Open, O' Simsim

This versatile sauce is traditionally served with Chinese Steamboat, yet it goes great with both veg & non-veg dishes, and is a divine addition to noodle soup . This recipe is courtesy of my cousin Eric (I hope I do it justice!) who by the way is a great cook!


• 150 ml sesame sauce/paste.
-This sauce available from Chinese supermarkets is very similar to Middle Eastern Tahini, however unlike Tahini it uses unhulled and toasted seeds creating a slightly different flavour. In fact it is fine to supplement the Chinese sesame sauce with an organic Tahini if that’s all you have in the fridge or prefer your meal more natural (though not authentic).
• Peanut butter (optional)
• Pinch of sugar (optional)
• 3-4 pieces “Grand Stone” preserved tofu
• 2 Tb pickled chives
• 2 Tb Szechwan pepper a.k.a prickly ash
• 4 T Oil (Veg variety)
• 5-8 Whole dried chilies
• High quality Rice Baijui or drinkable white rice wine
• A dash of water
• A shallot, bash with the flat of a wide knife, then finely julienne.
• ALL measurements are approximations, always taste to see if tweaking is required.

1. Scoop sesame paste from jar into a large bowl (My supplies were low, so in the picture I have used half sesame paste & half Tahini)
2. Add the tofu, chives & a dash of water. Combine until well mixed, adding more water if required to reach a syrupy consistency.

3. Add alcohol, shallots and mix.
4. At this point you should taste the mixture, if you find it slightly bitter you may add a pinch of sugar or a spoonful of peanut butter (which has a sugar content to it).
5. Place oil in a saucepan; heat until oil is quite hot; add the whole chili and prickly ash; cook until spices are just blackened (this is a fast process).

6. Leave oil to cool for a moment and then pour into other ingredients; watch it sizzle; mix all together.

TIP: Unless you have a glass of milk handy to extinguish the heat, the burnt chillies are probably best not eaten.

blanched green beans, paper thin lamb slices, black fungus...and Steamboat sauce.


Angry Grandma's Chili Sauce

This recipe was developed out of necessity on the Easter weekend, 2008. We were holidaying at Hyams beach, there were eight people to feed and a Steamboat on the way, and I had forgotten to bring the chili sauce* from the big smoke. A quick phone call to a foodie friend (a previous local to the area) determined that the nearest Asian grocer to Jervis bay is Woolongong. A couple hours back to Sydney! So that is how this sauce was born...a combination of imagination, desire and necessity.

Angry Grandma's Chili Sauce:
  • A couple of X large handfuls of whole dried chillies. The smaller chillies are hottest. For a milder flavor you may use the larger variety of dried chili.
  • Approximately 6 large gloves of garlic, finely sliced and diced (1: 5, garlic to chili ratio )
  • A few table spoons of sesame seeds (or more)
  • A large handful of peanuts (or more)
  • Fragrant Sesame oil
  • Massel chicken stock cube.
  • Approx three table spoons Celtic Sea salt (or other sea salt)
  • Grape seed oil (or peanut oil etc, i like to use peanut for the heating, them add the grape seed afterwards)

  1. Roast the peanuts and sesame seeds in a pan on medium heat until golden, then place in the air tight jar you will use to store the chili sauce. You may wish to crush the peanuts up a bit eg. with the end of a rolling pin.
  2. Stuff dried chilies in an electric spice grinder and whiz and shake until you just reach a coarse ground (be careful not to over grind).
  3. Heat about 0.5 - 1cm depth of oil in a small saucepan until moderately hot. Test by adding a chili flake and see if it fizzes. Place garlic in oil & allow to sauté for a moment. Be careful not to burn or over cook, basically you just want to give the garlic a little bit of cooking. Follow this up by adding the chillies, broken up chicken stock cube and salt into the oil and mix. The chili should fizz up when poured into the oil. Remove from heat. Add a couple table spoons of sesame oil. Taste to see if you require more salt (Be careful - its spicy hot!)
  4. Place cooked chili mix in the jar and stir with the sesame seeds/peanuts, then add a little more sesame oil or grape seed oil to create the desired moisture (wet but not oily). Store in refrigerator. Go easy on this stuff, a 1/4 teaspoon added to a bowl of soup may suffice...its deceptively simple but is quite deadly.

* You can buy a pre-made-in-china chili sauce similar to this recipe in Asian supermarkets. It comes in a jar with a red lid, no English labeling ...but there is a black and white head shot of a very serious looking women in an apron (hence being dubbed angry grandma chili). I think the home-made version is far superior, particularly when you consider the growing opinion amongst many Chinese people living in Australia, that you can't trust food products imported from China. One thing is for sure...you don't really know whats in the sauce you buy, primarily because its not written on the label and also due to less stringent quality controls in other countries.


Essential ingredients for the trousers

This list is dedicated to Fiona

Cumin Seeds + powder
Sea Salt (I keep Celtic sea salt)
Fresh to crack black pepper
Saffron threads
Szechuan pepper A.K.A Prickly Ash
Cardamom (green + brown)
Nutmeg (whole)
Star anise
Dried chili (whole + powder)
Coriander/(Dhania) (seeds + powder)

If you can pound them or grind them fresh you will enhance the potency twofold.

My daily fresh bread:
Fresh Garlic
Fresh Shallots
Fresh Coriander
Limes + lemons
Lemon grass
Fresh chili

More Herbs & Spice with less traffic:
Kaffir lime leaves (frozen fresh is OK)
lemon grass (frozen fresh is OK)
Fresh sweet basil.
Fresh dill
Black salt
Mustard seeds
Ajwain (carom seeds or bishop's weed)
Hing (Asafetida)

Wet things:
Sesame oil
Good quality olive oil
Grape seed oil.
Fish sauce
Pickled chives (Beijing Lui Bi Ju Food co Ltd)
Fermented Tofu (Grand Stone)

Sate Sauce (otherwise known as "Bull Head Barbecue sauce")

Food & Love...What makes me an expert? I like to believe it is my sincere and serious dedication towards food exploration, food enthusiasm and towards the food that floats my boat. If the coriander is thriving greener on the other side of the fence - I want to know what is cooking in that Kitchen! I'm all for learning new things when it comes to our bellies...My aspiration is to invite friends to contribute to this blog, by inviting guest cooks to post recipes and related food info.