Gong Bao Ji Ding

Gong bao ji ding (宫保鸡丁 – literally ‘The Palace Guardian’s Diced Chicken’) is a Sichuan dish hugely popular around China, but most well known outside China as the origins of the Westernised classics kungpao chicken and chicken with cashew nuts.

Westernised versions – commonly using the old Wade-Giles romanisation of ‘kung pao’ instead of the pinyin ‘gong bao’ – often use capsicum/peppers instead of dried chillies, leave out Sichuan peppercorns (Sichuan peppercorn imports were banned in the US for a period) and incorporate more Cantonese ingredients and techniques (as the majority of Chinese chefs in the US and Australia are of Cantonese origin rather than Sichuanese) such as hoisin sauce.

This is an authentic Sichuanese version of the dish.

Ingredients

1 large chicken breast , cut into 1.5cm cubes

3 tbsp vegetable oil

12-15 large dried chillies, seeds removed, snipped into 1cm lengths

1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 tsp grated ginger

6 thick spring onions (about 1cm in diameter), cut into 1cm pieces

½ cup unsalted roasted peanuts

a little cornflour mixed with cold water, to thicken

Chicken marinade

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp Shaoxing wine

1 tsp cornflour

Gong bao sauce

1 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp Chinkiang black vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp dark soy sauce

1 tsp soy sauce

Method

Combine the chicken with the chicken marinade and set aside. Heat a wok over high heat until very hot, add the oil and then add the dried chillies and Sichuan peppercorns. When fragrant (this will just take a few seconds), add the chicken and toss well for a minute or two until the chicken is separated and browned. Add the garlic, ginger and spring onions and continue to toss over heat until the chicken is nearly cooked through. Add the sauce and toss to coat, adding a little cornflour mixed with water if needed to thicken the mixture so that it coats the chicken well. Stir through the peanuts and serve immediately.

https://youtu.be/D8myaMkiZAQ

Top Tips for Gong Bao Ji Ding

  • You don’t have to eat all of the chillies and peppercorns in the dish. They are included to flavour the oil that coats the chicken. That said, many people (myself included) love crunching on a bit of chilli and Sichuan pepper when eating this dish.
  • Sichuanese cuisine is known for its ‘ma-la’ – the hot and numbing sensation of the combination of Sichuan pepper and chilli, but you also need to pay attention to the balance of tastes in the dish. The taste profile of Sichuanese food is sweeter than many give it credit for, so make sure the sugar and vinegar in the sauce are well balanced.
Chicken with Cashew Nuts

Chicken with Cashew Nuts and Kungpao Chicken are two of the most popular Westernised Chinese dishes, and it may surprise you to find that they are both based on the same Sichuan dish – a phenomenally popular dish known around China as Gong bao ji ding (宫保鸡丁), which literally means “The Palace Guardian’s Diced Chicken”.

Quite different to a true Gong bao ji ding, Chicken with Cashew Nuts is nevertheless a great family dish. It came about as a result of ingredients being substituted to a traditional gong bao ji ding to create a dish that used ingredients commonly found in the West, and which also suited the Western palate. Basically a dish of chicken, capsicum/peppers and nuts in a brown sauce, the capsicum/peppers replaces gong bao ji ding’s abundance of dried chilli and this dish uses chicken thigh instead of chicken breast. Of course, there is no Sichuan pepper to be found. My kids love it.

Ingredients

400g chicken thigh fillet, cut into medallions

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp Shaoxing wine

2 tsp cornflour

¼ cup vegetable oil

3 slices ginger, bruised

5 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

1 small brown onion, peeled and cut into 3cm chunks

½ red capsicum, cut into 3cm chunks

½ yellow capsicum, cut into 3cm chunks

½ green capsicum, cut into 3cm chunks

½ cup unsalted roasted cashew nuts

Sauce

2 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp Shaoxing wine

1 tbsp white vinegar

1 tsp sugar

¼ cup chicken stock or water

 

Method

Combine the sauce ingredients and set aside. Combine the chicken with the remaining 1 tbsp soy sauce and 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine and 1 tsp of the cornflour and mix well to coat the chicken.

Heat the wok over high heat until very hot and add 2 tbsp of oil around its edge, letting it run down into the centre of the wok. Add the ginger and then the garlic and toss for about 30 seconds until the garlic is browned, add the chicken and fry, tossing the wok occasionally until the chicken is browned and barely cooked through. Remove the chicken from the wok and set aside.

Return the wok to the heat and add the additional 1 tbsp of oil. Add the onion and capsicum and toss the wok until the capsicum begins to soften. Add the sauce ingredients and bring the sauce to a simmer. Return the chicken to the wok, add the sauce, stir and bring to a simmer. Combine the remaining cornflour with 2 tbsp of cold water. Drizzle in the cornflour mixture until the contents of the wok are thickened to a silky consistency. Toss through the cashews and serve.

Top Tips for Chicken with Cashew Nuts

  • If you like this, why not try making a true gong bao ji ding?
  • Don’t use salted nuts, as it will affect the seasoning of your dish.
  • If you don’t have multiple colours of peppers, just use one. It won’t make too much difference to the dish except in the presentation.
Okinawan Taco Rice

The history of taco rice is one of practical simplicity. After the Second World War, the islands of Okinawa became host to a number of US military bases, many of which remain today. Taco rice dates just to 1984, from a eatery called Parlor Senri in Kin Town, just outside the Camp Hansen military base.

Surplus rations of taco seasoning were sold into the communities surrounding the base and, as the shells and tortillas American-style tacos, Gibo used rice instead and taco rice was born. The dish soon became a huge hit with both locals and US service personnel alike.

This is the most authentic and simple version of this dish – made with packet taco seasoning and jarred salsa, just like it’s made in Okinawa. This version is as close as it comes to a piece of history, and is still what’s served at my favourite taco rice place, King Tacos, which Gibo opened as a permanent home for his now-iconic dish.

Ingredients

Serves about 6

2 tbsp vegetable oil

500g beef mince

1 packet taco seasoning*

1 tbsp soy sauce

150ml bonito stock (see page XX), chicken stock or water

8 cups warm, cooked short-grain rice

4 cups shredded cheese

6 cups finely shredded iceberg lettuce

2 ripe tomatoes, halved and sliced

1 cup mild salsa, to serve

* (If you don’t want to use packet taco seasoning, you can use this recipe instead: 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp ground cumin, 1 tbsp smoked paprika, and 2 tsp dried oregano)

Method

Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add the beef mince. Fry for a few minutes until well browned, then add the taco seasoning, soy sauce and bonito stock. Bring to a simmer and simmer, stirring occasionally until the stock is evaporated and the meat flavourful.

Place a mound of rice on a large oval plate and top with a quarter of the mince. Scatter with cheese, and then with lettuce. Lay a few slices of tomato on top and serve with the salsa.

Top Tips for Taco Rice

  • King Tacos doesn’t serve it, but one of my favourite accompaniments with taco rice is koregusu, an Okinawan condiment similar to chilli vodka. Hot bird’s eye chillies are de-stemmed and soaked in Okinawa’s local liquor, awamori, for years with a little salt added. Make your own using vodka instead.
  • You can make variations of this by topping it with a cheese sauce, making your own pico de gallo, adding additional herbs etc. but I just wanted to show you the original way of making it because honestly, I think it’s the best.
Yum Cha Mango Pancakes

The sight of mango pancakes coming around on the trolley brings a smile to the face of any yum cha diner. More crepes than pancakes you can roll these well in advance and keep them in the fridge until ready to serve.

Ingredients

2 ripe mangoes
300ml thickened cream
1/4 cup icing sugar

Pancake batter

6 eggs
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup vegetable oil
10 drops yellow food colouring (optional)

Method

For the batter, whisk together the eggs and sugar and then add in the milk. Sift together the flour and salt and whisk in the egg and milk mixture a little at a time. Add the vanilla extract, oil and  yellow food colouring, and stir to combine. Sieve the mixture to remove any remaining lump, cover and allow to stand for 30 minutes at room temperature. The mixture should be quite watery.

Heat a large non-stick frypan over low heat. If you have a good non-stick pan, you don’t need to add any oil, but otherwise brush the pan with a very thin layer of oil. Pour in a little of the batter and tilt the pan to create a very thin layer. Cover the pan and cook for 3 minutes or until the top is firm. (You do not need to flip the pancakes and you don’t want to brown the base too much.) Transfer to a plate and repeat for the rest of the batter. Cover the pancakes with cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Whip the cream and icing sugar together until the cream holds a peak. Peel the mangos (cut off the cheeks and remove the skin with a large spoon) and slice the mango flesh thickly. Place the mango in the freezer, and the cream in the fridge, both for around 30 minutes to firm.

Spoon a little whipped cream onto the fried side of each pancake and top with 2 slices of mango. Cover the mango with a little more cream and roll the pancake up like a spring roll or a burrito. Chill in the fridge for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Tips for Mango Pancakes

  • A good crepe pan is really important. A non-stick one would work well.
  • If you don’t want to use food colouring you can dye the pancakes with saffron, or even just leave them uncoloured.

 

Yoshinoya-style Gyudon (Japanese Beef Rice Bowl)

Gyudon is the ubiquitous Japanese beef rice bowl, found all over Japan (and the rest of world). At places like Yoshinoya you can buy a bowl of gyudon in Japan for as little as two dollars, but made at home this recipe is cheap to make and nearly foolproof.  If you have your own homemade teriyaki sauce (check out my other recipe for that), then it’s ready in just minutes.

Ingredients

Serves 4

 

500g beef scotch fillet, topside or rump, very thinly sliced

¾ cup chicken stock or dashi (you can used powdered dashi if you like)

¾ cup Homemade Teriyaki Sauce (or use 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 tbsp sake, 2 tbsp mirin and 2 tsp sugar)

1 tsp sugar (optional)

1 brown onion, peeled and thickly sliced

cooked short-grain rice, to serve

benishouga (Japanese red picked ginger), to serve

2 sliced spring onions, to serve

shichimi tougarashi (Japanese seven spice), to serve (optional)

 

Method

 

Combine the stock or dashi and terkiyaki sauce with the sugar (if using) in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Add in the onion and simmer for 2-3 minutes until the onion has softened. Add in the beef and stir until the beef is just cooked. Season with salt if necessary.

Fill 4 bowls with rice, flattening the top of the rice, and then add the beef mixture on top, allowing a little of the stock to soak into the rice. Sprinkle over a little Japanese seven spice and spring onion if you like, and serve with pickled ginger. 

Tips for Gyudon

  • Thinly sliced beef is available from Asian butchers, or frozen from Asian grocers. If you have trouble finding very thinly sliced beef, place a larger cut of beef in the freezer for 1-2 hours until quite firm and slice very thinly with a sharp knife.
  • If you’re using Japanese beef which is heavily marbled with fat, it will be very tender when it just cooked. If using beef with very little fat, you can simmer the beef for perhaps 10-15 minutes to soften it.
  • You can try this with very thinly sliced pork as well. Follow the exact same method as for the gyudon. A pork rice bowl is called “butadon”.
  • Japanese gyudon places offer a range of extra toppings, like soft cooked eggs, grated radish and even kimchi. Try some of your own.
Cheeseburger Takoyaki

Ordinary takoyaki are great, but if you’re making them at home it is a great opportunity to mix things up a bit. The first time we made these they were an instant hit – strangely more with the adults than the kids (who prefer the regular takoyaki). They’re a must-have now for any takoyaki party we have.

Ingredients

Makes about 50 takoyaki

 

250g beef mince (cheaper mince, preferably – see tips below)

¼ tsp salt

2 tbsp oil, for greasing the pans

1 cup tenkasu (tempura batter bits, see page XX)

¼ cup dill pickles, finely diced

½ red onion, finely diced

 

Toppings

½ cup shredded American cheese

¼ cup spring onions, finely sliced

¼ cup Otafuku takoyaki sauce, to serve

¼ cup tomato ketchup, to serve

¼ cup American-style mustard, to serve

½ cup Japanese mayonnaise, to serve

2 tbsp aonori (dried bright green laver), to serve

1 tsp toasted sesame seeds, to serve

a handful of bonito flakes, to serve

 

Bonito stock (optional)

a good handful of bonito flakes

 

Takoyaki batter

250g plain flour

1L bonito stock (see above), other stock, or water

2 eggs, beaten

½ tsp soy sauce

¼ tsp salt

 

Method

Season the beef mince with salt and mix well. Mold into small balls around the size of a large marble (but make sure they will fit inside your takoyaki pan). Heat a frying pan over medium heat and fry the balls on both sides, pressing down on them to flatten them into patties. They will cook in just a few minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

To make the bonito stock, bring just over a litre of water to a simmer and add the bonito flakes. Boil for a few seconds then turn off the heat and allow the pot to stand for 10 minutes. Strain to remove the bonito flakes.

To make the batter, combine all the ingredients with a whisk and whisk to a very thin, watery batter.

Arrange the fillings and toppings near your takoyaki grill and heat the grill (or ableskiver pan) until it is hot. Brush with oil, then ladle in the batter, completely filling the holes in the pan as well as the surrounds. Drop a beef patty into each hole, and scatter the whole of the pan liberally with tenkasu, pickles, red onion and cheese. As the batter starts to firm, draw lines between the holes with a skewer, as if marking out a grid. Insert the skewer to the base of each whole and roll over the ball to create a sphere. Cook for a further 5 minutes or so, rolling the balls over periodically until they are firm and crisp on the outside.

Remove the balls from the pan and arrange on a plate. Drizzle liberally with Otafuku sauce, ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise, and scatter over the aonori, spring onion, sesame seeds and bonito flakes.

Tips for Cheeseburger Takoyaki

  • Cheap beef mince tends to have a much higher fat content than more expensive lean mince. This makes it great for making things like burgers and dumplings.
  • For a recipe for making regular takoyaki, check out this post.
How to Make Takoyaki

A takoyaki party is a brilliant way to entertain at home, particularly with kids. Gather around the takoyaki pan and make your own. You can vary the fillings as you wish. I’ve made ones filled with crab, prawns, cheeseburger ingredients, with squid ink batter – the possiblities boggle the mind. We always finish our takoyaki parties with a round of sweet aebleskiver (Danish apple pancake balls).

Ingredients

1 medium octopus (about 800g, but this will leave extra octopus for other purposes)

¼ cup oil, for greasing the pan

1 cup tenkasu (tempura batter bits)

¼ cup benishouga (red-pickled ginger), finely chopped

½ cup finely sliced spring onions

1 cup Otafuku sauce, to serve

1 cup Japanese mayonnaise, to serve

2 tbsp aonori (dried bright green laver, also called sea lettuce), to serve

a handful of bonito flakes, to serve

Dashi

1 piece kombu (about 10cm square)

a good handful of bonito flakes

Takoyaki batter

250g plain flour

1L dashi (see above), other stock, or water

2 eggs, beaten

½ tsp soy sauce

¼ tsp salt

Method

Remove the beak of the octopus and clean inside, discarding any innards. Bring a large pot of salted water to a simmer, then lower the octopus into the water slowly (the legs should curl as the octopus is being lowered). Simmer for 30-45 minutes. The amount of time you cook the octopus will depend on the size of your octopus. A smaller octopus simmered for 45 minutes may be too tender so if in doubt, err on the side of caution. Remove the octopus from the pot and, if you like, rub the dark red skin from the octopus while it’s still warm. You can leave the skin on the octopus of course, but it is just a matter of preference. Cut the octopus into 1.5 cm cubes, reserving all but about 50 cubes for another purpose.

To make the dashi, place just over a litre of cold water in a pot and add the kombu. Bring to a simmer, removing the kombu before the water simmers (when the kombu is soft enough for a thumbnail poked into it will leave a mark). When the water simmers add the bonito flakes. Boil for a few seconds then turn off the heat and allow the pot to stand for 10 minutes. Strain to remove the bonito flakes. Alternatively you can use instant dashi, any other stock or even water. Allow the dashi to cool to room temperature.

To make the batter, combine all the ingredients with a whisk and whisk to a very thin, watery batter.

Arrange all the fillings and toppings on the table and heat the takoyaki grill (or ableskiver pan) until it is hot. Brush with oil, then ladle in the batter, completely filling the holes in the pan as well as the surrounds. Drop a cube of octopus into each hole, and scatter the whole of the pan liberally with tenkasu, benishouga and spring onion. As the batter starts to firm, draw lines between the holes with a skewer, as if marking out a grid. Insert the skewer to the base of each whole and roll over the ball to create a sphere. Cook for a further 5 minutes or so, rolling the balls over periodically until they are firm and crisp on the outside.

Remove the balls from the pan and arrange on a plate. Drizzle liberally with Otafuku sauce and mayonnaise, and scatter over the aonori and bonito flakes.

Tips for Takoyaki

  • All of these specialty Japanese ingredients are readily available at Asian grocers in Australia – bonito flakes, benishouga, tenkasu, Otafuku sauce, Japanese mayonnaise and aonori. If you can’t find a few of them, just improvise. You can use chicken stock instead of bonito stock, pink or yellow pickled ginger instead of benishouga, puffed rice instead of tenkasu (or just leave them out), make your own Otafuku sauce by mixing tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce and a bit of mustard, or chopped chives instead of the aonori.
  • Takoyaki are best when they are well browned on the outside and crispy.
  • Try adding cheese or any other fillings you might like. The world is your oyster.

 

This recipe appears in my new cookbook, Destination Flavour: People and Places (2018) which follows my travels across my SBS television series of the same name. The book covers Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Singapore and China.

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.