A Visit From My Family

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It’s been close to two and a half years now since I’ve moved out of home, and nothing has made me appreciate my family more than being apart from them. I honestly get so excited when they come to visit! There’s always so much food and loud chatter involved, and this past weekend was no different!

It had been a while since they’d visited, so I invited my parents, my brother, my aunty, uncle and two cousins all over for lunch on Saturday. We actually bought our first ever BBQ last week, so I thought it was the perfect time to fire it up and cook up a feast!

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Jared built the BBQ in the morning while I got the food ready. I’m not going to lie, I had a proud “I’m an adult” moment when I saw it all set up on our balcony. (In case you’re wondering, this is a 4 burner hooded Jumbuck BBQ which we got for dirt cheap from our local Bunnings – it’s honestly a steal at that price, and looks/works just as well as other BBQ’s that cost triple the price). 

It’s kind of like a pot luck with my family, everyone ends up bringing 2-3 different dishes and we all tuck in. My contribution was chicken and veggie skewers and marinated minute steaks. 

For the skewers, I had Jared debone and dice up some free range chicken thighs for me the night before. I think there was about 800-900g there. I then marinated in a sauce made from: the juice of 2 oranges (with pulp), 4-5 tablespoons low sodium tamari, 2 crushed cloves of garlic and 2 tablespoons each of sesame oil and sesame seeds. I stirred it through and left it to marinate overnight in a container in the fridge. 

Early Saturday morning, I cut up a mix of different veggies to layer with the chicken on the skewers. I used: mushrooms, red and green capsicums and carrots. 

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I love making my own skewers for BBQ’s. I know it’s so much more time consuming than going out to the supermarket and grabbing a few trays of pre-made ones, but I know that by making them myself there’s no unnecessary additives or preservatives, I know the meat was free range and I love knowing that each skewer is half veggies rather than all meat like the majority of pre-made skewers are. Plus, I find a sense of joy being able to prepare meals for the ones I love myself.

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For the minute steaks, I actually used a homemade marinate that my uncle gifted me with a little while ago. We call it his magic sauce! It’s a mix of soy sauce and a bunch of different Asian herbs and spices. It smells and tastes like a sweet black pepper sauce. It’s amazing! We always use it to marinate our meat! And no, he hasn’t divulged the exact ingredients and measurements for each for the sauce. I’m still working on it, I’ll keep you posted if I ever get it out of him! 

To add a bit of an extra kick, I also added some sliced onion and crushed garlic and layered the meat in that and the sauce overnight to marinate. 

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My family turned up not long after we had set the BBQ up, and we got straight into it! Jared fired up the BBQ and started cooking the skewers, and my uncle and I headed to the kitchen so he could teach me how to make his version of traditional Lao green papaya salad. If you’ve never eaten it or seen it before, it’s a dish made from: shredded papaya (you can also use shredded carrots, green mango, cucumber or even noodles!), with a dressing usually made of tomatoes, chillies, lime, fish sauce, salt, shrimp paste and sugar, and it’s all prepared with a mortar and pestle.

His and my mumma’s papaya salads are the best I’ve ever tasted. No restaurant here or in Laos compares. Funnily enough though, they taste completely different from each other. I use my mum’s recipe regularly, but swap the papaya for cucumber (which is easier to get, easier to prepare and is mine and my sister’s favourite version of it). Saturday was the first time I made it my uncle’s way though. He likes to add garlic, crushed peanuts and dried shrimp in it, and I think that adds such a nice twist to the dish.

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I don’t have an exact recipe for either of their versions, mainly because it’s such a “taste as you go” kind of dish. There needs to be a perfect balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy, and you really only know if it’s right by tasting and adding as you go. Which is exactly what I did with this, and when mum tasted it and gave it the thumbs up, I couldn’t have been prouder of myself!

I think one day when I have my own cookbook (one can dream, right?), I’ll pop a guide in there!

To go with all of the other dishes, my mumma brought over her homemade sweet lime and chilli sauce, Lao sausages, lots of freshly picked herbs from her garden, some sticky rice, vermicelli noodles and some lettuce cups (to wrap the noodles, meat and herbs in). My uncle also brought some freshly baked mini bread rolls to make steak sandwiches and a large platter of his famous fried noodles.

We feasted like kings and queens that day!

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I also want to mention that Jared did a top job with the BBQ! Everyone complimented him on the perfectly cooked chicken skewers and steak, I was so proud of him!

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My uncle also gave me the idea to put everything on a mini roll and eat it. It was probably the best idea he’s ever had. In my roll, I had lettuce, grilled veggies, fried noodles, a bit of steak, some papaya salad, herbs and my mum’s chilli sauce. I finished it in about 3 bites and almost died of happiness.

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Excuse the no make up and barely brushed hair, but I love this photo. I felt so relaxed, comfortable and surrounded by love that day! This photo captures that for me! Also, you can’t tell in this in this photo but I was wearing skinny leg jeans. About 5 minutes into lunch, I went and changed into my stretchy pajama pants for ultimate comfort whilst pigging out. My mum and aunty couldn’t stop laughing!

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Usually my family visit all day and we end up eating non stop from lunch through to dinner, but they had something on that night and couldn’t stay. We wound down after lunch with coffee and muffins. I whipped these up quickly, so no measurements were taken. They were made of: chickpea flour, bananas, molasses, coconut sugar, eggs and walnuts.

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It was such a nice day, and I was a bit sad to see everyone go. It was so quiet and still afterwards. I’m already planning the next visit with my mum! She’s going to come over and teach me how to make her famous pho noodles, I can’t wait! 

 Laura x