Kitchen Essentials and Recipes

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Geoff Jansz explained how to set up a pantry. The idea is that you stock up on basic ingredients for 20 to 30 different meals, then you only need to shop for the fresh components. Geoff divided the ingredients into two main categories, to reflect the two major influences in Australian cooking: Asian and Mediterranean.

Asian Starter Kit

Here is Geoff’s list of basic Asian ingredients, which can be used to make stir-fries, curries or even a Pad Thai (see sample recipes at the end of the list).

  • Calrose Rice
  • Jasmine Rice
  • Rice Noodles
  • Soy Sauce
  • Chilli Sauce
  • Fish Sauce
  • Oyster Sauce
  • BBQ Satay Sauce
  • Indian Curry Paste
  • Cumin Powder
  • Turmeric Powder
  • Sambal Olek
  • Sunflower Oil

Stir-fried Chicken and Cashew with Asparagus


  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon Sambal Olek
  • 100g unsalted cashew nuts
  • 400g chicken breast, sliced thinly
  • 6 spring onions (white stem only), sliced diagonally
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1 small chilli, seeded and sliced
  • 1 red capsicum, seeded and sliced
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus, sliced diagonally


  1. Heat the oil in a wok and add the cashew nuts. Stir quickly to coat the nuts and cook for about 30 seconds. Remove the nuts and let stand on absorbent paper.
  2. Add the Sambal Olek, fry it quickly to release the flavours and then add the chicken breast, garlic, ginger and chilli. Stir-fry until the chicken starts to brown (about 30 seconds). Add the capsicum, asparagus and cashew nuts and cook for a further 2 minutes. (Tip: When stir-frying don’t toss the ingredients too often, this will allow the heat of the pan to cook the ingredients faster.)
  3. Serve immediately with boiled Jasmine or Calrose rice.

(Note: If asparagus isn’t in season, just add a bunch of your favourite vegetable.)

Quick and Easy Pad Thai


  • 300-400g ricesticks (rice noodles), soaked in boiling water until soft
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 1-2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup tofu, soaked in soy sauce
  • 200g king prawns, green (or use freshly cooked prawns)
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1-1/2 cups bean sprouts, soaked in water


  1. Heat the oil in a hot wok. Gently fry the garlic and onions until transparent.
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients except the egg and bean sprouts and continue to fry until the tofu is nearly cooked.
  3. Stirring the mix with one hand, drizzle in the egg to form a thin ribbon of cooked egg. Add the drained bean sprouts and continue to fry for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the garnish (see below) and serve hot.


  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • coriander leaves, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • splash of fish sauce

Mix all the ingredients together and serve over the Pad Thai.

Mediterranean Starter Kit

Ingredients in the Mediterranean kit can be used to make pasta dishes, couscous and delicious risottos (see sample recipes below).

  • Penne pasta
  • Spaghetti
  • Arborio Rice
  • Couscous
  • Tinned Tomatoes
  • Tomato Paste
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Light Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Capers
  • Anchovies in Oil
  • Thyme Leaves
  • Oregano Leaves

Simple Risotto


  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup Calrose (or Arborio) rice
  • 4-5 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

Throw in whatever else you have on hand, eg. crisp bacon, cooked chicken or prawns, peas, sauteed mushrooms etc.


  1. In a deep pot, cook onions & garlic in a little olive oil over low heat for 2 minutes, but don’t let them brown.
  2. Pour in the wine and let simmer for a few seconds to let the pungent alcohol lift off. Add the rice, stirring until grains are coated, then the hot stock, one cupful at a time. Keep stirring, making sure each cup is absorbed before adding the next. (Tip: to keep the stock hot, have it simmering in a separate pan on the stove while you cook the rice).
  3. When all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked (about 15-20 minutes) stir in the other ingredients.
  4. Put the lid on, turn off the heat, leave for about five minutes, then serve, adding a garnish if desired. (Serves 3-4.)

No-cook Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce


  • 400g dry spaghetti, cooked al dente
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 6 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
  • 10 basil leaves, chopped or torn
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • shavings of Parmesan


  1. Whisk together the Dijon mustard, white wine and olive oil in a bowl. Add the tomatoes, onions and basil.
  2. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.
  3. Serve immediately tossed through the hot spaghetti.
  4. Top with shaved Parmesan cheese. (Serves 4)

Cheats Thai Green Curry

Thai Green Curry Paste


  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 8 long green chillies, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks lemon grass
  • 4cm (2") piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh coriander (roots, stalks and leaves), roughly chopped
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1-2 tablespoons sunflower oil


  1. Place the spices, chillies, garlic, onions, lemon grass, ginger, coriander and lime leaves into a strong blender with the fish sauce.
  2. Add the peanut oil in a thin stream and blend well until a paste is formed.
  3. Add warm water to help the paste blend well if necessary. The paste will keep well in a jar in the refrigerator covered with oil for up to one month.

Thai Green Chicken Curry


  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 chicken thigh fillets, sliced into small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh Thai Green Curry Paste (see recipe above)
  • chicken stock, enough to just cover the chicken
  • 1 cup of loosely packed Thai basil
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves


  1. Put 4 tablespoons of the coconut milk into a hot saucepan and add the curry paste. Heat until the moisture has evaporated and the paste begins to fry.
  2. Add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly until all the chicken is coated with the curry paste.
  3. Add the rest of the coconut milk and some chicken stock to barely cover the chicken. (Note: If you have a large pot you will need more chicken stock.)
  4. Simmer for 5 minutes or until just cooked so that the chicken is tender. Add the fish sauce, brown sugar, Thai basil, lime juice and serve garnished with coriander leaves. (Serves 4.)

Couscous with Garden Vegetables


  • 375ml of stock (chicken, vegetable or meat)
  • 1 1/2 cups couscous
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup capsicum, diced
  • 1/2 cup eggplant, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup zucchini, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 35g butter
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 4 tablespoons water


  1. Bring stock to the boil. Meanwhile put the couscous in a bowl and when the stock reaches the boil, pour over the couscous, stir and let sit for five minutes. Fluff with a fork from time to time.
  2. In a frypan, saute the onion, capsicum, eggplant, corn and zucchini in half of the oil olive. Toss for two minutes, until slightly caramelised and nice and brown.
  3. Then add to the pan the remainder of the olive oil and the garlic, butter, turmeric, cumin and coriander. Combine thoroughly until the butter is melted and the spice’s aromas are released.
  4. Tip the vegetables into the couscous and just to make sure you get all your flavour, splash the water into the pan, swirl to lift the juices and pour into the couscous mixture. Combine thoroughly, stirring gently with a fork. Serve topped with fresh coriander.