Wonton Noodle Soup

Wonton noodle soup has always been a great comfort food to me. Generally I’m disappointed by vegetarian dumplings so I was happy to find such a great recipe for them in Jamie Oliver’s ‘Veg’. I have probably made about 2/3 of the recipes in this book and the only one that hasn’t worked was the scotch eggs – I was hugely disappointed with this as I wanted to share one of the few aspects of British food culture that’s actually good. The wontons use butternut squash as the base and miso to flavour it. Depending on what size wonton wrappers you have you will get more or less dumplings. I think I had more than the 24 stated in the recipe using 10cm wrappers.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 500g butternut squash
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 6cm ginger
  • 80g broccoli
  • 1 tsp miso paste (the recipe recommends red but I can only ever find brown)
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • wonton wrappers
  • massel chicken flavoured stock
  • 4 spring onions
  • 4 nests noodles
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 250g tofu

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C

2.) Cut off the skin of the squash, cut into chunks. Put into a lined baking tray, sprinkle over some salt and pepper and drizzle over a little oil. Roast the squash for 1 hour.

3.) Peel the garlic and ginger and in a food processor, add the broccoli, miso, vinegar, 1 clove of garlic and the ginger. Blitz until fine. Once the squash is roasted, add this to the food processor and blitz to combine. Set aside to cool down.

4.) Once the mixture is cool, you can start to put together the wontons. Get a bowl and fill with water. Get a pastry brush. Put each wonton wrapper on a work surface and put 1 heaped teaspoon of the mixture in the middle. Brush around the filling and then gather up the wrapper around the sides. Pinch together to seal.

5.) At this point, you can either steam the dumplings as is or cook them in a soup. To steam, place a bamboo steamer over a pan of boiling water and steam for about 4 minutes.

6.) To carry on making the soup, finely dice the other clove of garlic. Fill a large pan with about 500ml of water and a tbsp of chicken flavoured stock. Bring to the boil.

7.) Add the noodles and cook for a couple of minutes and in this team finely slice the spring onion.

8.) Add the wontons to the pan and continue to cook for a couple more minutes. Cube the tofu and add this to the pan. Cook for two more minutes then add the soy sauce and sesame oil. Garnish with the spring onion and serve.

Tteokbokki (Korean spicy rice cakes)

I loooove Korean food and tteokbokki is my favourite Korean food of all and the dish I will always order at a Korean restaurant. Tteokbokki is rice cakes served with fish cake and a spicy barbecue sauce. The fish used seems kind of processed but I love it anyway though I’ve used tinned banana blossom because you just can’t get the fish cakes unless you go to an Oriental supermarket. I think tempeh would work well too. In London, there’s several Korean karaoke places where you can eat, then they’ll come and take away the tables and you can sing your heart out. I love a little pre-karaoke tteokbokki washed down with some plum flavoured soju. I think it’s good for the pipes. I got this recipe from the blog ‘My Korean Kitchen’ and I ordered the delicious chewy rice sticks from Amazon.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 350g rice cakes
  • 1 tin banana blossom
  • 2 cups dashi stock
  • 60g onion
  • 3 tbsp gochujang
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp minced garlic /3 cloves finely chopped
  • 1 tsp gochugaru (or chilli flakes)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 100g broccoli

Method

1.) The rice cakes all come stuck together so separate these into sticks and soak them in warm water for 10 minutes.

2.) Make the tteokbokki sauce. Take a bowl and combine the gochujang, sugar, soy, garlic and gochugaru. Mix everything well.

3.) In a wok, add the stock and tip in the gochujang mixture. Stir to combine and bring to the boil.

5.) Peel and chop up the onion and add to the stock.

4.) Add the rice cakes and cook for a few minutes. Trim the broccoli, cut into florets and add to the wok.

5.) Drain the banana blossom and cut into chunks, add to the wok.

6.) Cook for a few minutes until the sauce thickens. Stir in the sesame oil at the end.

Bibimbap

Bibimbap was probably the first Korean dish I ever tried which is probably the same for most people. It’s close to my heart as I love Korean food and culture. I love watching Korean tv shows, the K dramas have so much humour and the mother is always a real character. When I lived in London, I used to go to a gym that had Netflix on the treadmills and I ended up watching so many episodes of K Dramas on there that every lunch, all I could think about were ramen and sushi (Koreans have their own sushi called Kimbap which is bigger and may contain things you wouldn’t normally find in Japanese sushi such as cheese and ham). If you’re interested in Korean TV, I recommend ‘My Love from the Star’ and ‘Hellbound’.

For bibimbap, it’s great to eat out as they serve it on a super hot stone plate which comes out sizzling. This means that you get some really nice crispy bits of rice at the bottom. This is hard to replicate in the kitchen but it’s still nonetheless delicious with all the sauces and different elements. Despite cooking many things separately, they are all things which cook quickly and can be done while you’re cooking the rice. Also the recipe is really customisable so you can really change it up with your favourite veggies/protein. It’s entirely vegan if you omit the egg).

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 120g rice
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 courgette
  • 2cm ginger
  • 2 vegan steaks (I use plant pioneers)
  • oil
  • 100g kale
  • 1 pack mushrooms
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 spring onions
  • 10g coriander leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp gochjang paste
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 4 tsp soy sauce

Method

1.) Cook the rice ( I have a rice cooker)

2.) Peel and finely dice the garlic, add to a bowl with the sugar, sesame oil and 1 tsp soy sauce.

3.) Wash and slice up the mushrooms and add to the bowl. Stir and set aside.

4.) Peel the carrot and chop into batons. Chop up the courgette into batons.

5.) In a large frying pan, heat up some oil then add the carrot and courgette. Cook until soft then move to a bowl.

6.) Slice up the steak, pan fry until it’s cooked, then set aside.

7.) Add the mushrooms to the pan and fry until cooked, set aside these too.

8.) In the meantime, finely dice the spring onions and finely chop the coriander leaves.

9.) Add the kale to the pan, fry until start to soften and place in a bowl.

10.) Crack in the eggs and fry the eggs.

11.) Make the bibimbap sauce – in a bowl mix the gochujang, vinegar and soy sauce.

12.) Dish up the rice on two plates. Place the mushrooms, kale, steak, carrot and courgettes around the plate. Put an egg on top. Add a dollop of the bibimbap sauce. Sprinkle over some coriander leaves and spring onions.

Okonomiyaki

I’m excited to post this Okonomiyaki recipe as I’ve basically been obsessed with okonomiyaki ever since I went to Japan three years ago. It’s a Japanese savoury pancake served with Japanese mayonnaise and Okonomiyaki sauce which is a bit like brown sauce and then some bonito flakes which are dried fish. There are 2 regional variations that are the most famous – the Osaka version and the Hiroshima version, the Hiroshima take adds noodles to the mix. I’ve had both and I have to say the Hiroshima version is the best so that’s what I’ve tried to replicate here with some success. In Japan they just have a large hot plate which they cook the okomiyakis all in a line. I’ve made this a couple of times before and this was the best it’s ever turned out. I think it’s to do with the ratio of ingredients to the pan. I was feeling a bit indulgent and it was the weekend so I had salmon, prawns and scallops but you can pretty much put whatever you want in an okonomiyaki. You can maybe get away with leaving out the bonito flakes and also even subbing the okonomiyaki sauce for HP sauce but I think the Kewpie mayonnaise is an absolute must.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 300g white cabbage (about half a cabbage)
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 spring onions
  • 2 fillets salmon
  • 6 small scallops
  • 100g raw prawns
  • 300g ready to wok noodles
  • bonito flakes
  • kewpie mayonnaise
  • okonomiyaki sauce

Method

1.) Cut the cabbage into shreds. Dice the spring onions. De-skin the salmon and chop into large chunks.

2.) Break the eggs in a measuring jug, add the flour and beat. Add the soy sauce and sesame oil.

3.) In a large oven proof frying pan, heat some oil and add the cabbage and fry for 3 minutes or so.

4.) Add the salmon and spring onion and fry for a couple more minutes. Turn on the grill to preheat.

5.) Add the prawns and scallops and cook for a few more minutes, flipping the prawns over so they start to become pink on both sides.

6.) Now add the noodles and break them up a bit with the spoon. Cook for a couple more minutes.

7.) Move the ingredients around the pan so that it’s all evenly distributed and then pour in the batter.

8.) Cook for about 4 minutes until the bottom is set.

9.) Put under the grill for 3 – 4 more minutes until the top is starting to brown.

10.) Sprinkle over the bonito flakes and then drizzle the mayo and the okonomiyaki sauce all over the pancake and serve.

Prawns in beer sauce

I’m now doing a month’s alcohol detox as I never made it through dry January so it was a little sad to use beer in cooking without being able to drink any but this was a tasty dinner which I enjoyed. In the last couple of years I’ve really started to enjoy porter and stout beers and a result of my detox I’ve found a really great alcohol free Milk Stout from the company Big Drop. Also, I had a girly dinner at Salvi’s Italian restaurant in Manchester yesterday and they had Crodino on the menu which is like an alcohol free Aperol spritz but actually a little nicer in my opinion as it’s a little sweeter. So there’s a couple of ideas for you if you’re doing non-alcohol. The beer prawn recipe was again in the Vietnamese Market Cookbook. I did change it up a bit by adding tomatoes to the sauce and serving it with rice noodles and broccoli to make it more of a meal.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 250ml beer (I used Birra Morreti)
  • 1 bunch fresh lemongrass
  • 300g prawns
  • 250g tomatoes
  • 1 lime
  • salt and pepper
  • rice noodles
  • 200g broccoli
  • 10g coriander leaves

Method

1.) Chop up the lemongrass into stalks

2.) Chop up the tomatoes

3.) Add both to a large frying pan and add the beer

4.) Cook down the tomatoes and lemongrass until the tomatoes really break down and most of the beer has cooked down into a sauce

5.) Add the prawns and simmer until cooked through. Chop up the coriander leaves finely. Slice the lime in half.

6.) Add the rice noodles into a sauce pan with the broccoli. Cover with boiling water and cook until the noodles and broccoli is tender.

7.) Take the lemongrass and discard. Squeeze the lime juice into the sauce. Serve the noodles and broccoli with the prawns and sauce. Sprinkle over some coriander leaves.

Vietnamese Sweet & Sour Soup

Whilst in Paris, our friend made us a delicious rhubarb crumble and it reminded me that rhubarbs do exist as they’re so underutilised. I was hugely intrigued by this Vietnamese soup from ‘The Vietnamese Market Cookbook’ as to use rhubarb is by itself interesting but to use rhubarb in a savoury recipe is something I’ve never seen before. It seems that the authors added the rhubarb as a happy accident as they just had some rhubarb to use up. The rhubarb adds the sour element and then you get the sweetness from the pineapple. I bulked the soup out with some smoked tofu which also added some protein. I could only find tinned rhubarb but if you get the fresh stuff, do remember that the leaves are poisonous.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 tin rhubarb
  • 160g pineapple
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1.5 litres water
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 spring onion
  • 200g smoked tofu
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves

Method

1.) Chop up the tomatoes

2.) In a casserole dish, heat up the oil and add the garlic

3.) Cook for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes, the sugar, salt, pepper and garlic powder and a splash of water.

4.) Bring to the boil.

5.) Rinse the rhubarb and chop up the tofu, pineapple and the coriander leaves and spring onion,

6.) Once the tomatoes are soft, add the rest of the water and the pineapple and bring to the boil for 5 minutes.

7.) Add the tofu and rhubarb and cook for another couple of minutes.

8.) Season with the fish sauce

9.) Serve and garnish with spring onion and coriander.