It's always a joy to cook Asian dishes in Australia. Australia has the freshest and best produce and by combining that produce with Asian cooking techniques we are having the best of both worlds.
"How often do I cook Asian dishes in a mixed cultural marriage?", you may ask. Mr J has lived in Malaysia for over two years and has travelled extensively across much of Asia. So, he is no stranger to different Asian cuisines and he truly enjoys them. I try to expose Miss C to different cuisines from a young age, but an Asian dinner is still my favourite. I would say 60% of our dinners consist of steamed rice with a variety of delicious Asian dishes and 40% of pasta, soup, roast & 3 veges kind of dishes.
Here are three extremely easy but flavourful Asian dishes that I hope you will cook and enjoy as much as I do.
Serves 4 as a side dish
You gotta love Bill. Not only for the brilliance of his recipes but also for the fact that they are often not complicated to cook. He is a huge fan of Japanese food and I was delighted when I spotted this Japanese side dish in the Delicious Magazine. 4 ingredients and with only one cooking step which is to blanch the spinach! What's not to love?
1 bunch English spinach with tie intact
1/4 cup (60 ml) soy sauce
2 tsp sesame seeds, dry toasted
Bonito flakes, to serve
- Discard roots from the spinach and wash, still tied in a bunch. Blanch in a pan of boiling water for 1 minute. If serving cold, refresh under cold water. If serving warm, omit this step. Squeeze to remove excess moisture, then slice the bunch into 5cm lengths. Stand cut lengths in a serving dish, top with soy, sesame and bonito.
Serves 4 as part of an Asian banquet
Believe me, every Chinese family has their own stir-fry method. Some like to marinate the meat before stir-frying, some don't. Some like to stir-fry each ingredient separately and then mix them together at the end, some like to fry them all together. And the sauce, there can be so many different mixes of stir-fry sauces. Some of the common ingredients are light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, cooking caramel sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, black bean sauce, sweet bean sauce, ginger, garlic, salt, white pepper, shaoxing wine. That's the beauty of stir frying, there is no hard and fixed rule. Do what you like.
60 ml (1/4 cup) peanut oil
600 g pork shoulder meat, cut into 3mm-thick slices
5 cm piece ginger, finely grated
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 green onions, sliced on the diagonal
2 tbsp sweet (soy bean) sauce (Note: Neil Perry uses Fu Chi Sweet Sauce, a Taiwanese brand of soy bean sauce, available from Asian food store)
3 tsp light soy sauce
2 tsp caster sugar
60 ml (1/4 cup) chicken stock
1/4 tsp sesame oil
Steamed rice, to serve
- Heat 50 ml oil in a wok over medium-high heat until smoking. Stir-fry pork, in batches, for 1-2 minutes or until browned. Set aside. Add remaining oil, stir-fry ginger and garlic for 30 seconds or until fragrant, add onions and stir-fry for 1 minute or until nearly softened. Remove from wok, combine with pork.
- Add bean sauce to wok, cook for 30 seconds or until bubbling, then stir in soy, sugar, stock and sesame oil. Stir in pork mixture until well coated and warmed through. Serve with rice.
"If you are not sure of the Asian dish you are going to serve, top it with a fried egg, sunny side up. It will make your dish look appetizing and taste amazing." You better believe in this saying because it is so true! When I was young, on days that mum was busy, we were delighted to have only a fried egg on a big bowl of steaming hot rice drizzled with soy sauce. This made such an impression on our dinner table that none of us made a fuss about it.
90 ml vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
600 g coarsely minced pork
100 g snake beans (about 1/2 bunch), cut into 2 cm lengths (I used green beans)
4 Asian red shallots, thinly sliced
1 tbsp roasted chilli paste
70 ml fish sauce, or to taste
1 1/2 tbsp each dark soy sauce and sweet soy sauce, or to taste
1 tsp caster sugar, or to taste
3/4 cup (loosely packed) Thai basil (If Thai basil is unavailable, substitute regular basil)
Steamed jasmine rice and thinly sliced long red chilli, to serve
- Heat 60 ml oil in a wok or deep-sided frying pan over high heat. Add garlic and pork, stir-fry until beginning to brown (2-3 minutes). Add beans, shallot and chilli paste, stir-fry until fragrant (1-2 minutes), add fish sauce and soy sauces and cook until pork is cooked through and liquid is reduced by half (3-4 minutes). Season to taste with sugar, fish sauce, soy sauces and freshly ground pepper, remove from heat, stir through basil.
- Meanwhile, heat half the remaining oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat, crack two eggs into pan and cook until eggwhite starts to brown around edges (1 minute), cover, cook until yolk is cooked to your liking (1-2 minutes for soft yolks), transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining oil and eggs.
- Serve pork mixture and steamed rice in bowls, topped with a fried egg and thinly sliced chilli, with extra fish sauce to taste.