Caramel Chicken

Image: Super Food Ideas – August 2011, Page 61. Photography by Mark O’Meara.

Caramelised Chicken or ga kho is a sticky, sweet and spicy Vietnamese dish. And, before you get freaked out by the words Caramel and Chicken appearing alongside each other, it is savoury caramel rather than a sweet caramel. So don’t worry you won’t be tucking into a bowl of Jersey Caramels with a side of chicken thigh!

This Vietnamese style savoury caramel sauce weaves together the perfect blend of salty, sweet, sour and spicy by making a caramel using sweet brown sugar, salty fish sauce, sour lime juice and spicy chilies along with some garlic which reduces to a glaze while it cooks, for a full flavour punch. Delicious.

Ingredients – Caramel Chicken

  • 1 tbs peanut oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 800g chicken thigh fillets –  trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red onion – thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves – minced
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • 1 tbs lime juice
  • 1 tsp of dried chilli flakes
  • Steamed rice to serve

Ingredients – Pickled Cucumber

  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbss caster sugar
  • 2 Lebanese cucumbers – cut into thin ribbons
  • 1 green onion – thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup of cold water


  1. To make the pickled cucumber, place the vinegar, sugar and 1/4 cup cold water in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring for 2 minutes or until sugar has dissolved. Transfer to a heatproof bowl, add cucumber, stir to combine and set aside to cool completely. Once cooled, stir in the green onion.
  2. Place the chicken and oil in a bowl and toss to combine. Heat a large frying pan or wok over a high heat until hot. Add half the chicken and cook for two minutes on one side until lightly browned, turn and cook for another minute. Remove from the pan and repeat with the remaining chicken.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and add a little extra peanut oil if needed. Add the onion and garlic and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Return the chicken to the pan, add the soy sauce, chilli flakes and stir to combine.
  4. Cover the pan, reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Increase the heat to high, add the sugar and stir to combine. Cook uncovered for 3-4 minutes, or until the sauce is rich, dark and syrupy.
  5. Add the fish sauce, lime juice and stir to combine.
  6. Place in a serving dish and serve with steamed rice and pickled cucumber.


15 Minute Monday – Asian Steamed Sea Bream

Image: delicious. - October 2012, Page 46. Photographer: Ben Dearnley.


Asian steamed sea bream with spring onion and ginger uses the bright flavours of Asia to make this fast, fresh midweek dinner irresistible!


  • 2 x 150g bream fillets
  • 2 tbs light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbs rice vinegar
  • 3cm piece ginger, finely shredded
  • 1 each long red and green chilli, seeds removed, thinly sliced
  • 6 spring onions, finely shredded
  • Coriander leaves and steamed rice, to serve


  1. Place a plate inside a bamboo steamer and lay the fish, skin-side down, on the plate. Place the soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and vinegar in a bowl and stir to combine, then pour over the fish. Scatter the ginger, chilli and half the spring onion over the fish. Set the steamer over a large saucepan or wok of simmering water and cover with the lid. Steam for 6 minutes or until the fish is opaque and just cooked.
  2. Garnish the fish with coriander and remaining spring onion, then drizzle over the cooking juices and serve with rice.


Pressure Cooker Char Siu Pork

Image: Super Food Ideas - August 2011, Page 60. Photographer: Mark O'Meara.

Image: Super Food Ideas – August 2011, Page 60. Photographer: Mark O’Meara.

This is a recipe for the lovely, sticky, red-coated pork that you see hanging in Chinese restaurant windows. Char siu is of Cantonese origin where skewers of pork are marinated in a honey, hoisin sauce and then roast in oven to charred, savoury and sticky sweet perfection.

This recipe smells divine as it cooks and is so easy to make. If there is a pork recipe that defines Chinese cooking, I think char siu would be it! And let’s face it, who doesn’t want an excuse to eat pork.


  • 1 tbs peanut oil
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup of hoi sin sauce
  • ¼ cup of light soy sauce
  • ¼ cup dry sherry or Chinese shoasing wine or rice wine vinegar
  • 1L of chicken stock
  • 1kg of pork belly – bones removed
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 1 tsp Chinese five-spice
  • 1 tbs red fermented bean curd – available from Asian grocers
  • 3 drops of red food colouring (optional)
  • A large pinch of white pepper (optional)
  • Serve with steam rice, steamed Asian greens and top with fried shallots


  1. Set your pressure cooker to sauté. Add the soy sauce, sherry, stock, bean paste, food colouring, pepper, Chinese-five spice and ¼ cup of hoisin sauce. Allow to cook for five minutes or until slightly thickened.
  2. Score the top of the pork cutting through the skin in straight lines at 1-1.5cm intervals. Add the pork to the pressure cooker, turn to coat and submerge in the sauce – dependent on the size of your pressure cooker you may need to cut the pork in half.
  3. Set your pressure cooker and allow to cook for 30 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Remove the pork from the pressure cooker, allow to mildly cool and cut into 18 even-sized pieces. Reserve the cooking liquid.
  5.  Combine the honey, sesame oil, ¼ cup of hoi sin sauce and ¼ cup of cooking liquid in a bowl and set aside.
  6. Heat the peanut oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the pork and cook for 5-10 minutes, brushing with honey mixture every minute, until golden brown and well coated.
  7. Meanwhile, place 1 cup of the cooking liquid in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring to the boil and reduce to simmer for 3-5 minutes or until slightly thickened and almost syrupy.
  8. Serve the Char Siu pork with steam rice, steamed Asian green and sauce; top with crispy shallots.


Sang Choy Bow / Asian Lettuce Cups

Let me start this by saying that in noway is this a traditional recipe, however it is delicious! Also, I am unsure if the correct term is Sang Choy Bow OR San Choy Bow – so any clarification in the comments would be great!

This is a great low fat, family friendly recipe that is fast to prepare – which is a must! It is also a great way to incorporate lots of vegetables into a dish which can be great if you have fussy children. What I like best about this recipe is that you can throw in pretty much any vegetable you have in the fridge and it will work.


  • 1 tbs peanut oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 large brown onion – halved and sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic – minced
  • 500g premium beef mince – you can use any type of mince you choose
  • 1 tbs Chinese five spice
  • 2 cups of long grain rice
  • 2 carrots – diced
  • 1 bok coy cut into 2cm slices
  • 6 mushrooms – sliced
  • 1.5L warm/hot chicken stock
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbs oyster sauce
  • Crunchy noodles – I used Changs
  • Fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 fresh iceberg lettuce


  1. Heat peanut oil and sesame oil in a hot pan over medium heat, add onion and garlic and fry until soft and fragrant.
  2. Add mince, Chinese five spice, fry until browned and use the back of the spoon to break up the mince.
  3. Add rice and fry for 1-2 minutes until coated. Add carrot, bok voy, mushrooms, dried chilli flakes soy sauce, hoisin sauce and oyster sauce and stir to combine. Top with stock, bring to the boil, reduce to simmer and cover for 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, seperate the large outer leaves from the lettuce to make ‘lettuce cups’.
  5. Uncover the mince and rice mixture and leave to cook until all liquid has be adsorbed – this is crucial or your lettuce will fill with liquid and squirt all over you which isn’t fun at all.
  6. Once all the liquid has been adsorbed spoon the mixture into your lettuce cups, top with crunchy noodles, fresh coriander and serve!


15 Minute Monday – Stir Fry Beef and Soba Noodles

Image: Australian Good Taste - August 2006, Page 63. Photography by William Meppem.

Image: Australian Good Taste – August 2006, Page 63. Photography by William Meppem.

Mondays are always busy – whether it’s work or kids everyone always seems to be flat off their feet and the last thing you want to worry about it cooking something healthy and tasty for dinner. Never fear – I will come to the rescue every Monday morning with a tasty, healthy and FAST meal solution the whole family will love.

My first edition of 15 Minute Monday is a staple recipe in our house of stir fry beef, vegetables and soba noodles. For those of you unfamiliar with soba noodles, soba is the Japanese term for buckwheat and simply refer to a thin buckwheat flour noodle. This colourful recipe is packed with healthy veggies and the soba noodles are a great alternative to white wheat noodles and are high in antioxidants, contain all eight essential amino acids and lysine which is lacking in white wheat products.


  • 1 large brown onion – sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves – minced
  • 200g of beef rump – cut into strips
  • 1 carrot – cut into matchsticks
  • 1 bunch of broccolini or broccoli – cut into florets
  • 1 tin of baby corn spears – sliced diagonally
  • 1 bok choy – sliced into 2cm pices
  • 3 tbs soy sauce
  • 3 tbs oyster sauce
  • 2 tbs sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbs peanut oil
  • 90g organic dried soba noodles
  • Fresh coriander leaves to serve


  1. Add 1 tbs of peanut oil to a hot pan, over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and garlic, cook until tender.
  3. Add the beef and cook to brown.
  4. Add all vegetables and sauces, simmer on a high heat until sauce reduces and thickens.
  5. Meanwhile, cook noodles as per packet instructions.
  6. Toss the noodles through the beef and vegetables.
  7. Top with fresh coriander leaves and serve!


Asian Glazed Pork Chops

This meal is so easy to prepare and even easier to eat. While it does take some time to cook, preparation is a breeze. It is perfect for a midweek meal to set and forget while you clean, work, look after kids or relax in the bath as I did. It is so tasty that you could serve it at a dinner party, with all the components placed on the table for guests to serve themselves and I am sure the recipe won’t stay a secret for long!



  • 700g pork – you can use chops, belly, strips etc. I used chops but it is entirely your choice
  • 1L chicken stock
  • 3 tbs soy sauce
  • 3 tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 2 tbs sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic – minced
  • The roots of 1 bunch of coriander
  • 1 long green chilli halved and sliced – don’t worry about this chilli being too hot, the bigger they are the milder they are. If you are concerned about the heat remove the seeds and the white membrane which is the hottest part of the chilli
  • 2 tsp Chinese five spice


  • 1 leek – white part only
  • 2 bok choy or pak choy
  • 1 red capsicum
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 6 drops sesame oil
  • Brown rice to serve
  • Fresh coriander leaves to serve


  1. Preheat oven to 180⁰C.
  2. Place the stock, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, honey, sweet chilli sauce, sesame oil, garlic, coriander roots, green chilli and Chinese five spice in an oven proof dish and mix to combine. Ensure that the honey and sweet chilli sauce are fully dissolved in the sauce.
  3. Score any edged fat on the pork chops in 1.5cm intervals, add to the dish and turn to coat. Place either a lid or al foil over the dish and place in oven to cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, turning half way through cooking.
  4. Remove the pork from the oven, turn, uncover and place in the oven for 10 minutes each side.
  5. Meanwhile, cut the bok choy into 3cm lengths, cut the leek lengthways and finely slice and cut the capsicum into strips.
  6. Add the olive and sesame oil to a pan and heat, add the leek and stir until tender.
  7. Add the bok choy, capsicum, sesame seeds and soy sauce. Cover and allow to steam – you may need to add a dash of water here if the vegetables appear to be sticking.
  8. Remove pork from oven and serve in a bowl with steamed brown rice, vegetables. Top with the juices from the pork and fresh coriander leaves.


Sushi! Tuna Nori Maki

Sushi - Tuna Nori Maki

Turning Japanese, I think I’m turning Japanese, I really think so.

Tuna Nori Maki Sushi – Tuna Seaweed Rolled Sushi.


  • 2 cups of rice – sushi, arborio or medium grain rice will do
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tbs caster sugar
  • 1 tin of tune chunks in springwater
  • 2 tbs whole egg mayonnaise
  • 2 shallots – only the white part, cut down the centre and finely sliced
  • 1 large carrot finely grated
  • 1 cucumber, seeds removed, sliced
  • 1 avocado sliced
  • 1 packet of dried nori
  • small bowl of water


  1. Add rice and water to rice cooker and switch to cook. If you don’t own a rice cooker you should seriously consider buying one. You can get the very cheaply and they are amazing and always produce light, fluffy, well cooked rice.
  2. Once the rice has cooked, transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
  3. Add rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt to a small pan on low heat and stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Many people add the ingredients directly to the rice without allowing them to dissolve, however this will result in a gritty rice and uneven flavour distribution.
  4. Add the mixture to the rice, stir and allow to come to room temperature.
  5. Drain the tuna to remove as much excess liquid as possible, add to a medium sized bowl with mayonnaise, carrot and shallots and mix until well combined.
  6. Carefully remove the nori sheet from the packet and place shiny side down on a dried surface. Cover 3/4 of the sheet in a thin layer of the rice mixture, try for no more than 3-4 grains high. The rice should extent from side to side on the nori and finish 3/4 from the top.
  7. Form a line of the tuna mix down the centre of the nori extending from side to side. Place a slice of the cucumber and avocado alongside the tuna mix.
  8. Dip your fingers in the small bowl of water and run along the exposed end of the nori sheet.
  9. Take hold of the front of the nori sheet and lift slightly, using a very quick motion roll the nori into a circle, speed is key here if you hesitate it WILL all fall apart.
  10. Repeat.
  11. Allow to rest until the nori has softened. Slice the nori maki into 1-2cm pieces.
  12. Serve with chopped chilli in soy sauce and wasabi. You can also serve it with kewpie if you wish.