Dried shrimp and seaweed furikake

Furikake is one of the most underrated Japanese foods. This is mainly because it’s not often served in restaurants, but you’d be unlikely to find a Japanese family who didn’t have furikake in their cupboard at home. It’s the ultimate convenience food, turning plain rice into a quick meal in seconds. It’s a rice seasoning and we use it every single day, either just scattered over steamed rice or moulded into onigiri – rice balls. Just scatter a bit of furikake over some rice, mould it into a ball and wrap with a little nori.


½ cup large dried shrimp

2 sheets nori

½ cup katsuobushi (bonito flakes)

1 tsp salt

½ tsp sugar

2 tbsp shiokombu

2 tbsp aonori (dried sea lettuce flakes)

2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

All these ingredients are available from Asian grocery stores.


Place the shrimp in the small blending bowl of the Vitamix Ascent high-performance blender and blend to a coarse but fluffy texture. Transfer to a bowl. Toast the nori by waving it over an open flame until it becomes brittle. Crumble it into the blending bowl and add the bonito flakes and salt. Blend to a coarse powder and remove to the same bowl as the shrimp. Add the shiokombu to the blending bowl and pulse until roughly chopped. Combine together with the remaining ingredients and mix well. Transfer to a press-seal bag. The furikake will keep at room temperature for about 6 months.

Top Tips for Furikake

  • Keep your furikake dry for storage. You can save a little pouch of silica gel from your nori and store it together with the furikake if you like.
  • Taste your furikake.  It should be salty and umami with a touch of sweetness.
  • Try other dried seafood for your furikake too. I like to use dried scallops, sardines and other dried seaweeds.
Ramen School #5: Shoyu Ramen in 10 Minutes

If you aren’t sure you want to spend hours (days!) making shoyu ramen from scratch, here’s a recipe using instant noodles that is ready in just 10 minutes. It includes all of the 5 basic elements of ramen (Broth, Noodles, Tare, Oil and Toppings) and is an excellent way to upscale your instant noodles into a proper ramen fix.

This post is brought to you by Maggi’s Fusian Teriyaki Soupy Noodle.


1 free-range egg

2 tsp vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

½ tsp sesame oil

30 g thinly sliced pork belly

2 packets MAGGI Fusian Japanese Teriyaki Soupy Noodles

2 spring onions, thinly sliced

¼ sheet nori

approx. 1 tbsp menma (Japanese pickled bamboo shoots)

a pinch of toasted sesame seeds (optional)


Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Using a metal skewer poke a small hole in the base of the egg. Boil the egg for 6 minutes, then transfer to a bowl of iced water to cool completely. Peel the egg and cut in half.

While the egg is boiling, heat a separate small saucepan over medium heat and add the vegetable oil. Add the garlic and fry until fragrant and lightly browned, then add the sesame oil and 600ml of hot water. Bring to a boil, then add the pork belly and cook for about 30 seconds until the pork is cooked through. Remove the pork from the pot with chopsticks and set aside.

Add the soup and sauce sachets from the noodles to the pot, then add the noodle cakes and cook for 3 minutes. Remove everything to a bowl and top with the pork belly, egg halves, spring onions, menma and sprinkle with spring onions and sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Top Tips for Shoyu Ramen in 10 Minutes

  • Cooking from a packet doesn’ t mean you aren’t still cooking. Taste the broth and season it to your liking. It may need a little more soy sauce, or a pinch of salt.
  • If you aren’t using a packet specifically made for soup noodles, you might want to start with stock instead of water for extra taste.
  • I tend to use a little less water than the packet recommends, as I prefer the soup thicker and stronger tasting.
Ramen School 004: Afuri-style Yuzu Shio Ramen

Afuri is one of Tokyo’s most famous ramen restaurants. Their signature ramen is the a Yuzu Shio style of ramen (yuzu is a type of Japanese citrus, and ‘shio’ is the Japanese term for salt. This isn’t intended to be a copycat recipe, but I think it’s useful to have a guide to work toward when experimenting with ramen, to see how the process of making each of the elements of ramen can lead you toward a specific result.

In this recipe we will use a lot of the different ramen elements that we have made in previous episodes – namely the Basic Chintan broth, rolled Chashu and Ramen eggs.

Below are the additional elements we’ll need to make the tare (sauce) and the aromatic oil.


1 quantity Basic Chintan broth

1 piece rolled pork belly Chashu

fresh ramen noodles (around 180g per person)


nori, cut into 10 cm x 5 cm pieces

2-day cured ajitama (ramen eggs), halved

Shio Tare

60 ml sake

100 ml mirin

20 g sugar

75 g salt

250 ml Basic Chintan broth

10 ml rice vinegar

juice of 1 yuzu (optional)

Aromatic Oil

50 ml rendered chicken fat, chopped

150 g solid pork fat, chopped

75 ml canola oil

5 spring onions, cut into 2cm pieces

rind from ½ yuzu


For the Shio Tare, combine the ingredients except the rice vinegar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, allow to cool. Then strain and add the vinegar and yuzu juice (if using).

For the Aromatic Oil combine all the ingredients except the yuzu in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over low-medium heat. Simmer for about 25 minutes until the oil is rendered and the spring onions are starting to brown. Remove from the heat, strain and pour over the et aside.

To assemble the ramen, bring the broth to a simmer. In a separate pot, bring ample water to the boil for cooking the noodles. Take a slice of chashu around ½ cm thick and grill it until hot and the fat is bubbling.

Add the noodles to a noodle strainer and plunge into the boiling water. Stir vigorously with chopsticks for about 10 seconds to separate the noodles. Cook for 3 minutes or until the noodles are cooked to your preferred texture, then remove them from the water, shaking to remove any water trapped between the noodles.

Heat your noodle bowl by filling it with hot broth, then pour the broth back into the heating pot. Add 480ml of Chintan broth to the bowl then add 40ml of the Shio Tare and 30 ml of the Aromatic Oil (you can vary the proportions here to taste, but the broth should be quite salty before the noodles are added).

Add the noodles to the broth, lifting them up with chopsticks and laying them back down into the soup. Top with the menma, egg,

Top Tips for Yuzu Shio Ramen

  • If you can’t find yuzu, just leave it out. While it is similar to lemon in its aroma, it is not necessary for this dish. Focus instead on getting a good balance of seasoning into the broth and tare.
  • Good quality ramen noodles are best freshly made, but if you don’t have any producers of fresh noodles in your area, you can get excellent results with frozen noodles. (Or stay tuned to my YouTube channel where I will be showing you how to make noodles from scratch.)
  • Menma, nori and mizuna can be found at Japanese grocers.
Ramen School 003: Ajitama (Ramen Eggs)

The key to ramen eggs (known in Japanese as ajitsuke tamago 味付け卵) is that they aren’t just flavoured by their marinade. The salty and sweet marinade actually acts as a cure to firm the whites and yolks, and give the yolks a savoury and jammy taste and consistency, which is a much better texture for ramen. Two days curing is about right for curing ramen eggs, but you can go more or less depending on the levels of salt and sugar in the liquid.


6-8 eggs

1 cup chashu braising liquid (or 1 cup homemade teriyaki sauce)


½ cup soy sauce

¼ cup mirin

¼ cup sake

any aromatics, dried shiitake mushrooms or dried seafood you might like


Prick a hole in the base of the egg. Bring a pot of water to the boil, add the eggs, reduce the heat and simmer for 6 minutes. Remove to a bowl of iced water and allow to cool completely.

Combine the eggs with the chashu braising liquid and 2 cups of water. Refrigerate for 48 hours. Serve with ramen. Alternatively, bring the mirin and sake to the boil and flambe. Add soy sauce and 2 cups of water, plus any dried aromatics, shiitake mushrooms or seafood you might like. Add eggs and refrigerate for 2 days.

Top Tips for Ramen Eggs

  • When cutting the eggs in half, the yolks are likely to stick to the knife. Use a wet knife to minimise this, or do as ramen shops do and cut the eggs with a piece of string or fishing line.
  • Some common flavourings that can be added to the steeping liquid are: dried shiitake mushrooms, dried sardines or anchovies, bonito flakes, kombu, and even onion and garlic.
  • Ramen eggs will keep for around 4 days refrigerated in their liquid or out of it. The eggs will likely be fully cured after 2 days.
Ramen School 002: Three Styles of Chashu

Chashu is easily the most popular topping for ramen. Pork (usually belly) is simmered in a sweetened soy-based broth, then chilled, sliced and often grilled. This recipe shows three different styles of chashu cooked together, but of course you could just pick one style and focus on that.


1 kg pork belly, rolled

1 kg pork belly, unrolled

1 kg pork neck, untied

1 piece kombu

6 shiitake mushrooms

1 tsp salt

100 g sugar

150 ml soy sauce

100 ml dark soy sauce

125 ml mirin

125 ml sake


Tie the pork belly in a roll. Place into pot, cover cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove the pork from the water and rinse well under running water. Rinse the pot and remove any scum.

Return the pork to the clean pot and add the kombu and shiitake mushrooms. Add water to cover, then bring to the boil, removing the kombu when the water starts to steam. Add the sugar and salt, reduce to a simmer and add a drop lid. Simmer covered for 1 hour, then add the soy sauce, mirin and sake. Simmer for a further hour.

Remove the unrolled pork belly after 90 minutes total simmering time. And the pork neck and rolled pork belly after 2 hours. Refrigerate overnight until well chilled. Slice and serve.

Top Tips for Chashu

  • Don’t skip the chilling process. The chashu is very soft when cooked and will easily break apart if sliced while warm.
  • You can play around with the proportions for this recipe to suit your taste, or the style of ramen you are wanting to make.
  • Don’t discard the simmering liquid. It can be used to make ramen eggs (ajitama) or braising other meats.
Ramen School 001: Basic Clear Ramen Broth

On my YouTube channel I’m starting a new series on how to make ramen at home. Be warned, it’s not a short process but I wanted to show you the theory behind ramen so that you can produce your own, authentic and unique ramen rather than just following recipes. Hopefully through these videos you’ll understand the basics of what makes a great bowl of ramen.

A bowl of true ramen contains 5 elements:

  1. Broth
  2. Noodles
  3. Tare
  4. Oil
  5. Toppings

Let’s start at the beginning with how to make a simple clear broth for ramen. This is a base for so many different types of clear ramen, like shio-ramen and shoyu-ramen.


Meat Stock

2200 g whole old chicken

500 g chicken feet

700 g halved pork trotters

440 g (2pc) brown onions, halved

400 g (2pc) carrots

100 g (1pc) whole head garlic

60 g unpeeled sliced ginger

9000 ml water

Basic Dashi

17 g (2pc) kombu

45 g katsuobushi

3000 ml water


Cut chickens into 6-8 pieces, breaking bones. Cut nails from chicken feet. Place the chicken and pork in a large pot and cover with 9L water. Bring to a simmer. Skim to remove scum, then turn heat to very low (below simmer) and simmer uncovered for 4 hours. Should yield around 7L, but measure. Strain and refrigerate. Skim off solidified fat for use in aromatic oil.

For the dashi, soak the kombu in 3L cold water while chicken stock is cooking. Slowly bring to a simmer, removing the kombu when it steams. Boil, then add the katsuoboshi. Turn off heat. Strain, and mix with the chicken soup. If preferred, you can reduce this mixed soup further to intensify the flavour and texture of the soup.

Top Tips for Clear Ramen Broths

  • It’s really important that the broth doesn’t come to a vigorous boil. Boiling will cause fat particles to emulsify into the soup to create a cloudy soup.
  • The proportions in this recipe are by no means the only way to make ramen broth. You can change the proportions (and even the ingredients) to vary your broth in many different ways.
  • This process is known as the “double soup” method, where a meat-based soup and dried seafood-based soup are mixed together. This is generally the preferred method for making ramen broth as taught by the Yamato ramen school and practiced in the majority of ramen-ya in Japan.
Better bolognese

Spaghetti bolognese is the one dish that no Australian needs to be told how to make. Every family and every person has their own way of doing it. And often more than one.

An Australian spaghetti bolognese is nothing like the Italian dish(es) that inspired it more than half a century ago. Often made with beef, it’s thick and meaty and often more about the meat than any tomatoes.

But rather than just making it the same way you always have done, what if you could take a dish you know inside out and change it to suit your changing tastes?

For this bolognese recipe I really wanted to focus on the tomato sauce. I love a meaty bolognese, but when you want something a little lighter a simple tomato based pasta, lightly accented with meat, is a great option. I also wanted a smoother texture, rather than having chunks of celery through the bolognese.

I settled on making two main changes to how I would usually make bolognese. Firstly, pureeing the battuto ingredients rather than roughly chopping them gives an effect similar to a rempah in Malaysian cuisine, adding richness to the sauce. And secondly, stirring through a puree of raw cherry tomatoes at the end adds freshness to the rich ragu.

Makes about 1L of sauce (enough for 6-8 people)


1 carrot, stalk removed and roughly diced

1 large brown onion, peeled and roughly diced

1 stalk celery

6 cloves garlic

a handful of parsley (optional)

½ cup olive oil

500 g mixed veal and pork mince, or 250g each beef mince and pork mince

700ml tomato passata

1 tsp salt

1 cup whole cherry tomatoes

To serve

pasta of your choosing

extra-virgin olive oil

freshly grated parmesan cheese

black pepper


Combine the onion, celery, carrot, garlic and parsley (if using) in a Vitamix high-performance blender and blend to a smooth puree.

Heat a heavy saucepan over medium heat and add the oil. Fry the puree (called a battuto or soffritto) for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly so that it doesn’t burn. Add the mince and cook for a further 5 minutes until browned. Add the passata, salt and 300ml of water. Cover and simmer for 1.5-2 hours, stirring occasionally.

To finish the sauce, puree the cherry tomatoes and stir the puree through the warm sauce just before serving.

To prepare the pasta, cook about 100g of dried pasta per person in plenty of salted water until al dente (around 1 minute less than the packet directions). Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add about 1-2 tbsp of olive oil or butter per person (or a combination of the two). Add the cooked pasta and ladle over the sauce, stir to mix well then transfer to serving plates and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper.

Top Tips for Bolognese

  • Even though bolognese is made with mince, you really want to make sure the meat cooks for long enough to break down connective tissue and contribute gelatine to the sauce. It’s a real bonus for mouthfeel.
  • Finish pasta in a frying pan rather than just pouring a sauce over noodles. Finishing over heat in a pan allows the noodles to absorb some of the sauce, which provides a lot more flavour.
  • In Malaysian cuisine the pureed aromatics is known as a rempah, and it’s essential to cook it for a long time to develop the flavour. The same goes for mirepoix, soffrito and battuto as well. Keep stirring in plenty of oil until the aroma really develops.

Battuto of pureed vegetables.

Cook the battuto for at least 10 minutes, stirring frequently to develop the aromatics.

Pureed cherry tomatoes add freshness to the long-cooked ragu.

Pokeball Cake (for Beginners)

When it comes to making cakes I am more “enthusiastic dad” than cake expert. Honestly, this would probably be the first proper iced cake I’ve made in 10 years. My baking is mainly limited to banana bread, and maybe a tea cake, pound cake or cheesecake now and then.

I wouldn’t usually write a recipe for something I’d made just once but I know that because this is on my Instagram people will ask for the recipe and I’m not likely to make another cake like this anytime soon so here’s really just a record of what I did if you’re like me and only bake these kind of things once in a blue moon and want to follow along. This isn’t a perfect recipe. It’s just what I did and I was very happy with the result.

I’m not trying to win any awards here. Just to make one Pokemon-obsessed kid’s day on his birthday. And I think I succeeded.


Salted white chocolate mud cakes (makes 2)

350g unsalted butter, chopped

450 g white chocolate

300 g caster sugar

5 g salt

350 ml milk

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

525 grams plain flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

Golden sugar syrup

¾ cup sugar

½ cup golden syrup

1 cup water

(or just use 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water)

Italian meringue buttercream

6 egg whites

1 ½ cups caster sugar

450g unsalted butter

1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Additional ingredients

black fondant icing (small amount)

white fondant icing (small amount)

violet, pink and red gel food colours


9-inch non-stick cake tin

cake scraper

offset spatula


  • Weigh a large saucepan and make a note of the weight. Place the butter, white chocolate, sugar, salt and milk in the saucepan and heat over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and melt the chocolate until the mixture because smooth and silky. This can take about 20 minutes for the chocolate to melt fully. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Whisk the eggs and vanilla together and whisk them into the melted chocolate mixture. Sieve the flour into the liquid ingredients and beat to combine using a whisk or spatula. It doesn’t matter if there are a few lumps in the batter. Weigh the saucepan again and subtract the empty weight to find the weight of your batter. Place a 9-inch non-stick springform baking tin on the scales and pour in half the batter (You don’t need to grease the tin if it’s non-stick). Bake at 180C for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes our clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool. Wash the tin and then repeat for the remaining batter.
  • When the cakes are just slightly warm to the touch wrap them in cling film and aluminium foil. Leave overnight but do not refrigerate.
  • To make golden sugar syrup combine the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. If needed, trip any very high domes from the cakes and brush all over with the golden sugar syrup.
  • To make the buttercream, wipe the bowl of a stand mixer with a little vinegar on a paper towel and fit it with the whisk attachment. Place the egg whites in the bowl, and place the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring the sugar to a boil and continue to heat until the sugar reaches 114C (use a candy thermometer to check the temperature) or 110C if you’re using induction. (The difference here is that you want the sugar to reach 121C just as the egg whites form soft peaks. That will be much faster on induction than gas or electric.) Immediately start whisking the eggs in the stand mixer at high speed. Once the sugar reaches 121C pour the sugar into the whisking eggs an a very slow, steady stream. Walk away and do something else for a while, continuing to whisk the eggs in the stand mixer until touching the metal bowl of the mixer feels cool to the touch. This can take 30-40 minutes. While this is happening, cut the butter into 1cm cubes.
  • Stop the mixer and change to the paddle attachment. Beat in the butter a cube at a time until almost all the butter has been added.
  • Getting white buttercream. After adding the butter you should see that the buttercream has gone from bright white meringue to a yellow colour. To neutralise the yellow you need to add a little violet or purple food gel. Before you’ve used all the butter, take about 1 matchhead sized amount of food gel with a toothpick and smear it onto a piece of butter. Add the butter and you should see the yellow colour neutralised. If it still looks a little too yellow, add a little more violet gel. You can flavour your buttercream at this point if you like, by adding vanilla or other extracts, or you can just leave it plain.
  • Take your cake board and press 3 small pieces of fondant into the base. Place the cakeboard onto a cake turntable, or if you don’t have one a metal pizza tray. Smear a little buttercream over the fondant and place once cake on top (dome up, although there really shouldn’t be much of a dome). Make sure it’s centred and spread a cup of buttercream over the top. Place the other cake on top (dome down). Smooth a thin layer of buttercream all over the cakes with an offset spatula and cake scraper, smoothing the top and sides until the cake is completely covered. This is called crumb coating and is like a primer coat for your cake. It makes sure that you won’t end up with crumbs all through your final layer of batter. Refrigerate the cake for 20 minutes to firm the crumb coat.

The crumb coated cake.

  • While the crumb coat is firming, divide the remaining icing into equal portions. Reserve the white icing for half of the cake. Leaving one half in the mixer bowl, beating on low speed add enough pink food gel until the cake turns a medium-deep pink. It’s hard to get a vivid red with red alone, but starting with a pink base helps. Add enough red food gel until the icing is about as red (or dark pink) as you can reasonably live with. The thing is that the red will deepen over time, so if you stop adding the colouring when it’s the bare minimum it will generally deepen to a point you’re happy with.
  • Spread half of the cake with red icing, and the other half with white icing, getting the final coat as smooth as possible. Watch out with this step, as you really don’t want to mix the colours. After you’re finished the red colouring, wash everything – hands, spatulas etc. – and keep plenty of paper towel on hand to wipe away any red. You don’t have to have the red and white halves touching, as they’ll be covered by a strip of black fondant. Reserve any remaining icing.
  • Dust a board lightly with icing sugar and roll out the fondant to around 3mm thick. Using a metal ruler cut two strips of black fondant around 2 cm wide and perhaps 20 cm long (long enough to cover halfway along the cake). Lay the two bands along the centre of the cake, dividing the red and white halves. Trim the fondant to meet the cake board flush. Press the fondant into the icing so it sits flush.
  • Use a round cookie cutter to cut a circle of black fondant and place it in the centre of the cake. Wash your board and dust again with icing sugar (you don’t want any black fondant on your white fondant when you’re rolling). Roll out a small sheet of white fondant around 3 mm thick and using a smaller round cooking cutter, cut a smaller circle placing it inside the black circle.
  • With your remaining icing, create some small swirls where you plan to place your Pokemon figures. Place the figures on top and you’re done. Keep the cake at room temperature (or around 18C) but do not refrigerate. Please read the tips below, as a lot of them you might find really useful.

Top Tips for Pokeball Cake

  • You can keep the cakes wrapped in plastic and foil for 2-3 days, so feel free to make them in advance.
  • The cake in the picture was made using a 10-inch tin, but a 9-inch tin would result in a more moist and higher cake so that’s how I’ve written the recipe If using a 10-inch tin each base will cook in around 30 minutes.
  • There are PLENTY of cake tutorials for getting flat and moist mud cakes. Watch those if you’re looking for perfection but if you’re not all that interested in using cake wraps, water baths, detailed lining techniques for baking tins etc. then you can get by (like I do) with a simple non-stick tin and not bothering with greasing or lining at all.
  • Some cake makers frown on brushing cakes with syrup to keep them moist. I’m not really a cake maker so I couldn’t care less.
  • Rather than just placing the toys on top, try to integrate them into the cake. Here I just added a bit of extra icing to create some movement around the characters to give the impression they’re moving and fighting. It makes a big difference. The cake becomes a scene rather than a base.
  • Make sure the toys are in character. In this case the Pokemon are fighting so the most important part for placement is that they keep eye contact. If the figures aren’t making eye contact with each other they’ll seem disconnected.
  • Pro cake makers would sculpt toppers from fondant or marzipan (and they frown on just buying toys and putting them on top of cakes), but as a parent I think I’d rather my kid had a toy to play with at the end of things rather than eating an entire fondant Pikachu that took me 4 hours to sculpt, so I think it’s better just to buy a toy and whack it on top.
  • I’m not sure whether the plastic used for the figures is food grade, but also I absolutely do not care.

Authentic Mapo Tofu

Literally meaning “pock-marked old lady tofu” this dish has to have one of the least complimentary names in all of Chinese food. It uses Chengdu’s famous Pixian chilli bean paste -豆瓣酱, sold in English as tobanjian, doubanjiang or other variations, this has become a classic of Sichuan cookery. It’s very easy to make, too.


600g firm tofu

200g beef mince

4 tbsp canola or peanut oil

¼ cup doubanjiang (Sichuan chilli bean sauce)

2 tbsp salted black beans

1 tsp chilli powder (optional)

4 cloves garlic minced

1 tbsp grated ginger

6 thick spring onions, cut into 5cm lengths

salt and sugar, to season

1 tsp cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp cold water

1 tsp ground Sichuan pepper, to serve


Bring a pot of water to just below a simmer and season lightly with salt. Cut the tofu into 2.5cm cubes and add to the water. Heat gently for about 10-15 minutes.

Heat a wok over high heat and add a tablespoon or two of the oil. Fry the beef mince until well browned then remove from the wok and set aside. Add the remaining oil to the wok and fry the tobanjiang until the oil turns red. Add the black beans, chilli powder (if using), garlic and ginger and fry for about a minute until fragrant.

Drain the tofu and add it to the wok, along with 1-2 cups of water. Stir gently and bring to a simmer. Add the fried beef and spring onion and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the onion is softened. Adjust for seasoning with salt and sugar as required, and then thicken the mixture with the cornflour slurry, adding a little at a time so that the sauce is thickened and silky, but not gloopy. Transfer to a serving boal and serve scattered with ground Sichuan pepper.


Top Tips for Mapo Tofu

  • You can use pork mince if you prefer, but beef is more traditional.
  • Try to use a firm tofu that holds its shape but is still tender. You don’t want the tofu to be too hard, but you also don’t want it breaking apart to much in the dish.
  • The doubanjiang chilli bean paste can vary a lot between brands – both in texture and in taste. Make sure you adjust the seasoning with salt and/or sugar if needed before serving.
Apricot kernel pudding (Almond pudding) with stewed longans

You may have seen similar dishes to this called ‘almond tofu’, ‘annin doufu’ or ‘almond pudding’. These are usually made with milk or cream flavoured with almond essence, or from almond milk. Those modern versions are delicious, but this Chinese dish is traditionally made not with almonds but with apricot kernels of two different varieties.

Both northern and southern apricot kernels have a strong almond-like aroma, but southern apricot kernels are sweeter, while northern apricot kernels are more bitter and aromatic. Use a blend of kernels to get the best flavour.

Although they are a traditional food and medicine in China, northern apricot kernels may contain potentially dangerous natural compounds, so they must be heated before eating. Don’t be tempted to snack on the raw kernels.


160 g southern apricot kernels

50 g northern apricot kernels

1 L water

100 g sugar

3 tsp gelatine powder

Stewed Longans

80 g dried longans

500 ml water

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp sugar

2 pcs dried tangerine peel


Combine the kernels and water together in a Vitamix high-performance blender and blend for 1 minute. Allow to stand for 5 minutes then blend again for 30 seconds. If using a normal blender, soak the kernels overnight (or for at least 1 hour) before blending.

Pour ½ a cup of the mixture into a small bowl and mix through the gelatine. Transfer the remainder to a saucepan and add the sugar. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often and taking care that it doesn’t boil over. Add the gelatine mixture into the hot liquid and whisk for a further 5 minutes until the gelatine is dissolved. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve or muslin, pressing to remove as much liquid as possible. Divide the liquid between i4 serving bowls and refrigerate for around 4 hours or until set.

For the longans, combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, then allow to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to use.

L: Northern apricot kernels, R: Southern apricot kernels