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Caramelised sweet and sour pak choi recipe

Caramelised sweet and sour pak choi recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Side dish
  • Vegetable side dishes

If you cannot find baby pak choi, you can also use regular pak choi for this unusual side dish. Just keep in mind that it will need more time to cook.

2 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 8 baby pak choi
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 10 pitted black olives, halved
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50ml white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon potato flour or corn flour
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • salt and pepper

MethodPrep:10min ›Cook:20min ›Ready in:30min

  1. Wash pak choi but do not detach the leaves.
  2. Bring water to the boil in a saucepan large enough to hold the pak choi. Add salt and boil pak choi for 5 minutes. Drain and set to one side.
  3. Boil olives in water for 1 minute. Drain.
  4. Caramelise sugar in a heavy frying pan over medium heat, stirring constantly, till it it melted and has a caramel colour. Carefully add vinegar and 100ml water and stir till smooth.
  5. In a small bowl stir the potato flour with 1 tablespoon water till smooth. Add this to the simmering caramel and stir well till evenly mixed. Add olives and cook for a further 30 seconds. Remove from the hob.
  6. Heat sesame oil in the frying pan and add the pak choi. Stir fry till they are lightly coloured. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add the caramel and stir well so the pak choi is evenly coated. Serve immediately.

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Sweet and Sour Tofu

This sweet and sour tofu with bell peppers and a tangy orange sauce is a healthy, easy recipe. Ideal for a weeknight dinner alternative to takeout and a great way to make tofu taste good. Also gluten-free.

I’m not going to lie, I do love a good takeout (commonly referred to as takeaway here in the UK). I don’t have them that often, but they can be a great Friday or Saturday treat when I don’t feel like cooking.

As I’ve said before, my approach to healthy eating is definitely not eating 100% typically healthy foods all the time. If I feel like having a takeaway, I’ll have one. Balance is much more sustainable than attempting to achieve perfection in the way you eat (which arguably doesn’t exist in the first place).

That being said, I also love creating homemade versions of favourite takeaway dishes at home. It’s great that most places nowadays are willing to cater to vegans. However, homemade meals can often be not only tastier, but also cheaper. So, the dish that I’m bringing to the blog today is tofu with a takeout-inspired sauce.

Caramelised sweet and sour pak choi recipe - Recipes

It's been less than a week since I moved back home, but already I'm walking in the front door and am greeted with "So what are we having tonight?" It's actually quite nice cooking for a bigger group than just the two of us, although come next week, I will be getting back to my batch cooking ways. It's just easier, cheaper, and more efficient.

But for now, I appear to be working my way round the world with cuisines and passing the benefits onto my parents. This week, we've already had Italian and now it's time for Chinese. And a dash of Thai. In honour of Chinese New Year, Blue Dragon sent me a bumper pack of ingredients to cook up a feast, and I obliged.

I do much prefer cooking takeaway style food at home. While sometimes, nothing beats that ring on the doorbell and those exciting foil packets, I always feel a bit poisoned afterwards from the liberal use of oil (and inevitable MSG) which never really happens when I cook Indian or Chinese food at home. And now there are so many good recipe kits that the taste is pretty authentic, too.

With the kit that Blue Dragon sent me and a little extra shopping, I dished up a chicken green Thai curry, black bean vegetable noodle stir fry, steamed Pak Choi with soy sauce, chilli and garlic and caramelised pork belly. Most of the meals were made following the instructions on the packets - the green Thai kit is great, for example, and includes separate coconut milk and green Thai paste, along with dried herbs, and it tasted amazing with added chicken, red pepper and Thai basil - definitely buying that again! But I decided to try something new for the pork belly, which had been languishing in our freezer forever. I don't know how authentically Chinese it is - but it sure is tasty.

1. Heat oil in a large frying pan.
2. Add the pork belly and cook for about 10 minutes, turning often, until both sides are brown and crispy.
3. Once done, lift and drain in paper towel to absorb the oil. If you're making other dishes, like I was, you can leave this now and come back to it just before serving.
4. In a bowl, combine fish sauce, soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce, brown sugar, chilli and spring onions and stir well.
5. Heat up the pan again and add the pork belly to it, and stir fry for a couple of minutes until heated through.
6. Pour in the sauce and coat the meat, cooking for another 2 minutes until it's thickened and the meat is caramelised.
7. Serve as a side dish, or with rice and vegetables.

This would be really good with any pork, or even thinly sliced steak! Definitely one to use again in the future. Serve with a banquet of Chinese and Thai dishes, and prawn crackers, of course.


That looks delicious! I agree with you on the takeaway thing too - once I made sweet and sour pork at home I never wanted to go back to the proper takeaway version - it's so much fresher doing it yourself and I know everything that's gone into it!

In this recipe, I’m using the Chinese soup broth to make a rice soup. Here’s what you need for the broth:

Notes on the ingredients:

Rice – virtually any standard white rice will work just fine in this rice soup. Long grain, medium grain, short grain, jasmine, basmati. I’ve also popped directions for recipe adjustments required to make this with brown rice – most varieties take longer to cook so you’ll need more liquid

Chicken stock/broth – low sodium is best, so it’s not too salty once you add the soy sauce and Chinese cooking wine (both of which add salt and flavour). Vegetable stock also works

Chinese cooking wine – the key ingredient in all Chinese cooking that adds depth of flavour to anything it’s used in, from fried rice to stir fries, to noodles and marinades such as sticky Chinese Wings, Ribs and even crispy Pork Belly. It’s got a small amount of alcohol in it (wine level), but we only need 1 tablespoon so the alcohol mostly cooks out during the simmer stage

Soy sauce – we’re using light soy sauce here so as not to discolour the rice soup broth. Read more about different soy sauces here

Sesame oil – toasted sesame oil is added at the end for a lovely perfume of sesame flavour. Untoasted sesame oil is yellow and the flavour is not as strong, so don’t use that. Here in Australia, toasted sesame oil (which is brown) is the standard – it’s harder to find untoasted

Fresh garlic & ginger – simmered in the broth to infuse with flavour and

White pepper – white rather than black pepper is the standard in Chinese cooking so you don’t get black specks. But black pepper works just fine too.

Stir-fry recipes

A stir-fry is a quick, balanced and flavourful dish that’s enjoyed all over the world. The technique originated in China, where ingredients were quickly fried in hot oil and stirred constantly to help seal in the flavours.

Go classic with Sally Abé’s easy Chow mein or Karen Burns-Booth’s Low-calorie Singapore noodles, which transform takeaway favourites into healthier homemade dinners. Explore the cuisine of Korea with Louise Robinson’s Japchae, or head to Vietnam with this delicious seafood and cucumber stir-fry for a refreshing, spicy supper. If you’re looking to impress, then get your hands on some crab for Andy Waters’ Stir-fried crab claws with spring onion, chilli and garlic.

The beauty of stir-fries is you can often use whatever you have in your fridge – the combination of different vegetables and proteins is what makes it such a popular dish, so don’t be afraid to experiment or substitute ingredients for something you have to hand.

11 vegetarian cookbooks for foodies

Looking for vegetarian cookbooks and recipe ideas? Whether you’re embracing plant-based eating for the first time or you’re looking for new veggie ideas to freshen up your mid-week repertoire, the right cookery books can be an invaluable resource. Here’s our pick of the essentials – you’ll never lack for vegetarian inspiration again.

All products have been chosen and reviewed independently by our editorial team. This page contains affiliate links and we may receive a small commission for purchases made, but this comes at no extra cost to you and helps us to continue providing top quality content for our loyal readers.

River Cottage Veg Every Day!, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, £26

What’s it best for? Seasonal, colourful, doable veggie winners.

Description: A respect for vegetables and the belief that they belong at the heart of a recipe is what drives this book, and it’s jammed with more than 200 vibrant ideas, all of them achievable and made with easy-to-find ingredients. The salads are hearty (when it’s cold outside, go for giant couscous with herbs and walnuts), the soups are hefty and there’s a whole section on comfort food and feasts. Try curried bubble and squeak, roast jacket chips with merguez spices, or linguine with mint and almond pesto.

Stand-out recipe: The vegeree. Upgrade your standard weekend kedgeree by replacing the fish with creamy, roasted aubergine.

When it was published: September 2011

Wholefood Heaven in a Bowl: Natural, Nutritious and Delicious Wholefood Recipes to Nourish Body and Soul, David and Charlotte Bailey, £16.99

What’s it best for? Global comfort food.

Description: Of all the queues at Islington’s Whitecross Street Market, the one at David and Charlotte Bailey’s Wholefood Heaven van is probably the longest. This book is an expression of their business’s ethos (that food should be unprocessed, healthy and nutritious), and it takes inspiration from every corner of the globe. Most recipes are of the warming, cosy kind: try spelt pikelets with mascarpone for breakfast, sweet polenta cakes and Asian greens for lunch, and pho with pak choi and brown rice noodles for dinner. You’ll also find recipes for sides such as hazelnut dukkah and kimchi, as well as healthy(ish) desserts, including blueberry cobbler with lime and coconut.

Stand-out recipe: Buddha bowls, of which David and Charlotte sell huge quantities from their van. It’s a massaman curry with new potatoes, pineapple chunks, brown rice, kimchi pickle and a sprinkling of omega seeds – creamy, tangy, sweet and nourishing.

When it was published: April 2017

Plenty, Yotam Ottolenghi, £27

What’s it best for? Luxurious, mezze-style feasts.

Description: With his original series of vibrant delis, Yotam Ottolenghi was one of the first to introduce Londoners to the wonders of a veg-centric diet. He’s all about piled-high hearty salads, and Plenty is full of them: zucchini and hazelnut, soba noodles and mango, broccolini and sweet sesame, and farro and roasted red pepper, to name a few. Everything feels fresh, inventive and luxurious, lending a new personality to vegetarian food. The flavours are largely eastern Mediterranean, so expect a little spice and lots of colour (don’t miss the spiced red lentils with cucumber yogurt).

Stand-out recipe: Burnt eggplant with tahini. You could eat it like you would popcorn.

When it was published: April 2010

The Green Roasting Tin: Vegan and Vegetarian One Dish Dinners, Rukmini Iyer, £16.99

What’s it best for? Super-speedy midweek inspiration.

Description: No time? No problem! Rukmini Iyer’s genius book is pure one-pan recipes, making dinner prep a lightning-quick affair (plus there’s hardly any washing up). A few minutes’ chopping, chuck it all in, whack it in the oven and 30 minutes or so later, there’s a delicious, healthy dinner on the table. Try Mediterranean courgettes with olives, feta and tomatoes chickpea and coconut curry or miso aubergines with tofu, sesame and chilli. Most recipes are accompanied by beautiful, vibrant photography (Rukmini is a food stylist by day) and there are sections for longer recipes, if you’re cooking at the weekend.

Stand-out recipe: All-in-one dal with roasted shallots, coriander, pomegranate and cashews. A jewel-studded treat.

When it was published: July 2018

Cranks Recipe Book: The Vegetarian Classics, David Canter, £9.99

What’s it best for: Old-school, fail-safe classics.

Description: When its flagship West End restaurant opened in 1961, Cranks was one of very few vegetarian restaurants in the UK. It was the pioneer for meat-free dining and, despite closing down after 40 years of business in 2001, the Cranks name is still revered and its recipes live on in this cookbook. Written by David Canter, who along with wife Kay founded Cranks, it’s heavy on cooking techniques (you’ll learn the art of making sauces) and wholesome, simple recipes: lentil and cheese wedges, homity pie and homemade lemonade, for example. Because it’s a classic cookbook, reissued with a new cover, there’s no recipe photography – just beautiful sketch-style illustrations.

Stand-out recipe: Nut roast. A classic go-to veggie main in the 1960s, and just as delicious today. It’s all caramelised onions, herbs, cashews, wholemeal breadcrumbs and a secret cheesy layer.

When it was published: August 2013

Fresh India: 130 Quick, Easy and Delicious Vegetarian Recipes for Every Day, Meera Sodha, £20

What’s it best for: Lively, aromatic recipes for Indian food lovers.

Description: This book is stuffed with recipes inspired by Meera’s Gujarati-British family – think paneer kebabs, mushroom and walnut samosas, and lime pickle rice with roast squash. Most of her recipes are low on effort, making it a go-to book for midweek inspiration. British ingredients play a big role in Meera’s spice-infused recipes (try Brussels sprout thoran, or Gardeners’ Question Time pilau and green beans with cashew nuts and coconut), and there’s plenty of showstopper ideas for when you’ve got guests. How about a huge dosa, with coconut potatoes, roasted cauliflower korma and sticky mango paneer skewers?

Stand-out recipe: Homemade poppadoms with tomato masala. Never have poppadoms looked so fresh.

When it was published: July 2016

Mildreds: The Vegetarian Cookbook, £25

What’s it best for: Global crowd-pleasers.

Description: This one comes from Mildreds, one of London’s best-loved vegetarian restaurants (there’s always a queue). It’s a laid-back, friendly place, and the recipes in this book are just as accessible. The majority use easily found ingredients, so it works well for hassle-free midweek dining (although bear in mind that most recipes seem to be for six to eight people, so might need scaling down or boxing up for lunch/dinner another day). Try worldwide dishes such as saffron pea risotto Korean hot and sour soup beetroot, apple and red cabbage borscht and minestrone verde. There are also vegan and gluten-free ideas, too.

Stand-out recipe: Thai-spiced roasted red pepper, sweet potato, ginger and coconut milk soup. What a belly warmer.

When it was published: May 2015

Greenfeast: Spring, Summer, Nigel Slater, £22

What’s it best for: Season-led recipes, perfect for midweek meals.

Description: Expect around 100 recipes, almost all of which can be on the table in under 30 minutes. It’s an honest portrayal of Nigel Slater’s dinner habits, putting the focus firmly on veggie produce. Dishes are usually named after a trio of ingredients (such as miso, mushrooms and pak choi tomatoes, basil and breadcrumbs and halloumi, melon and chilli) and the book is divided into how you might cook or serve your dinner: in a bowl, on a plate, in the oven, or on the grill, for example. You can also pick up the other cookbook in this series, Greenfeast: Autumn, Winter.

Stand-out recipe: Mustard guacamole and mozzarella bagel. What’s not to love?

When it was published: May 2019

Bowls of Goodness: Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes Full of Nourishment, Nina Olsson, £18.99

What it’s best for: Comfort-food dinners, served in big bowls.

Description: An extension of Swedish author Nina Olsson’s popular blog, Nourish Atelier, Bowls of Goodness does exactly what it says on the tin. Nina’s eclectic recipes are divided into breakfasts, soups, salads, grain bowls, noodles, hearty meals, sides and desserts, and there’s an especially diverse range of salads. Taste the world with everything from loyal lentil chilli to laksa lux bowl and watermelon poke, and leave room for almond-filled dumplings in blackberry sauce.

Stand-out recipe: Moroccan-inspired harissa, cauliflower and carrot salad. Big on colour and taste.

When it was published: January 2017

The Hairy Dieters Go Veggie, Si King & Dave Myers, £16.99

What it’s best for: Slimline, meat-free versions of your favourite dinners.

Description: Full of jovial character, just like the authors themselves, this book is a good go-to for those hoping to shed a few pounds. Pretty much all the recipes are healthy takes on popular British classics (including Lancashire hotpot and toad in the hole) and there’s a decent on-the-go lunches section (vegetarian sushi is surprisingly quick to make). There are sweet ideas, too, such as quick pumpkin pancakes with apple compote, and Aztec chocolate avocado mousse.

Stand-out recipe: Mediterranean biker brunch. Who’d have thought orange zest works well in a fry-up?

When it was published: May 2017

On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen, Jeremy Fox, £29.95

What it’s best for: Vegophiles with time to make sophisticated masterpieces. It’s a great one for the coffee table, too.

Description: Californian chef Jeremy Fox, who made his name at Napa Valley’s Michelin-starred Ubuntu restaurant, presents a homage to vegetables. The book is arranged alphabetically according to vegetable name, and the recipes, though inventive and sophisticated, are achievable – if you’ve got time to spare, and a well-stocked larder. Try everything from peas, white chocolate and macadamia to simple grilled corn and lentils, garlic and parmesan. The recipe food styling and photography is ridiculously elegant, and have you seen that modernist book cover? Worthy of hanging on the kitchen wall, we reckon.

Stand-out recipe: Charred whole broccoli with miso bagna cauda. It might take you half the day to make it, but it sure looks the part.

Thanks to Erica Moody for suggesting this recipe from Meera Sodha’s column in last week’s Guardian Food.

Meera says: There might seem to be a lot of chillies in this, but it’s not a hot dish, because the natural sweetness of the squash and sweetcorn, combined with the rich coconut milk and spiky lime, balance things out. Fresh curry leaves are now sold in most major supermarkets.

Photo from Guardian Food

Butternut squash and sweetcorn erriseri

Prep 10 min
Cook 45 min
Serves 4

1kg squash, washed
Sunflower oil
Fine sea salt
1 x 340g tin sweetcorn, drained
2 tsp black mustard seeds
12 curry leaves
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
3 green finger chillies, finely chopped
2 tsp turmeric
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (ie, from 1 lemon)
Coriander leaves, to garnish

Cut the squash in half (no need to peel), scoop out and discard the seeds, then cut it into 2cm cubes. Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/gas 6. Tip the squash pieces on to an oven tray, pour over two tablespoons of oil and a good sprinkling of salt, and toss to coat. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the squash chunks are tender and their edges caramelised.

Add two tablespoons of water to the drained sweetcorn kernels and blend to a smooth paste (I use a stick blender).

In a large frying pan, heat two tablespoons of oil and, when hot, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves, and leave them to crackle and pop for a minute. Now add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until translucent and turning golden, then add the garlic and chillies, and cook for two minutes. Stir in the sweetcorn paste, turmeric and a teaspoon and a half of salt, cook for a minute, then add the coconut milk (keep the tin) and whisk so everything is combined and the curry sauce is a vibrant yellow.

Half-fill the coconut milk tin with water and add to the pot to loosen the curry – you may need a little more or less water than this, depending on the thickness of your coconut milk – bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes, until it starts to thicken. Stir in the roast squash and lemon juice, and check the seasoning. Garnish with coriander and serve immediately.

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When do you eat Lo Baak Gou?

Traditionally, this wonderful dish forms part of Dim Sum, and is usually cut into square shaped pieces, pan fried just before serving and accompanied with a simple tasty soy & sweet chili sauce. It should be served hot.

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Often, you will find there is not much filling or treasures in this cake if you eat it at a 'low cost' restaurant, and the turnip will make up most of the cake.

However, since you are making this at home, you can pack it full of treasures and enjoy all the wonderful flavours, textures and aromas this lovely cake offers.

Lo Baak Gou is also served at Chinese New Year as the turnip/white radish signifies Good Fortune.

My family (mother and grandmother) have been making this for many years and now I want to share their recipe with you all. Please enjoy!

This wrap is full of BBQ pulled chicken, which is slow cooked for 1.5 hours making it super tasty and tender, lettuce and red onion adding freshness, homemade jalapeño sour cream which carries a punch and a combination of mozzarella and cheddar, because lets face it, cheese makes everything better.

Perfect for a weeknight meal, this salmon hash is quick to make, but does not lack in flavour! Wonderful hot smoked salmon with potatoes, capers, spring onions and a soured cream dill sauce, all topped off with some delicious crispy salmon skin.

Challenging recipes

The new wave of Italian chefs are famed for their innovation and skill, reinterpreting (and reinventing) dishes from their country's strong culinary traditions to create menus that are quite unique. Over three hundred restaurants in Italy hold at least one Michelin star, and the number of chefs presiding over two and three star establishments is quite formidable. It is no surprise, therefore, that several of the recipes our chefs have shared with us are extremely challenging, to be attempted by only the bravest of home cooks (and it helps if these home cooks also have a team of sous chefs working alongside them . . . )

Whether you're up for a challenge or simply curious to discover the work that goes into a plate of Michelin-starred food, this collection of challenging recipes is bound to whet your appetite. Gaetano Trovato, chef behind the two Michelin-starred restaurant Arnolfo, uses three different cuts of meat in his exquisite goat recipe, serving them alongside pickled vegetables, artichokes and a variety of rich, vibrant sauces. For an impressive (yet surprisingly playful) Italian dessert recipe try the Cerea Brothers' 'Fake mozzarella', a mascarpone mousse served with cherry sauce, milk skin and creamy yoghurt sorbet.


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