Tenderstem broccoli and turkey in black bean sauce

As a rule I don’t eat broccoli. Growing up I was a fussy eater, especially when it came to vegetables and in particular “greens”. Over the last 5 years or so I have gradually increased the variety of vegetables that I eat but a few vegetables still remain off the menu in our house (cauliflower, sprouts and broccoli). Every so often my husband will complain about the lack of broccoli we eat and so when I was approached by tenderstem broccoli to take part in Tender in 10 I decided to give it ago. The challenge is to create recipes using tenderstem broccoli that can be cooked in 10 minutes or less, with 10 ingredients or less.

I knew that incorporating the broccoli in to a flavour packed dish was the best way forward. So with this in mind I decided to include it in a stir fry. I have used turkey in this recipe but you could use beef, chicken or pork. I cook with turkey at least once a week as it is good value and a healthy, lean meat. Again I find turkey works best in a dist with lots of flavour like a stir fry or these fajitas. Continue reading

Daring cooks – Vietnamese chicken pho

The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.

There were two parts to this month’s Daring Cooks’ challenge, a compulsory and an optional challenge. The compulsory part was a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup (with the option to do it the quick way or a longer method). The optional part were deep fried chocolate wontons. Partly due to time (and partly due to not wanting to deep fry) I only did the noodle soup.

I have made a chicken noodle soup before, but as I commented then I felt the one I cooked was a bit over simplified. Since then I have bought a bottle of fish sauce but I still don’t like fresh coriander. I substituted the chicken for pork (sliced up British pork loin) which I cooked in the broth. I made the recipe as described below using some homemade chicken stock from the freezer and simply omitted the fresh coriander from my bowl. The flavours of the broth were delicious and I didn’t feel mine was lacking in flavours without coriander. I think I would make this again as it was quiet simple (especially for a ‘daring’ challenge) and flavourful.
Vietnamese Chicken Pho

Preparation Time: 45 cooking time + 15 minutes to cook noodles based on package directions

Servings: Makes 4 servings


For the Chicken Pho Broth:
2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
½ onion
1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce

1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)


2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
Sriracha chili sauce
Hoisin sauce
Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice


  • To make the Chicken Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.
  • In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
  • Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
  • Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
  • Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
  • Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
  • Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.

Chinese meatball and noodle soup

Whilst shopping for ingredients for my Chinese dumplings I came across some reduced priced pak choi. It still looked healthy and knowing I would have left over ingredients from the dumplings I decided to make a meatball/noodle soup the day after. The soup included the meatballs, pak choi, left over shitake mushrooms and spring onions and noodles. The mince for the chinese dumplings was packed with flavour so I kept the soup fairly simple. On the day I made the dumplings I rolled tablespoons of the leftover mince in to balls and baked in the oven for around 15 minutes. I then stored them in the fridge overnight. The following day the soup was quiet simple to pull together. I stir fried the meatballs with the vegetables to reheat them. The end result was delicious and packed with oriental flavours.
Chinese meatball and noodle soup
Serves 2

For the meatballs
(I used approximately half of the mince in this recipe. Below I have detailed an estimate of what I believe would produce something similar if you don’t have left over mince from making gyoza)

200g ground pork
2 large spring greens leaves, minced
1 stalk spring onion, minced
3 shitake mushrooms, minced (if dried – rehydrated and rinsed carefully)
2.5cm ginger root, minced
1.5 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp corn starch

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
  • Combine all the filling ingredients well.
  • Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls.
  • Arrange on a baking tray.
  • Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

For the noodle soup
800ml Chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp root ginger, finely grated
1 red chilli, finely chopped (I used a dried chilli as that was all I had).
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 pak choi, sliced
6 shitake mushrooms, sliced
2 spring onions, finely sliced
2 portions of vermicelli noodles, cooked according to the packet
2 tbsp soy sauce

  • In a saucepan bring to the boil the stock, ginger, garlic and chilli. Simmer for at least 5 minutes or until you are ready to serve the finished soup.
  • In a frying pan (or wok if you have one), heat 1 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil until hot.
  • Stir fry the pak choi stalks, spring onion and shitake mushrooms.
  • Add the pak choi leaves when the rest of the vegetables are almost cooked (approx 3-5 minutes depending on how well cooked you like your veg).
  • Add the soy sauce to the stock.
  • Combine the noodles, vegetables, meatballs and stock. Serve.

Salmon hot pot

A few months back my OH came home from work with a new cookbook he’d bought from one of the many book clubs that come in to work places around the country. At first I was excited (I love a good cookbook and can often be found flicking through one) until I saw which one – The Wagamama cookbook. A few weeks earlier in the middle of a shopping trip he had taken me to said restaurant. I really wanted to like the food but I didn’t enjoy the particular noodle soup I ordered. It was by no means the fault of the restaurant chain but more down to the fact that I’m not a fan of Asian food. I put it down to two things – 1. I’m a fussy eater especially when it comes to veg (which play a big part in many of the dishes) and 2. I was brought up on a diet of meat and 2 veg (limited to potatoes, carrots, peas and sweetcorn!) with very little herbs and spices. Since getting in to cooking I am constantly challenging myself to try new dishes, vegetables and fish with a good amount of success (and some failures!).

So one cold, winters night I sat down with the wagamama cookbook. The first thing that struck me was how well presented the book is. Lots of glossy pages with lots of clear pictures of well presented food. I really like the concept of healthy food that is simple to prepare and this book is filled with them. The only down side is a lot of the recipes need ingredients only available from oriental stores (not great in a small country town or for those wanting to dip in to these recipes occasionally without having to have a large oriental store cupboard!). However for keen cooks regularly cooking good quality oriental food this would be a great addition to the book shelf.

I did however find one dish that took my fancy, one of the few dish’s in the book not on the menu in their restaurants, Salmon hot pot. It is not on the menu as it takes 30 minutes to cook! To me this is still a very convenient, quick week night supper, as 15 minutes of this time the dish is in the oven leaving you free to do other tasks (usually washing up or preparing the next days lunch boxes in my house). I have altered the recipe slightly as the book recommends serving with brown rice but I preferred to serve it with noodles.  It has become a regular week night supper in our house and although I have as yet not cooked anything else from the book I do still flick through it ocassionally and have made simpler stir frys etc from other sources. Overall it has inspired me to keep trying oriental food (especially noodles) but at the moment. for me at least, they will be inspired by this book but simplifed ingredient wise.

Update – November 2010. I still cook this dish a lot so I have added some photos.

Salmon hot pot
(from the wagamama cookbook with a couple of alterations by me in brackets)

400g salmon (I never way them, just use 2 salmon fillets)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (Again I don’t measure and probably use less, just a good splash in the wok/frying pan)
1 leek, trimmed and finely sliced
1 tbsp finely chopped shallot (or small onion quiet often!)
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 stick of celery, finely diced
1 tsp sugar
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
salt and white pepper (I use black and omit salt as soy sauce has enough)
75ml light soy sauce (I found this amount too salty so I use reduced salt dark soy sauce and only around a couple of table spoons or so topping up with water)
300g cooked brown rice (or noodles)

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4.
  • Remove the skin from the salmon and cut in to bite-sized chunks.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan/wok or ideally a casserole dish which can be used on the hob and in the oven.
  • Once hot, add the leek, onion, carrot and celery and saute over a medium heat for 10 minutes to soften but not brown the vegetables.
  • Add the garlic and sugar, mix and continue to cook for a minute or so.
  • Transfer to an oven proof dish/casserole if necessary, add chunks of salmon mix and season with salt (if desired) and pepper.
  • Pour over soy sauce (or soy/water mixture).
  • Cover and bake in oven for 15 minutes, I often remove the foil for the last 5 Min’s.
  • Cook the noodles as per instructions on the packet.
  • Mix noodles with salmon hot pot and serve.