Category Archives: Recipes – Asian

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.

Hong Kong Paper Wrapped mini sponge cakes 紙包蛋糕

Hong Kong Paper Wrapped Sponge Cake

Hong Kong Paper Wrapped Sponge Cake

Hong Kong Paper Wrapped Sponge Cake

Hong Kong Paper Wrapped Sponge Cake

After having regular checkups at the Orthodontist in the past 2 years, J’s finally ready to be fitted with braces. With that, we need to have a think about our meals with her new requirements in mind.

Soft foods, easy to eat. No super crunchy or hard to chew things that will risk breaking the brackets glued to her teeth. This is especially for the few days straight after each 6-8 weekly checkup where they adjust the individual brackets, and when her gums will be a bit swollen.

We talked about the different things we can have in her lunch box, and this easy sponge cake came up in the conversation. Soft and pillowy, this is perfect for her.

This one is a nod to my childhood, where fancy buttercream or fondant cakes weren’t prevalent, with a good sponge cake being the absolute gold standard for all occasions. Specifically, layered sponge cakes dressed up with whipped cream and seasonal fruits (think about all the mango cream sponges and berries and cream cakes!) They are still popular in Hong Kong, and very much part of the food cultural fabric.

To make those cakes you can easily use this recipe and bake it in a normal cake pan, add whipped cream along with seasonal fruits. Easy. We’ve made after-school-snack-portions here with tall moulds, just like the ones in my childhood days, and you can also use other baking tins, just find something that is quite tall and deep. Perfect lunch box item – sans cream of course!


Makes 8

  • 55g unsalted butter, melted (Lewis Road Creamery)
  • 60ml milk
  • 100g low gluten flour
  • 5 eggs (size 7)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 80g caster sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Separate egg yolks and whites into 2 separate bowls.
  3. In a large bowl, place melted butter and milk together, whisk lightly.
  4. Add sifted flour, vanilla extract and egg yolks to the butter mixture. Mix well, ensuring there are no lumps.
  5. Using an electric whisk or stand mixer, whisk egg whites till foamy and add in cream of tartar. Continue whisking, then slowly rain in the sugar. Whisk until the whites form stiff peaks.
  6. Add 2 tablespoons of the beaten egg whites into the flour batter to loosen up the mixture. Fold in 1/3 of the beaten whites into the batter, then the second third and then the last of the whites.
  7. Pour into lined cake tins, only filling 2/3s of the pan (it will rise quite a lot) and bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Cool on a wire rack and keep in an air tight container.

Hong Kong Paper Wrapped Sponge Cake

Chinese Turnip Cake 蘿蔔糕

Chinese Turnip Cake 蘿蔔糕

Chinese Turnip Cake 蘿蔔糕

Chinese Turnip Cake 蘿蔔糕

Chinese Turnip Cake 蘿蔔糕

I have fond memories of making delicious food with my mum and grandmother around Chinese New Year. When making Turnip cake, Mum always put copious amounts of sausage and mushrooms and I got so used to that ratio, that I would snub other store- bought ones in favour of hers.

This is one of my favourite Chinese New Year celebration dishes. It’s not just for Chinese New Year though – you can have it year round and quite often at yum cha too.

The recipe says to chop and grate the turnip. The reason for this is purely for texture. You can really taste the sweet turnip with the thicker strips and the grated portion contributes to the overall sturdiness of the cake.

As the batter will be really sticky, I highly recommend cooking this in a non stick pan, rice cooker or even the pot of the pressure cooker, which is what I used. The clean up is so much easier!

Highly non-traditional, is the use of a sharp edged tray to cook these in. This is to facilitate equal sized pieces and hasten the preparation of all welcoming dishes before guests arrive. You can make them in many types of pans: round baking pans, rectangular loaf pans and if they are for gifting, make them in foil trays so they can be transported easily.

Wrap any left overs with food wrap and place in a sealed container. It will keep well refrigerated for up to 5 days.

800g chinese Turnip 白蘿蔔
170g rice flour 粘米粉
30g wheat starch 澄麵
4 Chinese sausages (about 120g), diced
8 Chinese mushrooms 冬菇 (soaked 240g), diced
5 dried scallops 60g, chopped
2 shallots, diced
3/4 cup Chicken stock (I use Gault’s)


  1. Peel the skin off the turnip. Grate half into a bowl, and chop the rest into fine strips (around 0.5cm)
  2. Oil your steaming pans.
  3. Mix the flours in a bowl, set aside.
  4. In a hot pan, fry the diced sausages, mushroom and scallops for a few minutes, until fragrant. Remove from pan and set aside.
  5. Add a tablespoon of oil in the pan and fry the shallots until fragrant. Add turnip and cook for a few minutes, then add chicken stock, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the turnip is soft.
  6. Turn off the heat and add in flours in a quick motion. Stir to create a semi cooked batter. It should be thick and not watery.
  7. Add the cooked sausages, mushroom and scallop, stir to mix well (you can also reserve some of this cooked mixture and layer it on the top).
  8. Pour mixture into your oiled steaming pans and steam on high for 45 to 60 minutes. It’s done when there are no opaque batter when poked with a toothpick.
  9. Cool thoroughly for it to harden.
  10. Slice into 1 to 1.5 cm pieces and pan fry both sides till golden.
  11. Serve with sriracha hot sauce or XO sauce.

Chinese Turnip Cake 蘿蔔糕

Chinese New Year cake 新年年糕

Chinese New Year cake

Chinese New Year cake

Chinese New Year cake

Chinese New Year is coming early this year (25 January 2020 instead of the usual February timeframe). With just a week before the first day of the Lunar New Year, I thought I’d better get some of the traditional celebration food items ready.

Now traditionally these steamed cakes are made in round pans, then cut into thin slices before the last bit of pan frying. I thought, since the end game is to have relatively similar sized pieces for ease of cooking, why don’t I use a rectangular loaf pan? That way I can cut pieces of the same size throughout, easily. Unconventional I know, with the use of a sharp-edged loaf pan, as the Chinese uses the round shape for its auspicious meaning of fulfillment, completeness and unity. I made a little round one to satisfy tradition but am not afraid to break from it.

These are sticky when it first comes out of the steamer; allow it to cool for a good few hours in the fridge to firm up. This will make it much easier to cut. It will look opaque when it is cold. Don’t fret: once pan fried, the cake softens, turns slightly transculent and is so moreish and lovely to eat. It’s not overly sweet either, and is the perfect sweet dish to serve any guests who come to wish you well/ “bai nin” 拜年.

I’ve shown the Chinese translation of some of the ingredients below, just in case you need it to find the right kind.

These cakes symbolizes a pay rise or promotion in the coming year. Happy New Year!


  • 320g Glutinous flour 糯米粉
  • 115g Wheat starch 澄麵粉
  • 400ml water
  • 400g Chinese brown cane sugar (rectangular pieces) 片糖
  • 130ml coconut cream
  • 30g Rice Bran oil
  • Egg, beaten, for frying

Makes 1 large 6 inch cake or
1 small 4 inch and a bread loaf pan


  1. Sieve flours into a bowl and set aside.
  2. In a deep saucepan, add water and bring to a boil. Add sugar and dissolve. Add coconut cream and rice bran oil. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Add flours in small portions to the sugar syrup, all the while stiring. Ensure mixture is homogenous and lump free. If required, push mixture through a sieve to remove all lumps.
  4. Oil your choice of cake pan(s) and line with baking paper. Pour the cake mixture in and steam over a high heat till fully cooked, 65 to 75 minutes. I place a round steaming rack on the bottom of my wok, add hot water right up to the bottom of the pan and cover it with the lid to steam. Remember to check often and add hot water to the wok from time to time, to maintain the water level – be careful not to let the water run dry. Test with a skewer to ensure the centre isn’t watery.
  5. Remove from the steaming station to cool. Leave in the fridge to harden for a few hours. This will make it easier to slice.
  6. Slice into 1 cm thick pieces. Beat an egg in a bowl and dip each piece of steamed cake in the egg to coat.
  7. Pan fry both sides till golden and the cake has softened.

Chinese New Year cake

Hainanese Chicken Rice

As I nibbled and drank my way around the Auckland Food Show preview day, one thought hrough my head the entire time: what was I going to cook for dinner that night? I knew it would be something from the show and there were plenty of ideas and options: Venison burger, kumara hash brown, falafel wraps, pizzas, roast chicken and lamb medallions. What should I make? I wanted something warm and comforting, and easy to do with minimal stove time as I will need to pack away my purchases as well.

The idea came after I picked up some organic whole chickens from Bostocks Brothers and Good Chow first brew soy sauce – Hainanese Chicken Rice made in the Thermomix.

Bostock Brothers is based in Hawke’s Bay, and they are the only commercial organic chicken producer in the country. Their chickens live on their spacious apple orchard and you should go watch their videos – I call them the “happy chickens”- with ample roaming range. Bostock Brothers’ process also doesn’t involve any chemicals, antibiotics, hormones nor genetic modification. We think their chickens taste superior. #notanad #justliketheproduct

I also used Simon Gaults’ chicken stock and managed to cook the chicken, rice and soup together, without needing to supervise the cooking much.

It is almost as easy without using the Thermomix. Just poach the chicken in a gentle simmer for 60 minutes in a large pot of chicken stock along with all the ingredients, and cook the rice in a large saucepan separately.

Serve with hot soup, fragrant rice and a touch of coriander.

Hainanese Chicken Rice

  • 1 whole chicken, about 1.5kg
  • 2 tsp Chinese wine
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 spring onion
  • 8 large slices of ginger
  • 2 shallots, peeled
  • 1 tbsp neutral oil, rice bran or grapeseed
  • 400g jasmine rice
  • Salt to taste
  • 1-1.5 L chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1-2 pandan leaves (optional)


  1. Mix Chinese wine, salt, pepper and sesame oil in a small bowl. Rub this all over the chicken and inside cavity. Stuff 2 cloves of the garlic, 2 of the spring onions and 3 slices of the ginger inside the chicken’s cavity and place into the Varoma dish lined with 3 slices of the ginger and 2 spring onions to help with flavour and steam circulation. Set aside.
  2. Place remaining garlic, ginger, shallots and neutral oil into mixing bowl (chop on speed 8 for 8 seconds if you haven’t pre-chopped everything) and sauté for 2 min/Varoma/Reverse/speed 2.
  3. Add rice and sauté for 2 min/100ºC/Reverse/speed 2.
  4. Add about a tsp of salt or to taste. Remove from mixing bowl and set aside in the steaming basket.
  5. Place 1L of chicken or vegetable stock into the mixing bowl. Set Varoma into position and steam for 45 min/Varoma/speed 3 (longer if your chicken is larger than 1.5kg).
  6. Remove Varoma and set aside. Top up chicken stock to 1L. Insert basket of rice with pandan leaves. Return Varoma dish with chicken to position and cook for a further 15 min/Varoma/speed 3.
  7. Once done, carefully lift chicken out and deconstruct on a large plate. Serve with rice and chilli sauce, Good Chow soy sauce and kecap manis (sweet soy sauce).
  8. Taste the soup, and add enough hot water to taste (as it will be concentrated). Ladle soup into bowls and serve.

General Tips

  • To make a quick sauce to pour over chopped chicken, mix 3 tsp Good Chow first brew soy sauce with 2 tbsp hot water, ½ tsp sesame oil and ¼ tsp sugar and mix well.
  • You can add some vegetables to steam in the last 5-10 minutes of the steaming, if desired.