Dan dan mian, or peddler’s noodles, are a favourite in my family, and in many Chinese restaurants. There are many versions of these noodles, but in my opinion the best one is soupy, enriched with buttery sesame paste and speckled with amber flecks of chilli oil. I like to perk mine up with a dollop of peanut butter, which is not traditional but lends the broth a marvellous nutty undertone. Eat piping hot… and slurping is mandatory.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
4 nests (200 g) dried wheat noodles
2 cups (500 ml) hot vegetable stock sliced
sliced spring onion (scallion), sesame seeds and chilli oil, to serve
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cm ginger, finely chopped
1 shallot, very finely chopped
2 spring onions (scallions), chopped
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 cup (80 g) soy mince, prepared (page 25)
pinch of white pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons tahini
2 teaspoons peanut butter – optional
½ teaspoon white sugar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2–4 teaspoons chilli oil (page 20)
First, prepare the mince. Pour the oil into a wok or frying pan over medium heat and fry the garlic, ginger and shallot until fragrant, about 3 minutes, then add the spring onions and dark soy sauce. Fry for 2 minutes before adding the drained soy mince and pepper, then continue frying for another 3–4 minutes so the mince is heated right through, and is starting to look dry and fluffy. Cover and set aside.
Cook the noodles according to the package instructions.
For the sauce, whisk the sesame oil, tahini, peanut butter (if using), sugar, light soy sauce, chilli oil and 1 tablespoon water into a smooth paste. Divide between four bowls.
Drain the noodles and divide between the bowls. Toss the noodles in the sauce, then pour ½ cup (125 ml) hot stock into each bowl. Add a large spoonful of the mince mixture, then garnish with sliced spring onion, sesame seeds and more chilli oil, if desired.
Use tamari in place of soy sauce, and rice or buckwheat noodles instead of wheat. Depending on how much chilli oil you use.
Butter beans are one of my favourite beans. They are hearty and – for want of a better word – buttery. Their starchiness works well in this tikka curry, but if you prefer a different bean, feel free to substitute.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
¼ cup (70 g) vegan yoghurt
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2.5 cm ginger, finely chopped
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
¼ teaspoon chilli powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 x 400 g tins butter beans, Drained
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 large white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 cm ginger, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon garam masala
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons tomato puree (concentrated paste)
3 large tomatoes, chopped, or 1 cup (250 ml) tomato passata
¼ cup (25 g) chopped coriander (cilantro) stems
¼ cup (70 g) vegan yoghurt
1 tablespoon rice syrup
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Naan breads (page 36) or rice, to serve
Preheat the oven to 200°C and grease a baking tray.
In a large bowl, mix together the yoghurt, garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, chilli powder and salt. Add the butter beans and stir to coat well, then tip out onto a baking tray and bake for 15–17 minutes, until the beans start to look dry and a bit crisper.
Meanwhile, for the tikka curry, heat the oil in a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat.
Fry the onion, garlic and ginger for about 2 minutes until fragrant and the onions have softened. Add the bay leaf and spices and fry for another minute until aromatic.
Next, add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes and coriander stems, then cover and bring to the boil.
Lower the heat and let it simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.
Add the beans when they’re ready, along with the yoghurt, syrup and lemon juice. Bring back to the boil, then remove from the heat. Serve warm, with naan breads or rice.
These are the perfect sweet treat for days when it’s too hot to turn on the oven. The buns are scorched in a frying pan, so they get caramelised and crisp on the outside, then burst with molten chocolate goo when you tear into them. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the warm milk, sugar and yeast. Leave for 5 minutes, or until frothy, then stir in the yoghurt, aquafaba and oil. Add the flour, salt and matcha and mix well.
Prep time: 30 minutes (plus proving and setting time)
Cooking time: 30 minutes
½ cup (125 ml) lukewarm plant milk
4 tablespoons white sugar
1 packet (2½ teaspoons) active dried yeast
¼ cup (70 g) vegan yoghurt or coconut milk
¼ cup (60 ml) aquafaba (page 11)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2½ cups (300 g) sifted plain flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons matcha powder
white sesame seeds, for coating
scant 1¼ cups (300 ml) soy milk
1½ tablespoons custard powder
3 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
pinch of salt
½ teaspoon vanilla paste or
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest – optional
Now knead the dough, either by using the dough hook attachment of the stand mixer or by hand, tipping the dough out onto a well-floured countertop. It is ready when it’s smooth and elastic – this should take 7–10 minutes of kneading. Shape it into a ball and put it back in the bowl,
then cover with a clean tea towel and leave somewhere warm to rise until it has doubled in size, about an hour.
Meanwhile, make the chocolate custard. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and mix together until no lumps remain. Set the pan over medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and let it simmer for 10 minutes, still stirring constantly, so the custard thickens evenly and doesn’t become lumpy. Pour the custard into a heatproof bowl and chill in the fridge for at least an hour, or until set.
Punch the risen dough down, to knock out some of the air, then tip out onto a floured countertop and divide into eight.
Use a rolling pin to roll out each ball into an oval about 13 cm x 7.5 cm. Take the custard from the fridge and dollop a generous tablespoonful in the middle, then fold the dough over the custard, pinching the edges together firmly to seal well. Pat down gently to flatten the buns and spread the filling. Once all the buns are filled, set them aside for 5–10 minutes, until lightly puffed. Coat both sides of the buns with sesame seeds, pressing them onto the surface.
To cook, heat a large non-stick frying pan (with a lid) over medium heat and fit 2–3 buns in the pan, leaving a bit of space in between for them to expand as they cook. Cover and cook for 5–6 minutes or until the bottoms of the buns are golden brown and crisp. Flip them over and cook for 5–6 minutes on the other side.
These buns are best served warm, so the custard oozes out when you take a bite!
This ingredient is perhaps the most elusive in the book. It is not a weird Asian ingredient at all, but something almost everyone will have sitting in their pantry at this very moment. Aquafaba means ‘bean water’, and it is the slightly viscous liquid that you find in a tin of chickpeas. It is an excellent egg substitute in baking, and I adore cooking with it. In fact, you can use the liquid from pretty much any type of bean, although I do suggest using a white bean so it doesn’t affect the colour of the final dish too much. Whenever I open a tin of beans, I drain the aquafaba into ice-cube trays and pop them in the freezer. If you make each cube with 1 or 2 tablespoons, you’ll know how much to take out and melt when you need to use some aquafaba in your baking.