Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Stuffed Chicken Wings


While cooking for our charity supperclub last weekend, we discovered what is possibly the holy grail of chicken wings, and it is not in buffalo form. I do love buffalo, don't get me wrong, but this transcends it. It takes the wing tip and uses it as a sticky handle, and using it you can lever it to your face to bite into. A sweet salty glaze, made using fish sauce and sugar and dark soy, coats the wing to make sure you cannot come away cleanliness intact. It is also a fact(oid) that pork and salt and sugar are the holy trinity of flavour. 


Fatty pork mince - crucial for juiciness - is mixed with red curry paste for heat and fragrance, and within it slivered lime leaves to add some extra oomph. Woodear mushroom and glass noodles snipped through help lighten the mixture as well as an added texture contrast. 

In short, they're fucking awesome. 



They're an amalgam of several peoples' thoughts, recipes and experiments and they lean most heavily on Oishin Boy's and Pok Pok's. I first tried Lap's a couple of years ago at Grillstock in Bristol; he smokes his stuffed wings over coconut until they're beautifully bronzed. Pok Pok's famous wings are sticky goodness, and worth a go if you can't be arsed with deboning them. The glass noodle idea came from my friend's Thai mum - I'd been uhming and ahing over lightening the density with some medium-firm tofu, and I might still yet but the glass noodles are a marvellous texture. So, a group effort really, with ideas borrowed from here and there, which is how I believe most of the great recipes come from. 

You need the pickled cucumbers. The mint, coriander and chopped red chillis help too. You might need a beer after the de-boning. 



Stuffed Chicken Wings

Stuffs 9 wings, so feeds 3 as a starter / snack

9 chicken wings, wing tip and winglet de-boned only - here's a video on de-boning, we took the drumette off 
150gr fatty minced pork
1 heaped tsp red curry pasted (I used Mae Ploy cos I had enough going on here to make it from scratch) 
A hefty pinch of salt
A smaller pinch of sugar
5gr shredded dried woodear mushrooms, rehydrated in hot water and drained
10gr dried glass noodles, rehydrated in hot water, drained and snipped into 2cm pieces
3 lime leaves, rolled up and shredded finely 
2 stalks of spring onions, minced finely 
500ml cooking oil
300gr cooked glutinous rice flour

For the glaze: 

100ml fish sauce (I used Three Crabs - other brands may be saltier so be warned) 
400ml water
200gr caster sugar
1 tbsp dark soy 

For garnish: 

Pickled cucumber spears 
(de-seed cucumber, slice into spears and soak in a solution of rice wine vinegar, salt, sugar and water - it should be heavy on the vinegar as you want these to be tart. Make these at least 4 hours in advance or the day before) 
Picked mint leaves
Picked coriander leaves
Fried garlic - mince 6 cloves of garlic and fry in 1cm of oil until golden, then drain) 
Chopped red chillis

Mix the pork with the red curry paste, salt, sugar, wood ear mushrooms, glass noodles, and spring onions. Using a teaspoon, gently stuff into the chicken wing, using your fingers to press it in snugly. full to the top of the wing, do not over-stuff. Roll in the cooked glutinous rice flour, shake off and deep fry for 9 minutes until lightly bronzed. Set to one side. You can deep fry the chicken wings in advance and keep in the oven in a low heat (70 degrees C) if desired.

Meanwhile, combine the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan, whisk until the sugar has dissolved, and then simmer together until syrupy - about 15 minutes but eyeball it. Also taste it - if it's too salty add more sugar, too sweet add more fish sauce. You want it to be on the sweet side. 

In a large wok or non-stick pan, on a low heat combine the chicken wings with the glaze and toss well. Pile the chicken wings on a plate, tuck the cucumber spears around it, and throw herb leaves, fried garlic and chilli at it. Then serve with many napkins. 

(Thanks to Theo Tennant for the pictures taken from our Supperclub - you didn't think I got suddenly nifty with the camera, did you?)

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Ride Africa Charity Raffle - Prizes



In November I will be cycling 500km across Kenya with Child.Org and in order to fundraise, I've asked my favourite restaurant people if they fancied donating a prize. As it happens, they're a bunch of very generous people - HOORAY!

The link to buy tickets is HERE.

Each ticket is £10 so please only donate £10 or in multiples of 10. You can buy as many tickets as you wish. Please include your name on the donation listing.

On Friday 28th September I will be using a random prize winner generator to draw names for all the prizes. Some of the prizes may have Ts and Cs, sorry but I am not in control of them.

Winners will be notified by email and will be sent details on how to claim the prize.

PRIZES:

SMOKESTAK - London's most delicious barbecue restaurant has kindly donated a £100 tab OMG imagine how many pork ribs you could have! 

DUCK & WAFFLE - Dine in the clouds (almost) 24 hours a day. Has anyone ever gone for breakfast through to lunch, then dinner? I'm not sure you could on £100 but you could give it a go... 

GUINEA GRILL - A fantastic steak restaurant in Mayfair where you can order lamb chops as a side dish! Swoon. Also £100 tab.

MEAT LIQUOR - needs no introduction to some of the best burgers in London. £100 tab for you to eat burgers and sink cocktails to your heart's content (London branches only).

RAMBLA - If you don't order the cannelloni you are missing out on one of life's greatest pleasures. Ace tapas in Soho with £100 tab to win.

BLACKLOCK - the full she-bang for one lucky winner - a cocktail, carafe of wine, the all-in-experience (hello meat heaven!) and cheesecake to finish you off. 

CHIKN - From ChickN'Sours, this is a pretty special one as you'll be the first person ever to get a breading masterclass so you can fry your own chikn at home! Followed by a humungous £40 tab that you should definitely bring your friends to come and help you out with otherwise you'll turn into a burger yourself.

OLDROYD / THE DUKE OF RICHMOND - Depending on whether you're up for a date night or casual pub grub you can choose where to spend this £50 voucher. Can I come?

FORZA WIN - Peckham's most beautiful warehouse will stuff you with dinner for two with a bottle of wine - they've just trademarked the Custardo which is probably the most genius invention since custard itself.

ST LEONARDS - £30 to spend on cocktails and bar snacks (excludes restaurant). Do not and I mean do not miss the white clam pie. Or the mortadella hot dog. Actually just order everything.

BRUNSWICK HOUSE - go and marvel at the millions of light features as well as the incredible food with an extra £50 to spend.

BAOZI INN ROMILLY STREET - 2 lucky winners will get £30 each to spend on colourful dumplings and spicy noodles. They do dim sum ALL NIGHT so you can eat dumps to your heart's content.

WINE! LOTS OF WINE! Or more specifically, a mixed 6 case of wine from Red Squirrel Wines

MORE WINE! - A case of Tandem, a Moroccan Syrah from the wonderful Drop Wine. If you haven't downloaded the app then please do because goddamn they deliver wine to your very door. A little about the wine: Tandem is a rare example of Moroccan wine available in these parts, though it's made by a Frenchman - Alain Graillot - who's best known for his efforts in Crozes-Hermitage, where he is considered one of the grandest of the grands fromages. Legend goes he spotted some Syrah vines while cycling around Morocco and decided to take a run at them. This is rich, juicy, and full of spice and leather. Probably not one to drink with a sardine. Tagine all the way. Or steak. Or a roasted aubergine. Anything chunky and smoky. 

BREDDOS TACOS - £30 to spend on tequila and tacos (or whatever you fancy eating and drinking) in either Soho or Clerkenwell. Can't say much dreamier than that.

BANCONE - I've made my way through 4 of their pasta dishes and most of their starters and I can guarantee you're going to have a glorious time here, with £30 to spend.

DRAPERS ARMS - the pub-which-can't-be-a-pub-cos-damn-that-food-is-so-good are offering a £30 tab.

TEMPER CITY - Steak! Fish! Mezcal! Drunken fun-times to be had at the City restaurant with £30 to spend.

ZELMAN MEATS - I dream of the truffle chips and I once drank 7 martinis and didn't even get drunk because I had eaten so much of their delicious meat so you can too with £30 to spend here. 

GOODMAN - USDA steak, UK steak, lobster Mac n' cheese, MARTINIS! Martinis! £50 to spend. 

HAWKSMOOR - I once ate a 1.2kg bone-in ribeye all to myself at Hawksmoor and it was no trouble whatsoever because it was just so damn delicious. Also the purveyor of one of London's finest roast dinners, there's £30 to spend here. 

A PERSONALISED PORK PIE FOR 6 from the genius that is Calum Franklin, of Holborn Dining Rooms


Xu Restaurant - A gorgeous tea-house setting, don't miss the taro dumplings stuffed with sweet cured sausage with this £30 prize. 

EL PASTOR - £30 to stuff yourself silly on in-house-made tacos in London Bridge. Don't miss the sesame tuna tostadas!

Friday, 20 July 2018

Cold Noodles with Sesame Sauce


Earlier in the summer I visited Murger HanHan on an invite from the PR company. Located in Mayfair down a back street, it's a real blink-and-you-miss it. Awful pop music was playing, and it was full of people slurping down on noodles. I think we chose a bit badly, actually; wide belt noodles with tomato, egg and garlic dipping sauce came in a vat of broth so huge we could have bathed in it, while the tomato and egg was comforting, it was also very sweet and devoid of garlic. Should have gone for the biang biang noodles. Impressively long noodle, though.


The pork murger, which is a flatbread cut open and stuffed with meat (the original burger, apparently) was quite bland, and very very fatty - though they do offer it on the menu with lean pork only. But there was seemingly no flavour to it other than the pork itself and a little salt. I get the feeling that this is super traditional, though having never been to Xi'an I can't confirm. The spicy beef murger with peppers and cumin is on the list for next time.


What we did love, though, was this cold steamed rice noodle with sesame sauce. Thick, chewy noodles were mixed up with slivered cucumber and beansprouts underneath, giving essential crunch to the slippery noodles, the creamy sauce being full of rich sesame flavour. They sent me the recipe, hurrah! So I set to making it myself.

I can't find rice noodles that are shaped like this - cut to a square shape, basically - they're all flat like pho or ho fun, or round like bun noodles, or too fine like vermicelli. I set about making my own, though to do this I trialled two methods; mung bean jelly noodles, and cold skin (liang pi) noodles.

More on the latter later, because mung bean jelly noodles were my favourite. The sauce could have clung to them a little better, I guess their surface is too smooth, but in terms of satisfaction of chew these guys really swing it.


For the noodles: 

100gr mung bean starch 
500gr water 
A pinch of salt 

Mix the starch well with half of the water in a large bowl, and add the salt. Bring the other half of the water to the boil and on a low heat, add the starch mixture bit by bit, mixing the solution until it is well combined, with a whisk. Cook on a low heat until the mixture becomes more transparent, then take off the heat, grease a tupperware box and pour into it. When cooled, place in the fridge until needed.

To use, slice thinly width ways and then slice again to the width of the noodle desired. For this I sliced into cube shape. 


Here is Murger HanHan's recipe for the sauce; it's practically verbatim except I've reduced the soy sauce down because it was plenty salty enough. This makes quite a bit - enough for 4 - 6 portions. 

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
7 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste (this is a darker colour to tahini, and tastes richer but you can use tahini at a push)
6 tablespoons of warm water
5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (I used chilli oil here, and upped it to 1 tbsp)
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 cucumber, chopped to thin slice 
1 small bag beansprouts (I blanched mine because I don't love raw beansprouts)


In a large jar, combine all the ingredients except the cucumber and the beansprouts, and shake vigorously. Layer the beansprouts, cucumber and noodles, then drizzle the sauce over it and toss well. I added coriander, more chilli oil and some steamed choi sum to make it a full meal, and you could add chicken or crispy tofu too. It's a great lunch salad, but keep the sauce separate till you're ready to eat it. 

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Steamed Aubergine Salad


I love aubergines - I love them deep fried, stewed, baked, stuffed, smoked, mashed. I love them curried, I love them in pasta, I love them moussaka'd. I even love them in salad which is what this recipe is for. 

This salad, with a combination of spicy, garlicky, savoury and sour is perfect spooned over rice or nests of rice noodles. It packs a punch - it's not a salad you can really eat on its own but it does make a light lunch or dinner. 

I especially like the ease of steaming aubergines and I use baby aubergines for this to aid cooking time; simply split into four at the stem (with the stem still holding them together), and 15 minutes is all you need to a quick dinner. 

You can also flame-char large aubergines on the gas hob or barbecue, or bake them until collapsed (prick the skin before baking) and scraping the insides out of the skins and having this as a smoky mashed salad; a Chinese babaganoush, if you will. 




Steamed Aubergine Salad

Serves 2 with other dishes, or 1 as a light dinner with rice / noodles

2 baby aubergines, split into four lengthways from the stem, stem still attached
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp Chinkiang black vinegar
A pinch of sugar
3 red birds eye chillis (fewer if you're chilli intolerant), minced
3 cloves of garlic, mashed
1 tbsp vegetable oil 
A small handful of coriander; stems roughly separated and chopped finely, leaves chopped roughly
1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted

Place the aubergines in a steamer and steam for 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, prepare the dressing. Whisk together the light soy sauce, sugar, black vinegar, and sesame oil. 

Heat the vegetable oil in a small saucepan on a medium heat. Add the chilli, garlic and coriander stems. Cook on a medium heat for a minute, stirring and making sure the garlic doesn't burn. Remove from the heat and spoon into the dressing mixture. 

Remove the aubergines from the steamer - they should be collapsing a bit by now. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then cut the stem off and then the quarters in half again. Arrange on a plate and drizzle with the dressing. I quite like this salad warm but you can also now cling film and refridgerate in advance - bring back to room temperature to serve it. Garnish with sesame seeds and coriander before you serve it. 

Monday, 12 March 2018

MAPO TOFU


Got a tofu denier in your life? Are you a tofu denier yourself? Well then my friend, this is the recipe for you. It is, surely, the most delicious way to eat it. Some restaurants go overboard with the oil - traditionally, it seems, it is quite oily - and I've found that making it at home means I can control the spiciness and the tingliness of the Sichuan pepper that goes in to making mapo tofu.

Many use minced pork. I love the deep flavour of minced beef here, inspired by Fuchsia Dunlop. This is my standard base recipe for Mapo Tofu; you can modify it, using chopped up shiitake and brown mushrooms to replace the meat, or you can go super turbo, by trying out Danny Bowien's version from Mission Chinese, or watch Mind of a Chef and try that recipe. But I implore you to try a straight-up version first to get to grips and fall in love with it. Here's a video I made with Chinatown London to encourage you to give it a go. 



Here's the recipe; serve with lots of steamed fluffy white rice, and stir fried vegetables. 

Ma Po Tofu

Serves 4 with other dishes 

1 box tofu, the type you get in water - I prefer medium-firm silken. Remove, cut into cubes and steep in just boiled water with a pinch of salt
100gr of minced beef
2 tbsp of cooking oil
2 fat cloves of garlic, minced
1.5 - 2.5 tbsp of chilli bean sauce (depends on saltiness)
1 tsp chilli flakes (optional, for hot-heads)
1 tbsp fermented black beans soaked in water
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp of sugar
175ml water
1 heaped tsp of cornflour mixed with a little water
3 stalks of spring onions, whites separated and cut into thumb-length stalks, greens sliced diagonally
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, toasted and ground into a powder

Heat oil in wok add minced beef with the oil and fry until crisp, mashing the beef with the back of a wooden spoon to break it up. Add garlic, whites of spring onions, stir for 10 -15 sec, add the chilli bean paste and black beans, stir till fragrant - then add soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, ground pepper, water and chilli flakes

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Drain and add the tofu to meat sauce, stir gently and simmer till hot, around 5 minutes. Add the cornflour mixture, and when thickened it’s ready. Transfer onto serving dish and sprinkle with the ground Sichuan pepper. Top with spring onion greens.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Potstickers, & a Video on How To Fold Them


On the 10 year anniversary of this little blog, we have come full circle. Here I am again, posting a recipe for potstickers - my first ever post was about potstickers. Maybe it means that in fact in 10 years I've gone absolutely nowhere with this. The pictures are better though, and my pleats are pretty great so if that's all the progress I've made then I'll take it.

Potstickers are a big part of my life. My freezer always has a bag, and I am forever experimenting with new flavours. We don't veer too far away from pork, because mmm pork, and my favourite so far have been the soup dumplings, from 2016



I love wontons equally, as is evidenced by a snapshot look at my instagram account and I strongly believe that there isn't a hangover that can't be at least slightly quelled by these tiny parcels of joy.  The intimidating part is the folding, and I would recommend starting with shop-bought wrappers for quick and easy while you get those fiddly pleats sorted out. 

Here's a video of me showing you how to fold them and cook them (don't worry, my face isn't in it). For this recipe, I partnered with Chinatown London, and you can try these for yourself, if you don't want to make them, in restaurants all over Chinatown. My favourite places are Jen Cafe and Dumplings Legend.  


Once you get that down, get going on rolling your own wrappers. They are worth it. Here's a recipe that makes a bunch; it's best to make too many and freeze them on a floured plate as you can easily cook them from frozen. 


TIPS! With pre-made wrappers:

Have a piece of kitchen roll or a clean j-cloth to hand, that is damp. This is so you can press the wrapper face down onto it before you stuff it, to help stick the pleats. 

Make sure you squeeze the pleats shut - dampen your finger when doing so if they're being a bit dry. 

This is a pretty standard base recipe; from here you can start adding things. Sometimes I take out spring onions and add finely minced Chinese chives. In the springtime, I add blanched, minced wild garlic. I really like diced water chestnut too for some secret crunch, and I like experimenting with flavours like celery, or fennel seed. Tofu fillings also work well, though be sure to squeeze out moisture and st

POTSTICKERS

60gr fatty minced pork
4 napa cabbage leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp oyster sauce
5cm piece of ginger, grated and soaked in 1 tbsp water
3 shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated
1 tbsp light soy
½ tbsp sugar
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1 packet of dumpling wrappers (white, round)
1 tbsp oil
Water, to hand

DIPPING SAUCE:

Soy sauce
Chilli oil
Black vinegar
Slivered ginger
Pinch of sugar

Salt the cabbage and set in a sieve over the sink while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Mix the pork in one direction with the oyster sauce, sugar, light soy, spring onions. Squeeze the ginger in the water and add the water only. Mix well until formed into a paste. Rinse the cabbage, squeeze all the moisture out well, and add to the pork mixture. 

Set out a clean dampened j-cloth or damp couple of pieces of kitchen roll. Press the dumpling wrapper into the moist, then add a tsp filling. Pleat, set aside to cook. To cook, heat up 1 tbsp cooking oil in a non-stick pan, then place the dumplings flat bottom side down in the oil. Fry for 3 minutes, add 50ml water and the lid, and steam for 2 minutes. Remove the lid and evaporate the water on a medium heat, making sure the bottoms aren’t burning.

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Combine sauce ingredients to dip the dumplings in.

(Disclosure: This is a paid partnership for me to develop the recipe and cook it in the video. All views and words are my own)