From Andrew Wongs dry-braised beef in oyster sauce to Lucky Peachs kung pao prawns Observer Food Monthly picks the finest Chinese recipes

Andrew Wongs Michies sweet and sour ribs

I learned the recipe for these ribs while I was in Sichuan and since then it has even found its way to the island of the Seychelles where my sister-in-law Michie makes a special request for them whenever my family and I fly over. I am hoping that, armed with this recipe, she can now make them herself!

Serves 4
vegetable oil for deep-frying
toasted sesame seeds 2 tbsp
sesame oil 2 tbsp

For the ribs
pork ribs 500g, separated into individual ribs
spring onion 10g, roughly chopped
fresh root ginger 5g, peeled and sliced
fermented black beans 5g
Shaoxing rice wine 1 tbsp
light soy sauce 1 tbsp
dark soy sauce 2 tsp
salt 3g

For the sticky sauce
sugar 500g
water 800ml
Chinese red vinegar 150ml
malt vinegar 150ml
star anise 5g

For the ribs, mix all the ingredients together and steam over a low heat for 2 hours or until the ribs are tender but just holding on to the bone. Remove the ribs from the steamer and leave to cool and dry.

Heat the oil for deep-frying in a deep-fat fryer to 180C. Deep-fry the ribs, in batches, until they darken slightly in colour. Remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.

If you dont have a deep-fat fryer, fill a deep pan with oil the oil should come far enough up the sides of the pan to cover the ribs. However, you can also shallow fry them with a few tablespoons of oil just to crisp up the surface of the ribs.

For the sticky sauce, bring all the ingredients to the boil in a large pan, stirring, and cook until the mixture reduces to a honey-like consistency.

Add the deep-fried ribs and cook until the sauce sticks to the ribs. Add the sesame seeds and sesame oil to finish.
From A Wong The Cookbook by Andrew Wong (Mitchell Beazley, 25). Click here to buy a copy for 20

Jeremy Pangs steamed wontons in chilli broth

Photograph: Martin Poole

When it comes to learning about Chinese pastries, wontons are the best starting point. The pastry comes ready-made in most Oriental supermarkets, and is very much like an egg pasta. The method of folding below creates a shape much like a gold ingot (pre-20th century Chinese currency) and it is said that if you can fold your wontons in such a shape, you are giving your friends and family plenty of good wealth for years to come!

Serves 4
garlic 1 clove
spring onion 1
coriander a large handful, plus extra to garnish
Chinese chives 10-15
dried shiitake mushrooms 3, drained and soaked
Chinese leaf cabbage 2 leaves
raw tiger prawns 150g, peeled and deveined (optional)
light soy sauce 1 tbsp
granulated sugar tsp
sesame oil 2 tsp
wonton pastries 20

For the chilli broth
chicken stock 200ml
oyster sauce tbsp
Chiu Chow chilli oil 2 tsp

Finely chop the garlic, spring onion, coriander, Chinese chives, soaked shiitake mushrooms and Chinese leaves and place in a mixing bowl. Finely dice the prawns (if using) and add to the mixing bowl along with the soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil. Mix everything together

Wrap the wontons. Place 1 teaspoon of filling in the centre of each pastry. Using the tip of your finger, wet all sides of the pastry with cold water.

Fold the bottom corner over the filling to the top corner and press the pastry down to seal all sides (to form a triangle). Holding the base of the filling with your thumbs, pull the 2 corners of the triangle towards each other. (In my cookery school, we like to call this the Dark Knight Rising as it looks roughly like a Batman shape.)

Overlap the ends and press together to form a gold ingot/trough shape. Set aside and fold the rest of the wontons.

To cook, place all the wontons in a large, deep bowl. Bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a saucepan, then stir in the oyster sauce and chilli oil. Pour the broth ingredients over the wontons.

Set the wok up with a steamer stand and fill with boiling water to a third of the way up the sides. Put the wonton bowl into the wok, cover with a lid and steam for 6-8 minutes, until the wontons have shrivelled slightly and are cooked through. Remove from the wok and serve garnished with a little chopped coriander.

Dumplings can be kept in the freezer once made. They must be cooked from frozen for 2 minutes longer than the recommended cooking time when cooking fresh, rather than allowing them to thaw out and lose their shape.
From Chinese Unchopped by Jeremy Pang (Quadrille, 20).
Click here to buy a copy for 16

Lucky Peachs kung pao prawns

Photograph: Martin Poole for the Observer

Kung pao dishes are a celebration of texture, a cascade of crunchy, slippery and crisp that keeps every bite interesting. Weve made two tweaks to the classic: we dialed the heat down, and swapped the more common chicken for prawns. The prawn substitution we stand by; the chilli heat is your call and very easy to ramp up.

Makes 2-4 servings
For the sauce
water 2 tbsp
soy sauce 1 tbsp
Shaoxing rice wine 1 tbsp
Chinkiang vinegar 1 tbsp
sugar 1 tbsp
sesame oil 1 tsp
cornflour 1 tsp
white pepper a pinch

For the stir fry
neutral oil 3 tbsp
dried red chillies 10 small
Sichuan peppercorns 1 tsp
minced garlic 2 tsp
fresh ginger 2 tsp minced
red pepper , cut into 1cm pieces
green pepper , cut into 1cm pieces
celery 2 stalks, cut into 1cm pieces
large prawns 450g, shelled and deveined
sea salt

spring onions 2, cut into 2.5cm pieces
unsalted peanuts 75g, roasted
cooked rice for serving

Make the sauce: whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl until the cornflour is dissolved. Set aside.

Make the stir fry: heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a wok over a high heat. Add the chillies and peppercorns and stir fry until they puff and brown slightly, about 5 seconds. Add the garlic, ginger and peppers and stir fry until the peppers are browned in spots and crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mixture to a plate. Add the celery to the pan and stir fry until heated through and charred in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer to the plate with the peppers.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the wok. Season the prawns with salt and add to the wok. Stir fry until almost cooked through, about 3 minutes. Return the peppers, celery and spices to the wok.

Add the spring onions and peanuts and toss to combine everything. Add the sauce and cook, stirring, until it bubbles and thickens. When the sauce is thick and the prawns are cooked through, remove from the heat. Serve with rice.
From Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes by Peter Meehan (Random House USA, 25).
Click here to buy a copy for 20

Erchen Chang and Shing Tat Chungs pork belly bao

Photograph: Martin Poole for the Observer

Makes 15-16 buns
For the bao buns
white bread flour 500g
caster sugar 50g
salt 3g
baking powder 4g
quick yeast 5g
lukewarm water 145ml
milk 145ml
vegetable oil 15ml, plus extra for greasing

For the char sui pork belly
pork belly 500g
salt 1 tsp
five spice powder 1 tsp
premium soy sauce 2 tsp
Shaoxing rice wine 1 tbsp
hoisin sauce 2 tbsp
honey 2 tbsp
sugar 2 tbsp
water 500ml

For the pickled daikon
daikon (mooli) 1 small, peeled and sliced thinly 2mm thickness
rice vinegar 125ml
water 125ml
caster sugar 1 tbsp
salt tsp
turmeric powder 1 tsp

For the pickled daikon, mix all of the ingredients together and leave to pickle for at least a day.

Put the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and yeast together in a bowl, and add the water and milk to the mix. Combine everything with your hands until it forms a mass. Add the 15ml oil and start kneading the dough for a good 15 minutes until it no longer sticks.

Place the smooth dough into a bowl and cover with clingfilm. Let it prove for an hour or until it doubles in size.

Once the dough is proved, roll it into a long batten shape and divide the dough with a scraper or knife to 15-16 equal portions. Roll them tightly to form ball shapes.

Press the ball and flatten it into oval shapes with a rolling pin. Grease the dough with oil. Pick up the dough and use chopsticks to help fold the dough in halves. Let it rest for a good 15 minutes on baking paper until its puffed up again. Make sure theres enough room in between each dough for them to grow.

Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to boil. When the dough is proved, pick them up with the baking sheet still under, place on a steamer over the pan. Let it steam on a high heat for 20 minutes until nice and fluffy. Once steamed, the buns are ready to serve. Or allow them to cool and refrigerate to use at another time.

To make the pork, preheat the oven to 100C/gas mark . Pour all the ingredients into a baking dish with the pork belly. Make sure all the belly is covered and cook for 3 hours until very tender to touch. Remove the pork from the sauce. Place the sauce on the hob and reduce until sticky. Slice the pork belly into 1cm slices.

To assemble, steam the bun. Brush the pork belly with the char sui sauce. Place the pork and a little pickled daikon into the bao and serve.
Bao, 53 Lexington Street, London W1F 9AS;

Andrew Wongs dry-braised beef with oyster sauce and Sichuan pepper

Photograph: Yuki Sugiura

When you see beef in oyster sauce on a menu, it usually means beef slices in an oyster sauce gravy, which may be fine for some occasions, but this tongue-numbingly peppery yet sweet recipe really is the David Beckham of beef in oyster sauce. Using a wok really isnt a craftless exercise of tossing a metal pan backwards and forwards there is a fine art to controlling the temperature and knowing the right time to agitate the food in the pan, and this is the dish that first made me appreciate the intricacies involved. It is the dish that really puts my chefs to the test, as the ingredients have to be added in the right order, with each one being cooked at the correct temperature, just enough to release the fragrance but not enough to burn. If they cook this well, I know they can be trusted!

Serves 2
vegetable oil for deep-frying, plus a drizzle
beef rump 200g, thinly sliced
salt a pinch
Shaoxing rice wine 2 tsp
light soy sauce 1 tsp
onion 15g, cut into small chunks
fresh root ginger 5g, peeled, thinly sliced
dried red chilli 2g
fresh large red chillies 100g, cut into 1cm sections
Chinese chives a small handful
Sichuan peppercorns 3g, ground, toasted
sugar 2g
oyster sauce 2 tsp
preserved plum a grating (see below)
sea beet leaves to garnish (optional)

Heat the oil for deep-frying in a deep-fat fryer to 150C.

Season the beef with the salt, wine and soy sauce, then deep-fry, in batches, until it just changes colour. Remove the beef from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.

Heat a drizzle of oil in a hot wok, add the onion, ginger and dried chillies and stir fry for about 30 seconds until fragrant.

Add the beef, fresh chillies, Chinese chives, Sichuan pepper, sugar and oyster sauce and stir fry for 30 seconds.

Finish the dish with a grating of preserved plum before serving immediately, garnished with sea beet leaves, if you like.

What are preserved plums? They are dried plums that are dusted with sugar, salt, liquorice powder and citric acid. Usually used either as a snack or to infuse drinks with their unique sweet-and-sour fruitiness, they are available from good Chinese supermarkets.
From A Wong The Cookbook by Andrew Wong (Mitchell Beazley, 25).
Click here to buy a copy for 20

Read more: