfect for impressing at a dinner party.
100g/3½oz unsalted peanuts
2 stalks lemongrass, roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
5cm/2in piece fresh turmeric
2.5cm/1in piece galangal
6 shallots, peeled and diced
½ tsp salt
4 tbsp caster sugar
200g-300g/7-10½oz palm sugar (to taste)
400ml/14fl oz coconut milk
1 tsp dried red chilli flakes
2 tbsp garam masala powder
400ml/14fl oz water
200g/7oz salted butter
For the tempeh, drain off the excess water from the desiccated coconut and set aside. Put the coconut milk, shallots, garlic, ginger, white pepper, lime juice and salt into a food processor, blend until smooth then transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Crumble the tempeh into the bowl and add the re-hydrated coconut. Add the rice flour, then divide the mixture into 16 small balls and transfer to a plate. Chill for at least 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, remove the outer layer of the lemongrass stalks, trim the ends to make skewers then soak in water for 10-15 minutes. Place two balls of the mixture onto each stick and squeeze gently to mould the balls together and evenly cover the stick. Cover the exposed end of the lemongrass skewers with kitchen foil to stop them from burning when they are grilled later.
For the spicy peanut sauce, place the peanuts, lemongrass, garlic, turmeric, galangal, shallots, salt, sugar, half of the palm sugar, the coconut milk, dried chillies and garam masala in a food processor and blend to make a thick paste.
Bring the water to the boil in a medium saucepan, then turn the heat down and gradually whisk in the cubes of cold butter to make an emulsion. Add the spice paste to the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water if the sauce becomes too thick. Add more palm sugar, to taste, and reheat gently before serving.
For the rice, place four cups of boiling water with the rice in a large pan. Add a large pinch of salt, the cassia bark, bay leaves and black cardamom. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and rest, tightly covered with a lid, for a further 10 minutes. Drain the cooked rice in a sieve ensuring as much water as possible is removed.
Line a baking tray with cling film and fill it with the cooked rice. Press down firmly and cover with more cling film. Place a second baking tray on top of the rice, press it firmly and weigh it down with weights or heavy cans. Transfer to the fridge for 20 minutes, then remove the cling film and use a sharp knife to cut into 5cm/2in fingers.
For the chilli cashews, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Spread the cashews over a non-stick baking tray and roast for 10 minutes, shaking them occasionally to ensure that they cook evenly. Meanwhile, put the sugar and one tablespoon of water into a small pan over a medium heat to make a syrup. Coat the cashews in the syrup, let cool a little, then roll them in the sesame seeds mixed with the dried chilli flakes. Lay out on a sheet of baking parchment and set aside.
Season the green beans with salt and fry in a little sesame oil until they start to brown slightly. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.
For the crispy shallots with chilli, place the oil in a pan, add the shallots and chilli and slowly bring up to a high temperature. When the shallots and chilli are sizzling and taking on some colour, carefully remove from the pan, drain on kitchen paper and set aside until needed.
Preheat the grill to its highest setting. Grill the tempeh skewers for 7-10 minutes on each side until golden-brown. Serve with the peanut sauce, rice fingers, chilli cashews, beans and top with the crispy shallots and chilli. Garnish with wedges of lime.
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