From bao buns to poke bowls, gyoza to ramen, and kimchi to sushi, Asian food has devotees on every corner of the globe but now, London-based food writer, author and stylist, Jennifer Joyce, is out to show how easy it is to create these zingy, fresh, healthy flavours at home.
My Asian Kitchen will be released this month by Murdoch Books and is touted as the expert guide to making the Asian food you love, at home. From grilled sticky skewers and steak tacos, salads, rice bowls and dumplings, to prawn katsu bao and miso-glazed ribs, this book sounds like an adventure in the dazzling diversity of modern Asian cooking.
Thanks to Murdoch Books, we have three recipes to share from My Asian Kitchen so you can sample Jennifer’s recipes yourself while you wait for our review of the book and some other tempting dishes from within its pages. Jennifer’s exquisitely simple recipes, no-nonsense explanation of ingredients, hand-drawn diagrams and beautiful photographs should be all you need to start cooking in your very own Asian kitchen.
Pick up your chopsticks, prepare your wok and get cooking!
Prawn Laksa (page 56)
Malay cuisine is a mash-up of local Chinese, Thai and Indian influences, which makes their soups, curries and noodles dazzle with exotic spices, creamy coconut and hot chillies. What distinguishes laksa paste from red curry is the use of nuts. Traditionally it’s candlenuts, but they’re tricky to source so I use macadamias.
SERVES 4 AS A STARTER OR 2 LARGE PORTIONS
PREP 15 MINUTES
COOK 20 MINUTES
- 6 macadamia nuts
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 75 g (21/2 oz) yellow or red curry paste
- 250 ml (81/2 fl oz) chicken stock
- 1 x 400 g (14 oz) tin coconut milk 2 whole star anise
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 tbsp tamarind purée
- 2 tbsp palm sugar
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 150 g (5 oz) green beans
- Chopped 200 g (7 oz) large raw prawns
- 200 g (7 oz) thin rice vermicelli
- 100 g (31/2 oz) pineapple
- Large handful each chopped coriander (cilantro) and mint leaves
- Pickled red chilli and shallots (see page 52) and crispy fried shallots, to serve
Using a mortar and pestle, crush the macadamia nuts to a fine paste.
In a large saucepan, heat the vegetable oil and add the curry paste and crushed macadamia nuts. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Pour in the stock, coconut milk, spices, tamarind, palm sugar, fish sauce and lime juice. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, then add the beans and prawns. Simmer for 2–3 minutes and remove from the heat.
Pour boiling water over the rice noodles and leave for 2 minutes or until soft.
Cut the pineapple into 2 cm (3⁄4 inch) batons.
Divide the noodles among four large bowls and ladle the laksa over. Top with the pineapple, chopped coriander and mint and pickled red chilli and shallots. Serve with crispy fried shallots.
Note: The taste of this soup relies on using good stock, so it is worth making the Master Asian chicken stock (see page 77). If you’re short on time, make the stock in a pressure cooker. It takes about 30 minutes and you end up with stock that would normally require at least 2 hours to cook. You can also use a good-quality bought chicken stock.
Thai Shumai Dumplings (page 108)
Both the Thais and Chinese serve these open top dumplings. I prefer the Thai rendition as they eat them with fried garlic and sweet soy sauce. Much easier to prepare than gyoza or wontons, shumai can be assembled in moments.
MAKES 20 FAT DUMPLINGS
PREP 30 MINUTES
COOK 8 MINUTES
- 200 g (7 oz) raw peeled prawns 150 g (51/2 oz) minced pork
- 8 water chestnuts, chopped
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 cm (1/2 inch) slice ginger
- small bunch coriander (cilantro)
- 2 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced, plus extra to serve
- 2 tsp cornflour
- 1 tsp egg white
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 20–25 wonton or gyoza wrappers
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Sweet Soy Dipping Sauce:
- 60 ml (2 fl oz) sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 thumb-sized red chilli, diced
Roughly chop half of the prawns and place in a bowl with the pork and water chestnuts. Place the garlic and ginger in a food processor and chop until fine, then add the coriander, spring onion and remaining prawns and pulse until chunky. Add the cornflour, egg white, fish and soy sauces and pulse again to mix. Pour into the bowl with the pork and chunky prawns. Mix well and season with freshly ground black pepper.
If using wonton wrappers, snip off the corners of the squares so that they are more round and keep the wrappers covered with a tea towel so that they don’t dry out.
Place a wrapper in your hand and spoon 1 heaped tablespoon of the mixture into it. Wrap the wrapper around the filling so that it’s pleated round it and the filling comes up nearly to the top. Tap it on the work surface so that the bottom becomes flat and run a knife across the top to smooth over. You want it to be a tight, compact dumpling. Continue with all the wrappers and filling, then place on a plastic tray.
To make the fried garlic, add the oil and garlic to a small frying pan and cook for 1–2 minutes over low heat until golden.
To make the sweet soy dipping sauce, combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
Fill a pot or wok with a couple of inches of water and bring to a boil. Place some baking paper with holes cut through in the bottom of a bamboo steamer. Arrange the dumplings, in batches, so that they are not touching each other, then cover and steam for about 6–8 minutes. Place on a serving dish, scatter with the fried garlic and extra spring onions and serve with the dipping sauce.
Note: If you’re making the dumplings in advance, arrange on a tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Top with more paper and cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours ahead of steaming. You can also freeze the dumplings raw and steam from frozen.
Devil’s Food Cake with Matcha Dressing (page 220)
Japanese matcha powder is a wonder to mix into frostings, ice cream or cream for its Shrek-like colour and astringent taste. Here it pairs beautifully with chocolate for a showstopper dessert. I’ve cooked many chocolate cakes in my lifetime, but this one is the ultimate. My sister-in-law Amy divulged her family recipe to me and the cake has a springy moist texture and a pure cocoa flavour, but is not too rich.
PREP 45 MINUTES, PLUS 1 HOUR CHILLING
COOK 40 MINUTES
- 250 ml (9 fl oz) boiling water
- 75 g (21/2 oz) cocoa powder
- 350 g (12 oz) plain flour
- 350 g (12 oz) caster sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 250 ml (9 fl oz) milk
- 125 ml (4 fl oz) vegetable oil 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 325 g (111/2 oz) salted butter, at room temperature
- 650 g (1 lb 7 oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp matcha powder
- 3 tbsp milk
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) or 160°C (315°F) fan forced. Grease and line two 20 cm (8 inch) or three 18 cm (7 inch) round springform cake tins.
Pour the boiling water into a measuring jug and add the cocoa. Whisk the mixture smooth and let cool while you measure out all the remaining ingredients.
Pour the remaining dry ingredients into the bowl of a standing electric mixer or use a large bowl and electric hand mixer.
In another bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla extract.
When the cocoa mixture has cooled enough, whisk into the egg and milk mixture.
On a slow speed, add the liquid until combined. Beat for 1 minute on slow speed. Pour the mixture into the tins. It will seem very liquid, but will bake up very light. Bake for 35–40 minutes on the centre rack of the oven. Cool in the tins and then remove.
To make the matcha frosting, in the bowl of the standing mixer, whisk the butter on slow speed for 6–7 minutes until pale and fluffy. It’s imperative that your butter is at room temperature to get a smooth, silky texture. Add the sifted icing sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, keeping the speed slow. When finished, add the vanilla, sifted matcha and milk and keep beating until the mixture is very smooth. If it’s too thick, add another tablespoon of milk.
Place one cake on a serving platter. Spread a thick layer of frosting to sandwich the two or three cakes. Ice the sides first and then the top. If you want to get a perfect finish, try ‘crumbing’ the cake by first spreading a thin layer of frosting around the outside and top of the cake until everything is smoothed at the same level. Place in the fridge for 1 hour and the cake will set. Remove and then ice the cake with more frosting.
Images and recipes from My Asian Kitchen by Jennifer Joyce, Murdoch Books, RRP $39.99 Photography by Phil Webb, Illustrations by Riley Joyce