I went through a few bizarre food phases as a child, a memorable one of which was an obsession with cold rice pudding. I remember sometimes eating the full tub for dinner while watching TV on Sunday night! Here is a deliciously comforting and easy to make rice pudding using coconut for a fragrant twist!
Ingredients: (serves 4)
100g short grain rice
1 vanilla bean, cut open
1/2 cup caster sugar
400ml coconut milk
A few strawberries, washed and sliced
1. Rinse the rice, place in a saucepan with sugar, vanilla bean, coconut milk and regular milk and bring to the boil.
2. Reduce heat to very low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking. Remove and discard the vanilla bean, season with a pinch of salt to bring the sweetness out and set aside to cool before placing it in the fridge.
3. Serve the coconut rice at room temperature topped with fresh strawberries or shavings of fresh mango and a few sprinkles of shredded coconut.
It’s also the perfect gluten-free dessert for your next dinner party! Make sure you use short-grain rice when making rice pudding so that the texture of the grain will stays soft when cool, which is better for a creamier result!
Crispy duck is a legendary chinese classic. While the traditional way to prepare Chinese crispy duck takes forever, it’s certainly not the only way to achieve a delicious Peking style crispy duck at home. Here is a dead easy recipe to prepare the best peking style crispy duck within a couple of hours – so easy in fact that I decided to add the extra challenge of making my own pancakes…
1 whole duck 1.5 – 2kg, rinsed and dried well
3-4 tbsp salt
1-2 tbsp Chinese Five Spice
4 cm piece of ginger
3-4 spring onions
2 red chilis
275g plain flour
250ml water, just boiled
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Extra flour for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. To prepare the duck, rub it inside and out with a lot of salt and then just all over with five spice. Grate some fresh ginger to rub the cavity and place more five spice and the leftover ginger into the duck’s cavity to flavour.
2. Place duck in a tray and roast in the hot oven for 1-1½ hours, or until cooked through. Spoon regularly the excess fat over the skin to baste.
3. If you decide to make your own pancakes – now is the time start making your dough. In a large bowl, pour all of the flour and gradually add in the hot water, mixing constantly. Place the dough onto a dusted work surface and knead it for 5-10 minutes and leave it to rest for 30 minutes, covered with a damp cloth.
4. Finely slice the cucumber, spring onion and chili and place on a tray.
5. Back to your dough. Dust a bit of flour over your work surface, stretch and knead the dough for another 5 minutes or until smooth. Roll it into a long sausage, and chop it into 18 equal pieces. Roll each portion back into a small ball.
6. Check your bird – if the skin isn’t quite crispy enough, turn the temperature up to 220°C. Pour the excess duck fat out of the tray and spoon a little over the duck skin to baste it one last time. Place into the hot oven for 10-20 minutes or until the skin is really crispy.
7. Back to your pancakes – the traditional method is to make two pancakes at a time. Take two of the balls, dip one side of one ball into sesame oil and place on top of the other ball. With a rolling pin, roll the 2 pancakes simultaneously into a 15 cm disk. Place the double pancake into a frying pan over gentle heat for a few minutes until dry and cooked. Allow to cool, and peel the two pancakes apart. If you’re struggling with the traditional method, just do one at a time!
8. Remove duck from the oven and leave to cool and rest for 5-10 minutes. Shred the meat off the bones using a fork or your fingers, place on a serving tray with the crispy skin. Serve the meat with warm pancakes, cucumber, spring onion and plum sauce. Et voila!
If making your own pancakes is a bit too much for you, skip steps 3, 5 & 7, buy pre-made ones and reheat in a steamer or microwave! As a gluten-free variant, make gluten free savoury pancakes with gluten-free flour, eggs, water, milk and butter!
This is a simple Nasi Goreng recipe I learned at a cooking class on my last trip to Bali.
The reason why I like it so much? Because it tastes really authentic, while a simplified version of the more complex recipes I have seen before. This means that you don’t have to get too many new spices and exotic ingredients to re-create it a home. In fact, this recipe is best improvised to use up overnight rice!
2-3 tsp vegetable oil
100g chicken, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tbsp red chilli, finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 cup steamed rice, cold
3 tbsp soy sauce
1tsp Worcester sauce
1 tbsp ketchup
1tsp fish sauce
Salt & pepper to taste
Small handful of coriander, chopped
2 tbsp Fried shallots
½ cup Chinese cabbage, shredded (optional)
2 eggs, lightly beaten (optional)
1. If you’re not using left over rice, start by cooking the rice following packet instruction. Drain, cool to room temperature and place in the fridge for an hour or so. Note that it’s important to use cold cooked rice as freshly cooked rice is too soft and will absorb the oil.
2. Heat the oil in a wok over high heat. Fry the chicken for 2-3 minutes or until nice and brown. Season with salt & pepper.
3. Add the shallots, garlic and toss around for a couple of minutes. Add the chili, turmeric, and spring onion and fry for another minute.
4. Add the rice, mix and toss well. Add the Soy sauce, Worcester, ketchup and fish sauce. Season to taste.
5. Garnish with fried shallots and fresh coriander.
I didn’t include shredded cabbage or eggs omelette in mine, as I was serving it as a side to my chicken sate, but definitely add it in for a more substantial stand alone dish!
This tasty and healthy dish was inspired by my recent trip to Bali. Peanut sauce is one of the most popular local speciality, served with anything ranging from meats to vegetables. Chicken sate (or satay) is a wonderful alternative to a classic chicken kebab and also the perfect exotic addition to your next barbecue session!
Ingredients: Serves 4
3 garlic cloves
25g root ginger
1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ tsp each ground turmeric
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground white pepper
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp tamarind paste (optional)
2 lime leaves , thinly sliced (optional)
500g chicken fillet, finely sliced
Wooden skewers, soaked in boiling water
2 tablespoons oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
200g peanuts, unsalted & dry roasted
3 tsp palm sugar or brown sugar
3 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp salt
250 ml hot water
1. Peel & finely chop shallots, garlic, ginger and chillies. Measure spices and place into a separate bowl.
2. Heat oil in a pan over a medium heat and fry the shallots, garlic, ginger and chillies for 1-2 minutes. Add a tablespoon of water to help soften, stir in the dry spices and fry for a minute.
3. Remove the pan from the heat, let the mixture cool down, then blend to a paste and add the tamarind paste and shredded lime leaves if using. Season with salt.
4. Place chicken strips in a bowl, pour marinade over it, combine well and thread 5 chicken pieces onto each skewer.
5. To prepare the peanut sauce heat the oil in a saucepan add chillies, garlic and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until soft. Add peanuts and roast for another minute.
6. Place the mixture in a food processor; add salt, sugar, hot water and process again to make a thick sauce. Add fish sauce to taste.
7. Grill on the barbecue or griddle pan for 8-10 mins or until slightly charred on both sides and cooked inside.
Serve with peanut sauce, pita bread and a fresh cucumber salad for a light summer lunch or alternatively garnish with fried shallots and serve with a side of steamed rice or Nasi Goreng for a more authentic Indonesian meal.
San choy bau is a beautiful Chinese classic, of tasty mince mixture wrapped in a fresh and crunchy lettuce leaf. It’s all about contrast, texture and dimensions – the intensity of the juices, crunch of the nuts, freshness of the herbs – so keep it in mind if trying to adapt the recipe. This dish can be served either by itself as a starter or as a main with a side of rice.
Ingredients (serves 4 as a starter):
2 tsp sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped (julienne)
1/2 onion, finely sliced
400g lean pork mince
100g mushrooms, finely sliced
2 tbsp Shao hsing wine
1 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 cup coriander, finely chopped
1/3 cup macadama or cashew nuts, roughly crushed
8 iceberg lettuce leaves, trimmed
1. Heat oil in a wok over medium heat. Add garlic, onion and ginger. Stir-fry for 1 minute or until onion has softened.
2. Increase heat to medium-high. Add mince. Stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until browned. Add mushrooms, nuts and continue stir-frying for 30 seconds.
3. Pour in hsing wine, sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce and stir until the pork is fully cooked through. Stir in the coriander, just before taking it off the heat.
4. Spoon the mixture with its lovely juices into a hot bowl and serve in a large platter, surrounded by lettuce leaf cups and garnish with an extra sprinkle of coriander, as well as a few slices of red chilli if you fancy it!
This is a really light, healthy and tasty dish, which will work beautifully as a lunch but also as a starter or as party food. It differs slightly from the traditional recipe as I omitted the rice vermicelli to avoid doubling up on the rice based ingredients! The secret is in the contrast between the fresh crisp ingredients, the tasty meat and the fragrant dipping sauce.
Ingredients: (6 rolls)
1 Lebanese cucumber, cut into thin sticks
200g bean sprouts, steamed
2 spring onions, cut into thin strips
1 handful of coriander, roughly chopped
1 red chilli, de-seeded and cut into thin strips
1 handful peanut, crushed
200g pork fillet, cut into thin strips
3 tbsp Teriyaki sauce
3 tbsp Hoi sin or black bean sauce
9 prawns, cooked and halved
5 rice paper sheets
1. Pre-heat a non stick pan and cook the meat for a few minute with the teriyaki sauce. Add the hoi sin or black bean at the end and save on the side to cool.
2. Pour boiled water into a flat tray and place a dry kitchen towel flat on the surface next to it to use as a dipping and rolling station. place the rice paper roll in the warm water for a few seconds until just softened. Place it flat onto the kitchen towel spreading the ingredients toward the top edge – start with 3 prawn halves (round side down), peanuts, coriander, chilli, spring onion…
3. Continue with the vegetables – cucumber and bean sprouts
4. And finish with the meat. Add extra coriander at that stage if you like it as much as I do.
5. Roll up to enclose the filling, folding in the ends. Repeat with the remaining rolls.
You can serve it with chili sauce, soy or fish sauce. To make the fish dipping sauce – dissolve 1 tsp of sugar with 5 tsp of fish sauce, 5 tsp of lemon juice, a drop of water and a few slices of red chili. To store it in the fridge for up to 24h, cover the rolls with a damp towel, which will prevent the rice paper from drying out.
Short of ideas for a super easy, quick and healthy dinner? Give a try to this homemade pumkin soup. It takes under 30 minutes to prepare, it’s idiot proof and everybody will love it!
Ingredients (serves 2):
1/2 butternut pumpkin, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1/2 Litre vegetable stock
1/3 cup milk
1 small bunch coriander, finely chopped
1 small red chili, finely sliced
freshly ground salt & pepper
1/4 cup cream to serve
1. Place pumpkin, onion, garlic & stock in a large saucepan on high heat, bring to boil and then reduce heat and let it simmer for 20 mins.
2. Blend the mixture, stir in the butter, milk, a handful of coriander and season with salt and pepper. Bring back to boil.
3. Serve with a touch of fresh cream, fresh coriander and red chili!
You can also enhance the Asian influence a smidge by replacing the fresh cream with coconut milk and adding a touch of fishsauce!
Click here for a Valentine’s version of this dish!
This has to be my favorite soup in the world and also the most often requested recipe amongst my friends! Be aware though that this is an easier & quicker “modern” version of an old classic. As you may know, cooking Pho Bo the traditional way can be a very long cooking process and might take quite a few trials and errors to get the taste right. So I have decided to skip making the broth from scratch and use instead good quality pho stock cubes and beef flavour paste that you can find in Asian grocery stores. The trick is to focus instead on adding a lot of fresh herbs, spices and meat to make it really special! It’s reasonably quick and actually tastes better than any other homemade pho I have tried…I even managed to convert my mum (who was born in Saigon) not to bother with the old family recipe!
Ingredients: (4 people)
3 tbsp instant beef flavour paste (gia vi nau pho)
2 cubes of pho soup seasoning (Vien gia vi pho)
4 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
4 lemons, 3 juiced and 1 cut into 4 wedges
4 tbsp fish sauce
400g lean beef brisket or fillet, very thinly sliced
1 large pack of flat rice noodles
1 large onion, sliced
300g bean sprouts
1 small bunch of Asian/Thai basil, washed and sliced
1 small bunch of coriander, washed and roughly chopped
4-5 spring onions, washed and finely sliced
2 red chili, seeds removed and finely sliced
1. Bring a large pan of water to boil (8 cups), then turn down the heat and stir in your beef paste and 1 of your two seasoning cubes. After a couple of minutes, add the sliced onion, star anise, cinnamon sticks and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Add the lemon juiced and fish sauce and cook for another 10 minutes on the lowest heat.
3. In the meantime, bring a separate large pan of water to boil, add your remaining seasoning cube in the water and cook your rice noodles following the instructions on the packet (usually 6 to 7 minutes). Steam the bean sprouts for same amount of time.
4. Equally divide the noodles, bean sprouts and spring onions between the bowls.
5. When you’re ready to serve, bring your broth back to a boil and cook the raw beef slices for a couple of seconds to medium rare before serving.
6. Add the beef pieces to each bowl, cover with hot broth and garnish with 1 lemon wedge and a small amount of herbs and chili.
Place the remaining herbs & chili on the table for each guest to top up to taste!
If you want to stick to a more traditional flavour, you may want to swap the coriander for mint. I personally tend to prefer it with coriander. You may also want to buy your beef at the butcher as they may be able to slice it paper-thin for you.
I couldn’t guarantee that my chick-corn soup truly holds any medicinal properties…but it’s certainly really tasty, nutritious and comforting and I crave it every time I am feeling a little bit poorly! Although it’s probably just a good excuse to have it on a regular basis!
Ingredients (4-5 serves)
4 cobs of sweet corn
1 white onion, finely diced
2/3 spring onions, finely sliced
3cm knob ginger, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely diced
2 tbs vegetable oil
1⁄2 cup Shao Hsing wine
7-8 cups reduced salt chicken stock
1 can of creamed corn
2 chicken breast, cut into thin slices
3 tbsp coriander, chopped
3 tbs light soy sauce
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp sea salt
1. Start by removing the corn kernels from the cobs, using a sharp knife as per below.
2. Pre-heat the vegetable oil into a large heavy-based non stick saucepan and cook the onion, half of the spring onion, garlic, ginger for a couple of minutes. Add the wine and let it reduce for another couple of minutes. Add the corn and cook for a further minute, add the creamed corn and then stock. Let it simmer for 45 minutes on medium heat.
3. Remove impurities from the surface, add the chicken to poach in the soup, season with soy sauce & coriander and let it simmer for another 5 minutes. Stir in the egg for a few seconds.
4. Serve into large bowls and garnish with a few leaves of coriander, remaining spring onions.
Feel free to top it up with a few bits of red chili if you fancy…!
Once you’ve tried this recipe at home, you will never order gyoza from the restaurant ever again! It’s really fun to make, super tasty and it looks very impressive too!
Ingredients: (30 dumplings)
200g Pork mince meat (lean)
6 uncooked prawns, deveined & chopped
2 tbsp spring onions, finely chopped
2 tsp ginger, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
2 tbsp chinese shao hsing wine
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp white sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil
30 gyoza wrappers
4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp coriander, chopped
4 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
4 tbsp spring onions, finely sliced
4 tbsp mal vinegar
1 red chili chopped
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1. Start with the filling. Combine all the listed gyoza ingredients (except the vegetable oil and wrappers!) in a bowl and refrigerate for 30 mins.
2. Place a teaspoon of the mixture in the centre of each wrapper and shape as per below:
– Wet the edge of the wrapper with one finger
– Fold the wrapper in half and bring the edges to stick together
– Pinch the bottom edge closed and fold the edge 4-5 times to the top
3. Steam for 10 mins, and set aside. In the meantime, mix all dressing ingredients together.
4. pre-heat vegetable oil in a large non stick pan and pan fry the gyoza until nice and golden brown.
Place on a serving plate and dizzle with the dressing!
If you want to prepare the gyoza ahead, stop at the steaming stage and refrigerate or freeze as is and pan fry before eating. I would actually suggest that you make enough to freeze some extra too as you can just pan fry it from frozen on a lazy night!