Category Archives: Recipes – Monday Dinners

Spring onion pancakes


Chinese Spring onion pancakes 葱油餠

Sometimes we just crave simple food that brings back memories. For a simple meal, we often make rice congee and have stir fry noodles with it. The rice congee would take some time to prepare, in order for the rice grains to break down enough to be creamy. While that’s going, I can also prepare Spring Onion pancakes to go with the meal. They do not resemble the western pancakes though, as these are not light or fluffy. Instead, they are chewy and most definitely savoury in taste (you can also make sweet versions with red bean paste filling, another stunner!).

By bringing back this oldie, I’m creating memories with my daughter too. J loves rolling these out, and have recently discovered via the Woks of Life a shortcut to these crispy delights: using round store-bought wonton pastry, create 6 layer stacks of pastry, oil, salt and spring onions. Roll these out and pan fry on a dry pan. Super quick and I hope that she will remember these and make them in the future, be it traditional way or the shortcut!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups white flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tbsp Sesame Oil for the pancakes
  • 2 tsp fine salt
  • 1 bunch spring onions
  • Rice bran oil for the pan

Dough Instructions

  1. Mix flour with water until it forms a smooth dough. Knead by doubling the dough over and pressing it down repeatedly, until the dough is shiny, smooth and very elastic. Coat this ball of dough lightly in oil and put it back in the bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let the dough rest for about 30 minutes.
  2. Finely chop the spring onion. (I use both the green tops and the white parts.) Set them on your work surface along with a small bowl of salt.
  3. Time to roll out the dough – Cut the dough into 4 equal parts. Roll out one part of the dough on the board. Roll until it is a thin rectangle at least 20 x 15 cm.
  4. Lightly brush the surface of the dough with sesame oil, then sprinkle it evenly with chopped spring onions and salt.Chinese Spring onion pancakes
  5. Starting from the long end, roll the dough up tightly, creating one long log of rolled-up dough.
  6. Cut the dough log into two equal parts.
  7. Take one of these halves, coil into a round dough disc. Let it rest for at least 15 minutes and ideally longer, while you repeat this process with the rest of the dough.Chinese Spring onion pancakes
  8. With you hands, press down a rolled dough disc into a flat, smooth, round pancake. Flatten it further by rolling with a rolling pin.Chinese Spring onion pancakes
  9. Chinese Spring onion pancakes
  10. Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Place the pancake dough in the dry pan and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes.
  11. Flip the pancake over and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes on the other side, or until golden brown. Repeat with the rest of the pancake dough rolls.

To Serve
Cut the pancake into wedges with a sharp knife, and serve immediately. Serve with your usual dumpling sauce (soy and vinegar).

Recipe Notes
Oils: This recipe calls for oil in two different places: Once to make the filling, and once to fry the pancakes. For the filling, any neutral oil will do, but tasters (and I!) prefer sesame oil.

Make-Ahead Tip: If you would like to make a few pancakes but save the rest for later, you can save the dough in the fridge for up to 3 days and in the freezer. Just make sure the dough is oiled and well-covered. You can also roll out individual pancakes and stack them between well-oiled layers of baking paper.

Chinese Spring onion pancakes 葱油餠

HelloFresh…hello delicious (+ NZ 30% off discount when ordering through me! )


HelloFresh upcoming menu

HelloFresh upcoming menu

HelloFresh upcoming menu

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 preped with sauces already made for you.

They all brought something different, points of difference. Many of my friends regularly use them. However, it wasn’t enough to keep me on.

Note: This post isn’t sponsored, and I did not receive a meal kit in exchange for writing this post (as I sometimes do, I thought it proper to make the distinction.) The reason I wanted to write a post [tell the world] about it is because I have finally found a service that allows me to choose what I am going to have for dinner.

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 rarely graced our dinner tables 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 showed J 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.

Our delivery is still a week away, and I can’t wait to share our meals with you when I get to cook it.

They have a large market presence overseas in Europe and US, and has only just launched in NZ. Have a look over on their website, and enter in my code (HDA30) at check out for a 30% discount off your order. (With such a generous discount, it is definitely worth trying!)

I will share our thoughts about the meals later too! Follow me here on the blog and over on Instagram for more delicious adventures.

xxx

ps. photos here are screenshots of their menu, not my photos, as I have yet to cook them!!!

pps. The links have been updated in this post since May 2019 with an affiliated  link. What this means is I will receive a small commission for every new HelloFresh customer using the link and code. Thanks!

Pork and chinese cabbage dumplings


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J’s favourite dumplings are pork and chinese cabbage filled.

They require an extra step than their Pork and Chives cousin (check out that post and see how sweet J looks when she was a little younger).

Here, the Wong Bok (Chinese Cabbage) needs to be sliced, blanched in hot water and drained. Once cooled, I squeeze any water out of them. Don’t under estimate the amount of cabbage here, a whole cabbage goes into making 120 dumplings.

They are the perfect partner to beautiful pork mince, as their flavour is more neutral than chives. You also wouldn’t feel the need to brush your teeth and gargle with mouthwash 3 times after eating them.

J and I enjoy this time together, wrapping the little parcels. Below are photos with her showing you how the pleating is done. (scroll to the bottom for the recipe itself).

They are perfect for freezing (on a tray, dusted with a bit of flour); boiling, steaming and pan frying. I have included two cooking methods in the recipe below. Now, time to roll up your sleeves and get ready to wrap!

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Pork and Chinese Cabbage filling

  • 1kg lean pork mince
  • 1 large Chinese Cabbage (Wong Bok)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp chicken stock powder
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp shao xhing wine (or sherry)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp corn flour
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

Wraps

  • 2 packet of dumpling wrappers (120 pcs), these can be round or square shape. (Another post coming soon with a recipe for the wrappers.)
  • Small bowl of water, for sealing
  • Extra flour, for dusting

Directions

  1. Mix all of the filling ingredients together and let it marinate for 20 minutes.
  2. In the mean time, take the dumpling wrappers out of the fridge and let it return to room temperature before starting to make the dumpling. They are more pliable i.e. if you are greedy you can fit more into each dumpling.
  3. Take a little spoonful of filling and place it in the middle of the wrapper.
  4. Dip your finger into the bowl of water and wet the edge of the wrapper.
  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 stories, under Recipes – Salty.)
  10. 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 the dumplings in, be careful not to over crowd the pot.
  11. 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!
  12. For 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 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 in 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.)
  13. Serve with chilli oil, a tiny bit of soy sauce, sesame oil and Chinese vinegar.

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The Wong Bok was kindly gifted by The Fresh Grower. Thank you!

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


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.

    • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!