Chicken yakitori bites

Chicken yakitori is a well known Japanese dish which lends itself to enjoying with an ice cold beer in hand. It is usually cooked on skewers and grilled but I have chosen to break with tradition and cook the chunks of chicken separately on a griddle for extra caramelisation. Most recipes ask you to strain your sauce of ginger and garlic goodness however I found that you don’t need to do this as, if you are careful, the sauce won’t burn and you’re still left with a hit of those fantastic flavours.

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Ingredients- serves 2
250g boneless chicken thigh- cut into bite sized pieces
50ml soy sauce
30ml mirin
25ml sake
1 tbsp caster sugar
2cm piece of ginger- grated
1 garlic clove- crushed
1 tsp cornflour mixed with 1/2 tbsp water

1. Kick off by adding the soy sauce, mirin and sake together before adding in the sugar, ginger and garlic. Heat over a low heat and bring it to a simmer. Cook until the sugar has dissolved and the ginger and garlic are softening. Add the cornflour mixture and cook further until the sauce is thickened and glossy.

2. Take the sauce from the heat and allow to cool. As I say, I don’t strain the sauce as I like the ginger and garlic but you can sieve it at this stage if you like. When the sauce is cool, coat the chicken chunks with the majority of the sauce but reserve a small amount for later. Place the chicken in a covered bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour.

3. When you are ready to get cooking, warm a griddle pan to medium and cook the chunks of chicken until cooked through. This should take around 8-10 minutes depending on how large your chunks are. Halfway through cooking brush the remaining sauce over the chicken. The result should be tender and caramelised chicken. Serve with rice if you like and eat immediately. A flourish of toasted sesame seeds or crunchy shredded spring onion is also delicious.

Caramelised yakitori bites- crack open a beer and enjoy!

 

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Fragrant Asian salmon parcels

The idea of cooking ‘en papilotte’ (‘in parchment’) is quick and simple and keeps all the flavours locked in. Here delicate salmon is balanced with the aromatic flavours of Asia to bring a simple yet tasty meal. Monkfish or cod loin would also be perfect for this recipe if you prefer. I am a big fan of all Asian greens so I have used pak choi to layer the salmon on top of so it steams altogether.

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Ingredients- serves 2
2 spring onions- finely sliced on the diagonal
1 large garlic clove- crushed
1 2cm piece of fresh ginger- cut into thin strips
1 medium red chilli- deseeded and chopped
Juice of half a fresh lime
2 tbsp each of dark soy
1 tbsp rice wine
2 small heads of pak choi- shredded
2 salmon fillets

1. Start by preheating the oven to 190c/ 170fan. Take all the ingredients apart from the salmon and spring onions and combine in a small bowl; mix well and set aside.

2. Grab a couple of lengths of foil which will be big enough for the fish to sit happily in and lay them out on the work surface. Lightly oil each piece. Divide the pak choi and spring onions slices between the two pieces of foil and place them in the centre. Place the salmon atop its leafy, oniony bed and pour the dressing over the fish. Add a splash of water into each parcel so it steams well before gathering the foil together to create a well sealed parcel.

3. Place on a baking tray and cook for around 12 minutes until the fish is tender. Remove carefully and serve with a side dish of jasmine rice.

Salmon parcels- the key to delightfully fragrant and straightforward midweek meal!

Hot and sour chicken noodle soup

So, we all love comforting chicken soup- it’s such a classic and cures all ills. Well this is my twist on chicken noodle soup which is packed full of flavour and has taken inspiration from Chinese hot and sour soup. Hot and sour soup is exactly as it sounds- a combination of hot and sour ingredients which give a balanced finish.

I have used leftover roast chicken for this recipe and the dark meat from a chicken is best to use if you can as this is more tender and have most taste. You can also use pork, mixed vegetables or even tofu for this if you prefer. As with a lot of Asian cooking, make sure you everything prepped as it won’t take long once you get going!

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Ingredients- serves 2
2 garlic cloves- roughly chopped
1 red chilli (as hot as you dare!)- roughly chopped
3cm piece of ginger- grated
Pinch of salt
100g bundle of fine rice noodles
Groundnut or vegetable oil
100g shitake mushrooms
2-3 spring onions- chopped
1 1/2 tbsp dark soy and 1 1/2 tbsp light soy
1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 rice wine
1 head of pak choi- stems finely chopped and leaves shredded
2 chicken legs- cooked and meat removed from the bone
450ml good quality hot chicken stock
1 large egg- beaten

1. Start off by making the paste which forms the base of the soup. Simply grind the garlic, chilli and ginger in a pestle and mortar. Add a pinch of salt to help form the paste and set aside.

2. Bring a pan of water to a boil and cook the noodles until tender- this is usually 2-3 minutes depending on the noodles you use so remember to check the packet instructions. Drain well and run under cold water; this stops the cooking process and stop them sticking together as they cool.

3. Take a large pan which is going to be able to fit the stock and chicken in. Add a glug of oil over a medium heat and cook the paste for a couple of minutes before adding the mushrooms, spring onions and chopped stems of the pak choi. Pour in both types of soy, the rice wine vinegar and rice wine and cook for a further minute. Shred the chicken meat into smaller bite sized pieces and add to the pan; coat in the paste and sauce.

4. Next up goes the hot stock so carefully pour this into the pan; it is important that it is already hot before being added to the pan so don’t miss this out. Bring the stock to a gentle boil and leave for around 10 minutes until slightly reduced and the chicken is warmed through. Remember to taste as you go and adjust with more soy or vinegar to suit your tastes. Now for the fun bit! Hot and sour soup has egg which look like little strands of ribbon. To do this, take a chopstick and swirl the stock until a whirlpool forms. Gradually add in the whisked egg and keep the stock moving; you will see the egg cooking before your very eyes and dispersing- that’s all there is to it!

5. When you are ready to serve, divide the noodles between two deep bowls before serving the soup on top. The soup will heat the noodles again. Add the pak choi leaves to the soup at the last minute. Top with a little extra sliced chilli if you like and grab a spoon!

Prawn, crab and tofu pad thai

Pad thai is a classic street food dish that can be tweaked and adapted to please even the most fussy of eaters. As long as it is packed with delicious noodles and flavours then the world is your oyster- or crab and prawn in this instance. I have also added tofu in for extra texture- if you don’t routinely use it then do give it a go! You may well be surprised. I have chosen a firm tofu here which I think is the best way to introduce yourself to the bean curd world. The key to a perfect pad thai is in the preparation. Once the you start, it happens relatively quickly so you really do need to prep everything beforehand.

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Ingredients- serves 2 hungry people
2 large eggs
4 spring onions cut on the diagonal
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp tamarind paste dissolved in 30ml boiling water
2 tbsp palm sugar
125g firm tofu cut into 2cm cubes
30g grated ginger
2 red chillies finely chopped
1 banana shallot finely sliced
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
150g raw king prawns deveined and roughly chopped
100g rice noodles
100g white crabmeat
75g beansprouts
10 chives cut into 3 cm lengths
50g peanuts roughly chopped
Small handful of Thai basil and coriander finely chopped

1. Beat the eggs lightly and add a tablespoon of the fish sauce before setting aside ready for later. Read the instructions for your rice noodles at this stage as some need soaking for longer than others. Prepare according to instructions all ready for later.

2. Take the tamarind water and add the palm sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons of fish sauce. Stir well to ensure the sugar dissolves; if you find it has not fully dissolved you can add a splash of boiling water to help things along.

3. Place a large wok over a medium/ high heat and add 2 tsp of vegetable or groundnut oil. Add the tofu cubes, in a couple of batches if needed so as to not overcrowd the pan, and fry off until golden all over. Set aside to blot of kitchen paper.

4. Next you need to cook the garlic, chillies, ginger, shallots and spring onion until softening. You could also add a piece of finely sliced lemongrass at this stage of you like.

5. Pop in the prawns and the tamarind water to the wok and cook for a few seconds to make sure the prawns are coated. Add the noodles back into the wok and cook for a minute or so, again ensuring the strands are coated in the tamarind. Next into the wok goes the crab, bean sprouts, chive, basil, coriander and tofu. Toss gently to heat through. At this stage I then pushed the noodle mixture to one side in the wok and added the beaten eggs. Beat them in the wok until it begins to scramble and then you can mix it all the way through the rest of the noodles so the egg is well dispersed. Heat until the noodles are warm, the tofu is reheated and the prawns are a delicate blush pink.

Divide between 2 bowls and serve with a garnish of chopped peanut and you can add some roasted chilli flakes for an extra bit of spice or some extra chives if you like.

Prawn, crab and tofu pad thai- a satisfyingly savoury dish that will leave you wanting more!

Beef Khao Soi topped with crispy noodles

Beef khao soi brings a taste of Thailand to the comfort of your own home. It is a delicately spiced and fragrant curry noodle soup that is perfect for a chilly evening. I have added some mixed vegetables to this recipe to make it even heartier. It can be served with a range of meats and prawns but I have kept this recipe as simple as possible by using minute steak. This cut of beef is perfect as it cooks quickly whilst retaining its tenderness so give it a try!

I have included my recipe for red curry paste which forms the base of the recipe but if you’re short on time you can use a ready made paste. The paste also keeps well in the fridge as long as it’s kept in a well sealed pot so you can make a bigger batch at a time.

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Ingredients- serves 2-3
Red curry paste

6 whole dried red chillies
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tbsp galangal- chopped finely
1 tbsp lemonsgrass- chopped finely
1 tsp peppercorns
5 garlic cloves- finely grated
1 inch piece of fresh ginger- finely grated
2 shallots- finely chopped
1 lime- zest finely grated
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt

For the rest of the khao soi
400ml coconut milk
500ml hot vegetable stock
2 minute steaks- cut into thin strips
3 spring onions- shredded
2 generous handfuls of mixed vegetables- such as a stir fry variety pack
3 nests of medium egg noodles- reserve one for the topping

1. Start off by making the curry paste by toasting the coriander and cumin seeds in a small pan over a medium heat. As the spices start to release their fragrance, remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly before grinding in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar. Add the rest of the ingredients and combine to form a thick paste and you are good to go!

2. Heat a small amount of vegetable or groundnut oil in a wok and fry off the curry paste for a few minutes until it starts to release its flavours. Add the coconut milk and stock and stir well to combine. Increase the heat and bring to the boil before lowering to a simmer. I simmered it for around half an hour so it begins to reduce down and the flavours develop.

3. As the coconut milk is simmering, cook the noodle nests according to pack instructions. Set 2 nests worth of noodles aside for later and use one to make the crispy noodle topping. To do this, heat a good amount of oil in a deep pan over a medium/ high heat (remember to keep a careful eye on this!). Take some of the noodles at a time, trying not to overcrowd the pan, and fry until they crisp up and go a little golden. I used a slotted spoon to turn them over during cooking to get an even colour. Remove from the pan and blot onto kitchen towel.

4. When you are nearly ready to serve, add the mixed vegetables and spring onions into the wok to simmer for a couple of minutes before removing the wok from the heat and adding in the beef strips. I found that the delicate strips of beef cooked well in the residual heat but you could keep it on the hob on a very low heat if you prefer.

5. Divide the two noodle nests between two deep bowls. I used a slotted spoon to add on the beef and vegetable mix before using a ladle to spoon over the broth. Top with the crispy noodles and watch your fellow diners’ faces as you present this beautiful curry soup to them!

Beef khao soi with cispy noodles- fragrant, delicate and oh so moreish!

Spicy Chinese XO prawns

Chinese XO sauce is made using a blend of dried shrimp, scallop and pork as well as a host of spicy additions. I was bought a jar of it and it kept looking at me saying ‘use me, use me’ in the cupboard so use it I did. XO packs a punch so keep the rest of the ingredients simple as I have in this recipe.

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Ingredients- serves 2
200g raw king prawns- peeled and deveined
1 small red bell pepper and 1 small green bell pepper- cut into chunks
1 garlic clove- finely sliced
2 cm piece of fresh ginger- finely sliced
1/2 red chilli- finely sliced (optional)
1 tbsp dark soy
1 tsp rice wine
1- 1 1/2 tsp XO sauce

1. Start off by making sure all the ingredients are prepped as once you get going this is super quick. Mix the rice wine, soy and XO sauce in a small dish and set aside.

2. Heat a glug of groundnut or vegetable oil over a medium/ high heat in a wok. Throw in the ginger, chilli and garlic and fry off for a minute or so being careful that the garlic does not start to burn. Pop in XO sauce mixture and cook for a further minute before adding the peppers for a further minute. Make sure the peppers are well coated in the sauce and then in go the prawns. Cook until the prawns are cooked through and a gorgeous blush pink. Serve in warmed bowls with rice and get munching! You can also stir through some shredded spring onion at the end if you like which is also delicious.

Spicy XO prawns- why stop there? Try it with chicken, pork or even tofu!

Chinese style sticky chilli pork

Yes, yes I know! It’s another Asian dish but I just can’t help it! This would also work well using chicken or even firm tofu if you prefer. This is quick, easy but super delicious so put it to the test and you won’t regret it. I mean just look at it…

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Ingredients-serves 4
Groundnut oil
400g pork tenderloin- cut into chunks
3 tbsp runny honey
3 tbsp dark soy
3-4 tsp Chinese chilli bean paste depending on how hot you like it
3 tsp Chinese rice wine
3 garlic cloves- finely chopped
inch piece of ginger- peeled and finely chopped 
1 banana shallot- finely chopped
3 dried facing heaven Chinese chillies- pricked but kept whole (optional)
4 spring onions- shredded

1. Get going by heating a little groundnut oil in a wok and brown off the pieces of pork. Remove and set aside until later. I don’t marinade my pork for this in advance as it is such a flavourful dish without it. Wipe out the pan and pop another glug of oil in over a medium to high heat.

2. Pop in the garlic, ginger, shallot and whole chillies and cook until softening. Meanwhile make the sauce by adding the honey, soy, rice wine and chilli bean paste. Have a taste and adjust if needed but this is the perfect blend of hot, sweet and sharp!

3. Add the sauce to the pan and allow to bubble for a couple of minutes until it looks like it is starting to turn gorgeously sticky. Return the pork to the pan and coat with the sauce. Continue to bubble away until the pork is cooked through and the sauce has reduced. At the last minute throw in the spring onion and serve straightaway. I served it with delicious sesame pak choi and rice.

Chinese style sticky chilli pork- a winning dish!