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If you haven’t yet flicked the pages of Hetty McKinnon’s ‘To Asia With Love’, you’re missing out on not only a wealth of terrific recipes with stunning photography (shot by the author herself!), but on learning a slew of new tricks on how to maximise flavour without including meat.
Featuring everything from vibrant salads and moreish dumplings to comforting congees and noodle soups, McKinnon’s recipes are simple, achievable and thoroughly delicious.
Everything Oil is used throughout the book. It’s a fiery, aromatic, colourful condiment that adds not just spice, but a hit of umami punch to anything it’s drizzled over.
From the book:
I have loved spicy food ever since I was a child. When I go to a Chinese restaurant, I ask for the chilli sauce even before I sit down. Adding a hot sauce or oil to my Asian food has become my ritual. Here are two of my favourite chilli oils – everything oil (my homemade version of Sichuan chilli oil) and rayu (a Japanese-style spicy sesame oil). If you only have one chilli oil for the rest of your life, it must be everything oil. As the name suggests, I add it to everything, and I hope you will too.
I know many home cooks don’t love chilli as much as I do. Of course that is fine, but I encourage you to add a tiny bit of heat to suit your preferred level of spice. It’s all about finding the balance that works for you.
This is my version of Sichuan chilli oil (sometimes called mala hot sauce), which I have called ‘everything oil’ because, well, it makes everything taste better. Like my ginger–shallot oil, it can be used as a salad dressing, a stir-fry sauce, a dumpling dip, or simply as a topping. Such is my passion for this oil, you will see it as an ingredient in many recipes in this book because it hits all the right notes – heat, spice, salt, umami – without needing to reach for too many ingredients.
The Sichuan peppercorns leave a slight numbing and tingly feeling in your mouth. If you don’t care for this sensation, or can’t get hold of Sichuan peppercorns or gochugaru, then just use red chilli flakes instead (you may need to reduce the quantity, though, as chilli flakes are more spicy).
A note for those who don’t love spice: make this oil without the chilli flakes, or use a dramatically reduced amount. The oil will still be aromatic from the ginger, garlic, star anise and cinnamon, and a worthy addition to everything you eat.
This oil definitely gets better with time. The longer it sits, the more flavourful and aromatic it becomes.
Place the oil, ginger, garlic, star anise and cinnamon in a small saucepan over medium–high heat for 3–4 minutes – the oil is ready when it looks thin, like water. Remove from the heat and very carefully pour the hot oil into the bowl with the spices – the oil will sizzle and spit, so stand back. Allow to cool.
Stir before serving. I don’t strain it as the chilli and spices continue to flavour the oil over time. Everything oil can be drizzled over noodles, dumplings, soups and salads. Store in a sterilised jar (no need to refrigerate) for up to 3 months.
To Asia, With Love by Hetty McKinnon, Published by Plum, RRP $39.99, Photography by Hetty McKinnon
90m + 1 day prep | 20m cook
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