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Steamed Sea Bass with Ginger and Spring Onions recipe

Steamed Sea Bass with Ginger and Spring Onions

My mother used to make this dish at least once a week when we were kids, as fresh fish and seafood are abundance in Macau’s market. Majority of the fishes and shellfish for sale in the market live in large tanks or buckets of water with plastic tubes pumping in oxygen for the day. Once you decided which one to buy, the fishmonger will scale and clean the fish for you right there and then.

With such fresh ingredient, it is best to cook it in the most simple way possible, to allow the freshest taste shines. In this case, steamed with ginger and spring onion – the most popular allium/herb/spice mix in Chinese cuisine. The fragrance of the ginger and spring onions infuses the slightly sweet flesh of the fish beautifully. There is a special step to take after the fish came out of the steamer – just before serving, pour hot oil onto the fish and fresh sliced spring onions, then drizzle sweet soy sauce all over. I learned this method from my mother and it will always be the way for me to finish off this dish. The sizzling oil not only takes the raw edge off the allium, which adds wonderful flavour to every mouthful; but also provides the steamed fish an extra ‘kick’ on the taste and a foundation for a good tasty sauce. Of course, it is up to you to take this additional step, it is also fine to just drizzle soy sauce on the cooked fish if time not allows. Although I highly recommend you not to skip it if possible.

Steamed Sea Bass with Ginger and Spring Onions recipe
Ingredients:

Serves 2 or 3 as part of a larger meal

  • 1 whole sea bass (about 600g)
  • 1 thumb side ginger, peeled and julienned
  • 4 sprigs of spring onion, cut into 7cm batons and then thinly slice lengthwise
  • A pinch of salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil

For the sauce:

  • 2.5 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp. tamari or regular soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. agave syrup

To serve:

  • Steamed Jasmine rice

To prepare the sweet soy sauce, combine tamari (or regular soy sauce) and agave syrup in a small jug and set aside.

Lay the fish (whole or cut in parts to fit like I did) in a steamer lined with baking paper. Scatter sliced ginger and half of the spring onion on top of the fish, sprinkle a pinch of sea salt and a couple of turns of black pepper. Finally, drizzle the vegetable oil.

Steam the fish for about 10 minutes (without opening the lid at all before then). Then remove from heat. Transfer the fish on a warm serving platter (you can keep the liquid that came out after steaming, but I didn’t), scatter the other half of sliced spring onion on top.

Warm 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil in a sauce pan or pan. When it’s hot, very carefully pour the oil over the fish and onions (be careful as it will sizzle!) and then drizzle the sweet soy sauce on top.

Served immediately with steamy jasmine rice.

Steamed Sea Bass with Ginger and Spring Onions recipe

Spicy King Oyster Mushroom and Green Bean Stir-Fry recipe

Spicy King Oyster Mushroom and Green Bean Stir-Fry

It’s been a good while since I last published a recipe here, sorry I have been absent lately but I am finally back on my writing track and I am looking forward to sharing with you more of my beloved recipes!

Today recipe is a simple one, with good time management, you can put this dish together from scratch in just under 15 minutes. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Like any other stir fry dishes, it is best to have all ingredients prepared beforehand so that once you start adding your first drop of oil in the hot pan, you will finish the entire dish in merely minutes. Another key point is to act fast and use the right equipment, I always recommend to use a wok for any stir-fry dishes, but a wide heavy bottomed frying pan will do a good job too. Be flexible with the ingredients, you can use any types of mushroom you like or available, such as fresh shiitake, oyster mushroom, chestnut mushroom or a combination of all. But I love the texture of king oyster, therefore, it is what I use in this recipe. Likewise with the green bean, broccoli or any other leafy green would work just as well.

The only thing I would ask you to follow through is the recipe for the sauce, a combination of dark miso (I used brown rice miso) , sambal oelek and rice vinegar is the key to this rich, umami, spicy and tangy sauce. Just before serving, drizzle a little bit of toasted sesame oil to enrich the whole dish. Served with steamy jasmine rice is a must, as the rice soaked up this delicious velvety sauce, makes every bite a delight to your taste buds.

Spicy King Oyster Mushroom and Green Bean Stir-Fry recipe

Ingredients:

(serves 2 generously, or 4 as part of a bigger meal)

  • 150g green bean, top trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
  • 160g king oyster mushroom, brush cleaned and sliced
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 small piece of ginger, peeled and julienned
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 125 ml dash stock (or water if vegetarian)
  • 1 sprig of spring onion, finely sliced (for garnish)
  • Sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. corn starch
  • 2 tsp. water
  • Steamed Jasmine rice for serving

For the sauce:

  • 1 heaped tsp. brown rice miso (or red miso)
  • 1 heaped tsp. sambal oelek
  • 1 tsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. tamari (or regular soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp. Mirin
  • 1/2 tsp. black sugar (or brown sugar or honey)

If you are serving it with steamed Jasmine rice, you should cook your rice now.

In a sauce pan, bring to boil some salted water and add green bean, cook for 3 minutes, drain and set aide.

While the beans are poaching, combine all sauce ingredients into a small bowl and mix well, set aside.

Make the corn starch slurry by combining the starch with the water in a small bowl or saucer, set aside.

Warm a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a wok or heavy bottomed frying pan, add ginger and onions. Fry for about 3-4 minutes until onions start to soften. Next add mushroom along with a  drizzle of sesame oil. Stir-fry until mushroom turns slightly brown and crispy on the edges, add a few turns of freshly ground black pepper. Fry for another minute.

Turn the heat down to medium high, add green beans to the wok followed by two tablespoons of the spicy sauce, stir-fry until all vegetables are coated with the sauce. Carefully add the dashi stock (or water) and let everything simmer for about 2 minutes. Have a taste, you can adjust the seasoning by adding more of the spicy sauce if needed (although I found it quite satisfactory with just the two tablespoons of sauce). When you are happy with the taste, add the starch slurry to the wok and keep stirring so the sauce won’t turn lumpy. Once the sauce thicken a bit, remove the wok from heat, drizzle a little sesame oil and add in the chopped spring onions.

You can either transfer the vegetables to a warm serving platter or just simply ladle the vegetables and sauce over bowls of steamy pillowy jasmine rice. Serve immediately.

Spicy King Oyster Mushroom and Green Bean Stir-Fry recipe

Chili Prawn Chow Mein (Stir-Fried Noodles) recipe

Chilli Prawn Chow Mein (Stir-Fried Noodles)

Chow Mein literally translates to ‘Fry Noodles’ and it is one of the most popular types of food in Southeast China, in fact, in most southeast Asian countries. Different country or even different region has its own style and flavour. Some use wheat noodles (most common) and some use rice noodle. Thick noodles, thin noodles, crispy or saucy, with meat or vegetarian, spicy or umami. It is amazingly versatile that one can make up one’s own version easily, and guarantee with big flavour. The key is to prepare all ingredients before the actual cooking, because once you start cooking, it will take merely minutes to finish.

The best equipment to use is steel wok or cast iron wok, because it keeps the heat well within so the food will be cooked evenly and deliciously in a short period of time. I don’t have neither but a non-stick wok works fine as well. Remember to keep the stove on high/medium high at all time, so you will need to pay attention while you are cooking to make sure nothing is burnt.

In this recipe, I suggest to cook some of the Pak Choi (in halves) separately, and serve them on the side, it is because a crunchy piece of Pak Choi is not only a delight to bite into, it also gives the whole dish a little more texture. But if you want to save time and don’t bother with the extra step, it is absolutely fine to slice all the Pak Choi in one go.

The Chinese sausage definitely adds in extra umami and texture to the dish, but omit it if you want to keep it meat free.

Chili Prawn Chow Mein (Stir-Fried Noodles) recipe Chili Prawn Chow Mein (Stir-Fried Noodles) recipe

Ingredients:

serves 2 generously with leftover (or for 3)

  • 220g noodles (I use gluten free spaghetti)(or any Chinese egg noodles for stir fry)
  • 250g black tiger prawn, preferable wild caught, peeled and deveined
  • 1 Chinese wind-dried sausage, chopped (crosswise) into small disks
  • 300g mini Pak Choi, separated – halved 3-4 heads and roughly slice the rest
  • 1 small carrot, julienned
  • 1-2 stalked spring onions, chopped
  • 1.5 Tbsp. fermented chilli bean sauce (Asian store)
  • 1 Tbsp. tamari (or regular soy sauce), plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp. dark soy sauce (optional)
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil (plus more)

Cook the noodles according to package instruction, drained and add a splash of sesame oil to prevent them from sticking, keep warm and set aside.

Combine the chilli bean sauce and tamari in a small bowl, mixed well.

Heat 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil in a wok, or heavy-bottomed frying pan, add Pak Choi (the halved ones) in the hot pan, cut side down. Pan fry for a minute or 2 or until the vegetable charred and started to get translucent. Transfer the Pak Choi onto a plate and set aside.

Add another 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil in the same wok, add Chinese sausages and fry for a minute or so or until they are crispy and released most of their oil. Transfer the sausages to a bowl with a slotted spoon and leave the oil in the wok.

Place the wok back on the heat and add the carrot and the sliced Pak Choi and stir-fry them for 1 minute, add a small pinch of salt and transfer them to a separate plate and set aside.

No need to wash the wok, add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil into the wok, when hot, add the spring onion and let them sizzle for about 30 seconds. Add the prawns and fry until they are slightly opaque. Now add 3/4 of chilli bean/tamari blend, stir until all prawns are coated with the sauce. Add noodles next, use a tong or chopsticks and a spatula (I use the latter) constantly stir and toss the noodles so that they are also combined well with the sauce. Add the dark soy sauce if use, stir again. Return the carrot and Pak Choi mix to the wok and then the the rest of the chilli bean sauce blend. Again, constantly stir-fry until everything is sizzling and combine well. Have a taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Remove the wok from heat and divide the noodles into warm bowls and served with the pan-fried Pak Choi (the halved ones).

Chili Prawn Chow Mein (Stir-Fried Noodles) recipe

Sweet Potato Fries with Thai Mango Curry Dip recipe

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Thai Mango Curry Dip

Sorry for being absent for the last two weeks. I was busy working on a photoshoot for Ajinomoto Germany’s new marketing campaign. The photoshoot took place exactly a week ago but there were much preparation leading up to the actual shoot. A lot of hard work but it was so much fun at the same time. I can’t wait to tell you more and show you some pictures (I have been showing few on my Instagram account). Anyway, there are still follow-up work to do but I am delighted to be able to write up a simple yet absolutely delicious recipe with you this week.

This Thai mango curry dip was one of the recipes which I created for the latest Ajinomoto’s campaign. This sauce/dip is so versatile, you can use it for many different dishes: sweet potato fries (like this recipe here), grilled chicken or prawn skewers, spring rolls or gyoza which I have done for the photoshoot. It consists of only 5 ingredients, so easy to make, it is rich, spicy, umami. Try to find good quality coconut cream to make the dip as it will thicken nicely while cooling down. I have made this many times and it worked well every time. I have to say though, I have so far only made the dip in small potion (for 3-4 serving max), but I will work on a larger potion and will keep you posted. But the recipe below is perfect for 2 people.

Sweet Potato Fries with Thai Mango Curry Dip recipe Sweet Potato Fries with Thai Mango Curry Dip recipe Sweet Potato Fries with Thai Mango Curry Dip recipeSweet Potato Fries with Thai Mango Curry Dip recipe

Ingredients:

serves 2 as a side

For the sweet potato fries:

  • 1 (around 360g) medium sweet potato, scrub cleaned
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. smoked sweet paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, removed the top, end and peel off the first layer, finely chopped (optional)
  • 5 tbsp. coconut cream (I just scoop out the coconut cream from a can of coconut milk)
  • 1 tbsp. Thai Masaman curry paste (or red curry paste)
  • Vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 200 degree celsius. Use a sharp knife, cut the sweet potato lengthwise in half. Cut crosswise in the middle of each half. Then slice and cut the potato into batons.

In a bowl, combine sweet potato, cornstarch, paprika, salt and pepper and mix well, make sure all potato batons are coated with the cornstarch and seasoning. Drizzle the oil on the potato and mix it well one more time. Transfer the sweet potato onto a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Make sure they are not touching each other.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, then flip them once and bake for another 5 minutes.

While the potato is baking, make the curry dip. Warm a little oil in a skillet, add onion and sautéed in medium low heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in lemongrass, fry for a further 1 minute or until fragrant. Add coconut cream and curry paste, use a spatula to combine everything very well and make sure all curry paste has dissolved into the coconut cream. Let it simmer (on low) for about 5 minutes. Stir often. Add mango chutney and simmer for another 1 minute. Remove from heat and transfer the sauce on a small saucer. The dip will thicken slightly as it cools down.

Dip away and enjoy!

Sweet Potato Fries with Thai Mango Curry Dip recipe

Kimchi Miso Soup, Asparagus, Mushroom, Black Bean Noodle recipe

Kimchi Miso Soup with Asparagus, Mushroom and Black Bean Noodles

One of my absolute favourite noodle soups of all time, it has all the right tastes a bowl of noodle soup should have, it’s spicy, tangy and rich in umami. Apart from the taste, what I also like about this soup is you can literally use any vegetables you like (a great way to use up all the ends of vegetables in your fridge), or if you prefer it meaty, add cooked chicken or roasted beef etc.

I was recommended to this black bean noodle when I was searching for other gluten free noodle options. I really like its taste and it has a bit of a springy texture and it is almost impossible to over cook it, made with black soy bean, these noodles is also packed full of protein and fibre. But again, if gluten is not a problem for you, you can substitute it with any other types of noodle you prefer (you can even use spaghetti if that’s what you have) . As long as you make the soup base right, any ingredients you add in the soup will make a wonderful meal! It is also easy to be made vegan, just skip the dashi stock and use water or vegetable stock instead. And make sure the kimchi you use is also vegan.

Kimchi Miso Soup with Asparagus, Mushroom and Black Bean Noodle recipe Kimchi Miso Soup with Asparagus, Mushroom and Black Bean Noodle recipe Kimchi Miso Soup with Asparagus, Mushroom and Black Bean Noodle recipe

Ingredients:

Serves 2 generously

  • 200g mixed mushrooms (I use Shimeji and Enoki)
  • 200g Asparagus, snap off the woody ends and slice lengthwise
  • 100g Black bean noodles (or rice noodle or ramen)
  • 1 cup (250ml) kimchi and its juice (I use half and half here)
  • 750ml Dashi stock (or water or vegetable stock if vegan)
  • 1 tbsp. Miso paste
  • Tamari (or regular soy sauce) to taste
  • Toastes sesame oil

Cook noodle according to package instruction, drain, keep warm and set aside.

Bring dashi stock to boil, add kimchi (and juice) and miso paste, season with tamari if needed.

Add the asparagus into the simmering soup and cook for about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for further one minute. Remove from heat.

Transfer noodles to two warm ramen bowls (or larger soup bowls), ladle the soup and vegetables on the noodles and drizzle some sesame oil on top, serve immediately.

Kimchi Miso Soup with Asparagus, Mushroom and Black Bean Noodle recipe

Mung Bean Pancakes with Spring Vegetables recipe

Mung Bean Pancakes with Spring Vegetables

This spring vegetable pancake is inspired by one of my favourite Korean dishes – Bindaetteok, which is usually made with pork and kimchi. I used to eat Bindaetteok a lot when I lived in London, with my Korean friends in my favourite Korean restaurant on Tottenham Court Road. A bottle of Shoju (Korean version of Sake) and an endless supply of Bindartteok, together with a bowl of hot kimchi tofu stew, it was one of the most enjoyable times in my student life.

I forgot how much I love this type of pancake until I had it again on Chinese New Year evening, my family and I went to a Korean restaurant in the neighbourhood and they offered pancakes to us as a complimentary snack for our drinks. The girl who served us said that no Korean will be drinking without these pancakes on the side. We were of course happy to accept her offer and those pancakes were delicious.

I have been thinking of making these pancakes at home for a while, and finally, I have made it and I am thrilled to share the recipe with you. I made this recipe without kimchi and meat as I would prefer to taste the full flavour of the spring vegetables that I put in. When the vegetables are caramelised, the natural sweetness and smoky flavours go brilliantly well with the tamari dipping sauce. Don’t skip the lime juice, it gives a wonderful tangy taste to the pancakes.

Note: Don’t be too specific about the amount of vegetables, you can use any vegetables you like (or use up any bits of vegetable you have in the fridge) and any amounts of combination you like.  You can also add thinly cut meat into the mixture. I prefer the pancakes a bit chunky and packed with vegetables, but you can use less vegetables to make more doughy pancakes.

Mung Bean Pancakes with Spring Vegetables recipe Mung Bean Pancakes with Spring Vegetables recipe Mung Bean Pancakes with Spring Vegetables recipe Mung Bean Pancakes with Spring Vegetables recipe

Ingredients

Makes 5-6 pancakes

For the ‘batter’

  • 1 cup dried hulled mung beans
  • 1/4 cup glutinous rice flour
  • 120ml + 180ml water (separated)

For the dipping sauce:

  • 100ml tamari (or regular soy sauce)
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • toasted sesame seeds

For the pancake

  • 200g green asparagus, finely sliced in an angle
  • 1 medium carrot. julienned
  • 3-4 stalks spring onion, finely sliced
  • 2 generous pinches of sea salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • vegetable oil
  • sesame oil

Wash and rinse dried mung beans a few times before covering them with clean water for at least 8 hours (or overnight).

Combine glutinous rice flour and 120ml water in a glass jar, cover and let it sit for at least 1 hours.

When ready to make the pancake, drain mung bean and rinse once with running water, drain again. Transfer them into a blender together with the glutinous rice flour water mixture and the extra 180ml water, blend on high until the mixture becomes smooth.

Combine vegetables, mung bean ‘batter’, salt and pepper into a large mixing bowl. Mix well and set aside.

Combine the dipping sauce ingredients into a bowl and mix well.

Warm a teaspoon of vegetable in a non-stick pan, ladle some vegetable/batter mixture into the pan and use a spatula to distribute into a pancake shape. Pan-fry on medium heat for 2 minutes on each side. After turned once (you will need two spatulas), press the pancake down to make sure it cooked evenly. Turn the pancake again after the 2 minutes and add 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil and fry the pancake for further one minute. Remove the pancake from the pan onto a plate lined with kitchen paper (to absorb the excess oil). Repeat until all the batter is cooked.

Cut pancakes into smaller pieces and sprinkle more toasted sesame seeds before serving. Served warm with the tamari lime dipping sauce.

Mung Bean Pancakes with Spring Vegetables recipe

 

 

Bacalhau Guisado - Salted Cod Stew Recipe

Bacalhau Guisado – Portuguese Salt Cod Stew

For some reasons, this stew reminds me so much of home: Macau, my family and my childhood. From the moment the stew started bubbling on the stove, the distant but familiar aroma escaped from the pot, which I have known since I was a child; to every bite of this dish, the combination of the different tastes and textures were in fact something that I have been longing for – without knowing and unable to describe. But why am I telling you this? I know it probably might not be so relevant to you, but I am convinced that everyone has a dish/food that they once loved but somehow its existence has buried under their many other recent memories. For me, this salt cod stew is one of them, I love and enjoy every bite and every taste of this dish, it reminds me of the many trips our family made to our favourite Portuguese restaurant, where we enjoyed its food immensely. Because of this, Portuguese food became part of our family food culture, it was just as important as Chinese food in our family. But somehow I have forgotten many of these delectable Portuguese dishes since I moved away from home.

I made this stew twice in the last two weeks, not only because I needed to perfect the recipe for this blog post, but also I couldn’t shake off the feeling of traveling back to my childhood while eating this dish. Well, I think I have much need to plan a trip back home very soon as I reckon this is part of the syndrome of homesickness.

Notes:

Apart from planning 24 hours ahead to desalinate the bacalhau, and preparing the other ingredients for the stew, there is hardly any active cooking involved. If you aren’t sure about the level of saltiness of the bacalhau and whether it is ready to go into the stew after the requested timeline, just cut a small piece and cook it in boiling water for a couple of minutes, and have a taste. It should be slightly on the salty side but not overwhelming.

You can use fresh cod instead if you can’t find Bacalhau, although it won’t taste the same but it will still be delicious! One thing though, please reduce the cooking time to 45 minutes. (A friend has made this recipe with fresh cod and he liked it a lot and has recommended to his friends as well)

It sounds like there is much of olive oil going into the dish, but it helps bringing all the flavours of the ingredients together and trust me, the finish dish doesn’t taste oily at all!

I love serving this stew with steamed rice but it is commonly served with warm crusty bread.

Do not skip the fresh coriander, sprinkle it generously on your portion, it really brightens up the rich and wholesome flavour of the stew.

Bacalhau Guisado - Salted Cod Stew RecipeBacalhau Guisado - Salted Cod Stew RecipeBacalhau Guisado - Salted Cod Stew Recipe Bacalhau Guisado - Salted Cod Stew RecipeBacalhau Guisado - Salted Cod Stew Recipe

Ingredients:

recipe adapted from ‘Taste of Macau’ cookbook by Annabel Jackson

Serves 4-6

  • 600g Bacalhao (salted cod)
  • 1 large onion, peeled and sliced crosswise
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 400g Potato, peeled and sliced
  • 1 bell pepper (red, green or yellow), halved, ribs and seeds removed, sliced
  • 2 large ripped tomato, sliced crosswise
  • 80g black olives with stone (or pitted, preferable Spanish or Portuguese)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 large bay leaf (or 2-3 small)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • A small bunch of fresh coriander (leaves and soft stems) roughly chopped

To prepare the bacalhau: the fish needs to be desalinated 24 hour before you want to make this stew, first rinse off the salt and submerge the fish in water, covered and leave it for 24 hours. Change water 3 to 4 times, or every few hours (it depends on the salted cod, some need less time about 12 hours). Drain the cod and pad dry with a tea towel or kitchen paper. Remove the skin and bone if there is any, tear with your hands or cut the cod into little bigger than bite size pieces (as fish will fall apart after cooking, so you don’t want to cut them too small). Set aside.

In a casserole, layer half of the onions, tomato, bell pepper, garlic, cod and olives, add the bay leaf then repeat the layering until all ingredients are in the casserole.

Add a few turns of freshly ground black pepper. Pour in the water and drizzle all the olive oil evenly on the mixture.

Cover the casserole with a tight fitted lid, bring the content to boil and immediately turn the heat down to as low as possible, simmer gently for 1.5 hours. Keep the lid on at all time and just gently shake the casserole occasionally during cooking to make sure nothing stick to the bottom.

After 1.5 hours, remove the lid and stir once to combine the sauce with everything else together, check the seasoning. Add salt if needed (very unlikely you will need to).

Serve the stew with generous amount of sauce in a warm plate and sprinkle freshly chopped coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve with slices of warm crusty bread to soak up all the lovely flavours.

Bacalhau Guisado - Salted Cod Stew Recipe

Spicy Mushroom and Kale Stir-Fry recipe

20 Minutes Spicy Mushroom and Kale Stir-Fry

This mushroom stir-fry will only take you 20 minutes to make, a perfect week night meal which is not only full of flavours: smoky, spicy with a wonderful umami taste, but also packed with nutrients: both vegetables are low in calories and two very good sources of various vitamins. It is so easy to make and so delicious that there is no more excuse not to include more mushroom and kale in your diet. It can also be easily made vegan.

This recipe makes more than enough for two, it tastes even better the next day. I will double the recipe amount next time so that I can enjoy it throughout the week. I serve it with rice here but other fantastic alternatives will be quinoa, noodles, pasta, creamy polenta or even in tortilla for tacos!

Note: you don’t have to be too specified with the amount of water which is added into the dish during cooking, some mushrooms release more water than others so water should be added gradually, 100ml at a time. If you like it more ‘saucy’ then add more water, all you need to do is to make sure to adjust the seasoning at the end before serving, with either soy sauce or salt. I do recommend you add the cornstarch slurry as it allows the sauce to cling on nicely on the vegetables. When reheat the leftover, simply add a splash of water to loosen the sauce, again adjust the seasoning if needed.

Spicy Mushroom and Kale Stir-Fry recipe Spicy Mushroom and Kale Stir-Fry recipe Spicy Mushroom and Kale Stir-Fry recipe

Ingredients:

Serves 2

  • 500g mixed mushrooms (I use Chestnut, oyster and king oyster), roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch of Cavolo Nero (Tuscan Kale or Black Kale), leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 1 shallot, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 piece of 3cm chunk fresh ginger root, peeled and finely sliced
  • Vegetable oil
  • 200ml water
  • 1 small bunch of fresh coriander, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • Cooked Jasmine rice for serving
  • Half a lemon, cut into wedges

For the sauce:

  • 1 tbsp. Chinese fermented black bean, rinsed and mashed with the bottom of your knife handle or with a fork
  • 1 tbsp. Gochujang (korean chili paste)
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. oyster sauce (omit if vegetarian and vegan)
  • A small pinch of coconut sugar (or regular brown sugar or agave syrup)
  • 1/8 tsp. roasted garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. water to loosen the sauce
  • Tamari (or regular soy sauce) to taste

For the cornstarch slurry:

  • 1 tbsp. of cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. water

Combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside.

Warm 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a wok or frying pan on medium high heat. Sautéed shallots and ginger for a minute until the shallots turn slightly translucent. Add mushrooms, stir-fry for about 2 minutes, add a splash of water, cover the pan with a lid and turn the heat down to medium. Let the mushrooms sweat in the pan for a full minute. Remove the lid and the mushrooms should reduce its volume by half. Add kale and stir to mix well.

Add the prepared sauce to the vegetables and make sure everything is well combined. Add the water gradually (see note above) and cover with the lid again and cook for a further 2 minutes.

While the vegetables is cooking, make the cornstarch slurry by combining the two ingredients. Set aside.

Remove the lid and stir the vegetables a few times, have a taste, adjust seasoning with Tamari if needed.

Finally, stream in the slurry (mix it again before adding) to the pan and cook until the sauce is thickened. Transfer the vegetables in a warm serving plate and sprinkle with chopped coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice, served with cooked Jasmine rice.

Spicy Mushroom and Kale Stir-Fry recipe

Crispy Tofu with Szchuan pepper and chilli / chinese pickled cucumber recipe

Crispy Tofu with Szechuan Pepper and Chilli / Pickled Cucumber with Ginger and Chinese Vinegar

Happy Chinese New Year! Gung Hei Fat Choi! I wish you all prosperity and a healthy Year of the Dog! I used to love Chinese New Year when I was a child (I still love it but in a different way since I have been living in Europe for so long), because it is the time when the whole family will get together and spend some quality time with one another, share and enjoy wonderful traditional Chinese food, play games and watch some spectacular firework by the ocean. It is the time when everyone wishes everyone happiness and prosperity, everywhere you go is full of festive atmosphere. I do miss that feeling of being surrounded by my sisters, nephews and nieces, family time is priceless. Anyway, I hope those of you who celebrate Lunar New Year have a wonderful time and a lucky year ahead.

Today, I have prepared two recipes for you. Crispy Tofu with Szechuan Pepper and Chilli, and Pickled Cucumber with Ginger and Chinese Vinegar. The crispy tofu recipe has a wonderful mixture of flavours – licorice, spicy, savoury and smoky because of the Chinese Five Spice and Szechuan peppercorn, they are two of the most important ingredients in Chinese kitchen. A chef once told me that Chinese Five Spice is the equivalent to the Italian mixed herbs (rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil) in Italian cuisine or the French Herbs de Provence in French kitchen which adds depth to the flavour of any dishes. It is widely used in restaurants and almost every household in Asian countries. I love the distinct licorice flavour of these spices and they go well especially with meat, like the Char Siu recipe I posted here last week, Chinese Five Spice was used as part of the marinade, it gives the meat a nice smokey tone.

But this time, I use these spices on tofu. This recipe is inspired by one of my favourite dishes ‘salt and pepper tofu’ which I often ate when I was living in London. There are several variations: with squid, chicken, fish filet, or spare ribs. They are all super tasty and the spices work equally well with either of these ingredients. I oft for tofu this time as I have posted a meat recipe last week and I somehow like to share some more vegetable side dishes with you (in time for Chinese New Year too). Apart from this delicious crispy tofu recipe, the other dish I am sharing here, is a quick and simple pickled cucumber with ginger and black rice vinegar. If you haven’t yet came across black rice vinegar (also known as Chinkiang vinegar), it is well worthy to try it out. The vinegar is made with rice, sometimes millet or sorghum, the sweet and smoky taste is quite different from the usual sharp tangy note of its other counterparts. It is a rather common ingredient for meat stew as the vinegar softens the meat and enriches the sauce after a long cooking process. It is also delicious in pickles and salad with its woody tone, its flavour compliments brilliantly with ginger especially, which is why it has become one very popular dipping sauce for Chinese dumplings.

Note: After you pan-fried the tofu, the rest of the dish comes together pretty quickly so I recommend you to have all other ingredients prepared before hand.

Crispy Tofu with Szchuan pepper and chilli / chinese pickled cucumber recipe Crispy Tofu with Szchuan pepper and chilli / chinese pickled cucumber recipe

Crispy Tofu with Szechuan Pepper and Chilli

Ingredients:

serves 2 as a side

  • 250g organic Tofu, cut into approx. 7mm thick slabs.
  • 1 chilli, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. Chinese Five Spice powder
  • 1 tsp. Szechuan Peppercorn
  • A very generous pinch of flaky sea salt (I use Maldon)
  • 1 tsp. tamari or regular soy sauce
  • 1 cup corn starch (or potato starch)
  • Vegetable oil

In a pastor and mortar, finely ground the Szechuan peppercorn. In a small bowl, combine ground Szechuan pepper, Chinese five spice, salt and set aside.

Squeeze out excess water from the tofu and coat them in corn starch.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a non-stick frying pan, pan-fry tofu on medium high heat until they are crispy and have turned golden brown. Transfer them onto a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb excess oil. When cool enough to handle, cut tofu into bite size pieces. Set aside.

Use the same pan, warm another tablespoon of oil and add the garlic slices, fry them on medium heat until they are golden brown but not burnt. Use a slotted spoon to remove the garlic. Set aside.

Add chilli and spring onion in the garlic oil (on medium heat) followed by the spices, be careful not to let them burn! Add tofu and quickly stir-fry/toss everything together until all the tofu are coated with the spices. Add the crispy garlic and a teaspoon of tamari, and give the pan a final toss so everything is well combined. Transfer the content on to a warm plate or shallow bowl. Serve immediately.

Pickled Cucumber with Ginger and Chinese Vinegar

Ingredients:

Serves 2-3 as a side

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 thumb size ginger, peeled and julienned
  • 4 tbsp. of Chinese black rice vinegar (Chinkiang Vinegar)
  • 1 tsp. of Tamari or regular soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. lime juice (optional)

Cut the cucumber into 3 parts. Then halve each part and scoop away most of the seeds. Use your fingers, roughly tear the cucumber segments into smaller pieces, or use a rolling pin to slightly crush them.

Sprinkle the salt on the cucumber and set it aside for 10 minutes to draw out excess water.

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a mixing bowl, then add the cucumber (leave the liquid behind) and mix well. Leave the cucumber marinating in the vinegar mixture for at least 30 minutes, stir every so often to make sure all the cucumbers are marinated evenly.

 

Crispy Tofu with Szchuan pepper and chilli / chinese pickled cucumber recipe

Char Siu - Chinese Style BBQ Pork recipe

Roasted Chinese Style Pork Filet served with Ginger Spring Onion Sauce

Exactly one week today will be Chinese New Year day. If you are planning to host a big new year party, I hope you are nearly ready with all the ideas that I have prepared you since the last couple of weeks (on the blog, my facebook page and Instagram). But I am not stopping with my Chinese food theme yet, today I have another recipe for you. This roasted pork recipe is one of my childhood favourites, it is known as Char Siu 叉燒 in Cantonese. The original cooking method is barbecue but I roasted mine instead (maybe I will try barbecue it in the summer with our outdoor grill) since I find the top grill of my oven is not the best and I want the pork to cook evenly inside the oven. The filet came out nicely charred on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside, because of the long marinating time, the flavour has developed deep into the meat. No wonder it is one of the most popular dishes in Cantonese speaking countries.

Although it is not usual to serve Char Siu with ginger and spring onion sauce, but since the taste of the meat is on a slightly sweeter side, serving it with the sauce balances the sweetness out beautifully. I love to serve it on top of steamy hot rice with a piece of crunchy lettuce leaf, a good dollop of the ginger spring onion sauce, this combination provides the most complex texture and a perfect balance of all different flavours in one bite. Therefore I definitely recommend you serve yours with the suggestions I wrote down here in the recipe below.

Note: It does make a different if the meat is marinated for a longer time than 3 hours, so it is worth to prepare it 24 hours before you plan to roast it. Apart from that, active cooking is minimal.

Char Siu - Chinese Style BBQ Pork recipe Char Siu - Chinese Style BBQ Pork recipe  Char Siu - Chinese Style BBQ Pork recipe

Ingredients:

Served 3-4

  • 500g pork filet

For the marinade:

  • 2 tbsp. tamari (or regular soy sauce)
  • 1.5 tbsp. Hoisin sauce (plus more for serving)
  • 1 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Shaoxing rice wine (or sake)
  • 1 tsp. runny honey
  • 1 tsp. Chinese five spice
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil (plus more for brushing)

For the Ginger Spring Onion Dip: (makes about 1 cup)

  • 1 bunch spring onion (white and light green part only), finely chopped
  • 1 thumb size ginger, minced
  • 1 pinch of flaky sea salt (I use Maldon)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (I use rapeseed oil)

To serve:

  • Mixed grain rice (or white rice)
  • Little gem lettuce
  • Steamed Pak Choi

Combine all marinade ingredients into a small bowl, set aside.

Use a small container or bowl just enough to fit the pork filet in for marinating (you can use zipper bag, but I am trying not to use disposable plastic bag as possible), pour in the marinade and make sure the filet is coated evenly with the sauce. Cover and keep in the fridge for at least 3 hours or the best is 24 hours (you will need to turn the filet a couple of times to make sure it gets marinated evenly).

Take the filet out of the fridge an hour before cooking (to bring it back to room temperature).

Preheat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius. Transfer the filet on a roasting rack on top of a roasting tray to catch the dripping. Roast the filet for 20 minutes.

While the filet is roasting, pour the remaining marinade into a small sauce pan, add 1 tsp. of sesame oil and bring to simmer for 1 minute. Set aside with a pastry brush.

After the first 20 minutes, brush the warm marinade onto the filet and turn the filet around, make sure all sides are brushed with the sauce. Then put it back into the oven and roast for another 20 minutes.

Brush the filet all over with the remaining sauce and turn it over again after the second 20 minutes, return it to the oven and roast for a further 5-10 minutes.

Removed the filet from the oven, cover in foil and let it rest on the counter while you are preparing the ginger and spring onion dip.

Combine the chopped spring onion and minced ginger in a small bowl, set aside.

In a small sauce pan or pan, heat the vegetable oil on high until very hot, you can test it by carefully dropping a small piece of onion to the oil, if it sizzles, then the oil is ready. Add the spring onion and ginger into the pan and remove from heat immediately (you just want to take the raw edges off from the vegetables but not cooking them). Transfer the onion oil sauce back into the bowl and add a generous pinch of sea salt. Mix well and set aside.

Slice the pork filet and arrange them onto a serving platter. Serve with more Hoisin sauce and the ginger spring onion sauce, on rice or on lettuce.

Char Siu - Chinese Style BBQ Pork recipe