Category Archives: Recipes – Monday Dinners

Hand-shredded chicken with Japanese roasted sesame sauce


Who doesn’t love juicy, succulent chicken? Especially when it is cooked healthily with minimal effort? This dish only takes 20 minutes to make too – perfect for weeknights. By keeping the skin on the chicken while it’s steaming it helps retain the moisture of the chicken. I’ve used store bought Japanese roasted sesame sauce here. Previously I have tried mixing my own, using sesame paste, sugar and vinegar for a Sichuan flavour sauce. It isn’t as tasty as this Japanese style sauce though! So I’ve given in. I’m all for letting J participate in the makings of a dish. This one I let her pour in the sesame sauce just as we are about to serve it, she loves her ‘job’!

Ingredients

4 boneless chicken thigh cutlets or chicken breasts, skin on
1/4 telegraph cucumber, julienned
2 spring onion, whites only, juilenned
A handful of coriander, leaves only, washed and dried
About 4 tbsp Japanese roasted sesame sauce (more if you prefer a stronger taste)

Instructions
Marinate the chicken with 3 tbsp light soy sauce, 1.5 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp corn flour, 1 tbsp of shao shing wine (or sherry).

Steam the chicken in a wok for 10 minutes.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare your vegetables and place in a bowl.
Remove the chicken and let it cool a bit.
Put on some disposable gloves (making sure there is no powder on the gloves! Or wash your gloved hands). Remove the chicken skin and tear the chicken meat into strips, following along its natural contours.
Pile into the bowl with the vegetables.
Pour over sesame sauce.
Mix and serve.
Simple. Easy. Delicious.

Thai Beef Salad


This is another all-time favourite in our household. It looks so vibrant in a glass bowl you just want to dig in straight away. It is also quick and easy to prep and cook, making it an ideal weekday dinner when you have no amount of spare time. If you only have 15 minutes, you could have the vegetables sliced and diced the night before, and have the sauce prepared and bottled in the fridge ready to go. This way, all you are doing when you get home is cooking the steak, the carbohydrate that goes with it (rice of course) and then plating up. Simple!

Ingredients

300g Beef Sirloin, 1 inch thick cuts
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges and then halved
1/2 cucumber, sliced
1/4 red onion, sliced into small strips
1 small shallot, diced
1-2 spring onions, julienne
handful of coriander leaves
6-8 mint leaves
1 Kaffir lime leaf (optional)

Sauce

Juice of 3 limes
2 Tbsp fish sauce
3 Tbsp palm sugar, shaved
1 red chilli, sliced (optional)

Instructions

Prepare your vegetables: chop the tomatoes, slice the cucumbers, slice the red onion, juliene the spring onions, pick the coriander leaves, wash and dry them, roll up the kaffir lime leaf and thinly slice through.

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Prepare your sauce by mixing it all together.

Heat a pan. Season both sides of your sirloin with salt, pepper and rub all over with 1 tsp of oil. When the pan is hot, place the sirloin in and cook for 3 minutes on each side. This will be medium to medium rare. Remove from pan and rest on a plate for 6 minutes.

On a slight angle, thinly slice the sirloin.

Mix the sirloin with the vegetables and sauce. Taste and adjust by adding more lime, fish sauce or shaved palm sugar. Tear the mint leaves at the last minute and mix through.

Seafood Chowder


I learnt this easy seafood chowder from watching Masterchef Australia. Fleur Sullivan, the chef, is from NZ!

This seafood chowder is made with roux, a mixture of flour and butter. I’ve modified this recipe a bit to reduce the amount of butter to make it lighter. You can pretty much add any seafood in as you like, using any in season, fresh produce you can find locally. Choose a firm type of fish, like Hapuka, which is a grouper in NZ. You can also use little neck clams, scallops or mussels.

Ingredients
150g butter
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
150g plain flour
100ml white wine
140g tomato paste (equivalent to 1 tub of tomato paste)
2 litres seafood* or fish stock, warmed
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 bay leaves
Celery stalk, 10cm piece
1 stalk fresh thyme
300g Harpuka or Basa, diced
20 prawns, shelled and deveined
2 squid tube, cleaned and scored, cut int strips

*The seafood stock is one I’ve made earlier with the heads of scampi heads boiled down with “the holy trinity” vege trio – onions, carrots and celery (Mirepoix in French). This vegetable mix is a very common starter for soups and stews. They are usually finely diced and then sautéed in oil or butter.

Instructions

In a large heavy based saucepan melt butter and add diced vegetables. Sweat for a few minutes but do not allow to colour.

Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes or until mixture has a sandy texture.

Slowly pour in the wine and tomato paste and bring together as it thickens to remove all the lumps.

Add the warmed stock slowly, stirring continuously, and drop in the herbs and spices.

Allow the chowder to come to the boil, and stir to keep the ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Add all the fish and shellfish and simmer until the shells begin to open and the fish is cooked through.

Serve with sourdough or ciabatta.

Vietnamese Beef Noodle Salad


I LOVE Vietnamese food. I can’t seem to get enough of it. On our last Christmas trip to Hong Kong we went for Vietnamese lunches for not once, not twice, but at least four times (mum correct me if I am wrong but that is all the photos are showing.) I’ve got to do something about that – make it at home!. This here is admittedly a summer dish – light and refreshing is what it is, so it wasn’t particularly fitting for a cold autumn dinner. It didn’t stop us from eating it all though, as it was so delicious!

The ingredients you need are relatively simple:

Ingredients

300g Rump or Sirloin beef, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber, juliened
1 cup of bean sprouts
a handful of mint leaves
1/4 cup crushed roasted peanuts
1/3 red capsicum, sliced
1 sping onion, juliened
2 stalks of lemon grass, whites only
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tbsp corn flour

Sauce

4 tbsp Fish sauce
4 tbsp palm sugar, shaved
2 tbsp shao xhing wine (or sherry)
juice of 2 limes

Instructions

Marinate the beef with the lemon grass, fish sauce and corn flour for 30 minutes.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and place the rice noodles in. Cook for 3-5 minutes, check to make sure they are cooked (and not over! Cooking times will vary with different brands, so always test it.) Drain and rinse in cool water. Drain again and set aside.

Heat the wok and add about 1 tbsp oil. Quickly stir fry the beef until it has just cooked (about 1 minute). Remove from pan and set aside.

Mix the bean sprouts, cucumber, spring onions and capsicum in a bowl.

Using tongs, pick up some rice noodles and place them on the bottom of a bowl or the centre of a plate. Place a handful of the vegetables on top, add some beef slices, some freshly torn mint leaves and a sprinkle of crushed peanuts.

Place the sauce in small bowls for each person to pour over the noodles.

Easy peasy! Are you making this today?

Chinese Poached Chicken


This is a dish where most of the cooking is done without spending too much time in front of the stove. You can work on your other dishes while this is cooking. Yes you have a bit of chopping and tearing to do in the end, but to me it is time well spent for a healthy, delicious and succulent dish. Chicken cooked like this remains very moist and tender. J loves this.

Ingredients:
1 size 14 whole chicken
2 litres chicken stock
2 teaspoon salt
8 whole black peppercorns
1 stalk of green onions, chopped into finger long lengths
5 slices of ginger
Enough water to cover the chicken

Dipping Sauce:
5 Tbsp oil
2 stalks of green onions, chopped into small thin rounds
4 slices of ginger, chopped into small pieces
3 tsp salt

Garnish (optional):
Cucumber ribbons
Coriander
Spring onions
Garlic chilli sauce
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Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking and cooling time: 1 hour and 10 minutes

Instructions:

1. Place the chicken, chicken stock, salt, peppercorns, green onions, ginger in a large stockpot and set it over high heat. Add enough water to cover the chicken.
2. Bring this to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer, and cook for about 1 hour until the chicken is still very tender. Skim the surface of any foam. (If you own a Thermos cooker, then you would bring this to a boil for 5 minutes, take it off the heat and place it in the outer shell of the Thermos cooker for an hour).
3. Remove the chicken and place in a large bowl. Chill it with cold water. Replace water a few times until the chicken has cooled down.
4. Once the chicken is cool to the touch, set it in a large bowl.
5. If you don’t like eating chicken skin, gently remove it and discard.
6. Remove the wings and drums off. Reserve for plating.
7. Tease the two breasts off the bones – they should come off quite easily if the chicken is cooked. (If there are any signs of an undercooked chicken, you can put the whole chicken in the microwave for a short 30 seconds to finish the cooking process.) Set aside.
8. Continue to remove all the meat off the bones. Discard all bones.
9. Slice the chicken meat into thin pieces. Plate up with wings and drums on the side.
10. Make your dipping sauce by heating the oil in a small pan. Add the chopped green onions, ginger and salt. Fry until it is fragrant, about 1 minute.
11. Pour this into a dipping sauce dish, and serve with chicken.
12. Best served with hot rice and optional garnish of cucumber ribbons, coriander, extra spring onions and hot chilli sauce.