Thursday, November 5, 2009

Summer BBQ Time! - Cookbooks Part 2: Ross Dobson's Chinatown: sweet sour spicy salty

Home from hospital – it’s a good feeling! The stay at North Park Private to try and get Henry to sleep has sort of worked, cos’ I have come home with some better strategies for him to sleep longer – fingers crossed!! Home from hospital also means no more hospital food. I can categorically say that I will not miss their cooking! Sitting down and filling out my meal orders was probably one of the hardest things I did in the last week. All I could think about was my BBQ - pork, beef, crabs and prawns sizzling away while I sip a frosty beer.

It is going to be a bit tough to get organised for a feast tonight with not much in the fridge or pantry, so it will have to wait until tomorrow night for our gourmet spectacular. So to continue my series on summer cookbooks, tomorrow I will be using Ross Dobson’s Chinatown: sweet sour spicy salty.

A couple of weeks ago I had a massive hankering for some home cooked Chinese food. My cookbook range on the subject was very thin, so instead of spending mucho $$ on some new glossy from Kylie Kwong, I borrowed one of the many cookbooks my sister has on the subject, with Ross’ definitely looking the best.

So, in no particular order of what’s going on the BBQ this summer, here are some of the dishes that will get a decent circulation; and yes, I know I have two tofu recipes here carnivores, but they are both delicious so get used to it you meat lovers out there.

Salt and Pepper Tofu – this is such an easy and cheap dish to prepare. It will only work on the BBQ if you have a side wok attachment.
• 600 grams of silken tofu, cut in cubes
• 750 mL vegetable oil
• Half a cup of cornflour
• 1-2 teaspoons of Sichuan pepper and salt mix – one tbsp Sichuan peppercorns, two teaspoons and two tbsp salt
• One lemon, cut into wedges
Cut up tofu in to cubes and carefully place onto a plate lined with paper towels. Place a couple more paper towels on top and leave for about 30 minutes so the water may be absorbed; roll in cornflour. Heat oil in wok and gently slide/place tofu cubes in wok two at a time for about a minute or golden brown. Remove and place on a paper towel to drain then toss in salt and pepper mix. Serve with Peter Lehman Barossa Semillon 2006.

Char Siu rack of Lamb - another super dish for the BBQ with fantastic sweet and spicy flavours from the marinade combining with the juices of the lamb.
• Third of a cup of Chinese BBQ sauce – Char Siu
• Two tbsp honey
• Third of a cup lemon juice
• One teaspoon sesame oil
• One tbsp peanut oil
• Rack of lamb, about 750 grams
Combine Char Siu, honey, lemon juice and sesame oil and rub marinade in to lamb rack and refrigerate for at least eight hours. Char the rack on the BBQ for about 30-45 seconds to burn a little; this gives a really good flavour hit from the Char Siu. Place in a baking dish and cook for a further 20 minutes in BBQ. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes and carve up. Serve with Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 or De Bortoli Estate Yarra Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007.

Chilli Blue Swimmer Crab or Singapore Chilli Mud Crab - this will get messy so don’t forget finger bowls and not your children’s wading pool!
• Four blue swimmer crabs/mud crabs
• Three tbsp Chinese chilli sauce
• Three good glugs of tomato sauce, not ketchup – we are in Australia people!
• 200mL chicken stock
• One teaspoon castor sugar
• Half a cup of vegetable oil
• Two garlic cloves, roughly chopped
• One tbsp grated ginger
• Two spring onions, white bit chopped and green bit sliced diagonally
• Two large red chillies, not birds-eye, thinly sliced diagonally
• One egg, lightly beaten
Combine chilli sauce, tomato sauce, stock and sugar in a mixing bowl and dissolve the sugar; set aside. If the crabs are still alive, put them in the freezer for about an hour. Using a cleaver or a heavy bladed knife, make and incision through the head of the crab, put the crabs on their back and lift the tail apron and using your thumb, lever off the top of the shell. Remove the spongy grey gunk and rinse. Cut the crab in half and half again and refrigerate until ready.

Heat the oil in the wok to very high heat. When it reaches smoking point, toss half of the crab contents in and give a good toss for about 3-4 minutes or until coloured. Remove from wok.

Drain almost all of the oil from the wok and add garlic, ginger, spring onion whites and half of the chillies and cook for about 7 seconds then toss in crab and sauce mixture and bring to the boil – keep the kids away at this time cos’ it gets really hot! Keep tossing for a while then slowly pour the egg in as you keep stirring. Cook for another minute. Serve with green spring onion and remaining chilli as garnish. Serve with Provenance Geelong Pinot Noir 2007 or Pepper Tree Hunter Valley Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2008 – this has a lovely tang to it!

Tofu with soy and ginger – this is a great appetiser for something like the last recipe.
• 600 grams of silken tofu, cut in cubes
• 750 mL vegetable oil
• Two tbsp light soy sauce
• One tbsp fish sauce
• Two teaspoons grated ginger
• 40 grams tapioca flour
• Half a teaspoon of fine ground white pepper
• Two spring onions, green part only thinly sliced, diagonally
Prepare the tofu the same way as the first recipe. Simmer fish sauce and ginger in a small bowl to soften ginger. Remove from heat. Heat the oil in the wok to very high. Toss the tofu in flour and cook until golden brown and drain on paper towels. Reheat the sauce mix and pour over tofu with spring onions to garnish. Serve with Bloodwood Orange Riesling 2009.


  1. Now you're home again, please get cracking with making the salt and pepper tofu again ... stat!!!!! So delish!!

  2. sounds like the menu for a perfect barbeque on a hot night - it would depend on the company, of course