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4 Easy And Essential Recipes From Lara Lee’s New Cookbook ‘A Splash Of Soy’

Exploring different cuisines is like travelling the world – there’s always more to be uncovered. So after interviewing chef, writer and author Lara Lee again, we decided to try out some of our favourite recipes from her new book A Splash of Soy. Whether you’re hosting friends or looking forward to a family weekend, here are the perfect selections, from spicy sambal prawns to sweet caramel brownies.

San Choy Bau

INGREDIENTS

Prep & cooking time 45 minutes
Serves 4 as a light main or 6 to share

Around 12 leaves of iceberg lettuce, torn into hand-sized cups, or tender lettuce leaves, such as cos or baby gem
2 spring onions, cut into thin matchsticks
2 tbsp flavourless oil (such as sunflower or grapeseed) or coconut oil
500g pork mince
1 small onion or 2 medium shallots (120g), peeled and thinly sliced
100g chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed, or 2 tsp garlic paste
15g fresh ginger, peeled and grated, or 1 tbsp ginger paste
2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
2 tbsp soy sauce
140g water chestnuts, chopped (or chopped celery)
4 spring onions, thinly sliced diagonally
60ml oyster sauce
½ tbsp caster sugar
½ tbsp sesame oil
Lime wedges, to serve

METHOD

1. Fill two bowls with ice-cold water and soak the lettuce leaves and spring onions to crisp them up while you prepare the other ingredients. Drain well before use.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok or large frying pan on a high heat. Add the pork and cook, stirring, for 6–8 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove and set aside.

3. Wipe out the pan, then add 1 tablespoon oil on a medium-high heat and add the onion or shallots and mushrooms. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, then add the carrots. Cook for 1 minute and continue to stir, then add the garlic and ginger and cook for a further minute.

4. Add the Shaoxing wine and soy sauce to the pan and cook until the liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Return the pork to the pan, along with the water chestnuts (or celery) and the thinly sliced spring onions. Stir together, then add the oyster sauce, sugar and sesame oil and combine until everything is warmed through.

5. To serve, scoop 2 large spoonful’s of the mixture into each lettuce cup, top with curly spring onions and serve with lime wedges.

Make it vegan

Replace the pork with 300g firm tofu (patted dry and crumbled), and increase the mushrooms to 300g. Cook the tofu and mushrooms in 2 tablespoons oil on a high heat until lightly browned, and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon oil and cook the shallots, carrots, garlic and ginger on a medium-high heat, stirring, for about 4 minutes.

Add the Shaoxing wine and soy sauce and cook until the liquid evaporates. Return the tofu and mushrooms to the pan with the water chestnuts (or celery) and spring onions. Stir, then add 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon caster sugar and 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Warm through and serve.

Sambal Prawns with Coconut and Cashews

INGREDIENTS

Prep & cooking time 25 minutes
Serves 4

25g desiccated coconut
Flavourless cooking oil (such as sunflower or grapeseed) or coconut oil
20 medium raw prawns, peeled, tails on, defrosted if frozen
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed, or 2 tsp garlic paste
4 long red chillies, deseeded and finely diced
200g green beans, trimmed and cut into 5cm lengths diagonally
1 tbsp kecap manis
½ tsp coconut sugar or brown sugar
large pinch of fine sea salt
60g roasted salted cashews

METHOD

1. Toast the coconut in a wok or large frying pan over a medium heat for about 2 minutes, shaking the pan frequently, until golden. Transfer the coconut to a plate.

2. Wipe out the pan and heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add the prawns in a single layer and cook for 1–2 minutes each side, or until they are just cooked through. Remove and set aside on a plate lined with kitchen paper.

3. Heat another tablespoon oil in the wok or pan, still over a medium heat. Add the garlic and chillies and cook, stirring continuously, for 3–4 minutes, until the chillies have softened and are starting to wrinkle.

4. Add the green beans along with 1 tablespoon water, the kecap manis, sugar and salt. Cook for another 3 minutes or so, stirring regularly, until the green beans are just cooked through with a crunchy bite.

5. Stir in most of the toasted coconut and cashews, reserving a little of each for garnish, and return the prawns to the pan. Toss everything together. Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with the remaining coconut and cashews.

Make it vegan

Omit the prawns and cook the rest of the recipe just as is for a tasty side dish, or swap the prawns for slices of tempeh or marinated firm tofu, patted dry and pan-fried until golden.

Tamarind Caramel Brownies

INGREDIENTS

Prep & cooking time 1 hour
Makes 24 squares

100g macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
250g unsalted butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
275g dark chocolate, preferably 70% cocoa, chopped into small pieces
250g caster sugar
¼ tsp flaky sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
4 eggs, at room temperature, beaten
165g plain flour, sifted
1 tsp espresso powder, or instant coffee granules dissolved in 1 tsp hot water

Tamarind caramel
50g golden syrup (or maple syrup)
70g caster sugar
50ml double cream
20g unsalted butter
large pinch of flaky sea salt
25ml tamarind paste

METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan and set up the middle shelf for baking. Roast the macadamia nuts for 6–8 minutes, or until golden brown, then remove and set aside.

2. To make the caramel, melt the golden syrup and sugar together in a small heavy-based saucepan on a medium-low heat. Swirl the ingredients in the pan together, rather than stirring them. Once the sugar has dissolved and the caramel starts bubbling, continue cooking on a gentle simmer until it begins to bubble and foam, about 3–5 minutes in total.

3. Remove from the heat, then stir in the cream and butter until melted and combined. Finally, add the salt and tamarind and stir well. Transfer to a wide bowl (this will help it cool faster), cover and leave to cool in the freezer for 20 minutes or in the fridge for around 30 minutes, until thick and gooey.

4. Grease and line a 20 x30cm tin with baking parchment, ensuring there is some overhang of paper over the edges so you can easily lift the brownies out of the tin later.

Image by Louise Hagger
Prop by Alexander Breeze

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