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free-range ham and home made rillettes

from l-r: rillettes, loaf of bread, spencers brook ham (glazed with marmalade)

Request for a recipe so I’d share it with you all/both. Rillettes is a rufty tufty pate that’s basically pork with pork fat and thus a simple pleasure to be enjoyed. It’s been well liked by young and old and the best use to date has been for breakfast on toast with a few bubbles.

It’s best made in bulk so you can either live off it for a couple of weeks or, for that christmas magic, share it around.

500g pork fat – you can use pork lard, I just carefully scraped the fat off a bit of pork skin for crackling (really it’s beautiful stuff – makes me think of soft serve ice-cream for some reason)
700g pork – shoulder, leg, loin … whatever really as long as it’s lean and meaty
500g pork belly – just trim the skin off and don’t worry about the bones.

Dice the meat into inch (roughly) pieces.

1 onion, 1 carrot, 2 cloves of garlic – peeled
1 stick of celery, 10 sage leaves, 3 twigs of thyme
white wine

Simmer the pork fat gently in enough water to cover and drain.
Add everything into a casserole dish and add a big glass of white wine. Cover with a piece of greaseproof paper and simmer at as low a flame as you can. A diffuser is handy. Stir occasionally.
At some stage I decided it as time for bed so I added a splash more wine, put the lid on the casserole dish and put it in the oven overnight at 70C.

Allow the meat to cool, remove everything that is neither meat nor fat, and then break the meat and fat up into small pieces. Disposable gloves are handy for this. The meat, if you’ve cooked it long and slowly enough, should really just fall to bits and shreds. Season generously.

Now you can distribute it into jars or ramekins and seal the top with a little clarified butter. Allow to chill. Enjoy with good white bread and whatever drinks you have handy.

BONUS! Roast Char Sui Pork

Take a piece of pork, make some deep slashes on either side. Put it in a bowl with a cup of Char Sui sauce, several star anise, and a decent splash of Chinese rice wine. Leave for a couple of hours but just turn it over now and then to coat.
Place the meat on a rack over a tray with water in it. The steam keeps it moist and it stops the sugary sauce from burning in the tray. Cook at 150C for about an hour and a half to two hours or until the pork reaches 80C on the meat thermometer.
I’m sure it’d be great in soup but I just had it in nice big slices while enjoying beers with friends.

Do make sure you grab some fruit and veg at some stage.


steamed buns

Just because I think that a month or so is long enough for a picture of a box of broadbeans.

Here are some steamed buns I made for a dinner party a month or so. They have been on the list of things to make and haven’t been because they’ve always seemed something suspiciously white and fluffy. In Japan where they’re sold as surrogate pies in 7-11’s as nikuman they’re not unlike a meat-filled marshmallow in texture if not sweetness.

They are actually quite easy to make of you’re comfortable with making bread dough. Once risen, it’s simply a matter of rolling out rounds, filling with stuffing and then lifting up and sealing. Much less fiddly than dumpling or spring rolls. The filling is a combination of hard-boiled quail egg, some shredded slow-cooked pork hock from a Kylie Kwang recipe and [racks brains] shiitake mushroom, finely minced ginger and spring onion whites.

This recipe is the one I used for the bun dough.

With the meal was peking duck. I made the peking duck and bought the pancakes but in retrospect I would have been better just to buy the duck [does anyone else habitually type dick when they mean to type duck?] and make the pancakes. Unless you particularly like having a raw duck hanging around the house. It worked but, not enough to justify the effort and I’d happily pop down to a BBQ house and not felt I’d shirked. It’s also a nice idea to wear an apron when carving to avoid hot jets of duck fat.

Dessert was… I can’t remember. No wait it was tapioca with something. Anyway the conversation was good, the wine with fine and it finished with Guitar Hero II being dragged out. Success.

peking duck

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Szechuan Smoked Duck

smoked szechuan duck

Long time friend Sal was back over from London and having remebered what we had for dinner last time she was over, got another invite and to make a request. Meat but not beef or seafood and lamb somewhere else left me with three choice of rabbit, quail, or duck. Toni picked duck.

I chose this recipe because I’d seen something similar on that show on SBS about Australian food and a three stage cooking process seemed and interesting thing to try. I’ve found a recipe in what seems to be my sole source of Chinese recipes – Yan-Kit’s Classic Chinese Cookbook. It’s not very glam but it’s a nicely functional book that covers most areas and techniques and the recipes work. I find it ideal for me as someone who hasn’t mastered Chinese food enough to do too much messing around on basic principles. Actually there’s a bit of messing around with the recipe. The main consideration is time and you need to allow about two and a half hours for cooking.

I bought a 2.1kg duck which was only about $18 and deboned it to make it more managable for cooking and carving and just because I enjoy it. [instructions here]. Once you’ve deboned slice it down the middle into two pieces. The wings are a little unwiedly so I removed them and use them for the stock. Taking the ends of the drumsticks off with a cleaver is a good idea too. Also remove the tail and excessively fatty bits (no don’t be sad, we can use these later). Rub it with salt and leave for as close an amount of time as overnight as you can and then rinse in hot water and dry. It this had been a whole duck I was supposed to rub the cavity with saltpetre but I’ve no idea why.



Get a wok, line the base with foil and place 4tbs of jasmine tea leaves; 1.5 cups of flour; and half a cup of brown sugar in the center. Place the duck on a steamer bottom or a rack, clear of the tea etc, and place a tight fitting cover over it. Get the heat up to a level where there’s a good amount of smoke happening and then smoke for 30 minutes, turning the duck once



Mix together two cm pieces of ginger (bruised); 2 large spring onions (chopped), one star anise (broken up); 2tsp of szechuan peppercorns; and 2tbs of chinese rice wine (shaohsing). Divide it equally. Place one half of the duck in a heatproof bowl, put the mix on top, place the other duck half on top and top with the rest of the mix. Place the bowl in a steamer, the steamer in a wok, cover, fill the wok with water up to the sides of the steamer and steam for one hour.

As the duck is in a bowl the liquid will accumulate in the base so swap the pieces over during the steaming.

Take the duck out and dry. Discard the mix.


Place corn oil in the wok and bring up to 190C, test with a piece of bread, it should brown in under a minute. Place the piece of duck in the oil and fry for about two minutes on each side to crisp it, and repeat with the other piece.

Brush the skin with sesame oil and keep warm.


Place all the duck bones, neck, and wings in a saucepan with a sliced stick of celery, a couple of chopped spring onions, two dried shiitake mushrooms, and enough water to cover. Allow to simmer for 2 hours, skimming the top as necessary. Strain and reduce over heat to taste.

I wasn’t sure where to go from here so I added a couple of star anise and a splash of rice wine and let it simmer a little longer. I used it to stir-fry the greens and as a glaze over the duck.


A bunch of chinese greens (not sure of the name – white stalks) trimmed up to where the stalk meets the leaf and a bunch of asparagus. Stir-fried with garlic and ginger and finished with a little of the stock.


Slice up the duck and place it on the greens, garnish with some spring onion greens and pour a little of stock on each person’s plate.

Very nice, perhaps a shade moister would have helped. The smokiness was the dominant flavour but not over so. Duck is very rich so the dish was very filling and we had to have a breather between dessert. A sorbet would have hit the spot, or maybe a nice lychini.

I thought the smoking technique was very interesting and wonder what role the flour had in it all. Mysteries. And following on from last night’s topic, does anyone else find describing how food tastes, a pain the arse?

Update: Oh here we go then – Despite the earthy foundation of meat the flavours have the ethereal carriers of smoke and steam as if the dish were a meeting of profanity and sublimity and the interface of the living and the spirit world so loved in Chinese ghost stories. Similarly time and space weigh in with the past years of childhood of the licorice tastes of the star anise; the distant season of the spring onions; and the locality of the szechuan peppercorns, all speaking from afar with their muted tones. Grounding us back in the now is the crisp crunch of the deep fried skin skin and consoling us with death is the vivid green of the vegetables whose colour is from light itself.

4 minutes

 tonkotsu ramen with googiesRelating a modest off-broadway event like End of Month Egg on Toast Extravaganza with it’s big time inspiration Alberto’s Is My Blog Burning? is a difficult thing to to do at the best of times. Is it the shadow? Is it the reflection in the puddle? Is it the opposite but equal reaction? Is it Sewamono to Kabuki? With IMBB doing eggs this month it feels like Josef Stalin giving a cheeky khryu-khryu.

And speaking of Animal Farm, while on the money politically, does anyone else think the animals in the barn farm of Orwell relatively quaint? The industrialised base of the totalitarianism that we managed to dodge, but animals mostly didn’t. In short it’s like a searing allegory of battery farming done with a Tuesday evening wine and cheese night of the Fabian Society.

Personally, I can’t imagine anybody in these foody spheres not willing to cough up an extra dollar or so on the safe bet that proper free-range eggs are significantly better for the chook and the happy moral free-ride that they’re tastier. Even so, not one to let a neat segue go past, classy Viv of Seattle Bon Vivant has blown open the cage door by opening eggs to IMBB and I’m still standing there going bwoak with my boiled eggs.

Why boiled? Well I thought I’d do something simple that I couldn’t do well. They are deceptively easy as I noted by the eggs in the ramen pic up above and how they were hard boiled en masse but with an accuracy that allowed the very slightest sheen of undone yolk. I can also never remember how long it’s supposed to take and even a sad knick knack collector like myself, finds egg timers a complete waste of time (no pun intended). While I could probably nail a good time for myself, cooking for others ranges from nice and runny to those who see each drop of raw yolk as a festering pit of salmonella. I took the times from James Patterson’s Kitchen Essentials and saw how it worked for myself. As for the times, well what is time really? I’d choose the passing of an appropriate length song as a handy guide.

Boil the water. Pierce the rounder end of the egg with a drawing pin to allow the gasses to escape. Place the eggs in. Bring back to the boil and then a high simmer. The eggs pictured are taken cold from the fridge and were they warmer, freshly taken from the nether regions of a chicken for example, the times should be shortened.

4 minute egg:

4 minutes The Propellerhead’s Spybreaks’(short one) bass line is one of the most compelling bass lines this side of Cannonball. And while Cannonball has a tentative lope before turning it on, Spybreak is all skinny arms and ski-rope. It is of course better know as the theme of the Matrix and should have most leaning over backwards and dodging imaginary bullets while the eggs cooks to a lovely runny conclusion. Other possible alternatives: The Whore Hustle and The Hustlers Whore, PJ Harvey; Down To Mexico, Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her; or Auto Pilot, Queens of the Stone Age. A second longer gets you Always on My Mind, the Petshop Boys – worth a thought.

6 minute egg:

6 minutesRight on 6 minutes gets you a good balance of runny and composition with 電気GROOVE’s ボクの姉さん. A cute piece of cod reggae that’s charming enough. But a few seconds runnier and you’ve got Black Sabbath’s medieval rock masterpiece Iron Man. A bit firmer, and it’s disco in the kitchen with Groove Armada’s Superstylin or run out and punch someone after your egg is done with Rage Against the Machine’s Wake Up.

8 minute egg:

8 minutes Nothing 8 minutes on the knocker but some interestingly similar dilemmas. Slightly runnier with Black Sabbath’s masterpiece of chops and retarded drumming, War Pigs/Luke’s Wall or Groove Armada’s chillier relaxo tunes of Inside My Mind. Better done would be a little over for Dimitri from Paris’ frankly more fun Back in the Daze or the tchicka tchicka faux spy groove of Dirty Larry. Very tempting to push further on with Ministry’s Jesus Built My Hotrod (redline version) and yank it out just as the fade-out becomes nearly inaudible.

10 minute egg:

10 minutes 10 minutes was a little overdone with no shininess. The Stooge’s We Will Fall is a little over but is also a tremendously boring song for them, if not anybody. Boris’cover of Me and the Devil Blues would make for a more interesting 10 minutes. But the perfect ever so slightly under hard boiled egg is Metallica’s To Live is to Die. For my liking take it out as the lute takes over at the end and walk like Sir Lancelot to the egg-cup.

Marbled Eggs

marbled eggs As an added bonus. These are commonly known as tea eggs and are a gently cracked hardboiled egg allowed to simmer in a mix of tea, soy sauce, and star anise amongst others for a few hours. I used red wine, rosemary, and peppercorns in the hope it would end up tasting like steak and eggs with a red wine jus. I was, of course, deluded. A little bitter but pretty enough though wouldn’t you say? Yes.

lychini pork bean curd wraps crayfish and spring onion
szechwan pepper chicken garlic beef and tofu unsuccessful dessert

I like Chinese. The problem is that it’s an open ended dinner that doesn’t necessarily have to stop at three dishes, particularly as I usually decide that all major meat groups must be addressed, so it became five. They were:
Pork and Mushroom Steamed Bean Curd Rolls; Crayfish with Spring Onion; Szechwan Red Pepper Roast Chicken with Chinese Sausage Stuffing and Chinese Greens; Slow Cooked Beef and Tofu with Fried Rice; Unsuccessful Annin Dofu.

Afraid I won’t be listing all the recipes (I do have a life you know, no really, well lazy’s a bit harsh, I did make a garden bed the other week, no I know it’s not finished) but would like to point you in the way of Yan-Kit’s Classic Chinese Cookbook. It’s comprehensive, well detailed, and most of the recipes follow similar principles so it’s easy to adapt and improvise to use what you have. This allows you to have a rough idea of what you want to cook, go shopping with a bit whimsy, and nlow you’ll be able to make something. A few points.

Tapioca chips are great for pre-dinner snacks as an alternative to prawn crackers. All natural Maxi from Indonesia.

The pork and bean curd rolls were my own creation after I noticed some sheets of bean curd at the Asian grocery store and thought I could do something. It was pork cut into “matchsticks” and marinated in rice wine-splash, peanut oil-splash, sesame oil-teaspoon, soy sauce-splash, and potato flour-teaspoon. Next was a couple of sliced chinese sausages. They come in plastic packs and are sweet and tasty. Very roughly chopped Straw mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts and spring onions. All ingredients cooked together in a wok with some cooked glutinous rice mixed in for volume. Now lightly steam or moistened the bean curd sheets and cut into 15cm x 15cm, place a heaped tablespoon of the mix in the middle and roll like a very fat spring roll. Steam in a steamer for 10 minutes and serve. Very tasty but the mix of chewy, crunchy and soft textures is marvellous.

Hmm think I’ll finish this later. Tata! back later
Ah yes. The Szechuan chicken recipe is here. However this time I kept it whole and gave it a stuffing of chinese sausage, shiitake mushrooms, glutinous rice, garlic, and spring onions. Cooking it flat seems to get a better response but the stuffing was good. Forgot to put oyster sauce on the bed of steamed chinese greens which made them a little dry.

Glutinous rice is great but needs to be soaked for the good part of a day so keep that in mind. Otherwise leave to soak in hot water. I cooked one lot in the steamer to go with the beef and tofu, just wrap it in a towel. After drying a batch out on a tray and stir-fried it with garlic and spring onions in the fat from the chicken’s roasting tray. Yum. Beef cooked slowly with garlic for two hours, well you can imagine how good that was. And the fried tofu held up well.

Crayfish (from Rottnest from Doctor A) matched well with the spring onions, ginger, and rice wine and I like the idea of deep frying the crayfish pieces for 10 seconds before stir frying them.

Finally the Unsuccesful Annin Tofu started as a simple condensed milk and almond essence “tofu” became coconut milk thanks to the free banana giving shop lady’s persuasive powers. Then layers of kiwi fruit and passionfruit but I read that agar agar gives a tougher jelly so I backed off a little and ended up more on the soup end. Ah well.*

As for the dinner, well it was fun. Chris and Crafty came along. As did the doctor and Anna. A thank you to them all for the drinks, gifts and company. A diverse night of chat, neighbourhood yoof threatening (bone tweezers!), and an altercation with a coffee plunger.

dinner party seating

* feck!
Note: Those paying attention will have noticed that many of the ingredients are remarkably similar. Hey? Hey? See what I’m getting at here?

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I’ve been meaning to do a wok post since David Tiley bought a flash Titanium one. I’m sure he was being modest but I was concerned his fridge emptying approach wasn’t on par with the high quality mix of his blog.

A bit of general didacticism on wok cooking from tonight’s meal (and of course those who already know this will enjoy the opportunity to have their knowledge validated).


Stir fries should be over in a few minutes so everything has to be ready to go.

The base is ginger (peeled gently with a teaspoon-see santos) and chopped; garlic -crushed; spring onions – whites only, sliced.

Fried Tofu: boiling hot water poured over it to remove the oil and sliced.

Chinese Veges: stalks separated from leaves and both chopped in halves or thirds.

Egg Noodles: left to sit for a minute or so in boiling water.

Condiments: soy and oyster sauce. A teaspoon Toubanjan spicy bean paste can be added at the start with the base ingredients.

Wok: heat to smoking and then add the oil and up to almost smoking again. It’s got to be hot or it’s a sautee.


Toss in the base ingredients, stir and toss for 30 seconds, add the tofu and keep stirring for 20 seconds, add a splash of soy, and the add the stems. Continue stirring for another 30 seconds (the stems should look warm). Toss in the noodles, stir until warm, add a tablespoon of oyster sauce and stir it in adding the leaves. When they’ve softened slightly, serve. If the stems are hot and crunchy, you’ve done well. If not, try again.

Any other advice gladly taken.

Gear: Big cast iron thing from an asian supermarket with a bandage wrapped around one of the handles to allow grabbing.