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.

…and another Ponzu Oyster please!


Seems I’ve gone a bit mad for molluscs this Easter weekend, indulging in more than my fair share of clams and oysters bought during an accidental food spree at Borough Market on Good Friday.   When it comes to dressing oysters, I’m a sucker for the sharp and fiery hit of traditional lemon juice and tabasco, but this time wanted to give something else a go. After picking up some bottled Yuzu juice (a type of Japanese lime) from the Japan Centre recently, I figured that the citrus flavours of a Ponzu style drizzle could work quite well.

Alas it did, and now I have to share the recipe with you (which is adapted from the Ponzu Dressing in Hashi Cooking, this time with less soy sauce added as the oyster is salty already).

Half of our oysters had a drizzle of Ponzu dressing, the other half lemon & tabasco. We compared side by side and I have to say that for me, the Ponzu came out tops (however the other half preferred the lemon & tabasco). I found the taste of the oyster came through more with the Ponzu, as the Yuzu lime has a far more subtle acidity, and the soy saltiness complimented the natural saltiness of the oyster well.  I also found that with the lemon & tabasco dressing, the lasting flavour is of tabasco rather than oyster.

Give it a try, I’d be pleased to know what you think!

2 tbsp Yuzu lime juice
1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp instant dashi powder

Add all the ingredients to a small saucepan and simmer on a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Take of the heat and allow to cool. Shuck the oysters – I poured some of the juice from each oyster into the Ponzu Dressing. Mix again, and pour a little over each oyster.

Slurp & Go!

Aw shucks…..gone so quickly!


Sea Bream with Chilli, Ginger & Spring Onions

Super simple supper that never goes wrong.  This is a very forgiving way to cook fish, and better on the bone than off. I prefer to ‘steam’ in the oven by making a parcel rather than steaming on the hob.  This way the fish juices mingle with the other ingredients instead of dripping away and being lost to a saucepan of simmering water. The result is a gloriously moist and succulent fish, and a delicious liquor for pouring over your fish and rice.

You’ll be able to tell that the fish is cooked enough when the skin lifts away easily and the flesh comes away from the bone cleanly.

Whole Sea Bream
5-6 Spring Onions
1 or 2 Red chillis, finely sliced
1 inch piece of Ginger
2-3 tbsp of Shaoxing Rice Wine
1 tbsp light Soy Sauce
1 tsp Sesame Oil
Rapeseed Oil (or other neutral oil)

Trim the tail and any fins from the whole sea bream (de-scale if not already done). Score the skin on each side of the fish several times about 1 cm deep to allow more of the marinade to permeate whilst cooking.

Take a large piece of foil or baking parchment, it needs to be large enough to make a parcel for the fish to steam in.  Place the fish on top, take 2 of the spring onions and place in the cavity of the fish along with a few thin slices of ginger.

Fold up the edges of the foil a little (to stop the marinade from pouring out), and pour the rice wine, soy and sesame over the fish. Create a sealed parcel by folding over the foil and crimping the edges – use 2 layers of foil if its a bit thin.  You want to leave enough room for the fish to ‘steam’ in the marinade and juices so don’t make the parcel too tight.  Bake at about 180ºC for 12-15 minutes, depending on the size of the fish.  You’ll know the fish is cooked through when it slides away from the central bone easily.

Whilst the fish is cooking, shred the chilli, ginger and spring onions. Remove the fish from the oven and allow to rest. Meanwhile heat a little oil in a frying pan on a moderate heat.  Add the ginger, fry for 30 seconds, then the chilli, fry for 30 seconds, then the spring onions and fry for 30 seconds.  You want the spring onions to soften a little but retain their vibrant green colour so careful not to overcook.  Open the fish parcel (breathe in the fragrant aromas!) and transfer the fish to a serving plate.  Pour over the cooking liquor, and top with the fried chilli, ginger and spring onions.

I like to eat this with plain steamed rice and a leafy chinese green such as Morning Glory or Kai Lan.