Kimchi jigae noodle stew

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Jigae may be something that is brand new in your culinary vocabulary or, indeed, you may be well versed with it; regardless it is certainly a meal that you need to become more familiar with as it is simple, fast and a definite winter warmer. Jigae, to all intents and purposes, is a Korean stew that uses kimchi as the base along with pork and/ or tofu typically. To make even heartier I have added some instant ramen noodles but feel free to leave this out if you prefer.

Ingredients- serves 2-3
3 slices of pork belly
1 tbsp rice wine
Pinch of white sugar
200g kimchi
200g firm tofu- patted dry and cut into bite sized pieces
Shiitake mushrooms- cleaned and sliced
500ml vegetable stock
1 tsp gochugaru
1 tbsp. gochujang
1 tbsp dark soy
Baby pak choi- shredded
Spring onions- sliced
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
200g instant ramen noodles

1.Start a little ahead of time in order to prepare the pork. Simple cut the pork belly into bite sized pieces and marinade in the rice wine; season well with pepper and set aside for half an hour.

2. When the pork’s time is up, choose a heavy based, large pan that will be big enough to fit everything in. Add a glug of unflavoured oil and heat to medium; add the pork belly bites and cook until turning golden and starting to caramelise.

3. Add the kimchi and tofu into the pan with the pork and carefully combine; continue to cook for a couple of minutes along with the mushrooms. Up next goes all the remaining ingredients other than the spring onion and pak choi. Bring the stock to a gentle simmer for 15 minutes; taste and adjust the seasoning to taste by adding more gochujang, soy and/ or sesame oil. For the last two minutes of cooking, sprinkle in the onion and pak choi and add the instant ramen noodles; it’s ready when the onion and pak choi is tender. Serve immediately.

Kimchi jigae noodle stew- a new dish to add to your repertoire and perfect after festive excess!

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Hot and sour chicken noodle soup

So, we all love comforting chicken soup- it’s such a classic and cures all ills. Well this is my twist on chicken noodle soup which is packed full of flavour and has taken inspiration from Chinese hot and sour soup. Hot and sour soup is exactly as it sounds- a combination of hot and sour ingredients which give a balanced finish.

I have used leftover roast chicken for this recipe and the dark meat from a chicken is best to use if you can as this is more tender and have most taste. You can also use pork, mixed vegetables or even tofu for this if you prefer. As with a lot of Asian cooking, make sure you everything prepped as it won’t take long once you get going!

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Ingredients- serves 2
2 garlic cloves- roughly chopped
1 red chilli (as hot as you dare!)- roughly chopped
3cm piece of ginger- grated
Pinch of salt
100g bundle of fine rice noodles
Groundnut or vegetable oil
100g shitake mushrooms
2-3 spring onions- chopped
1 1/2 tbsp dark soy and 1 1/2 tbsp light soy
1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 rice wine
1 head of pak choi- stems finely chopped and leaves shredded
2 chicken legs- cooked and meat removed from the bone
450ml good quality hot chicken stock
1 large egg- beaten

1. Start off by making the paste which forms the base of the soup. Simply grind the garlic, chilli and ginger in a pestle and mortar. Add a pinch of salt to help form the paste and set aside.

2. Bring a pan of water to a boil and cook the noodles until tender- this is usually 2-3 minutes depending on the noodles you use so remember to check the packet instructions. Drain well and run under cold water; this stops the cooking process and stop them sticking together as they cool.

3. Take a large pan which is going to be able to fit the stock and chicken in. Add a glug of oil over a medium heat and cook the paste for a couple of minutes before adding the mushrooms, spring onions and chopped stems of the pak choi. Pour in both types of soy, the rice wine vinegar and rice wine and cook for a further minute. Shred the chicken meat into smaller bite sized pieces and add to the pan; coat in the paste and sauce.

4. Next up goes the hot stock so carefully pour this into the pan; it is important that it is already hot before being added to the pan so don’t miss this out. Bring the stock to a gentle boil and leave for around 10 minutes until slightly reduced and the chicken is warmed through. Remember to taste as you go and adjust with more soy or vinegar to suit your tastes. Now for the fun bit! Hot and sour soup has egg which look like little strands of ribbon. To do this, take a chopstick and swirl the stock until a whirlpool forms. Gradually add in the whisked egg and keep the stock moving; you will see the egg cooking before your very eyes and dispersing- that’s all there is to it!

5. When you are ready to serve, divide the noodles between two deep bowls before serving the soup on top. The soup will heat the noodles again. Add the pak choi leaves to the soup at the last minute. Top with a little extra sliced chilli if you like and grab a spoon!

Crispy tofu dandan noodles

Now, all you need to know about Sichuan dandan noodles is that they’re blooming delicious and so simple to make! Dandan often uses meat such as pork mince however, after a meat heavy Christmas season, I have decided to lighten this up and use tofu. These noodles are also packed with other vegetables such as shitake mushroom, which give a wonderfully meaty taste and don’t compromise on flavour. Balance this with the savouriness of Tianjin preserved vegetables and you have a dish to die for! Preserved vegetables may sound strange but, believe me, they are divine. They add a wonderfully salty and garlicky taste that is hard to replicate.

I have cooked my tofu in an unusual way by crumbling it into smaller pieces that resemble mince; frying crumbled tofu adds a crunch to the dish which balances the texture of the vegetables perfectly. Use a firm tofu and, if you haven’t had it before, it is a good introduction to it. Sichuan peppercorns are also called for; you can find these in Chinese supermarkets and add a mouth tingling finish. The taste is completely different to the heat that a chilli provides so it is worth finding these.

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Ingredients- serves 2
2 tbsp dark soy
1 tbsp light soy
1 tbsp Chinese chilli oil
1/2 tbsp sesame oil or tahini
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
200g firm tofu
1 tsp cornflour
2 tbsp Tianjin preserved vegetables
200g shitake mushrooms- roughly chopped
2-3 spring onions- chopped
1 head of pak choi- leaves shredded and stalk chopped
200g rice or egg noodles

1. Start by making the sauce that also provides the base for the dish. The Sichuan peppercorns need to be toasted; to do this, take a small frying pan and heat to medium, warm the peppercorns until they start releasing their fragrance. Remove from the heat and grind in a pestle and mortar before setting aside. Combine both types of soy sauce, the chilli oil and sesame or tahini. A word of caution: Chinese chilli oil can be rather warm on the old tongue so I always give mine a quick taste and adjust to my liking. Dandan noodles are meant to have a bit of kick!

2. To prepare the tofu, remove from the packet and drain off any excess water it comes in. Pat dry thoroughly between pieces of kitchen roll. Crumble the tofu into small pieces and sprinkle over the cornflour; this will help the tofu to crisp up. If you find your tofu is particularly moist, then you can add a touch more flour. At this stage, add half of the ground peppercorns and toss through the tofu. Heat a little oil in a non-stick frying pan and add the tofu; cook over a medium heat until the tofu is crisp and golden. This may take around 10 minutes so give it a stir from time to time as you move onto the next step.

3. Boil a pan of water and cook the noodles according to packet instructions. Take a wok and add a glug of flavourless oil such as groundnut or vegetable oil over a medium heat. Add the remaining peppercorns, preserved vegetables and half of the sauce. Throw in the mushrooms, spring onion and the chopped stalks of the pak choi and cook for a minute or two.

4. Drain the noodles well and add bit by bit to the wok. I added a small amount at a time and then added another bit of sauce with each addition of the noodles to minimise the risk of them clumping together. Pop in the pak choi leaves and stir fry until the vegetables are cooked through and the noodles are warmed. The sauce should lightly coat the strands of noodle. Serve immediately in warmed bowls and divide the crisped tofu and sprinkle on top of the noodles.

Crispy tofu dandan noodles- a new way to use tofu for the New Year!

Beef chow mein

Chow mein is a staple of Chinese meal which is speedy to prepare and so delicious that you’ll never need to order it from your local takeaway again! I have used beef here but it can easily be substituted with pork, chicken or prawn- or perhaps even a combination of them all. Like most of the Asian dishes I cook, this takes next to no time to prepare and assemble but just make sure everything is chopped and shredded before you start to make it even easier.

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Ingredients- serves 2
100g medium egg noodles
2 minute steaks
1 tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
1 garlic clove- finely chopped
4 spring onions- finely sliced
1 small red pepper and 1 small green pepper- chopped
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp rice wine
1 large head of shredded pak choi and/ or 60g beansprouts
Handful of toasted sesame seeds

1.Start by cooking the egg noodles according to the packet instructions; drain well and set aside.

2. Slice the minute steak into thin strips or bite sized pieces depending on your preference. Heat the groundnut or vegetable oil in a large wok over a medium to high heat and cook the beef until it is catching some colour and starting to cook through.

3. Add in the garlic, spring onion and peppers to the wok and cook for a further 3-4 minutes until the vegetables start to soften. Lower the heat and stir the egg noodles through. Pour in the dark soy and rice wine along with the pak choi or beansprouts depending on what you are using. I’m a fan of all Asian greens so pak choi or choi sum usually get my vote! I separated the leaves from the thicker stems of the pak choice; shredded the leaves and then cut the stems into thin strips to add extra texture.

4. Finish off by drizzling the sesame oil, a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and toss well to combine just before serving. Make sure the noodles are heated through and serve in large bowls with chopsticks (or a fork if chopsticks equal horror for you!).

Speedy beef chow mein- a perennial Chinese favourite that you can whip up in minutes at home!

Spicy prawn noodle broth

Spicy prawn noodle soup is like a giant hug in a bowl for the soul and the stomach. It combines the sweetness of prawns, the freshness of vegetables, the lightness of broth with a punch! I made my own stock from prawn shells and a few additions as you will see however if you are short on time you could use a readymade stock but it really is worth the effort to do your own.

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Ingredients- serves 2-3
For the stock

250g shell on king prawns
Litre of water
Knob of fresh ginger
4 spring onions- cut into thirds
Fresh piece of lemongrass- left whole
1 red chilli- sliced and deseeded (depending on how spicy you like it!)
1 fresh lime
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp fish sauce
2tsp palm sugar

For the noodles
150g rice noodles
Handful of sugar snap peas- sliced on the diagonal
Handful of bamboo shoots- sliced on the diagonal
2 heads of pak choi- white parts finely sliced and leaves shredded

1. Kick off by removing the prawns from their shells. Take a large, deep saucepan and add a splash of vegetable oil and heat this over a high heat. Cook the prawn shells until they turn pink. Add a litre of water and bring to a gentle simmer. Leave this for half an hour before straining and reserving the water- you can discard the shells at this stage. Add the water back into a clean saucepan and infuse with the ginger, lemongrass and spring onion; these will all be removed later and won’t be in the final dish so sling them in and off you go! Simmer again for at least 30 minutes but longer if you can so the flavours can develop.

2. When you are nearly ready to use the stock, remove the ginger, lemongrass and spring onion and discard the prawn shells. Skim off any impurities from the surface of the stock and strain well. Now comes the time to season the stock so you must taste as you go. Add the soy sauce, fish stock and palm sugar as stated in the ingredients list but tweak to suit your tastes. Fish sauce and soy will add the salty edge the broth needs so go easy. Give a squeeze of lime to add a little acidity.

3. In a separate pan, add a splash of oil and heat over a medium heat. Add the sugar snap peas, bamboo and the white part of the pak choi. If you like a spicy broth you should add the chilli in at this stage too; if you prefer it to be milder then add it in at the end to serve. Cook the vegetables for a couple of minutes before adding the broth back into the pan. Bring it back to a simmer before adding the prawns and pak choi leaves to cook. The prawns will go blush pink when ready.

4. Meanwhile, cook the rice noodles according to packet instructions and drain well. I give mine a minute less than it suggests as it will be in the broth so you don’t want soggy noodles. Take large bowls for serving and divide the noodles between them. Ladle over the finished broth and finish with a little extra chilli or coriander if you like.

Spicy prawn noodle broth- the perfect meal for a chilly evening as autumn looms!

Aromatic Thai roasted duck legs with jasmine rice

Bring a new lease of life to duck legs! If you’re fed up with basic roasted duck then have a go at this! All the traditional Thai flavours are in this recipe which go well with the richness of the duck and freshens it up.

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Ingredients- serves 2
2 duck legs
3 spring onions- shredded
100- 150g jasmine rice

For the marinade:
1 stick of lemongrass- finely chopped
1 lime- zested and juiced
1/2 tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
Handful of coriander- chopped
2 shallots- finely chopped
Small piece of fresh ginger- grated or finely chopped
1 tsp soft brown sugar
1/2 tsp Thai fish sauce
1/2 tsp light soy sauce
1 /2 tsp each of ground coriander, turmeric and cumin
1 tbsp tamarind paste
2 garlic cloves- crushed
Small red chilli- deseeded and finely chopped

1. This recipe can be done on the day you want it but prepare the duck the day before if you have the time but it’s delicious either way. Place the duck legs in a bowl and add all of the marinade ingredients in with it. Combine the ingredients well and off you go! Season well and cover before leaving in the fridge overnight or for as long as you can. I have used fresh lime in the marinade to add an acidity however kaffir lime leaves would also work to infuse.

2. When ready to eat, preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan and place the duck legs on a baking tray or rack. Cook for around 40 minutes until the duck is cooked through and the juices run clear. Check it halfway and cover loosely with foil if it is getting a bit too golden too quickly.

3. Just before the duck is ready, cook the jasmine rice as per instructions. I like to add in 2 shredded spring onions to add extra flavour. Serve with the duck and scatter over the remaining onion and coriander. You may like to serve some other vegetables on the side such as sugar snap peas or Asian greens- or both! I like to either steam or griddle the greens with a splash of sesame oil to finish; a great accompaniment for a range of dishes!

Aromatic Thai duck legs- a sure fire hit!

Asian duck noodles

This is a perfect midweek noodle dish. Fresh duck can be used but it also works well with any leftover duck meat you may have. I prefer using tat soi in this recipe as it brings a slightly mustardy flavour which works well with the blend of spices so do try it. If you prefer a sweeter finish then pak choi is ideal.

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Ingredients- serves 2
2 duck breasts- cut into thick slices
2cm piece of ginger- grated
1 garlic clove- crushed
1tsp ground five spice
1/2 tsp corn flour dissolved in 2 tbsp water
1 tbsp dark soya sauce
3 tbsp oyster sauce
100g rice noodles
Glug of sesame oil
2 tbsp vegetable or groundnut oil
1 red chilli- finely sliced
3 spring onions- finely sliced
2 heads pak choi or tat soi
Handful of beansprouts

1. Take the slices of duck breast and add the garlic, ginger and five spice mix to it in a bowl to marinade. Leave for a few minutes but you could also do this the night before. Combine the corn flour paste, soya sauce and the oyster sauce in a small dish and set aside. Boil a kettle and pour over the noodles for a couple of minutes, drain and add a little sesame oil to stop the strands from sticking together.

2. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil and heat over a medium/ high heat. Fry the duck slices until seared and the edges start to go golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the rest of the oil and cook the red chilli and spring onion for a couple of minutes. Add the sauce mixture and cook for a further minute.

3. Add the pak choi or tat soi depending on what you prefer and cook until wilted down. In goes the bean sprouts to give a nice crunch before adding the duck and noodles back into the pan to heat through.

Rich duck and asian spices- a match made in heaven!