Category Archives: Asian Recipes

Sisig

I grew up eating Filipino food and many of the dishes have created great life memories for me and Sisig is one that stands out.

The first time I had Sisig was when I visited the Philippines as an adult.  My friend and I thought it would be a great life experience to visit the Philippines on our way to Ireland.  We spent two weeks in Manila, the capital of Philippines with my uncle and cousins.  It was then that I was introduced to Sisig and the delicacies of Filipino bar food.

I remember the night well, we were taken to a night club but to me, it looked like a huge tin shed with a bar and a dance floor.  The place was mainly outdoors and to the back of the this tin shed was what seemed to be a make shift kitchen with guys dressed in casual clothing with a tea towel in hand waiting for an order.  We sat on a one of the huge wooden communal  tables and waited to be served.

I remember it being a balmy night.  I remember thinking how far we were from the civilized world of little ol’ Adelaide, thinking how very different this “night club” was to ours at home.  I remember ordering San Miguel beer and immediately thinking how awesome this beer was and how unlucky that we didn’t have it in Adelaide.  I also remember how my cousin’s friend ordered all the food that night with caution because he knew that most of it was so different to the food we usually eat in Australia and boy, I was amazed at how fast it all came out once he ordered and I remember the smell that filled the room once the food was placed on the table.

Filipino men like to drink beer with food readily available.  When these guys get on the sauce, it seems they anchor down and do a proper job at it.  Food must be served at these sessions.  Now, I don’t know if traditionally the women cook or if it is expected they cook, but when ever I have drinks with my Filipino male friends in Australia, food just miraculously appears, discretely served by their Filipino wives.  Sisig was one of those dishes or pork in general cooked in many different ways.  What ever meat it is, it’s usually crispy, salty and served with a dipping sauce that consists of chillies, vinegar and soy or a combination of all or some of those ingredients.  Smart really (for the men who drink at these bars and for the people who own the bar) salty, sour and crispy snacks are the best if you want drink alcohol, because the flavours almost induces more drinking.

Sisig is no different.  It is made mainly from pigs head, every bit of the head from the snout to the ears, cheeks and even the brains.  It also has pig livers and if you have the luxury version, people may add pork belly to it.  Simply put, the head is boiled for a long time then char grilled until almost black, picked and chopped into a small pieces.  Chopped, grilled livers are added to it and then finished by binding it together with the pigs brain and dressed with a vinegar and soy based dressing then served on a sizzling plate and finished with a raw egg on top and  calamansi, a type of citrus used in a lot of Filipino cooking.

Sounds interesting huh?  But let me just add, I served this little beauty to 240 guests at a gala dinner not so long ago and a lot people commented positively on the dish, mind you, they didn’t know what they were eating!!  But that’s not the point, they enjoyed it because it is a tasty meal.  Crispy pork bits bound with gooey egg, cut through with the freshness of the calamansi juice.  Salty, sour, hot and tangy at the same time, perfect beer snack.  As one of the ladies at the function mentioned, it is a type of “Filipino Dude Food”, and you know what, I like that because as she mentioned that, I thought back to the first time I had sisig and that description fit perfectly well.

This is a a bit of a process but well worth the effort.  Be the first to discover this flavour, it is unique and enjoyable.  This type of food will take off, I know it.  Even though it’s classified as offal, the flavours are just too good and Aussies love a “good thing” especially if it goes well with beer. Every time I have made Sisig and served to “unsuspecting” diners, they have always come back with positive reviews.  This will be the next wave of “dude food” in Australia.

I have blogged this before, look into “Cooking Lessons” for step by step tips on this recipe.  That’s how much I love this dish, I just had to re-blog it!

Sisig – served on a hot plate with calamansi & raw egg

Sisig

1 Whole Pigs Head

1 Pigs Brain – vacuumed sealed or sealed in sandwich zip lock bag

2 Onions – finely diced

1kg Pork Livers or Chicken Livers – cleaned and de-veined

8-10 Birds Eye Chilli – sliced

2 Cups Cane Vinegar

½ Cup Soy

3tblspn Sugar

2 Bay Leaves

4 Spring Onion Stems – finely sliced

1 Whole Egg

Salt

Black Pepper

Method

  1. Boil the pigs head, the meat off of the head in water, black pepper and bay leaves until tender, approximately 1 hour
  2. Boil the livers in water for about 20 minutes along with the brains.  Strain, then set aside to cool
  3. Make the sauce by mixing the chilli, 1tablspoon f the chopped onion, vinegar and soy and seasoning with salt and black pepper, balancing with the sugar
  4. Once the meat is tender strain the meat until dry then BBQ or grill it along with the pigs head and livers. Grill them until the livers are evenly browned and the pig meat crackles on the skin side and browns lightly on the meat side.  Smokey flavour is the key with out burning
  5. Allow the mat to cool slightly so you can handle it, and pick the meat off the bone.  Leave the eye
  6. Finely chop the meat into small bits, leaving small chunks
  7. Place the chopped meat into a bowl ad add the remaining onions and mix through with your hands
  8. Do the same with the remaining chillies
  9. Add the sauce and mix through thoroughly

10. Add the brain by crumbling it into the mixture, breaking it into small pieces

11. Heat up a heavy based pan until it smokes slightly then add the pork meat mixture

12. Cook until starts to brown, stirring continuously.  Make sure you scrape the bottom of the pan every time it starts to stick, this is the flavour of the sisig

13. Once crispy, heat up a Chinese hot plate until smoking hot and add the sisig to the plate

14. Crack one egg on top and sprinkle with chopped spring onions


Crispy Spatchcock with Pineapple & Capsicum in Shaoxing

Photo By Jun Pang

When I was a kid, I used to eat a lot of Filipino food.  I found that they used to fry a lot of food like pork belly, fish and chicken until it was really crispy, so crispy that you can eat the entire thing, bones and all.

There is nothing like eating crispy fried fish heads and fish bones, seasoned nicely with a little salt and a dipping sauce made with crushed garlic, chilli and cane vinegar and eaten with hot, gluggy steamed jasmine rice.  Top that off with some chopped, ripe tomatoes, red onions and fresh coriander dressed with a little lime juice and fish sauce and boy, I’m in heaven.

In the Philippines we have a dish called lechon kawali.  Simply put, it’s pork belly that has been boiled in aromatic stock then deep fried for a long time until its slightly browned and really really crispy.  Served with a similar cane vinegar dressing and gluggy steamed jasmine rice and the same tomato salsa but this time add a little crumbled, hard boiled Chinese salted egg and again, I bet no one would complain about this meal (except, of course, if you can’t pork for what ever unfortunate reason)

This chicken dish has similar flavours.  I love using spatchcocks for this dish.  The bones are not so dense and when fried, you can really get everything so crispy that you can eat the bones as well as everything else.  Flattening out the bird also helps because one, you don’t have to use so much oil and secondly you can the get the bones crispy.  Don’t be afraid to try new things.  You can eat bones, get it so crispy and you can eat the entire thing, it truly is a flavour sensation.

The capsicum braise is fantastic with this dish because you do need a  little moisture and the sweet and sour tones to capsicum braise is fantastic.  Similar to the Filipino dishes I mentioned prior, it really cleans up the palate, allowing you to enjoy or in my case devour the entire dish with absolute ease and yes, this capsicum braise does go with the pork and fish dish mentioned before hand.

Then all you need is the San Miguel beer and life would be bliss!

Photo by Jun Pang

Crispy  Spatchcock with Pineapple & Capsicum in Shoaxing

Serve 4

4 Spatchcock

1 Bunch Spring Onions

1 Thumb of Ginger

1 Cup Light Soy

½ Cup Dark Soy

¼ Cup Chinese Black Vinegar

10gr Liquorice Stick – form Asian grocer

2 Cinnamon Quills

5 Star Anise

2 Tspn Chinese Five Spice

2 Sea Salt

1 Litre Vegetable Oil – for frying

 

For the Pineapple & Capsicum

¼ Cup Vegetable Oil

1 Red Onion – peeled & finely sliced

6 Cloves Garlic – crushed and finely chopped

1 Red Capsicum – deseeded & sliced 2mm thick

1 Green Capsicum – deseeded & sliced 2mm thick

1 Yellow Capsicum– deseeded & sliced 2mm thick

2 Large Carrots – peeled & sliced into 2mm thick, 4cm long batons

I Bunch Spring Onions – cut whites into 2cm long stems & greens into fine long strips iin ice water until it curls

¾ Cup Shaoxing – Chinese cooking wine

1 Cup Light Soy

¼ Cup Rice Vinegar

½ Cup Brown Sugar

1 Cinamon Stick

3 Star Anise

1 Acid Free Pineapple – cored, peeled & cut into 1mm thick, 4cm long wedges

1 Bunch Coriander – leaves picked

Method

For the Crispy Chicken

  1. Using scissors, cut the spine out of the spatchcock allowing you to “open” the chicken out and flat.  Do this by cutting on both sides of the chicken’s spine using scissors.  Start from the tail end and work your way toward the head
  2. For the Marinade, pound the ginger and spring onion in a mortar and pestle until it forms a paste
  3. Add the light soy, dark soy, black vinegar, Liquorice, cinnamon and star anise to the paste and stir through
  4. Marinate the chicken in the soy mixture for at least one day, but 2 days is best, making sure the chicken is fully sub merged in the liquid
  5. Heat the oil in a large pot to 180 degrees Celsius using a thermometer
  6. Drain the chicken and pat dry.  If you have a fan, place the chicken on a wire rack with the fan on right on it to dry it right out for about 2 hours but patting it dry with a paper towel really well would be ok
  7. Shallow fry the chickens in the hot oil for about 8 minutes on each side at 180 degrees Celsius or until evenly browned and crispy on both sides
  8. Strain and allow to drain on paper towels
  9. Make a seasoning with salt and five spice and sprinkle it on the chicken whilst it’s still hot.

For the Pineapple & Capsicum

  1. Heat up a large pot on high heat for one minute then add the oil
  2. Sauté the onions stirring at all times, try not to colour it
  3. Add the garlic and sauté with out colour, stirring at all times
  4. Still at high heat, add the all the capsicums, carrots and spring onion stems and sauté for about 4 minutes on high heat, still with no colour
  5. Add the shaoxing, soy, rice vinegar, brown sugar and cinnamon sticks and reduce the liquid by half on high heat, stirring at all times
  6. Finish with pineapple wedges and turn heat off, check seasoning
  7. Place the capsicum on the plate, followed by the crispy chicken then garnished with spring onion curls and picked coriander

Photo by Jun Pang


Seared Prawns with Noodle Salad, Asian Herbs, Vietnamese Dressing

Photo by Jun  Pang

Time is a major constraint when it comes to cooking.  I know my self that it is hard some times with such a busy life style.  I cook as often as I can but usually it is a massive cook up of wet dishes which I freeze and eat later, this enables me to eat home cooked meals at a minimal cost and time.  Apart from that, I cook really easy stuff like this noodle salad.

The beauty of this dish is that you can use prawns as the recipe suggests or you can choose to use marinated and grilled chicken thigh or breast if you have more time or additionally put more vegetables in like soy beans, snow peas etc and even marinated tofu, the choice is endless.  It is easy, the only real cooking element is the blanching of the noodles and the the searing of the prawns.

The dressing can be made in large batches and can be stored in a jar.  The beauty of this dressing is the longer you leave it, the better the flavour gets and you can save the dressing for months ready for use in not just noodle salad, it can be in any salads like stripped cucumbers and mint, or even in just mixed greens.  So many options, so easy to make!

Seared Prawns with Vermicelli Rice Noodles, Asian Herb Salad, Vietnamese Dressing 

Serves 4

800gr Gulf Prawns

1 Carrot – Peel then using peeler, peel long, thick strips

1 Cucumber – Quarter, deseed length ways and slice on angle

250gr Bag of Bean Sprouts

5tbspn Palm Sugar

¼ cup Water

3 Large Red Chillies

4 Garlic Cloves

1/4cup Fish Sauce

500gr packet of Rice Vermicelli Noodles

1 Bunch Coriander – Pick leaves

1 Bunch Mint – Pick Leaves

1 Bunch Laksa Mint – Pick Leaves

3 Spring Onion – Finely sliced and placed into ice water

Sea Salt

White Pepper

 

Method:

  1. Blanch the noodles in boiling hot water for 1 minute, take off the heat and strain with running cold water to cool it down rapidly.  Set aside until needed
  2. For the dressing, place the palm sugar in a pot with the water and slowly bring up the heat just to dissolve the sugar and set aside to cool down
  3. Pound the chilli and garlic in a mortar and pestle to a fine paste.
  4. Add the chilli/garlic paste to the palm sugar solution.
  5. Add the fish sauce to the dressing to taste.  You may need a little more fish sauce or sugar depending on the balance.
  6. For the prawns, heat up a large heavy bottom pan.  Add oil.
  7. Season the prawns with salt and pepper and seal the prawns on one side for 1 minute then turn to the other side and cook for a further one minute.  Leave slightly undercooked.
  8. Mix the prawns with the cooked noodles and use half the dressing to moisten the noodles.
  9. Mix the carrot, cucumber, bean sprouts to the noodles along with the rest of the dressing.
  10. Place the salad into a bowl and garnish with the mixed herbs and the spring onions which would have curled up from sitting in the ice

 

Photo by Jun Pang


Pho – Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

I started working as a chef in a hotel that is right next door to the Adelaide Central Markets and China Town.

As a young chef learning their trade, I could not have asked for anything more.  Imagine seeing your states best produce on the walk to work.  Can’t get any more inspiring and educational than that really.  You see the freshest ingredients and also learn about the seasonality of many fresh produce.  You get to talk to vendors and build that ever so important relationship between producers and cooks.

The other thing I loved was being next door to China Town.  Many types of Asian cuisine at its best here and a few of the restaurants in this area are iconic to the locals and well known to a lot of visitors.  One place I loved to hang out before work to eat was at the food hall.

In the early days of my career I was obsessed with laksa.  I went to the Laksa House in the food hall and there wasn’t a day that I missed out on a good bowl of laksa.  I love the Asian soups especially ones with so many complex and rich flavours.  I also like the heat that comes from the chillies and creaminess of the coconut broth.  I remember leaving the food hall with sweat beading off my forehead.  I thoroughly enjoyed those meals but none more than the day after a hard night of pub crawls with the boys, it just cleans you out, sweats out the prior nights damage.

On one occasion the Laksa House was closed and I was forced to find another “hang over cure”.  Desperate, I ordered a soup from the Vietnamese stall.  It was called Bon Bo Huy.  A spicy clear beef broth with rice noodles, beef and a chilli, lemon grass paste that you stir through.  What a find.  I enjoyed the clear, clean flavours of the broth and heat that came with chilli paste.  The broth didn’t leave you feeling heavy, in fact it left me feeling refreshed and not so bloated.  I loved the spice of the chillie paste and freshness that the lemon grass imparts into the broth.  I knew I had found a new love, a new cure for “the day after’ a pub crawl.

As I progressed with my new found love of Bon Bo Huy, I was excited to let one of my Vietnamese chefs know about my love of Vietnamese soups.  She then went on to tell me about Pho, the soup that most Vietnamese people have.  It was more traditional and she told me of a place in Adelaide called Pho 75, a restaurant that only sell several flavours of Pho.  Again, I fell in love with yet another Asian soup.  Pho is again cleaner on flavours, the broth even clearer and lighter yet the flavours of beef very distinct.  The broth is garnished with much of the same such as rice noodles, thinly sliced raw beef, tripe and beef gravy, a cut of beef full of gelatine which once slowly cooked, becomes like soft jelly, much loved and prized by many Asian cuisines.

I now see Pho coming up in a lot of cooking magazines like laksas in it’s hay day.  It seems that a lot of people are now on the Pho bandwagon.    It is good that people are getting out there and getting to know food, but it kind of feels sad because it takes that exclusivity away in a selfish way.  I did really feel the connection with this food and a deeper understanding of it when I went to Vietnam and ate Pho at the very iconic Pho shop, Pho 2000.  On that trip, I fell in love with Vietnamese food in general and especially Pho.

The Iconic Pho 2000 in Vietnam – Ho Chi Minh City

I make this recipe in large batches, pack into a take away container with the meat already sliced into it.  When it is time for me to eat it, I just buy the noodles and other bits.  Great way to have home cooked meals with out the fuss, perfect for those times when I just don’t have enough hours in the day.

 

Pho – Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

2 Lemons

1kg Beef Bones – ask butcher to cut it into smaller pieces

2 Gravy Beef

3 Brown Cardamoms

3 Cassia Bark

8 Star Anise

200 gr Ginger – Sliced into smaller pieces

4 Large Brown Onions – peeled and large dice

1 pkt of Beef Tendon Balls (available at any Asian Grocer)

1 Red Onion – Finely sliced (paper thin, preferably on a mandolin if possible)

1 pkt Pho Noodles (fresh)

1 pkt Bean Sprouts

1 Bunch Thai Basil

Method

  1. Pre heat oven at 180C.
  2. Soak beef bones and gravy beef in cold water, lemon juice and lemons for ½ an hour.
  3. In a large pot, bring water to boil.
  4. Drain bones and gravy beef from the lemon juice and blanch in boiling water until impurities come out, about 15 minutes.  Drain the bones and beef and wash in cold water.
  5. Roast cardamom, cassia bark, star anise, ginger and onions for 30 minutes at 180C.
  6. Place the blanched bones and beef and all the roasted spices in a 10 litre  pot and fill the pot with cold water and bring to boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and skim all the scum that floats to the top, simmer for 2-3 hours
  7.   In the mean time blanch the noodles similarly to pasta, in salted water and cook until al dente.  Refresh in cold water and set aside.
  8. Slice the tendon balls into 4 pieces.
  9. After 2-3 hours of simmering (or until the gravy beef is tender), strain the stock.  Remove the gravy beef and discard the rest.
  10. Slice the gravy beef into even, thin slices, like discs
  11. It is important to keep this beef submerge in a little stock so as it does not discolour.  Season strain beef stock with salt and white pepper.
  12. In a deep soup bowl, place a small hand full of noodles followed by some sliced tendon balls, a couple of slices of beef gravy and some red onion.
  13. Pour piping hot stock over the ingredients in the bowl and serve with fresh ground white pepper floating on top.
  14. As an accompaniment, serve with Hoi sin and Sriracha chilli sauce (Vietnamese chilli sauce, available in most Asian Grocers) along with Thai basil and bean sprouts.
  15. This dish may also be served with thin sliced raw, lean beef and blanched tripe.


Vegetarian Green Curry

Photo by Jun Pang

Lets not forget about the vegos hey!!

it seems that there are more vegos out there in the world.  I don’t know why and hey, it’s not a bad way of eating, it’s just that the world doesn’t really accommodate for them as easily as we would expect.  I’m not a vego but I can sympathize for them though.  So many times I’ve been out at a restaurant and the choices for vegos are very limited.  I like to change that as much as I can in the restaurant, I mean why wouldn’t you do it, there’s so many fresh indgredients grown from the ground that it would be sacrilege not to use them.

If you’re not vego, turn this into a chicken Thai green curry by adding a little gupi or Thai shrimp paste into the curry paste.  Use chicken stock instead of water for that added flavour and season with fish sauce instead of salt.  With these flavours, you cannot get any closer to the original thing.

There is nothing like making curries, it is by far my favourite thing to cook.  The thing that gets me all the time is the balancing act in all the layers of flavours that are in the curry like salty, sweet  and hot.  This alone is a skill in its self.  The right amount of palm sugar versus the right amount of fish sauce and cut with enough lime for acidity.  It really was how I learnt to look for, balance and describe flavours I am tasting.

The paste can be frozen so you can make double the paste and you can freeze half for later use.  The green comes from the all the green ingredients like green chillies and coriander roots.  The oils will turn bright green when you saute the paste, this is a good indication that the paste is ready for the addition of the other ingredients.

Vegetarian Thai Green Curry with Coconut and Pandan Jasmine rice

Serves 4

For the Curry

4 Brown Onions – peeled and quartered

2 Bulbs of Garlic – peeled

60gr  Galangal –  outer husks removed

60gr Ginger –  outer husks removed

¼ Cup Green Scud Chillies – use large green chillies for alternative

1 bunch Coriander with roots – roots washed – leaves reserved

2 Bunches Lemon Grass – outer husks and tops removed

2 Tblspn Ground Coriander

4 Lime Leaves

4 Tins Coconut Milk – refrigerated overnight

60gr Palm Sugar

1 Lime

1 Eggplant – cut into 2cm cubes

1 small Packet Mung Bean Sprouts

1 Packet Oyster Mushrooms – ripped into smaller pieces

1 Bunch Bok Choy – quartered

1 Packet Fried Puffy Tofu – halved

1 Packet Golf ball Eggplant – halved

1 Packet Pea Eggplant – strip off the stalks

For the Rice

1 Cup of Jasmine Rice

1 Pandan Leaf

1 tin Coconut Milk

¼ Cup of Boiling Water

Method

For the Curry

  1. Heat up a large pot, enough about 8 litres or bigger on medium/high heat
  2. Make a curry paste using onions, garlic, galangal, ginger, green chillies, roots of the coriander and one bunch of lemon grass.  Either grind or use a food processor to make a smooth paste.
  3. Add oil to the pot and allow to heat up.
  4. Split the coconut milk by refrigerating it over night.  Place the thick coconut cream into the hot pot and reserve the thin milky residue
  5. Add the paste to the pot and sauté the paste.
  6. Cook the paste continually stirring so it does not stick on high heat.  The paste will start out pungent and light in colour, this will take about 15-20 minutes.
  7. When it turns “sweeter” in aroma and a little darker, stir through the coriander seeds then add 2 litres of water.
  8. Reduce the “stock” with the remaining lemon grass (slightly bashed to release the oils) and lime leaves.
  9. When reduced by half, add the coconut milk 9reserved from the tins) and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  10. Season with palm sugar, salt and fresh limes if needed.  Use fish sauce instead of salt if you want it non vegetarian
  11. Add all the different types of eggplant and cook for ten minutes
  12. Add the rest of the vegetables and cook for a further ten minutes

For the Rice

  1. Place the rice in medium sized pot with a lid
  2. Wash the rice with cold water and continue to wash until the water no longer turns white
  3. Tie the pandan leaf in a knot
  4. Place all ingredients into the pot and cook on low heat for 16 minutes with out lifting the lid.

Photo by Jun Pang

Gupi – Thai shrimp paste.  Very punget, fermented shrimps used in many Thai dishes.  This shrimp paste is a lot more potent in flavour and aroma than any other Asian fermented shrimp paste.  It is also a lot less solid and more soluble.

Fish Sauce – There are many type of fish sauce out there.  If you are going to make this non vegetarian, add fish sauce that is from Thailand, it is a little less salty and a lot rounder than others.  The best brand is Golden Boy Brand.


Grilled Lemongrass Chicken Thigh

Photo by Jun Pang

You can’t get any easier than this recipe!

Perfect for the back yard BBQ or if you’re strapped for time and really want a quick, easy and tasty meal.  Try barbecuing it on a wood charcoal hibachi, it gives that extra smokey flavour that goes well with this type of marinade.  Pork is also a good substitute for chicken

There’s nothing much more to say about it!

Grilled Lemongrass Chicken Thigh

Serves 4

650gr Chicken Thigh

3 Stems of Lemongrass – outer husks removed, finely chopped

4 Garlic Cloves – finely chopped

5tblspn Oyster Sauce

1tblspn Peanut Oil

4 Stems of Spring Onions – finely sliced, place in ice water to curl

Method

  1. Mix the lemongrass, garlic, oyster sauce and peanut oil together
  2. Place the chicken in the marinade and mix thoroughly.  Allow to sit in marinade for at least 30 minutes, preferably over night
  3. Carefully oil the bars of the grill with an oily rag.
  4. Grill the chicken for at least 3 minutes on each side to get the colour and smoky  flavour off the grill.
  5. Serve with spring onion curls

Photo by Jun Pang


Red Braise Beef

Just about every Asian country has a version of this dish.  Most use the same spices to flavour the braising liquid and the end result is subsequently similar in taste and appearance.

This is a Chinese version, using many and very different spices.  It is a very simple dish, simply place all ingredients in a pot and let it braise away for a period of time, perfect for those people who love on pot wonders.

This recipe calls for beef, I have used the strap off of a sirloin, the bit that most people throw away.  This bit of the muscle has lots of connective tissues, full of gelatin and as it cooks down, that gelatin adds flavour and gives the stock a little body, giving it that, sticky, wonderful gelatinous texture to the sauce.

Pork is absolutely perfect for this recipe, especially pork hocks and knuckles.  This piece of meat has double the gelatin and flavour is superb.  You can really use just about any cut of meat, just stay away from primal cuts, secondary cuts are the best and doesn’t dry out in the long, slow cooking process.

Photo by Jun Pang

Red Braise Beef with Red Dates

Served 2

For the Braised Beef:

1.5 Kg Beef Sirloin Strap – cut into 3cm cubes

6 Star Anise

4 Cinnamon Sticks

5 Pieces of Liquorice Root

¼ Cup Dried Mandarin Peel

400 Gr Rock Sugar

½ Bunch Spring Onion – cut into 5cm long batons

¼ Cup Ginger – roughly sliced into thin pieces

2 Cups Water

1 Cup Shaoxing (Chinese Cooking Wine)

1 Cup Light Soy

½ Cup Dark Soy

1 Cup Chinese Red Dates (jujubes)

For the Jasmine Rice:

2 Cups Jasmine Rice

2 Cups Boiling Water

For the Spring Onion Curls:

!/2 Bunch Spring Onion Greens –  slice into long strips, in ice water

Method

For the braised beef

  1. Place about 2 liters of water on to boil.
  2. Once the water is boiled, blanch the beef in boiling water for about 5 minutes to get rid of impurities then drain in a chinois
  3. In a 5 liter pot, place the star anise, cinnamon sticks, liquorice root, dried mandarin, rock sugar, spring onion, ginger, water, shaoxing, light soy and dark soy in the pot and bring to boil then simmer for 20 minutes
  4. Add the blanched beef to the pot and cook for a further hour on really low.
  5. Add the red dates and cook for a further half hour
  6. Taste for balance (not too salty) if it is a little strong in flavour, add a little water
  7. Serve in a pot and garnish with spring onion curls

For the Jasmine Rice

  1. Place the rice into a 2 liter pot and wash several times with cold until the water is remains clear as opposed to “milky” appearance
  2. Totally strain the  rice with the rice still in the pot
  3. Add the boiling water, cover with alfoil (tin foil) sealing the edges so no heat escapes
  4. Turn on the lowest heat and cook for exactly 12 minutes with out “peeking” into the pot

Photo by Jun Pang

Shaoxing Wine – Fermented from rice.  Originated from Shoaxing, in Eastern China.  Used mainly in cooking.

Liquorice Root – is the root of a herbaceous perennial plant known it’s botanic name Glycyrrhiza glbra.  It’s not from the aniseed family how ever it does impart a flavour similar to aniseed and is used in perfect combination with star anise.  Regarded by the Chinese as one of the healing herbs which provide energy.

Red Dates – commonly used in Chinese cooking and other Asian cuisines.  Also known in the Western world as Jujubes, it comes from the Ziziphus plant.  Also regarded by the Chinese as part of the healing herbs which is good for blood and a muscle relaxant.

Rock Sugar – are large sugar crystals made form a saturated solution, heated and allowed  allowed to crystallize, forming these crystals.  Usually amber in colour and it is also known as Rock Candy