Monday, November 8, 2021

Alkaline egg noodles (lo mein)


I had a really hard time trying to pin down a recipe for authentic alkaline egg noodles, the type used for Lo Mein. There are so many conflicting recipes and ideas online, I was convinced that authentic noodle recipes were just passed along and not written down.

I came to a few conclusions,  most recipes purporting to be alkaline egg noodles for Lo Mein either had far too high hydration or no egg or no alkaline or a combination of the above. So I got a packet of high quality fresh noodles from the local asian supermarket and my copy of Handbook of Food Products Manufacturing edited by Y.H. Hui and set about reverse engineering them. Luckily with food packaging rules here in NZ I had a fair idea of proportions for the noodles, and with the info from the book I was able to cobble together something that worked very well.

Below is a calculator for ingredient amounts, it's all based off the weight of eggs you use (1 egg ~59g).


  1. Mix all wet ingredients together, add to the dry ingredients
  2. Knead 5-10 minutes
  3. Rest 30 minutes wrapped
  4. Roll out, pasta machine will help
  5. Blanch noodles
  6. Toss in oil
  7. Set aside ready for use.

grams (32%)
(Hydration % = 0.24) Hydration value is 75% of weight

184.375 grams Flour (100%)
(Hydration % = 0)

22.125 ml Water (12%)
(Hydration % = 0.12)

1.844 grams Lye (1%)
(Hydration % = 0.5) Hydration value is 50% of weight

1.844 grams Salt (1%)
(Hydration % = 0.0)

0.365 Total Hydration

Friday, December 2, 2016

Marinate and Slather

A good flavoursome marinade can do wonders to a piece of meat, it can tenderise, season, flavour, add fat to the cooking process. But why stop there, you’ve put the effort into getting extra flavour in the cooking process, why not rest the cooked meat in some reserved (unused) marinade, or slice it and toss it through an embellished marinade? Amp up and reinforce the flavours.

Garlic, crushed
Parsley, chopped
Mint, chopped
Rosemary, chopped
White wine vinegar
Grape seed oil
Salt & Pepper

I mixed the above together in a bowl to taste, adjusted and got it just how I liked it, herby with a fiery garlic bite. I also made sure I made more than I needed as I then tipped half of it into another bowl and set aside. Some nice fatty lamb shoulder chops were left to develop in the marinade for an hour or so and then broiled until browned, cooked through and the fat golden and crispy on each side.

While the lamb was cooking I added the following to the reserved marinade, maybe a little Frank's red hot too.

Slather (marinade additions)
Jalapeños, diced
Pickles, diced
Grain mustard

When the lamb was cooked I transferred the chops to the waiting slather and let them rest ten minutes, just long enough to be comfortably handled. The bones were easily cut out, bone marrow pushed out and into the slather, and the meat sliced and tossed back through the slather.

This is great as a meat salad, or even better in a fresh wheat tortilla heated over a flame adding it’s own burnt edges to the mix.

Friday, November 11, 2016

On its side, potato gratin

Looking at something from another angle can help give you fresh perspective on things, quite literally this time. I am a carb lover, perhaps not fashionable but I can’t get enough of the white stuff, bread, potatoes, pastas, béchamel, bring it on! Nothing really hits that comfort spot better than something carby, warm, oozy and unctuously rich. Potato gratin hits all the right notes, but I always find myself picking at the top layer and loving every square centimetre, the lower layers however good and tasty they are just are not the same as that browned, burnt around the edges, melted cheese, brown cream skinned top.

But why not tip it on it’s head, or side, or do potatoes have a top side? Right anyway I digress. The thought was if I forgo the layering and stacked the potato slices vertically in the dish then every slice would have that crunchy golden edge and the lower half would be cream soaked soft goodness.

You will need:
Enough potatoes for your dish.
Cream, enough to come halfway up the potatoes.
1 Onion, thinly sliced
2 Cloves garlic, crushed
Cheese, Parmesan, Cheddar, Gruyère are all good choices

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  • Pour the cream into a bowl and add a tsp of salt, some crushed black pepper, crushed garlic, stir up and give a little taste, you want it slightly on the salty side.
  • Thinly slice the onion and add to the cream. Mix.
  • A mandolin will make light work of the potatoes, peel and slice them all, dump them in the bowl and with your hands make sure they all get coated.
  • Arrange the potatoes in the baking dish, squidge onion slices down any gaps and in between potato slices.
  • Pour over the remaining cream from the bowl.
  • Cover tightly with tinfoil and bake for about 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for a further 30 minutes. Grate cheese over the top and bake for a further 30 minutes.
  • The top should be golden brown and crunchy while the underside should be soft and yielding. You can test by whipping out a slice or two to check doneness.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Jambalaya, kind of

This is a one pot wonder, it’s a rather kiwified (read bastardised) version of the original, good andouille is hard to find so resorting to a decent smoky hot chorizo will have to do. Should I call this something else, one pot rice with peppers and sausage, perhaps? This is pretty simple set and forget stuff, there are however a couple of important steps you can’t skimp out on, and you can’t do this without a heavy based pot. If you’re not a fan of prawns, use chicken or skip completely, this dish is pretty customisable.

Feeds 4 hungry people
250 g prawns, de-veined, if frozen do not defrost.
200 g chorizo, diced
100 g streaky bacon, diced
2 large capsicums, diced
1 large red onion, diced
3 garlic cloves crushed
2 cups of long grain rice
1 tin of crushed tomatoes + enough water to make 6 cups
1 tsp bay leaf powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp white pepper

  • Get a heavy based pot on a medium heat and add in a glug of olive oil. Add the bacon and the chorizo and slowly cook until the fat from the bacon has rendered out and the whole lot is beginning to crisp and fry.

  • Toss in the capsicum, red onion and garlic. Cook down, and I mean it, you want the capsicum completely cooked, not mush, and the onions beginning to caramelize. This is your flavour base, the more effort and time you put in now the better the end result will be.
  • Stir though the bay leaf, paprika, white pepper, add a good pinch of salt and grind of black pepper. Add the rice and stir to coat and cook a little. Add the prawns then the water with tomatoes. Stir it, make sure it’s all mixed, and everything is distributed nicely.

  • Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat right down to low, put the lid on and leave it alone for 40 minutes. DO NOT stir or lift the lid, just keep the heat on low and have a little faith.
  • Remove from the heat and let it stand for 10 minutes or so.
  • Serve up in a bowl with some trusty hot sauce on the side.

Thursday, October 6, 2016


I certainly know how to take a thing and run with it! You should count yourself lucky that this blog is currently drowning in dumpling recipes, I have more than a few to share! Pot stickers drenched in chilli oil, chinkiang vinegar, garlic and scallions is always a favourite. But I have been restrained, until now, now I have made spicy, wonton dumpling, soupy goodness that just needs to be shared! A bonus is that it can be broken down into parts and reassembled as you see fit, don’t want soup, leave out the stock or cooking liquid and have the dumplings swimming in the seasoning oil, don’t want dumplings, cut the wrappers as noodles instead.

Wonton Dough (enough for approx 40 wrappers)

250 g flour
125 ml water
1 egg
1 tsp salt
Cornflour for dusting
Pasta machine

Mix the egg, salt and water together. Put the flour in a bowl and make a well, pour in the water mixture and combine to form a ball of dough. Wrap in cling-film and let it stand 10 minutes to hydrate.

Knead until smooth and elastic, should take about 10 minutes, don't skimp on this, it’s a pretty soft dough so is not too much work to knead. Wrap again and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Dust the dough with corn flour and divide into three.

Take one third and flatten out into a rectangle with your fingers, run though the widest setting of your pasta machine, run it through each setting a couple of times, dust it with corn flour when it becomes sticky, and keep a little tension on the dough sheet when feeding it through. Run it through the machine until you get to the penultimate setting, number 5 on my model. You can now either cut the dough into noodles or continue to make wrappers.

Take the sheet of dough and dust thoroughly with cornflour, square off the edges and measure the width, I usually end up with a 7–8cm wide sheet of dough. Measure and cut the dough into squares, I find one of those rolling pasta cutters better than a knife for this but either will do.

Stack and cover the dough while you repeat with the other two portions, make sure that each square has a good dusting of cornflour otherwise they will stick.


300g Meat (chicken or pork)
1 egg
1 tbsp dried shrimp (powdered)
1 tbsp shaoxing wine
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sichuan pepper (powdered)
1 tsp salt
1 large scallion (minced)
2 large garlic cloves (minced)
1 inch ginger (minced)

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend for about 30 seconds until a rough paste is formed, mix together and blend again if needed, transfer to a container and refrigerate for half an hour.

Folding the dumpling

Well, excuse the poorly drawn illustration, and I do suggest Googling “wonton folding” for clearer instructions. I usually choose this folding method because it’s easy and I can production line it.

Set up a tray dusted with cornflour. Lay your wrappers out on a bench dusted with cornflour, place a spoonful of filling on half a dozen wrappers. Brush the edges with a little water. Fold the wrapper in half, bringing the top edge to the bottom, press the edges to seal, fold the top half on to bottom half, then bring the top two corners together and pinch to seal. Repeat with the remaining wrappers.

Cooking the Dumpling

Get a pot of salted water on to the boil. When boiling add about 10 wontons at a time, give a gentle stir to stop sticking to each other and the pot, cook for 4 minutes. Scoop out and toss in some sesame oil to stop sticking and set aside. Repeat with the remaining wontons.

If you want to make wonton soup, once the wontons are cooked add in some bok choy and cook for one minute, scoop out. Use the cooking liquid to pour over the seasoning oil (see below), the cornflour dusting on the wontons will give a bit of body to the water and quite a bit of flavour comes out during the cooking process, it is not bland at all.

Seasoning oil/Soup base (2 serves)

1 tbsp sichuan chilli oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp chunkiang vinegar
1 tsp sichuan pepper oil
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1 inch ginger (minced)
1 scallion (minced)

Mix all together and allow to sit for 15 min or so.


Place half the seasoning oil in a bowl and place cooked wontons on top, either serve immediately, or add cooked bok choy and pour over hot stock or the wonton cooking liquid to make a soup.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Pumpkin gnocchi with chorizo, mushrooms and walnuts

Winter always seems to come late to my kitchen, it’s now heading into spring and I’ve only just now decided to bring out the big guns of autumnal flavours, deep earthy tones, rich in salt and fat, with a piquancy to warm the cockles.

I’m no expert when it comes to gnocchi, in fact it’s still a challenge I am learning to master, so instead of doling out advice on a subject I’m no authority on I thought I’d send you off to a good resource and a couple of recipes I’ve made in the past. Firstly there is Lucky Peach’s How to make gnocchi, an awesome article well worth the read, then my own small contributions, potato chip gnocchi and potato flake gnocchi. I made, or rather attempted, swore a lot, and cobbled together passable pumpkin gnocchi, but any gnocchi would work well with the sauce.

There’s really actually not much to this. Get a heavy based pan on a high heat, and add in a splash of oil and a knob of butter, when the sizzling subsides add in the cooked gnocchi and generously brown, but quickly you don’t want to develop too thick of a crust. Transfer to a bowl, or other vessel.

Get the pan back on the heat and top up with butter if needed, toss in the chorizo and cook to release the fragrant fat from the sausage, add the diced shallots and cook until translucent. If you’re going to add a little heat with chilli, sprinkle it in now, then add the mushrooms and brown. Just as the mushrooms are getting done, toss in the mint, rosemary and walnuts, cook until fragrant. Toss the cooked gnocchi through and add a splash or two of the cooking liquid to lubricate. Taste and season, then serve.

What you’ll need for the above.
Mushrooms, sliced
Chorizo, dice
Walnuts, roughly chopped
Rosemary, pulled off the stem
Mint, thinly sliced
Cooked gnocchi
Reserved cooking water
Shallot, diced
Chilli flakes

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Asian Burrito

A Frankenstein's monster of bits and pieces from all over, not at all authentic, but its own creation. Should these things be put together? Probably not, but the end result is magical, something fiery, hot, fulfilling, and perfect with something cooling and refreshing to wash it down.

There isn't much to making it, but presentation is everything, something is just not the same unless it’s wrapped up snugly in a layer of tinfoil and left to stand for a few minutes before being unwrapped, like a greedy child on Christmas morning, make it hot enough and it’ll be the gift that keeps on giving, the rest in its sheath allows the heat and moisture to permeate through the burrito, warming and softening the tortilla, the rice noodles soak up the excess oils from the chilli pork and everything equilibrates to a perfect eating temperature.

The only real cooking is the chilli pork, which I’m not sure how much instruction you need. Take a good wok, get it hot, add a dash of sesame oil and a tablespoon or two of peanut oil, stir fry the pork mince until cooked through, tip into a bowl. Get the wok back on the heat, add another splash of peanut oil, when nice and hot toss through some sliced ginger and crushed garlic, add the pork back, take care not to add any liquid that may of seeped out, cook until the mince is golden with some tasty crunchy bits. Add in some chilli crisp, that wonderful condiment that you get in jars from asian marts with the surely multi millionairess on the label, somehow disapproving of buying it and giving her more money, if you can’t find her chilli crisp, chilli in oil is good too, get the one with peanuts in it, three ingredient chilli sauce is a winner too, I think she can do no wrong when it comes to her combinations of oil and chilli and other bits and bobs. Back on track, add in a spoon, two, half a jar, two jars, whatever you think your palette can take. Cook through until the meat is coloured that wonderful golden red and the house carries that scent that if you sniff too hard you’ll be hacking up half a lung. Toss through some scallions, add the resting liquids and tip out into a bowl ready to assemble.

The rest is a cinch. Get a square of tinfoil bigger than your tortilla, lay the tortilla on the square, spread with gochujang, add a layer of rice noodles, I use that wonderful Pho brand with the elephant on it, soaked for 10 minutes in boiling water before draining and placing in a bowl with cling film over them, on the nest of rice noodles add the chilli pork, dot with as many Thai red chilli as you think you can handle, add the cabbage, scallions, and mung beans. Finally top with a scattering of the seaweed and fried shallots. Tuck the ends over and roll up, you don’t have to be too tight or careful just make the general idea of a burrito, place it seam side down on the tin foil, fold the foil ends over and then roll up tightly, take care not to use too much pressure though. Set aside in a warmish area.

What you’ll need for the above
Tin Foil, a must for authentic classy presentation.
Rice Noodles
Chilli pork: pork mince, chilli crisp, ginger, garlic, scallions
Korean seasoned seaweed, shredded
Red cabbage, shredded and tossed in fish sauce
Pickled Thai red chilli
Mung bean sprouts
Fried Shallots

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Why I hate reheated scones

Nothing beats a good cheese scone, fresh from the oven, or at least carrying that residual heat, it’s a soft fluffy wonder that just begs for lashings of butter to melt across the surface. Scones that have gone cold, but still fresh, and reheated are a dry crumbling mess that no amount of lubrication can fix that chalky horridness in your mouth. Give me a cold scone any day over a reheated one I say.

But why is reheated so naff? Well it’s all in the starch, as the hydrated starch molecule is heated it swells, dissolves and gelatinization takes place, which also makes the starch digestible. When warm the starch is a soft malleable fluid gel, and as it cools the gel becomes rigid and retrogrades back to a crystalline structure, which is not thermoreversible, meaning that heating will not turn the rigid crystalline like gel back into a smooth fluid gel.

So that’s why fresh warm scones are soft, moist and giving, but left to cool become drier to the mouth and more brittle and crumbly, reheating is never going to give you back that lush scone, it’s just going to give you a warm dry scone, probably drier as you’ve evaporated off water in the reheating process.

Originally posted on my Tumblr X-posts from Good Food in a Crap Kitchen

Friday, August 12, 2016

Pork and Pepperoni

The inspiration for this dish riffs pretty heavily on a post from Ideas in Food, I highly recommend getting them into your daily reading list, or hit them up on twitter. I actually have version two of this on the go now as I write, I’ve amped up the seasoning and am going to experiment a little more with the cooking and serving, so not really the same dish but this served as a springboard to push ideas further.

Counter to my last post about getting maximum comfort for little effort this post is really pushing things in the other direction, but holy heck is it worth it! It’ll take a little time and a little bit of investment of going to a butcher and getting a decent slab of pork belly, which may or may not be frozen, a supermarket is not going to have what you need, I’ve never seen a good three inch thick slab of belly at one, and quite frankly you’ll probably be paying twice the price. I ended up by chance at Preston's in town after doing my restock at Yan's Asian supermarket and they just happened to have a good deal going on frozen bellies, so $20 later and more than 2kg heavier, I left a happy chappy.

There is a bit to this but it’s not really all active, there is a lot of down time, so there are no stress about getting stuff done on time. You’re going to have to plan ahead a few days, so here is the rough break down.
  • Defrost the belly if you have to, in the fridge.
  • Cure the pork, 24 hours.
  • Remove, rinse and dry the pork. Dust with white pepper and place on a rack uncovered in the fridge for 24 hours.
  • Place in a roasting pan with the braising ingredients, cook for 8 hours at 120ºC.
  • Sometime during that 8 hours make some cavatelli, which is about half an hours work.
  • Remove and rest for half an hour, uncovered.
  • Cook cavatelli and remove excess fat from the braising liquid, taste and season, combine.
So as you can see not really a whole lot of work, mostly down time, but it’s 56 hour investment of time, totally worth it I promise.

Pork belly, 2kg or so
Bottle of red wine
Tomatoes, 2 cans crushed
White pepper
Cure mix

Cure mix
1 Part Sugar
1 Part Salt
Chilli powder
Garlic powder
Cumin powder
Bay leaf powder

Weigh the pork and work out what 2.5% of the total weight is, that is the weight of sugar and salt to use.

Score the pork deeply to the meat, rub the cure mix in and transfer to a zip lock bag, refrigerate for 24 hours, try to flip it once or twice during that time.

Remove the pork from the bag and rinse, pat dry, coat in white pepper and place on a rack on a pan. Put it back in the fridge for 24 hours.

Time to cook!

Place the pork in a roasting dish. Dice the whole pepperoni and scatter around, add in the tomatoes and the whole bottle of wine, I used a tasty Shiraz. Place the tray into an oven preheated at 120ºC. Set a timer for 8 hours and forget about it.

Well apart from the cavatelli you need to make. Just follow the recipe on this page, I subbed out roasted rye for wholemeal flour but rye would be pretty awesome here too.

Take the pork out of the oven and very carefully transfer it to a board. Pour the braising liquid into a pot and let it settle for a while, skim off any excessive fat as this will be a sauce, place it over a very low flame to keep warm.

Bring a pot of water to the boil and cook the cavatelli, drain and stir through the sauce, keep warm.
By now the pork should have rested for 30–45 minutes. Slice into thick slabs, cutting along the scores, serve with a generous spoon of cavatelli.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Orecchiette with broken pork sausage

With winter comes comfort food, the down side of the desire for warming rich flavours is time, usually the comfort comes from rich unctuous stews and slow cooks, sure you can cheat with a pressure cooker and little tricks, but it’s not quite the same. Thankfully there are a few dishes that really fulfil that winter rich dish feel and don’t take hours to prepare, there is risotto or other creamy rice dishes, always a crowd pleaser, or you can get really quick and indulgent with the dish pictured above, a simple pasta dish that packs a unctuous punch and is deep in flavour.

There are only a few ingredients in this dish, the main one being sausages, it’s important to spend that little bit extra and get good quality ones with high meat content, sausages shouldn’t be viewed as cheap or budget, unless we’re talking about cocktail wieners then I say cheaper the better. The sausage is also a good place to inject a bit of extra flavour into the dish, I used some good quality pork with fennel with great success, don’t be afraid to experiment.

Pasta is another quick way to change up the dish easily, my go to dried pasta for this is the little ears of orecchiette or shells of conchiglie, if I’m feeling particularly virtuous or ambitious for a throw together meal I’d make the orecchiette myself or make a batch of roasted rye cavatelli, but all and all dried pasta is good, it’s easy, and that’s what this is meant to be, a quick and easy throw together that packs a punch of flavour.

3 Sausages, removed from casing.
Basil, handful of leaves sliced
Red onion, thinly sliced
Garlic, crushed
Chilli flakes, optional

Get a pot of heavily salted water on the to boil, and I mean really get it salty, we want the pasta seasoned well. Cook the pasta according to the packet minus a minute.

Put a heavy based pan on a medium high heat, and break the sausage meat in to the pan while still heating, as the pan heats it will help release the fat from the force meat, leave it to brown, resist the temptation to stir, I like it to sit until it has a nice brown crust and then break it up.

When the meat is thoroughly browned, with crisp crunchy bits and is almost cooked add in the crushed garlic clove, and chilli flakes. When the garlic is cooked, lower the heat and add in a good splash of cream, about 150ml, add most of the basil and stir through. Let it cook for a couple of minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

The pasta should be cooked by now, so strain and dump into the sauce, give it a good stir through and cook for the remaining minute.

Serve with a grate of sharp cheese, garnished with the reserved basil and thinly sliced onion.