Friday, August 15, 2014

How to keep octopus tender when cooking this delicacy.

How to keep octopus tender when cooking this delicacy.

Stories abound telling you how to prepare your octopus so that you don’t finish with your octopus feeling like rubber or worse still wasting this delicious and valuable seafood. One of our friends in Queensland after two unsuccessful attempts to cook an octopus curry, tried Madeleine Philippe’s recipe for Octopus Curry.”Eureka !”he said and his octopus turned out very tender and he could enjoy his octopus curry with friends. 

So what did Madeleine do that made the octopus tender. I went back to her recipe to double check and searched the internet for tips from Greek, Italian and other cooks who have had a lifetime of traditional methods to ensure that their octopus stayed tender.The Greeks throw the octopus on hard surfaces until you can see the tentacles retract and let go. They say that this traditional method ensures that your octopus will cook and stay tender. The Spanish cook will dip it into boiling water three times in separate pots, then cook it in a copper pot, only copper will do. An Italian might cook it with two corks. The Japanese will rub it all over with salt, or knead it with grated daikon, then slice the meat at different angles, with varying strokes.

Others suggest that the octopus be frozen for 2-3 days before cooking. The freezing would burst the collagen layers within the octopus arms and in doing so, tenderise the octopus. Some like the Spanish recommend the repeated dipping of the octopus into boiling water to shock the muscles into action and create tears within the muscular layers. Boiling within a pressure cooker under controlled conditions also does the trick.

Madeleine Philippe prepared her octopus in two steps. First, carefully remove the sac and beak. Then, clean the octopus with white flour in your sink. The flour will absorb all the slime and you can then wash your octopus in cold water. Her second step is to heat up a thick bottom saucepan large enough to contain the octopus. Over high heat and when the saucepan is hot, place the octopus in and move it around until the whole octopus turns pink. It will release its own juice. She also sprinkled some ground black pepper and ground cloves over the octopus. Continue for around 15-20 mins for a 1 kg octopus. Check the octopus with a sharp knife to ensure that it is tender before you turn off the heat. This normally does the trick through shocking the octopus muscles into action.

Bon Appétit. Go to Recipes from Mauritius for Octopus recipes at

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Passion for Mauritian Cuisine-Extract from book "Passion for Mauritian Cuisine" under preparation

Passion for Mauritian Cuisine

When someone cooks with an incredible passion like an artist, to combine the meats, sea foods, vegetables, herbs, spices, oils and other ingredients, into a palette that delights the senses and transports your tastebuds into a culinary adventure, you have to appreciate the skills and love that contributed to your delight at the dining table.

 I am one of the lucky ones to have not only met such persons, but also to have had such persons in my life. In my youth, I can still see my grandmother slave away in the outdoor kitchen over a charcoal fire. She made the most wonderful dishes from very simple ingredients and kept everybody happy and well fed. My father was also a good cook who prepared flavoursome dishes from very little. I can also remember my mother preparing prawn rougaille on rice for my breakfast before I left for work.

When I  married the love of my life Madeleine Philippe, who unfortunately left us in February 2011, I had absolutely no idea of cooking. I could not even cook an egg. Mind you, I enjoyed good foods then and would gravitate towards good Mauritian cuisine. Madeleine’s cooking was out of this world. She had a passion for Mauritian cuisine and acquired much from the family love of cooking, friends who would share techniques and skills, chefs from such establishments like Rio Restaurant in Curepipe. Madeleine had no hesitation to walk into the restaurant’s kitchen and discuss techniques with the chef. Our dining table always had room for last minute guests and Madeleine would turn dinner for four into dinner for eight in no time at all.
In 1982, Madeleine and I were in Mildura and friends were always asking for copies of recipes from Madeleine’s cooking. The idea of writing a book on Mauritian Cuisine was born. We wrote together our first recipe. It was the recipe for the famous Mauritian “Rougaille Saucisses”. That is, sausages cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. However, the book was never published, we had just migrated to Australia and were starting life anew in our new country of adoption. Financial limitations stopped us from proceeding further.

Nevertheless, I took a close interest in Mauritian Cuisine and in 1994, Madeleine and I established the first web site promoting Mauritius, with recipes forming an integral component of the “Mauritius Australia Connection” web portal. Today, our web site receives in excess of 4000 page visits daily. The “Recipes from Mauritius” by Madeleine Philippe web site is now the most popular and Google No. 1 site on Mauritian cuisine.

The combination of Madeleine’s expertise on Mauritian cuisine and my engineering approach was the perfect arrangement. We together developed a very user friendly format that presented lovers of Mauritian cuisine with recipes that are easy to prepare with very good results. Unfortunately, Madeleine left us in February 2011 after battling breast and ovarian cancers for five years. I promised myself that a book promoting her passion for Mauritian cuisine will be written, to lodge into history her contribution towards this wonderful cuisine of ours.

An incredible thing happened to me after Madeleine’s passing. It was like her passion and love of Mauritian cuisine had been passed on to me. Our long term involvement in working out the best recipes for the various Mauritian dishes, led to both of us acting like one entity. Today, it’s like Madeleine is still alive in me and guiding me in the preparation of the many Mauritian dishes that we enjoyed eating and preparing together. The truth is that she is very much present in me. Part of me died when she left us, but much of her is still very much alive in me. She passed on to me the responsibility to carry on the promotion of Mauritian cuisine. The “Recipes from Mauritius” web site is still very much active with thousands of persons worldwide seeing Madeleine daily through her recipes. She is still very much present among us. New recipes are added regularly, with Madeleine’s special touch for flavour and nourishment. I used the word nourishment, as I am more than convinced that Madeleine’s healthy cooking contributed to her keeping cancer at bay until very much later in life. Madeleine’s mum, aunties and cousin were all victims of either breast or ovarian cancer in their mid 40’s or 50’s.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Smoked pork - Porc Boucané

Everyone loves smoked pork that is very popular for rougailles and stewing vegetables with. The  Porc Boucané from Reunion Island is very popular worldwide, especially among the Mauritian expatriate community.

You can normally obtain same from your local Deli shop. The Italians and Greeks are very fond of this smoked pork. The origin of the name stems from Old French whereby the term Boucan was used for the wooden hut within which meat and other products were smoked. Sometimes, the meat is salted and cured with various spices and herbs prior to the smoking process.
Smoked pork or Porc boucané has been imparted with this very distinctive flavour and taste, through the smoking process. Incorporating this smoked  pork in a rougaille is the number one combination. Once tasted, you will always crave for this dish.
If you cannot buy this smoked pork from your local delicatessen, you can always make it yourself and smoke same in your BBQ (it needs a cover to do the smoking).
I will detail the recipe for salting and spice curing the pork prior to smoking, on our Recipes from Mauritius web site at
Meanwhile, Bon Appetit.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Origin of the Mauritian word "Chatini"

Many people believe chutneys to be an English invention. In fact, the dish originates from Northern India and England, as many people erroneously believe. Indeed, the word 'chutney' itself is a corruption of the Indian chatni. It's derived from he word chatna which literally means 'to lick' and represents the lip-smacking sound made on eating something tasty (such as a chutney is meant to be).
 Typically, the original Indian chatni is made from a mix of uncooked fruit (such as mangoes, apples, bananas etc), green chillies, green herbs and spices, an acid base such as vinegar or tamarind juice and sometimes sugar ground together to make a paste. Indian chatnis are fresh and intended to be consumed soon after they are made.

This basic chatni recipe was brought back to Britain during the 18th Century where it was adapted as a way of preserving the surpluses resulting from the autumn harvest of fruit and vegetables. As a result the original recipes were adapted to become more of a spicy preserve or condiment where the fruit or vegetables could be preserved over winter by cooking in vinegar and sugar and flavoured with spices before being bottle.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Enjoying Mauritian beef and potato curry with faratas in Belfast

I stayed with Northern Irish friends Liz and Norman Coates in Belfast during my recent holidays in Europe. Norman being keen on the spicy side of Mauritian cuisine talked me into showing him the preparation of a beef and potato curry to be eaten with faratas.

We shared the curry and faratas with Liz’s mum who is in her 80’s but more like in her early 70’s. They (Coates and Chapman) had never tasted this very popular Mauritian food and liked it so much that they had multiple serves. Norman told me that this was something that he will cook again.

Mauritian foods are very much appreciated by people from all over the world. I have been told by the owner of the Jasmin Indian Restaurant in Adelaide that Mauritian curries are very much more subtle that the traditional Indian curry. This is very true as there has been a convergence of the multicultural cuisines in Mauritius for some two centuries, leading to Mauritian curries being more acceptable to the uninitiated curry eaters.

You can find Madeleine Philippe’s Mauritian recipes at
I have also started with the compilation of Madeleine’s passion about Mauritian cuisine into the “Taste of Mauritius” book. This book will pass on to you very much of Madeleine’s concept of what Mauritian Cuisine is all about and how best to enjoy and share this wonderful cuisine with loved ones and others. I will keep you posted on this with regular updates, including excerpts from the book.

I regularly receive emails about Madeleine and her surviving passion for Mauritian Cuisine, with many telling me that she lives on through her cuisine and very popular recipes.

Quote from a recent email that I received: “I am a British born Mauritian, living in Ascot, Berkshire, England. I have often looked up Mauritian recipes on Madeleine’s web site and have not done so for a long time. I was very sad to read of your loss, but wanted you to know that these numerous recipes encouraged me to try cooking new things and it’s such a lovely and well written website. 

I hope you find some comfort in knowing how your lovely wife’s passion for Mauritian Cuisine lives on and still gives great pleasure to many people. Especially my elderly Mauritian parents who are amazed at their British born, daughter’s cooking abilities.”

Bon Appetit

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mauritian style fried noodles in Springvale

Letting you know a little known secret.

Want to eat a mines frire Mauricien!!!!

You can have one on the menu at Hoa Tran Vietnamese and Chinese Restaurant in Springvale, Melbourne. The restaurant is located behind the new complex in Buckingham Avenue. Taste very nice and a huge serving. Listed No 180 on the menu.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Springvale Pork Rolls - Good value for money & absolutely delicious

The Vietnamese pork rolls have had a chequered history. The spates of poisoning in the past arising from the consumption of these rolls created much publicity. Since then, the Greater Dandenong Council have increased vigilance of food safety and undertaken compulsory food handling programs in Springvale. These pork rolls are now much better both in quality and value for money.

At any point in time, especially during lunch time one has to join a queue before being served. I have personally enjoyed those delicious pork rolls on many occasions and can tell you that they are very nice and somewhat addictive.

You have multiple choices about the goodness that you can include. Chopped red chillies can also be added and if you overdo the chillies, it will give you a real thump. Real value for money at $4.00 each & really convenient for a quick bite on the run. Enjoy.