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Pan fried pork dumplings

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Who doesn’t enjoy eating a dumpling? It’s hard to stop at one, and you can eat it in so many ways – pan fried, steamed, deep fried, they are great in soups, and there are so many different types of fillings you can put in them too.

There are lots of great dumpling restaurants on offer here in Melbourne, Dumplings Plus, Hutong Dumpling Bar and Shanghai Street Dumpling, just to name a few. I always go for the won ton dumplings with chilli sauce – I do love my chillies!

So after many years of buying dumpling wrappers but never actually following through with my plan of making them – I finally did it! So here is a recipe that I’ve adapted from a couple of dumpling recipes that I found online*. It’s a pretty good version if I do say so myself!

Yes, there are a lot of ingredients in this recipe, but don’t be alarmed. You can find most of these items in your local supermarket these days and it will be well worth it. It’s also what makes dumplings so delicious – they’re little parcels packed full of gorgeous flavours!

Note: You can substitute the pork mince for chicken or prawns or for a healthier version leave out the meat altogether and add more tofu for a vegetarian version.

Ingredients:

400g Shredded cabbage (approx 2 cups)

2 tsp salt

500g Pork mince

4 cm ginger, peeled and grated

2 Spring onions (Scallions)

1 Carrot

1 Onion

125g firm tofu

3 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp oyster sauce

2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar or Chinese cooking wine

2 Tbsp sesame oil

1 1/2 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp chicken stock powder

1 packet of store bought dumpling/gyoza wrappers

1/4 Cup water or 1 egg white to seal the dumpling wrappers

Water and Peanut oil for steaming and frying the dumplings

Soy sauce, chilli and garlic dipping sauce

3 Tbsp Soy sauce

2 tsp Castor sugar

1 tsp Sesame oil

1 tsp Rice wine vinegar

1 Crushed garlic

1 Tbsp spring onion chopped

1 Red chilli finely chopped (optional)

Combine the soy sauce and sugar, stir this until the sugar has dissolved. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Set aside for the  dumplings.

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Step 1 – Soak the cabbage.

Shred the cabbage and place this in a medium sized bowl. Add the salt and mix until combined and set aside for at least 15 minutes. While the cabbage is soaking, start preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Note: This step is optional. If you don’t have time you can skip this step, just add the cabbage to the pork mince with the rest of the ingredients at step 3. But do give this a go, it makes a difference to the pork mixture and you don’t really do anything, it just soaks in the salt while you chop up the rest of the vegetables!

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Step 2 – Chop, slice and dice the vegetables.

Peel and grate the ginger, dice the onions, thinly slice and chop up the carrots, chop up the spring onions and dice the tofu. Put aside.

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Note: For the carrots, I use a slicer type device (bought from a local Asian store for $6). It’s great for shredding vegetables and its easier to chop up into smaller pieces to add to the pork mince.

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By the time you’ve chopped, diced and sliced the vegetables, it’s time to drain the cabbage. Using clean hands, squeeze out the excess water from the cabbage. I have tried using other methods to drain out the excess water, but I found that using your hands was the most effective.

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Step 3 – Pork mince mixture.

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Put the pork mince in a large size bowl, add the ginger, onions, carrots, spring onions, tofu and the cabbage. Now add the sauces and rice wine vinegar, sugar and chicken stock powder. With a wooden spoon, mix well until all ingredients are combined.

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Step 4 – Now it’s time to wrap the dumplings.

If you have time you can make your own dumpling wrappers, but today I used store bought wrappers as it’s cheap and convenient. There are 60 dumpling wrappers per packet.

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Let the fun start….

Put the water or egg whites into a small bowl. Place a wrapper in the middle of your palm, with your index finger smear some water all the way around the edges of the wrapper. Place approx one tablespoon of the pork mixture in the middle of the wrapper. If you like your dumpling to be fuller, you can add more. But start with one tablespoon first to get the hang of the wrapping.

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Fold the wrapper over the fillings, seal the top of the edges but leave the sides open. See below.

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Pinch the top part of each side, leaving the bottom part still open. This will form the back of the dumpling.

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With your thumb and index finger, make a pleat with the open, give the pleat a little pull towards the middle and pinch this in place. Repeat on the other side. And there you have it, a beautiful dumpling ready to be cooked.

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Line the bottom of a tray with baking paper or sprinkle a little corn flour on the bottom of the tray to prevent the dumplings from sticking.

Continue wrapping the dumplings until you have used up all the mince mixture.

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Step 5: Pan fry the dumplings.

Place the dumplings onto a frying pan and put this on the stove on a medium-high heat. Make sure you space them out so the dumplings don’t stick together.

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Add half a cup of water to the dumplings then put a lid on the frying pan. Let this steam for 5-7 minutes or until the water has evaporated. You will need to keep an eye on this.

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Once the water is nearly all gone, add 2 tablespoons of peanut oil to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes or until the bottom of the dumplings are golden and crispy. You can take them out of the pan after this and serve immediately. Or if you are like me, turn them over and fry the other side of the dumplings so all sides are golden.

Note: If you see a brown like film starting to stick to the bottom or sides of the frying pan, it’s the residue from the starch of the wrapper but it’s quite normal. Simply wipe this with some paper towel so it doesn’t over burn the dumplings.

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Serve with the soy sauce dipping sauce and enjoy!

Note: You can steam the dumplings instead of frying them in a pan for a healthier option.

Some serving suggestions below.

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Happy cooking, happy eating!

* This recipe was adapted from the following websites, http://damndelicious.net/2013/02/20/shrimp-dumplings/, http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/9373/pot+sticker+dumplings

 

 

 

 

Lamb shanks (with a pressure cooker)

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We are starting a new tradition in our house and it involves a pressure cooker!

Gone are the days when I’ve had to slow cook something for hours on end in order to get tender, succulent meat that falls off the bone. The pressure cooker gets you the same results in less than an hour, now that’s saving time!

Lamb shanks are so delicious, it’s a cheap cut of meat (on average less than $10 per kilo) it’s comfort food at its best and this recipe is a true winner.

Serve with mashed potatoes and watch in delight as your friends and family lick their plates clean!

Note: If you do not have a pressure cooker, just follow steps 1-6 then put the lamb shanks in an oven proof dish, cover with tin foil or a lid and cook in a preheated oven at 180 degrees celsius /350 degrees fahrenheit/gas mark 4 for at least 3 hours.

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 Lamb shanks (ask your butcher to french trim these if possible)

Salt and pepper to season the lamb shanks

4 Tablespoon olive oil

4 Garlic cloves crushed

1 Onion chopped

2 Carrots peeled and chopped

3 Celery stalks chopped

1 Tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 Tablespoon tomato paste

1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 Tablespoon chicken stock powder

3/4 Cup red wine

1 Cup beef stock or vegetable stock

Optional – 2 tablespoon flour and 4 tablespoon water for thickening the gravy

Method

1. Trim off excess fat off the lamb shanks or get your butcher to do this for you. Season with salt and pepper and set aside while you start to prepare the veges.

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2. Peel and crush the garlic, set aside. Peel and chop the onions, carrots and celery and set aside.

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3. Heat 2 tablespoon of oil in the pressure cooker, make sure the setting is on “saute” for this and brown the lamb shanks. Depending on how deep your pressure cooker is, you may only be able to brown 2 lamb shanks at a time. Set aside.

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4. Add the rest of the oil into the pressure cooker and saute the garlic, onions, carrots and celery for 5 minutes or until cooked.

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5. Add the oregano, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, chicken stock, red wine and beef stock to the pressure cooker and boil for 2 minutes.

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6. Add the lamb shanks to the gravy and season well with salt and pepper. Spoon some of the veges over the lamb shanks, close the lid and change settings to “curry” which will cook for 25 minutes and walk away. For best results you will need to do this twice, so you cook the lamb shanks in the pressure cooker for a total of 50 minutes.

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7. After 25 minutes make sure you carefully release the steam. The meat should be tender but depending on how big your lamb shanks are you may need to cook it for a further 10-25 minutes so that it is falling off the bone (which is how it should be).

8. OPTIONAL – If you would like the gravy to be a bit thicker, combine the flour and water together then slowly add to the gravy until it thickens. I don’t usually do this as I always serve the lamb shanks on a bed or mashed potatoes and that usually thickens the gravy once you pour it over the mash.

9. Once the lamb shanks are cooked to your liking, spoon onto a bed of mashed potatoes and ladle some gravy on top. Enjoy with a glass of delicious Australian or New Zealand shiraz or pinot noir.

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Happy cooking, happy eating.

Nam Neung (Asian pork patties)

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Learning how to make these delicious patties is one of the best things I’ve done. Not only have I learned a new cooking technique, but you can play around with different variations and combinations of ingredients to this recipe and the final product, if I do say so myself, is very delicious!

These patties are meant to be on the sweet side and just a little salty.  That’s due to the curing powder you use.  You can make the patties as big or as small as you like, put them on skewers and cook on the bbq or in the oven, or even pan fry them.

As a child I remember eating these straight off the skewer, or wrapping them in lettuce or rice paper with lots of herbs with a dipping sauce – such delicious memories. But I have recently started eating these just with rice or in sandwiches as a quick snack and my family have started to do the same. How ever you eat these, you wont be disappointed!

The main ingredient is pork mince but I also add thinly sliced pork strips too. This time round I experimented with prawns, however, you don’t have to add the extra prawns or pork strips to the pork mince, just make sure the total weight of meat is roughly 1.5 kg.  The different texture of meat adds to the flavour of the patties and makes it more interesting.

This amount feeds a family of 5 with left overs for lunch the next day.  Or in my case … a second dinner!

Ingredients

1kg pork mince
500 g pork stripes (thinly sliced) or 500g prawns (roughly chopped)
1 onion thinly sliced
8-10 garlic cloves minced
1 TB sugar
1 TB chicken stock
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
5 TB curing powder
Big handful of coriander or spring onion (roughly chopped) optional

Method

Step 1: Preparing the meat.

Make sure you use good quality minced pork for these patties. Place the mince pork in a large bowl and set aside.

Today I’m using prawns instead of the pork strips, to combine with the minced pork. I only had pre-cooked prawns today, but you can also use raw prawns, either way it’s fine.  Roughly chop up the prawns and set aside.

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Step 2: Prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Chop up herbs, mince the garlic and thinly slice the onion. Set aside.

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The curing powder is found in most Asian supermarkets. It’s an essential ingredient to this recipe, so do your best to find this in your local Asian store if you can.

Step 3: Making the pattie mixture.

In a large bowl, combine all your ingredients together (starting with the minced pork, prawns, onions, garlic, sugar, chicken stock, salt, white pepper and curing powder).

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A good tip to getting the patties nice and firm is to knead and mix this by hand for at least 15-20 minutes. This will allow your patties to keep its shape when you roll them out into patties. It’s recommended that you use gloves when mixing this by hand. You will know if you have mixed this enough if the mixture is sticky or if your arms start to ache – who needs to go the gym! But you have to mix for at least 15 minutes to get the right consistency.

TIP: You can also do this in a food processor which will cut your mixing time by  half! Combine the all the ingredients except for the pork strips or prawns in a food processor. Pluse for 5 minutes or until the pork mince is all combined and starts to become sticky, then add your pork strips or prawns.
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Cover the mixture with glad wrap (cling wrap) and put this in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or 2 hours if you have the time. You could even make this the night before.

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Step 4: Time to roll.

I always have a bowl of water handy to keep my hands clean and it also helps to smooth out the patties so there are no lumps or bumps. With this mixture I made 18 patties.

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Step 5: Cooking the nam neung:

As I mentioned earlier, you can cook it on the bbq, or on a frying pan on the stove top but I prefer to cook these in the oven.

Pre-heat your oven at 180 degrees on fan bake and cook the patties for about 20-25 minutes on each side. They will turn a pinkish colour with a golden coating on them but just keep an eye out so they don’t burn!

NOTE:  Cooking times and temperatures varies depending on how big or small you make your patties. The result should be a nice pink colour, similar to som moo (cured Asian pork).

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Step 6. Slice them up and serve with plain jasmine rice as we had for dinner last night or as I did this morning, with avocado on toast.  Great start to the day.  Eat them anyway you desire!

Give this a go, you’ll be surprised at how easy and delicious these are!

Happy cooking, happy eating!

Bânh cuòn – rice rolls

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Up until about 5 years ago, I always thought banh cuon was traditionally Lao, because as a child my mother cooked this for us on a regular basis so I just assumed this was a “Lao” dish. But as I’m learning more about different cultures and their food, I’ve come to realise that banh cuon is originally from Northern Vietnam. Hey! to all my friends from Vietnam!

In fact, many Lao dishes is influenced by Vietnamese cuisine, thanks to the influx of Vietnamese people coming into Laos during the French administration. And in a lot of ways Vietnamese food is quite similar to Lao food. There’s a lot of emphasis on using fresh herbs and local ingredients in the food and there is more time preparing for a meal than cooking it. But even though banh cuon is not traditionally Lao (the name itself is of Vietnamese origin), we’ve been cooking it for such a long time now that it’s become part of our culture. That’s the beauty of food; it can be shared, borrowed, adapted, re-created, it brings people together and it will always be a part of our lives.

So if you are looking for something different to try, why not give these delicious rice rolls a go? It’s a perfect midweek meal that is not too heavy and not too light. Actually, it’s perfect to eat any time of the week – and you can add prawns to the mix or cha lua (Vietnamese ham) to make it a bit more substantial. Traditionally, rice rolls are steamed but this is a much simpler version and this can be done over any stove top using a non stick frying pan.

Tip 1: To ensure your rice roll turns out properly, use a good quality non-stick frying pan. You can go for a 26cm frying pan which will give you approximately 20 rice rolls with this recipe. I’ve used a 22cm frying pan which made about 45 rice rolls.

Tip 2: If you are able to get someone to help out this will speed up the cooking time by half. You can create a mini production line where one person makes the rice rolls, and the other does the filling and rolling.

Tip 3: It’s best to fill the rice rolls and roll them out as you go – one by one. Don’t cook up all the batter before filling them out. They will stick together and you will end up with a tower of plain sticky rice rolls which will be difficult to separate.

Ingredients – this recipe will serve 3-4 people.

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For the rice roll mixture:

2 C Rice flour

2 C Tapioca starch

1 TB Salt

5 TB vegetable oil

8 C Water

For the mince mixture

500g pork mince

1 C Dried black fungus (optional)

2 Gloves garlic diced

1 Onion diced

2 TB vegetable Oil

3 TB Soy sauce

3 TB Fish sauce

2 TB Sugar

Crushed roasted peanuts, fried garlic and coriander for garnish.

For the dipping sauce

1/2 Cup boiling water

1/2 Cup castor sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp msg (optional)

3 TB fish sauce

Juice of one lemon

2 gloves garlic minced

1-2 red chillies sliced

Crushed peanuts

To make the dipping sauce, boil water in a kettle. Once boiled, combine the water, sugar, salt and msg to a bowl. Stir to combine until everything has dissolved. Add fish sauce, lemon, minced garlic and chillies and top with crushed peanuts.

Method

Step 1. Making the rice roll mixture.

Combine rice flour, tapioca flour, salt, oil and water together into a large mixing bowl. Whisk together until it is all combined. Set aside.

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Step 2: Soak the black fungus.

Soak black fungus  in warm water for at least 10 minutes, drain and slice thinly. Set aside.

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Step 3: Making the mince mixture

Using a wok, heat oil over medium to high heat. Add the garlic and onions and cook for 2 minutes or until the onions have turned translucent. Now add the mince, black fungus, soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar and cook for 5 minutes or until the pork is cooked through. Set aside.

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Step 4: Cooking the rice roll

First of all, get your work station organised. See picture below.

1. Large plate (to put rice rolls onto once you’re done rolling)

2. Mince mixture

3. Clean chopping board

4. Rice roll mixture

5. Small bowl of oil and a brush

6. Frying pan

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4.1: Using a cooking brush, put a small amount of oil onto the frying pan on medium heat. (You don’t want the temperature on too high as it will cook the rice roll too quickly and dry out). Even though it’s a non stick pan, the rice roll mixture will tend to stick to the rim of the pan if no oil is used.

4.2: Using a soup ladle put a spoonful of the mixture onto the fry pan. Swirl the mixture around so it completely covers the pan. It should look like a white crepe pancake.

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Cover the pan with a lid for 30 seconds.

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4.3: Very carefully, turn the pan over onto a clean surface by flipping the pan over. It pays to do this quite quickly. Do not slide it onto the surface. If you slide it out, the bottom of the crepe will stick to the surface and you will not be able to roll it out properly.

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4.4: Place a desert spoon full of the pork mince onto the rice roll.

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4.5: Fold the bottom half of the roll to cover the mince mixture. Fold the sides inwards then roll it away from you. And there you have it, a yummy rice roll ready to be eaten.

Continue doing the same until you have finished the rice roll mixture and mince mixture.

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To serve, you can cut them up into pieces and garnish with coriander and serve with sweet chilli dipping sauce or soy sauce and chillies.

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OPTIONAL:

You can also use bean sprouts, mint and cucumber to garnish for texture and to give the dish a fresh twist.

Happy cooking, happy eating!

Yum sen lon – vermicelli noodle salad

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It’s summer here in Melbourne and with temperatures in the high 30’s (degree Celsius) this calls for something fresh, light and delicious. So here is a very simple version of yum sen lon, aka glass noodle salad or vermicelli salad with grilled pork.

Yum basically means “salad” in the Lao language and there are many varieties of yum out there; such as yum ta ley (seafood), yum den gai (chicken feet – one of my favourties), yum salad (green salad with a lao dressing) or yum sen lon (vermicelli noodles). Not only is this salad easy to make, it’s also healthy (just leave out the meat). But it’s the combination of ingredients that really give this salad loads of flavours which makes it one of the yummiest salads in the world! That’s why it’s called YUM SALAD! (Pronouned yum sah-laad).

The secret to this dish is all in the dressing. Because the noodles are quite bland, the dressing needs to have strong flavours (sour/salty/sweet/spicy) so when the dressing is added to the noodles and vegetables, it will absorb all the flavours and what you end up with is a gorgeous yummy salad that will taste amazing! Lucky for you, we have done all the hard work and have a great recipe for you to follow so you too can enjoy what this salad has to offer :-).

Tip 1: When you are making the dressing, it should taste more on the sour side to give it that zing of freshness.

Tip 2: Prep all your vegetables and noodles and have your meat cooked and sliced so this is ready to assemble once you’ve made your dressing.

Tip 3: This salad is a great dish to take to bbq’s or a picnic or pot luck dinner party. The dressing can be made a couple of days before hand and can be kept in the fridge until the day you need it.

Again, with a lot of our recipes we try to use fresh ingredients which are easy to find at your local supermarket so anyone can make this at home.

Ingredients:

Ingredients

250g Vermicelli noodles

500g Pork strips or pork belly

Salt and white pepper (approx 1 TBSP of each)

1 Carrot (sliced thinly – julienned)

4 Celery stalks

1 Red capiscan

1 Yellow capsican

1 Bunch of mint and corriander

1 Small red onion (optional)

For the dressing:

4-6 Red chillies (depending on how spicy you like it)

4-6 Cloves of garlic

Pinch of salt

1/4 Cup fish sauce

5 Tablespoon sugar

Juice of 2 limes or lemons if you don’t have lime.

Method:

Step 1: Marinate the meat.

Preheat the oven on grill (preferably fan forced) at 180 degrees (Celsius).

In a large bowl, marinate the pork meat with salt and white pepper, making sure both sides are well coated. Let this marinate for a minimum of 20 minutes. While this is marinating, you can start prepping the noodles and vegetables.

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Step 2: Cooking the noodles.

Put the noodles in a large saucepan, add enough water into the pot to cover the noodles. Cook for about 5 minutes on high/medium heat. Once the noodles are cooked, drain the noodles, then pour into a bowl of iced water. This is to help avoid the noodles from overcooking. Set aside.

Note: At this stage, some people like to cut up the noodles with a pair of scissors so it’s easier to eat once the salad is assembled. But I think short noodles are harder to grab with chop sticks so I don’t chop up my noodles. Either way, it will still taste delicious.

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Step 3: Prepping the vegetables.

Start prepping the vegetables. Slice up the red and yellow capiscan, celery and carrots and set aside. Wash the corriander and mint and set aside.

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Step 4: Cooking the meat.

Now it’s time to cook the meat. Place the pork in the oven and cook for about 15 minutes or until it starts to turn crispy and golden.Turn it over and cook for a further 10 minutes on the other side. When both sides are done, take out the meat and let it rest for 5 minutes on a chopping board. Slice up the meat and set aside. We’re almost done.

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Step 5: The dressing.

In a mortar and pestle, combine the chillies, garlic, pinch of salt and sugar and smash/pound together. By adding the salt and sugar to the chillies and garlic, this helps to prevent the chillies from flinging into your eyes (nevertheless, smash with care – always). Once the chillies and garlic are well combined add the rest of the ingredients for the dressing. Set aside.

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Step 6: Bringing it all together.

Get a large bowl big enough to hold everything together. Firstly, put the noodles into the bowl, followed by the vegetables except for the mint and corriander. Add the dressing and gently toss. Have a taste to make sure you are happy with the flavours. If it is too salty, add more lime juice and sugar. If it is too sweet, add more lime juice. Once you are satisfied with how the salad tastes, add the mint and corriander and last but not least, the grilled pork. And there you have it folks, yum sen lon with grilled pork.

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Happy cooking, happy eating!

Yaw Kao – Fresh spring rolls

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Fresh Spring rolls are another family favourite of ours because it’s packed with yummy (and healthy) fillings and it’s simply delicious. Lets be honest though, it does take a bit of time to make but again, like most things all you need is to be organised and have all your fillings prepped and ready before you start on the spring rolls. And you can’t eat fresh spring rolls without a dipping sauce, it completes the dish. Lucky for you, we have a very easy and yummy dipping sauce recipe that you can make in less than 2 minutes!

The great thing with fresh spring rolls is that you can use whatever fillings you like. For this particular recipe we’ve used minced pork, but you can substitute the pork with chicken, beef, prawns or even go vegetarian.

This is a very basic recipe using ingredients that you can get from your local super market but if you want to add more vegetables such as carrots, cucumber, bean sprouts (skies the limit) then by all means go for gold. But we like to keep it simple and the less chopping up and prepping to do, the better! We also used mixed salad leaves instead of iceberg lettuce – again this to help save time, no washing and chopping required. Well, maybe just a quick rinse in water.

This recipe will make about 20-30 spring rolls depending on how much fillings you put into your spring rolls.

Ingredients

500g minced meat (we used pork in this instance)

2 Tablespoon vegetable oil

2 Gloves garlic finely diced

pinch of salt and white pepper

1 Teaspoon brown sugar

1 Tablespoon fish sauce

1 1/2 Tablespoon soy sauce

Half a packet of vermicelli noodles (approx 200g)

1 Packet of Rice paper rolls (approx 400g)

400g mixed salad leaves

Bunch of mint

Bunch of coriander

Big bowl of cold water (to soak the rice paper roll in)

For the omelette

4 eggs

2 Tablespoon vegetable oil

Pinch of salt and white pepper

1 Teaspoon sugar

1 1/2 Teaspoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon soy sauce

For the dipping sauce

1/2 Cup boiling water

1/2 Cup castor sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon msg (optional)

3 Tablespoon fish sauce

Juice of one lemon

2 gloves garlic minced

1-2 red chillies sliced

Crushed peanuts

To make the dipping sauce, boil some water in a kettle. Once boiled, combine the water, sugar, salt and msg to a bowl. Stir to combine until everything has dissolved. Add fish sauce, lemon, minced garlic and chillies and top with crushed peanuts.

Method

As we mentioned above it pays to be organised and this is the general order in how we prep the fillings: We always start with washing the veges first, then we boil a pot of water to start cooking the noodles in, and at the same time we start to cook the meat (multi-tasking comes in handy here) And lastly, we cook the eggs.

Let the cooking begin…

Step 1. Thoroughly wash the mint, coriander and mixed salad leaves and set aside.

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Step 2. Next thing is to start cooking the noodles. For every 500g of meat you only need half a packet of the vermicelli noodles. Follow the instructions on the noodle packet and once cooked, set aside.

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Step 3. Now it’s time to cook the meat. Heat oil in a pan on medium/high heat. Add your garlic and cook for about a minute until it becomes fragrant. Add the meat to the pan, then add the sugar, pinch of salt and pepper, fish sauce and soy sauce. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the meat is cooked through. Set aside.

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Step 4. Now it’s time to cook the omelette.

Step 4.1. Break the eggs into a bowl, add the sugar, pinch of salt and pepper, fish sauce and soy sauce and mix well with a fork to combine. You will have enough egg mixture to cook approx 3 or 4 batches of omelette

Step 4.2. Pour a bit of the egg mixture into a frying pan and cook for 1 minute on a medium to high heat. Turn over and cook for another minute on the other side. Once cooked, place onto a chopping board. Repeat this process until you have used up all the egg mixture. Then slice thinly and set aside.

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Step 5. So now you should have done the following; washed the herbs and mixed salad leaves, cooked the vermicelli noodles, cooked the meat and cooked and sliced the omelette. Arrange everything so it’s like a production line and it’s all within reaching distance for rolling. See picture below.

Also, make sure you use a bowl that is big enough to fit the rice paper. That way when you dip the rice paper into the bowl of water it won’t break.

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There are many different brands of rice paper rolls out there, it doesn’t matter which one you use so long as it is “rice paper”. Here is an example of some rice paper packets that I purchased from the local Asian stores. We always end up using the brand “Banh Trang Deo” the one with the squid on the front of the packet. The rice paper stays soft even after a few hours and in our humble opinion it tastes better.

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Step 6. Now it’s time to start rolling!

Step 6.1 First dip the rice paper into a bowl of water. Depending on the brand of rice paper, you may only need to soak it in the water for a few seconds. Rinse off any excess water by running the rice paper along the top of the bowl or have a tea towel near by. Place the rice paper onto a flat surface such as clean chopping board, dinner plate or onto a clean bench top.

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Step 6.2 Now to start placing the fillings onto the rice paper. First put about a tablespoon of the meat about halfway onto the rice paper. Then place the sliced omelette on top of the meat, followed by the noodles, followed by a few pieces of the salad leaves and lastly the herbs.

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6.3 Now to wrap it all up.

Fold the bottom part of the rice paper up towards the fillings – away from you, then bring both sides together towards the middle and start rolling it away from you. The trick is to keep it firm and use all your fingers to hold onto the spring roll while rolling.

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And there you have it. Serve with the dipping sauce and enjoy!

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Spring rolls are also great to take on picnics and bbq’s. If you plan on doing this place some baking paper in between the layers of your spring rolls in the container so they don’t stick together.

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Happy cooking, happy eating!

Banana Loaf

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Not only do we love cooking all things Lao and enjoy sharing the flavours of our heritage with our friends and family, but we also love baking!

So we thought we’d share with you a very easy and delicious banana loaf recipe*. It’s quick and easy to make, it’s moist but not in a birthday cake kind of way and it’s the perfect companion with a nice cup of tea.

* We must give credit where its due as this is a sightly adapted recipe from the Australian Women’s Weekly. Also thanks to Dai’s friend Stacey, from her mothers group for introducing it to us.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 Cup self-raising flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

20g butter (approx 1 tablespoon)

1/2 Cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 Cup milk

2 Bananas mashed

Method

1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees C fan forced (if you don’t have a fan forced oven then 180 degrees C). Grease a loaf tin approx 14cm x 21cm and line the bottom with baking paper.

2. Sift flour and cinnamon into a mixing bowl; rub in the butter.

3. Add sugar, egg, milk and banana. Do not over mix; the batter should be a bit lumpy. Spoon mixture into the loaf tin and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the loaf. Cool the loaf onto a cooling rake for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Can be toasted and stores well in the freezer. Enjoy!

Happy cooking, happy eating

Cheun Yaw – Fried Spring Rolls

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Lao fried spring rolls are so yummy we had to come up with a recipe to share with you all. Besides the frying, it’s a fairly healthy recipe. There are a lot of vegetables in this recipe so it’s like a complete meal. Eat on its own with a dipping sauce or in a traditional wrap style feast with lettuce, fresh herbs and noodles.

This recipe is quite a fun one to make with friends and family as it helps to speed up the wrapping process which as you know, many hands make light work! As a child I remember my mum and aunties coming together in the kitchen and they would all be rolling these delicious spring rolls and one person would be designated as the fryer. It was fun watching them make the spring rolls while they laughed and chatted away together.

IMG_3972 This is a recent feast we had while we were together recently in Melbourne (August 2013). The spring rolls are cut into bite sized pieces and then wrapped in lettuce, noodles, tomatoes, cucumber, beansprouts and herbs. Goes really well with our sweet dipping sauce.

In our journey we have been making a lot of spring rolls lately. We have trialled many versions of this recipe over the last few weeks it was like the good, the bad and the ugly of the spring roll world!

Like everything, good things take time and we finally we came up with the perfect recipe! According to our friends and family anyway 🙂

Give it a go, it may look daunting at first as there’s a lot of ingredients in this recipe but the key is to be organised and to make sure you have everything prepared before you start frying. But once you get that out-of-the-way, it’s easy peasy! These spring rolls are so delicious and tasty and we know that your family will absolutely enjoy eating it too.

What you will need makes about 25

Spring roll wrappers
Vegetable oil (about 3-4 cups)
1 Kilogram of pork mince
1 & 1/2 cups of grated carrots
1 & 1/2 cups of sliced cabbage
1 & 1/2 cups of bean sprouts
1 & 1/2 cups of vermicelli noodles (soaked to soften)
1 cup soaked black fungi (sliced)
1 large onion sliced
2-3 stalks of spring onion (sliced)
2 medium eggs
4 cloves garlic (minced)
2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoons chicken stock powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white pepper

You will also need:

A wok or frying-pan
Paper towels for draining
Chopsticks or tongs

I find getting all the ingredients ready first is easier, that way you don’t forget anything and it speeds up the preparation process.

Step 1. First you will need to soak the dried black fungi in cold water for 5 minutes. Once it has been re-hydrated, slice thinly and set aside. At the same time, soak the vermicelli noodles in warm water for 5 minutes, drain then set aside.

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Step 2. Now to get the rest of the ingredients ready. Slice the onions, spring onions and mince the garlic and set aside. Prepare the rest of the ingredients and set aside as shown in the picture below.

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You can use either the Vietnamese rice paper rolls or Chinese spring roll wrappers like the ones I’ve used tonight. It comes frozen from any Asian store and most supermarket chains should stock these too. Let it thaw while you’re getting your ingredients prepared.

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Step 3. Once you have soaked, sliced and diced everything, put all your ingredients except the oil into a large mixing bowl and combined together until it is thoroughly mixed. It’s easier to use your hands to mix everything together, but make sure you have clean hands to do this!

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Step 4. Next is the fun part. Wrapping the spring rolls. I like to have a small bowl of water handy to finish the spring roll off at the ends so they stick nicely.

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Step 4.1 Put about 2 tablespoons of your mixture onto the middle of your wrapper, bring the sides in so they are just touching.

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Step 4.2 Fold the bottom wrapper up onto the mixture away from you, then start rolling. The trick is to keep it firm and tight, the less air that gets into the spring roll the better the frying experience will be.

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Step 4.3 Just before you finish rolling, I like to dab a little water on the last triangle edge then finish rolling. This makes it stick better.

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Repeat til you have used up all the spring roll mince mixture. This is the most time consuming part of the recipe so it’s good to have a few friends help out or even better, get the kids involved and teach them how to wrap the spring rolls for you! 🙂

With this mixture I made about 25 decent sized rolls. It all really depends on how big or small you make them.

Step 5. Heat the oil in your wok or fry pan on a low to medium heat. Test the temperature with a chopstick. If the oil bubbles around the chopstick, the oil is ready for frying.

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In my wok I fry three at a time. Takes about 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

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Step 6. Drain on paper towels and repeat until you have fried all the spring rolls.

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I wasn’t left with much after I finished frying as I noticed little hands reaching for them faster than I could fry!

Tonight I served them with a sweet dipping sauce … YUM!

You can find the recipe for the sweet dipping sauce on our previous post with the Kua Mei (Lao fried noodles).

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Happy Cooking, Happy Eating!

 

Kua mee – Lao fried noodles

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Not to be mistaken for Pad Thai, kua mee is more sweet than savoury and has a very unique flavour to it, not to mention that it is very delicious to eat.

The caramelising of the sugar at the start of the cooking process is what gives this dish a unique sweetness and the oyster sauce, soy sauce and fish sauce are the savoury components. The sweet/savoury marriage of flavours is what sets this dish apart from other noodle dishes and the other reason why it’s always a hit in our household is because it goes perfectly with barbequed or grilled meat or with dum maak hoong (see recipe under salads), now that’s what you call a combo!

Now if you have never caramelised sugar before, it can be a bit tricky at first. A good tip is to keep the heat on a lo-medium temperature and you have to keep an eye on the sugar so that it doesn’t burn. Trust me, once you get the hang of caramelising the sugar without burning it, you will be rewarded with amazing results and you will fall in love with this dish and the flavours too.

In our family, we would always make kua mee with left over rice noodles after we’ve had a big feast on pho (rice noodle soup). It was a way to utilise the left over noodles, and you can add beef, pork, chicken or prawns to the dish to make it more substantial. For this recipe, we have made a vegetarian version of kua mee but if you would like to add meat to the noodles, do this after you have added the garlic and onions and follow the rest of the steps as normal.

One more thing, the sweet dressing sauce is optional, but it is highly recommended. Pour the dressing over the noodles just before serving and it gives the dish a whole new depth of flavours which will knock your socks off!

Like our other dishes, we have tried to make the recipe easy to follow but also maintaining its integrity and flavours. So give this dish a go and enjoy!

This recipe serves 4 as a main dish.

What you will need:

1 packet of rice noodles (approx 400g)

500ml boiling water

500ml cold water

1/4 Cup of oil (preferably olive oil but any vegetable oil will be fine)

1/4 Cup of white sugar

1 Teaspoon salt

4 cloves of garlic

1 onion sliced (or 4 shallots)

3 Tablespoon oyster sauce

2 Tablespoon fish sauce

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon chicken stock

5 Tablespoon water

1/2 Cup spring onions

1/2 Cup coriander

Crushed peanuts

Extra coriander and lemon wedges to garnish

For the omelet

4 eggs

1 Teaspoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon soy sauce

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Kua mee – Method

1. Soak the rice noodles in a big bowl with 500ml of boiling water and 500ml of cold water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

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2. You will need a wok to cook the noodles in. Put your wok on the stove on a medium heat. Add the oil and sugar

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Once the sugar starts to caramelise and brown around the edges you can swirl the wok so the oil browns the rest of the sugar evenly. See below.

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3. Add the garlic and onions and cook for about 3-5 minutes until it becomes golden and fragrant.

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4. Now add into the wok the oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, chicken stock and water. Stir to combine and there should be quite a bit of liquid in the sauce now.

Turn up the heat just a little and cook for about 3 minutes.

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5. Now add the rice noodles. It’s recommended that you use 2 wooden spoons to gently toss and stir the noodles with the sauce, it’s a lot easier with 2 spoons rather than just the one.

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You’re almost done. Set the noodles aside while you get onto making the omelet.

To the make the omelet, you will need to do the following:

6. Break the eggs into a bowl, add the sugar, pinch of salt, fish sauce and soy sauce and mix well with a fork to combine. You will have enough egg mixture to cook approx 3 or 4 batches of omelet.

7. Pour a bit of the egg mixture into a frying pan and cook for 1 minute on a medium to high heat. Turn over and cook for another minute on the other side. Once cooked, place onto a chopping board. Repeat this process until you have used up all the egg mixture.

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8. Let the omelet cool for a few minutes. Then slice into long strips and set aside.

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9. Now to finish off the dish. Add the sliced omelet, spring onions and coriander to the noodles and toss to combine.

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Serve with crushed peanuts and a wedge of lemon and pour over the noodles the sweet dressing sauce. Enjoy!

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Sweet dressing sauce

2 Cups water

1 1/2 Cup white sugar

1 garlic crushed

1/4 Cup fish sauce

Juice of one lemon

1 Tablespoon white vinegar

Method:

1. In a small pot add water with sugar on a medium heat and cook until the sugar has dissolved. Add the crushed garlic.

2. Turn off the heat, now add the rest of the ingredients; fish sauce, lemon and vinegar. Stir to combine. Done!

You can keep the left over sauce in an air tight container and it will keep in the fridge for up to 2 months.

Happy cooking, happy eating.

Tom khem – Caramelised pork belly stew

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Tonight I made Tom Khem which is a favourite amongst my kids because the pork is so tender and sweet. I make this often because it’s an easy meal to cook and this particular recipe comes out perfect every time.

Tom Khem is a one pot dish that is also full of flavour. The sweet and fragrant spices, the tender caramelised pork and the boiled eggs which soaks up the flavours of the stew makes it an absolute joy to eat.

Everyone who makes this dish has their own version but the flavours are basically the same – a balance of salty and sweetness. You can use pork or chicken meat and you can add vegetables if you wish (such as mushrooms or carrots) but traditionally it is made with just pork meat and eggs (Pork trotters can also be used in this dish – yum!). For this particular recipe I used good quality pork belly, and don’t be afraid to use the fat of the pork belly too – it adds flavour to the dish which of course makes it more tasty.

My mother cooked this dish often for the family as I was growing up, the aroma of the stew was always enticing and we would always finish our bowls with a full belly and a smile on our face. So when I was shown how to make this dish a few years ago I decided it too would be a dish that my own kids would enjoy eating and would love it as much as I did, and still do.

serves 4

800 – 1000 grams pork belly

6 – 8 eggs boiled and peeled

3 Tablespoon dark soy sauce

2 Tablespoon fish sauce

5 Tablespoon white sugar

1 Tablespoon chicken stock

1 Tablespoon crushed garlic

1 teaspoon salt

3-4 slices galangal

3-4 slices ginger

2 star anise

1 cinnamon stick (optional)

2 cups of water (approx)

coriander to garnish

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Method

1. The first thing you need to do is to boil the eggs. Put the eggs in a pot, add cold water just enough to cover them. Bring to a rapid boil, turn off the heat and put a lid on straight away. The eggs will be perfectly cooked after 15-20 minutes of sitting in the boiled water. The result is perfectly cooked soft-boiled eggs. (A handy trick I learnt from watching Rachel Ray!)

2. Now it’s time to prep the pork belly. Slice into long strips about 2cm thick, then slice again into 4cm in length. I like my pieces to be fat and chunky.

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3. Next you need to caramelise the sugar. Heat sugar in a pot or fry pan on a low to medium heat. The sugar will melt down and turn brown in colour.

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4. Once the sugar has turned into a nice brown sticky caramel, add ginger until fragrant. This should only take a minute then turn the heat up to medium/hot heat, and add the pork slices, garlic and galangal. Keep stirring the meat so it doesn’t burn. Add in salt and chicken stock. Keep stirring until pork is browned.

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5. Once the meat is nice and brown add water, just to cover the pork. Then add soy sauce, star anise and cinnamon stick. Bring to a steady boil for 2 minutes then turn the heat right down to a simmer. Put a lid on the pot and simmer for approx 2 hours so the meat becomes beautiful and tender.

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After about 90 minutes of simmering, add the fish sauce and the peeled boiled eggs. By doing this, the eggs will be able to soak up all that delicious flavour of the stew and the inside of the egg should also change to a brown colour.

Once you have simmered the stew for the required length of time, you will have a beautiful pork belly dish that not only smells good, but will also melt in your mouth! So rich and flavoursome. No doubt it will become one of your favourite dishes…give it a go!

Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with steamed jasmine rice and steamed asian greens if you like.

Also goes perfectly with spicy Tum Mak Hoong!

NOTE: If time is not on your side and you are unable to simmer the pork for at least 2 hours, then make sure you put your eggs in the stew for the last 30 minutes of cooking. However, it is recommend simmering the pork for at least 60 minutes to insure your pork is tender.

Also check the pork every 15-20 minutes and give it a light stir. Also turn the eggs carefully so they don’t break down.

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Happy cooking, happy eating!

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