Category: Asian Recipes
The latest Japanese dish to dominate our Insta-feeds is kani salad.
Super quick and easy to make, it is the ideal starter or side dish. Sandwiched within a crisp baguette, in a sort of banh-mi fusion mash up stylie, it will transport you to lunchtime heaven.
What is kani salad?
Kani salad is a Japanese shredded crab salad. You can use fresh crab meat (kani in Japanese) but there are times when imitation crab sticks (kanikama) are way better than the real deal. Surimi may not have the flavour of fresh crab meat but its ability to shred into strips is a textural joy.
At its simplest, and we think possibly best, kani salad has just three ingredients. Shredded cucumber, shredded crabsticks, and Japanese style mayonnaise. But you can add other crisp shredded vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, or radish. Asian slaw anyone? Mango is not unheard of, and many restaurants like to add a little flourish with fish roe or even panko breadcrumbs.
Kani salad dressing
Japanese mayonnaise is more similar to homemade mayonnaise. It is made with egg yolks, mustard, rice vinegar and oil. Rice vinegar is ideal for making mayonnaise, with its subtle sweetness and lack of harsh acidity. If you can’t get Japanese mayo, use the best shop bought you can find.
A few drops of sriracha sauce added to the mayonnaise excites the palate with a little moreish heat. You can find out more about sriracha sauce in this article. Other subtle flavour additions such as lime juice and soy sauce enhance the flavour of the dish without overpowering its innate simplicity.
How to cut cucumber for kani salad
Cucumber is the star of the show in kani salad. Cool and refreshing, it is the perfect pairing for those shredded strips of surimi. Yet for such a simple ingredient, cucumber can be deceptively hard to work with. The high water content means it soon loses that crisp texture and it can leak out into a soggy mess. The skin is often bitter and indigestible. To combat this, peel the cucumber using a speed peeler. Then, slice the cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop out the centre bit with the seeds.
Chop into lengths the size of the crabsticks. Slice lengthwise into 3mm slices, then slice the slices into 3mm strips.
Here are a few tips for getting the best from your kani salad.
- Use cold cucumber and shred as close to serving as possible. It won’t sit well.
- Same with the crabsticks.
- Mix your dressing ahead of time so the flavours combine.
- Toss the ingredients and dress the salad immediately before serving.
Japanese kani salad recipe
Serves 2, as a side or sandwich filling
6 crabsticks, shredded
1/2 large cucumber, shredded
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tbsp rice vinegar
A squeeze of fresh lime
1 tsp Japanese soy sauce
1 tsp sriracha
- Shred the ingredients and toss together.
- Combine the dressing ingredients.
- Mix together and serve immediately.
Try a kani crab salad sandwich
Try adding kani crab salad to a warm crisp baguette with shredded cabbage, carrot, and radish, plus fresh coriander, mint and parsley.
This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Online Asian Wholesale Grocer”.
See original article:- Super Simple Japanese kani salad recipe
If you have ever had teriyaki chicken in a Japanese restaurant then you will know it is a far cry from the over-seasoned, over-thickened sauces of the supermarket and the all-you-can-eat international buffet.
Whilst there is nothing actually wrong with these commercial staples (there is a time and a place for everything, after all) the real deal teriyaki is a subtle surprise. Flavour and texture in perfect harmony; as most Japanese food is.
What is teriyaki?
Said to be a centuries old Japanese cooking technique, although there are many who would argue that fact, teriyaki is a grilled dish with a glossy sauce. In Japan it usually features fish, but the favoured version in the West is chicken. Closely followed by salmon. The root of the word is ‘-yaki’ meaning grilled, whilst the prefix ‘teri-‘ denotes the shine created by the sugar in the sauce.
What is teriyaki sauce?
Teriyaki sauce, known as ‘tare’ in Japanese, does not need to be thick to be glossy. Teriyaki chicken in a Japanese restaurant is more of a shimmering glaze that barely clings to the meat. It manages to be ethereally subtle whilst still packing a umami punch. Something which appears to be the secret to all Japanese food.
The ‘tare’ is not confined to teriyaki. As a marinade it forms the base flavours of Japanese fried chicken. Yakitori, the ubiquitous grilled skewer, also features the flavours found in teriyaki. ‘yaki’, as we have seen, means grilled. ‘tori’ means bird, usually chicken when used in a culinary sense. Yakitori is always chicken, always on skewers, and always grilled over an open flame. The skewers are grilled, dipped in sauce or brushed, and grilled some more. This is repeated until the chicken is cooked and coated in a gloriously caramelised coating. Same but different.
Teriyaki sauce is a simple blend of equal parts Japanese soy sauce and sake or mirin. Sugar is added in equal parts if using sake; much less is needed with the thicker, sweeter, mirin. Ginger, although not always used, adds another subtle layer of flavour.
How long do you marinate chicken in teriyaki sauce?
Actually you don’t. Both teriyaki and yakitori are cooked in sauce but not marinated. Marinating the chicken would affect the texture and therefore the way that it cooks. The entire crucial balance of the dish would be knocked out of whack.
How to make teriyaki chicken
Chicken thigh is the only way to make teriyaki chicken like a Japanese restaurant. If you want to use chicken breast then you are best making teriyaki chicken stir fry, which is another thing entirely. Why? Because chicken teriyaki is all about the skin. In fact it is all about soft soft meat, with crispy crispy skin. Which is a job that chicken thighs do really really well.
Despite ‘yaki’ meaning grilled, the best way to make teriyaki chicken is in a frying pan. One that has a lid, or at least something you can cover it with. Briefly. The aim is to render the fats out of the skin, making it really crisp, and then keep the meat soft with a shot of savoury steam. Makes sense, right?
Ideally, you want boneless thigh of a decent size, with the skin intact. It is easier that way, and they also tend to flatten it out a bit when sold this way. It may cost a little more. Or, you buy whole chicken thighs and get comfortable with prepping them. If you buy skinless boneless thighs then you clearly haven’t heard a word we have said. To prepare a chicken thigh you need to turn it over, skin side down, and carefully remove the bone by cutting the flesh around it. You can trim off the bit of excess skin. For best results, you should open the thigh out to make it flatter; a process known as butterflying. But as long as you can get the bone out, you are doing just fine.
Lay your now bone-free chicken thighs skin side up and poke several holes in them with a skewer.
Making the sauce
You could make up a teriyaki sauce with 1/4 cup Japanese soy sauce, 1/4 cup mirin, and a tablespoon sugar. Heat it together in a small saucepan so that the sugar dissolves and it reduces just a little. Grate 1 inch fresh ginger, and squeeze only the juice into the sauce. Or, you could just use our organic Japanese teriyaki sauce to make life much easier.
Cooking the chicken
Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the thighs, one at a time, skin side down. Pressing each one with your fingers for a minute or so helps to keep them flat and prevents bunching up. Don’t overcrowd the pan.
Once all the thighs are in the pan, cook for about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for a few minutes more. The skin should be golden brown and crispy, with all the fat rendered into the pan. Pour this fat away, turn the thighs over, and add the sauce. It should cover the base of the pan, with the chicken meat immersed, but not the skin. Put the lid on, or cover the pan, and allow to steam through for one minute.
Remove the lid and let the sauce simmer for a few more minutes until it has reduced enough to cling softly to the chicken. Turn the thighs once, so the skin gets coated in sauce. The sauce should only be thick enough that it can cling. No thicker. Like thin gravy.
Set the chicken aside to rest for a few minutes and slice. Pour over the remaining sauce to serve.
Teriyaki chicken bowl
There are a few ways you could serve your teriyaki chicken. One is with a pile of crisp refreshing Japanese slaw, like this one. Or you could serve it with sticky rice and crisp green veg such as lightly steamed broccoli and asparagus spears. Or what about some Asian greens?
If you pile the rice in a bowl, top with the chicken, pour over the remaining sauce and add the vegetables, then what you have is teriyaki chicken don. That’s teriyaki chicken over rice in a bowl, and it is a really pleasing way to eat it. The sauce should be super thin; just enough to wet the rice a little. You could add a few pickles, like the ones in this post about Asian slaw and salads, or a simple flourish of spring onion. This is comfort food. Asian style. Good for your body as well as your soul.
We have plenty more organic Asian sauces to inspire you, and all of our South East Asian spices and condiments are available to buy in bulk.
This article was reproduced on this site only with permission from our parent co. operafoods.com.au the “Gourmet Online Wholesale Grocer”. See original article:- How to Make Teriyaki Chicken like a Japanese Restaurant
Galangal vs ginger may be an obvious comparison but did you know that turmeric is related to both? Here’s how to get the best from all three and use them to maximum effect in your cooking.
A trio of rhizomes
Galangal, ginger and turmeric all belong to the ginger family. The part of the plant that we use for cooking is known as a rhizome. Although botanically speaking it is different, you can just think of it as a root. Hence the name root ginger, for fresh ginger.
What is galangal?
Let’s begin with the least well known of our trio. There are several varieties of galangal but greater galangal, also known as Thai ginger, is native to Java and used primarily in South East Asian cooking. Particularly associated with Thai food, galangal is also used in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
The fresh rhizomes are often sold alongside ginger and turmeric. It looks pretty similar to ginger but has a thinner skin with noticeable striped rings.
Turmeric and ginger
Ginger, in both its fresh and dried forms, is probably the most familiar. Found all over the world, it is used in a wide range of dishes both savoury and sweet. The fresh root is slightly larger than the other two, and is sold in chunky branches known as a hand. The skin is light brown and thicker than that of galangal and turmeric.
Unless you were aware that turmeric is a root related to ginger you would probably never guess, as we are most familiar with it in its dried form. Turmeric is the smallest and sold as individual fingers rather than branching hands. The skin is also light brown, but the orange beneath is easily discernible. Like galangal, it is noticeably striped. Fresh turmeric is used in the same way as ginger or galangal.
Galangal vs ginger
The difference between ginger and galangal is subtle yet important. The two are not interchangeable and are in fact sometimes used together.
We use ginger, galangal and turmeric together in our South East Asian spice blend and they all play a different role.
What does galangal taste like?
Galangal has an overall lighter aspect than ginger. Sharp on the tongue it is more citrussy and has a hot clean taste.
Ginger can also be citrussy but is sweeter than galangal, with more peppery notes. It is deep, pungent and tangy.
Turmeric is nothing like the other two. It is earthy and bitter, with only a slightly spicy undertone.
Fresh ginger vs dried
The dried forms of all three of these spices, are completely different to the fresh roots. Yet what they lose in terms of bright citrussy top notes they gain in depth of flavour. Most cuisines use both fresh and dried, for different purposes, and they are considered simply different not inferior.
How to use dried galangal
As already noted, dried galangal is not really a fresh galangal substitute but is used in South East Asian food for different purposes. That said, a high quality product such as our organic galangal powder has a surprisingly fresh flavour. Stored well and used wisely you will find a happy compromise.
We use galangal powder in this quick and easy hot and sour soup. The same post features dried ginger in a recipe for quick and easy Singapore black pepper chicken.
Galangal powder is found in many spice blends, including Rendang curry powder and Laksa spice mixes. It is of particular use in seafood dishes where it neutralises those over-fishy flavours. Use in soups, curries and stir fries.
Ginger powder goes surprisingly well with vegetables, in particular squash, pumpkin or carrots. You can also use it to tenderise meat before grilling. Try mixing our organic ginger powder with just salt and pepper before using as a dry rub; make the ginger the star of the show. Ginger is found in most curry powder blends, as well as BBQ rubs and jerk spice.
Turmeric powder is an amalgamating spice which means that not only does it pretty much go with everything but it also brings the other spices together in harmony. A sprinkle of organic turmeric powder over cauliflower before roasting is really good. Turmeric finds its way into so many spice blends because of this harmonising quality.
It is worth noting that turmeric is nothing like saffron. Yes, it can be used to colour things orange but any similarity stops there. You can make delicious yellow rice with turmeric that has lovely earthy tones.
A bonus recipe for fragrant yellow rice
Add to the pan of boiling water, in with the rice, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1 cinnamon stick, a few cardamom pods and a bay leaf. Drain when cooked and pick out the whole spices before serving.
Take a look at our range of organic Asian spices. All of our Asian sauces and condiments are available to buy in bulk.
This article was reproduced on this site only with permission from our parent co. operafoods.com.au the “Gourmet Online Wholesale Grocer”. See original article:- Galangal vs ginger…and turmeric
They are traditional Japanese noodles made from buckwheat. But are soba noodles gluten free and what are they actually made from?
With their robust flavour, soba noodles are perfect with aromatic Asian sauces but are they good for your health? Let’s find out.
What are soba noodles?
Soba is the Japanese word for buckwheat. Soba noodles have been around in Japan since the 17th century, when the aristocracy discovered they had health benefits over white rice and could cure beriberi. Thiamine was not identified until 1897, but we know now that the thiamine content of buckwheat was likely responsible for this. Soba making was a specialist art, confined to those who could afford it, and served in eating houses.
Nowadays everyone eats soba noodles and they are the traditional noodle of Tokyo. Available throughout the world as dried noodles, in Japan or Japanese restaurants they may be fresh and handmade.
Soba noodles are a long thin spaghetti like noodle with a beige brown colour and a slippery texture when cooked. It is considered correct to slurp your noodles as it enhances the flavour as well as cools them down. The flavour is nutty with a pleasing sourness like sourdough bread.
What are soba noodles made from?
Although soba noodles are made with buckwheat, they often contain wheat flour too. The usual percentage is 80% buckwheat to 20% wheat flour. Buckwheat noodles can be fragile and bitter so wheat flour is added to create a better texture. Some soba noodles may contain very little actual buckwheat so it is always best to read the label. They should contain nothing else other than flour and water.
Are soba noodles gluten free?
Because of the added wheat, not all soba noodles are gluten free. The most traditional variety of soba noodle, called juwari soba, are made from 100% buckwheat and are therefore gluten free. The texture is different to standard soba noodles. They are slightly grainy and very fragile, and are also more expensive.
If you tolerate gluten, go for a variety that contain the 80/20 ratio as the texture really is preferable.
Are soba noodles wholegrain?
Buckwheat is not strictly a wholegrain as it is a pseudo-grain not a cereal grain. Nutritionally speaking though, buckwheat is classed as a wholegrain and has all the benefits that go with it.
Are soba noodles healthier than pasta?
In comparison to wholegrain pasta, soba noodles are pretty similar. But who eats wholegrain pasta, right? Compared to dried pasta, made with refined white flour and no egg, soba noodles are certainly the healthy choice. With a lower GI, buckwheat can help to improve blood sugar control. It is also a good source of manganese and Vitamin B1 (thiamine). Full of fibre and also resistant starch, soba noodles can aid digestive health. Easily digestible, they provide a small amount of high quality protein that is rich in the amino acid lysine.
How to cook soba noodles
Cooking times for soba noodles will vary, as the thickness varies. So always follow the manufacturers instructions. Dropped in lightly salted boiling water they take about 3 to 5 minutes. Give them plenty of space and move them around often. Drain and serve hot, or run under cold water until cooled and serve cold.
Soba noodles are great with many of our Asian sauces, and are also particularly good served in broth.
For a great noodle dish, hot or cold, toss noodles in our Japanese dressing and scatter with finely chopped spring onions.
Meatballs. Praise to the gods of comfort food. Add in a few Asian spices with a hint of Eastern flair and you’ve got a double dose of heaven. We have a few ideas for Asian pork meatballs. Quick and easy to make, using some store cupboard short cuts. And super tasty.
But first, a few meatball basics.
How to make meatballs
From Italy to China, through Sweden and over to Vietnam, most countries of the world have a traditional meatball recipe. A way of stretching meat, they are relatively quick, easy and cost effective to make. Some use egg, some use breadcrumbs, and many use both. Many cover them in sauce whilst others dip them. Some like them completely naked. Others come in the guise of meatloaf or they are often impaled on a stick. All of them spring from one basic recipe. One simple technique.
One thing all these nations can agree on is that a good meatball is soft and tender. If you can arrange for it to be a little juicy in the middle too, then its all good in the hood.
Meatballs are softer when made with lamb and beef, due to a high proportion of fat and a more open textured flesh. Turkey and chicken are leaner and more compact so tend to dry out easily. Pork, if you use a fattier cut like shoulder or belly is ideal. Most of us use shop bought mince to make our meatballs, and standard pork mince sits at around 10 to 20 percent fat. This makes for a rich, soft meatball that takes on Asian flavours particularly well.
What makes meatballs stick together?
Strictly speaking you don’t need a binder as meat, when mixed really well, will stick to itself. The best way to achieve this is by mixing in a food processor to break down the meat fibres. Turkish kofte, for example is made in this way. The usual binder is egg; an egg yolk in your meatball mix will act as a binder and add extra richness.
Breadcrumbs are more of a filler than a binder. They add texture to the meat, and absorb fat, juices and flavour. Often soaked in milk beforehand, breadcrumbs do make a meatball softer and round out the flavours. You can leave them out, but take care not to overcook your meatballs.
A meatball can be as simple as ground meat mixed together with salt and pepper, shaped into balls and cooked. Spices and herbs may be added. As may the aforementioned egg and crumb. They are best mixed gently by hand so as not to overwork the mixture which will make it tough. Pork is quite robust and has a higher fat content so there is a more of a margin for error.
How to cook meatballs
Meatballs can be fried, or baked, or both. They can be cooked and served without sauce or with a dipping sauce. Frying seems to make for a softer meatball, with a browned crust and a juicy tender middle. They can also be finished in a sauce, or a glaze, either in a pan or in the oven.
The best way to cook meatballs is to fry them. Stick to balls of about 1 inch diameter, which is roughly a generous tablespoon of mix. Shallow fry them in a little oil for about 15 minutes, turning regularly. They are ready when the meat is no longer pink in the middle and the juices run clear. They should still feel soft to the touch. If you want to bake the meatballs they will take about 25 minutes at 180C.
If you want to add a glaze, such as teriyaki sauce, add a few tablespoons to the frying pan with the meatballs and cook over a moderately high heat until it has reduced. To finish them in a sauce, fry them for about 10 minutes and before they are completely cooked drop them into a saucepan with the sauce. Heat through for a further 5 minutes or until fully cooked. This keeps the meatballs nice and soft.
If you want to bake meatballs in a sauce in the oven we recommend browning them first. You can then bake them in the sauce at 180C for about 25 minutes or until fully cooked.
Basic meatball recipe
Serves 4 500g minced pork (at least 10% fat) 50g fresh, soft breadcrumbs 3 tbsp milk 1 egg yolk 1/4 tsp salt Freshly ground black pepper
Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk for a few minutes.
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, including the wet breadcrumbs, and knead together with your hands until thoroughly mixed.
Divide the mixture into tablespoons and roll into balls. Dipping your hands in water occasionally will help to prevent the mixture sticking.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.
Add the meatballs and fry gently for about 15 minutes, turning regularly. You may need to do this in batches as they need at least 2 inches space between them.
Serve with a simple dip such as sweet chilli sauce.
Asian pork meatballs with sweet and sour
Try finishing off the basic meatball mix with a generous glaze of sweet and sour sauce.
Add a few teaspoons of our South East Asian spice blend to your meatball mix, with a handful of chopped fresh coriander. Take it one step further and finish in a fragrant sauce of red curry paste and a can of coconut milk.
Try using 1 tsp of grated ginger, 1/2 cup chopped spring onions, and 3 tbsp of soy sauce in your mix. After browning in the frying pan, cover and turn the heat low. Let them steam through for about 10 minutes or until thoroughly cooked.
Vietnamese pork meatballs
Mix in a tablespoon of fresh lime juice, a tablespoon of fish sauce, and plenty of chopped fresh coriander and mint. Serve in lettuce wraps, or even in baguette with lots of crisp vegetables as a twist on the classic Banh Mi.
Hopefully you are inspired to try some different styles of Asian meatballs. Why not see what you can come up with using our organic Asian sauces and spices? There is also wholesale organic food at our online store.
Mix up a batch of this super easy South East Asian spice blend and keep it in the cupboard for fragrant food in a hurry.
The cuisines of South East Asia are many and varied, encompassing the foods of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. Whilst each has its own regional dishes with distinct flavours, and we do like to encourage authenticity, there are times when you want just an idea of a cuisine. A family of flavours that will scratch the itch for something fragrant.
South East Asian herbs and spices
Whilst spices such as cloves, cinnamon, and coriander seed are found in all Asian cuisines, the foods of South East Asia have a strong emphasis on fresh aromatic components. Leafy green herbs such as mint, basil and fresh coriander are used in abundance. Paired with fragrant galangal, lemongrass, or lime leaf, they are usually joined by searingly hot chillies and often rounded out by creamy cooling coconut. Chances are if you have a craving for food that is comforting but not stodgy, these are the flavours you are looking for.
South East Asian spice blend ingredients
The ingredients below are usually used fresh, and ground into a paste. Surprisingly, when freeze dried and ground into powder, they retain much of their aromatic freshness. Native cooks are quite happy to use them. Having such ingredients to hand in the storecupboard means that you have the flavours of the world at your fingertips.
Making your own blend of South East Asian spices makes reaching into the cupboard even easier.
Turmeric is a particular kind of root known as a rhizome, belonging to the ginger family, with deep orange flesh. More familiar in its powder form, turmeric has gained in popularity in recent years because of its health credentials. Hugely versatile, turmeric is an amalgamating spice that brings other spices together. Hence its use as a base in many spice blends. It has a warm earthy flavour and adds a yellow colour to food.
Turmeric pairs particularly well with other elements that fit the South East Asian flavour profile.
Also a root related to ginger, galangal has firmer paler flesh than fibrous yellow ginger. Not interchangeable, ginger and galangal have very different flavours that do complement each other well. Galangal is stronger and sharper than ginger, with a fresher more citrussy flavour.
Ginger is the most familiar of our trio of fragrant rhizomes, with a pale yellow flesh that is slightly sweeter than galangal and a pungent peppery finish.
Lemongrass grows in tight bulb-like stems with a fresh citrussy flavour. Instantly recognisable as lemongrass, the flavours are more herbal, slightly sweeter, and less acidic.
Kaffir lime leaf
Not related to the familiar green citrus fruit, kaffir lime leaves are used extensively in South East Asian cuisines. They have a strong citrus flavour but none of the acidity of lime.
South East Asian spice blend recipe
If you can, make up this spice blend at least a day in advance to allow the flavours to round out
7 teaspoons Kaffir lime leaf powder
7 teaspoons lemongrass powder
5 teaspoons turmeric powder
3 teaspoons ginger powder
2 teaspoons galangal powder
2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
- Mix together and store in an airtight container away from light.
- Add a teaspoon or two to taste, to stir fries and curries.
To round out the flavours of your spice blend, use alongside garlic, Thai chili paste, and coconut milk/cream. A good handful of fresh coriander will finish any dish nicely. As will chopped fresh mint or basil.
Asian greens are quick and easy to cook, super good for you, and take on all those vibrant, Asian flavours really well.
If you feel like some light and healthy food that still packs a punch in the flavour department, then getting to grips with Asian greens is a good place to start. From soft and tender bok choy in fragrant noodle soup, to the garlic tones of Chinese chives in your chicken dishes, you are sure to discover your new favourite thing.
Top 5 Asian greens
There are many different types of Asian greens available at Asian grocers, but the ones below are the most widely accessible and some may be found at the supermarket or greengrocer. Whilst they are largely related and play very similar roles, each is unique and brings a different dimension to your dish.
Also known as pak choi, bok choy is a member of the brassica family, related to broccoli and cabbage. It has the iron rich green flavour of spinach or kale and is sold when small, young and tender as well as larger, mature, and more fibrous. The smaller bok choy can be cut into halves or quarters before cooking. When bigger, the stem is best cooked separately from the leaf. Not typically eaten raw, bok choy is best for stir frying or braising.
Add halved bok choy to fragrant noodle broth for 5 to 8 minutes or until tender
Chinese broccoli is very similar to the long stemmed varieties of broccoli such as purple sprouting or Tenderstem. Drop into boiling salted water for 3 to 4 minutes until a knife inserted into the stem has just a little resistance. You could then simply dress it and serve, or stir fry for a minute with some garlic and ginger.
Blanch in salted water for 3 minutes and stir fry with a few tablespoons of our organic black pepper sauce for a fragrant, spicy side dish.
Somewhere between a lettuce and a cabbage, Chinese leaf is also a member of the brassica family. Used both cooked and raw, it has a sweet nutty flavour and remains surprisingly crisp when cooked. Blanched in stock before stir frying, Chinese leaf soaks up all the flavour of the stock but without going soggy.
Use as a crunchy fresh base for this Thai Beef Salad.
Choi sum is somewhere between bok choy and Chinese broccoli. It has the soft leaves of bok choy, with long tender stems. The flavour is mild and the texture like spinach. Eaten cooked, it can chopped and stir fried. or added to broth for a few minutes before serving.
Stir fry with strips of fresh ginger and season with a splash of Japanese soy sauce.
Related to choi sum, mustard greens are shaped like a romaine lettuce but has frilly edges like kale. You can use mustard greens pretty much like kale. Slice or shred and drop into fragrant soup, or blanch in boiling water for a few minutes before stir frying.
Blanch or stir fry until tender and drizzle with dressing made from 1 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tsp rice vinegar, and 1 tsp sugar. You could add a dash of chili sauce to turn up the heat.
Some useful additions to Asian greens
Whilst not really greens, these green vegetables can add colour, texture and flavour to your Asian food and offer more ways of bringing a bit of green to your plate.
Found in Asian grocery stores, these are long green beans. Similar to french beans (aka green beans), they can be cooked in the same way. Drop into a pan of boiling salted water and blanch for 3 to 4 minutes or until tender crisp. Serve simply tossed in soy sauce, or stir fry with aromatics such as ginger or chili. Conversely, if you find snake beans in a recipe, you can switch them out for green beans.
Sugar snap peas and mangetout
Essentially varieties of peas that are eaten with the pod, sugar snap peas and mangetout are great for stir fries as they cook so quickly whilst retaining their crunch. They have a lovely sweet flavour, with a slightly bitter edge of green.
Chinese chives and spring onions
Chinese chives are more robust than your average chive, and have a strong flavour of garlic and leek. Used as an ingredient rather than a herb, they will stand up to heat and can be blanched for a few minutes before adding to a stir fry. Often served alone simply as a vegetable, but also tossed liberally into scrambled eggs. You could add Chinese chives as a milder alternative to garlic.
Pork belly. One of the best things to eat. Ever. And sticky pork belly, Chinese style, reigns supreme. Deeply savoury? Tick. Fragrant with sweet spices? Hell yeah. Sinfully salty? Uh-huh.
Soft enough to use as a pillow, with fat that melts away like clouds, well cooked pork belly is simply sheer joy.
Did we mention sticky?
Chinese sticky pork belly
Sticky pork belly is not difficult to make. As with most things the devil is in the detail. You will need thick cut strips of belly pork, at least an inch thick all round, with plenty of creamy white fat and soft pink meat. The leaner part of the belly, with darker meat and less fat can dry out easily and be a bit chewy. Cooked on the stove top, the pan you use is important. You need a heavy bottomed pan that won’t burn or weld the meat to the bottom. In other words, a good quality pan. A cast iron casserole is ideal.
The recipe calls for 1kg meat. This is a lot, but it does shrink and you will want plenty. Leftovers can be used in Singapore noodles. If they get that far. Don’t be put off by the dark colour, it is just the soy sauce and the dark brown sugar that give the dish a deep molasses flavour. Instead of using black pepper, you could try adding a tablespoon of our black pepper sauce for a deeper flavour.
We served ours with plain white rice, Asian greens, and some quick pickles.
Recipe for sticky pork belly
Servings - 4 Ingredients 1kg thick pork belly strips, cut in 2 inch pieces 1 litre water 2 inches fresh ginger, sliced 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed 4 bay leaves 3 star anise 1 cinnamon stick 4 spring onions, cut in half For the sauce 1 tsp vegetable oil 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar 2 tbsp honey 4 tablespoons soy sauce 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar 1 tsp black pepper For the garnish Spring onion, chopped Toasted sesame seeds
- Bring the water to the boil in a large pot with the ginger, garlic, spring onions, and aromatics.
- Once boiling, add the pork, and cook for 5 minutes.
- Drain in a colander, keeping 1 cup of the cooking water.
- Put the pan back on the heat, make sure it is dry, and add the oil.
- Add the drained ingredients back to the pan, turn the heat to medium high, and let the pork brown. Stir occasionally. It will stick to the pot, don’t worry. Let it brown, and keep releasing it with a wooden spoon. This stage is really important, you need all that caramelisation on the meat, and the fat to render down. Don’t rush, just keep going until the meat is browned all over. Give it about 20 minutes.
- When the meat is nicely browned, stir in the sugar, honey, vinegar, soy and black pepper. Turn the heat to low.
- When the sugar has dissolved, add the reserved cooking liquid.
- Put the lid on and simmer for about 45 minutes.
- The liquid should have reduced to a glaze. If not, continue cooking with the lid off until it looks thick and sticky.
- Leave to stand in the pan for 5 minutes before serving.
- Remove the aromatics to serve, and garnish with sesame and spring onion.
There are a few things that define a great Singapore noodle recipe. One is curry paste or powder. That’s the kicker. Then there is the addition of eggs. More of a scrambled scenario than a sliced omelette.
And then there is the question of leftovers. Yes, Singapore noodles are great for throwing the contents of your fridge at, but there are a few ground rules. The meat should really be pork. And preferably a bit sweet/salty. And there should be prawns. So you have that pork and prawn combo thing going on.
How to make Singapore noodles
Versions of Singapore noodle recipes abound. Strictly speaking it is more of way of using up your leftovers than a strict recipe, so perhaps the best way forwards is to get the detail right. Stir frying is all about fast cooking over a high high heat. That somehow manages to result in deep deep flavour, whilst keeping the integral personality of the ingredients intact. In terms of taste and texture.
It is very very clever and completely underestimated.
Essentially, Singapore noodles are made of the following components…
Usually made with rice noodles, but they can be (especially the fine ones) really hard to toss with the other ingredients and end up in a tangle. Use whichever noodles you prefer – cook and cool them before stir frying.
Use whatever you have to hand. Spring onion is good for flavour, and Asian vegetables such as bamboo or water chestnuts add great crunch. Add those that need the longest cooking time first.
Again, use whatever you like or need to use up. The prawn/pork combo works particularly well, especially leftover sticky pork belly.
Curry powder gives the classic Singapore noodle taste. Ginger, garlic and chili round it out with fresh aromatic heat.
Soy sauce added at the end brings the requisite salty element whilst coconut milk makes it a little creamier. Using the creamy part of tinned coconut milk makes for a thicker sauce that won’t overcook the noodles.
Keeping it old school with fresh coriander and a few slices of fresh red chili. Add an extra flourish with handful of peanuts or sesame seeds.
Singapore noodle recipe
Gather all of your ingredients together before cooking
- Serves 4
The noodles 225g noodles, cooked as per packet instructions, and cooled The vegetables 4 mushrooms, sliced 4 spring onions, sliced 100g frozen peas 6 water chestnuts, sliced 1/2 cup bamboo shoots The protein 100g cooked ham or leftover pork, shredded 100g cooked prawns 4 eggs, beaten The seasonings 1 tbsp vegetable oil 1 tbsp sesame oil 1 tsp ground white pepper 1 tbsp Madras curry powder 2 cloves garlic, chopped 1 inch ginger, grated 1 tsp red chili paste The sauce 1 tbsp coconut cream 2 tbsp soy sauce The garnish Fresh coriander, chopped Red chili, finely sliced
Heat the wok until smoking and add the oils.
Add the mushrooms and spring onions. Stir fry for 1 minute.
Add the rest of the veg and the meat.
Add the seasonings and stir fry for 1 minute.
Push the ingredients to the side of the wok, and pour the beaten egg into the space. Stir the eggs until cooked.
Add the noodles to the wok and stir everything to combine.
Add the sauce ingredients. Stir to combine.
Serve and garnish.
Full of the punchy flavours that characterise Thai food, this vibrant Thai beef salad recipe can be made in under 30 minutes. The steaks are quick and easy to cook and although there is a bit of vegetable prep to do the dish is more about assembly rather than preparation.
For best results use the freshest produce available and bring the meat to room temperature before cooking.
Recipe for Thai beef salad
2 x sirloin steaks of about 250g each 2 tsp sesame oil 1 tsp flaked sea salt 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper 1 tsp ground coriander For the salad 1/4 head Chinese leaf, shredded 1 cup beansprouts 1 carrot, shredded 8 radishes, sliced 1/2 shallot, finely sliced 4 spring onions, sliced 1/2 cucumber, peeled and shaved into ribbons 1 small bunch mint, chopped For the dressing 1 garlic clove, chopped 1 teaspoon chili paste 2 tsp brown sugar 3 tbsp fish sauce 3 limes, juice 1 tbsp sesame oil To garnish 75g salted peanuts, chopped 1/2 red chilli, finely sliced coriander leaves
1. Take the steaks from the fridge, remove any packaging, and pat dry with kitchen paper.
2. Rub the steaks with the oil and seasonings. Set aside to come up to room temperature whilst you make the salad.
3. Begin to layer your salad ingredients on a large platter.
4. Note the size and shape of the carrots. It takes a little more effort to julienne them rather than grate them, but the texture will make a big difference to the eating quality of your salad.
5. Finish the salad layers with the chopped mint.
6. Heat a grill pan or frying pan over a medium high heat. When really hot, add the steaks seasoning side down and sear for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
7. Remove the steaks from the pan and set aside to rest for a few minutes whilst you make the dressing.
8. Stir all of the dressing ingredients together.
9. Thinly slice the steaks.
10. Layer the sliced steaks onto the salad.
11. Finish with the dressing and a scatter of peanuts.
12. Serve the Thai beef salad whilst the steak is still hot.