Oil-sprinkled noodles 油泼面

This is one of my most frequently cooked quick meals. Basic pantry ingredients, a few others that I usually have on hand anyway, and it’s all ready in 5 minutes. Delicious, too.

Ingredients

For one bowl of noodles:

120 g dried flat, wide wheat noodles (“hand pulled” or “knife cut” noodles work best)

1 pak choy, quartered

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp dark soy sauce

1 tsp Chinkiang black vinegar

½ tsp mild Korean chilli powder

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 tbsp finely sliced spring onion

a good pinch of salt

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp roughly chopped coriander

Method

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the noodles. Cook the noodles for about 6-7 minutes, or according to packet directions until softened but still al dente. Drain well and add to a serving bowl. Boil the pak choy for just 30 seconds and add to the bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients except the oil and coriander directly on top of the noodles in the order listed.
  3. Place the vegetable oil in a small saucepan and heat until smoking. Pour over the noodles, then add the coriander and stir well to mix. Serve immediately.

Black label fudge

This is a great Father’s Day gift idea. Get your dad a bottle of whisky, use a bit of it to make some handmade fudge, and then gift the fudge together with the remainder of the whisky!

This recipe is sponsored by Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch Whiskey.

Ingredients

200 g dark brown sugar

200 g caster sugar

395 g sweetened condensed milk

150 ml milk

50 g cultured butter

80 ml Johnnie Walker Black Label (2.53 standard drinks)

a few pinches of good sea salt

Method

 

  1. Combine all the ingredients except the salt and Johnnie Walker in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer, stirring occasionally for about 10-15 minutes (until the mixture reaches 114C).
  2. Remove from the heat and stir through the Johnnie Walker and a pinch of salt. Stand for 5 minutes, then beat the mixture with a spatula for about 10 minutes until it is no longer shiny and starting to firm.
  3. Transfer to a 20 cm square baking tray roughly lined with baking paper. Allow to cool either at room temperature or in the fridge, then cut into 2 cm squares. Sprinkle with a little more sea salt and serve.

 

 

Note

This is a soft fudge. If you like a firmer, grainer fudge you can heat it a little higher (117-118C) and beat it more as it cools down.

 

Yuenyeung fried rice

Yuenyeung fried rice is a two-tone mixture of egg fried rice topped with a while prawn “sauce” and a red chicken “sauce”. Popular in Hong Kong cha cha chaan teng cafes, it’s a simple dish with lots of flavour.

Ingredients

3 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 cup cold water

Egg fried rice

2 cups raw Jasmine rice

2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus 2 tbsp extra for frying

3 eggs

salt, to season

½ tsp MSG, to season (optional)

RED

2 chicken thigh fillets, cut into thin strips

1 tsp soy sauce

a pinch of white pepper

a pinch of salt

a pinch of bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp cornstarch

2 tbsp water

2 tbsp vegetable oil

½ brown onion, cut into wedges

1 tomato

Red sauce

4 tbsp tomato sauce (ketchup)

2 tbsp white vinegar

2 tsp sugar

1 tbsp soy sauce

300 ml chicken stock

WHITE

200 g raw, peeled prawns

a pinch of salt

a pinch of bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp cornstarch

2 tbsp water

2 tbsp vegetable oil

½ brown onion, diced into 1 cm cubes

½ cup frozen peas

White sauce

300 ml chicken stock

salt, to season

100 ml evaporated milk

Method

  1. Wash the rice and cover with water up to your first knuckle, cook the rice together with the vegetable oil. Separate the grains and place on a baking tray. Refrigerate uncovered overnight.
  2. Combine the chicken with the soy sauce, salt, pepper, bicarb, cornstarch and water and set aside for 30 minutes. Combine the ingredients for the red sauce in a separate bowl.
  3. Combine the prawns with the salt, bicarb, cornstarch and water and set aside for 10 minutes, then rinse under running water and pat dry.
  4. Start with the red sauce. Heat a wok over high heat and add the vegetable oil. Fry the chicken until lightly browned then remove from the wok. Add the onion and tomato and fry until the tomato softens. Add the red sauce and bring to a simmer. Return the chicken to the wok and thicken with enough of the cornstarch slurry to form a thick, silky sauce. Transfer to a saucepan to keep warm. Brush out the wok and return to the heat.
  5. Add the oil to the wok and fry the prawns until starting to turn opaque. Remove the prawns from the wok while still quite raw. Return the wok to the heat and add the onion. Fry for about 30 seconds then add the peas and stock and bring to a simmer. Season well with salt and thicken with enough of the cornstarch slurry to form a thick, silky sauce. Return the prawns to the sauce and stir in the evaporated milk. The prawns will cook through in the sauce. Transfer to a saucepan to keep warm.
  6. Beat the eggs and mix with the cold rice and stir with chopsticks to coat the grains. Add the oil to the wok and add the rice. Fry until the grains separate, and season with salt and MSG.
  7. Place the rice on a serving plate and cover half with the red sauce, and half with the white sauce.

 

Cheat’s Ribs with homemade barbecue sauce

Easier than a roast chicken. When it comes to degree of difficulty, American-style barbecue ribs are possibly the dish that has the biggest difference between perception and reality. Of course, the barbecue purists will insist on 30-ingredient rubs, low’n slow smoking for hours on end, and secret recipe barbecue sauces, but a homestyle, oven version with no smoking and a homemade barbecue sauce is incredibly simple, and can literally take ten minutes of preparation and baking in the oven for 90 minutes.

You can use a bought barbecue sauce, but this one is much tastier in my opinion (most bought sauces tend to be a little too sweet for me), uses ordinary pantry ingredients and literally is just stirred together and simmered for a few minutes.

Ingredients

2 racks American pork ribs

2 tbsp dark brown sugar

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

salt and black pepper, to season

Barbecue sauce

½ cup tomato sauce (ketchup)

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp dark brown sugar

1 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp olive oil

plus the juices from the ribs

Method

  1. Heat oven to 160C fan. Place two pieces of foil side by side and slightly overlapping, place two pieces of baking paper on top. Place the ribs on the paper and rub with the sugar, paprika, mustard, salt and pepper. Wrap (you may need an extra piece of baking paper and foil for the top depending on the width of your paper and foil. Bake for 90 minutes, then remove the ribs and increase the oven to 220C fan, preferably with an overhead grill.
  2. Unwrap the ribs, pour the juices from the ribs into a small saucepan and combine with the barbecue sauce ingredients. Bring to a simmer and simmer until glossy and thick enough to coat a spoon. Spoon the sauce over the ribs (the top only is fine) and return to the oven and grill for a few minutes until the sauce is caramelised on top of the ribs. Serve with the remaining barbecue sauce.
Hayashi stroganoff

“Hayashi rice” is a Japanese dish of thinly sliced beef and mushrooms cooked in a demi-glace sauce and served with rice. This stroganoff version is a really simple one-pot dish enriched with sour cream. For even more mushroom-y flavour I add a shiitake mushroom powder I make very simply by blending dried shiitake mushrooms.

Ingredients

75 g butter

1 kg thinly sliced beef

1 kg sliced button mushrooms

3 large onions, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, finely sliced

1 tbsp sweet paprika

1 tbsp tomato paste

½ cup plain flour

½ cup white wine

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 litre beef stock

1 tbsp porcini powder, or shiitake powder, optional (see Tips)

300 ml sour cream

salt and pepper, to season

2 tbsp finely shredded parsley, to serve

Method

  1. Heat a large casserole pan over medium heat, add half the butter and fry the beef until browned. Remove from the pot. Add the mushrooms and fry for about 10 minutes until the mushrooms, onions and garlic are browned. Add the remaining butter, paprika, tomato paste and flour and fry for about 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook for 2-3 minutes until thickened and starting to catch on the base of the pot. Add the mustard, then the beef stock a little at a time to form a thin sauce. Return the meat to the pot along with the porcini or shiitake powder if using, and stir to combine. Add a little extra water if needed and simmer for about 10 minutes until the mixture is combined and thick. Stir through the sour cream and adjust seasoning. Scatter with parsley to serve. Serve with rice that has been topped with a knob of butter.

Tips

To make 1 tbsp shiitake powder I blend 2-3 dried shiitake mushrooms in a high speed blender until they form a fine powder.

Green Laksa

If you’ve never heard of a  green laksa, don’t worry. I just made it up. An ordinary laksa is a yellow-orange soup noodle that often has a bit of red oil separated out from frying the rempah that is made with fresh and dried red chilli. For this more mild green version, I use green chillies and enhanced the soup ramen-style with a fragrant oil made from coriander and Vietnamese mint.

Ingredients

2 chicken carcasses

2 chicken marylands

1 kg raw, unpeeled large prawns

½ cup dried scallops (or dried shrimp)

4 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp fish sauce

800 ml coconut cream

250g fried tofu puffs, halved*

1kg fresh Hokkien noodles

200g dried rice vermicelli noodles*

200g fried fishcake, sliced

300g beansprouts

8 eggs (optional)

1 cup loosely packed Vietnamese mint leaves

limes, to serve

 

Coriander and laksa leaf oil

½ cup loosely packed Vietnamese mint leaves

4 coriander plants, stems and roots only (leaves reserved)

1 small bunch spinach

1 cup canola oil

 

Green laksa rempah (makes double)

6 large green chillies, deseeded

1 tbsp belacan (shrimp paste)

1 large brown onion, peeled and roughly chopped

10 cloves garlic, peeled

5 cm ginger, peeled and thickly sliced

5 cm galangal, peeled and thickly sliced

5 cm fresh turmeric, peeled and thickly sliced

3 stalks lemongrass, white part, roughly chopped

6 candlenuts, or macadamia nuts (optional)

 

Method

  1. Start with the stock. Cover the chicken carcasses with 2.5L of water and bring to a low simmer. Simmer for about 1 hour, skimming any scum that rises to the surface. Add the chicken marylands and reduce the heat to very low. Simmer for 45 minutes then remove the chicken marylands and set aside. Peel the prawns (leaving the tails on), add the shells to the stock and simmer for a further 20 minutes, skimming the scum from the top and particularly removing any red scum created by the prawns. Strain, discarding the shells and bones and reserving the stock. Devein and butterfly the prawns and refrigerate. Pound the dried scallops in a mortar and pestle or blend in a blender to fine shreds (or if using dried shrimp, to a coarse powder).

 

  1. For the green laksa rempah (laksa paste), blend all the ingredients together to a smooth paste.

 

  1. For the coriander and laksa leaf oil pour boiling water over Vietnamese mint leaves, coriander stems and roots, and spinach. Stand for 30 seconds then drain and squeeze dry. Combine with the oil in a small blender and blend to a smooth, bright green oil. Strain through a fine sieve lined with a cloth. Reserve both the oil and the green paste.

 

  1. Heat a large pot over low-medium heat and add the oil. Add half the laksa rempah (the other half can be refrigerated or frozen for making another batch of laksa in the future, see note) and fry in the oil for about 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently until the oil separates from the paste. Add the stock and dried scallops and bring to a simmer. Simmer covered for 30 minutes. Stir in the salt, sugar, fish sauce and coconut milk and simmer for a further 10 minutes. You can add some of the reserved paste from the coriander and laksa leaf oil here if you like, and want to make your soup more green. Add the tofu puffs and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Simmer the prawns in the soup for 2-3 minutes or until just cooked, remove and aside. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning as required.

 

  1. While the soup is cooking, prepare the remaining ingredients. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles according to the packet directions. While different brands will vary, generally Hokkien noodles will just need to be blanched for just a few seconds. Boil the fish cake for about 2 minutes until puffed then drain. Blanche the beansprouts for 30 seconds. Boil the eggs for 8 minutes, then refresh in a basin of iced water and peel. Halve the eggs. Keep all of the ingredients separate so that you can build your laksa as you like it. Pour boiling water over the rice vermicelli and stand for 5 minutes, then drain.

 

  1. To assemble the laksa warm a noodle bowl (you can warm it by pouring a bit of the laksa soup into the bowl and then returning the soup to the pot. Add some Hokkien noodle, rice noodle, beansprouts, egg, prawn, and chicken to the bowl. Cover with the soup, then garnish with shredded Vietnamese mint, the reserved coriander leaves, a few spoons of the coriander and laksa leaf oil, and a wedge of lime.

 Tips

  • Make sure you fry the laksa paste really well. Keep the heat low and fry for 15-20 minutes until the oil starts to separate from the paste again.
  • Vietnamese mint is known in Singapore and Malaysia as “laksa leaf” and it is a key ingredient in laksa.
  • You can serve this with a bit of sambal belacan if you want more heat and/or a stronger flavour.

 

Extremely good roast potatoes

The alkaline environment created by boiling the potatoes with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) helps break down the pectin that holds the potato cells together. That in turn gives the potatoes a crispier texture after roasting. You can take this basic recipe in any number of directions (see Tips).

Ingredients

1 kg red new potatoes (or other new potatoes), washed but unpeeled

1 tsp sodium bicarbonate

½ cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

flake salt, to season

Method

  1. Heat your oven to 200C fan. Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with tap water. Add the sodium bicarbonate and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes until a small, sharp knife can be inserted and withdrawn easily. Drain the potatoes and allow to stand for about 5 minutes to steam dry.
  2. Place a sheet of baking paper into a roasting tray and add about ¼ cup of olive oil onto the baking paper. Place some of the potatoes on top and with a cooking weight or the bottom of a small saucepan, squash the potatoes to about 2cm thick. You can put a piece of baking paper between the base of the saucepan and the potatoes while you squash them if you want to keep the base of the saucepan clean. Repeat the process with more potatoes until the roasting tray is full in a single layer. Season with a little salt and drizzle with a little extra oil. Repeat for a second tray of potatoes.
  3. Place into the oven. If one tray has more potatoes than the other, put that one on top. Roast for about 40 minutes until the potatoes are browned and crisp and look like they do in the photo. Depending on your oven one tray may take longer than another. Just remove each tray when it’s done.
  4. To serve, tip one tray of potatoes onto the other and then place the whole sheet of baking paper into a serving bowl. Season with extra salt and trim away the excess baking paper. Serve, and wait for your guests to say “Those are extremely good roast potatoes.”

Tips

  • You can use other potatoes, or even large potatoes that are cut into smaller chunks. You can peel the potatoes if you want, but I think they have a better flavour and texture if you don’t peel them.
  • Instead of olive oil, you can also use vegetable oil, animal fats (like lard or duck fat), butter or ghee.
  • Add whole cloves of garlic, herbs or other flavourings if you like, but this is a good basic recipe for you to riff off.
Gyoza (Japanese-style dumplings)

Originally adapted from Chinese jiaozi dumplings, gyoza have become one of Japan’s favourite foods. In fact, jiaozi, gyoza and gow gee are the Mandarin, Japanese and Cantonese pronunciations of the exact same word. The main difference between the Japanese version and its Chinese predecessors is that where the Chinese favour a juicy, springy filling, the emphasis of the Japanese dish is on a fine, crispy skin. This simple gyoza recipe makes about 50 dumplings.

Ingredients

250g Chinese cabbage

1 tsp salt

500g fatty pork mince

6 spring onions, finely minced

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 tsp grated ginger

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sake

1 tsp vegetable oil, for brushing

1 tbsp potato flour, or cornflour

1 tsp sesame oil

soy sauce, to serve

rice vinegar, to serve

chilli oil, to serve

Hot water gyoza skins

2 cups plain flour

Method

  1. For the gyoza skins, combine 1 cup of boiling water with the plain flour and mix well. Knead for about 5 minutes, dusting with just a little more flour as necessary until the dough is smooth and firm. Cover with cling film and rest for 30 minutes.
  2. For the gyoza filling, finely shred the cabbage and mix with the salt. Transfer to a strainer and allow to strain for 15 minutes. Squeeze out any excess moisture and mix the salted cabbage with the pork mince, spring onions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and sake. Rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. On a floured board, roll the dough into a long sausage about 1 cm in diameter. Cut into 1cm rounds, press down with the palm of your hand and with a small rolling pin roll the dough into thin, round skins about 7 cm diameter. Alternatively, you could use commercial dumpling wrappers.
  4. Place about a teaspoon of filling into the centre of the gyoza skin and fold the skin in half, crimping one edge to form the gyoza. Repeat for the remaining filling and skins. You can freeze the gyoza at this stage if you prefer.
  5. Make a mixture of 2 tsp of potato flour (or cornflour) per cup of water. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and brush with an even layer of oil. Place the gyoza into the pan, nestling them together to fill the base of the pan with the gyoza just touching. Fry for about 1 minute until lightly browned on the bottom. Mix 2 tsp potato flour or cornflour into 1 cup of water and pour around the gyoza. Cover the pan with a lid open just a crack and steam for 7 minutes then uncover the pan until water is fully evaporated and you can hear the gyoza frying instead of boiling. Sprinkle over the sesame oil and cook for a further minute then remove the pan from the heat. Invert a serving plate over the pan, ensuring the plate completely covers the pan, then flip the pan and plate over, so that gyoza are on the plate. Serve with soy sauce, rice vinegar and chilli oil for dipping.

Tip

If you don’t want the theatre of making the “skirt” to hold the gyoza in place, you can just fry-steam as many gyoza as you like, using plain water instead of the flour slurry.

Lemon, Honey and Ginger Chicken

Not your nanna’s cold remedy. This Chinese-style chicken brings together three familiar flavours for a modern take on a Chinese restaurant classic.

Ingredients

4 Lilydale free range chicken thighs (around 800 g)

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp Shaoxing wine

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

¼ tsp salt

1 cup cornflour

1-2 litres vegetable oil, for deep frying

3 spring onions, finely sliced on a steep diagonal

1 rice paper sheet, to serve (optional)

lettuce leaves, to serve (optional)

Japanese mayonnaise, to serve (optional)

Sauce

juice of 1 large lemon (or 2 small lemons)

100 g honey

1 tsp grated ginger

2 tbsp soy sauce

¼ tsp salt

1 tbsp Shaoxing wine

½ tsp sesame oil

½ tsp cornflour

Batter

½ cup plain flour

½ cup cornstarch

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

¼ tsp salt

 

Method

Trim some of the visible fat from the chicken thighs and cut into 3cm pieces. Combine with the soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, bicarbonate of soda, salt and 1 tsp of the cornflour and set aside for 15 minutes. Combine the ingredients for the sauce in a separate bowl. In another bowl, combine the batter ingredients with ¾ cup of cold water and 5 ice cubes.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or wok to 175C. Toss the chicken in the remaining cornstarch and transfer to the batter. Fry the chicken in batches one piece at a time for 3-4 minutes. Drain on a wire rack and allow to cool to room temperature. Heat the oil to 185C and fry the chicken again for about 1 minute until golden brown and crisp.

If using, break the rice paper sheet into large pieces and fry for about 10 seconds until puffed and crisp.

Place a wok over high heat. Stir the sauce ingredients and add to the wok. Bring to a simmer and simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened to the consistency of maple syrup. Toss through the chicken and the spring onions. Transfer to a serving plate with the lettuce leaves and the rice paper crisps.

Chicken schnitzel caprese

Think of this as a fresh version of a schnitzel parmigiana. Rather than tomato sauce, ham and melted cheese, this takes advantage of in-season tomatoes, proscuitto and fresh mozarella. And yes, it’s still on top of a schnitty.

Ingredients

4 Lilydale free range chicken breasts

1 cup plain flour

salt and pepper, to season

4 eggs, beaten

3 cups panko breadcrumbs

4 ripe tomatoes

2 tbsp olive oil

salt and black pepper, to season

approx. 1-2 L canola oil, for deep frying

200 g (1 balls) fresh mozzarella cheese (in whey)

1 cup loosely packed basil leaves

4-6 very thin slices of prosciutto

lemon wedges, to serve

Method

Place each chicken breast between two pieces of baking paper and with a mallet or rolling pin pound it to 1cm thin. Place the flour into a tray and season well with salt and pepper. Place the eggs and breadcrumbs into separate trays.

Cut the tomatoes into large chunks and place into a non-reactive bowl. Season well with salt and pepper and drizzle with the olive oil.

Using a skewer as a kind of hook (this will allow you to move the chicken between the flour and egg without getting your hands dirty and without tongs disrupting the coating), dip the chicken into the flour first, and then the egg, and finally into the panko breadcrumbs – ensuring that it is coated completely. Lightly press the breadcrumbs onto the chicken.

Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan to 170C. Fry the chicken one piece at a time for 4 minutes, turning once during the frying process. Drain on a wire rack, standing the chicken up on an angle for better drainage. Allow to cool and drain for 5 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a serving plate. Spoon over the tomatoes and tear over the mozzarella. Add the slices of proscuitto and scatter with the basil leaves. Serve with wedges of lemon.