Category Archives: Recipes – Asian

Chinese Roast Pork with crispy crackling


Roast pork. Bao. Crispy crackling
Roast pork. Bao. Crispy crackling
The closest chinese roast meat shop is 30 mins of driving away. To get our roast pork fix, we have to plan ahead and go on weekends. 

There has to be a better way, I thought to myself. So I decided that I will make my own!

Ingredients:

  • 2kg pork belly
  • 3 tablespoon five spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon white pepper
  • 3 tablespoon shaoxhing wine
  • 1 cup salt (coarse or table, i used a mixture)

Method:

  1. Wash and use paper towels to dry the pork belly.
  2. Make some horizontal slits on the skin side of the pork.
  3. Rub the meat side with wine, the five spice and white pepper powder.
  4. Flip meat over and brush skin with some white vinegar.
  5. Leave overnight to dry in fridge. 
  6. Preheat the oven to 350F/180c, arrange a pan on the bottom 1/3 of oven rack and fill with water. Line a roast pan with foil and place the pork belly on a rack that fits this pan.
  7. Layer the top of the pork belly with the salt evenly.
  8. Place the pork belly at the bottom 1/3 of the oven and bake for 1 hour.
  9. Bake until the salt crust forms, the salt should be hardened. Check water in the pan below and add if needed.
  10. Remove the pork belly from the oven, pull off the salt crust and discard.
  11. Raise the heat of oven to 465f/240c, place the pork belly back in and roast for another 30 to 40 minutes.
  12. Remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes. Cut and serve immediately with some chilli sauce and hoisin sauce, or eat as is.

    Roast pork. Bao. Crispy crackling
    You should have left overs for lunch. What I really mean is you should make enough so that there are left overs, afterall you are going to have the oven on for an hour, so might as well make use of all that heat! 

    You can use the roasted pork belly in soup noodles, fried rice and stir fry dishes. I had them with some steamed baos for lunch the other day and they were soooo good. 😋

    Roast pork. Bao. Crispy crackling

    Vietnamese Beef Pho (broth recipe)


    Vietnamese beef pho rice noodle broth #chilli #lime #mint #vietnamese

    We are a pho-loving family. I don’t think there is ever a time we would reject one – hottest day of the year maybe, but it rarely gets extreme here in Auckland.

    Pho is the best antidote to the coldness of a crisp Autumn night. Squeeze of lime, tears of vietnamese mint, rings of picked onions, fresh beef and slices of firey hot chillis. Pour in a good broth and devour. Yum yum 😋🍲🐂 Good for the body and soul!

    Ingredients:

    Broth

    • 2 onions, halved
    • 6cm piece of ginger, halved lengthwise
    • 1kg beef shin meat with bones
    • 4 litres of water
    • 1 spices package in mesh stock bag (2 cinnamon stick, 2 tbsp coriander seeds, 1 tbsp fennel seeds, 5 whole star anise, 6 whole cloves)
    • 60ml light soy sauce
    • 60ml fish sauce
    • 1 small chunk of yellow rock sugar

    To serve

    • 3 servings of rice noodles (dried or fresh)
    • Cooked beef from the broth (shredded or thinly sliced)
    • 500g skirt or topside beef, shaved thinly
    • big handful of each: mint, coriander, thai basil
    • 2 limes, cut into wedges
    • 2-3 red chilli, sliced
    • 2 big handfuls of fresh bean sprouts
    • Hoisin sauce
    • Sriracha hot sauce

    Vietnamese beef pho rice noodle broth #chilli #lime #mint #vietnamese

    Directions:

    Charing: You can do this step either on the gas stove top or in the oven.

    Place cut slices of ginger and onion halves on a wire rack and place on the stove or in the oven. Grill on high until ginger and onions begin to char. Turn over and continue until they sre nicely browned.

    Parboil the bones: Bring a large stock pot of water to a boil. Add beef shin and boil for 10 minutes. Drain, wash the blood and muck off the bones and rinse out the pot. Refill pot with 4 litres of hot water and beef shin. Bring back to a boil then lower to a simmer. Using a fine mesh strainer, remove any scum that rises to the top.

    Perfecting the broth: Add ginger, onion, spice packet, beef, sugar, fish sauce, salt and simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the beef and set aside (you can eat the meat later too.) Strain and return broth to the pot – now is the time for tasting and seasoning. If the broth’s flavor isn’t quite there yet, add 1 tablespoon more of fish sauce, large pinch of salt and a small piece of rock sugar (or 1 teaspoon of regular sugar). Keep doing this until the broth tastes just right.

    Prepare noodles & meat: Slice your beef as thin as possible – try freezing for 15 minutes prior to slicing. Shred the cooked shin meat and set aside. Arrange all other ingredients on a platter for the table. Cook the noodles as per packet instructions. If they are fresh rice noodles, just blanch it for 1 minute.

    Serving: You are ready to serve when your meat and noodles are in bowls and all other ingredients plated. Bring the broth back to a boil. Once boiling, pour hot broth into each bowl, cooking the raw beef slices in the process. Serve straight away. Everyone can style their bowls as they like.

    Vietnamese beef pho rice noodle broth #chilli #lime #mint #vietnamese

    Authentic Bánh Mì – Vietnamese Sandwich recipe


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    On our recent trip to Melbourne, Australia, we came across many bakeries and stores selling traditional Vietnamese sandwiches – Bánh Mì. These are the result of French and Vietnamese cuisines coming together, and boy, what a glorious effort.

    Bánh mì sandwiches are different to the normal western sandwiches. The bread is crunchy on the outside and pillowy inside, serving as a light encasement for the delicious fillings inside. More on that later.

    While watching our sandwiches being made, I duly noted what was included – the ingredients all play a part in achieving the balance of sweet, sour, savoury, spicy, umami, warm, cold, softness and crunch. That’s a lot achieved in one sandwich.

    Here are the list of ingredients for you to create your very own bánh mì!

      • Bread – choose a light bread with pillowy centre and light crusty crumb. (J’s wanted to make sure I mention not to get bread that is so crunchy that it scrapes the roof of your mouth. Coz that will hurt. Noted, darling 😊) Baguettes or Ficelle from Paneton French Bakery would be my choice (in New Zealand).
      • Mayo – adds a creamy flavour to the sandwich.
      • Pate – this is essential to any good Bánh Mì, giving it the umami flavour.
      • Cucumber – Cucumber adds freshness and crunch, juxtaposing the other soft elements of the sandwich. Slice them lengthwise for even layering.
      • Herbs – for freshness and an earthiness, coriander leaves and sliced spring onions are added. I would also suggest Thai basil as well, if you wish.

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      • Pickles – this is a must! Easy to make: 1:1.5 ratio of white or apple cider vinegar to caster sugar to fill to just over half of a glass jar. Warm jar and sugar slightly in microwave to dissolve the sugar. While it is cooling, sprinkle a bit of salt over thin batons of carrots/daikon/rings of onions. Massage and squeeze the carrots the diakon (no need for the onions) to get rid of their juices. Pat dry and add to the cooled jar of pickling liquid. Ready to use in just an hour.

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    • Protein – you have lots of choices here: vietnamese ham, lemongrass pork or beef, grilled pork, chinese BBQ pork, chinese roast pork or even grilled tofu. Champagne ham works too if there is nothing else!

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    • Sauce – You can add squirts of hoisin sauce or Maggi Seasoning for extra flavour. For me, a good grind of black pepper was enough.
    • Fresh Red Chillies – a spicy element is a must and thinly sliced red chillies are commonly added to taste.
    • Fried shallots for extra crunch.
    • Add more meat if you wish.
    • Close the sandwich and enjoy!

    Traditional Hong Kong street food – ‘Bubble Waffle’ (雞蛋仔)


    Bubble waffle, HK street food

    Of all the things I miss of Hong Kong since moving to NZ, 8 out of 10 things are food related. Some of them I have been able to recreate, like the desserts, claypot rice, combination coffee and tea ‘Yin Yeung’ and appetisers such as barbecue pork and cold cuts. One special dish, has eluded me thus far and that is the Bubble Waffle, also known as eggettes. I needed both the tools and the recipe in order to make it and I have not been able to acquire them until this year. Perhaps this is the reason why everytime I returned to HK I needed to frequent the tiny stall for my Bubble Waffle fix. Luckily this establishment is in my neighbourhood, so I am always close to it should I need to satisfy my craving. It also received an honorary mention in the 2016 Michelin Guide to Hong Kong and Macau so I was fully expecting to see queues and hiked up prices. When I went today, queues were present but prices had not gone up one cent. What a gem!

    In case you are wondering what the fuss is all about – after all, aren’t these just plain old waffles? What makes these bubble waffles so special?

    Bubble waffle, HK street food

    • Extra crunchy bite
    • Soft waffle centre with an air pocket
    • Melted fillings (if you chose one other than the original flavour) and lots of it

    I have tried and tested many waffle recipes and this below is the closest I have got to recreating the bubble waffle taste, texture and flavour. I hope you find this authentic enough and will enjoy it.

    Ingredients:
    (The following quantity is sufficient for making quite a few pieces but it really depends on the size of mould that you use and the success rate of making good ones.)

    • 110g plain flour
    • 40g corn flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 60g eggs (About 1 size 8 egg)
    • 120g white sugar
    • 60ml evaporated milk
    • 120ml milk
    • small quantity of vegetable oil, for greasing the mould

    Method:

    1. Firstly mix and sieve the plain flour, cornflour and baking powder. Set aside.
    2. Beat the eggs and mix in the white sugar using a small whisk. Add in the evaporated milk and milk. Mix thoroughly. I use a large measuring jug for this.
    3. Add the sieved flour mixture (1) into the egg mixture (2) in the measuring jug. Stir thoroughly until the batter is smooth without any lumps.
    4. Cover the batter and refrigerate for at least an hour (this ensures you have crunchy eggettes). Give it a stir when it’s time to cook.
    5. Warm up the mould, and brush a thin layer of oil on each side.
    6. Add in any fillings you wish to the batter just before you pour onto the mould.
    7. Pour the batter into the mould, be careful not to overfill, just to the top of each hole. Close the mould and count to 5. Then flip and turn the closed mould over so that the batter fills the other side of the mould. Leave it to cook for 3 minutes and then flip the mould again to cook the other side for a further 1 to 2 minutes until the bubble waffle is cooked.
    8. Use silicone tongs to remove the waffle from the mould and place it on a cake cooling rack to cool. You can also fold it up slightly so that it curves up. Using a plastic lid or plate, fan the cooked waffle for a minute for extra crispiness.
    9. Repeat until all of the batter is used up.

    Flavour combinations: You can make many other flavours by adding these to the batter:

    • Dark chocolate (1 tbsp of cocoa powder and chocolate chips) 
    • Shredded coconuts
    • Black sesame
    • Green tea powder 
    • Red bean (cooked – you can use the canned ones found in Asian grocery stores)
    • Chestnut purée or pieces
    • Coffee (powder mixed in with batter)
    • Mocha (coffee and chocolate)
    • Cheese for a savoury twist (grated cheese)
    • Honey
    • Taro purée

    Bubble waffle, HK street food

    Mapo Tofu (Pork mince with tofu in spicy sauce)


    DSC_4707

    For Chinese, this is a traditional dish most families would have at home. In northern China, Szechuan peppercorns would be added to give a unique spiciness that is at best described as a slight tingling sensation, to the more severe as ‘spins and needles’ on the tongue which means you can taste nothing for the next 5 minutes until the numbing feeling subsides.
    In Hong Kong, we have milder, sweeter versions.

    It wasn’t until a European friend pointed it out to me that I realised how strange this dish is – two proteins in the same dish! I don’t think I’ve ever looked at tofu as a protein and consequently consider why would there be a need to pair it with another (pork mince)?

    I have no explanation except that the tofu is there to mix with the sauce and then with the rice as a perfect, wholesome, one plate meal. It just works so let’s not worry about it 🙂

    Most recipes ask you to ‘parboil’ the tofu pieces before adding them into the wok. They claim this helps prevent them from breaking up. I have never done that and I’ve cooked this dish for almost 20 years!
    What I’ve always done, is sprinkle salt onto the cubed tofu and letting it sit for 10 minutes. This pushes out the water from the tofu and keeps the cubes intact – it works every time. The key to it is in the manner of mixing –  mix the tofu in ever so gently and only till it’s warmed through. No tofu puddle mess at all.

    Ingredients:
    1 ‘brick’ of firm tofu, cubed
    1 teaspoon salt
    150g mince pork (or less if preferred)
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 tablespoon chinese garlic chili bean sauce (toubanjan or doubanjiang)
    1 tablespoon chinese brown bean sauce (tenmienjan, tenmenjan, or tenmenjiang)
    1 tablespoon chinese hoisin sauce
    1/2 cup chicken stock
    1 spring onion, chopped into small rounds

    Marinade:
    1 tablespoon dry sherry or Chinese wine
    1 tablespoon soy sauce
    1/2 tbsp sugar
    1 teaspoon sesame oil
    1 tablespoon szechuan peppercorn (optional)

    Directions:
    1.  Slice your tofu into 3 sections and then cut into long strips. Cube them into 1.5cm sizes.  Sprinkle salt on the top of the tofu. Set aside. (They don’t have to be perfect so don’t worry about being precise here.) Marinate mince.

    2.  Set the wok on high and make sure it is hot.  Add vegetable oil and swirl the pan, then add the mince pork, using the back of your spatula to separate the mince.

    3.  When the pork is nicely browned, add in your equal portion of the 3 main sauces: Chinese garlic chili bean sauce, Chinese brown bean sauce and hoisin sauce. Continue to cook for 1 minute.

    4. Drain the tofu pieces and add tofu cubes to the wok.
    5. Working quickly and lightly, mix the tofu in with the mince. A bit like working an angel cake batter, you scoop from the outside and bring it into the middle.
    6. Continue until all the tofu has been mixed with the sauce.
    7. Add in chicken stock and thicken with cornflour slurry if you preferring a thicker sauce. Add in your chopped spring onion.
    8.  Serve with steamed jasmine rice.
    Note: if you are making a bigger portion, you will need to proportionately increase the sauces, maintaining the 1:1:1 ratio.

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