Asian takeaways with a fresh twist (+recipes)

By Amanda Laird

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Take cues from takeaways but with your own healthy, fresh twist.

(Clockwise top left) Fried rice; crab, garlic chive dumplings; and Vietnamese rice paper rolls. Photo / Babiche Martens
(Clockwise top left) Fried rice; crab, garlic chive dumplings; and Vietnamese rice paper rolls. Photo / Babiche Martens

I love ordering takeaways; it feels like such a treat when there are hectic evenings, crazy kids, deadlines ... It takes away the pressure of slaving over a hot stove and, of course, there is the joy of no dishes. The key is, however, that takeaways should not be a regular occurrence. It is far better to create your own home-made treats instead; that way you can ensure they're cooked with the freshest ingredients and spices, in a healthy way.

At the moment our family is enjoying Vietnamese food - it's light, and flavoursome, and when you make your own, as opposed to getting takeaways, it is extra delicious. Finding the simple ingredients and taking a short amount of time to prepare them usually means a more satisfying and healthier outcome.

Rice paper rolls are simple to make and look so attractive. Prepare the vegetables and herbs, have a couple of dishes of sauces at the ready then quickly soak the papers until just soft, lie on a kitchen surface, let dry for a moment, fill, fold over and wrap.

Dumplings are big at the moment - soft dough filled with a variety of fillings, such as crab, herbs, fish and roasted nuts.

A simple technique for cooking the filled dumplings is to steam and serve as-is, or you can then fry them gently in a little sesame oil until slightly crisp. I have given instructions for making the dumpling pastry, but for a quicker and easier option you can find it in most Asian supermarkets.

Fried rice can be, at its best, a spectacular dish or, at its worst, an unappetising and oily offering. Forget the latter. When cooked well, fried rice is slightly crispy, seasoned with ginger, garlic and containing fresh vegetables, chicken, seafood, slices of omelette, tofu - whatever you choose with splashes of sesame and soy.

Chef's tip

When preparing eggs for a stir-fry, use a pan with a clean surface which has been lightly oiled with either a vegetable oil or a light olive oil and with a dash of sesame oil for more flavour. When hot, add the eggs, gently whisked with a dash of cream and herbs of your choice.

For more of Amanda Laird's fabulous recipes, visit

- NZ Herald

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