Gemma stars in book of culinary delights October 2016
Thornham Deli head chef Gemma Arnold and local fisherman and smokery-owner Simon Letzer are two of the stars of the recently published book, Norfolk Table: one county, 20 chefs. In the book, which examines the relationship between some of the county’s culinary wizards and the producers who supply the ingredients, we get an insight into Simon’s working day as well as Gemma’s ability to transform something from the ocean into a magnificent, unctuous feast.


Gemma stars in book of culinary delights

Here is an extract from the book, which is available from Thornham Deli.

“Glad it’s a calm sea and good weather. Not sure I would be doing this if it was blowing a gale, Simon,” Gemma Arnold admitted as we climbed aboard the rickety wooden skiff that had chugged up the marsh to find us.Setting off inches above the gentle swell, it was just the necessary means to get us to Simon Letzer’s fine sea-going twin catamaran – the Speedwell – lying midstream off Brancaster Staithe harbour.

“We head out about 15-25 miles typically to our secret hotspots, often far out into the Wash. The best places change with the months and the temperatures and, of course, crabs and lobsters favour different types of seabed, so we have to juggle where we drop our pots. the lines down there are about 20 to 40 metres deep depending upon where we anchor up”. Inside the first baited pots were not just a few delicious brown pie-crusted crabs but exactly what we had come for, a couple of blue-shelled lobsters, their prehistoric appearance and menacing claws befitting a creature from the deep as they emerged from the clear, green waters…

And here is Gemma’s starring dish from the book

Thai-buttered Brancaster lobster, Asian noodle stir-fry, sweet chilli dipping sauce

A taste of the Orient brightens up any gloomy day and gives a sense of the tropics when eating outside on a sunny day. This works well with local salads and greens for more Norfolk flavour alongside the Asian spices.

Sweet Chilli dipping sauce
125ml white wine vinegar
125g sugar
1 tsp tomato puree
2 red chillies, finely chopped
1 stick lemongrass, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 lime leaves, finely chopped
Knob of ginger root, peeled and grated
1 lime, juice and zest
Splash of nam pla fish sauce
Small handful of coriander leaves

Bring vinegar, sugar and puree to a simmer, add in the remaining ingredients, except the coriander, boil gently and reduce to a rich consistency. It will thicken as it cools. Finish with shredded coriander.

Thai butter
250g butter
3 red chillies, finely diced
Knob og ginger root, peeled and grated
2 sticks of lemon grass, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Splash of nam pla fish sauce
1 lime, juice and zest
Splash of home-made chilli sauce
Small handful of coriander leaves

Blend all the ingredients (except the coriander) together and finish by pulsing in the coriander at the end. Decant onto a double sheet of clingfilm, wrap up whilst shaping into a cylinder and refrigerate until required.

Asian noodle stir fry
1 packet egg noodles, rice or wheat
Groundnut oil
1 red onion, finely sliced
2 pak choi, shredded
1 large carrot, grated
1 bunch spring onions, shredded
1 courgette, finely sliced
1 red pepper, finely sliced
1 packet of baby corn, sliced lengthways on the diagonal
Sesame oil
Splash of nam pla fish sauce
1 lime halved

Start this when the lobsters are baking. Cook the noodles in boiling water, drain and glaze with a little oil. Meanwhile, heat up a wok over a very hot heat, carefully add a splash of oil and fry the vegetables together for a few minutes until al dente, at the end adding a slice of the Thai butter and the hot noodles. Heat through and finish with a drizzle of sesame oil, fish sauce and lime juice to taste.

To serve
4 whole cooked lobsters
Sesame oil
Thai butter

Pre heat oven to 180c. Cut the lobster in half, remove the stomach parts and crack but do not break the claws. Add a small amount of sesame oil and a slice of Thai butter to a hot wide ovenproof frying pan, place the lobster meat-side down in the pan and cook over a high heat for five minutes, turn over, add a slice of Thai butter onto each lobster and bake in the oven for a further 15 minutes. Start the noodle stir fry. Carefully remove the lobsters to plates, drizzle with cooking juices, before serving the noodles and sweet chilli dipping sauce alongside.