Category Archives: Recipes – Monday Dinners

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

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

Borscht soup, Hong Kong style 羅宋湯


Borscht soup, Hong Kong style

Borscht soup, Hong Kong style

Borscht soup, Hong Kong style

Borscht soup, Hong Kong style

The other night the topic of food trends came up at home. S and I talked about the food we had in our teenage years and shared with J, our fond memories of Hong Kong restaurants that were born out of the then-growing western influence in the 1980s. Their menus typically include pasta, pizza and grilled meats. Often, there will be set menus (which is still a very common thing to have on all restaurant menus) that goes typically like this:

1) choice of soup: soup of the day, creamy mushroom (“white” soup), tomato borscht type soup (“red” soup)

2) main of grilled meats (chicken thigh, pork chops and beef rump, or a mixture) with choice of pasta, potatoes/vegetables or rice. You also get to choose between a black peppercorn, belchamel or tomato sauce.

3) coffee or tea, and of course the “combination” drink yin yeung.

Sometimes you also get for dessert a small bowl of jelly or ice cream served in a tiny aluminium bowl.

This became in my mind, the iconic western meals in the 1980s to 1990s for the previous British colony. A step up from the cha chaan teng, which serves the more basic Hong Kong fare, like macaroni soup, pineapple buns and “stocking” milk tea.

For 99% of the time I will choose the borscht soup, which is an adapted version of the Russian Ukrainian tomato soup. It doesn’t normally have beets, and can have a variety of stable vegetables from any Hong Kong vege market. It’s the most popular soup in my childhood days, and is now J’s favourite soup.

My mum makes this with oxtail or beef shin. I’ve been able to source end-cuts of parma or prosciutto and prefers that now for the depth in flavour it adds to the soup (one time I didn’t use prosciutto and S and J both asked me about the lack of flavour. Seriously!) You can also use bacon or ham bones too.

This soup tastes better when cooked for longer. Cook on the stove for a few hours, in a crock pot, Instant Pot or a thermos, it will all work!

This quantity easily serves 5-6 people.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, cut into large chunks
  • 2 carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 2 small potatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into large chunks (I sometimes leave out)
  • 1/2 cabbage, cut into large chunks
  • 1 can of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 50g tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp beef stock (I use Simon Gault’s)
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 300g parma ham, end cut or substitute with other meats like beef shin, oxtail
  • 2 – 3 litres of water

Instructions

  1. Lightly oil a hot pan, sautée the onions, carrots and celery. Transfer into a large soup pot (I use a Thermos pot, similar to a Crock Pot, except it has no heating function).
  2. Add potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, tomato paste, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce and parma ham into the soup pot.
  3. Add enough boiling water to cover, about 2 litres, and bring it to a boil.
  4. Let it boil for 15 minutes and then turn it down to a simmer for 2 hours. If using a thermos cooker or Crock Pot, after the initial boiling, transfer that into the thermos/Crock Pot and let it continue to cook for a few hours. I often prepare this the night before and leave it to cook overnight.
  5. It’s ready when the cabbages and other vegetables are soft. Taste and add salt as required.

Borscht soup, Hong Kong style

Chawanmushi 茶碗蒸し


Chawanmushi - Japanese savoury egg custard

Shiitake mushroom chawanmushi

Shiitake mushroom chawanmushi

Shiitake mushroom chawanmushi

Shiitake mushroom chawanmushi

Shiitake mushroom chawanmushi

Little tiny dishes with delicately plated ingredients, perfect execution of cooking and tastes of deliciousness. I love Japanese meals that are presented as several courses, and especially when they integrate well, following naturally from one to the next.

One iconic dish, Chawanmushi, is often served as part of the course. This savoury egg custard is cooked with a fragrant dashi broth, hiding amongst it treasures to be revealed when you dig in. Made with delicate and seasonal ingredients, the best ones are silky smooth and very light. The dashi broth is very important as it is the unique flavour of Japanese food. I used packets of dashi powder mixed with water.

Dashi

Until recently, fresh Shiitake mushrooms were not commonly found in New Zealand. This is key to Asian cooking and I’m excited that Meadow Mushrooms, the 50 year old mushroom producer in NZ has extended their range to include these now. Grown on sawdust logs which have been inoculated with Shiitake mushroom spores, these grow quickly and are harvested in 14 days. They are bold in flavour, with a strong umami taste adding depth to most dishes.

Here I have also added wakame and fish cake. Other fillings such as prawns, crab meat, clams, small pieces of chicken thighs and onion slices are also excellent options. Traditionally steamed, you can also cook this in a water bath.

Using all my small sized cups and ramekins, I made mini portions. They were 60ml to 80ml each and I made seven with these quantities below. Increase your steaming time by 3 minutes if your bowls are larger.

Ingredients

  • 400ml water
  • 1 x 8g packet dashi powder
  • 3 eggs (180g)
  • 1.5 tsp soy sauce
  • 1.5 tsp cooking Sake or mirin
  • 2 tsp dried wakame
  • 4-5 Shiitake mushrooms, sliced and halved
  • 14 thin slices of Japanese fish cake

Instructions

  1. Using a measuring jug, make up dashi stock. Add wakame to rehydrate it within the stock.
  2. Lightly beat the eggs and strain it through a sieve into the dashi stock, to remove any clumps of egg. This helps with the smoothness of the dish, ensuring no clumps or air pockets inside the custard. Add soy sauce and cooking sake.
  3. Place your fillings in the chawanmushi cups, reserving a few pieces of mushroom and fish cake for the top.
  4. Pour egg mixture into chawanmushi cups.
  5. On top of the mixture, add 2 small pieces of Shiitake mushrooms and a piece of fish cake, allowing it to float.
  6. Using a bamboo steamer over a wok, gently steam chawanmushi cups on low for 12 minutes. (mine were tiny 60ml to 80ml portions so steamed quickly. If you are making bigger portions, steam for 15 mins).
  7. If not using a bamboo steamer, where water vapor is allowed to escape, use aluminum foil to cover the tops of each cup to prevent condensation from dripping into the cups. You can also wrap a large clean tea towel around the steamer lid to contain the condensation from the steaming.
  8. Insert a wooden toothpick to check if it has cooked through. They are ready if clear juice comes out.
  9. Serve warm.

Shiitake mushroom chawanmushi

Soba noodles with a Basil, Cardamom and Coriander lime sauce


Soba noodles with Basil, Coriander, Cardamon, garlic and lime dressing

Soba noodles with Basil, Coriander, Cardamon, garlic and lime dressing

Soba noodles with Basil, Coriander, Cardamon, garlic and lime dressing

Soba noodles with Basil, Coriander, Cardamon and lime vinegrette

A few weeks ago I went to a pottery workshop in beautiful Titirangi, Auckland New Zealand. They served a delightful vegetarian lunch and one of the dishes served was from Yotam Ottenlenghi‘s SIMPLE. The cookbook is filled with really easy recipes and after tasting this soba dish, I just had to remake it at home.

My recipe below is an adaptation of the original recipe, as J is allergic to pistachios and avocados are out of season. We also don’t have Nigella seeds so have used chilli flakes instead. This is optional.

Love the tanginess of the lime, but mostly, I am blown away by the cardamom. Feel free to up the cardamom quantities, I have been quite liberal with it myself! You should have left over dressing with the quantities below, which is great stored in a jar for a second meal.

Ingredients

  • 250g buckwheat soba noodles
  • ½ tsp of cardamom seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 35g (1 cup) basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 35g (1 cup) coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 3 limes: slightly press and roll limes on the bench surface. Finely grate for 2 tsp zest, then juice to get 80ml.
  • Extra lime, cut into 4 wedges, to serve
  • 5 tbsp olive or avocado oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 drops of garlic essence (optional)
  • 1 red or green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced (optional)
  • 2 ripe avocados, deseeded and cut into thin slices (optional)
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional), to sprinkle over
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet.
  2. Once cooked, drain into a colander and rinse under cold running water. Set aside in the colander to drain well.
  3. Crush the cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle (if using pods, open for seeds and discard the outer husks).
  4. Place the crushed cardamom seeds in a mixing jug with the basil, coriander, lime zest and juice, oil, garlic, chilli, avocado (if using) and 1 tsp salt.
  5. Place noodles in a large mixing bowl and pour dressing in. Mix everything together well, taste and add more seasoning if needed.
  6. Serve platter style. Sprinkle over the chilli flakes, if using, and serve with a wedge of lime.

Soba noodles with Basil, Coriander, Cardamon, garlic and lime dressing