It’s hard not to feel hungry flipping through Rosheen Kaul and Joanna Hu’s Chinese-ish: Home Cooking, Not Quite Authentic, 100% Delicious. Recipes for plates covered in gloriously chubby chilli-spiked rice noodles are followed by crisp disc-shaped rice vermicelli pancakes (chao ta bee hoon), wontons swimming in Sichuan oil dressing and hunky golden fried chicken covered in a spice mix you just know will be amazing.
If you aren’t familiar with Kaul, she’s head chef at Melbourne restaurant Etta, where she serves food with a global influence spanning Asia and the Middle East, as well as drawing on her own Chinese, Filipino and Kashmiri heritage.
But in Chinese-ish, she and friend and artist Hu (who has done the fun illustrations in the book) have pulled together recipes from Southeast Asia, alongside essays talking about their upbringing as Asian-Australians. “We anchored it to our experience of feeling ‘Chinese-ish’: rejecting our heritage when we were younger because we wanted to fit in with the kids at school, and then coming back round,” Hu told Broadsheet.
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The book builds on what the two did with their first book, *The Isol(Asian) Cookbook*.
“The intention of the first [cookbook] was to teach basic Chinese cooking techniques using pantry ingredients, with a couple of recipes that featured a Chinese soul but more Australian expression,” Kaul told Broadsheet when Chinese-ish was released earlier this month. “People responded well to those cheeky Australian-Chinese recipes, and so this second book became a glorious mishmash featuring more unusual but traditional Chinese recipes.”
This recipe is one you can whip up quickly. “Spring-onion oil noodles are deceptively moreish, yet quick and easy. Somehow, frying spring onion (scallion) in plenty of oil until almost burnt, and then adding a touch of soy and vinegar, creates a deeply umami savouriness,” so the recipe intro goes.
And best of all, if you like this flavoursome oil, you can make more to jazz up other dishes. “It’s not a bad idea to make a large batch of the spring onion oil – stored in an airtight jar, it will keep for up to one month in the fridge, and then it’s a simple matter of tossing it through cooked noodles for a fast, satisfying meal.”
Burnt spring-onion oil noodles
Makes 1 serving
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
⅓ cup (80 ml) vegetable oil
4 spring onions (scallions), cut into 6cm lengths
2 tbsp light soy sauce
¼ tsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp Chinkiang black vinegar
150g fresh or dried noodles of your choice
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wok or frying pan until smoking and add the spring onion. Stir-fry until fragrant and a deep golden-brown, almost burnt. Transfer the oil and spring onion to a bowl and set aside.
Combine the soy sauces and Chinkiang vinegar together in a large bowl. Cook the noodles in the boiling water according to the packet instructions. Drain the noodles and transfer to the bowl with the soy sauce mixture. Pour the reserved oil and caramelised spring onion over the top and mix thoroughly before eating.
This is an extract from Chinese-ish, by Rosheen Kaul and Joanna Hu, Murdoch Books, $39.99. Buy it here.
Looking for more recipe inspiration? Check out Broadsheet’s recipe hub here.