Taste of China

Want to look like a pro? Kylie Kwong's latest book, Simple Chinese Cooking Class, will have you creating an authentic Asian meal with ease.

CHINESE ROASTED DUCK

I prefer to roast a bird whole – whether it be duck, chicken or quail – as this results in more flavoursome and juicy meat. Be sure to let it rest after it has cooked.

SERVES 4-6

2kg free-range duck

8cm x 5cm knob ginger, finely chopped

8 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tbsp brown rice

miso paste

2 tbsp light soy sauce

2 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp chilli oil

2 green (spring) onions, halved

3 star anise

2 sticks cinnamon

Preheat oven to 200°C. Rinse duck under cold water. Trim excess fat from inside and outside cavity, then trim off neck, parson's nose and winglets and discard. Pat duck thoroughly dry with kitchen paper inside and out.

Combine ginger, garlic, miso paste, soy sauce, sugar and chilli oil in a bowl and stir to dissolve miso and sugar. Rub all over duck and pour remaining mixture into duck cavity. Place onion, star anise and cinnamon into cavity. Place duck, breast side up, on a wire rack in a roasting tin. Pour 1 cup water into tin, then cover entire tin with foil. Roast for 35 minutes, then remove from oven.

Increase oven temperature to 250°C. Remove foil and baste duck with cooking juices, then roast, uncovered, for a further 15 minutes. To test if duck is ready, pierce thigh with a skewer: if juices run clear, duck is cooked.

Set duck aside to rest in tin, uncovered, in a warm place for 15 minutes. To serve, tip cooking juices from duck cavity and roasting tin into a small bowl. Chop duck Chinese-style, arrange on a serving platter and pour over cooking juices.

ASIAN MUSHROOM AND CUCUMBER SOUP

Packed with exotic mushrooms, this is an excellent soup for vegetarians. I love the way the mushrooms soak up flavour just like a sponge, and the addition of the Thai basil gives it an unusual twist.

SERVES 4

1.5 litres vegetable stock (I prefer to make Chinese-style stock)

5cm x 2cm knob ginger, cut into fine matchsticks

2½ tbsp light soy sauce

1 tsp salt flakes

1 tsp white sugar

½ tsp sesame oil

100g oyster mushrooms, torn

100g enoki mushrooms, trimmed

100g fresh black cloud ear fungus, cores removed, torn

1 small cucumber, peeled and finely sliced into half-moons

1 bunch Thai basil, leaves only

sliced red chillies in light soy sauce (optional)

Place vegetable stock, ginger, soy sauce, salt, sugar and sesame oil in a heavy-based saucepan and bring to boil. Add oyster and enoki mushrooms, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 1 minute. Add black fungus and cucumber and simmer for a further 1 minute. Ladle soup into 4 bowls and top with basil. Serve with a small bowl of chillies in soy sauce on the side, if you like.

CRISPY PRAWN CAKES WITH CHILLI-VINEGAR DIPPING SAUCE

The Chinese are very inventive when it comes to tasty morsels, such as these prawn cakes.

SERVES 4

800g green (raw) prawns, peeled and deveined (yielding about 380g prawn meat)

3cm x 2cm knob ginger, finely diced

½ bunch coriander, stems and roots only, finely sliced

2 green (spring) onions, finely sliced

1 small stick celery, finely diced

½ small carrot, cut into fine matchsticks

1¼ tbsp light soy sauce

1 tbsp shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry

¼ tsp sesame oil

1 tsp white sugar

1 egg

2 tbsp vegetable oil

Chilli-vinegar dipping sauce

1 large red chilli, finely sliced

2 tbsp light soy sauce

3 tbsp malt vinegar

For dipping sauce, combine all ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.

For prawn cakes, roughly chop prawn meat and place in a large bowl. Add all remaining ingredients except vegetable oil and mix thoroughly, using your hands. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add heaped tablespoonfuls of prawn mixture to pan (don't crowd pan). Cook for about 1-1½ minutes or until golden, then carefully turn over and cook other side for 1-1½ minutes or until golden and cooked. Carefully remove from pan and drain on kitchen paper. Wipe pan clean and repeat with remaining oil and prawn mixture.

Arrange prawn cakes on a large platter in a single layer so they don't become soggy in their own steam. Serve immediately with a side dish of dipping sauce for spooning over.

Recipes from Kylie Kwong’s Simple Chinese Cooking Class, with photography by Earl Carter, published by Lantern ($59.95).

The story Taste of China first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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