Comfort food, hangover cure, lunch, recipe, Soup

Chinese Style Chicken Soup with Pork Dumplings

Asian style chicken soup with pork dumplings For various reasons, life is a bit annoying at the moment. This happens occasionally – these dips into a void full of work, mild illness and insomnia (recently, I had a sleepless night which was so brutal that the next day, I thought it would be a good idea to whisk tahini into my chicken soup instead of sesame oil. It wasn’t. Never do this.) I am grumpy, sneezy, mildly disheartened and in need of some comfort.  In such circumstances, there’s only one dish which can soothe my soul. Chicken soup with dumplings.

I could very easily live on a dumplings-only diet. From Jewish matzo to Mongolian momo, if it’s small, doughy and delicious, I’ll probably eat it. Recently, I’ve become obsessed with making potstickers, a Chinese dumpling which is briefly fried before being simmered. They’re (relatively) easy to make, freeze beautifully and make the perfect snack when you can barely be bothered to boil up a bowl of noodles. I have wonderful memories of eating huge bowls of super-cheap-and-super-tasty dumpling soup from when I lived in Camden as a student, so knew that the pork and cabbage ones I’d cobbled together would work well plonked into a spicy, head-clearing bowl of chicken broth (even if my pleating skills leave a lot to be desired.)

I’m not going to pretend that this soup is authentic. But on a cold day when life feels like one punch in the gut after another, and you can barely write an email, it really hits the spot.

CHINESE STYLE CHICKEN SOUP WITH PORK DUMPLINGS (Makes one big bowl of soup. Dumplings recipe makes roughly 30 dumplings.)

Dumplings recipe adapted from The Dumpling Sisters

For the soup

  • 300ml chicken stock (preferably home made)
  • 1 thumb sized lump of ginger, sliced into matchsticks
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Chinese rice wine
  • 1 tbsp Chinese black vinegar (if you don’t have any, balsamic is a good substitute)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp chilli oil
  • 1/2 Chinese cabbage, cut into ribbons

For the dumplings

  • 1 pack of frozen dumpling wrappers (you can get these from most Chinese supermarkets)
  • 250g fatty pork mince
  • 1 thumb sized lump of ginger, minced finely
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced finely
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Chinese rice wine
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1/2 Chinese cabbage, diced very finely
  • 1 spring onion (green part only), diced finely

Make it!

  1. PREP THE SOUP: Add the ginger matchsticks to the chicken soup, and leave to simmer over a medium heat while you’re prepping the dumplings.
  2. FOR THE DUMPLINGS: Place the shredded cabbage and spring onion in a bowl with the pork mince, sesame oil, rice wine, sugar, soy sauce, minced garlic and ginger and white pepper and mix well (I find it works best if you use your hands – make sure they’re clean!) To check the seasoning, fry a little of the mixture to taste, and season again, if required.
  3. To make the dumplings, lay the wrappers on a clean work surface and cover with a damp tea towel to stop them from drying out. Place 1 teaspoon of the filling onto the middle of a wrapper, brush the edges with a little water, then fold the wrapper in half over the filling into a half moon shape. Pinch the edges to seal (pleating them makes them look nicer, but simply pinching them together with your fingers should work fine – make sure they’re properly sealed before cooking though!) then place bottom-side down onto a plate which has been lightly dusted with cornflour (a tablespoon or so should do.) Repeat with the remaining ingredients – you should end up with roughly 30 in total. Keep five for the soup, and freeze the remaining 25 (or just place them in the fridge so you can snack on them later.)
  4. Heat a good splash of oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat, then add the potstickers, bottom-side down, in a single layer (you may need to do this in batches). Reduce the heat to medium and fry for 2 minutes, or until the undersides are brown and crispy.
  5. While you’re frying the dumplings, add the soy sauce, Chinese rice wine, vinegar, sesame oil, chilli oil and shredded Chinese cabbage to the chicken stock, and leave to simmer for around five minutes. Taste, and add more seasonings if required.
  6. Once all the dumplings have been fried, gently add them to the soup. Leave to cook for 5 – 7 minutes. Serve immediately with a good squirt of Sriracha.
Standard
breakfast, carrots, fritters, hangover cure, lunch, recipe, vegetarian

Carrot, Feta & Harissa Fritters with Mint-Garlic Yoghurt

Carrot-Feta-and-Harissa-Fritters

Because my life is non stop glamour, I’ve come down with a nasty sinus infection. This means two things: 1) I hate everyone and everything (bar Mr. McMc who only gets a free pass because he brings Hot Chocolate and Kinder Buenos to my sickbed), 2) I am determined to beat the vile virus living in my tubes by blasting it out with industrial amounts of spice. (It also means that I’ve been unable to take pictures of my recent outfits as I’m not sure anyone’s interested in seeing pics of a mardy lass with a face full of spots, even if she *is* wearing an amazing shirt.)

In an attempt to make myself feel better (and because – allegedly – vegetables are good for you), I’ve been making plate after plate of these Carrot, Feta & Harissa Fritters with Mint-Garlic Yoghurt.  They’re a glorious hybrid of two of my favorite Carrot-and-Feta based recipes – BBC Food’s Carrot, Cumin and Feta fritters, and Smitten Kitchen’s Carrot, Feta and Harissa salad. They’re full of piquant, smoky flavours and delicious chunks of salty melted cheese which pop in your mouth. The mint- garlic yoghurt dip is a must here too – drizzled over the warm fritters, it adds another delicious element to what is already a bloody tasty dish (even if I do say so myself.)

The fritters are at their best when served fresh out of the frying pan, piping hot and wrapped up in a gigantic toasted flatbread. They don’t taste nearly as good when cold, which gives you the perfect excuse to eat a giant plate of them in one glorious gulp. They make a fantastic lunch, and an even better hangover cure (as I recently discovered the morning after a night spent necking pints of milk stout.)

CARROT, FETA AND HARISSA FRITTERS WITH MINT-GARLIC YOGHURT (This makes around three large-ish fritters.)

You will need:

  • 4 tbsp Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp chopped mint leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic puree
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp ground cumin (I like to toast cumin seeds and grind them in a pestle & mortar, but ground cumin powder will do in a pinch)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp harissa
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 50g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Make It!

  1. For the Mint-Garlic yoghurt: Combine the Greek yoghurt, chopped mint and garlic puree in a bowl. Set to one side.
  2. For the Carrot, Feta & Harissa fritters: Mix the flour, egg, cumin, smoked paprika, harissa and 4 tbsp of water in a bowl until you have a smooth, thick, gloopy batter. If the batter looks a little dry, add a touch more water until all the flour has been incorporated. Add the grated carrots, onion, and feta to the bowl, along with some salt and pepper. Mix well until the vegetables and feta have been fully incorporated into the batter.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan until it starts to spit. Add heaped tablespoons of the batter into the frying pan, flatten out a little with the back of your spoon and cook for 2-3 minutes each side, until they are golden brown on each side. If you have problems getting the fritters out of frying pan, you can gently dislodge them with a palette knife. Cover the freshly cooked fritters with a tea towel once they’re done so that they stay warm while you’re using up the rest of the batter.
  4. Serve the hot fritters immediately. If making these for breakfast, I tend to eat them their own with a poached egg on top. For a hearty lunch, tuck them inside some toasted flatbreads, then drizzle generously with the mint-garlic herb yoghurt. They perfectly accompany a glass of cold white wine and a fresh green salad.
Standard