Honey Chicken

Honey chicken is a classic Australian-Chinese dish. Deep-fried battered chicken tossed through a sweet and savoury sauce made with honey and soy sauce. Kangaroo Island in South Australia is home to the world’s last remaining population of Ligurian bees. They were brought to Australia in the 19th century and since then have become extinct in their native Italy. The Black Summer bushfires threatened to wipe out this unique bee species, but their stocks are recovering.

Ingredients

500 g chicken breast, cut into long strips

1-2 litres oil for deep-frying, plus extra for wok frying

1 tsp toasted sesame seeds, to serve

Alkaline batter

1 egg white

½ cup plain flour

¼ cup cornflour

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

½ cup cold water

¼ tsp salt

Honey sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cm ginger, grated

¼ cup Ligurian honey

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

¼ cup water

1 tsp cornflour

Method

Combine the chicken with the ingredients for the batter and mix to combine. Set aside for at least 15 minutes. Combine the ingredients for the honey sauce and stir well.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan to around 175C. Fry the chicken in batches for about 5 minutes until cooked through, then heat the oil to 200C and fry the chicken again in batches until brown and crisp.

Heat a wok over high heat and add a touch of oil, then add the honey sauce. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about 2 minutes until thickened. Add the fried chicken and toss to coat in the sauce. Remove to a plate and scatter with sesame seeds to serve.

Apricot Barbecued Chicken

The chicken is slow-roasted for 2.5 hours making it fall-apart tender, and slathered in a barbecue sauce made from apricots, then the pan juices are turned into a dresing for the salad. A very economical dish that has the added benefit of leaving you with plenty of homemade barbecue sauce for the remainder of the warm weather.

Ingredients

1 whole Lilydale free range chicken (around 2 kg)

salt, to season

2 onions, peeled and quartered

25 g melted butter

4 apricots, halved

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp finely shredded parsley

3 cups mixed baby salad leaves

Apricot barbecue sauce (makes extra)

1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped

1 carrot, roughly chopped

6 apricots, halved with seeds removed

2 bay leaves

¼ tsp ground cloves

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup tomato passata

¼ cup white vinegar

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

½ cup soy sauce

2 tbsp dark soy sauce

Method

For the barbecue sauce, combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer covered for 20 minutes until the fruits and vegetables are softened, then allow to cool to room temperature. Blend in a high-speed blender until smooth. (Pass through a sieve if your blender is not fast enough to get the sauce smooth.) The barbecue sauce will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for 2 months.

Heat your oven to 150C (130C fan). Cut the backbone out of the chicken with kitchen scissors and flatten the chicken by pressing on the keel bone. Place the onions in the base of a roasting tray, add the chicken on top and season the chicken very well with salt. Roast for 2 hours uncovered.

Combine ½ a cup of the barbecue sauce with the melted butter and brush all over the chicken. Roast for a further 30 minutes, then remove the chicken to a serving plate to rest.

While the chicken is resting, chargrill the apricot halves until blackened, then transfer to a bowl with the onions from the roasting tray, about 2 tbsp of fat and juices from the roasting tray, and the apple cider vinegar. Mix through the parsley and use this mixture to dress the salad leaves. Serve with the chicken.

Fire Chicken with Blue Cheese

The Korean name for this dish is buldak, which literally translates to “fire chicken”. Usually served topped with bubbling mozzarella, using blue cheese instead plays off the savouriness of blue cheese with the hot and sweet sauce similarly to how buffalo wings in the USA are served with a blue cheese dip.

Ingredients

1 kg chicken thigh fillets

1 tbsp vegetable oil

200 g blue cheese

2 tbsp Korean or Japanese mayonnaise, to serve

sesame leaves (Korean perilla), to serve (optional)

pickled daikon, to serve (optional)

1 spring onion, sliced, to serve (optional)

Fire chicken sauce

1 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp Korean chilli powder (mild or hot, as you prefer)

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp gochujang (Korean chilli paste)

2 tbsp honey or mul yut

2 tbsp soy sauce

3 cloves garlic, peeled

2 cm ginger

½ large nashi (Asian pear), peeled and finely grated or pureed

Method

Trim the fat from the chicken thighs and cut into 5 cm pieces. In a bowl, combine the ingredients for the fire chicken sauce and mix to combine.

Turn on your oven’s overhead grill. Heat an ovenproof frying pan over high heat and add the vegetable oil. Fry the chicken in batches until lightly browned, then return all the chicken back to the pan and cover with the fire chicken sauce. Cover the pan and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, then remove the lid and crumble over the blue cheese. Place under the grill and grill for about 5 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Sichuan Beer Duck

This fragrant duck dish combines the sweet and numbing heat of Sichuanese spices with fresh aromatics, all braised together in a light beer sauce. It might sound weird but if you’re a fan of Sichuanese cuisine, this is one dish you can’t miss.

Ingredients

1 block konnyaku (móyù)

½ duck, cut into pieces

¼ cup canola oil

6 garlic cloves, bashed

4 slices ginger, bruised

4 spring onions, cut into 5cm lengths

¼ cup dried chillies, cut into 2 cm lengths

2 star anise

1 black cardamom

1 piece cassia

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns

¼ cup doubanjiang

2 tbsp soy sauce

500 ml light-style beer

1 tbsp sugar, to taste

½ tsp salt, to taste

2 large green chillies, cut on a diagonal

1 red capsicum, cut into large pieces

1 small red onion, thinly sliced, to serve

coriander leaves, to serve.

Method

Place the konnyaku into cold water and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, then drain. Cut into 5cm pieces. Blanche the duck in boiling water for around 5 minutes, then drain.

Heat a large frying pan or wok over high heat, add the oil and fry the duck for a few minutes until lightly browned. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for a minute, then add the dried chillies, star anise, black cardamom, cassia, bay leaves and Sichuan peppercorns. Add the doubanjiang, soy sauce. beer and konnyaku and simmer for 15 minutes. Season with sugar and salt to taste.

Add the green chillies, capsicum and spring onion and simmer for a further 5 minutes until the capsicum is softened, then stir through the sliced red onion. Serve garnished with coriander.

Roast Pork Banh Mi

Its popularity in Vietnam is unparalleled, but the banh mi might be Australia’s favourite sandwich, too. This roast pork version is absolutely delicious and if you’ve never made a banh mi yourself, it might be time to roll up your sleeves and get started.

Ingredients

Vietnamese roast pork (thit heo quay) – makes extra

2 kg pork belly

½ tsp white pepper

1 tsp five spice powder

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tsp salt, for salting the skin

Daikon pickle

½ daikon, peeled and cut into 1cm square batons as long as your rolls

1 tbsp salt

¼ cup white vinegar

2 tbsp caster sugar

Banh mi seasoning

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp fish sauce

½ tsp caster sugar

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

To serve

6 crusty bread rolls

Vietnamese patê

½ cup Japanese mayonnaise

12 slices of Vietnamese pork loaf (cha lua)

2 cucumbers, sliced into batons as long as your rolls

2 carrots, grated with a julienne peeler

spring onion, green part only cut into lengths as long as your rolls

bird’s eye chillies, finely sliced

coriander, to serve

Method

Cut deep slits into the meat of the pork and prick many small holes into the skin of the pork. Pour boiling water over the skin and then pat dry. You can skip this step if you like, but it does help the crackling. Rub the meat side with the pepper, five spice and garlic, and sprinkle the skin side generously with salt. Place on a rack in the fridge uncovered overnight.

For the daikon pickle, mix with the salt with the daikon rub until the daikon is softened enough so that it can be bent without breaking. Rinse, and combine with the vinegar and sugar, along with ¼ cup of water in a press-seal bag. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

For the banh mi seasoning, combine the ingredients and stir to dissolve the sugar.

Heat your oven to 180C. Roast the pork for 45 minutes, then turn the oven to grill/broil function and grill the pork for a further 15-20 minutes until the skin is crisp. Remove from the oven and rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing.

For the banh mi, warm the rolls. Cut the pork into thick slices. Spread the rolls with the pate and mayonnaise, fill with the poark loaf, cucumber, carrot, spring onion and daikon pickle. Add chillies and coriander to taste and drizzle with the banh mi seasoning.

Chicken sang choy bao

“Sang choy bao” literally just means “lettuce packets”. I use tianmianjiang (a northern Chinese sweet paste made from fermented flour) instead of hoisin (a modern Cantonese version of the sauce made from soybean), but they are fairly similar. The addition of shredded onion is something I particularly like, as it takes the flavour closer to Peking duck.

Ingredients

5 dried shiitake mushrooms

2 thick spring onions

¼ cup canola oil

1 small onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp grated ginger

500 g chicken mince

150 g green beans, cut into ½ cm dice

1 small carrot, cut into ½ cm dice

3 tbsp tianmianjang (or hoisin sauce), plus extra to serve

2 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp cornflour mixed in ¼ cup cold water

1 head iceberg lettuce, separated into cups

Method

Cover the shiitake mushrooms with about 1.5 cups of hot water and stand for 20 minutes to soften. Trim and discard the stalks and cut the caps into a ½ cm dice. Reserve the steeping liquid.

Cut the spring onions into 5 cm lengths and then very finely julienne them. Place the spring onion into iced water for at least 10 minutes to curl.

Heat a wok over high heat and add the oil, onion, garlic and ginger and toss for about 1 minute until the onion is softened. Add the chicken mince and fry for about 3 minutes until the mince is lightly browned. Add the beans and carrot and toss for a further minute, then add the tianmianjiang, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil and a little of the shiitake steeping liquid as needed. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about 3 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are softened. Mix through a little of the cornflour mixture and toss until the mixture is thickened and quite dry.

Serve the chicken mixture with the spring onion, a little extra tiamianjiang (or hoisin) and lettuce cups to wrap the mixture in.

Peking Pork Ribs (京都排骨)

Known in Chinese as 京都排骨 or “Capital Ribs” this dish is often translated as “Peking Pork Ribs” as Beijing – the northern capital – is the current capital, but actually the name of the dish refers to Nanjing – the southern capital in Jiangsu Province. Even more confusing is the fact that the dish itself is actually a Cantonese dish, named because of its resemblence to the sweet style of cooking in Jiangsu and specifically the colour that is reminiscent of the famous dish of Wuxi pork ribs from the province. Despite the difficult history of the name, the dish itself is very easy to make and the main ingredient is ketchup!

Ingredients

1 kg short-cut pork ribs, divided into individual ribs

2 tbsp cornstarch

2 tbsp Shaoxing wine

1 egg white

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp white pepper

1-2 litres canola oil, for deepfrying, plus 1 tbsp for wok frying

3 cloves garlic

Sauce

¼ cup tomato sauce (ketchup)

1 tbsp white vinegar or rice vinegar

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp sugar

¼ cup stock or water

Method

Combine the pork ribs with the cornstarch, Shaoxing wine, egg white, salt and pepper and marinate for at least 1 hour.

Heat the oil for deep-frying in a large saucepan or wok to 170C. Deep-fry the ribs in batches for 5-8 minutes depending on the thickness of your ribs. If just using the bone portion of the ribs 5 minutes should be enough, but if the ribs contain more of the belly fry them for 8 minutes.

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Heat a wok over medium heat. Add the oil and garlic and fry until the garlic is fragrant and lightly browned. Add the sauce and bring to a simmer. Add the ribs and toss to coat in the sauce until the sauce is thickened, then serve.

 

 

Chawanmushi

Literally meaning “steamed in a tea bowl” this delicate and savoury Japanese custard is a lot easier to make than it looks. Just remember the ratio of 1 part egg to three parts stock and you’ll get a perfect custard every time

Ingredients

1 chicken breast

1 tsp sake

1 tsp soy sauce

2 fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced

6 slices fishcake

6 cooked ginko nuts

mitsuba, to serve

Dashi

1 piece kombu (approx. 10 cm square)

a handful of bonito flakes

Egg custard

3 eggs

1 tsp sake

½ tsp salt

1 tsp soy sauce

approx. 2 cups dashi

Method

To make the dashi, place the kombu into 3 cups of cold water and bring to a simmer, removing the kombu when the water starts to steam. Add the bonito flakes to the simmering water, then turn off the heat and allow to stand for 15 minutes then strain.

Crack the eggs into a measuring cup and mix gently without forming bubbles. Note the measurement of the eggs. In a separate measuring cup add the sake, salt and soy sauce and add dashi to make up three times the volume of the egg. Combine the egg and dashi together, stir gently and strain to remove any lumps.

Place a few slices of chicken and shiitake in the base of a teacup. Pour the egg mixture over the chicken to about 3 cm from the top of the teacup. Burst any bubbles with a skewer. Steam over low heat for 12 minutes. Test the custard with a skewer. If the liquid that rises from a hole made with the skewer is clear, proceed to the next step.

Gently arrange the fishcake, ginko nuts and a few slices of shiitake on top of the custard and pour over a little more raw custard mix. Steam for a further 3-4 minutes, then serve with the mitsuba.

Garlic butter prawns

This simple stir-fried dish uses fresh Australian garlic in a buttery sauce to coat delicious and tender prawns. If you want to make things even easier, you can skip the deep-frying step and just cook the prawns directly in the garlic butter sauce.

Ingredients

600 g large whole prawns

2 tbsp cornflour, plus extra for thickening

1.5 litres vegetable oil, for deep frying

50 g butter

10 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 tsp fish sauce

1 tbsp Shaoxing wine

a good pinch of sugar

Method

Peel the prawns and reserve the shells. Butterfly the prawns by cutting a deep slit the back of the prawns , removing the intestine and flattening the prawn meat. Combine the prawn shells with about 1.5L of water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, then strain and discard the shells, reserving the stock.

Mix the prawn meat with 2 tbsp of cornflour and ½ a cup of cold tap water. Rub the prawns in the cornflour mixture and set the prawns aside for at least 15 minutes.

Place the oil into a large saucepan and heat to 175C. Remove the prawns from the cornflour mixture and add to the hot oil. Deep fry the prawns for about 2 minutes until nearly cooked through, then remove and drain.

Heat a large wok over medium heat, add the butter and the garlic. Fry the garlic for about 1 minute until fragrant but not yet browned. Add about 2 tbsp of the prawn stock, the fish sauce, Shaoxing wine and a generous pinch of sugar. Add the prawns and toss through the garlic butter sauce. Mix a little extra cornstarch with some cold water and add a little to the sauce to thicken. Remove the prawns and sauce to a plate to serve.

Green peppercorn chicken with crispy basil

This simple chicken stir-fry is first fried in a light coating of egg and cornstarch and then tossed through a sauce made with green peppercorns, rice vinegar and dark soy sauce.

Ingredients

600 g chicken thigh fillets, cut into 5cm pieces

½ cup cornstarch

1 egg white

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

¼ tsp ground white pepper

approx. 2 cups vegetable oil, for deep-frying

1 cup basil leaves, picked

600 g chicken thigh fillets, cut into 5cm pieces

½ cup cornstarch

1 egg white

3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 small onion, sliced

50 g green peppercorns in brine, drained

Sauce

2 tsp sesame oil

2 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tbsp Shaoxing wine

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp dark soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp rice vinegar

1 tsp grated ginger

Method

Combine the chicken, cornstarch and egg white in a large bowl with the soy sauce, sesame oil and white pepper and mix well. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan to 165C and fry the basil leaves (watch out, they may spit – I add them to the saucepan and quickly cover it with a lid for about 30 seconds until the spitting settles down) for about 1 minute until the basil is crisp, then remove from the oil. Increase the heat of the oil to 180C and fry the chicken in batches for about 4 minutes per batch or until just cooked through.

Heat a wok over high heat and add 1 tbsp of the frying oil. Fry the garlic, onio and green peppercorns for about 1 minute, then add the sauce ingredients and ½ cup of stock or water and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 3 minutes, then add the chicken and toss to coat for a further minute until the sauce is thickened and coating the chicken. Remove the chicken to a serving plate and scatter the basil leaves around to serve.