Chinese recipes from Neil Perry's Spice Temple

Neil Perry
Neil Perry's pork dumplings with Sichuan sauce.
Neil Perry's pork dumplings with Sichuan sauce. Photo: Supplied

My love of Chinese food – first eating it and then cooking it – goes back to my earlier memories of my father. Memories of him and me walking through Chinatown, buying mysterious things in shops filled with the musty smell of dried ingredients that we would later bring to life in his cooking. As a boy I not only found the food amazing to look at but I fell in love with the taste, the variety and the textures.

As my cooking evolved and Rockpool opened its doors in 1989, I was increasingly looking towards the cultures and food I loved most – and that was Chinese. I started to create dishes with Chinese ingredients and using Chinese techniques, but by changing their nature while respecting their heritage, I made them my own.

Spice Temple Sydney opened in January 2009, and Melbourne followed in late 2010. The rest, as the say, is history.

Lamb and cumin pancakes.
Lamb and cumin pancakes. Photo: Supplied

Pork dumplings with Sichuan sauce

500g (3⅓ cups) plain flour, plus extra for dusting

250ml (1 cup) water

500g pork mince

Yellow noodles with red-braised brisket.
Yellow noodles with red-braised brisket. Photo: Supplied

50g lap cheong, chopped

50g salted Tianjin preserved cabbage, rinsed and chopped

1½ tbsp peanut oil

Spice Temple by Neil Perry.
Spice Temple by Neil Perry. Photo: Supplied

1½ tbsp light soy sauce

60ml (¼ cup) water

3cm knob of ginger, finely chopped

vegetable oil, for pan-frying

about 500ml (2 cups) Chinese chicken stock or water, or as needed

Sichuan sauce

1½ tablespoons light soy sauce

45ml Chinkiang black vinegar

2 tablespoons castor sugar

60ml (1/4 cup) chilli oil

1 teaspoon finely grated ginger

1 teaspoon finely grated garlic

2 tablespoons dried chilli flakes

1 tablespoon finely chopped spring onion

2 teaspoons roasted and ground Sichuan pepper

2 teaspoons Laoganma chilli crisp sauce

1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander

1 1/2 tablespoons Chinese chicken stock or water

To make dumpling dough

1. Sift the flour into a bowl and pour in the water. Mix with a wooden spoon until a dough forms, then tip out onto a floured bench and knead for five minutes or until smooth.

2. Cover with a bowl and leave to rest for 10 minutes.

To make pork and cabbage filling

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.

To fill and shape the dumplings

1. Divide the dough into walnut-sized balls and re-cover with the bowl.

2. Use a small rolling pin to roll out a dough ball into a circle about 10 centimetres in diameter. Place about two teaspoons of filling in the middle and fold in half to make a half-moon shape. Pleat the top into a series of folds to seal, then dip the bottom of the dumpling into some flour to prevent it sticking to the frying pan.

3. Repeat with the rest of the dough balls and filling.

To cook the dumplings

1. Pour a film of oil into a large heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the dumplings in a single layer, with their pleated side facing up.

2. When they start to sizzle, pour enough chicken stock into the pan to come about a quarter of the way up the sides of the dumplings. Cover with a lid and reduce the heat to medium.

3. When all the stock has evaporated, the dumplings will sizzle and pop. Remove the lid and cook for a few more minutes or until a crust forms on the bottoms of the dumplings.

To make Sichuan sauce

Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix together well. (Makes about 200ml.)

To finish / serve

Carefully transfer the dumplings to serving bowls and serve with plenty of Sichuan sauce.

Makes about 20 dumplings


Lamb and cumin pancakes

500g (3⅓ cups) plain flour, plus extra for dusting

1 tsp fine salt

300ml water

2 tbsp cumin seeds, roasted

2cm knob of ginger, roughly chopped

500g lamb mince

2 tbsp light soy sauce

2 tsp potato starch

2 tbsp peanut oil sea salt

To make pancake dough

1. Combine the flour, salt and water in a bowl and use your hands to bring together into a dough.

2. Transfer to a lightly floured bench and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic, then wrap in cling film and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

To make lamb and cumin filling

1. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the cumin seeds to a coarse powder. Add the ginger and pound to a paste.

2. Transfer to a bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

To assemble the pancakes

1. Divide both the dough and the lamb filling into 20 even-sized portions. Roll the dough portions into balls, then roll out into rounds about 3mm thick.

2. Spread a portion of the filling evenly over a pancake, then cover with another pancake, pressing the edges together all around to seal well. Repeat with the remaining pancakes and filling.

To finish / serve

1. Place a heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat, add the oil and, working in batches, pan-fry the pancakes until golden on both sides and the filling is cooked through, flipping them once.

2. Drain on paper towel, then cut into wedges and season with sea salt before serving.

Serves 4-6 as part of a shared meal


Handmade yellow noodles with braised brisket, chilli and Sichuan pepper

* Prepare the brisket ahead (recipe below)

250g (1⅔ cups) plain flour, plus extra for dusting

135ml water

1 tsp fine salt

2 tsp turmeric powder

vegetable oil, for coating

1 tbsp peanut oil

1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns

4 dried long red chillies

1 tsp finely chopped garlic

1 tsp finely chopped ginger

1 tbsp chilli bean paste

1 tbsp sweet bean paste

2 tsp shao hsing​ wine

50ml Chinese chicken stock

1 tsp dark soy sauce

100g red-braised brisket (see recipe below), shredded

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp chilli oil finely sliced spring onion, to serve

For red-braised brisket

Braising the brisket in the oven helps to keep the temperature low and steady, but you could also slowly braise the meat on the stovetop over a very low heat. The cooked brisket can be kept in the fridge for up to a week, ready for use in many dishes, including these yellow noodles.

1 kg beef brisket

3 litres master stock 

Masterstock

2.5 litres cold water

500ml (2 cups) light soy sauce

250ml (1 cup) Shaoxing wine

125g yellow rock sugar, crushed

handful of spring onion tops

10cm knob of ginger, sliced

8 cloves garlic, sliced

4 star anise

2 cinnamon sticks

3 pieces dried tangerine peel

To make the stock

1. Place all the ingredients in a stockpot or large heavy-based saucepan.

2. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. (If not using straightaway, pour the stock into an airtight container, cool slightly, then freeze.)

To make brisket

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.

2. Place the stock in an ovenproof saucepan or flameproof casserole and bring to the boil. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.

3. Lower the brisket into the stock, then cover and transfer to the oven.

4. Braise the brisket for 3 hours or until tender and falling apart, checking the liquid level every so often and topping up with water as needed to make sure the meat is covered with the stock.

To make the yellow noodles

1. Combine all the ingredients, except the vegetable oil, in a bowl. Use your hands to bring together into a dough, then transfer to a lightly floured bench and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth.

2. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest for 30 minutes, then repeat the kneading and resting process once more. Roll the dough through a pasta machine to a 3mm thickness, then place the noodle sheets on a floured board and cut into 1.5cm wide noodles.

3. Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil, add the noodles and blanch for two minutes, then refresh under cold running water. Drain the noodles well and leave to dry for five minutes, then coat lightly with the oil to prevent them sticking.

To make the chilli and Sichuan pepper mix

1. Place a wok over high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the Sichuan peppercorns and chillies and stir-fry until fragrant.

2. Add the garlic, ginger, chilli bean paste and sweet bean paste and stir-fry for two minutes. Pour in the rest of the ingredients, stirring to combine and deglaze the wok.

To finish / serve

1. Add the noodles and brisket to the wok and stir for a moment to warm through, then finish with the sesame oil and chilli oil and serve garnished with the spring onion.

Serves 4-6 as part of a shared meal or 1-2 as a one-dish meal 

This is an extract from Spice Temple by Neil Perry, $69.99, Penguin Australia.

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