Category Archives: Dinner

Sticky Sweet Asian Spareribs

These are easy and delicious. Sticky sweet Spare ribs are first simmered to tenderize and then grilled or barbequed to get crispy and sticky. So delicious, you won’t be able to stop eating them.

Serves: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 65 minutes approx.


  • 2 pounds meaty spare ribs, sliced into individual ribs
  • 4 tablespoon dry white wine or Shaoxing
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar* See note below
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon chili paste/sauce such as Gochujang or Sambal Oelek
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
  • 1 “/2.5 cm peeled and grated ginger
  • 3/4 tsp. Chinese five spice
  • 6  tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch + 1/2 cup water 
  • Sesame seeds, optional


Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Season spareribs with salt and pepper. Add enough of the sparerib pieces to the pan, fat sides down, to fit in a single layer. Cook 10 minutes or until browned, turning once. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining pieces. Discard fat.
Meanwhile, in a large pot stir together wine, soy sauce, hoisin, vinegar, honey, chili paste, garlic, ginger, five spice and water until mixed.

Return all ribs to the pot with any juices. Bring to a simmer, stirring to coat ribs. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes or until ribs are just tender, stirring once or twice, adding a little water if necessary.

Pre heat oven to 450 F / 200 C . Remove ribs onto a oven safe rack/baking tray and bake for 20 minutes until dark , crunchy and sticky. Brush with additional marinade half way.

Meanwhile make a slurry with the cornstarch and water, add this to the pot and simmer for a few minutes to thicken the sauce. Serve alongside the spare ribs. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired. I like to serve this with some stir fried broccoli, with some chili and garlic. Enjoy!

  • *Vinegar is essential, as it tenderizes the meat and also renders out excessive fat.
  • Creamy Seafood and Gnocchi Bake

    Creamy Seafood and Gnocchi Bake

    Effortless comfort food, perfect for warmer days. Light and very easy to make.
    The great thing about this little casserole is that you can add any type of seafood you fancy, as long as it is firm and more or less cut in the same size.
    I used Cod, Tilapia, Shrimp and fresh Tuna. And with fresh Tuna, I mean fresh from the freezer (LOL), not from a can. Although that would probably work too.
    For the vegetable medley, I used the classic leek, carrot and peas combo, because I always have them in de fridge/freezer. That goes for Gnocchi too.
    I think it took me maybe five to ten minutes to prepare this dish, chopping the carrots into cubes was the “hardest” part, so effort level 0.5
    You make a béchamel sauce with herbs, mean-while boil some carrots, peas, leeks and Gnocchi.
    Cut the fish and assemble. A little cheese on top and voilà, all done.

    Prep time : 5-10 min
    Cooking time : 20 min
    Serves : 4
    Square / round pan / baking dish


    • 500 gr. / 16 oz. mixed seafood and firm fish* see note below
    • 2 cups chopped fresh or frozen vegetables, carrot cubes, leeks, peas, celery, corn, onion…
    • 1 pack Gnocchi
    • 3 tbsp. butter
    • 2 tbsp. flour
    • 250 ml. / 1 cup milk
    • 1 glass of dry white wine
    • Dash Worcestershire sauce
    • White pepper to taste
    • 1 stock cube, chicken or fish
    • Chopped fresh herbs, parsley, chives, dill
    • ½ cup grated cheese


    Bring a pan of water to the boil and season with plenty of salt. Have your chopped carrots and vegetables ready.
    Meanwhile heat up a small sauce pan and melt the butter, add the flour and stir to cook for a minute. Gradually (slowly) add the milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. As soon as it’s creamy add all the milk, stock cube, white wine, Worcestershire sauce and white pepper. Let it cook slowly for five minutes then remove from the heat and let cool a bit.
    Pre heat the oven to 200 C / 400 F.
    Throw the veggies into the pot of boiling water, as soon as the water boils again add the Gnocchi as well. Cook until they float, about three minutes. Remove from heat and drain everything very well, let cool slightly. Prepare baking dish, spread a little butter in the bottom of the casserole dish.
    Cut the fish into 2.5cm/1 inch cubes and place together with the gnocchi and vegetable into the casserole dish. Stir the fresh herbs through the creamy béchamel sauce and pour over the casserole, sprinkle over the cheese and place in the middle of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes.

    *NOTE: firm fish/seafood are Hake, Cod, Tilapia, Swordfish, Tuna, Sea bass, Shrimp, Lobster, Salmon…

    If you make these Creamy Seafood and Gnocchi Bake, be sure to leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you and if you love it, pin it. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! @thecookingspoonblog or hashtag it #thecookingspoonblog

    Mexican Flavor Cubes

    For lack of a beter name, Mexican flavor cubes is what I have named these little cubes. Concentrated Mexican “mole-like” flavor packed into little cubes to be added to any sauce or dish that needs a little “oomph”. These little cubes are full of Mexican flavor and really pack a punch. Lots of flavor in minutes without all the hassle.
    I have these as part of my standard frozen staples. I’m a true believer in a well-stocked kitchen pantry/freezer as this will ensure you’re prepared, even if you don’t have time for a last minute shopping trip , so that you can make your favourite recipes and always have the basics at hand.
    There are a ton of standard items in my freezer, that I make again and again as soon as they, or almost, run out. Such items are home made chicken stock, Napolitana sauce, and a roast pepper Napolitana version for myself, Pizza bases, Bread, Bagels etc… and of course these Mexican flavor cubes.
    Let me explain how and why. We eat a lot of Mexican inspired dishes at home and I say inspired because I don’t want to offend anyone, I’m sure they are far from authentic, but they’re very tasty and that’s what it all about, for us. So basically what I do is, I soak some Mexican peppers that I buy online, add spices, cooked onion, garlic and some other flavourings, then blend it all up and freeze it in an ice cube tray. I happen to have a very large ice cube tray, that makes ¼ cup cubes, perfect for us but you can freeze it how it would work best for you. Don’t be put off by the long ingredient list, you’ll have most of the spices in your cupboard already, and it actually comes together very quickly.


    • 3 dried Ancho peppers ( aka dried Poblano peppers) Scoville scale: 1,000 to 2,000 shu
    • 3 Chipotles peppers (smoke-dried Jalapeño peppers) Scoville scale: 2,500 to 8,000 shu
    • 3 Guajillo peppers (aka dried Mirasol peppers) Scoville scale : 2,500–5,000 shu
    • 2 tbsp. neutral oil
    • 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
    • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and grated or crushed
    • 2 roast peppers from a jar
    • 2 chicken or beef stock cube
    • 1 tsp. Mexican oregano
    • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
    • 2 tsp. ground cumin
    • 1 tsp. cinnamon
    • ½ tsp. ground cloves
    • ½ tsp. all spice
    • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 tsp. sugar or more to taste


    Put a large frying pan on medium high heat, place your peppers in the dry pan and toast gently all over until they begin to soften and change color. Remove from heat.
    Add the oil to the pan and add the onion and garlic, cook gently while you clean the peppers.
    Cut the peppers open with scissors and remove stems and seeds, place in a bowl and cover with 2 cups of very hot water (not boiling) and leave to soak for 30 minutes.
    Once the onion is soft and golden add the smoked paprika, oregano, the ground cumin, cinnamon, ground cloves, all spice, salt and freshly ground pepper, just a few twists. Stir and let it become fragrant, turn of the heat after one or two minutes.
    Once everything has cooled, place the hydrated peppers with liquid in the blender, with the onion-spice mixture, add the peppers from a jar, add the stock cubes, cocoa powder and sugar. Blend everything until you have a dark smooth puree, taste and season if necessary.
    Pour into ice cube tray or other small containers and freeze.
    I use these cubes to make fajitas, chili, enchiladas and all sorts of Mexican dishes. It gives everything a really authentic flavor without hours of cooking. Just make your regular recipes, and then add one of these cubes for a flavor explosion.

    Easy Unicorn Sushi

    How pretty are these Unicorn Sushi? All these beautiful pastel colors are made using only pure natural vegetable and fruit powders. It’s so much fun to make too!
    The first thing you do is make the Sushi rice, then divide into smaller portions to color as your heart desires. In this recipe I have only used two colors to keep things “easy”, but you can go all out and use as many colors as you like.

    The colors you can use are;

    • Beet powder for red
    • Turmeric for yellow
    • Spirulina for green and blue
    • Pitaya for pink
    • Poppy seeds for an adorable speckled sushi.
    • Pitaya plus blue spirulina = lilac/purple
    • Beet plus Turmeric = orange
    • Charcoal for grey or back

    I like to add very finely grated fresh beet so the colors bleed into each other creating more depth. But you can let your imagination run free.
    What I do recommend is that you blend the powders with some water first before mixing it in with the sushi rice. Add a few drops of lemon juice for brightness.

    cooking time 20 minutes
    prep time 20 minutes
    serves 4


    • 2 cups Sushi Rice
    • 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
    • 1 tsp. Salt
    • 2 tbsp. Sugar
    • 2 medium Carrots grated
    • 1 Cucumber
    • 1 avocado
    • 1 small beet grated
    • 2 medium cans of tuna drained, 2 x 5 oz. (120 gr)/ sub with Tofu for vegans.
    • 4-5 tbsp. Mayonnaise
    • 8 Nori sheets
    • 1 tsp. Spirulina, use more as desired
    • 1 tsp. Beet powder, use more as desires

    a squeeze of lemon juice for brightening up the colors


    1. Start by cooking the sushi rice according to the package instructions.
    2. Mix the sushi vinegar, sugar and salt, stir to dissolve.
    3. Mix through the cooked warm rice.
    4. Let cool completely.
    5. Mix your powder of choice with a few drops of water in a small bowl.
    6. Divide rice in two and color each one with the powder blends.
    7. Add more powder depending on how intense you want the color.
    8. Peel the cucumber and cut into long strips, discarding the seeds.
    9. Peel the avocado and cut into strips.
    10. Mix the tuna with the mayonnaise and set aside. Leave out for vegans or sub with tofu.
    11. Place a sheet of Nori on a bamboo rolling mat.
    12. Place a few tablespoons of blue rice on the Nori sheet and then some pink rice.
    13. Place the filling of choice over the length of the rice.
    14. Roll up tight, brush the outer edge of the Nori sheet with a tiny bit of water to seal the roll.
    15. Place the finished rolls on a plate covered with cling film until ready to use.
    16. When ready to serve, cut the sushi rolls into slices with a very sharp knife and place on a platter or board.
    17. Serve with wasabi and soy sauce.