chips n gravy

Archive for the ‘Quick’ Category

Do you love mussels? Flavourful but quick dish that you can make and impress ina hurry? (Think less than 30 minutes from start to finish).

Today, I was at the Victoria Market doing a spot of fresh produce shopping, walking around, the mussels looks great beside the rest of the frozen mollusc (they are also the only one thats ALIVE). I weaved my way through the stores and looked and compare the mussels, cleanliness and also the price. In the end, they are all about the same, so I bought a Kilogram worth (at $5.00 aud) from the one that looks like the most clean.

The thing with mussels is that, as with any other seafood, it is important not to overcook it. How many times have I ate rubbery deep fried mussels from the fish & chips shop? Its so bad, but for some reason, I seem to have amnesia, because I kept eating them. LOL

Anyway, it is important to clean the beards from the mussels and scrub them clean because if you don’t, you might catch some nasty food bug.

A tip: you can use a mussel to clean another mussel. Just use the flat bill part of the mussel and scrape the beard off the other mussels.

Ok, proceed to my quick and easy to impressed meal.


  • Mussels (obviously I have a kg)
  • Fresh basil (just pluck a few leaves and roughly torn them)
  • Flat leaf parsley (roughly chopped a handful)
  • 2 ripe tomatoes (roughly chop)
  • Bacon trimmings
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/3 onion, chopped
  • A handful of button mushroom, quartered
  • Red capsicum, small dice
  • Half a zucchini, small dice

Seasoning: (note all cups measurement are in Australian standard cups)

  • Ketchup ( 1 tablespoon)
  • White wine (1 1/2 – 2 cup). I used a dry white chardonnay. If you do not have white wine, you can use beer. I prefer Lager.
  • Fish stock or vegetable stock or Chicken stock (1/2 cup)
  • 1 piece bayleaf
  • Few sprig of fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp curry powder (yes, I swear it is good)
  • Pinch of sweet paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Pinch of coriander powder (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste


  1. Heat up about 2 tbsp of oil in a high pot, I like a non intrusive flavour oil like canola. I only uses olive oil for dressing salads or finishing up a meal or a few drizzle before serving, never use it to cook because I do not like how it low it’s flash point is and how it likes to rob mild flavoured food of flavours.
  2. Fry the bacon trimmings briefly until slightly golden brown.
  3. Toss in onion and garlic. Saute onion and garlic together for a few quick minute, until you can smell the fragrance and onion is slightly translucent
  4. Add in all the herbs, zucchini, capsicum and mushroom. Give it a quick stir fry.
  5. Toss in the tomatoes and season with the spice. Give it a good fry until you can see the ingredients is a semi mush.
  6. Now, add in your cleaned mussels and with the heat on high, deglaze with the white wine, give a quick stir to coat evenly, and pour in your stock. (you can add extra stock, if you like the juice with the mussels, which I did)
  7. Mix in 1 tbsp of the ketchup and season with sugar. Cover the pot with a lid and on high heat, cook the mussel for 5-6 minutes, giving it a few shakes to cook them all evenly.
  8. Season with salt and discard unopened mussels.
  9. Serve with crusty bread and a slice of lemon.

If it ain’t good, I would not recommend it. 3 of us each ate 2 bowl. 😀




I had never been a big fan of dumplings, but living in Melbourne, the motto “if you want to eat something great, you have to make it yourself” has really stuck on. Frozen dumplings are dime a dozen in the various Melbournian Asian groceries, ranging from the myriad korean dumplings flavours to Japanese and the Chinese. Still, I was not keen to pay 7-18 aud just for frozen dumplings.  I find the price not justifiable. Also, as an ongoing re-education of my white man bf, there is only one conclusion. I have to make it myself with fresh ingredients.

Dumplings are actually easy to make and eat. The filling are just a matter of mixing all the various ingredients together and wrapping them with off the shelf skins. Simple, easy, and quick to put together kind of affordable, last minute or lazy meals. To make it extra special, I decided to make the skin myself as well as the filling. I find it a challenge to seal the dumplings. My short stint as a dim sum apprentice only resulted in making horribly disfigured har gows.

trying to create nice pleats in with the sealing

This time round, it was a therapeutic experience as I stand in my kitchen kneading, rolling and then pleating the dumplings. I cannot say that I have mastered the art of sealing the dumplings, but looking at the pictures, I have to say that it was a vast improvement from before. Therefore, I plan to make dumplings as a staple in my kitchen. It is easy as W, my partner, loves it very much. Also, as I am a perfectionist, I would really like to practise sealing them until I can have it as dainty as those you will see in your dim sum restaurants. You can make it in a large batch and just freeze the uncooked ones in the freezer for that next convinient meal/snack.


the filling

The dumplings that I had made is my take on the Wafū Gyōza (“Wafū” meaning japanese style and “Gyōza” is how the Japanese pronounced the chinese Gyo ze). The exchange of culinary influences between Asian countries can be seen in each countries version of many dishes. Dumplings in Japan and Korea are the results of Chinese influence. Japan first credit the Chinese for their influence on the dumplings back in the 17th century and post-WWII Japan saw many a family stretching their small quantities of precious meats and other ingredients to make gyōza as a dinner staple. Today, gyōza has gone on to easily become one of the most internationally recognised Japanese dish.

The ingredients in the filling were quite long, it was a case of whatever was in my fridge that needed to be cleared and I certainly has quite a bit of them.

  • Minced pork
  • minced prawn
  • chopped shiitake mushroom
  • chopped water chestnut
  • finely chopped garlic
  • finely chopped young ginger
  • grated carrot
  • white part of spring onion- this is as a replacement for the Japanese leek, negi.
  • chiffonade of napa cabbage

and seasoned with few tablespoons of chicken stock to moisten the filling, as well as cornflour, sesame oil, salt, white pepper, sugar, soy sauce and sherry wine.

I also wanted to note that, this is a good way to make W eat mushrooms, ginger and prawns. Given in their original form, he would not eat any of them. For the skin, freshly made with mandoo flour were extremely soft and pliable. The maleability of the skin is definitely better than the generic supermarket skin.

tang mian flour

mandoo flour

In the end, for this post, I was feeling a little whimsical, so I caramelised some king oyster mushroom together with enoki with some imperial shoyu. I also made some dashi-shoyu broth to go along with it. W, being the fussy eater that he is, only get the pan fried gyoza.

garnished with thinly sliced spring onion. I would love to have some salmon roe as colour contrast

Wafū gyōza served in dashi scented broth accompanied by imperial shoyu glazed saesong-i beosut and enoki


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