Another Chinese feast. This time a selection of appetisers to choose from. This is definitely a meal to prepare when you have a bit of time on your hands but it is really worth the effort.
There are a nice mix of textures with crunchy flavoursome toast, velvety soup and soft, meaty dumplings.
You can’t beat homemade for flavour either. From the pan and straight to the table without sitting in a sweaty container in the back of a delivery car for half an hour means you achieve fresh clean flavours.
You can use any bread you like, but don’t go too posh. As far as I’m concerned, cheap white bread is definitely your friend here.
- 6-8 (depending on size) slices of bread
- 150g raw prawns, de-veined
- 1 large garlic clove
- A thumb of root ginger
- 3 spring onions
- 1 red chili, deseeded
- 1 egg
- A generous splash a soy sauce
- A splash of sesame oil
- Rice flour – just enough to bind the mixture so it’s not too sloppy
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower oil for deep frying
- Roughly chop the prawns, garlic, ginger, onions and chilli and stick the lot in a food processor with the egg, soy and sesame oil. Blitz until you have a paste, adding a little bit of rice flour if your mixture is too sloppy.
- Spread the mixture generously over the slices of bread, with more in the middle than the edges. Pour you sesame seeds into a bowl big enough to fit in the sliced bread and dunk it, prawn mixture side down, into the seeds to stick. Cut your slices into two or four triangles (again, this depends how big your slices are or how hungry you are).
- Heat up the oil in a wide heavy-bottomed pan and use a fish slice to carefully place them in the hot oil, sesame side down. Leave them for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown, before carefully flipping them over in the oil for another minute or so to brown the other side. Do this in batches, so you don’t overcrowd the pan. If you put too many in at once, your oil will cool and your toast will get soggy. Once it’s nicely golden, fish your prawn toast out of the oil and drain it on kitchen paper, before serving.
- 1 teaspoon corn oil
- 2 cups sweetcorn, canned super-sweet works well
- 2 cups fish stock – mix 2-4 Tbsp fish sauce with water
- 8 oz shredded crab meat, pre-cooked
- 1 or 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- A little salt to taste
- Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the corn, and fry for about 30 seconds. Pour in the fish stock – add several slugs of bottled fish sauce and water to thin; and season with salt and pepper. Simmer over medium-low heat for a few minutes. Turn off the heat and drizzle in the egg while slowly stirring the soup to create a white swirl. This dish is now ready.
- To serve, add the shredded crabmeat to the 4 serving bowls and add the soup over it. Garnish with finely chopped spring onions, parsley, or whatever you have handy if you like.
Don’t drain the sweetcorn. Add the juice in the can to the stock for a lovely sweet flavour.
This is not really an alternative recipe but a few optional extras to add to the basic recipe that I think make it a bit more authentic.
- 1 Tsp (light) soy sauce.
- 1 Tbsp Chinese rice wine
- 2 Tbsp cornflour
- Bring the stock to a boil in a large pan. Add the sweet corn, crabmeat, rice wine, seasoning and soy sauce. Allow to simmer for 4 – 5 minutes.
- Mix the cornflour and water or stock and add a spoonful of the hot soup. Adding a spoonful from the pot is a very important step, do not compromise on this point.
- Return the mixture to the soup slowly while stirring occasionally and bring back to the boil. Simmer until the soup thickens.
- Turn off the heat. Whisk the eggs briefly and very slowly stir into the hot soup just before serving so fine ribbons appear. Do not to stir too harshly. Serve as soon as the egg whitens into silky strands.
For the dough:
- 140g/5oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 125ml/4fl oz very hot water
For the stuffing:
- 110g/4oz minced pork
- 75g/3oz Chinese leaves or celery, finely chopped
- 1 tsp finely chopped ginger
- ½ tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
- ½ tbsp dark soy sauce
- ½ tsp light soy sauce
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2-3 finely chopped spring onions
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- ½ tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp cold chicken stock or water
- 1 tbsp groundnut oil
- 75ml/3fl oz water
- For the dough, place the flour into a large bowl and stir the hot water gradually into it, mixing all the time with a fork or chopsticks, until the water is incorporated. Add more water if the mixture seems dry.
- Tip the dough mixture onto a clean work surface and knead it with your hands, dusting the dough with a little flour if it’s sticky. Continue kneading until it is smooth – this should take about eight minutes.
- Put the dough back in the bowl, cover it with a clean damp towel and let it rest for about 20 minutes.
- For the stuffing, while the dough is resting, combine the stuffing ingredients in a large bowl and mix them together thoroughly. Set aside.
- After the resting period, take the dough out of the bowl and knead it again for about five minutes, dusting with a little flour if it is sticky.
- Once the dough is smooth, shape it into a roll about 23cm/9in long and about 2.5cm/1in in diameter, using your hands.
- With a sharp knife, slice the roll into 16 equal-sized pieces (each piece is about 15g/½ oz). Using your hands, roll each of the dough pieces into a small ball and then, with a rolling pin, roll each ball into a small, round, flat, ‘pancake’ about 9cm/3½in in diameter.
- Arrange the round skins on a lightly floured tray and cover them with a damp kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out until you are ready to use them.
- Place about two teaspoons of filling in the centre of each ‘pancake’ and moisten the edges with water. Fold the dough in half and pinch together with your fingers.
- Pleat around the edge, pinching with your fingers to seal well. The dumpling should look like a small Cornish pasty with a flat base and rounded top.
- Transfer each finished dumpling to the floured tray and keep it covered until you have stuffed all the dumplings in this way.
- To cook, heat a large lidded frying pan (preferably a non-stick pan) until it is very hot. Add the groundnut oil and place the dumplings flat-side down into the pan.
- Reduce the heat and cook for about two minutes until they the dumplings are lightly browned. Add the water, cover the pan tightly and simmer gently for about 12 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Check the water half-way through and add more if necessary. Uncover the pan and continue to cook for a further two minutes before serving.