Dim Sum Black Bean Spareribs 豉汁蒸排骨

If you go to westernised Chinese restaurants you’ll undoubtedly be familiar with spareribs and black bean dishes but forget that, this is authentic Chinese cooking. These  spareribs are steamed with whole black beans and are a quintessential dish in any good Dim Sum restaurant.

Fermented black beans, known as Douchi (豆豉), are salted and fermented black soybeans that are used often in Chinese cuisine. They are primarily used as a seasoning and are not meant to be consumed in large quantities; you don’t want to eat a whole bowl of them.


500g pork spareribs

1 Tbsp. sugar

2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. ground white pepper

1 Tbsp. light soy sauce

2 Tbsp. Shaoxing wine

3 garlic cloves, minced

4cm fresh ginger, julienned

1 Tbsp. Douchi (Salted/Fermented Black Beans), rinsed

1 ½ Tbsp. cornflour (or potato/tapioca starch)

1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil

1 spring onion (optional)


1 Marinade the pork spareribs with all the ingredients except the cornflour and sesame oil for at least 30 minutes or preferably overnight if you have the time. dimsumspareribs12 Just before cooking, add the cornflour to the ribs and mix well until evenly coated. The cornflour helps to tenderise the meat. Arrange the ribs on a plate that fits inside your steamer. dimsumspareribs23 Bring a pan of water to a boil (I boil the water in a kettle to speed up the process) and steam the spareribs on a medium heat for 20 – 25 minutes. The spareribs are done once the bone has retracted from the meat but not falling off the bone. dimsumspareribs34 Drizzle with sesame oil and garnish with spring onions. Serve as part of Dim Sum or as a standalone meal with steamed rice. dimsumspareribs4


Chinese Mapo Tofu 麻婆豆腐

Tofu doesn’t have the best reputation in the western world: it has been shunned by omnivores and carnivores and monopolised by vegetarians and vegans. It doesn’t have to be this way; tofu is much tastier than people give it credit for especially when it’s swimming in a fiery sauce. So if you are on the fence about tofu, give this recipe a go. It might just blow your mind; if not, at least it’ll blow your tastebuds!

Mapo Tofu 麻婆豆腐 is a quintessential Chinese dish from the Sichuan province that is known for its numbing spiciness also known as Ma la 麻辣. In the western world however, Chinese restaurants tend to tone it down to cater to the local palate or even transform it into a vegetarian/vegan dish as most people who would even order a tofu dish will most likely be vegetarian or vegan.

There are two ingredients in this recipe that you may have trouble finding if you don’t have an Asian supermarket at hand:

  • Douchi 豆豉, often labelled as Salted/Fermented Black Beans, are fermented black soybeans that are used as a flavouring in authentic Chinese cuisine. In the western world they tend to be mashed into a gloopy sauce and used to make a variety of Black Bean dishes. To use: Rinse the beans in cold water and use either whole or minced.
  • Pixian Doubanjiang 郫县豆瓣酱, often labelled as Pixian Douban or Chili Bean Sauce, is a spicy paste made with chillies and broad beans beans from Pixian, a district in Chengdu in the Sichuan province. It is the soul of Sichuan cuisine and used in practically everything. Outside of Sichuan, Doubanjiang is usually made with soybeans and is not spicy. If you can’t find Doubanjiang from Pixian at least make sure that you buy one that is made with chillies and broad beans rather than soybeans. To use: it is recommended to run a knife through the paste as sometimes there are big chunks of beans intact.  mapotofuingredients


500g soft tofu, cut into medium sized cubes

200g pork mince

1 ½ Tbsp. Douchi 豆豉, rinsed and minced

2 Tbsp. Pixian Doubanjiang 郫县豆瓣酱, roughly chopped

1 Tbsp. Sichuan peppercorn oil (optional)

2 tsp. chilli powder

4cm fresh ginger, finely diced

3 garlic cloves, finely diced

1 spring onion, finely diced (keep white and green part separate)

1 Tbsp. light soy sauce

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. cornflour (or potato/tapioca starch)

Cold water

Sesame oil, to taste

Ground Sichuan peppercorns, to taste


Optional step:

If you wish you can make your own Sichuan peppercorn oil at home by dry frying the Sichuan peppercorn for a few minutes until aromatic and then adding vegetable oil for a few seconds to let it infuse. Drain and use just the flavoured oil. If not, skip. maposichuanoil1 Bring a pan of water to boil, lower the heat to medium and gently simmer tofu for 2 – 3 minutes and then strain with a slotted spoon making sure you don’t break the tofu. Keep aside. mapotofu12 Stir-fry the pork in vegetable oil until browned and then move to the edge of the wok/pan. Add the white part of the spring onion, garlic and ginger and stir fry until fragrant and then mix in the pork. mapotofu23 Move the mince to the edge of the wok/pan and fry off the Douchi and then incorporate with the mince.

4 Move the mince to the edge of the wok/pan and fry off the Pixian Doubanjiang until the oil turns red and then incorporate with the mince. mapotofu35 Add water (just enough to cover the tofu), chilli powder, Sichuan peppercorn oil and then bring to a boil.

6 Once it has come to a boil, lower the heat to medium and add the tofu. Shake the wok/pan to coat the tofu in the liquid and use a spatula to gently push the tofu back and forth. It is important to be careful and resist stirring as the tofu will break easily. Simmer for a few minutes.

7 Make a cornflour slurry by dissolving cornflour with 2 Tbsp. cold water. Add this slurry to the tofu and gently stir the liquid and shake the wok/pan to thicken the sauce. mapotofu48 Once the sauce has thickened remove from the heat and garnish with the green part of the spring onions, sesame oil and ground Sichuan peppercorns. DSC04546

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


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


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


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


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

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.


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


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)


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 12 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 2Suggestions: Serve with a Egg Fried Rice and Asian Style Gem LettuceChinese Style Twice-Cooked Pork Belly 3

Asian – Style Steamed Seabass

I know a lot of people like to eat their fish in fillets without evidence that it did once have bones and a head but I prefer eating fish whole. You could make this recipe with fillets but for those who are not squeamish, I’d definitely recommend using the whole fish.

I normally eat seabass mediterranean style with lots of garlic, parsley and lemon but I wanted to shake things up today and have been in an Asian mood. Thus this seabass was born. Hope you enjoy as much as I did.

I wanted to use my Thai-stacked steamer for this recipe but the fish was so massive that it didn’t fit so I had to settle for using a baking tray and covering it with aluminium foil instead.


1 whole seabass, gutted and scaled

5cm piece ginger, cut into strips

1 – 2 spring onions, cut lengthwise into strips

1 red chilli

1 Tbsp ajo y perejil (or sliced garlic)

1 Tbsp sesame oil

2 Tbsp light soy sauce

1 Tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tsp Chinese 5 Spice

2 Tbsp Shaoxing Rice Wine

Dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated in cold water

Shiitake Dashi (water from rehydrating the shiitake mushrooms)


1/2 spring onion, cut lenghwise into stips

1cm fresh ginger, cut lenghwise into stips

1/2 red chilli, cut lenghwise into stips


1 Place the whole fish on a bed of ginger and spring onions to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the baking tray and also to give it that all important fragrance. Make incisions all along the fish and then massage on some ajo y perejil into all the nooks and crannies.

2 Dress ginger, red chilli and spring onions with garlic, sesame oil, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, Chinese 5 spice and Shaoxing rice wine. Insert this mixture into the incisions and then pour over the sauce. Throw in some shiitake mushrooms into the pan and top with shiitake dashi to allow steam to be created inside the tray.
3 Cover with aluminium foil and steam in the oven for 10 – 15 mins, depending on the size of the fish. To check if it is ready make sure the skin and flesh pull away easily from the bone.

4 Garnish with fresh ginger, chilli and spring onions.
Serve with Shiitake and Wakame Rice

Shiitake & Wakame Rice

I’ve always wanted to experiment with seaweed so I went down to my local Asian Supermarket and finally located wakame seaweed; all other seaweeds I found were just labelled “seaweed” and to be honest I didn’t really trust them till I found the words wakame written on the package.

For those readers in Valencia (Spain) there are 3 main Asian Supermarkets I go to: Yuen Tong (Calle Pelayo, 30), Zhong Hua (Calle Convento de Jerusalén, 12) and Supermercado Diario (Calle Convento de Jerusalén, 37). I bought this particular wakame in Supermercado Diario; in all the others I couldn’t figure out what particular seaweed was in the package.

The way I normally cook rice is rather unconventional so feel free to use which ever method you prefer. I use a microwave as it keeps the washing-up to a minimum and is easy as pie.

Take into account that before embarking on this recipe you’ll need to rehydrate the dried shiitake mushroom. To do this wash the mushrooms and soak them in a jug of cold water, preferably overnight. Do not throw away the water they have been soaked in as this can be used as the liquid to cook the rice. This byproduct of soaking the shiitake is known in Japanese as dashi.


10 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated and sliced

3 Tbsp dried wakame seaweed, rehydrated

2 cups rice

4 cups liquid (shiitake dashi + extra water if needed)


1 Wash and rehydrate the shiitake mushrooms in a jug of cold water overnight.

2 Pour rice and shiitake slices into a microwave resistant bowl and top up with the liquid (dashi) from soaking the mushrooms plus extra normal water if necessary. Make sure the rice is fully covered.

3 Microwave for 15 minutes or until rice is cooked through.

4 Meanwhile rehydrate the wakame seaweed in hot water for 5 minutes. Plunge into cold water immediately and drain excess liquid. Set aside.
5 When rice is ready add the wakame. Mix thoroughly. Season with light soy sauce if necessary. Take into account that the seaweed is already quite salty.

Chinese Steamed Chicken Balls

I must admit that these chicken balls do not look particularly tasty but fear not as appearances deceive.

These steamed chicken balls are what I would use inside a wonton although in this case I have substituted the pork for chicken to make them healthier. I didn’t have any wonton wrappers so I thought to myself how the filling would taste on its own; turns out pretty damn good and thus this recipe was born.

Personally, I prefer to mince my own chicken as that way I know exactly what is in it and I can keep the fat to a minimum but you can just as easily use store-bought chicken mince or any other protein you prefer; meat or fish alike.

Chinese-Style Steamed Chicken Balls


2 chicken breasts, minced

6 shiitake mushrooms, sliced

2 spring onions, finely sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cm fresh ginger, minced

1 ½ Tbsp. light soy sauce

1 Tbsp. sesame oil


1 If mincing your own chicken, place in a food processor and pulse a few times. Empty into a bowl and then process the garlic and ginger. Combine the processed chicken, ginger, garlic along with the rest of the ingredients.
Chinese Steamed Chicken Balls_collage1
2 Form this mixture into rugby shaped balls and place on a plate inside a steamer basket. Have a bowl of cold water handy so that you can wet them once in a while to prevent the mixture from sticking to your hands.

3 Prepare a steamer and cook for 10 minutes.
Chinese Steamed Chicken Balls_Collage
Chinese Steamed Chicken Balls2