wild leek, lemongrass and chilli paste

wild leek, lemongrass and chilli paste
The old adage that my mother used to drum in to me was "Rachel, don't play with your food!" In those far off days I probably heeded her eventually, little angel that I pretended to be. But these days I try to play with my food whenever possible. With the foraged food from my garden, I can experiment and take a few risks with this season's rampant wild leeks.

If you have been reading The Guardian's new, sustainable Live Better Challenge, you might be aware that I have been addressing the issue of what to do with leftovers as my new alter-ego, the Dinner Doctor - a sort of agony aunt for those pesky bits and pieces of food that you can't quite bring yourself to throw away, but really need to use up. This perfect for me for my middle name is "thrifty". Yes, that's me 'ol Thrifty Kelly, which makes me sound like a Prohibition Irish mobster, although instead of a machine gun and a hand grenade, I am armed with a tube of tomato paste and a bag of breadcrumbs, (although not necessarily at the same time).

Since this month tackles the issue of food waste, I am practicing what I preach, I made a spicy paste from the nubs of ingredients in my fridge, inspired by my favourite Malaysian flavours. I wasn’t sure if the lemongrass would work with the wild leeks – it did, beautifully.

God it was actually gorgeous! Quite subtle and not as fiery as you might expect. I have been using it in all manner of dishes from stir-fries to marinades to potato cakes (which we had for breakfast with some crisp bacon and one of my now infamous flying saucer poached eggs), but best as the building block for a really fragrant Asian-style vegetable or chicken broth for noodles.

The last of the paste was used today in a roast beef sandwich instead of using horseradish. Simply delicious.

Skill level: Easy

100g wild leeks, blanched
1 shallot
2 roasted garlic cloves
1 tsp fresh ginger
1 red chilli
1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, roughly chopped
a small handful of fresh coriander
½ tsp shrimp paste
juice of ½ a lime
a pinch of palm sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil


  1. Whizz all ingredients together in a blender. You may need to add a splash or two of water and a little more oil, depending on the consistency you prefer.

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