Chinese-style chicken stock is easy to make. Just immerse the bones in lots of cold water in a very big pan, adding 5 thick slices of fresh ginger, 7-8 spring onions, minus their green tops, and 6 lightly crushed garlic cloves. Simmer for about three hours before straining, taking care to remove any scum that rises to the surface. It yields a much more intense flavour than Western stocks. The custard, meanwhile, is delicate and delicious: top with any stir-fry you fancy.
For the egg custard
90ml Chinese-style chicken stock (see intro)
For the stir-fry
60ml peanut oil
150g beef mince
2 tbsp Tianjin preserved cabbage*, rinsed and chopped
3 tbsp pickled mustard greens*, finely chopped
1 tbsp salted radish*, finely chopped
1.5cm knob of ginger, finely chopped
2 small cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp crispy chilli paste such as Lao Gan Ma*
1 tsp white sugar
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1⁄4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
1. For the custard, whisk the eggs with the stock in a bowl, then pour into a shallow heatproof bowl that will fit in your steamer. Cover with cling film and steam gently over simmering water for 12-15 minutes or until the egg is just set; it should still be slightly wobbly.
2. Meanwhile, place a wok over high heat. When it's smoking hot, drizzle in half of the peanut oil and quickly stir-fry the beef mince until it's just cooked. Remove and set aside.
3. Add the remaining oil, along with the preserved cabbage, pickled mustard greens, salted radish, ginger and garlic, and stir-fry until fragrant. Add the rest of the ingredients – apart from the spring onion and peanuts – and cook for 5 minutes.
4. Return the beef to the wok and stir-fry until it's hot and well coated with the other ingredients. Serve the steamed custard, topped with the stir-fried beef mixture, and garnish with sliced spring onion and roasted peanuts. Perfect accompaniments include rice and steamed greens with oyster sauce.
*Available at Coles and Woolworths or online at buyasianfood.com.au.
Find more of Neil Perry's recipes in the Good Food New Classics cookbook.