Lip Smackin’ BBQ RIBS – three ways

It’s hard work in Britain, when barbecue season comes along. We fret about the weather and stare up at grey threat-filled clouds, brace ourselves stiffly against the gust of wind that makes eating outside a little more effort than it really should be. And what for? Pre-packaged burgers with high fat-content, sausages blacker than the […]

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Sweet and Sour Pork & Egg Fried Rice

When it comes to my Mother’s culinary repertoire, this is one of her crowning dishes (and the one my Dad goes on about the most). It’s a much loved family favourite and it always seems to be this special meal that gets cooked whenever there are a million family guests visiting. I won’t deny that it is a timely and excessive recipe but with a bit of easy preparation anyone can get it tasting delicious. Don’t be deterred by the ingredients list – I promise there will be full and happy bellies all round.

Ingredients: (Serves 4)
Pork tenderloin (cut into ½ inch chunks)
1/2 cucumber
2 carrot
2 peppers
4 chestnut mushrooms
1 large onion
1 inch of ginger
Whole bulb of garlic
Pineapple chunks
Pineapple juice (if from tin)
1 cup of corn flour
Tomato sauce
Vinegar to taste
Lemon zest
Juice of half a lemon
5 small chillis
Salt and pepper to taste
2 spoons soy sauce
2 spoons of sugar
1 tbsp. five spice

Marinate the pork chunks in the fivespice, sherry, soy sauce, lemon zest and lemon juice and corn flour and pepper. Make sure the meat is coated well in the mix to ensure good cornflower coverage. Leave for at least an hour in the fridge but overnight is best.

After the marinating, give it a stir to make sure everything is coated evenly and fry in a pan with 1/2 inch of hot veg oil, carefully turning the chunks only when the underside is browned and the thin corn flour coat has crisped at the edges. Do not over cook the meat.

Drain on some kitchen towel.

Use the left over marinade to make the sauce base. To this add half a cup of tomato sauce, sugar and the pineapple juice (if using tinned pineapple).

In a large wok – fry off the onions, garlic, chills, ginger in a little oil.  To the pan, add all the veg and pineapple, stir-fry briefly then add the left over marinade sauce. As the cornflower begins to thicken the sauce, add a generous glug of vinegar. Give it a taste to make sure the sweet/sour balance is as you like it. Lastly stir in the meat and add chives and parsley chopped to season.

Serve with rice and top with finely sliced spring onions. A chilled Rosé stands up refreshingly well to the sweet and sour without overpowering (like a fuller bodied red) or skewing the flavours (like a dry white).

Steamed rice (let it dry and cool with the lid off before frying)
A dash of Shaoxing rice wine or sherry
1/2 tbsp. light soy sauce
1/2 cup of peas
2 eggs – fried like an omelette, rolled and sliced

Chop the ½ inch of ginger as finely as possible and fry in a pan with some light oil. Add an egg – breaking the yolk into the white. Fry until you have a set omelette that you can roll out and slice into thin strips.

Place the empty pan back over a hot flame, add a little more oil and add your cooked rice. Turning the rice as you go so that it does not stick, add a dash of soy sauce and an equal dash of rice wine or sherry.

When the stain of the soy sauce is mixed through all the rice – add some peas (or any other small veg pieces you’d prefer) and the egg back into the mix. Turn constantly so that the rice does not burn to the pan. When the peas are cooked (which does not take long) the rice is ready to serve.

What Can You Put in a Spring Roll?

I’m on a roll this week, forgive the pun.

What do you like a a spring roll? This is just one example with minced pork but you could try chicken, char sui pork, egg, duck, pure veg – what ever you fancy, the possibilities are endless. If you’re looking for more ideas scroll down.

Spring Roll Wrappers
Oil (to fry in)
500g minced pork
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup of cornflour
1 tsp sugar
1/2 head of Chinese leaf cabbage
1 carrot
A cup of fresh bean sprouts
1 inch fresh ginger, grounded
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
Ground pepper
Preparing the filling
Fry off the pork mince and ginger in a large wok and once cooked, stir in the carrots and cabbage. Add the Chinese rice wine (I used Michiu), soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar,  a good grind of pepper, as well as just a teaspoon of the cornflour. When everything is nicely combined, take off the heat and allow to cool completely. The mixture needs to be drained of as much of the juices that will come out, especially after resting.  The more you drain now, the less likely the spring rolls will be soggy later (especially if you are planning on freezing them to cook at a later date).

When the mixture is cooled, add the fresh bean-sprouts. These, being so delicate, will get enough cooking in the frying phase alone.

Get rolling

The mixture, now drained and cooled, can now be rolled in to the wrappers. Prepare a dry work surface, and mix together the rest of the cornflour with a 1/4 cup of water. You will use this mixture as glue to close each wrapper.

Keep the rolls small – a spoonful at a time is best. It depends on the size of the pastry sheets you have, but consider that the wrapping needs to be tight which is easier with smaller rolls. Lose folds will make for greasier spring rolls, letting the oil collect in the pockets of air.

Place a row of the mixture in one corner of the sheet. Fold over the corner and begin to roll the wrapper towards the centre. At half way, fold in the sides tightly tugging down slightly in the direction of the already folded corner, so that the sides are as parallel as possible. This will ensure neater roll ends. Brush the flour water over the last corner to act as adhesive as you roll to the corner tightly.

To Fry
Heat about one and a half inches of oil in a pan carefully. Test the heat of the oil with a wooden chopstick (or the end of a wooden spoon) – if the oil bubbles steadily around the wood, the oil is at optimum temperature (but not bubbling furiously as this means it is too hot).

Slip each roll in gently and allow to fry for a minute or two on each side or until golden brown. Then remove and drain on a rack or some kitchen towel before serving. If you want to serve many in one go, have a baking tray on standby so that you can place batches of spring rolls onto and place them in a preheated oven to keep warm.

Other Filling Ideas

  • Char Sui Pork, bean sprouts, peas and carrots with a ginger, soy sauce and shaoxing wine seasoning.
  • Chicken and Chinese leaf cabbage with spring onions, shitake mushrooms, carrot, bean sprouts, garlic, ginger, light soy sauce, five spice & oyster sauce.
  • Finely sliced bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, shitake mushrooms, carrot and pepper, with soy sauce and oyster sauce.
  • Duck, Hoisin sauce, brown sugar, dark soy sauce, ginger and spring onion.
  • How about spicy king prawns, vermicelli noodles and coriander?

Jiǎozi, Gyōza, Pot Stickers or Dumplings…

If you make these, you have to make them in large batches. You will want more, I’m warning you.  Then probably more after that. The great thing is that they are freezable and you can cook them straight from the freezer. I love them in noodle soups but they are best when fried with a sour soy dipping sauce accompaniment. I could eat them every day.

Ingredients for the filling:
500g minced pork

1/2 inch finely grated fresh ginger (and any juice)
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp miso paste
1 teaspoon demerara sugar
2 cups of Chinese leaf cabbage
1 teaspoon salt
Ground pepper
Sesame oil
About 50 flour gyoza wrappers

Dipping Sauce:
Just mix together 2 parts soy sauce to 1 part rice vinegar

To Prepare:
Firstly, salt the sliced Chinese leaf cabbage and leave in a bowl lined with a clean dry tea towel. Resting the cabbage like this for ten minutes wilts the leaves and allows you to squeeze out the liquid in the tea towel until you are left with a leafy pulp. Drop the cabbage into a large mixing bowl along with the ginger, garlic, miso paste, sugar, a twist of pepper and a teaspoon of sesame oil. Mince thoroughly with your hands for a few minutes, to ensure an even and well combined mixture.

Take a dumpling wrapper in a clean dry hand and spoon a teaspoon of the mixture into the very middle, allowing enough space around the outside to close the dumpling. Close the dumpling by brushing the top half of the lip with a wet finger and pushing it over to meet the dry half. Then press firmly from the centre down to along each side. It is not necessary to crimp the edges, but if you fancy it make sure the seal is firmly shut, or the dumpling will fall apart on cooking (especially if you are using them in soups). Crimp only the top lip, with three folds on each edge from your centre point.

To Cook:
In a pan, heat a tablespoon of sesame oil. Make sure it is hot but do not leave it to smoke. Sesame oil has a lower burning temperature to usual cooking oils like vegetable or sunflower.


When ready, add the dumplings one by one into the oil. Fill the pan with dumplings as best you can without them touching each other.

After a few minutes check the base of the dumplings are browning and carefully add half a cup of water and cover with a lid quickly to steam cook the top half of each gyoza.

After another minute, remove the lid and let what is left of the water evaporate off. Once dry, the dumplings should be ready, remove and serve warm with a sauce, rice, a salad (try coriander and cucumber) or what ever you like. You could just eat them as a snack on their own. ~