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Chicken Sung Choi Bao

Sung Choi Bao is a classic Chinese starter that I love because it is so simple and delicious and super easy for a gluten and grain free meal. This recipe is my own paleo interpretation and has the added magic of my toasted spiced brazil nuts. They are like ‘sloppy-joes’ or sandwich wraps but with more nourishing deliciousness. In fact this recipe has become a weekly staple in my kitchen and is a great crowd pleaser for parties. It really is absolutely scrumptious. The best thing about eating Sung Choi Bao though is getting to use your hands! You can serve it as a starter already assembled but my favourite way to eat it is as a main meal with bowls of each layer on the table for everyone to assemble. Because let’s be honest, there really is something quite seductive about eating with your hands, don’t you think?

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Recipe

Serves 4-5 for a main course

Ingredients

750 g Chicken mince

1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. of coconut oil for frying

1 carrot, finely diced

1 cob of corn, kernels removed (replace with 3/4 cup of green peas to make it Paleo) and blanched

4 shallots, finely sliced

2 handfuls of green beans, ends removed, blanched and chopped into small pieces.

a dash of fish sauce

1 cup of brazil nuts, chopped into small pieces

1/4 tsp. chilli powder

1/2 tsp. Chinese five spice powder

large pinch of Celtic sea salt

2 limes or lemons, 1 juiced and the other cut into wedges to serve ( lime is best but lemon will be work too)

iceberg or cos lettuce, leaves washed and removed.

Method

1. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in large frying pan and add the shallots. Fry on medium heat until soft then add chicken mince. Turn heat up and stir fry until chicken is cooked and going brown. Add all the vegetables and stir fry for 5 minutes or until they are cooked through. Add fish sauce and stir fry for 2 minutes. Take off the heat and finish with juice of 1/2 lime/lemon. Add more lime/lemon to taste if needed. Scoop mince into a serving dish.

2. Heat remaining oil in small frying pan. Add nuts and fry on medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring so they brown easily. Add chilli and five spice and stir to coat the nuts. Add salt and continue to cook until brown. Remove from heat and place in a small serving bowl.

3. Place lettuce leaves on a platter. Bring mince, nuts and lettuce to the table and tell everyone to get their hands in and make some! The way you eat it is scoop a small amount of the mince into a lettuce leaf and top with nuts. You can squeeze some extra lime/lemon on too if you like. Then just wrap it up in the lettuce and enjoy!

Bitter Sweet Sicilian Salad

Bitter Sweet Sicilian Salad

I love the combination of orange, fennel and onion in this salad which often take people by surprise, especially when they find how good they taste together. I adapted the recipe from a classic salad I used to eat when I lived in Sicily on student exchange. My year in Sicily was an amazing experience that has influenced my cooking and has stayed with me even after 17 years has passed.  Food in Italy is a strong tradition that is a respected and celebrate part of home life. It is generally not outsourced to food chains or takeaway restaurants. The best food I ate there was in the home and believe me it was like eating at a high quality restaurant! It was ALWAYS handmade from scratch. No boxes or jars of meals there! For birthdays and christenings the women would gather together and make fresh pasta, gnocchi or pizza from scratch and for the staples, every year my family would buy the over ripe tomatoes from the passing vendor in his truck and cook up their years supply of ‘salsa rossa’ (red sauce) and they would send in their olives from their patch of land to be pressed into olive oil. Bread was also always crusty and warm, bought fresh from the baker every day. There were barely any supermarkets, as everyone shopped from the small green grocer, baker, butcher or convenience store. While of course it was not paleo or grain free, it was fresh and hand-made. No industry was involved only the home or small business so there were no need for preservatives and the life force was still in the food.

I was in Sicily a couple of years ago and I am pleased to say these traditions were still being followed, although there were some large supermarkets creeping in. I know these days I wouldn’t eat the fresh bread, pizza or pasta but I still firmly believe in this respect for food and the need for it be fresh and as close to nature as possible.

This salad respects these principles as it is fresh and simple to make with no grains in sight. It is great as an appetizer, as a side dish to roast chicken, pan-fried salmon or veal schnitzel or as a light meal with some avocado and shredded chicken or tinned tuna. I’d be interested in knowing how you find the flavours or maybe you have your own combination of fruit in a savoury dish? As always you can leave a comment in the comments section below.

In good health. xx

Recipe

Ingredients

3 navel oranges, segmented and juice squeezed from pulp into a bowl

200g baby english spinach, washed and dried

2 small bulbs of fennel, cut in half, core removed and thinly sliced

1 white onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup Red wine vinegar

1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive oil

Celtic Sea Salt to taste

Method

1. Combine orange segments, orange juice and onion in a bowl and leave for 10 minutes. You want the onion to soak in th juice to take some of the strong onion taste away.

2. Combine spinach and fennel in a large salad bowl and toss to combine.

3. Just before serving pour onion and orange mixture over the spinach and fennel and toss to combine.

4. Pour oil over salad and toss to combine.

5. Pour the vinegar over the salad and a sprinkle of salt and toss to combine.

6. Serve immediately

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