Family Fried Noodles

The most common problem with making stir-fried noodles at home is one of volume. You want to make enough for a whole family but your wok sadly isn’t up to the task. Don’t blame the wok or the stove, it’s not their fault.

If you look at fried noodles anywhere – from hawker centres to busy Chinese restaurants – nobody is making enough for a family of four in one hit. Fried noodles are best made in single or double servings even in huge woks over jet-powered gas stoves, and trying to load four serves into a wok at one time is a recipe for disaster.

You have two options. You can make the noodles one or two serves at a time, but that can mean people are eating at different times. Or you can slightly change your technique to make a big pot of noodles ready to feed a crowd. This recipe serves 4 with 1kg of noodles, but I’ve done this with 6kg of noodles before with perfect results, all on a domestic stove.

Family Fried Noodles

Ingredients

4 chicken thigh fillets, sliced into bite-sized pieces

4 tbsp peanut oil, or other vegetable oil

2 thick slices of ginger, bruised

5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

4 thick spring onions, white part sliced, green part cut into 5cm lengths

6 large leaves of Chinese cabbage, sliced

2 carrots, cut into matchsticks

1 bunch choy sum, cut 5cm lengths

12 large peeled and deveined raw prawns

2 squid tubes, scored and cut into pieces

1kg fresh egg noodles (sometimes called Hokkien noodles)

2 cups beansprouts

1 tsp cornflour mixed into 2 tbsp cold water or stock (if necessary)

fried shallots, coriander and sliced chilies, to serve

 

Sauce

2 tbsp oyster sauce

2 tbsp light soy sauce

1 tbsp Cheong chan caramel sauce, kecap manis or dark soy sauce

1/2  tsp caster sugar (optional)

1 cup chicken stock

 

Chicken marinade

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp Shaoxing wine

1 tsp cornflour

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

1/4 tsp white pepper

 

Method

Mix the meat marinade ingredients together with the chicken and set aside.

Heat a large, heavy casserole pot until it is very hot and add in the oil. Add in the ginger first and then after a few seconds, the garlic and white part of the spring onions. Stir for a minute or two until the garlic starts to brown and then add the chicken. Fry the chicken until it starts to brown, then add the Chinese cabbage, carrot, choy sum and spring onion greens. Fry for a few minutes until the vegetables are softened.

Loosen the noodles in their packet by poking a few holes in the bag and massaging them to loosen. Microwave the entire bag for 2 minutes.

Add the seafood, then the sauce ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, then taste the sauce forming in the bottom. It should taste strong and flavourful. Adjust for seasoning.

Add in the noodles and bean sprouts and stir to combine. Continue to cook for about 2-3 minutes until the noodles are cooked through. Pour over the cornflour mixture if there is any liquid that hasn’t been absorbed, fry for a further 30 seconds and remove from the heat. Allow to stand for a few moments and then transfer to a plate. Scatter with crispy fried shallots, and serve with your favourite chilli.

Tips for Family Fried Noodles

  • The key for this dish is the flavourful sauce made from the juices released from the ingredients, plus the seasonings added. This sauce will be absorbed by the noodles and define the flavour of the dish. Make sure you taste it, and that it tastes strong and delicious.
  • Use any combination of ingredients you like. Pork works well, as do fried fish cakes. You can even flavour the noodle sauce – a dash of ketchup or even a spoon of curry powder will give a very different flavour.
  • These make a great picnic dish. Secure the lid on the pot with a strong elastic band or plastic wrap, then drop the whole pot into an insulated shopping bag to make it portable and keep it warm for hours.
Typhoon Shelter Salmon

Typhoon Shelter is a Hong Kong style of serving usually fried crab or prawns, but this baked salmon version is perfect for home cooking. It may seem like a lot of garlic, but it really isn’t overpowering at all. This is a firm favourite in our household. An added bonus is that it leaves you with a fair bit of delicious garlic oil to use later.

Typhoon Shelter Salmon

Ingredients

Serves 4

1 cup vegetable oil

3 heads garlic, cloves peeled and finely chopped

4 salmon fillets, scaled

salt and pepper, to season

8 spring onions

2 bird’s eye chillies, sliced

1 tbsp salted black beans (available from Asian grocery stores or some supermarkets)

a good pinch of sugar

1/2 cup loosely packed picked coriander leaves

Method

Heat the vegetable oil in a small saucepan over low-medium heat and add the garlic. Cook the garlic for about 15-20 minutes, stirring reguarly until it is lightly golden brown and then remove the garlic from the oil with a wire mesh. Reserve both the fried garlic and the garlic oil.

Heat your oven to 200C. Place the salmon fillets skin-down on a layer of baking paper on baking tray. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 10 minutes. Transfer the baking paper with the salmon still on top directly to a serving plate.

While the salmon is cooking heat 2-3 tablespoons of the garlic oil in the wok (reserve any leftover garlic oil for another purpose) and add the spring onions and chillies. Toss for about a minute until the spring onions start to soften then sprinkle over the sugar and toss for a further minute. Pour the mixture over the salmon, then scatter the garlic and coriander leaves on top and serve immediately.

Tips for Typhoon Shelter

  1. The garlic becomes delicious and mild when it’s toasted so don’t worry about the garlic being overpowering.
  2. If you don’t want to use your oven, you can easily pan-fry the salmon instead.
  3. The extra garlic oil is delicious when used in salad dressings, for frying steaks etc. I often make this dish just to get the garlic oil!
Chicken Manchurian

Chicken Manchurian is one of the most popular Chinese dishes in India. Often also made with cauliflower or paneer, it uses readily available sauces combined with Chinese cooking technique to make a very delicious dish.

Ingredients

300g chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite sized pieces

1 egg

2 tbsp cornflour

2 tbsp plain flour

1 tbsp cold water

a pinch of salt

1-2L canola oil, for deep frying

½ red capsicum, cut into bite-sized pieces

½ green capsicum, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 spring onions, finely sliced with white and green parts separated

Sauce

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp grated ginger

2 tbsp soy sauce

¼ cup tomato sauce

2 tbsp chilli sauce

¼ cup stock or water

1 tsp sugar

2 tbsp white vinegar

1 tsp cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp cold water

Method

In a bowl, combine the chicken, egg, cornflour, plain flour, cold water and salt, and mix well to combine. The mixture should form a thick, smooth batter that coats the chicken. Combine the ingredients for the sauce, except for the garlic, ginger and cornflour mixture, in a separate bowl and stir to mix.

Heat the oil in a wok to 170C. Fry the chicken pieces in batches for about 3 minutes per batch, until the batter is golden and the chicken just cooked inside. Drain on a wire rack. Skim and discard any batter pieces in the oil while the chicken is frying. Add the capsicum pieces to the oil and fry for about a minute until slightly softened.

Remove the oil from the wok, leaving about 2 tbsp in the base. Add the garlic, ginger and spring onion white parts to the wok and toss for a few seconds until fragrant. Add the mixed sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer. Check the consistency of the sauce and add a little of the cornflour mixture, stirring until the sauce thickens. Add the chicken and capsicum to the wok and stir to coat in the sauce, toss through the spring onion greens and serve.

Tips for Chicken Manchurian

  • The batter is not intended to stay crisp after coating with the sauce. The batter helps the sauce to stick to the chicken and gives it a delicious, silky texture.
  • Adjust the heat of the dish by the type and amount of chilli sauce you add.
  • Pay attention to the balance of sweetness and sourness of the dish. You can reduce the sweetness by reducing the amount of ketchup or sugar, reduce the sourness by reducing the vinegar, or increase the savouriness by adding more soy sauce.

 

 

THE BEST Pancakes

If you want to make good pancakes my #1, sold-gold, absolute best piece of advice I can give you is to make the batter the night before. It allows the gluten in the batter to relax (giving you fluffier pancakes) and also saves a huge amount of time (and cleaning up) in the morning. It really is a fairly simple process. You just need a good recipe, and this is definitely it.

I put this recipe up on my Instagram a while ago and it was hugely popular…

… so finally here is the recipe. (I decided to make a YouTube video of this as well, and you can check that out below.)

If you want to follow me on Instagram, you can do that here: https://www.instagram.com/adamliaw/

This may seem like a lot of pancakes (this recipes makes about 12), but pancakes for us are generally a special occasion. The batter will keep easily for about 4 days in the fridge. If it’s just us, this recipe feeds our family of 4 for two days of breakfast pancakes (1-2 per person), but if we have guests (which is when we usually have pancakes) this is the perfect amount.

Ingredients

Makes about 12 thick pancakes

4 cups (600g/22oz) self-raising flour and 2 tsp baking powder

(or 4 cups plain flour and 3 tbsp baking powder)

3 eggs

3 1/2 cups (875ml/30oz) milk

½ cup (125g/4.5oz) sugar 

1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

To serve

butter, whipped cream, and real maple syrup, or any other preferred toppings

Method

Sift the flour and baking powder together into a large bowl and stir through the sugar to combine. Make a well in the centre. Mix the egg (see tip), milk and vanilla together and pour into the well. Whisk to slowly incorporate the dry ingredients together with the wet until just combined, then add the egg whites and stir to a smooth mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours (preferably overnight).
Heat a non-stick pan over low-medium heat. *DON’T ADD ANY BUTTER OR OIL TO THE PAN* Add a half cup of batter and allow to cook for 4-5 minutes. When the pancake is golden brown and the uncooked surface is covered with bubbles, flip the pancake and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, wiggling the top of the pancake with your fingers (see video) to see if the batter inside is cooked. Repeat for the remaining batter. 

Tips for Pancakes

  • Lately there has been a popular trend to separate the egg yolks and whites, adding the yolks together with the milk and then mixing the whites in after the mixture has been passed through the sieve. With most pancake recipes this helps as it reduces the protein from the egg whites binding with the gluten from the flour. In this recipe you can do that if you like, but as there is very little gluten developed in this mixing process (and the batter rests overnight, further relaxing the gluten) the improvement in texture is negligible.
  • You don’t need to add butter to a non-stick pan when cooking pancakes. Butter and oil will just form beads in a non-stick pan and make the heat from the pan uneven.
  • Don’t cook the pancakes too fast. Low-medium heat is best, as they are so thick that they will take a little time to cook. On my induction stove I set the stove to 6 (out of 12), dropping it to 5 after I’ve cooked a few pancakes.
  • If this all sounds too difficult, a simple ratio of 1 cup self-raising flour, 1 egg and 1 cup of milk makes a great pancake, too. But you should definitely still make the batter the night before. That’s a game-changer.

 

Okonomiyaki

As close cousins, takoyaki and okonomiyaki are two of the most loved Osakan dishes, both in Osaka and around Japan. They use many of the same ingredients, and can be adapted to played with to create new flavour combinations. This recipe shows my favourite combination of fillings – pork, prawn and shredded cheese – but you can use just about anything. Experiment!

Ingredients

½ a head cabbage, finely chopped (about 500g)

2 tbsp benishouga (red pickled ginger)

½ cup tenkasu (tempura batter bits)

Okonomiyaki batter

2 cups plain flour

½ cup potato flour (or cornflour)

1½ cups bonito stock (see page XX), chicken stock, or water

2 eggs

Fillings

1 cup raw prawn meat, roughly chopped

200g pork belly, skin removed, cut into 1cm pieces

½ cup grated cheese

Toppings

1 cup Otafuku sauce, to serve

½ cup Japanese mayonnaise, to serve

1 cup bonito flakes (katsuoboshi), to serve

2 tbsp aonori, to serve

Method

For the Okonomiyaki batter, mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and stand in the fridge for 30 minutes before using.

Mix together the cabbage, tempura and benishouga in a large bowl with the pork and prawns, and mix through the batter. (Alternatively, you can make a few different flavours of okonomiyaki by dividing the cabbage, tenkasu, benishouga and batter mixture equally between 4 bowls and mixing different fillings into each bowl separately.)

Lightly oil a hot teppanyaki plate or large frying pan, scoop one eighth of the mixture onto the pan and gently spread out to a circle of about 15-20cm diameter. Add the cheese on top and top with another eighth of the mixture. Do not press the mixture down. Repeat the process 3 times to create 4 okonomiyaki. (I will often do one okonomiyaki at a time in two separate frying pans, and then repeat that process.) Fry on low-medium heat for about 10 minutes, moulding the cake around the edges to create a circle until the bottom is browned. Flip the okonomiyaki over, press it down firmly and poke a few holes in the top of the pancake to allow steam to escape. Fry for a further 5 minutes until the thick pancake is cooked through, then transfer to a serving plate.

Brush the each pancake liberally with Otafuku sauce and drizzle lots of mayonnaise over the top. Scatter with aonori and bonito flakes and serve.

Tip

  • To create an attractive pattern with the mayonnaise, cover the okonomiyaki with Otafuku sauce first, then squeeze the mayonnaise from the bottle in parallel lines about 2cm apart. Draw a chopstick across the top of the okonomiyaki in long strokes 2cm apart, perpendicular to the lines of mayonnaise.

You can find this recipe and more like it in my book, Destination Flavour: People and Places published by Hardie Grant.

Check it out HERE.

The BEST Japanese Fried Chicken

Kara-age is one of my favourite Japanese dishes and can be found on izakaya menus everywhere. A flavourful soy-based marinade sits underneath a very light flour coating which gives the dish it’s name. Kara-age means “empty fry” or “naked fry” which refers to the chicken being fried without a thick batter. Frying the chicken in three short blasts at high heat with rests in between produces a crispy outer coating, while the inside cooks gently from residual heat for tender and succulent meat.

Ingredients

600g chicken thighs, skin-on

3 tbsp light soy sauce

2 tbsp sake

1 tbsp grated ginger, juice only

½ tsp sugar

¾ cup potato flour (or substitute cornflour)

about 2L canola, sunflower or other vegetable oil, for deep frying

Japanese mayonnaise, to serve

lemon slices, to serve

shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven-spice), to serve (optional)

Method

Cut the chicken into 5cm pieces. Combine the chicken with the soy sauce, sake, ginger juice and sugar and stand for 10 minutes.

Place the flour in a tray or large bowl. Pull the chicken out of the marinade with chopsticks and drop it into the flour, one piece at a time. Adding the pieces one at a time stops you from pouring in too much of the marinade, and stops the chicken from sticking together. Shake any excess flour from the chicken and place in a tray in a single layer. Allow the floured chicken to stand, uncovered for at least 5 minutes before frying.

Heat the oil to 180°C in a wide saucepan. Add the chicken to the oil in batches. For each batch, deep fry for 1 minute then remove the chicken to a rack and rest for 30 seconds. Return the chicken back to the oil and fry for 30 seconds, and then rest on a rack again for 30 seconds. Transfer the chicken back into the oil for one last blast of 30 seconds to a minute, and then rest for a two minutes on a wire rack.

Serve the chicken with a lemon wedge, and a little Japanese mayonnaise scattered with shichimi togarashi (if using).

Tip

  • Allowing the chicken to stand for 5 minutes before frying allows the flour to absorb the flavour of the marinade, and then dry slightly. This little resting time is the secret for producing crispy and flavourful kara-age.
  • Having fillets with the skin on is very important for this dish. Skin-on fillets can be hard to find, so if you’re having trouble you can debone a few chicken thigh cutlets or use wings instead.
  • Place a rack above half of your frying pot. It will help reduce mess when transferring the chicken in and out of the oil, and the radiated heat from the oil will continue to warm and cook the chicken. If you don’t have a rack placed above the oil, you may want to extend your cooking time by just 30 seconds or so to ensure the chicken is cooked through.
  • You may notice that the chicken starts to spit and sizzle more on the third fry, this is because the chicken is cooked and is now contracting and squeezing out the juices from the meat (the watery juices contacting with the oil is what is causing it to spit). If this is happening, the chicken is done and you can remove it from the oil immediately.
Simple Teriyaki Salmon

Although teriyaki might be popular with chicken or beef in the West, in Japan it is almost always made with fish instead. If you’re looking for a way to eat more fish at home, this is a 5-minute recipe that is very simple and tastes amazing.

Ingredients

(Serves 4)

600g salmon fillets, scaled and pinboned

1 tbsp cornflour or potato starch

2 tsp vegetable oil

1/2 – 3/4 cup Homemade Teriyaki Sauce

2 tsp grated ginger

1 spring onion, finely sliced

Method

Cut the salmon fillets lengthways into smaller 2cm wide fillets and with a pastry brush, dust the salmon on all sides with the cornflour.

Heat a frying pan over high heat until very hot. Add the oil and reduce the heat to medium, Add the salmon fillets (in batches if necessary) and fry for about 2-3 minutes per side until the salmon is just barely cooked through. Remove the salmon from the pan.

Blot most of the oil from the pan with a piece of kitchen paper, then add the teriyaki sauce to the pan and squeeze in the juice from the ginger. Bring the sauce to a simmer and simmer for about 2 minutes until the sauce thickens and becomes glossy. Add the salmon back into the pan, turn it once and then spoon the thickened sauce over the fillets for just a minute. Remove the salmon to a serving plate and scatter with the spring onion.

Tips

  • Don’t turn the salmon too often in the pan. Just one flip is enough. If you flip the salmon too often you risk it breaking apart.
  • You can use any fish that can be pan-fried for this recipe. In Japan yellowtail (buri) is a very popular teriyaki fish.
  • Instead of adding the ginger to the sauce, you can serve this with a small pile of raw grated ginger instead.

 

Chicken and Kale with Oyster Sauce

It may not be commonly used in Chinese cooking, but kale is a fantastic ingredients to stir-fry with. It cooks quickly and doesn’t release much moisture when it cooks, so it stops the common home-cooking problem of have a wet, stewing wok rather than one that is frying on high heat.

Ingredients

1 bunch kale, washed

440g boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 4 thighs)

6 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra if needed

1 brown onion, peeled and sliced

2 tbsp oyster sauce

2 tsp Shaoxing wine

about ½ cup water or stock

1 tsp cornflour mixed with a little of the water or stock

 

Chicken marinade

1 tsp cornflour

1 tsp Shaoxing wine

2 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

Method

Prepare the kale by removing the thick stalks from the leaves with a knife and tearing the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Slice the chicken into large pieces (about 6 pieces per thigh) and combine with the marinade ingredients.

Heat your wok over high heat and pour the oil around the sides of the wok. Add the onion and garlic and toss for a minute or two until the garlic is lightly browned and fragrant. Remove the onion and garlic from the wok and add it to the kale, leaving as much oil in the wok as possible (although you can add more oil to the wok if there is too little remaining).

Return the wok to the heat, and when the oil is hot add the chicken. Fry for about 3 minutes until browned but not yet cooked through. Add the kale, onion and garlic to the wok and toss to coat the kale in the oil. As the kale starts to wilt, add the oyster sauce, Shaoxing wine and a few tablespoons of water or stock. Toss for a further 2 minutes until the kale is softened, adding more water or stock if needed to form a thick sauce to coat the chicken and kale. If the liquid is looking too thin, add a little of the cornflour mixture to thicken the sauce to a consistency that coats the chicken. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.

Tips

  • Don’t cut the garlic too small, or it will burn and have a bitter flavour.
  • This will work well with pork or beef, too.
Hainanese-style Kaya and Kaya Toast

I think kaya toast might be the Hainanese community’s greatest contribution to the cuisine of the Malay peninsula. They took the traditional coconut jams found around Asia and boosted its flavour with dark caramel, combining it with toast and hand-roasted coffee for the original Hainanese café experience now found all over Singapore and Malaysia.

Ingredients

10 eggs

600-750g caster sugar plus 50g extra for making caramel (I prefer to use 750g, but the recipe will work with as low as 600g)

5 pandan leaves, tied in a knot

400g coconut cream

¼ tsp salt

20g butter, plus thick slices of butter to serve

white or wholemeal bread, to serve

Method

For the kaya, combine the eggs and sugar in a tall, slender pot and with a whisk, slowly stir in one direction for about 20 minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Don’t lift the whisk out of the kaya as that will create air bubbles.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a simmer and place a tea towel at the bottom of the pot. Place the tall pot into the water and stir for 5 minutes to ensure the mixture is fully dissolved. Add the pandan leaves and coconut cream and stir frequently for about 30 minutes to 1 hour (or more) until thickened. The time it takes to thicken will depend on your heat, and also the amount of liquid from the coconut cream (see note) but it is important to make sure the kaya is thick before adding the caramel.
Heat the remaining sugar in a small pot until a dark caramel forms. Stir through the butter and add to the kaya. Stir for a few more minutes until well-combined.
For the kaya toast grill the bread until well-toasted. Cut off the crusts and cover with thick slices of butter. Spread over lots of kaya, cut in half, and serve, preferably with thick Hainanese coffee. For wafer-style kaya toast, grill the bread on both sides then slice each slice in half horizontally and fill with slices of butter and a generous spread of kaya. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8mpepg1lKM

Notes

  • If using a canned coconut cream, don’t shake the can before use. Open the top carefully and scoop out just the thick coconut cream from the top, leaving the watery liquid in the can. The volume will be less than 400ml, but you don’t need to top it up as the liquid will just need to be cooked off in the cooking process anyway. Using just the thick portion of the coconut cream will reduce the cooking time.
  • I like to use a cheese slicer to get even slices of butter.
Braga-style duck rice

Arroz de Pato à Moda de Braga

Serves 8

When I was travelling in Portugal many years ago this dish was right at the top of my list to try. However, it’s such a homestyle classic dish it was difficult to find a restaurant that served it. Luckily, my Portuguese friend called ahead to one of Porto’s most respected restaurants, Líder. The chef said that although they didn’t have it on the menu, he would be happy to make it especially for me if I came for dinner the next night. Of course, we eagerly accepted. It’s become a favourite of ours ever since – not just because it’s a delicious dish, but because it reminds me of the exquisite hospitality we received in Portugal. I’ve never felt so welcomed in a country.

Ingredients

1 whole duck (around 2kg)

½ cup pinot noir or other light red wine

1 small bunch parsley, leaves picked (or use coriander instead)

1 brown onion, halved

3 tsp salt

3 bay leaves

8 cloves

50g butter, plus another 25g for topping the rice

1 Portuguese chouriço, or Spanish chorizo

4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 small carrot, finely diced

700g uncooked rice

50g pancetta or other cured ham, sliced

lemon wedges, to serve

Method

Place the duck in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add half of the onion, the stalks of the parsley, salt, bay leaves, cloves and red wine and bring to a simmer. Skim the scum rising to the surface of the pot and simmer, covered for 1.5 hours. Remove the duck from the pot, strain the stock and cool the stock until the fat solidifies. (This can be easily done by transferring it to smaller containers and chilling in the fridge.) Remove the fat and reserve it for another purpose.

Pick the meat from the duck, removing the skin and any visible fat. Roughly chop or tear the meat and place it in the base of a large, heavy baking dish.

Heat your oven to 180C. Finely dice the remaining onion. Slice about 10 thin slices of chouriço and finely dice the remainder. In a large saucepan heat the butter over medium heat and fry the onion, garlic and carrot for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the diced chouriço and fry until lightly browned. Add the rice and stir to coat. Measure 1.5L of the duck stock and add it to the pan. Bring the rice mixture to the boil, and simmer for around 5 minutes until the level of the stock reaches the top of the expanding rice.

Pour the rice and any remaining stock in the pot over the top of the duck and smooth the top. Arrange slices of the chouriço and pancetta over the top, and dot the top of the rice with the remaining butter. Cover the dish with aluminium foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and grill the top of the rice until it is lightly browned.

Finely shred the leaves of the parsley, season the rice with a little more salt and pepper and serve the rice with the parsley (or coriander) and lemon wedges.

Tips

  • I prefer not to use the duck fat to fry the rice, as I feel it begins to overwhelm the dish with rich duck flavour. The reserved fat is great for roasting potatoes, though.
  • You really need to skim the scum from the stock well. The protein in the scum will remove a lot of the purple characteristics of the wine, so it doesn’t stain your final dish.
  • If you prefer, you can use white wine in the stock instead of red.