Pork & Shiitake Wonton Soup

The base of this soup utilises the leftover stock from my Chinese Style Twice-Cooked Pork Belly.

First you need to make the wontons and then you can either boil them in the leftover stock like in this recipe, make a fresh batch of stock or fry in oil and serve with a dipping sauce of your choice such as Nuoc Cham.

Pork and Shiitake Wontons

Ingredients

Wonton skins

250g pork, minced

5 Shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated & minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2cm fresh ginger, minced

1 spring onion, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. light soy sauce

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

Method

Mix together all the ingredients except the wonton skins.

Place a small amount of the filling in the centre of a wonton skin. Moisten the edges with water. Fold over and then using a chopstick gently press the centre of the filling inwards bringing the two sides together. Pinch the sides together to close (use a little water to help the ends stick together). Repeat process. You can also scrunch the sides together to form moneybags fold them into simple triangles or form into a myriad of different shapes.

Pork & Shitake Wontons

For the Pork and Shiitake Wonton Soup

Ingredients

Leftover stock from Chinese Style Twice-Cooked Pork Belly

1 Tbsp. Chinkiang Vinegar

Pork and Shiitake Wontons

2 handfuls bean sprouts

1 Carrot, julienned

1 spring onion, sliced

Method

1 Heat leftover stock. If the stock is too concentrated and intense you can water it down with some water.

2 Add wontons cook for 5 minutes or until they have floated to the top of the soup.

3 Add carrot and spring onion and cook for 1 minute if you like crunchy vegetables or longer if you don’t.

Pork & Shitake Wonton Soup

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Asian Style Chicken Noodle Soup

I absolutely hate wasting food and therefore love recipes that make use of something that most people would probably mindlessly chuck away.

This recipe uses the stock left over from boiling pork belly from my Chinese Style Twice-Cooked Pork Belly recipe. I normally use this stock to make a wide range of different soups but you can also use it to make a chinese style risotto or perhaps in my Shiitake Fideua recipe.

Ingredients

Leftover stock from Chinese Style Twice-Cooked Pork Belly

3-4 cups plain water (Optional, depends how intense you want the soup)

4 chicken wings

1  carrot, julienned

1 courgette, julienned

2 gem lettuces, separated

2 handfuls bean sprouts

Rice noodles

1/2 calamansi or lemon, juiced (optional)

Method

1 Poach chicken wings in the leftover stock and extra water for 10 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

2 Add carrot, courgette, gem lettuces, bean sprouts to the soup and cook for 2-3 minutes. I prefer my vegetables to have a good crunch.

3  Remove soup from the heat and add the rice noodles. Cover with a lid and rest for 5 minutes.

4 Ladle soup into a bowl and squeeze lemon juice over the soup.

Asian Style Chicken Noodle Soup

Chinese Style Twice-Cooked Pork Belly

Pork belly, when done correctly, can be a melt in your mouth experience. This recipe requires gently boiling with plenty of aromatics and then glazed and finished off in the oven.

The resulting stock from cooking the pork is perfect to use as a base for any asian inspired soup such as Pork and Shiitake Wonton Soup or Asian Style Chicken and Noodle Soup.

You can decide to remove the top layer of fat and skin after boiling the pork in order to make pork crackling or leave it as it is.

To cut down on cooking time you could use a pressure cooker.

Ingredients

1kg pork belly

4 garlic cloves, bashed

6cm piece ginger, peeled and bashed

2 whole star anise

2 Tbsp. Chinese Five Spice

3 spring onions

4 Tbsp. Shaoxing wine

2-3 Tbsp. light soy sauce

1 Tbsp. dark soy sauce

Glaze

4 Tbsp. honey

3 Tbsp. light soy sauce

1 Tbsp. dark soy sauce

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

2cm fresh ginger, finely diced

1 Tbsp. Chinese Five Spice

2 tsp. red chilli powder (optional)

Method

1 Place pork belly, garlic, ginger, star anise, Chinese Five Spice, spring onions, Shaoxing wine, dark soy sauce and light soy sauce. Boil water in a kettle and pour over the pork until it is completely covered. Once boiling, simmer on a low heat for 2 hours. During this time turn the pork every half hour and add extra water if the pork is not submerged in liquid throughout the cooking process.

Chinese Style Twice-Cooked Pork Belly 1

2 Remove the pork from the pan and remove the top of layer of fat. This step is optional but I prefer it so I can then make pork crackling.

3 Make the glaze by mixing all the ingredients together and then pour over the pork. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and roast in a preheated oven for 20-30, turning over often and basting the meat with the glaze every now and again.

Chinese Style Twice-Cooked Pork Belly 2

Suggestions: Serve with a Egg Fried Rice and Asian Style Gem Lettuce

Chinese Style Twice-Cooked Pork Belly 3

Asian Style Gem Lettuce

Ingredients

4 gem lettuces

1 Tbsp sesame seeds

Dressing

1 Tbsp gochujang

3 Tbsp light soy sauce

1 Tbsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp water

1 tsp sesame oil

1 garlic clove, minced

2cm fresh ginger, minced

1/2 spring onion, sliced

Method

1 Cut the ends of the gem lettuces and pull apart the individual leaves. Place in a steamer basket and steam for 5 minutes. Once cooked, transfer to a serving dish.

Asian Style Gem Lettuce 1

2 Prepare the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together and then pour over the lettuce. Mix well and sprinkle with some sesame seeds.

Asian Style Gem Lettuce 2

Delicious hot or cold. 

Leche Frita (Spanish “Fried Milk”)

I don’t think there is any other country in the world that has as many festivals as in Spain. We are quite known for our party lifestyle and most wonder when we actually get down to business as it always seems that we are constantly having days off in honour of some random Saint or Virgin (every city, town, village has their own one). I’m pretty sure that on most days of the year there is a at least one festival going on somewhere around the country.

At the moment we are in Carnival mode. In Valencia, where I live, Carnival isn’t a public holiday as there isn’t as much of a tradition to celebrate it, probably because a few weeks later we blow all our budget on Las Fallas, Valencia’s main festival. It is however, big business in my dad’s area (Galicia) where it is known as “entroido”, Cadiz, Tenerife and countless other areas around Spain.

As with most festivals, we have many recipes associated to these days, particularly sweets such as this one. Leche Frita, literally means fried milk, and is very popular in Northern Spain (the exact origin is disputed) during this time of the year and also Easter, which follows. The only way I can describe it is as fried custard squares.

Ingredients

1 litre milk

70g plain flour

70g cornflour (or cornstarch in US)

40g white sugar

1 lemon rind

1 cinnamon stick

4 eggs

Extras

Cinnamon sugar (white sugar mixed with cinnamon powder)

1 egg, beaten

Melted butter, to grease

Method

1 Heat 800ml of milk with lemon rind and cinnamon. Once it comes to a boil, remove from the heat and combine the sugar til it dissolves. Leave for 20 minutes to become warm and then remove the lemon rind and cinnamon stick.

2 Meanwhile, in a bowl add 200ml of cold milk and gradually beat in the flour, cornflour and eggs. Beat well and make sure there are no bumps. Gradually whisk this cold milk mixture to the warm milk mixture.

3 Return the pan to the heat and whisk until the mixture becomes thick. If for some reason the mixture splits you can use a hand immersion blender to fix it.

4 Grease a square/rectangle container (the size depends on the thickness you want the final product) with melted butter and pour in the leche frita mixture. Spread and bang on a surface to get rid of any air bubbles. Leave to cool and then chill in the fridge till it sets (at least 2 hours).

5 Run a knife around the edges of the container of leche frita mixture and turn it out. Cut into square or rectangles. Coat with flour, dip in beaten egg and fry in plenty hot oil.

6 Once fried, coat in cinnamon sugar.

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Eat warm or cold. Personally, I prefer them cold especially if there is a bit of vanilla ice-cream thrown into the mix. 

Caldo Gallego (Traditional Galician Broth)

Caldo Gallego is one of the quintessential dishes of Galicia (northwest tip of Spain) consisting of a broth made with all sorts of meats and leafy greens. It is a proper winter warmer and packed with nutrients!

It is so popular that, as with many traditional dishes in Spain, it has left its mark in the Collection of Traditional Proverbs, Sayings and Folk Music. Here are a few examples in the Galician language:

“A quen caldo non quera, cunca chea.” (Whoever doesn’t want caldo, gets a bowlful). This is used when one bad thing happens after another.

“Miña sogra morreu onte, deixoume o pote a ferver, deixame comer o caldo, que eu tamen eu de morrer.”(Yesterday my mother-in-law died, and left a pot boiling away. Let me eat the caldo, because I too will die someday).

“Se queres ter ao teu home gordiño dispois do caldo dalle un gotiño sempre que sexa de viño.” (If you want your man to be nice and fat, give him a drop after caldo; as long as it’s wine).

There are a few ingredients which are key to this recipe and unfortunately are not easily found if there isn’t a large Galician community where you live. These ingredients are unto and grelos.

Unto is a layer of pig fat which is rolled, salted and cured. It is very potent and therefore you only need a small amount. You can make caldo without it BUT in my eyes it will no longer be authentic caldo gallego.

unto

Grelos are a leafy green from the turnip family.  They are also so important that they also have proverbs about them, such as:

“Do nabo sal a nabiza, da nabiza sal o grelo, son tres persoas distintas, e un solo Dios verdadeiro.” (Nabizas come from a turnip, grelos comes from the nabiza, they are 3 distinct things, but one true God).

“Nabo, nabiza e grelo, trindade do galego.” (Turnip, nabiza and grelo: the Galician holy trinity).

If you can’t find grelos you can substitute them for nabizas (which if you can’t find grelos, you probably won’t find nabizas either), collard greens or cabbage. Personally, I only ever make it with grelos and detest the cabbage version even though it is also quite popular in some Galician towns.

Caldo Gallego, like many broths and stews, is best eaten the day after it is made. This is even reflected in another Galician saying:

“O caldo, ben cocido e ben repousado.”(Caldo: well boiled and well rested).

Anyways, enough talk and more action.

Before making caldo gallego there are a few steps which you may need to do in advance. The first is to blanch the grelos to get rid of its bitterness. The second is to make carne salada (salted meat). If you are lucky enough to find carne salada in your area, you don’t have to bother but in the part of Spain where I live it isn’t very traditional so is quite hard to track down. And lastly, you need to soak the dried beans in cold water overnight.

How to prepare grelos:

1 Cut off the root end of the grelos. Roughly chop the grelos and add to a large stockpot with water.

2 Wash the grelos by rubbing them together in the water. Rinse thoroughly.

3 In a large stock pot add grelos and top up with cold water. Once it comes to a rolling boil, drain and rinse with cold water.

4 At this stage you can either pack into freezer bags and freeze or use directly in the recipe.

Preparing grelos

How to prepare carne salada (salted meat), if using:

500g pork loin/pork shoulder

3 handfuls coarse salt

Coat the pork loin/shoulder in salt and leave in a covered container in the fridge for at least 3 days. It can keep for at least 2 weeks as the salt acts a preservative. After a few days, the meat will release water; it’s best to remove this water from the container.

Preparing carne salada

How to prepare dried white beans

Soak dried white beans in plenty cold water and leave to soak overnight on a countertop.

After time has elapsed, wash in cold water and rinse.

DSC05647_Fotor

Ingredients

Plenty cold water

3cm unto

6 cooking chorizos

500g carne salada, prepared in advance

½ rack of pork ribs

500g beef chuck

2 pigs ears (optional), washed and whole

2 pig tails (optional), washed and whole

2 slices Spanish cured ham bone (optional)

3 handfuls dried broad beans, soaked overnight in cold water

4 large potatoes, peeled, quartered and sliced medium-thick

1 large potato, thinly sliced

3 bunches grelos, prepared in advance (defrosted if frozen)

Salt, if necessary

Method

Fill a large stock pot with cold water and add unto, carne salada, pork ribs, beef chuck, pigs ears, pigs tails, Spanish cured ham bone and soaked beans. Cook on high.

N.B. You can add the chorizos at this stage but depending on the type of chorizo you use it may ruin the characteristic white colour of the liquid. I prefer to boil the chorizos in a separate saucepan towards the final 30 minutes of cooking all the other meats.

When the water comes to boil, skim the froth with a slotted spoon. Then add 1 glass of cold water. My mum says that this is so that the beans are “shocked” and will therefore cook better (gotta love the old wives tales). Lower the heat to medium and leave for 1 hour 15/30 minutes.

Caldo Gallego 1

When the time has elapsed and the meat is cooked remove it from the broth and leave it to rest on a serving dish.

Caldo Gallego 2

Add the thinly sliced potatoes (these will disintegrate and help to thicken the broth) and the medium thick potatoes. When the potatoes are nearly cooked (10-15 minutes) add the grelos. Cook for a further 5-10 minutes. Season with salt if needed; normally the salt that is released from the carne salada, ham bones and chorizos is more than enough.

Caldo Gallego 3

To serve: ladle the broth into bowls (traditionally in cuncas which are earthenware bowls) and serve alongside the dish with all the meats. You can eat the broth and meats separately or add the meat into the bowl; I prefer the latter, but each to his own.

Caldo Gallego 4

As they say in the Galician language: “Xa vai sendo hora de xantar, bo proveito.” (It’s about time to eat, bon appetite)