Chinese recipes you know – and some you definitely don’t

·6 min read
Protein-packed and delicious, these bars make a perfect afternoon snack (PA)
Protein-packed and delicious, these bars make a perfect afternoon snack (PA)

Sesame brittle is one of those amazing treats that is just so addictive,” says Suzie Lee, author of new cookbookSimply Chinese.

“These bars are made with two different types of sesame seeds and peanuts, and they really hit the spot. If you are craving a treat, this is a great one to pick up as it is high in protein.”

Black and white sesame bars

Makes: 12 bars


200g skinless unsalted peanuts

100g white sesame seeds

100g black sesame seeds

325g granulated sugar

50g butter, melted


1. Line a 20cm square baking tray with baking parchment.

2. Toast all the peanuts and both types of sesame seeds in a dry frying pan over a low to medium heat for a couple of minutes (make sure you don’t burn them), then tip out into a dish.

3. Wipe clean the pan (make sure it is super clean), then add the sugar. Spread the sugar out flat with the palm of your hand, then place the pan over a low heat. Once the edges of the sugar have melted and turned golden, the rest of the caramel will form very quickly – tip the pan from side to side, so the caramel colours evenly and all the granules melt. Do not stick in a spoon to stir: it will immediately crystallise the caramel and ruin it. The caramel will take about 10 minutes to melt and turn golden: be patient!

4. Quickly add the melted butter and stir with a spatula until you have a toffee sauce (this takes seconds of stirring, so be ready to add in the rest of the ingredients). Add the peanuts and sesame seeds, quickly stir, and tip into the lined tray. Press down with another piece of baking parchment, so the mixture is evenly spread out. Mark 12 bars on top of the slab, so they are easier to snap apart when set.

5. Leave to cool completely (this will take about an hour), then cut with a sharp knife to the desired ‘bar size’. The bars will keep in an airtight container for up to two weeks, but they never make it to the end of the week for us!

Hong Kong-style chicken wings

A lot of flavour, with relatively little fuss (PA)
A lot of flavour, with relatively little fuss (PA)

Barbecuing is a big thing in Hong Kong, and during our summer holidays there we would have had at least one trip to a ‘BBQ site’!” remembers Lee.

“Chicken wings are a weekly favourite in our household. My children absolutely love them. This is such an easy but delicious recipe, which makes the most of simple ingredients.”

Serves: 4


500g chicken wings

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

3 tbsp light soy sauce

3 tbsp runny honey, plus extra for brushing

½ tbsp garlic powder

1 tsp vegetable oil

Pinch of each – salt and white pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 160C fan (350F/gas 4) and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Alternatively, prepare a barbecue.

2. Put the wings in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil, then boil for five minutes, skimming off the impurities or scum that float on the surface with a large spoon. Use a slotted spoon to remove the wings and keep the chicken broth for other uses.

3. While the chicken is parboiling, put the sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, garlic, oil and salt and pepper in a bowl. Transfer the drained wings to this bowl and toss them to coat with the marinade, then let them sit for about five minutes to absorb all the flavours. The wings can also be left covered overnight in the refrigerator. If you’re baking the wings in the oven, put them on the lined baking tray and bake for 10 minutes, then remove the tray and brush with the juices and marinade from the bottom of the tray. Drizzle and brush with extra honey and roast for a further five minutes. If you’re barbecuing the wings, baste them with more honey, place them on the grill and cook for five to eight minutes on each side until slightly charred.

4. Check the wings are thoroughly cooked by cutting into them. If they aren’t yet cooked through, roast for another five minutes.

Veggie Singapore noodles

A classic for a reason (PA)
A classic for a reason (PA)

“Fun fact: Singapore noodles actually originate from Hong Kong, not Singapore,” says Lee.

“It is said that this dish was invented by chefs in the 1950s and Sixties, when trade was booming in Hong Kong and spices such as curry powders were readily accessible. The name was just to give the dish some flair.

“This dish is on our Chinese takeaway menu and it is very popular! It is traditionally made with ham, chicken and prawns but I have made this veggie only, which tastes just as good.”

Serves: 4


500g vermicelli rice noodles or roughly 250g dried noodles

4 tbsp vegetable oil

4 large eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt

1 medium carrot, peeled and finely cut into matchsticks

1 sweet pepper (any colour), deseeded and thinly sliced

100g baby corn, thinly sliced diagonally

100g mangetout, thinly sliced diagonally

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

3 tsp curry powder (mild/medium/hot)

1 tsp chilli powder (mild/medium/hot) (optional)

1 tsp garlic powder

4 tsp light soy sauce

2 tsp toasted sesame oil

Sea salt and white pepper

2 spring onions, thinly sliced


1. Soak the noodles in a heatproof bowl of boiling water for one minute, then strain and set aside.

2. Heat two tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a wok or frying pan over a high heat, add the beaten eggs and fry for a minute on each side, without stirring, until they set like an omelette. Transfer to a plate, then cut into thin strips.

3. Heat one tablespoon of the oil in the wok or frying pan over a high heat, add the carrot, pepper, baby corn and mangetout with a splash of water to stop them burning and fry for a minute. Transfer to a plate. In the same wok or frying pan (you don’t need to clean it) add the remaining tablespoon of oil, then add the onion with a splash of water, the curry powder, chilli powder (if using – I use mild curry powder and leave out the chilli powder when I’m cooking this for kids) and garlic powder or granules and fry for a couple of minutes over a high heat until the aromas are released.

4. Toss in the cooked vermicelli and put all the vegetables back in the wok or pan. Toss again so everything is evenly distributed. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil and egg strips and keep frying and tossing until the noodles change to a golden yellow colour. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed, add the spring onions and serve.

‘Simply Chinese’ by Suzie Lee (published by Hardie Grant, £20; photography by Lizzie Mayson), available 18 August.