Complete your meal with easy to master elements that add balance through crisp freshness and vibrant warmth.
1 black vinegar pickled sprouts
300g bean sprouts, trimmed 1 clove garlic, crushed 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds 1 teaspoon sesame oil 1 teaspoon soy sauce 1 teaspoon Chinese black vinegar Place the bean sprouts in a medium bowl and pour over boiling water. Drain immediately and refresh under cold water. Place the garlic, sesame seeds, sesame oil, soy sauce and black vinegar in a medium bowl. Add the bean sprouts and set aside for 5 minutes to pickle. Serve immediately. Makes 3 cups.
2 sweet soy-braised peanuts
1 cup (140g) raw peanuts 1 cup (250ml) boiling water 4cm-piece ginger, thinly sliced 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled 1 cinnamon stick 3 star anise 1½ cups (325ml) water ¼ cup (60ml) oyster sauce 1 tablespoon white (granulated) sugar Place the peanuts in a heatproof bowl and pour over the boiling water. Set aside for 10 minutes to soak. Drain and place in a small saucepan. Add the ginger, garlic, cinnamon, star anise, water, oyster sauce and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 10–15 minutes or until syrupy. Makes 1½ cups. Note: These peanuts will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week.
3 sichuan chilli oil
2 cups (500ml) vegetable oil 6 star anise 1 tablespoon coriander seeds 6 cloves garlic 2 green cardamom pods 2 bay leaves 1 cinnamon stick ½ teaspoon whole cloves 5cm-piece ginger, sliced 1½ cups (55g) dried chillies 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes 1 tablespoon caster (superfine) sugar Place the oil, star anise, coriander, garlic, cardamom, bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves and ginger in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes or until the garlic is dark golden.
While the spices are cooking, place the chillies and peppercorns in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Place in a large heatproof bowl and add the soy sauce, salt and sugar. Pour the oil through a colander onto the chillies. Set aside to cool. Makes 2½ cups. Note: You can store this Sichuan chilli oil in an airtight jar for up to two months.