Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle soupChicken noodle soup from a takeaway can be a gloopy, tasteless affair full of MSG but don’t let that put you off making it yourself.  The key to packing flavour into this soup lies in the quality of the stock.  Making your own is best, if you buy it you may need to boost it a little with a spoonful of vegetable bouillon powder.

I made this soup for a crowd (the recipe has been scaled down) so I started the day before with a whole chicken which I poached.  I then removed the meat from the carcass, roasted the bones for half an hour and returned them to the pot with a couple of bay leaves, a carrot, two celery sticks and a leek.  I left this concoction to simmer gently on the Rayburn for about 4 hours before straining and leaving to cool.  This gave me a great flavour base to start with and is worth doing if you have the time.  If you are only cooking for small numbers freeze any leftover stock and use the rest of the chicken in a salad or a pie next day.

The recipe below uses just a chicken breast (you don’t need much meat) and is a short cut to similar results.

Ingredients

(Serves 4 as a starter)

1 large Boneless Chicken Breast (skin removed)

900ml / 1 ½ pints Chicken Stock

100g / 4 oz Rice or Soba Noodles

Small piece of fresh Root Ginger

1 Clove of Garlic

100g / 4 oz Mushrooms (I used Shitake and Enoki)

2 Spring Onions

2 tsp Soy Sauce, (plus extra for serving)

1 Red Chilli

A handful of Coriander

Method

Pour the stock into a pan. Finely chop the ginger and garlic and add to the stock along with the chicken breast. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes until the chicken is just cooked. Remove the chicken from the pan and shred it using 2 forks.

Chop the spring onions, slice the shitake, separate the enoki mushrooms and add to the stock along with the shredded chicken. Season with the soy sauce. Add the noodles and simmer until they are cooked (just two or three minutes) .

Ladle into bowls and scatter over the remaining spring onions, herbs and chilli shreds if using. Serve with extra soy sauce for sprinkling.

 

 

 

Dim Sum

Dim Sum RecipesDim sum are bite sized morsels of food often steamed but sometimes fried.  They are traditionally served with tea in restaurants or inns across China and might be compared to the Spanish tradition of tapas.

I served these as a course in a Chinese New Year banquet which is not particularly traditional but worked really well to increase the range of flavours my guests got to eat without overloading them with vast quantities of food.

I made Szechuan Belly Pork; slowly cooked cubes of tender pork, spiked with chilli, star anise and ginger and tossed in a sticky sauce made of soy, sugar and rice wine vinegar.  I also made pork and prawn wonton; minced pork and prawns, flavoured with ginger and oyster sauce, wrapped in a wonton wrapper and served with a dipping sauce.

Most of the ingredients should be easy to get hold of but if you can’t get rice wine dry sherry will do.  I also struggled to get hold of wonton wrappers locally – I foolishly thought that they would be easily available but tried three different supermarkets, two health food shops and a specialist grocer, all to no avail.  I eventually took a 50 mile round trip to Penzance to an Asian grocers because I left it to late to buy them on line!

Szechuan Pork Belly

Ingredients

500g / 1lb Boneless Pork Belly

2 tbsp Vegetable Oil

4 dried Red Chillies

6 Star Anise

2.5cm / 1” Piece Root Ginger

1 tsp Sea Salt

1 tbsp Rice Vinegar

2 tbsp Sugar

1 tbsp Soy Sauce

1 tbsp Sesame Seeds

Method

Cut the belly pork into 1” cubes (you can ask your butcher to do this if you like).

Put the pork into a wok or a large, non-stick frying pan and cover completely with cold water. Add 3 of the dried chillies, the ginger, star anise and salt. Bring to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer very gently until all the water has gone and the pork is tender. Remove the spices and continue cooking the pork until it is crisped and golden on all sides. Remove the meat from the pan and keep warm.

Put 100 ml of water into the pan and add the vinegar, sugar and soy sauce. Chop the remaining chilli and add to the pan. Bring to the boil and stir continuously until the sauce has reduced to a sticky glaze.

Return the pork to the wok, sprinkle in the sesame seeds and cook everything together until the pork is well coated in the sticky glaze.

Pork & Prawn Wonton

Ingredients

175g / 6 oz Minced Pork

85g / 3 ½ oz Peeled Prawns

2 Spring Onions

2 Cloves Garlic

2 tsp roughly chopped Root Ginger

2 tbsp Oyster Sauce

1 tsp Sesame Oil

12 Wonton Wrappers

Dipping Sauce

2 tbsp Soy Sauce

2 tbsp Rice Wine

2 tsp Grated Root Ginger

Method

Put all the ingredients except the wonton wrappers into a food processor and pulse until combined into a coarse paste.

Lay the wonton wrappers out a few at a time and wet around the edge of each one using a pastry brush and a little water. Place a teaspoon of the pork and prawn mixture in the centre of each wrapper (don’t over-fill) pull up the edges and squeeze well to seal.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and line a steamer with parchment paper and arrange the wontons in a single layer on top of the paper. Steam for around 5 minutes until cooked through and piping hot. You may have to cook them in batches.

To make the dipping sauce simply stir all the ingredients together and serve next to the wontons in a small bowl.

 

 

 

Sesame, Soy Tuna

Sesame Soy TunaThis is a lovely meal, quick to prepare and quick to cook.  It works wonderfully well on a BBQ in the summer or indoors the rest of the year,

The marinade is incredibly simple but packs real flavour into the dish.  If, like me, you are serving this as one course in a banquet, you may find that the tuna and pak choi is enough but if you want a more substantial meal try adding some fine egg noodles tossed in a little sesame oil.

Please make sure that you know where your fish comes from and how it was caught.  For more information you may find this chart useful.

 Ingredients

Serves 4 as a main course

4 Tuna Steaks

4 Pak Choi

50 ml / 2 fl oz Soy Sauce

4 tbsp Soft Brown Sugar

1 clove Garlic

1 tsp Sesame Oil

1 tsp Sesame Seeds

2 Limes

2 Spring Onions

Method

Crush the garlic and put in a small pan along with the sugar, sesame oil and soy sauce.  Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved and the ingredients are combined.  Set aside – when completely cool pour over the tuna and leave in the fridge to marinate for an hour or two.

Cut the pak choi in half lengthways and char the cut side on an oiled griddle or BBQ.  Place, cut side up in a shallow oven dish.  Sprinkle with lime juice, chopped spring onions and sesame seeds and place in a medium oven for 5 minutes while you cook the tuna.

Grill, griddle or BBQ the tuna steaks for one or two minute(s) on each side until browned on the outside but still rare on the inside.

 

 

Lychee and Lime Sorbet

Lychee and Lime Sorbet

OK – I accept that lychees aren’t the most imaginative of desserts to eat with a Chinese meal but actually, they taste really good; sweet and delicately perfumed.  I added lime juice for a sharper note and made them into a puree.

You can use fresh lychees but this recipe works perfectly with the canned fruit as you can use the syrup too.  Did I really serve up canned fruit to my guests?  Apparently so – and they enjoyed it too.

You can make this sorbet without the egg white but it makes the finished texture lighter and fluffier.

Serve with some lychees on the side and maybe a drizzle of lime syrup.

Ingredients

3 x 400g cans Lychees in Syrup

50g / 2 oz Caster Sugar

1 Egg White

Juice and zest of 2 Limes

Method

Drain the lychees reserving the juice from 2 of the cans. Put the reserved juice and the sugar into a small pan and heat gently until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat and boil rapidly for 1 minute.

Blitz the lychees in a food processor, when they are finely chopped, leave the food processor running and pour in the syrup..

Pour into a plastic container and freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Next day, break up the frozen sorbet and return to the food processor. Blitz until really smooth, add the lime juice and zest and the egg white and blitz again. Return to the plastic container and re-freeze – preferably overnight.