Chicken and Sweet Corn Dumplings


Date Published: Sept 14th, 2021 | Last Updated: Sept 14th, 2021
Author: Abby |Category: < 30mins, easy, low-cal, healthy, asian, quick, mains, snacks
Serves: ~100 dumplings | Prep time: 15 mins + time to wrap | Cook time: 10 mins

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When Toby and I took a trip to Alice Springs early last year, a local dumpling house called Confucius Palace Dumpling Restaurant came up on our radar when looking for places to eat. I’m always skeptical of asian restaurants located in a predominantly non-asian town but we were both pleasantly surprised by how good the dumplings were! Our favourites were the lamb and onion dumplings and the chicken and sweet corn dumplings which is the recipe I’m publishing today! Both dumplings are actually quite simplistic in their ingredients and super quick to make which is fantastic for a quick and easy meal. Dumplings also store very well in the freezer so you can whip up a big batch and save them for a rainy day when you don’t feel like cooking.

Without further ado, here’s the recipe! If you have any comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section! You can follow me on instagram, youtube and facebook to see all the recipes I post!

Happy cooking!

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • Dumpling Filling:
    • 1kg chicken mince
    • 2 cans of super sweet corn
    • 2 Tbsps soy sauce
    • 3 Tbsps chicken stock powder
    • 3 tsp white pepper
    • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • Two packets of dumpling wrappers

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients of the dumpling filling in a bowl: chicken mince, sweet corn, soy sauce, chicken stock powder, white pepper, and sugar.

Wrap the dumplings.

You can either cook the dumplings right away or store them in the freezer. Make sure the dumplings aren’t touching when you freeze them or else they’ll all stick together in a block. Once they’re frozen you can transfer them into a container or plastic freezer bag. Check out this post on how to cook dumplings – 2 ways.

Summarized Recipe:

Chicken and Sweet Corn Dumplings

Date Published: Sept 14th, 2021 | Last Updated: Sept 14th, 2021
Author: Abby |Category: < 30mins, easy, low-cal, healthy, asian, quick, mains, snacks
Serves: ~100 dumplings | Prep time: 15 mins + time to wrap | Cook time: 10 mins

Ingredients:

  • Dumpling Filling:
    • 1kg chicken mince
    • 2 cans of super sweet corn
    • 2 Tbsps soy sauce
    • 3 Tbsps chicken stock powder
    • 3 tsp white pepper
    • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • Two packets of dumpling wrappers

Directions:

  1. Mix all the ingredients of the dumpling filling in a bowl: chicken mince, sweet corn, soy sauce, chicken stock powder, white pepper, and sugar.
  2. Wrap the dumplings.
  3. You can either cook the dumplings right away or store them in the freezer.
    • Check out this post on how to cook dumplings – 2 ways.
    • Make sure the dumplings aren’t touching when you freeze them or else they’ll all stick together in a block. Once they’re frozen you can transfer them into a container or plastic freezer bag.

Czech Steak Tartare (Tatarský Biftek/Tatarák)


Date Published: Sept 13, 2022 | Last Updated: Sept 13, 2022
Author: Abby |Category: <15 mins, appetizers, mains, easy, quick, low cal, snacks
Serves: 2 (as an appetizer/snack) | Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 0! No cooking required.

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Steak tartare is a dish served in many different countries and in many different ways. I’ll admit I was never a fan of raw meat, but Toby grew up with it when he would visit Czech Republic to see his grandparents. It became a nostalgic dish and watching him enjoy this dish with such excitement of course tempted me to give it another try. We spent 3 weeks in Czech a couple months ago and during that time the dish really grew on me. A Czech steak tartare is traditionally served with slices of crispy rye bread that is panfried in lard and a garlic clove. You’re meant to rub the garlic on the crispy rye bread for that extra garlicky flavour and spoon the steak tartare over the bread and eat it together. Yum! The basic ingredients are usually steak, mustard, salt, pepper, and onion, but you’ll find many different variations. This dish can be found everywhere in Czech Republic, from basic rural pubs to fancy high-end Michelin-guided restaurants. You can request to have it served with the ingredients all mixed together, or unmixed and you can mix it yourself to adjust the flavours to your liking (see photo). However you have it, it’s always best served with a cold Pilsen beer!

What’s the best cut of beef to use?

Since you’ll be eating the beef raw, it’s very important to choose the best and freshest cut, and of course you also want to get it from a reputable clean butcher that knows their stuff. Usually when I buy my meats I get it either from the regular supermarket or a nearby butcher, however we went specifically to a higher end fancy butcher shop specifically for a steak tartare. It might be a bit more expensive, but it’ll be worth it.

You want a lean piece with little to no fat and connective tissue. The most popular choice is usually a tenderloin (or eye fillet/fillet steak) which is the most tender cut of meat available, but you can also use sirloin/porterhouse as well. If you’re not sure which cut to use, ask the butcher and let them know you’re intending on eating the steak raw for a tartare and they should be able to point you in the right direction.

How to prepare the beef?

Once you’ve selected your perfect cut of beef for the tartare, it’s time to prepare it to your desired consistency. If you like the texture chunkier with more bite, you can finely dice it into cubes. Put your steak in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm it up prior to dicing – this will make it much easier to cut. For a softer texture, you can put your steak through a meat grinder or ask your butcher to grind it for you. I get a little weary of getting someone else to grind it for me since I’m not sure how well the grinders are cleaned between each order. I like my texture somewhere inbetween so I prefer to chop it up finely with a knife. The texture isn’t quite as mushy as a ground beef and has a little more bite to it.

This recipe is easy and cooks up quickly!

Anyways, without further ado, here’s the recipe! If you have any comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section! You can follow me on instagram, youtube and facebook to see all the recipes I post!

Happy cooking!

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • 200g high quality lean steak (ie.tenderloin/eye fillet), trim off any fat and connective tissue
    • If you’re unsure which cut to get, ask your butcher for the freshest cut and let them know you’re intending on eating it raw for a tartare. Buy one a little heavier to equate 200g after trimming
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup (1/4 of a large) yellow onion, finely minced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground paprika
  • 2 Tbsps Dijon mustard (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper (or more to taste)
  • 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • To serve:
    • 2 slices of rye bread, either panfried in lard or toasted and buttered
    • 1 garlic clove, cut in half

Directions:

Finely chop the beef until desired consistency. You can also put it through a grinder if you’ve got one.

Add in the rest of the ingredients (egg yolk, onion, garlic, paprika, Dijon mustard, salt, black pepper, and Worcestershire sauce) to the chopped steak and mix. Taste and adjust flavours to personal taste. You can also serve it pre-mixed and lay out the ingredients separately on a plate (see photo).

Toast the slices of rye bread and spread on butter, or alternatively you can pan-fry it with some oil or lard.

Serve the steak tartare with toasted bread and a garlic clove sliced in half. When eating, rub the garlic over the toasted bread and spoon the steak tartare over the bread. Enjoy!

Summarized Recipe:

Czech Steak Tartare (Tatarský Biftek/Tatarák)

Date Published: Sept 13, 2022 | Last Updated: Sept 13, 2022
Author: Abby |Category: <15 mins, appetizers, mains, easy, quick, low cal, snacks
Serves: 2 (as an appetizer/snack) | Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 0! No cooking required.

Ingredients:

  • 200g high quality lean steak (ie.tenderloin/eye fillet), trim off any fat and connective tissue
    • If you’re unsure which cut to get, ask your butcher for the freshest cut and let them know you’re intending on eating it raw for a tartare. Buy one a little heavier to equate 200g after trimming
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup (1/4 of a large) yellow onion, finely minced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground paprika
  • 2 Tbsps Dijon mustard (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper (or more to taste)
  • 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • To serve:
    • 2 slices of rye bread, either panfried in lard or toasted and buttered
    • 1 garlic clove, cut in half

Directions:

  1. Finely chop the beef until desired consistency. You can also put it through a grinder if you’ve got one.
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients (egg yolk, onion, garlic, paprika, Dijon mustard, salt, black pepper, and Worcestershire sauce) to the chopped steak and mix. Taste and adjust flavours to personal taste. You can also serve it pre-mixed and lay out the ingredients separately on a plate (see photo).
  3. Toast the slices of rye bread and spread on butter, or alternatively you can pan-fry it with some oil or lard.
  4. Serve the steak tartare with toasted bread and a garlic clove sliced in half. When eating, rub the garlic over the toasted bread and spoon the steak tartare over the bread. Enjoy!

Healthy “Creamy” Chicken Thyme Mushroom Spinach Soup


Date Published: Sept 5th, 2022 | Last Updated: Sept 5th, 2022
Author: Abby |Category: easy, healthy, low-cal, mains, appetizers, soups, vegetarian
Serves: 4 (as a main) | Prep time: 15 mins | Cook time: 30 mins

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The countdown is on to our wedding and thus our wedding diet is in full swing which means healthy, low-calorie meals that cut out the fat without compromising on flavour. This recipe ticks all the boxes. I love a good soup and I love a good mushroom dish. When you put two together, I’m loving life! This soup is PACKED full of mushrooms – 600g of mushrooms, to be exact; and it’s creamy without actually using any cream! The creaminess comes from a bit of flour to thicken it all up and soy milk.

Suggestions, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section! You can follow me on instagram, youtube and facebook to see all the recipes I post!

Happy cooking!

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • 600g white button mushrooms (400g chopped, 200g sliced)
  • 3 large enoki mushrooms, sliced (optional for extra texture)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsps plain flour
  • 4 cups (1 litre) chicken stock
  • 2 dried or 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsps fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cups soy milk (optional, for extra creaminess)
  • 4 cups (100g) kale and/or spinach leaves, stalks removed, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded roast chicken

Directions:

In a large pot on MED-HIGH heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and sauté the 200g of sliced mushrooms and enoki mushrooms until tender. Remove from the pot and set aside in a separate bowl.

In the same pot, add another drizzle of olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes until the onion is soft and translucent. Add in the 400g of chopped mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms are tender and turn a deep brown colour. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and mix together for 1 minute until all the liquid is absorbed. Pour in a few splashes of chicken stock and mix it all together, scraping the sides and ensure nothing is clumped to the sides or the bottom of the pot. Pour in the remaining stock and add in the bay leaves and thyme leaves. Turn the heat up to HIGH and bring the soup to a boil. Once it boils, turn the heat down to LOW-MED until a simmer and let it simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

After simmering, remove the bay leaves and remove from heat. Use a stick blender and blend the soup until smooth. (You can also pour it all into a blender if you don’t have a stick blender). Add in the soy milk and bring to a simmer again. Stir in the cooked mushrooms that was set aside in step 1, kale/spinach leaves, and/or shredded chicken (if using). Warm through and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Done!

Summarized Recipe:

Healthy “Creamy” Chicken Thyme Mushroom Spinach Soup

Date Published: Sept 5th, 2022 | Last Updated: Sept 5th, 2022
Author: Abby |Category: easy, healthy, low-cal, mains, appetizers, soups, vegetarian
Serves: 4 (as a main) | Prep time: 15 mins | Cook time: 30 mins

Ingredients:

  • 600g white button mushrooms (400g chopped, 200g sliced)
  • 3 large enoki mushrooms, sliced (optional for extra texture)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsps plain flour
  • 4 cups (1 litre) chicken stock
  • 2 dried or 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsps fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cups soy milk (optional, for extra creaminess)
  • 4 cups (100g) kale and/or spinach leaves, stalks removed, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded roast chicken

Directions:

  1. In a large pot on MED-HIGH heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and sauté the 200g of sliced mushrooms and enoki mushrooms until tender. Remove from the pot and set aside in a separate bowl.
  2. In the same pot, add another drizzle of olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes until the onion is soft and translucent. Add in the 400g of chopped mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms are tender and turn a deep brown colour.
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and mix together for 1 minute until all the liquid is absorbed. Pour in a few splashes of chicken stock and mix it all together, scraping the sides and ensure nothing is clumped to the sides or the bottom of the pot. Pour in the remaining stock and add in the bay leaves and thyme leaves. Turn the heat up to HIGH and bring the soup to a boil. Once it boils, turn the heat down to LOW-MED until a simmer and let it simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
  4. After simmering, remove the bay leaves and remove from heat. Use a stick blender and blend the soup until smooth. (You can also pour it all into a blender if you don’t have a stick blender).
  5. Add in the soy milk and bring to a simmer again. Stir in the cooked mushrooms that was set aside in step 1, kale/spinach leaves, and/or shredded chicken (if using). Warm through and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Done!

Mussels in a Rich Tomato White Wine Sauce


Date Published: Aug 17th, 2022 | Last Updated: Aug 17th, 2022
Author: Abby |Category: mains, easy, appetizers, <15mins, healthy, low-cal,
Serves: 2 | Prep time: 5 mins | Cook time: 15 mins

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Travelling around Australia has really reinvigorated our love for mussels. We’ve hugged the coast throughout our travels and there is so much fresh seafood on offer around this beautiful country! We never skip an opportunity to visit a seafood farm, especially one with mussels. Mussels are traditionally offered in two ways: a white wine garlic broth or a tomato based sauce. This is where Toby and I differ in opinions – I’ve always loved the white wine option whereas Toby will no doubt choose the tomato base.

I’m still working on making the best leek and white wine mussels recipe, but today I finally perfected the BEST tomato sauce base and I’m so excited to add it to the collection and share it with everyone! We’ve had a LOT of mussels in tomato sauce throughout our travels (once I ate mussels every day for 5 days – srsly), some were better than others, but our all time favourite style was served in Cervantes, Western Australia, where they had a spicy rich tomato sauce that was so different from a classic thin tomato broth. The thick sauce was so flavourful and delicious that we came back the next day and ordered it again. I’m so happy to finally be able to recreate that dish. This recipe achieves the thick and rich tomato sauce and you can adjust it to make it as mild or spicy as you like. The original recipe is from Bar Alto on the Gourmet Traveller, but with a few changes to make it the mussel recipe of my dreams.

What is Polpa?

One of the main contributors to this thick and rich tomato sauce is Polpa, which is finely chopped tomatoes in a can. It’s finer and thicker than regular diced tomatoes, and some say it’s higher quality and tend to be sweeter. The most common brand of polpa in Australia groceries is Mutti and they come in a few different varieties and flavours. I’ve used the basic one in this recipe (see photo). If you can’t find polpa in your store, just use regular diced tomatoes in a can.

The recipe also uses fresh roma tomatoes, blanched and diced with the skin removed. It’s not super important to remove the skin, but when you simmer diced tomatoes, the skin tends to peel off in the sauce and curl into little fibrous pieces which is still completely fine to eat, but it just adds a little extra texture and takes a little longer for the tomatoes to break down. It’s worth the extra few minutes and effort to remove the skin.

Anyways, without further ado, here’s the recipe! If you have any comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section! You can follow me on instagram, youtube and facebook to see all the recipes I post!

Happy cooking!

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 long red chili, finely chopped (deseed it if you prefer less spicy)
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) dry white wine (ie. Sauvignon blanc)
  • 1kg live mussels, washed and debearded
  • 1 can (400g) polpa tomato (or chopped canned tomatoes)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsps fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 Tbsps fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Serve with some crusty bread for dipping

Directions:

Prepare the tomatoes: Bring a small pot of water to a boil and cut a cross at the base of each tomato. Place the tomatoes in the boiling water until the skin starts to peel off (~1-2 mins). Place the tomatoes in an ice bath or under cold running water and peel off the skin. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and set aside.

Cook the mussels: In a pot on MED-HIGH heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and sauté the garlic and chili for 1 minute until fragrant. Add in the white wine and mussels. Stir and put the lid on. Cook the mussels for 4-5 mins until they all open up. Once cooked, use a slotted spoon and remove the mussels and divide it evenly amongst two serving bowls, reserving the liquid in the pot.

Make the sauce: Add the chopped peeled roma tomatoes from step 1, a can of polpa tomato, and paprika to the reserved liquid in the pot. Mix and turn the heat up to HIGH. Let the sauce simmer and evaporate until you get a thick tomato sauce (~5 mins). Mix in the chopped parsley and basil and season salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat and divide the sauce evenly over the cooked mussels. Serve with toasted crusty bread. Enjoy!

Summarized Recipe:

Mussels in a Rich Tomato White Wine Sauce

Date Published: Aug 17th, 2022 | Last Updated: Aug 17th, 2022
Author: Abby |Category: mains, easy, appetizers, <15mins, healthy, low-cal,
Serves: 2 | Prep time: 5 mins | Cook time: 15 mins

Ingredients:

  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 long red chili, finely chopped (deseed it if you prefer less spicy)
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) dry white wine (ie. Sauvignon blanc)
  • 1kg live mussels, washed and debearded
  • 1 can (400g) polpa tomato (or chopped canned tomatoes)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsps fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 Tbsps fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Serve with some crusty bread for dipping

Directions:

  1. Prepare the tomatoes: Bring a small pot of water to a boil and cut a cross at the base of each tomato. Place the tomatoes in the boiling water until the skin starts to peel off (~1-2 mins). Place the tomatoes in an ice bath or under cold running water and peel off the skin. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and set aside.
  2. Cook the mussels: In a pot on MED-HIGH heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and sauté the garlic and chili for 1 minute until fragrant. Add in the white wine and mussels. Stir and put the lid on. Cook the mussels for 4-5 mins until they all open up. Once cooked, use a slotted spoon and remove the mussels and divide it evenly amongst two serving bowls, reserving the liquid in the pot.
  3. Make the sauce: Add the chopped peeled roma tomatoes from step 1, a can of polpa tomato, and paprika to the reserved liquid in the pot. Mix and turn the heat up to HIGH. Let the sauce simmer and evaporate until you get a thick tomato sauce (~5 mins). Mix in the chopped parsley and basil and season salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat and divide the sauce evenly over the cooked mussels. Serve with toasted crusty bread. Enjoy!

Corn Potage (Creamy Japanese Sweet Corn Soup)


Date Published: Aug 16th, 2022 | Last Updated: Aug 16th, 2022
Author: Abby |Category: asian, soup, easy, healthy, low-cal, mains, soups, vegetarian
Serves: 4 (as an appetizer) | Prep time: 20 mins | Cook time: 45 mins

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I LOVE corn. I could eat corn on the cob all day everyday, especially when roasted and dipped in butter 🤤. In fact, when we were working in Tasmania there was this wonderful sweet corn stall at the weekly Saturday farmer’s market that had the BEST, juiciest, and sweetest corn. We’d buy at least 4 every week and I’d often just have corn for dinner sprinkled with some chicken salt. Mmmmm. I think it always amazes Toby on how much corn I can eat in one sitting 😅. So it’s no surprise that corn soups and corn chowders are one of my weaknesses.

This soup is sweet, creamy, and FULL of corn flavour! It’s delicious and perfectly warming to have on a cold winter’s day.

What is Corn Potage?

Corn Potage is a French-inspired sweet corn soup popular in Japan. It’s so popular that you can find corn potage-flavoured junk food and instant versions in Japanese convenience stores!

This soup is easy and uses simple ingredients to bring out the sweet flavours of the corn. It’s made with onion, garlic, milk/cream, stock/water, and of course sweet corn. There are some purist recipes that only use corn and milk in the recipe to keep the flavours of the corn undiluted. Most versions of this soup is served silky smooth by straining it through a fine sieve, but I prefer a soup with some filling and bite so I leave in all the fibres and reserve some of the corn and onion before blending.

No sugar required!

The secret to this soup sweet without any added sugar is to boil the corn cobs in the chicken stock – yes, the cobs! Don’t be so quick throw them away after cutting off the kernels. The cobs have plenty of flavour and brings out the sweetness when simmered in the stock.

Anyways, without further ado, here’s the recipe! If you have any comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section! You can follow me on instagram, youtube and facebook to see all the recipes I post!

Happy cooking!

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • 4 ears of sweet corn, de-husked
  • 1 Tbsp Japanese soy sauce (ie. Kikkoman)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsps unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cups chicken stock or water
  • 1/2 cup thickened cream (optional)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Optional add-ins:
    • Shredded cooked chicken

Directions:

Preheat oven to 180˚C.

Cut the corn kernels off the cob and put the kernels in a bowl, do not discard the cobs, set aside. Mix the soy sauce, olive oil, and paprika into the corn kernels and spread on a lined baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 20mins, turning tossing once halfway through. Once the corn kernels are finished baking, set aside.

In a medium sized pot on MED-HIGH heat, melt the butter and sauté the garlic and onion for a few minutes until the onion softens and turns translucent. Add in the chicken stock, baked corn kernels, and break up the de-kernelled cobs from step one into 3 pieces and add it into the pot as well. Bring the soup to a boil and let it simmer with the lid on for 20 mins.

After 20 mins, remove the corn cobs from the soup and discard. Scoop out 1 cup of the kernels and onions and set aside. Use a stick blender and blend the soup until smooth. (If you prefer a smoother soup, you can blend the soup whole without taking anything out).

Optional step: If you want a smoother soup, strain the soup through a fine sieve to remove the small fibrous bits of corn and return the soup back to the pot. Discard anything that has filtered out.

Add in the thickened cream and the 1 cup of kernels and onions to the pot that was removed in step 4. Bring the soup back to a boil and simmer until desired consistency. The longer you simmer it, the thicker the soup will be. Salt and pepper to taste. If you’re adding in shredded chicken, add it in now and stir until warmed. Done!

Summarized Recipe:

Corn Potage (Creamy Japanese Sweet Corn Soup)

Date Published: Aug 16th, 2022 | Last Updated: Aug 16th, 2022
Author: Abby |Category: asian, soup, easy, healthy, low-cal, mains, soups, vegetarian
Serves: 4 (as an appetizer) | Prep time: 20 mins | Cook time: 45 mins

Ingredients:

  • 4 ears of sweet corn, de-husked
  • 1 Tbsp Japanese soy sauce (ie. Kikkoman)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsps unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cups chicken stock or water
  • 1/2 cup thickened cream (optional)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Optional add-ins:
    • Shredded cooked chicken

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C.
  2. Cut the corn kernels off the cob and put the kernels in a bowl, do not discard the cobs, set aside. Mix the soy sauce, olive oil, and paprika into the corn kernels and spread on a lined baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 20mins, turning tossing once halfway through. Once the corn kernels are finished baking, set aside.
  3. In a medium sized pot on MED-HIGH heat, melt the butter and sauté the garlic and onion for a few minutes until the onion softens and turns translucent. Add in the chicken stock, baked corn kernels, and break up the de-kernelled cobs from step one into 3 pieces and add it into the pot as well. Bring the soup to a boil and let it simmer with the lid on for 20 mins.
  4. After 20 mins, remove the corn cobs from the soup and discard. Scoop out 1 cup of the kernels and onions and set aside. Use a stick blender and blend the soup until smooth. (If you prefer a smoother soup, you can blend the soup whole without taking anything out).
  5. Optional step: If you want a smoother soup, strain the soup through a fine sieve to remove the small fibrous bits of corn and return the soup back to the pot. Discard anything that has filtered out.
  6. Add in the thickened cream and the 1 cup of kernels and onions to the pot that was removed in step 4. Bring the soup back to a boil and simmer until desired consistency. The longer you simmer it, the thicker the soup will be. Salt and pepper to taste. If you’re adding in shredded chicken, add it in now and stir until warmed. Done!

Butternut Squash, Leek & Mushroom Oats Risotto (Ris-oat-to)


Date Published: Aug 12, 2022 | Last Updated: Aug 12, 2022
Author: Abby |Category: healthy, low cal, mains, vegetarian
Serves: 4-6 | Prep time: 20 mins | Cook time: 35 mins

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Oats are great at lowering cholesterol and because of this I’m always trying to sneak them in my recipes in an attempt to make them healthier. They’re heart-healthy, a low carb alternative, and add more fibre to your diet. I LOVE risotto and I could eat it all day every day, so when I first heard about using oats instead of arborio rice in a risotto, I was skeptical. The first time I gave it a shot, I was disappointed – it turned out weird, slimy, and goopy. Toby didn’t mind it as much, but as a risotto-fanatic, it just couldn’t compare. I recently decided to give it another try and I realized where I went wrong the first time.

The key to a good oats-risotto is moisture.

The key to a good oats-risotto is moisture. The oats absorb moisture a lot quicker than a rice-based risotto and will continue to soak up liquid even after you turn the heat off. In a rice-based risotto, the more you cook down the liquid and allow it to absorb, the softer and mushier the rice becomes. However when you’re using oats, the oats don’t become mushy, they become gluey – like a breakfast oatmeal/porridge. Therefore, to prevent it from getting goopy, you have to keep the oats-risotto wetter and turn off the heat earlier before all the liquid absorbs.

How to fix a goopy, gluey oats-risotto:

If you’ve accidentally taken your oats-risotto a bit too far, don’t worry, just add more moisture! You can either add in more hot stock or hot water and mix it around. If you have leftovers that have dried out a little in the fridge, add a splash of hot water and mix it around before serving.

Steel Cut Oats vs Rolled Oats vs Quick Oats – what’s the difference?

You MUST use steel cut oats for this recipe. The difference between these three types of oats is all about the way they’re cut and processed. Steel cut is the least processed of the three which results in more fibre but also because of this you’ll need to cook it down longer than the other three which is what makes it perfect for this dish. Risotto is all about slow absorption of the stock and letting the flavours simmer and infuse into the “rice”. If you use rolled or quick oats, it’d absorb liquid too quickly and expand and become soggy.

Anyways, without further ado, here’s the recipe! If you have any comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section! You can follow me on instagram, youtube and facebook to see all the recipes I post!

Recipe adapted from: FoxesLovesLemons.com

Happy cooking!

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • Half a butternut squash, cubed to 2cm pieces
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsps unsalted butter
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 500g white mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp ground dried sage
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

Preheat oven to 180˚C.

Prepare a lined baking pan and add in the cubed butternut squash. Sprinkle salt and pepper overtop and a drizzle of olive oil. Mix together and bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 mins until soft and roasted. Set aside to cool.

In a sauce pan, heat up the chicken stock.

In a large pan or wok on MED heat, add in the butter. Once the butter is melted, add in leeks and sauté for a few minutes until softened.

Next add in the garlic, mushrooms, thyme, and sage. Continue to sauté until the mushrooms cook down and turn a deep brown colour (see photo). Add in the wine and let it simmer for 1 minute.

Next add in the steel cut oats and 2 ladles of the preheated chicken stock. Mix everything around and let it simmer. Once the liquid has absorbed, continue adding in 1 ladle of stock at a time, making sure to let the liquid fully absorb before adding in the next ladle. You don’t need to stir continuously, but do stir it every couple minutes to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.

When you get to the last ladle of chicken stock, give it a mix and do NOT let the liquid fully absorb. Only let it absorb about 70%. Stir in the Parmesan and the cooked butternut squash and turn off the heat. You want the oats-risotto to be a little wetter than usual because the oats will continue to absorb the liquid even after you turn off the heat. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve! If the texture is too dry and goopy for you, mix in more hot chicken stock or hot water before serving.

Summarized Recipe:

Butternut Squash, Leek & Mushroom Oats Risotto (Ris-oat-to)

Date Published: Aug 12, 2022 | Last Updated: Aug 12, 2022
Author: Abby |Category: healthy, low cal, mains, vegetarian
Serves: 4-6 | Prep time: 20 mins | Cook time: 35 mins

Ingredients:

  • Half a butternut squash, cubed to 2cm pieces
  • 6 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 2 Tbsps unsalted butter
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 500g white mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp ground dried sage
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C.
  2. Prepare a lined baking pan and add in the cubed butternut squash. Sprinkle salt and pepper overtop and a drizzle of olive oil. Mix together and bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 mins until soft and roasted. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a sauce pan, heat up the chicken stock.
  4. In a large pan or wok on MED heat, add in the butter. Once the butter is melted, add in leeks and sauté for a few minutes until softened.
  5. Next add in the garlic, mushrooms, thyme, and sage. Continue to sauté until the mushrooms cook down and turn a deep brown colour (see photo). Add in the wine and let it simmer for 1 minute.
  6. Next add in the steel cut oats and 2 ladles of the preheated chicken stock. Mix everything around and let it simmer. Once the liquid has absorbed, continue adding in 1 ladle of stock at a time, making sure to let the liquid fully absorb before adding in the next ladle. You don’t need to stir continuously, but do stir it every couple minutes to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
  7. When you get to the last ladle of chicken stock, give it a mix and do NOT let the liquid fully absorb. Only let it absorb about 70%. Stir in the Parmesan and the cooked butternut squash and turn off the heat. You want the oats-risotto to be a little wetter than usual because the oats will continue to absorb the liquid even after you turn off the heat. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve! If the texture is too dry and goopy for you, mix in more hot chicken stock or hot water before serving.

Easy Healthy French Onion Meatballs


Date Published: Aug 9th, 2022 | Last Updated: Aug 9th, 2022
Author: Abby |Category: < 15mins, appetizers, easy, healthy, low-cal, mains, quick and easy, snacks
Serves: 24 meatballs | Prep time: 15 mins | Cook time: 20 mins

Jump to recipe |

This meatball recipe will probably not be the best meatballs you’ve ever had, but they will probably be the most healthy and without compromising on flavour! High cholesterol runs in my family so I’m always looking for ways to lower fat, cut the grease, and sneak in some veg or oats – this meatball recipe does just that, by incorporating zucchinis, rolled oats, and 95% lean beef mince as the bulk of the meatball.

The one down side about a healthy minimal fat meatball is that it has a tendency to become dry when cooled, therefore they must be served asap when hot or tossed in a sauce or soup to absorb extra moisture. I like to add it to a pasta sauce and serve it with zoodles (zucchini noodles).

Anyways, without further ado, here’s the recipe! If you have any comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section! You can follow me on instagram, youtube and facebook to see all the recipes I post!

Happy cooking!

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • French Onion Seasoning:
    • 1/4 cup onion flakes
    • 1/2 tsp onion powder
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 beef bouillon cube, crushed into a powder
    • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
    • 1/4 tsp celery salt
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 500g extra lean beef mince (95%)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 zucchini, grated with liquid squeezed out

Directions:

Preheat oven to 180˚C.

In a mixing bowl, mix together the seasoning ingredients (onion flakes, onion powder, garlic, beef bouillon, dried parsley, celery salt, black pepper). Next add in the rolled oats, beef mince, egg, and zucchini to the bowl and combine.

Form the mixture into even-sized meatballs – any size you like, as long as they’re all the same size. Makes about 50 x 3cm meatballs, or 24 x 5cm meatballs. Arrange the meatballs on a lined baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 15-20mins or until cooked (the timing will depend on how large your meatballs are). Serve immediately, toss in a sauce, or add into a soup.

Summarized Recipe:

Easy Healthy French Onion Meatballs

Date Published: Aug 9th, 2022 | Last Updated: Aug 9th, 2022
Author: Abby |Category: < 15mins, appetizers, easy, healthy, low-cal, mains, quick and easy, snacks
Serves: 24 meatballs | Prep time: 15 mins | Cook time: 20 mins

Ingredients:

  • French Onion Seasoning:
    • 1/4 cup onion flakes
    • 1/2 tsp onion powder
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 beef bouillon cube, crushed into a powder
    • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
    • 1/4 tsp celery salt
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 500g extra lean beef mince (95%)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 zucchini, grated with liquid squeezed out

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180˚C.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix together the seasoning ingredients (onion flakes, onion powder, garlic, beef bouillon, dried parsley, celery salt, black pepper). Next add in the rolled oats, beef mince, egg, and zucchini to the bowl and combine.
  3. Form the mixture into even-sized meatballs – any size you like, as long as they’re all the same size.
    • Makes about 50 x 3cm meatballs, or 24 x 5cm meatballs.
  4. Arrange the meatballs on a lined baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 15-20mins or until cooked (the timing will depend on how large your meatballs are). Serve immediately or toss in a sauce.

Guilt-Free “Creamy” Mushroom Soup


Date Published: Aug 8th, 2022 | Last Updated: Aug 8th, 2022
Author: Abby |Category: easy, healthy, low-cal, mains, appetizers, soups, vegetarian
Serves: 4 (as a main) | Prep time: 15 mins | Cook time: 30 mins

Jump to recipe |

The countdown is on to our wedding and thus our wedding diet is in full swing which means healthy, low-calorie meals that cut out the fat without compromising on flavour. This recipe ticks all the boxes. I love a good soup and I love a good mushroom dish. When you put two together, I’m loving life! This soup is PACKED full of mushrooms – 600g of mushrooms, to be exact; and it’s creamy without actually using any cream! The creaminess comes from a bit of flour to thicken it all up. There’s also a red chili pepper in this soup that adds a little spiciness to punch up the flavour.

Original recipe adapted from: AustralianMushrooms.com.au – this is a fantastic website chocked full of beautiful mushroom recipes. I highly recommend checking it out.

Without further ado, here’s the recipe! If you have any comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section! You can follow me on instagram, youtube and facebook to see all the recipes I post!

Happy cooking!

We move house quite a bit and it’s not always easy to find the perfect sunny spot for food photography. Often times Toby will be holding the plates of food for me to get that perfect light. Here, he’s concentrating holding the pose and trying not to move to dirty the edges of the bowl. It looks like he’s praying to the soup gods. 😂 Always my #1 supporter. ❤️

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • 600g white button mushrooms (400g chopped, 200g sliced)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 long red chilli, deseeded, finely chopped
  • 2cm ginger, peeled, minced or finely grated
  • 2 Tbsps plain flour
  • 4 cups (1 litre) beef stock (chicken stock is fine too)
  • 2 dried or 3 fresh bay leaves
  • Optional: 2 Tbsps heavy cream
  • Optional add-ins to bulk up the soup:
    • 4 cups (100g) kale and/or spinach leaves, stalks removed, chopped
    • Roasted butternut squash
    • Shredded roast chicken

Directions:

In a large pot on MED-HIGH heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and sauté the 200g of sliced mushrooms until tender. Remove from the pot and set aside in a separate bowl.

In the same pot, add another drizzle of olive oil and sauté the onion, ginger, and red chili for a few minutes until the onion is soft and translucent. Add in the 400g of chopped mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms are tender. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and mix together for 1 minute until all the liquid is absorbed.

Pour in a few splashes of beef stock and mix it all together, scraping the sides and ensure nothing is clumped to the sides or the bottom of the pot. Pour in the remaining beef stock and add in the bay leaves. Turn the heat up to HIGH and bring the soup to a boil. Once it boils, turn the heat down to LOW-MED until a simmer and let it simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

After simmering, remove the bay leaves and remove from heat. Use a stick blender and blend the soup until smooth. (You can also pour it all into a blender if you don’t have a stick blender). Stir in the cooked mushrooms that was set aside in step 1 and cream (if using). Salt and pepper to taste. Done!

Optional for a bulkier soup: Once the soup is smooth, return to the stove and add in any additional add-ins you’d like to bulk up the soup (ie. spinach, squash, roast chicken). Stir until the leaves are wilted or the veg or chicken is warmed. Turn off the heat and serve. Enjoy!

Summarized Recipe:

Guilt-Free “Creamy” Mushroom Soup

Date Published: Aug 8th, 2022 | Last Updated: Aug 8th, 2022
Author: Abby |Category: easy, healthy, low-cal, mains, appetizers, soups, vegetarian
Serves: 4 (as a main) | Prep time: 15 mins | Cook time: 30 mins

Ingredients:

  • 600g white button mushrooms (400g chopped, 200g sliced)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 long red chilli, deseeded, finely chopped
  • 2cm ginger, peeled, minced or finely grated
  • 2 Tbsps plain flour
  • 4 cups (1 litre) beef stock (chicken stock is fine too)
  • 2 dried or 3 fresh bay leaves
  • Optional: 2 Tbsps heavy cream
  • Optional add-ins to bulk up the soup:
    • 4 cups (100g) kale and/or spinach leaves, stalks removed, chopped
    • Roasted butternut squash
    • Shredded roast chicken

Directions:

  1. In a large pot on MED-HIGH heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and sauté the 200g of sliced mushrooms until tender. Remove from the pot and set aside in a separate bowl.
  2. In the same pot, add another drizzle of olive oil and sauté the onion, ginger, and red chili for a few minutes until the onion is soft and translucent.
  3. Add in the 400g of chopped mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms are tender. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and mix together for 1 minute until all the liquid is absorbed.
  4. Pour in a few splashes of beef stock and mix it all together, scraping the sides and ensure nothing is clumped to the sides or the bottom of the pot. Pour in the remaining beef stock and add in the bay leaves. Turn the heat up to HIGH and bring the soup to a boil. Once it boils, turn the heat down to LOW-MED until a simmer and let it simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
  5. After simmering, remove the bay leaves and remove from heat. Use a stick blender and blend the soup until smooth. (You can also pour it all into a blender if you don’t have a stick blender). Stir in the cooked mushrooms that was set aside in step 1 and cream (if using). Salt and pepper to taste. Done!
  6. Optional for a bulkier soup: Once the soup is smooth, return to the stove and add in any additional add-ins you’d like to bulk up the soup (ie. spinach, squash, roast chicken). Stir until the leaves are wilted or the veg or chicken is warmed. Turn off the heat and serve. Enjoy!

Italian Wedding Soup


Date Published: April 17th, 2022 | Last Updated: April 17th, 2022
Author: Abby |Category: mains, soups
Serves: 6 | Prep time: 1 hour | Cook time: 45 mins

Jump to recipe |

Italian Wedding Soup is a hearty Italian soup made with little beef meatballs and little pasta. The name refers to the “marriage” of the flavours in this soup (rather than a dish served at a wedding).

This soup brings back major nostalgia for me back to my early university days. Before I learned how to cook, I would buy a lot of ready-made soups to have between classes. Specifically, I’d get the Campbell’s “Soup at Hand” brand because they were conveniently packaged in handheld cups and all you had to do was microwave the cup and you’re ready to sip it on the go. I’ve always loved soup and I think I must’ve tried almost all of their flavours back in the day, but Italian Wedding Soup stood out to me. At that time, I had never heard of this soup and what was even more intriguing was the little tiny meatballs and pastas that were in the soup that had to fit out of the small sippy hole of the cup. I actually forgot all about this soup until a couple weeks ago when it suddenly popped into my head while I was trying to decide on what to cook for the week. I’m not sure what originally led me to think about it, but I’m glad I did. It took a couple weeks of testing out different soup and meatball recipes to get it just right (we seriously actually had it for lunch for 2 weeks straight until I was happy with it). I’ve never been to Italy nor have I ever had this soup at an Italian restaurant, so I cannot attest to the authenticity of this recipe, but it’s pretty damn good. This soup is also great to make ahead. It keeps well for the week and it tastes even better the next day – the perfect meal-prep soup!

Tiny Meatballs and Tiny Pasta?

This soup is traditionally made with small meatballs and tiny pasta which is what makes it so unique and fun to eat! Without the tininess, the soup is actually kind of similar to a chicken noodle soup in terms of flavour. You can make these meatballs as big or as little as you want. I prefer to keep them small around 2cm wide so they’re bite-sized and more fun to eat. You can also use any type of pasta you like but it’s traditionally made with smaller pastas such as acini di pepe or risoni, both of which remind me of rice but with a chewy pasta texture. Smaller pasta also adds more starch to the soup and gives it that classical thicker consistency.

The soup is technically easy to make but it is pretty time-consuming to make the little tiny meatballs. To pass the time faster, I’d recommend grabbing a chair and streaming something in the background while you form the meatballs or recruiting other people to make it with you.

Anyways, without further ado, here’s the recipe! If you have any comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section! You can follow me on instagram, youtube and facebook to see all the recipes I post!

Happy cooking!

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • Meatballs:
    • 500g extra-lean ground beef
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced finely*
    • 1/2 medium onion, minced finely*
    • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped finely*
    • 1/4 cup basil, chopped finely*
    • 2 Tbsps Parmesan cheese, grated
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper
    • *Make sure you chop these FINELY since your meatballs will be very small. If too large, your meatballs will fall apart easily.
  • Soup:
    • 3 Tbsps olive oil
    • 3 cloves garlic
    • 1.5 medium onion, diced
    • 2 medium carrots, diced
    • 6 stalks celery
    • 6 cups (1.5L) chicken stock
    • 4 cups (1L) beef stock
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
    • 1 pinch of dried thyme
    • 1 cup risoni pasta (or acini di pepe if you can find it)
    • 4 cups (2 large handfuls) spinach, washed and roughly chopped
    • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Make the meatballs: mix all the meatball ingredients together in a mixing bowl (ground beef, eggs, panko, garlic, onion, parsley, basil, Parmesan, salt, and pepper). Roll them into 2 cm small meatballs.

This is a time-consuming process. I make it quicker by squeezing small amounts from my fist and then rolling it – sounds confusing, see photos above. (You can make them as big or as small as you like. I tend to make them about 2cm.)

Fry off the meatballs (optional but adds more flavour): In a large pot on HIGH heat, add a small amount of oil and fry the meatballs in small batches for 10-15 seconds until browned. You don’t want to cook the meatballs fully, but only enough to sear the outsides to lock in the flavour. Place the meatballs on a plate lined with paper towel to soak up any excess oil. Repeat until all the meatballs are fried off.

Once all the meatballs are fried off, in the same large pot, turn the heat down to MED heat and sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil and cook until the onion is transparent (~5 mins). Add in the celery and carrot and continue cooking until soft and easy to break apart with a spoon. (You can quicken this process by adding on the lid but be careful not to let it burn.) Next, add in the chicken stock, beef stock, bay leaves, oregano, and thyme. Bring the soup to a boil then turn the heat back down until a light simmer. Let it simmer for 20 minutes.

After 20 mins, add in the risoni pasta. Boil for 5 minutes then add in the fried meatballs. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes until the risoni is cooked and the meatballs are no longer pink inside. Turn off the heat and add in the spinach. Stir the spinach into the soup until wilted. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve! (Tip: This soup tastes better the next day once the flavours have infused a little more)

Summarized Recipe:

Italian Wedding Soup

Date Published: April 17th, 2022 | Last Updated: April 17th, 2022
Author: Abby |Category: mains, soups
Serves: 6 | Prep time: 1 hour | Cook time: 45 mins

Ingredients:

  • Meatballs:
    • 500g extra-lean ground beef
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced finely
    • 1/2 medium onion, minced finely
    • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped finely
    • 1/4 cup basil, chopped finely
    • 2 Tbsps Parmesan cheese, grated
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Soup:
    • 3 Tbsps olive oil
    • 3 cloves garlic
    • 1.5 medium onion, diced
    • 2 medium carrots, diced
    • 6 stalks celery
    • 6 cups (1.5L) chicken stock
    • 4 cups (1L) beef stock
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
    • 1 pinch of dried thyme
    • 1 cup risoni pasta (or acini di pepe if you can find it)
    • 4 cups (2 large handfuls) spinach, washed and roughly chopped
    • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Make the meatballs: mix all the meatball ingredients together in a mixing bowl (ground beef, eggs, panko, garlic, onion, parsley, basil, Parmesan, salt, and pepper). Roll them into 2 cm small meatballs.
    • This is a time-consuming process. I make it quicker by squeezing small amounts from my fist and then rolling it – sounds confusing, see photos above. (You can make them as big or as small as you like. I tend to make them about 2cm.)
  2. Fry off the meatballs (optional but adds more flavour): In a large pot on HIGH heat, add a small amount of oil and fry the meatballs in small batches for 10-15 seconds until browned. You don’t want to cook the meatballs fully, but only enough to sear the outsides to lock in the flavour. Place the meatballs on a plate lined with paper towel to soak up any excess oil. Repeat until all the meatballs are fried off.
  3. Once all the meatballs are fried off, in the same large pot, turn the heat down to MED heat and sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil and cook until the onion is transparent (~5 mins). Add in the celery and carrot and continue cooking until soft and easy to break apart with a spoon. (You can quicken this process by adding on the lid but be careful not to let it burn.)
  4. Next, add in the chicken stock, beef stock, bay leaves, oregano, and thyme. Bring the soup to a boil then turn the heat back down until a light simmer. Let it simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. After 20 mins, add in the risoni pasta. Boil for 5 minutes then add in the fried meatballs. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes until the risoni is cooked and the meatballs are no longer pink inside. Turn off the heat and add in the spinach. Stir the spinach into the soup until wilted. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve! (Tip: This soup tastes better the next day once the flavours have infused a little more)

Taiwanese Style Beerhouse Clams (台式九層塔炒海瓜子)


Date Published: Feb 16th, 2022 | Last Updated: Feb 16th, 2022
Author: Abby |Category: Taiwanese, Asian, easy, mains, sides
Serves: 2-4 | Prep time: 15 mins | Cook time: 10 mins

Jump to recipe |

This was one of my all-time favourite dishes growing up in Taiwan. My brother once got mad at me when we were kids when I ate them too fast, lol. The sauce is SO good, you MUST serve it over white rice to soak up all the delicious flavours. This recipe is commonly found in the beerhouses of Taiwan or seafood shops.

The clams that are traditionally used are called hai gua zi (海瓜子) which roughly translates to ‘ocean melon seeds’ – I think it has to do with the oval shape of them that resembles melon seeds? 🤷🏻‍♀️ They’re small oval clams with a patterned shell that are commonly found in the region. Any small species of clams can be used in this recipe as long as they’re fresh! I actually had a bit of a hard time finding fresh small clams for this recipe in Australia – even the local seafood shops didn’t have them. Surprisingly they were available at the Costco in Adelaide, SA however were a bit pricy at $20/kg for pipis (it was totally worth it though 😜).

Note the patterned shell and the oval shape of the hai gua zi –>

Image source: https://inf.news/en/nature/b6dd63ea2ba851d1cda05f356fb35732.html

What is a Taiwanese Beerhouse (啤酒屋)?

A Taiwanese beerhouse is a place where locals like to go afterwork to unwind, drink beer and eat hot stir-fry dishes. They’re not breweries, they’re just a place to drink and eat. If you’re a foreign visitor to Taiwan, chances are your host wouldn’t bring you to one of these beerhouses. They’re usually noisy, loud with drunk people, and no doubt lots of cigarette smoke. It’s frequented by people of lower socioeconomic classes and call girls as well as the average working man with their coworkers. It’s kind of like taking a guest to a rowdy grungy bar – it’s not for everyone, but the food is usually damn good. These beerhouses are becoming a dying culture and it’s getting harder to find them in Taiwan – possibly due to an attempt to elevate the social status of the area or maybe from the years of economic downturn and less availability of disposable income, or maybe it’s from Westernization 🤷🏻‍♀️. I remember my dad taking us out afterwork when I was a kid and getting out of the cab to see a long street of back to back beerhouses lit up with flashing neon lights (although in hindsight, beerhouses definitely aren’t the best place to bring children 😅). The last time I visited a couple years ago there were only two left on the street – the food was still just as good though!

What is beerhouse-style food?

Taiwanese beerhouses usually serve food that is made quickly over a high heat that packs a ton of flavour. These dishes are commonly very salty and/or spicy which goes great with a bowl of rice and a bottle of cold beer. Common dishes you’ll find are “three-cup” based recipes, which involve the triple threat for a lip-smacking combination: soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine. It is often sautéed with ginger, garlic, and Thai basil – the basis of classic Taiwanese beerhouse flavours. This clam recipe doesn’t diverge far from the beerhouse basics.

Thai Basil vs Italian Basil?

There are no substitutions for basil in this recipe. You MUST use Thai basil which is a lot stronger in flavour. Basil is a key component of this dish and without a good strong basil, the flavours just won’t be right. You’d have to probably at least double the amount of Italian basil to get similar results.

Anyways, without further ado, here’s the recipe! If you have any comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section! You can follow me on instagram, youtube and facebook to see all the recipes I post!

Happy cooking!

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • 1kg fresh small clams (ie. Pipis)
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4cm ginger, peeled and thinly sliced into matchsticks
  • 2-3 long Thai red chilis, sliced (remove the seeds if you want it less spicy)
  • Sauce:
    • 2 Tbsps Chinese cooking wine (ie. Shaoxing)
    • 1 Tbsp of black vinegar
    • 2 Tbsps oyster sauce
    • 3 tsps white granulated sugar
    • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1 LARGE handful (~3 cups) of Thai basil leaves
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil for drizzling

Directions:

*This recipe cooks QUICKLY on HIGH HEAT! Make sure all your ingredients are chopped, prepped and ready to go before you start cooking.

Rinse the clams thoroughly under running water. Optional: soak in salty water 15mins before.

Prepare the sauce by mixing all the sauce ingredients in a bowl: cooking wine, black vinegar, oyster sauce, sugar, and white pepper. Set aside.

In a wok on HIGH heat, add a drizzle of oil and sauté the garlic, ginger, and chilli for 2-3 mins until fragrant.

Add the clams to the pot and sauté for 30 seconds then drizzle in the sauce ingredients: cooking wine, black vinegar, oyster sauce, and white pepper. Mix around and let the sauce simmer for 2-3 minutes then put the lid on. Let the clams steam for 3-4 minutes or until they all open up. Careful not to steam them for too long or else the clams will get tough and chewy.

Once the clams have opened up, add in the basil leaves and drizzle the sesame oil over the clams. Sauté for another minute and turn off the heat. Serve! Best served over white rice.

Summarized Recipe:

Taiwanese Style Beerhouse Clams (台式九層塔炒海瓜子)

Date Published: Feb 16th, 2022 | Last Updated: Feb 16th, 2022
Author: Abby |Category: Taiwanese, Asian, easy, mains, sides
Serves: 2-4 | Prep time: 15 mins | Cook time: 10 mins

Ingredients:

  • 1kg fresh small clams (ie. Pipis)
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4cm ginger, peeled and thinly sliced into matchsticks
  • 2-3 long Thai red chilis, sliced (remove the seeds if you want it less spicy)
  • Sauce:
    • 2 Tbsps Chinese cooking wine (ie. Shaoxing)
    • 1 Tbsp of black vinegar
    • 2 Tbsps oyster sauce
    • 3 tsps white granulated sugar
    • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1 LARGE handful (~3 cups) of Thai basil leaves
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil for drizzling

Directions:

*This recipe cooks QUICKLY on HIGH HEAT! Make sure all your ingredients are chopped, prepped and ready to go before you start cooking.

  1. Rinse the clams thoroughly under running water. Optional: soak in salty water 15mins before.
  2. Prepare the sauce by mixing all the sauce ingredients in a bowl: cooking wine, black vinegar, oyster sauce, sugar, and white pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a wok on HIGH heat, add a drizzle of oil and sauté the garlic, ginger, and chilli for 2-3 mins until fragrant.
  4. Add the clams to the pot and sauté for 30 seconds then drizzle in the sauce ingredients: cooking wine, black vinegar, oyster sauce, and white pepper. Mix around and let the sauce simmer for 2-3 minutes then put the lid on. Let the clams steam for 3-4 minutes or until they all open up. Careful not to steam them for too long or else the clams will get tough and chewy.
  5. Once the clams have opened up, add in the basil leaves and drizzle the sesame oil over the clams. Sauté for another minute and turn off the heat. Serve! Best served over white rice.