Easy Recipes

Pork and Prawn Wontons with Black Vinegar and Chilli Oil

I’ve been making this recipe since I was probably about 3. Like many kids who grow up in families who love to cook, you start with the most basic of cooking skills and build from there. From mixing the filling to forming the dumplings and cooking them, it’s the first recipe I remember my mother teaching me… and probably the last one I will forget . Over time, this recipe has evolved and that’s the beauty of it; once you understand the base recipe, you can customise it to your taste. Add chilli, XO, Chinese five spice, add mushrooms to the mix, like most great Chinese recipes, they’re open to a little free will and imagination.

Boil them, steam them or fry them, they’re a sure fire crowd pleaser. Click here to watch me make them while guest playing guest host on Studio 10, Australia’s favourite breakfast television show!

Ingredients

3 stalks shallots (scallions), green part finely chopped

1/2 bunch coriander, very thoroughly washed, stalks and roots very finely chopped, reserve leaves for garnish

1 thumb sized piece ginger, finely grated

1/2 small tin water chestnuts, coarsely chopped

150g green prawn meat, coarsely chopped

500g pork mince (nothing too lean as you need the fat content to make these babies succulent)

2 tbsp Kecap Manis

1 tbsp light soy sauce

1 tsp ground white pepper

Salt to taste

1 packet wonton wrappers

Dressing

1 tbsp Kecap Manis

2 tbsp Chinkiang Chinese black vinegar

1 tsp Lau Gan Ma chilli flakes in oil (from any Asian grocer)

Method

In a clean mixing bowl, combine the chopped shallots, coriander, grated ginger, chopped chestnuts, prawns and pork mince. Add the seasoning ingredients and mix well to combine.

Heat a small frypan with some vegetable oil to a medium high heat and fry off a teaspoon of mixture to check the seasoning. Once you have adjusted the dumpling mixture to your liking, you’re ready to make a batch!

Assemble the wontons by filling each wonton with about one teaspoon of mixture and sealing two adjacent sides with water to form a triangle. Make sure the edges are completely sealed to avoid unfortunate explosions if you fry, and to keep all the flavour and juiciness where it should be. If you want to get fancy, wet the two longest corners of the triangle and squeeze them together to make a tortellini shape (as pictured). Continue until all the mixture has been used up (though I love using this dumpling filling recipe as meatballs, or in a stir fry, too).

Heat a pan of water and place an oiled bamboo steamer on top. Steam the dumplings for 10 minutes or until the mixture is cooked through and the pastry is tender). While the dumplings are steaming, mix the dressing ingredients to taste. Dress the wontons in a bowl and then transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with more sauce and the reserved coriander leaves. 

Sticky Rice Lotus Parcels aka. Lo Mai Gai

Lo Mai Gai Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaves

I grew up going to Yum Cha every Sunday as a kid. Growing up in the very Anglo suburbs of Sydney, it was one of the traditions we had during the week where I felt we connected to our Chinese culture - unsurprisingly, it’s always about food. One of my favourite dishes is this one, little packages of sticky, fragrant lotus-scented rice, and succulent chicken and all kinds of other savoury, umami goodies packed within. Mum used to buy a few extra so we could take them to school, obviously I was THAT kid with the weird lunches (and proud of it, to this day).

Moving to Melbourne recently, the amount of Chinese grocers that stock these to take home and steam yourself are fewer and far between than Sydney, so I decided to learn how to make them myself. There are a heap of great recipes out there, and this one is an amalgam of a couple of the best, with a few amends of my own. These are great to make in a batch to store in the freezer, the perfect little savoury parcel of comfort food…and I can definitely vouch for the fact that they make a sustainably-packaged lunchbox all star.

For ingredients like dried lotus leaves, glutinous rice and any condiments your local supermarket doesn’t have (these days, the Asian grocery aisle is packed full of the staples you need), you can find them at any good Asian grocery store.

Makes about 8 parcels

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups glutinous rice

4 dried lotus leaves

6 dried shiitake mushrooms

1/4 cup dried shrimp

For the marinated chicken

2 chicken thighs

1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine (available in the Asian grocery aisle at the supermarket)

1 tbsp light soy

1 tbsp dark soy

1 tbsp oyster sauce

1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder

The rest

1 thumb sized piece ginger, finely sliced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 heaped tbsp mushroom XO

2 lap cheong (cured Chinese sausage, found in the Asian aisle at most supermarkets), sliced into 1cm pieces

Sesame oil

For the seasoning sauce

1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine

1 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tsp light soy

1 tbsp cornstarch

Vegetable oil

Salt flakes

White pepper, ground

Method

Rinse the rice thoroughly and then place in a rice cooker and cover with one knuckle of water, cover and cook. Cut the lotus leaves in quarters and soak in hot water for about 45 minutes, to soften. Soak the mushrooms and shrimp in separate bowls for half an hour in warm water. While the rice, leaves, mushrooms and shrimp are doing their thing, cut the chicken thighs into cubes, around 3cm. Place in a clean bowl and add the rice wine, soy sauces, oyster sauce and five spice and stir thoroughly, to combine. Set aside to marinate for 15-20 minutes. When the mushrooms and shrimp are soft, squeeze any excess moisture from them and give them a rough chop. Reserve about a cup of the combined mushroom/shrimp soaking water for later.

In a heavy based pan or wok on medium to high heat. Add about a teaspoon of vegetable oil, then add the chopped lap cheong and shrimp. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes until fragrant and bubbling, then remove from pan and set aside. Add another good slug of vegetable oil to the pan, then add the ginger and garlic, and stir fry briefly, to allow the flavours to infuse into the oil. Add the chicken and stir fry for 3 minutes (it will be ‘just’ cooked for now, but they will finish cooking once steamed in their parcels). Add the mushroom XO and a few drops of sesame oil, then stir to combine, then pour in the cup of reserved mushroom/shrimp water. Add the seasoning sauce ingredients; shaoxing, oyster and soy sauces, and stir to combine. Dissolve the cornstarch in a tablespoon of water and whisk into the sauce, to thicken. Add the lap cheong and shrimp mixture back to the pan, season with white pepper to taste and set aside (the mixture should be salty enough from the sauces).

Next, prepare the rice. Drain the sauce from the filling mixture and pour it into the rice, combine well.

When ready to assemble, trim the hard stem part of the lotus leaves to allow the parcels to fold easily. Place about a third of a cup or so of rice into the centre and flatten out to make a bed for your filling. Place a spoonful of the filling on top. Cover with about the same amount of rice, then fold in the two opposite sides of the parcel, then the other two, to form a sealed parcel. Flip over, so the edges are underneath, and set aside. Continue until all parcels are made; you should be able to make about 8 or so parcels or more, if you go smaller.

Steam the parcels for 20 minutes in a bamboo steamer, and they’re ready to eat! You can also cool them after steaming and store them in the freezer. Throw them straight into a steamer straight from frozen for 20-25 minutes when you’re ready to eat.

Chinese-style Egg White Omelette with Prawns, Chilli and Mushroom Floss

Chinese Eggwhite Omelette with Prawn, Caviar and Mushroom Floss

I fell back in love with egg white omelettes recently because there are only so many meringues you can make when the yolks are being used for custard or mayo (hellooooo holiday season!). The upside is, that egg whites are high in protein, low in fat and make for some super fluffy omelettes and scrambles aside, if you don’t want to head to Pavlova Town.

This recipe was inspired by an amazing brunch dish served by the very talented chef duo of Jemma Whiteman and Mike Eggert at their restaurant pop up Pinbone in Sydney’s Woollahra; a light, yet complex and indulgent combo of Chinese-style omelette - golden and crunchy on the edges and base, fluffy and cloud-like on top; capped with prawns, mushroom floss (more on this later), and because I was feeling extra, some Yarra Valley golden caviar as well.

Despite looking fancy, it’s actually a very quick and simple dish to make; and a total winner on your next brunch table. Perfect on its own, but also fantastic with a bowl of steamed rice on the side.

Ingredients

Serves 2 as a decent breakfast, or 4 as part of a brunch meal.

1/2 long red chilli, finely sliced

1 thumb sized piece of ginger, smashed

1 garlic clove, smashed

6 -8 large king prawns, peeled, deveined and halved lengthways.

1 shallot (scallion), green part finely sliced

4 egg whites

Mushroom floss (a flavour bomb of umami, made by dehydrating mushrooms - there are also meat versions available at most Asian grocers; pork floss being the most commonly available). This is a garnish and not completely necessary, though highly recommended.

Trout roe (again, not crucial, but it amps up the luxe factor)

Vegetable oil

Salt

White Pepper, finely ground

Method

Heat a small, non stick frying pan to a medium-high heat. Once hot, and add a teaspoon of vegetable oil and the chillis. Fry for around a minute, then remove the chillis from the pan and set aside. Add a little more oil to the pan, then throw in the ginger and garlic, and stir fry for a minute, to allow their flavours to infuse the oil. Add in the prawn meat, allowing it to lightly colour before flipping. Cook for about 2 minutes, until they’re almost fully opaque, but not quite- you don’t want them cooked all the way through, as they will continue to cook once placed in the omelette. Remove the prawns, and set aside. Discard the garlic and ginger. Remove the pan from heat for a moment.

In a blender, place the egg whites, a good pinch of salt and white pepper and blitz for about 30 seconds, until frothy. Going back to the stove, place the frying pan on medium high heat. Once hot, add a generous slug of vegetable oil. This is what will make the edges go golden and crispy, so don’t be afraid to use more than you think you should (this dish is very low in fat, you can stand to use a little more oil in the cooking for the right result). Once the oil starts to shimmer, carefully pour in the egg whites. The edges should start to bubble crisp. You can use a spatula to loosen the edges if you get a little paranoid of sticking.

Once the omelette is almost set in the middle, gently arrange the prawns on top. Allow the omelette to set for another 30 seconds or so (you don’t want it to be fully cooked solid). Using a spatula, gently ease the omelette onto a serving plate. Garnish with the spring onions, the fried chili, mushroom floss and caviar. Add a few drops of olive oil and an extra pinch of salt flakes to finish, and serve immediately.

Carrot and Miso Soup

Pumpkin MIso Soup Melissa Leong Fooderati

A super easy, turbo-charged veggie soup to add to your repertoire. Simply switch out the chicken stock for vegetable stock and the butter for olive oil for a hearty, healthy, vegan staple.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons vegetable oil 

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 brown onions, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt 

1 teaspoon ground white pepper 

2 tablespoons white miso paste

10 carrots, peeled, topped, tailed and cut into chunks

Enough rich chicken or vegetable stock to cover solids (about 1.5L)

50g butter (substitute with olive oil to make this vegan)

2 tablespoons good quality EVO (I love Alto Olives)

Method

In a large saucepan, heat the 3 tablespoons of oil over low heat. Add the garlic, onion, salt, pepper, and, stir to combine and bring the heat up to medium. Sauté until the onions are translucent, but haven't taken on colour. Add the carrots and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add in the miso paste and then pour in enough stock to cover the vegetables. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook until the vegetables collapse under the pressure of a spoon. Carefully remove the pot from the stove, add the butter and then and using a stick blender, blitz until smooth. Taste to season and serve with a drizzle of green herb oil, yoghurt and fried garlic crumbs.



Ù Tridd: The Pasta From Puglia You Need To Know

Ù Tridd Puglia Pasta

My mother Vincenza is a bit of a legend. She cooks food that seems so simple, yet is layered and nuanced and cooked with so much soul. This is a recipe from her mother Rose, it’s called ù tridd. It’s essentially a hand torn southern style pasta, laced with fresh parsley; similar to stracci (which literally translates into ‘rags’ or ‘tatters’).

Of course, you can swap out the water for stock or add garlic and more herbs to add another dimension of flavour, but then again, why mess with an OG Italian Nonna recipe? The origins of this recipe are from the Tatolli family’s town of Molfetta, which is part of the Puglia region of Southern Italy. As such, this recipe is rooted in humble ingredients; you won’t find rich butter, cream, truffles or other luxury ingredients here. Clean and simple, this is a case study in soul food.

Ingredients

The pasta

3 cups fine semolina

3 cups Tipo 00 pasta flour (plain flour will suffice if needed)

4 eggs

1 handful continental parsley leaves, finely chopped

1 - 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water (as needed)

Extra flour to roll out

The broth

2 veal shins (you can also use lamb shanks or beef ossobuco)

2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 celery stalks, peeled and roughly chopped

1 large brown onion, peeled and quartered

1 few sprigs of fresh parsley

500ml tomato sugo

Salt and pepper to taste

Finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, to serve

Method

For the pasta, in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, add the semolina, flour and eggs and turn the mixer on a low setting. When combined, add the parsley and continue to mix until combined. Gradually add water until the dough comes together. Continue mixing until the dough is no longer sticky and has become soft and pliable. Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured surface and roll the dough into a log roughly 50cm long and 20cm wide. Cut sections around 3cm and pass them through a pasta roller several times so that the dough is smooth and uniform in thickness (around setting 3-4). Set aside to dry for at least 2 hours on wooden dowels… a clothes drying rack will also suffice! Once dry, tear the pasta sheets unto small pieces around the size of your pinky thumbprint. The beauty of this dish is that you don’t have to be too careful, just make sure the pieces are roughly the same size. Set aside to continue to dry out until ready to use. This pasta can be completely dried out and stored for later use.

For the broth, bring a heavy based saucepan or pot to a medium high heat and add a good slug of olive oil. When the pan is hot, sear the shanks until lightly browned on all sides. Throw in the carrots, celery and onion and parsley and stir to combine. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until the onion starts to go translucent. Pour in the sugo and then top with enough water to cover the shanks. Bring to the boil, season liberally with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then reduce to a low heat, cover and simmer for 90 minutes. Skim any fat if necessary. Season again to taste at the end. When the shanks are falling apart, strain the liquid from the solids. Reserve the meat, lightly shred, then set aside.

To serve, bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Once boiling, throw in a good handful of the pasta per person and cook for 4-5 minutes or until tender. Strain and refresh in cold water. In a separate pot, bring the deliciously meaty tomato broth to the boil. Add the cooked pasta and the shredded meat. Season to taste, then serve immediately, topped with finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, or any sharp, hard Italian cheese, some freshly cracked black pepper and chopped parsley, if desired.