Boxing Day Batch Wonton

A traditional boxing day activity for us at home is making a big batch of won ton – some to eat that day whilst all the family are still around, and some for the freezer to munch on another time. They’re a bit of a faff to make if you only doing a few at a time as the pastry wrappers come in packets of about 30 or so. They freeze very well, and most of all my mother takes great pride in packing a box of them in a cool bag for us to take back home after Christmas, to share with other friends or loved ones.

Mum: “Does Tom like my won ton?”
Me: “Yes mum”
Mum: “Does he really like them, or are you just saying?”
Me: “Yes mum, he does like them”
(Mum: Grins)
Mum: “How many does he have?”
Me: “Depends how hungry he is mum”
Mum: “Ah…does he prefer these won ton or the won ton I made last time?”
Me: “I don’t really know mum…he doesn’t talk about your won ton that much”
Mum: “Huhh?…I think he likes these won ton better”
Me: “Ok mum”

Batch Wonton

Won ton batch ready to go…

You can find a recipe for the won ton dumpling mix here.

A couple of tips for freezing them…
– dust a little cornflour on a tray and place each made dumpling on the tray, making sure they are not touching each other too much. Once you have a full complete layer of dumplings, loosely cover with cling film.
– you can then add another layer or two (I’d suggest no more than 3 in total), with a layer of cling film between each one.  Then freeze them overnight – once frozen, you’ll be able to put them in a tuppaware box, or portion 4-6 (depending on how hungry you are!) in sandwich bags, ready for your next meal.
– don’t be tempted to put them all in a tuppaware box or bag straight away and freeze them all in one go as they’ll stick together.  You’ll never be able to separate them and all your hard work will be wasted! (& Tom won’t get his dumplings).
– to cook from frozen, plunge several into boiling broth or stock for 8-10 minutes, depending on size. No need to defrost before cooking. Add some noodles in the last few minutes of cooking if you like as well as some chinese greens and a sprinkling of spring onions to serve.

Batch of Won Ton Dumplings

Dumpling Heaven

New addiction alert: Smoked Bacon & Scallop Sandwich

Bacon and Scallops have always been good friends, a tried and tested combination I’m sure many of you have tried before.  Only this time, try it in a sandwich. Salty, smoky, chewy bacon meets sweet, succulent scallop, wedged in doorstep slices of the softest white loaf.  This will make you raise your eyebrows I’m sure – that was my reaction when I first heard of it. But trust me, it’s good.  Better than good.  It’s ‘Up There’ with the All Time Top Weekend Breakfasts.

Don’t mess around with crap bacon for this. It’s got to be good quality and thick cut. I had some of my favourite smoked molasses bacon from Brixton Village Market, and some very fine hand dived scallops from Moxon’s Fishmonger, roe still intact.

The choice of bread is also important – you want a super soft white loaf – cut thick enough to hold everything in place as you munch away.  After frying the bacon, I quickly seared the scallops and roe in the same pan, adding a little butter.  Once cooked I let the scallops rest, and wiped the pan clean with one slice of the sandwich bread before assembling the tastiest sandwich ever. Enough said.

Fiery BBQ Pork Ribs with Holy Fuck Sauce

With London weather as good as this, it seems a sin to cook in the kitchen instead of firing up the BBQ nestled in my uber small garden. I feel for the neighbours upstairs as they slam their windows shut to stop the smoke from billowing in, but I just can’t help myself. The unmistakable taste of charred meat on raw flame is too big a temptation to resist.

Last nights offering was slow cooked Pork Ribs, basted in the deliciously fiery but flavoursome Holy F@*k sauce. Not for the faint hearted, these ribs will leave you tingling for hours.

For those of you not already acquainted with Holy F@*k Sauce, this kick ass hot sauce is the creation of The Rib Man – a street food god hailed as serving up some of the best ribs and rib rolls in London.  The sauce is made with Scotch Bonnet and Naga Bhut Jolokia chills – the hottest in the world….reach for the milk!

The Rib Man has gained himself a bit of a cult following of late, and his special brew sauce is being put to the test in all manner of dishes, from French Toast to Burgers to Pizza. My tribute to the cause are these ribs – slow cooked in the oven with a few aromatics for a couple of hours and then smothered in the fiery sauce before finishing on the flame.

This is the way to do ribs – they were MEAN – meat falling off the bone, with a charred, sticky, fiery hot coating. The perfect distraction for all this summer sunshine if there ever was one.

Simply done – I cooked the whole rib in the oven on a low temperature for 2 hours – with 1 roughly chopped leak underneath, 8 peppercorns, 5 cloves, a couple of star anise and a good glug of water (covered tightly in foil).

Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little, then pour any of the baking tray juices into a saucepan and reduce until you have thicker syrupy sauce.  Add some Holy Fuck Sauce (how much is up to your discretion) and a squeeze of ketchup and cook out for a further minute or so.  Baste the ribs generously, and place on the BBQ. Turn the ribs and rebaste every couple of minutes to guarantee a deliciously sticky and charred rib.  My only advice is to do more than you think as they’ll be gone before you know it!

Black Truffle Linguine

An indulgent splurge on the man’s birthday left me with no choice but to smother butter coated Linguine with generous shavings of Black Truffle. A very simple recipe, no fuss allowed.

Boil the Linguine in salted water till al dente, saving a little of the starchy water back when draining.  Add a generous knob of  unsalted butter to a frying pan and allow to bubbly way till nutty and brown but not burnt.

Add the drained pasta to the frying pan and coat the Linguine with the butter, adding a little of the starchy water to loosen and provide a little more moisture. Season generously with salt, and transfer to a plate immediately. Top generously with shavings of freshly grated black truffle (or as generously as the wallet allows) and devour!

Tamago-Yaki, it’s Sunshine on a Plate!

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Tamago-yaki is a perfect way to ease in to a lazy sunday morning, and seems especially good when the sun is shining!  The name translates literally as “grilled” or “fried” egg, created by rolling thin layers of egg mixture flavoured with soy and sake, and sweetened with sugar and mirin. A special rectangular Tamago pan is often used, which helps create the neat sides of the finished omelette, although I’m sure a regular pan would still give good results.

Until fairly recently, I think my experience of Tamago-yaki has mainly been of the mass made, factory variety – almost toxic yellow in colour, processed texture and not fresh at all (used in the majority of sushi chains around London and even many restaurants). Freshly made home cooked Tamagoyaki, on the contrary is totally delicious and so quick to make.

Substantial enough to eat on its own or cooked plain for a topping to sushi rice, I’ve been trying lots of variations recently (to feed my slight addiction). My first attempt was guided by Reiko Hashimoto’s recipe in Hashi Cooking and contained good quality smoked ham and english chives (recipe below). However I’ve also had them plain, or with minced prawns and chinese chives, shiitake mushrooms, shredded nori, sliced spring onions etc. etc. – the options are endless and can be based on whatever you have left in the fridge. Serve with some grated daikon seasoned with a little soy, or cucumber if you can’t get hold of daikon for a little freshness. I sometimes top this with a dollop of salmon roe, another very tasty addition!

Here’s the recipe from Hashi Cooking….let the good times roll.

Ingredients (makes 2 rolls, serves 4)
6 Large eggs
3 tbsp finely chopped chives
60g finely chopped smoked ham
1 tspn instant dashi powder
1 tbsp mirin
2 tspn caster sugar
1 tspn soy sauce
pinch salt
veg oil for cooking
Garnish – grated daikon, shiso leaves, few drops of soy
 
Method

Mix all the ingredients for the omelette in a large bowl or jug and stir well.

Heat the Tamago Pan over a medium heat and brush a little vegetable oil on the base and sides of the pan, coating evenly.

Pour about 10% of the egg mixture into the pan and tilt the pan to coat the base evenly. When the egg starts to set, lift up the edge on one side and roll upwards using chopsticks or a spatula – make sure you roll while the surface of the egg is still wet so the layers stick together. I found it helped to keep the heat very low on my first few attempts, buying more time to roll before the egg sets as it can be a bit fiddly the first couple of times.

Grease the empty part of the pan again, keeping the rolled omelette at the side of the pan furthest from you.  Then quickly pour another 10% of the mixture, tilting to cover the empty side of the pan, and lifting the roll up to allow the egg to run underneath. When it looks half set, roll the omelette backwards until you get to the other side.

And keep going – until you have used up about half the mixture.  Once it’s rolled, I let the outside colour just a little, then remove from the pan and leave to rest for 5 minutes.  Make the second omelette with the remaining egg mix.

Once the omelette has rested for 5 minutes, slice into 2.5cm thick slices (or thinner if using as a sushi topping), and serve with the grated daikon and chopped shiso leaves, and a few drops of soy.

Tamagoyaki