In 2004 I took what seemed like an obvious step and shifted my Billy Kwong menu from conventional to locally grown, organic and biodynamic ingredients. Apart from committing to sourcing only sustainably produced and harvested meat, poultry, seafood and vegetables, this shift also included ridding my cupboards of all commercially produced condiments - this is when I began my friendship with Spiral Foods because I started to use their superior products on a daily basis in the restaurant. Spiral adheres to the principal that food has to be good for the earth, as well as good for the people. To this end Spiral supports growers who appreciate their craft and whose main motivation is to feed people the very best food they possibly can. For the last 14 years I have used Spiral's stunning organic range of: Tamari, Brown Rice Vinegar, Sesame Oil, Miso and Rice Syrup. As a cook and restaurateur I only ever want to offer you the most delicious and nutritious food. This is the best way my staff and I can show our deep respect and care for this planet and its people. Integrating Spiral’s authentic, traditional and wholesome products within our cooking allows us to express this genuine love, in every single one of our dishes. I am so excited and proud about being Spiral Foods Ambassador and I look forward to continuing to share all of these life-giving foods with you. Thank you James, Kim, Raphaelle and the entire Spiral Foods family for your long-lasting, generous friendship and support 🌱🍃🌿
Our upcoming Sydney MAD Monday on 16 July at Carriageworks is all about resilience. The discussion on the night is part of an ongoing conversation about collaborations between cooks, servers, farmers and community leaders that contribute to a more resilient future for climate, cities, businesses and diverse communities. Our speakers for this special evening are; Caroline Baum, Josh Niland of Saint Peter, Paddington, Kuku Yalanji woman, Lydia Miller of Australia Council for the Arts, Reverend Graham Long of The Wayside Chapel and Indira Naidoo. For all those attending, MAD Australian Project Manager Bella Napier and I can’t wait to see you there. Thank you SO much to our amazing partner Lisa Havilah of Carriageworks for helping us make this all happen!🌱🌿🍃🌾 If you didn't manage to get a ticket to the event, videos of all talks will be available online following the event.
"SO EXCITED to be a part of this new World Restaurant Award initiated by Joe Warwick and Andrea Petrini of Gelinaz. I really feel the intention of these awards comes from the ‘right' place, with the aim to celebrate and promote: gender-equality, diversity on all levels, transparency, community and collaboration. With ‘good seeds’, great things grow and bloom. Read all about the awards in this Delicious Article by Joanna Savill.” KK X
"Tonight was totally and deliciously ... MAD! MAD is a non-profit organization that brings together a global cooking community with a social conscience, a sense of curiosity, and an appetite for change. Thank you SO MUCH René Redzepi for inspiring and educating the cooking community to find creative solutions and make a difference in their restaurants, communities, and the world at large. Thank-you so much to the amazing speakers at our first Sydney MAD Mondays; Palisa Anderson, Uncle Max Dulumunmun Harrison, Gayle Quarmby and Nicole Watson which we held this evening at Carriageworks. Thank-you also to Lisa Havilah for your unstinting support and commitment and to everyone who put their heart and soul into tonight and all of our volunteers!" KK X. For more information on our next Sydney MAD Mondays event on 16 July event visit Carriageworks.
This dish is inspired by a Chinese noodle salad my uncle Jimmy brings to Kwong family gatherings. The Chinese barbecue pork pieces and pickles are my addition. My uncle uses freshly made thin egg noodles, which I prefer for this recipe because they are delicate in texture and not so filling. But feel free to choose your favourite, including Hokkien or Shanghai noodles. Look for fresh thin egg noodles in the refrigerated section of the Asian grocer.
Serves 6 - 8 as part of a banquet
2 large celery sticks, finely sliced on the diagonal
1 tbsp vegetable oil
500g fresh thin egg noodles
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp light soy sauce
250g Chinese barbecue pork, warm or at room temperature, finely sliced
90g (1 cup) bean sprouts
60g (½ cup) drained pickled carrots* (recipe below)
80ml (⅓ cup) liquid from pickled carrots*
50g (½ cup) fresh black fungus
2 tsp sesame oil
1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Blanch celery for 30 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon. Refresh under cold running water and drain well. Pat dry.
2. Add vegetable oil to same pan of water and bring back to the boil. Add noodles and cook until al dente. Drain and refresh under cold water. Drain thoroughly and place in a large bowl.
3. Heat sugar and soy sauce in a nonstick frying pan until sugar has dissolved. Add pork and heat through for 45 seconds or until slightly sticky.
4. Add pork and remaining ingredients to noodles and toss well using your hands. Arrange on a platter to serve.
Tip: I always have a bit of barbecue pork in the freezer. It's fantastic not only for a quick, flavoursome fried rice, but also great added to noodle dishes or finely sliced and added to wonton soup.
If you don't eat pork, you could add fried egg ribbons and fresh Asian herbs to make this a substantial vegetarian dish or swap the pork for cooked tiger prawns.
*Remember to make the pickled carrots a day ahead (recipe below).
CHINESE PICKLED CARROTS RECIPE
When I was growing up, Mum used to buy Chinese pickles in Chinatown that gave instant depth and character to dishes. But these days I like to make my own – they are easy and fun to make, and enhance dishes instantly. Add these pickles to other dishes or serve alongside any meal as a condiment.
Makes: 300g (about 2½ cups) drained
3 carrots (about 300g in total)
1 tbsp salt flakes
5cm x 2cm knob (20g) ginger, thickly sliced
1 whole star anise
¼ tsp Sichuan peppercorns
1 litre (4 cups) white vinegar
295g (1⅓ cups) white sugar
1. To make the pickling liquid, combine vinegar and sugar in a heavy-based saucepan and stir over high heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered and without stirring, for about 30 minutes or until reduced by one-third and slightly syrupy. Set aside to cool, then refrigerate overnight.
2. Meanwhile, peel each carrot and cut in half crossways. Cut each piece into slices two millimetres thick, then into matchsticks. Place in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and mix well to combine. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
3. The next day, drain the liquid from the carrots, squeezing well with your hands. Place carrots in a 1 litre capacity airtight jar or container, pour pickling liquid over to cover, add ginger, star anise and peppercorns. Refrigerate for one day to allow flavours to develop before using. The pickled carrot will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge.
SO EXCITED about celebrating our family’s ‘Australian-Chinese New Year’ beginning this Friday 16th Feb! Thank you so much to Good Food for capturing the spirit and energy of my beautiful mother Pauline and the delightful and charming stories relayed to me by one of my favourite aunties, ‘Aunty Connie’ and our friend Jeanette Cumines in today's article. Such rich family memories and deep tradition which my enormous extended 'Kwong and Fong Kee Clan’ can all hold onto forever and cherish. It is such a pleasure to be able to share my family with yours, enjoy this story and see my recipes below which I will also be offering at Billy Kwong as of this Friday 16th for two weeks, throughout the Lunar New Year Festival. Happy Australian-Chinese New Year everyone, KK! XX
This salad is also known as yee sang. The higher you toss this salad, the more good luck you'll have for the New Year!
Serves 6 as an entree as part of a banquet
65g dried glass noodles
120g sashimi-grade ocean trout, sliced finely (or use sashimi-grade kingfish or snapper)
2 lebanese cucumbers, julienned
1 small carrot, peeled and julienned
100g white radish, peeled and julienned
40g munyeroo (native purslane), leaves picked (or use coriander leaves)
30g Bower spinach, picked (or use baby English spinach leaves)
10g pickled ginger, julienned
½ cup roasted macadamia nuts, finely crushed in a mortar and pestle
100g fresh black fungus
70g fresh bean sprouts
1 large red chilli, finely sliced
3 tbsp freshly squeezed finger limes (or use cheeks from 2 fresh limes)
300ml ginger and tamari dressing (see recipe below)
1. Make the ginger and tamari dressing (see below)
2. Soak noodles in boiling water for 15 minutes, drain thoroughly.
3. Arrange all ingredients on a large round platter in separate piles, with the noodles in the centre, and the sashimi slices arranged on top of the noodles.
4. To serve, place platter in the centre of the table, make sure all guests have a pair of chopsticks, and pour 300ml of the dressing over the salad. Everyone must reach into the salad to mix and toss it with their chopsticks, saying very loudly "loh hei" (literally "to move upwards"). The higher you toss the salad, the better your New Year luck.
GINGER AND TAMARI DRESSING RECIPE
This versatile dressing is perfect with salads, steamed greens, roast chicken and grilled or barbecued seafood. It keeps for about three days in the fridge.
Makes about 730ml
175ml malt vinegar
125g brown sugar
2 tsp sesame oil
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp finely grated white onion
1 tbsp finely grated ginger
1. To make the dressing, pour vinegar into a heatproof bowl. Place sugar and water in a small pan and bring to the boil then turn the heat down to medium and allow sugar to caramelise until it is dark brown (about 2-3 minutes).
2. Just before caramel begins to smoke, remove from the heat, quickly pour into the vinegar bowl and whisk well. Add tamari and sesame oil and whisk well. Slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil, whisking continuously, then stir through onion and ginger.
Serves 4 as part of a banquet
about 160g fresh picked spanner crab meat
2 spring onions, finely sliced
5cm x 1cm knob (15g) ginger, finely diced
1 tsp light soy sauce
½ tsp white sugar
½ tsp sesame oil
16 fresh round or square wonton wrappers (about 8cm across)
Sichuan chilli oil (see recipe below)
10g picked native sea blite leaves (or use fresh dill)
pinch of Sichuan pepper and salt (see recipe below)
For the Sichuan pepper and salt
1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
3 tbsp sea salt
For the Sichuan chilli oil
2 tsp dried chilli flakes
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp hot water
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp white sugar
pinch of Sichuan pepper and salt (see recipe above)
To make the Sichuan pepper and salt dry-roast peppercorns and salt in a heavy-based pan. When peppercorns begin to "pop" and become aromatic, take off the heat. Allow to cool, then grind to a powder in mortar and pestle or spice grinder (makes four tablespoons; store in an airtight container).
To make the Sichuan chilli oil place chilli flakes in a heatproof bowl. Heat oil in a small heavy-based saucepan until the surface seems to shimmer slightly. Carefully pour hot oil over chilli to release the heat and flavour. Stir to combine and set aside for at least 30 minutes to cool.
Strain cooled oil mixture over a bowl through a fine sieve and discard chilli flakes. Stir in remaining ingredients, including a pinch of Sichuan pepper and salt, to combine and set aside.
To make the dumplings
1. Place all the dumpling ingredients (except wonton wrappers, Sichuan chilli oil and Sichuan pepper and salt in a bowl and combine well.
2. Next, fill and shape the dumplings by placing a rounded teaspoon of the filling in the centre of a wrapper. Dip your finger in water and moisten the edges of the wrapper. Gently lift one side of the wrapper and fold in half over the filling to the opposite side. Lightly press around filling and along edges to seal. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. Set the 16 dumplings aside in a single layer on a tray lined with baking paper.
3. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Drop dumplings into the water a few at a time and boil for 2½ minutes or until cooked and wrappers are translucent. To test that the dumplings are ready, remove one and cut into it with a sharp knife to check that the filling is hot. When dumplings are ready, remove with a slotted spoon and drain onto a plate.
4. Arrange dumplings on a platter and serve immediately dressed with Sichuan chilli oil, garnished with the native sea blite and sprinkled with the Sichuan pepper and salt.
STIR-FRIED ASPARAGUS WITH GARLIC
Serves 4 to 6 as part of a banquet
The season of spring at Billy Kwong always calls for an asparagus stir-fry, sliced and cooked very lightly and quickly. It is interesting to use salt sometimes as the flavour enhancer, rather than using soy. This method is also great with fresh snowpeas, zucchini flowers, bok choy or Chinese white cabbage.
2 bunches green asparagus (about 500g)
2 tbsp peanut oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp salt flakes
2 tbsp shao hsing wine or dry sherry
⅓ cup vegetable stock or water
1 tsp sesame oil
1. Wash asparagus, trim and discard woody ends. Peel lower parts of stems, if necessary, and slice stems in half on the diagonal. Wash and drain well.
2. Heat peanut oil in a hot wok until the surface seems to shimmer slightly. Add garlic and salt and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Add asparagus and stir-fry for one minute. Add wine or sherry and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Pour in stock and stir-fry for a further 30 seconds or until asparagus is just tender. Lastly add sesame oil and serve immediately.
STIR-FRIED SCALLOPS WITH SNOWPEAS & GINGER
Serves 4 to 6 as part of a banquet
I usually try to source Queensland saucer scallops for this dish, with their firm-medium, flavoursome flesh. Be sure to pat the scallop meat dry with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture before cooking and only cook this dish "a la minute" – the scallops should be rare and the snowpeas bright green and crunchy. You could of course substitute fresh green prawns for the scallops. If you are allergic to peanuts, use vegetable oil.
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp malt vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar
½ tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp peanut oil
24 scallops, removed from their shells (about 240g scallop meat)
120g snowpeas, topped and tailed
3 spring onions, cut into 7cm lengths
4 ginger slices
2 tbsp shao hsing wine or dry sherry
1. Combine soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and sesame oil in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Heat peanut oil in a hot wok until the surface seems to shimmer slightly. Add scallops to wok, in two batches if necessary, and sear for 30 seconds on one side, then turn over and sear the other side for 10 seconds so they are nicely caramelised. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
3. Add snowpeas, spring onions and ginger to wok and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add wine or sherry and cook for 10 seconds.
4. Return scallops to wok, add soy sauce mixture and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Serve immediately.
CHILLI SALT & PEPPER SQUID WITH FRESH LIME
Serves 4 as a starter
This dish is best cooked "a la minute" so make sure you have all of your ingredients prepared, your serving plate with lettuce cups and fresh herbs ready to go, and your guests seated before you begin frying the squid. It only takes a few minutes to cook and is so delicious eaten piping hot.
1 ½ tbsp cornflour
1 ½ tbsp plain flour
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp crushed Sichuan peppercorns
vegetable oil for deep-frying
4 small iceberg lettuce leaves, chilled
2 limes, halved
handful coriander sprigs
handful mint leaves
1. First, clean and score the squid (see step-by-step guide below).
2. In a large bowl, combine flours, salt, chilli powder and Sichuan pepper. Add squid and toss to coat, shaking off any excess flour.
3. Heat oil in a hot wok until surface seems to shimmer slightly. Add half the squid and deep-fry for about 1½ minutes or until just tender and beginning to colour. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well on kitchen paper. Repeat process with remaining squid.
4. Arrange chilled lettuce cups on a platter and top with squid. Serve immediately with lime halves and fresh herbs.
How to clean and score squid
1. Gently pull the head and tentacles away from the body and discard the entrails.
2. Cut the tentacles from the head just below the eyes. Reserve the tentacles and discard the head.
3. Remove and discard the fine, purplish-black membrane from the body.
4. Trim the side "wings" from the body and set aside.
5. Pull out the clear "backbone" (quill) from inside the body, then rinse body, tentacles and wings thoroughly and pat dry with kitchen paper.
6. Cut squid down the centre so that it will open out flat.
7. Using a sharp knife, score shallow diagonal cuts in a crisscross pattern on the inside surface, taking care not to cut right through the squid. Scoring squid makes it curl on contact with hot oil, while also allowing flavours to penetrate into the squid.
8. Cut the scored squid in half and then into four-centimetre strips.
9. Trim the reserved "wings", then cut in half.
SLOW-COOKED RED-BRAISED PORK BELLY WITH CARROTS, EGGS & SHALLOTS
With a bowl of steamed rice, this Chinese casserole-style dish provides a delicious, flavoursome and substantial meal during cooler months. It can be made the day before then simply reheated to serve.
3.5 litres red braise master stock (see below)
450g free-range boneless pork belly, skin on, at room temperature, cut into 2cm pieces.
4 free-range eggs, at room temperature
3-4 carrots, halved if large
4 red shallots, peeled but left whole
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp malt vinegar
¼ tsp sesame oil
For the red braise master stock
4 spring onions, trimmed and halved
80g ginger, thickly sliced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
4 strips (about 6cm x 1cm) orange peel, white pith removed
8 star anise
4 cinnamon quills
375ml (1½ cups) light soy sauce
250ml (1 cup ) shao hsing wine
185g (1 cup) lightly packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
3 litres cold water
1. Make the red braise master stock (see recipe below) in a large stockpot that will later fit the pork, eggs, carrots and red shallots.
2. Meanwhile, place pork belly in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, then drain. This will remove any impurities from the meat.
3. Place eggs in a small saucepan of boiling water and cook for seven minutes (or eight minutes if using eggs straight form the fridge). Remove eggs using a slotted spoon and refresh under cold water. Carefully peel eggs and drain on kitchen paper to remove excess liquid.
4. When the stock is ready, return to the boil. Add pork, eggs, carrots and red shallots, cover the entire surface with a round of baking paper and simmer gently for 45 minutes or until pork is tender. There should be no more than an occasional ripple breaking the surface; adjust the temperature, if necessary. To check it's ready, pierce the pork with a small knife – you should meet no resistance.
5. When the pork is just about cooked, scoop out 250 millilitres (1 cup) stock from the pork and place in a small saucepan. Add sugar, soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil and cook over medium-high heat for five minutes or until sauce is reduced by half and syrupy.
6. Using a slotted spoon, lift out the pork belly, carrots, shallots and braising aromatics from the stock pot and place on a large platter. Scoop out the eggs and cut in half.
7. Spoon the sauce over the pork and arrange the egg halves on top to serve.
8. Strain and freeze the master stock to use again.
Red braise master stock
1. Place all ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 25 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse.
2. Use as directed in recipe or cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days or strain and freeze to use again.
Makes 3.5 litres
Tips: Feel free to add exotic Asian mushrooms such as shiitake, shimeji or oyster mushrooms. If you do not eat pork or are a vegetarian, omit the pork entirely and add your favourite vegetables – thick slices of white radish and cauliflower florets plus chunks of zucchini, potatoes or fennel. For a less hearty version, simply omit the boiled eggs.
After cooking with the stock, you can strain it and freeze it indefinitely to use again. It will develop a stronger flavour each time you use it.