Category Archives: Recipes

Sweet and sour pork (咕噜肉)


Sweet and sour pork

The most iconic of all cantonese cuisine would have to be sweet and sour pork 咕噜肉. I dare say there would be a Chinese takeaway shop in any town any city, selling a variant of this.

The Hong Kong version I grew up with is sweet and tangy, with thick pieces of meat thinly coated with a crisp batter (it’s not called Sweet and Sour Batter ok?) I’m salivating just thinking about it!

The sauce has to taste of tomato sauce and not some sort of industrial grade vinegar with artificial colouring.

Some versions uses ribs (which makes it a 生炒排骨 / fried pork ribs instead), meaning less meat for me. Remember to get either pork belly or tenderloin, with the latter being most satisfyingly tender.

Ingredients

  • 350g pork belly or tenderloin, cubed 3cm by 3cm
  • 230g pineapple pieces (save juice)
  • 1 green capsicum, cut into 3cm long pieces
  • 1 red capsicum, cut into 3cm long pieces
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 6 tbsp corn starch for coating
  • Oil for frying

Marinade

  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tsp shaoxing wine
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp worchestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp corn starch

Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • 3 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 120ml white vinegar
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 100ml pineapple juice
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp corn starch (for thickening at the end)

Instructions

  1. Mix pork with the marinade. Add the egg and leave it to develop flavour for an hour.
  2. Mix the sauce ingredients (except corn starch for thickening) together and set aside.
  3. Place 6 tbsp corn starch on a large plate and evenly coat marinated pork pieces. Fry in medium heat for 5 minutes, turning once. Fry in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan.
  4. Remove the pork pieces and drain on a paper towel for a few minutes.
  5. Add a tsp of oil to the wok and stir fry the pineapple and capsicum, cooking them for 2 minutes. Return the fried pork belly to the pan.
  6. Give the sauce a good stir and pour the sauce into the pan and stir till well coated.
  7. Mix corn starch with 2 tsp cold water to form a slurry. Pour into the hot pan and stir to thicken sauce.
  8. Serve with hot rice.

Truffle Pate and Beef Dumplings


Truffle pate and beef dumplings

Truffle pate and beef dumplings

Truffle pate and beef dumplings

Truffle pate and beef dumplings

Truffle pate and beef dumplings

What’s your favourite dumpling flavours? For me it’s always been pork and chives as that’s what mum makes at home. When we go out for dinners though, we will get a variety: pork and cabbage, beef and onion etc but I’ve not made any with beef at home… Until this week!

This truffle and beef flavour is based on a yum cha dish – steamed beef mince balls with coriander – which is one of my favourite dishes to have at any yum char place. The truffle pate I’ve added is of course non-traditional, but it’s rather magical as the earthiness of truffle works so well in this recipe. We couldn’t get enough of them when I trialled the recipe in the weekend.

Pan-fried and then steamed; this is the perfect way of cooking these dumplings. The left overs went into my daughter’s lunch box the next day.

Definitely making more of these for the freezer, as part of our meal prep solutions.

What other flavours of dumplings have you tried? Let me know in comments!

Ingredients:
Dumplings

  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 small bunch coriander, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, grated
  • ginger, 5cm long, grated
  • 1 egg, size 7
  • 2 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp mirin (or Chinese wine)
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp potato starch
  • 2 Tbsp truffle pate
  • 2 tsp black pepper, grounded
  • 60 sheets (1 pack) dumpling wrapper


Vinegar-soy Dipping Sauce

  • 4 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Black vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Grate the garlic and ginger with a micropane and add to ground mince. Add all the ingredients in and stir to mix thoroughly.
  2. Add Truffle pate and mix well.
  3. In the mean time, take the dumpling wrappers out of the fridge and let it return to room temperature before starting to make the dumplings. They are more pliable when rested i.e. if you are greedy you can fit more into each dumpling.
  4. Take a little spoonful of filling and place it in the middle of the wrapper. Dip your finger into the bowl of water and wet the edges of the wrapper lightly.
  5. Fold the wrapper over the filling, forming a moon shape.
  6. Hold the dumpling in your left hand, like holding a taco.
  7. With your right index and middle fingers, flex the dough towards the left to form one pleat.
  8. Press the dough down together against your left thumb, which is just supporting the other side of the dumpling.
  9. Repeat 5 times. (There’s a short video on my Insta highlights, under “Savoury recipes” .)

Here are 2 ways of cooking dumplings, both delicious! The pan-fried way produces dumplings that have more bite in the wrapper which we quite enjoy.

If you aren’t ready to cook them all, you can freeze them in trays. Just dust with plenty of flour to ensure they don’t stick to the bottom of the tray or box. Once frozen, you can store them in sealed bags too. Cook from frozen, never defrost!


For boiled dumplings:

Fill half of a large pot or saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. (note not to fill over two-thirds of the pot as you will be adding more water later on.) Add 1 tsp salt to the water and add 30 dumplings in, be careful not to over crowd the pot.
When the water returns to a boil, pour in half a cup of cold water and wait for it to return to a boil. At this point, you add a second half cup of cold water. This is repeated until you have added water three times in total and the water has returned to a full boil. The dumplings are ready! Repeat to cook the rest of the dumplings, if not freezing for later.

Pan fried dumplings:

Heat a large pan with 2 tsp of oil. When the pan is hot, place dumplings in, flat bottoms down, in a circular pattern. Cook on medium high for 1-2 minutes till the bottom is nicely crisp. Pour in hot water that goes to a third of the height of the dumplings. Note: it will bubble like mad! Cover with lid and let it cook for 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Keep an eye on it to make sure the water hasn’t evaporated too quickly. Once the water has evaporated, a lattice skin will form on the bottom of the pan. Take it off the heat, and carefully place a plate over the dumplings. Flip the pan while holding the plate with the other hand so that the cooked dumplings are transferred over to the plate entirely, without breaking the lattice skin. (Imagine flipping an upside down cake on a plate) If flipping isn’t an option, just remove dumplings with tongs.

For the vinegar-soy dipping sauce, mix ingredients together and serve alongside warm dumplings.

Truffle pate and beef dumplings

Why We Continually Use HelloFresh Food Delivery (+ NZ $90 off discount when ordering through me! )


HelloFresh meals

(Beef & Mushroom Red Pesto Penne with Parmesan)

HelloFresh meals

(Tex-Mex Chicken & Roast Veggie Toss with Garlic-Lemon Yoghurt)

HelloFresh meals

(Mexican Pulled Pork Tacos with Shredded Cheddar Cheese)

HelloFresh meals

(Hoisin Beef & Garlic Rice Bowl
With Lime & Mint)

HelloFresh meals

(Caramised Pork & Garlic Rice with Zesty Tomato & Cucumber Salad)

[Note: we received a meal kit as a gift. ]

Over the years, there has been a steady increase in the number of online companies delivering meal kits to households NZ-wide. From a simple but fulsome range of veges and fruits from the farm to your door, fresh pasta delivery, budget meals aimed at young school leavers, meat boxes, fresh fish (literally still swimming in the sea the morning of delivery day) to full variety meal plans for small to large family and also meals that have been part prepped with sauces already made for you.

We tried all of them. They all brought something unique, and there were small points of difference. Many of my friends regularly use them. However, it wasn’t enough to keep us on long term.

HelloFresh on the other hand, has ticked the boxes for our family and we have continued to use it because it allows me to choose what I am going to have for dinner. For our small family, this is what sets them apart from other meal kits.

This has been the main niggle I have with other services: On a week night, I simply don’t have the energy or patience to persuade the family to eat a dish, designed albeit by chefs and nutritionists alike, that is new or with ingredients that has not often graced our dinner table for one reason or another.

Don’t get me wrong, we are all for adventures and trying new things, but on weeknights, I choose the path of least resistance.

To me, this is the beauty of HelloFresh: I show my daughter the upcoming weeks’ menus (three weeks’ worth are available to preview) and she decides what she would like to try. Amazingly, she picked things that I didn’t think she would. TBH we don’t use this every week – we plan ahead and choose the weeks according to our needs or taste preference.

These boxes were super handy during our COVID19 lockdown – I was the least stressed the week I knew food was coming. Going forward, it will be a useful service that gives us back our time.

What has HelloFresh done to improve their offering even more? I’m glad you asked 😉 – from 12 August,

  • they are streamlining the prices and my Classic plan price is reducing – thus making their meal plans more affordable
  • increasing the choices by making all Classic, Family and Vegetarian meals available across your order! You can now choose from 20 different options
  • Additional sides are available, such as desserts, soups, bread and also a Fruit Kit!

These changes make it a straight forward choice for us when choosing a meal delivery service. We will be ordering more definitely.

Head over to their website, and enter in my code (HDA3311) at check out for a $80 discount off your order ($30 off both your first and second orders, then $10 off both your third and forth orders.) plus free delivery on your first order.

ps. The links are affiliated. What this means is I will receive a small commission for every new HelloFresh customer using the link and code. Thanks in advance! I only post affiliated links when I am happy to pay for the products myself. Always.

Easy Bagels


Bagels

Bagels

Bagels

As the markets are now closed due to the COVID19 lockdown, we haven’t been able to enjoy some of our favourite products for weeks. Specialty dumplings, sauerkraut, gozleme… and also bagels. I happen to have high grade flour, peacefully bought before the lockdown, so I set to work over Easter.

These New York-style bagels didn’t require much work at all, and turned out pretty fun as well. Each proof was only a measly 20 minutes and a tiny amount of yeast was called for. Try make them bigger (into 6) or smaller (into 10) and that will serve as lunch or for snacking. A pretty good lockdown recipe I would say, considering how flour and yeast are such a hard-to-come-by commodity at the moment.

I’ve played with 2 types of toppings here, a homemade ‘everything’ topping and one for the onion and cheese lovers. Feel free to scale up for future bagel action.

Ingredients

Makes 8

Dough

  • 3/4 tsp instant dried yeast
  • 240ml water, luke warm
  • 450g bread flour (also known as High Grade flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp maple syrup

Bi carb soak

  • 1 Tbsp baking soda
  • Large pot of water

Everything bagel sprinkle

  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp black sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds

Cheese sprinkle

  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese, grated

Method

  1. In a small bowl, add luke warm water and yeast and set aside.
  2. Add flour, salt, olive oil and maple syrup to a standmixer bowl. Add in the warm water with yeast. Mix together and then knead with a dough hock attachment for 5 minutes. The dough should be springy to the touch.
  3. Remove dough and divide into 8 pieces. Roll into smooth balls and cover with an oiled cling film. Leave to proof in a warm place for 20 minutes.
  4. Push a hole with your fingers through the middle of each ball, stretching as you go. This forms a dough ring.
  5. Cover with oiled cling film and let them proof for another 20 minutes in a warm place.
  6. Preheat the oven to 250C.
  7. Into a large pot of gently boiling water, add the baking soda.
  8. Place bagels, 3 at a time, into the bi carb soak. Cook each side for a minute. Remove and drain on a cooling rack.
  9. Sprinkle the bagel toppings on the bagels, pressing them in if you need to. Alternatively, you can place the sprinkle ingredients in a shallow bowl and dip the bagels in. You’ll need to beware of the heat though.
  10. Repeat until all bagels have had a soak and toppings added.
  11. Place bagels on a lined baking tray and bake for 8 minutes.
  12. Reduce the heat to 225C and bake for another 6 minutes.
  13. Cool on a wire rack. Serve with cream cheese, salted butter for breakfast or as a snack. These are freezable too!

Bagels

Braised pork belly, leek and noodle with vinegar broth


Slow cooked pork belly with noodles in vinegar broth

This is one of J’s all-time favourite year-round dish. Using the pressure cooker, it takes only 35 minutes for the pork belly to become soft and meltingly tender. The soup is fragrant from peppercorns and bay leaf, with the big and bold vinegar taste adding depth to the soup. The key here is to use a good broth, such as Simon Gault’s beef or chicken concentrated stock pouches (not sponsored to say this, I always have these in my pantry).

Slow cooked pork belly with noodles in vinegar broth

Always pour the soup in just as you are ready to serve to avoid soggy noodles.

If you have enough pourers, you can serve the soup in individual vessels and let each person add their own portion of soup into the bowl. (We’ve just picked up our handmade ceramic pourers from a Christmas workshop and they are perfect for this!)

Slow cooked pork belly with noodles in vinegar broth

Slurping is unavoidable and would bring smiles to the chef.

Slow cooked pork belly with noodles in vinegar broth

Ingredients

Meat & soup

  • 1kg free range pork belly, boneless, with skin
  • 3 tbsp rice bran or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 leek, white stalk section – washed and cut into thick rings. Green stalk section – chop into half.
  • 2 spring onions, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 big slices of ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups chicken or beef stock
  • ½ cup chinese black vinegar
  • ¼ cup light soy sauce
  • 4 medium sized eggs (optional)

Noodles:

  • 200g ’00’ flour or just plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 egg yolks +1 yolk
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

To serve:

2 spring onions, green part only, thinly sliced

Soft boiled eggs (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a pressure cooker over a high heat. Add peppercorns, bay leaves, leeks, spring onion, ginger and garlic and fry for a minute.
  2. Add pork and fry each side till golden.
  3. Pour in stock, soy sauce and black vinegar and bring to the boil. Close the pressure cooker lid, ensuring it is locked in.
  4. Set it to high pressure and cook for 35 minutes. When the cook time has been reached, release pressure. Don’t remove the lid straight away, let the pork rest in the pressure cooker for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove lid from pressure cooker, remove pork and set aside.
  6. Place a sieve over a deep saucepan and pass the braising liquid through and into the pan. Heat and reduce the sauce until slightly syrupy (about 10 mins). Adjust flavor to taste by adding extra sugar, light soy or hot water.

*we sometime serve this soup with a soft boiled egg, as you sometimes would for Japanese ramen noodle soup. Place eggs into a pot with cold water and bring to a boil. Once it boils, turn off the heat, cover and leave for 2 minutes. Remove immediately after and place into iced water to cool completely. Peel shells and set aside.

Egg noodles

  1. Place flour and salt in a bowl. Add eggs, yolk and oil. Stir with a fork until mixture forms a dough. Place onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Cover with a tea towel and rest for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Using a pasta machine, beginning on the widest setting, work the dough through. Repeat down to the second or third setting. Use the thinnest cutter to make thin noodles and toss in flour.
  3. Bring to the boil a large saucepan of salted boiling water. Boil noodles for 3 minutes, refresh in iced water and drain well.

*Alternatively, use packets of noodles from Asian supermarkets and cook according to packet instructions.

To serve, thinly slice pork to 1cm thick slices (you may want to cut off the fatty skin). Divide noodles between serving bowls, place 3 slices of pork, blanched vegetables, a soft boiled egg and spring onions, and pour over the reduced braising liquid.

It looks like this before closing the lid on the pressure cooker:

Braised pork belly and leek noodle soup

Slow cooked pork belly with noodles in vinegar broth