FULLY BOOKED Dumpling Workshop & Prosperity Toss

Date: 17 February 2019

Time: 14:00 (event will last 2 – 2.5 hours)

Venue: On the Brook, Coombe Farm, Bruton BA10 0QP.

Cost: £20 Adults; £10 Children 14 and below

Spaces are limited so booking is essential. Please contact Sophie at On the Brook on 01749 813048 or info@onthebrook.co.uk to book.

Spend an afternoon with us learning how to make Chinese dumplings (guo tie). We’ll start with a demonstration on how to make the dough for the dumpling wrappers. Next, we’ll show you how to make our own pork & chive filling and Chinese mushroom, tofu & chive filling. Then, you’ll see how the individual wrappers are rolled out and filled, before you have a go yourself at rolling out and filling your own dumplings.

We’ll show you two ways to cook the dumplings – either traditionally boiled or turned into potstickers; and the different sauces and accompaniments usually served with them.

The demonstration and workshop will be followed by the traditional Malaysian Chinese New Year “Prosperity Toss”. This is a colourful salad known as Yee Sang Lou Hei which means “raw fish raising good fortune”. Yee Sang also sounds like the words for abundance in Chinese. All the ingredients have their own significance; encouraging good fortune and relationships into your year. The higher you toss the ingredients, the better!

We will all then partake in the salad and have some dumplings, so we can socialise and enjoy the food together.

You will be able to take home the dumplings you make and a recipe card.

Note: Children must be accompanied by an adult. N.B. The Prosperity Toss contains seafood and peanuts. Please let us know if you have any allergies.

Recipe: Char Kuay Teow

Char kuay teow is a favourite hawker dish amongst Malaysians. It is apparently of Teochew origin, so must have come over with the immigrant Chinese some time in the late 19th century. It is a dish of flat rice noodles, stir-fried on a high heat with garlic, Chinese chives, eggs, beansprouts, prawns and blood cockles – these are a must for the char kuay teow purist. Sometime during the late 80s, lap cheong or Chinese sausage made an entry into the ingredients list and this is now common throughout Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur (where I grew up). However, I also remember in the early days that little cubes of crispy pork fat were part of the make-up of the dish, these were little gems of delight.

In essence it is the Malaysian equivalent of the popular pad Thai from Thailand but it is not so sweet. The secret to a great char kway teow is cooking it on a very high heat – you need a really smoking wok to get the “wok hei” flavour, the charred smokiness that elevates this delicious dish.

Enough background and on to the cooking…

Ingredients (2 people)

Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 7 mins

2 tbsp of dried shrimps or dried anchovies or tiny pork fat cubes
4 cloves of garlic finely minced
4-5 stalks of Chinese chives chopped into 2 inch lengths (if not available, wild garlic sliced finely would work)
300g flat rice noodles (ho fun – fresh or dried) – soaked in hot water to soften
a good glug of cooking oil (4-5 tbsp) – something flavourless like sunflower, canola, corn etc.
10-12 prawns – raw or cooked, inch sized shrimps are fine
2 eggs
2 handfuls of beansprouts – tailed
a generous dash of light soy sauce*
a generous dash of dark soy sauce*
a dash of finely ground white pepper
a tsp of sugar
Nice to have but impossible to find in the UK – blood cockles. Reasonable substitute might be shelled clams, mussels or the frozen oysters found in Chinese supermarkets.
Optional: Chinese sausage – soaked in hot water for an hour and sliced thinly
1-2 tbsp of a savoury chilli paste or savoury chilli sauce like Sriracha (you can make your own too – recipe for that some other day…)

All the less familiar items can be found in Chinese supermarkets. In Bristol, you can go to Wai Yee Hong (near IKEA), Wah Yan Hong (behind the Hippodrome), 168 Oriental (Little Chinatown and Park Street). In Bath, try Banthon in Weston.

*If you are gluten intolerant, just replace the soy sauces with gluten free tamari. Everything else is gluten free!

Notes on Preparation:

Whilst mainly a self-taught cook, some things were passed down to me by my parents and family amah, as well as learning from watching professional hawker stall holders and friends. Attention to the small details seem a bit OCD but for many Malaysians are a must.

1. Tailing beansprouts. My husband was somewhat taken aback (thinks I’m bonkers) to know that I pick the roots or ‘tails’ off beansprouts. Believe me, it’s a thing in Malaysia. This is what I mean:

See all the lovely ‘tailed’ beansprouts.

2. Next thing, remember to soak your rice noodles. If they are fresh, they only need soaking in hot (not boiling water) for a few minutes to loosen them but don’t let them soften too much as they will continue to soften in the wok. If you are using dried ho fun noodles, then use boiling water and soak a little longer – again don’t let them get too soft – just loose and pliable.

Fresh noodles before soaking

Noodles after soaking – they are still quite hard but pliable and separated out

3. If you are using Chinese sausage, soak it in boiling water for an hour, and then slice it thinly on a slant, about 2 mm thick.

Chinese sausage (lap cheong)

4. Shell, clean and devein the prawns if they are raw. You can leave the tails on. However, cooked prawns are perfectly fine.

5. Dried shrimps / anchovies or pork fat for flavouring the oil – the usual shrimps or anchovies are quite large, and you will need to remove them after using them to flavour the oil. You can always use the anchovies with nasi lemak, and the shrimp in a stirfry with vegetables if you don’t want to throw them away. I have also discovered some very fine small dried prawns in the Chinese supermarkets which can be left in the oil, as they add a nice subtle texture and flavour to the dish when it’s finished.

6. Make sure you have all the ingredients ready and to hand – once you start cooking, it’s super quick as the heat is so high, so you won’t want to be running around looking for things or chopping things up at the last minute.

1. Heat up the wok on a high heat, add a good glug of cooking oil. When the oil looks like it’s smoking, it’s ready. If you are using tiny cubes of pork fat, heat up the oil on a medium heat and fry the pork fat as it takes a little while to crisp up, then whack the heat up. Add lap cheong at this stage if you are using, fry till nearly crisp, then remove and put to one side.

2. Add the dried prawns / anchovies and fry until they brown and become crispy to give flavour to the oil. If you are using larger ones, discard from the oil. If you are using the fine shrimps, leave them in and cook until crispy.

3. Add the garlic, and fry till it browns slightly. If it cooks too quickly, remove the wok from the heat and continue to fry.

4. Put the wok back on the heat and add the garlic chives. Mix thoroughly until they soften and wilt slightly.

5. Add the ho fun noodles and toss thoroughly.
6. Add the two soy sauces and sugar and mix in thoroughly.

7. Push the noodles to one side, and crack the eggs into the wok in the space you have made. Move the wok so that the egg is directly above the heat, and the noodles are slightly removed from the heat. Stir the eggs to break the yolks and then allow them to cook underneath before flipping to cook on the other side. Then when cooked and firm, break up the egg ‘omelette’ and mix with the noodles. Don’t mix it too soon or the egg will scramble and get mixed into the noodles too much.

8. Add the prawns (and blood cockles/mussels etc if using). If raw, again, push the noodles to one side, and allow the prawns to cook thoroughly, flipping them over to ensure they are pink and cooked. If using cooked prawns, just mix thoroughly with the noodles until they are hot and coated with the flavours. Re-add the lap cheong if using, at this stage.

9. If using, add chilli paste to taste (I like it spicy so I put in a load) and mix well.
10. Chuck in the beansprouts and toss / mix well – they don’t need long – 20 seconds or so. Sprinkle liberally with white pepper and mix it in. That’s it – you’re ready to scoff!

The end…

Hope you liked this recipe and have fun trying it out. It’s really simple – just make sure the wok is smoking hot, and if it gets too hot and things start to burn, just remove from the heat for a few seconds. You want to have a slightly charred flavour, so don’t worry about slight burning.

Bon appetit! If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

Caring in Bristol: Call for donations

This December, 5 Foot Way is taking part in the annual Caring in Bristol Christmas project. Caring in Bristol provides warm, safe accommodation, food and social activities to homeless and vulnerable people in Bristol over the festive season to 1st January. We will be preparing a meal for 150 guests of the 250 daily visitors who rely on them at this time of year.


We will likely make a big vat of rice and serve it with sayur lodeh (Malaysian veggie coconut curry) and a turkey curry; and if we raise enough we will do some pudding too.
How can you help? Send us some cash and we will use it to buy the ingredients – we will cook it all up and deliver it to the venue and help serve the food.
If you are so inclined we will also be collecting warm clothing to take along – socks, gloves and hats – for women and men – gloves hats and scarves can be ones you no longer like or wear, but washed and clean. Socks need to be new (thick and warm ones). We will collect it all together and drop it off closer to the time.
Financial donations can be made easily via PayPal with this link – https://paypal.me/forwardcontrol or you can wire us the money if you already have our bank details.
Thank you for helping to make a difference to some of the homeless in Bristol!

Malaysian Pop-up Street Food Weekend


Ais Kacang

Preparations are ramping up for this weekend’s event with Wild Serai in Ewer Street, Southwark on 11-12 July 2015.

We have been busy perfecting our recipes for local handmade iced desserts and typical hot Malaysian coffee and teh tarik. Just covering all the bases with the weather!

We’re excited about our fresh coconut milk which will be used in the desserts made with our specially imported machine. It’s hard work but makes such a difference to the flavour. With homemade pandan infused noodles for the traditional cendol and ais kacang desserts, and sweet palm sugar syrup, it makes a delicious refreshing treat on a hot summer’s day.


Coconut grater

Killer coconut grating machine

Coconut Milk Grated coconut

We did it!


We had a fantastic day. The rain came briefly to drizzle lightly upon us but didn’t dampen our spirits or those of the crowds of lovely people who came to visit and fill their bellies. Keep following us to find out news of our next pop-up Asian market. Thank you to our great partners SEA Arts Fest and Bangkok Kitchen; lovely vendors A Grape Night In, Azi’s Kitchen, Bunta, Pepe’s Kitchen, Pitstop Cafe, Rangoon Sisters and Woolfson and Tay; the fabulous 5 Foot Way team who bust a gut to keep things running smoothly with happy faces; and, of course, the brilliant hordes who came to support and taste all the great food.

Pictures and other news to follow soon.

Community and Making It On Your Own

Putting this market together has been one heck of a journey. There has been so much to do and think about in order to make it happen and try to make it a success. Sadly, it’s meant I’ve not really been able to blog about it as much as I’d have liked to.

However, one thing that has really struck me is how despite sometimes feeling like you’re on your own with the long hours spent planning and publicising, sorting out equipment and facililties, persuading our amazing stalls to come on this journey, marketing and meeting, printing and leafletting; the truth is that in a few months I’ve grown a network of amazing partners and friends who have been incredibly supportive and helpful in providing their experience, knowledge and wisdom, trust in the idea and project, enthusiasm, hands-on practicality and good humour.

Early on, I had approached one of our partners, BanhMi11, to take part in the market. I had seen them a couple of years ago on television in Nigel Slater’s cooking show about contrasting and complementary flavours, making delicious grilled fish summer rolls and at the time had sat up and taken interest. I was enthused to see two Vietnamese women creating authentic SE Asian food from their home country and family experience on prime time television. Nigel didn’t give many clues as to who they were – just mentioning that they were from a market in East London. This set me on a mission to track them down and sample their food.

The street food scene was already burgeoning in markets at the time but this was probably about the start of the great pop-up markets like Kerb, StockMKT and Street Feast; and in general East Asian food stalls were not widely represented. From trusty Google, I managed to work out that they were probably one of two stalls in Broadway Market selling Vietnamese food; and my money was on BanhMi11, judging from their website. It was interesting to read their story – two friends with day jobs, who had given these up to follow their passion for the food of Vietnam. I visited the market and, on a cold rainy winter’s afternoon, sat in our parked car with a steaming cardboard container of their 3-day cooked beef pho, savouring the light flavoursome stock, delicious herby beef and noodles and blow your head off fresh-cut bird’s eye chillis.

But East London was so very far away…

Nonetheless, I visited when I could and watched their progress, as they grew and expanded – running deliveries to Canary Wharf, setting up their dining club and opening more stalls. Then, when my office relocated to Soho, I found one day from their website that they were opening a new stall on Berwick Street in the lively week day market. How excited was I? Hopping and skipping excited I can tell you.

On their first week I was there 3 times in the same week. Their banh mi, French baguettes filled with incredible meats or tofu cooked to their own delicious recipes, were always the most popular and there was often a long queue. For me, though, I loved the Imperial Pork BBQ on Vietnamese bun noodle salad or the delicious heady beef pho with lashing of fresh chilli.

When my office moved again, I was so disheartened and said to the friendly stall manager that if I could find a spot down in Southwark for them would they come? She said – find us a spot and we’ll see what we can do.

Fast forward 9 months…

In my new setting, I’d spent my time wandering around the local area, looking for new places to eat that satisfy my cravings for the food from home and other parts of SE Asia; but also trying to find ways to entice restaurants and street stalls down to this neck of the woods. This part of Southwark/Bankside sits in between two busy hubs – the London bridge area and Waterloo/Southbank areas, with lots of tourists nearer the river around the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe. Yet, the businesses which are moving in aplenty, and the local resident communities are poorly served for independent local eateries and shops.

Fortunately, things are changing and there are some gems that have been around a long while, like Pickles caff on Great Suffolk Street, or relative newcomers, my local favourites Woolfson & Tay and Bangkok Kitchen. When I took the challenge to put this market together, BanhMi11 were amongst the first I contacted hoping they would be able to join us. Since I’d seen them last, they’d opened two shops and become stars of the street food scene, demonstrating in huge shows like the recent Foodie festival at Battersea Park. So, it was a long shot…

They were incredibly supportive, saying they’d like to help however they could but they were hoping to move into a new direction, exploring ideas in events that would explore different concepts or the role food, the preparation and eating of it, plays in Eastern culture. Would I be interested in an event like that? This intrigued me as, being Malaysian, our food culture is very much centred around communal eating and sharing of dishes. We sit around the table, sharing the same food and many foods like dumplings or summer rolls are prepared together, with everyone sharing the workload. Steamboat is a great favourite of mine, where we sit together at the table, plunging all manner of delicious meats, seafood, vegetable and noodles into steaming hot broth to cook and then devour it all, drinking the flavoursome soup at the end of the meal.

I am thrilled therefore that they are going to be at 5 Foot Way’s first market, talking about their fond experiences of Vietnamese culture and food, drawing upon the recipes in their first and new cookbook, The Vietnamese Market Cookbook, to draw us into that experience of shared communal eating. In this extraordinary event, diners will get to try their hand at making delicious summer rolls together, guided by Van and Anh, the friends who founded the company, and enjoy that communal sense of sharing whilst still making it on their own.

This has been a great journey and I’m looking forward to a spectacular day and event.

UPDATE: THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, BanhMi11 have had to cancel this event. Apologies for any inconvenience caused and we hope you will enjoy the rest of the market.

A Purveyor of Fine Literature

  • W&T shop frontUPDATE: I’m so sad that Woolfson & Tay closed down but am leaving this post as a tribute to one of the best independent bookshops and nasi lemak sellers in London. Sadly missed…

Hang on a moment, I hear you say – what does a bookshop have to do with a street food market? All will become clear…

Our second vendor can only be described as the perfect bookshop. Still… what does this have to do with food, I hear you holler. Bear with me…

Woolfson & Tay is a local independent bookshop, very conveniently placed just around the corner from my office, and a mere skip and a hop from the venue on Union Street, where our first pop-up market is being held. Originally the bookshop was in that delightful corner of London that is Bermondsey Square and I tried to make it over there whenever I could. Their selection of books is thoughtful and seems to cover the whole spectrum of fiction and non-fiction that particularly tickles my fancy. A cookery book or travel writing, new novels or classics, children’s book or minority writing – it’s all there with handy tips from the team on which are their recommended reads, or you could have a chat with them about the books if you needed a bit of a steer. But when their lease came up, they moved into Bear Lane and that’s when I really got to know more about them.

Imagine my excitement, whilst plodding my weary way to work one morning to see a sign go up in an empty unit proclaiming that W&T would be opening there soon. Ooo – straight off to the internet went I, and lo and behold, it was true – W&T were coming! And what’s that – they hold author talks and events… and they have tai chi classes on Saturdays… and they have hot beverages and amazing cakes by Kaelie…

Cakes by Kaelie








an excessively cute dog



…and, this is when I nearly fell off my chair… HOT ASIAN LUNCHES. Oh… my… god… that I didn’t know… is this the perfect bookshop or what?

Next thought in my mind was – what kind of Asian lunches? They were still in the process of refurbishing and there were no details on the proposed menu on the website yet. Still, this was a big step in my evil aim to make this part of London my little South East Asian culinary enclave. I had a suspicion that Tay might be Malaysian which could only bode well. As countdown commenced to their opening day, they announced a soft opening – no lunches yet but soon to follow. Positively champing at the bit by this point, their menu went up for the first week’s lunches – a different meat or veggie option each day ranging from Malaysian chicken curry (yes!) to Chinese mushroom and chicken cooked with goji berries (sounded Chinese but could be Malaysian Chinese), and other tasty sounding dishes.

First lunch day – oh no, lunchtime meeting, I couldn’t go – but my Malaysian food obsessed colleague went down and came back with chicken curry and rice. He was unsure… needed more chilli and spices, might be watered down for English tastes. Oh dear, I thought, that’s a shame. But then the following week, nasi lemak was on the menu. Undeterred I was straight down there and delighted to see a huge vat of rich, unguent chicken curry swimming with curry leaves, star anise, cinnamon sticks emitting an heady aroma. This was accompanied by a thick, rich, radioactively red chilli sambal, ikan bilis (crispy fried anchovies), cucumber and coconut rice. With my bounty hot in my hands, back at my desk was the great unveiling of what has become a firm Bankside favourite. Oh the curry was good – thick and full of flavour. The sambal was sweat-inducingly spicy (and has become even more so over the months) and the ikan bilis were crunchy little morsels of salty, savoury delight. I thrust my plastic box of deliciousness in front of my colleague’s face who agreed that it looked much improved, and on tasting he proclaimed it so. A success!

W&T Nasi LemakWoolfson & Tay has become a firm lunchtime favourite at our office now. We takeaway several times a week and are sad when Frances Tay is away because she does the cooking, and we are therefore deprived of the tasty goodness they provide. As word of mouth grows, they’ve become busier and busier, and Tuesdays are now Nasi Lemak Tuesdays when we have to get down there quick before the food sells out – usually by 13:00. They are introducing another Malaysian favourite – curry laksa on Thursdays, and I can’t wait.

It was therefore a no-brainer when selecting vendors for the market to ask the lovely Fran to set up a stall to sell her delicious nasi lemak. I really can’t wait!

The first vendor

No prizes for guessing who was amongst the first people we asked to join us in the market. When we moved down to Southwark, I spent several fruitless days wandering around the area looking for something cheap, tasty, filling and which would hit the spot as far as my spicy chilli, noodle and rice cravings were concerned. You can take the gal out of Malaysia but you can’t take Malaysia out of the gal.

Honestly… I wrote to my favourite eateries telling them about the lack of non-chain, hot food, Asian eateries in the area and sent them my research on foot fall, the type of competiton in the neighbourhood, the type of customers there would be (local offices and tourists from the Tate Modern, Globe Theatre etc), available A3 retail units nearby – that’s how desperate I was.

Imagine my delight and surprise then to see this unassuming sign, across the road from the Union Street Theatre, right on my way to work, yet tucked away and easy to miss…

Bangkok Kitchen extOooo… eyes open wide, I crossed the road oblivious of the traffic and sniffed the air tentatively. It was 9am, so not much was happening. I peered in expectantly as the little person in my head filed the place away for further inspection.

12:00 sharp I was out of the office and down the road… lovely curry spicy smells drifted on the breeze as I got nearer. There was a queue outside… good sign. As I went walked up I could see there were two stalls – one with pre-cooked steaming hot curries and stir fries, yellow chicken curry, tom kha gai, chicken with basil and cashew nuts, vegetarian green curry, salmon red curry. Mmmmm……… The formula is simple – you can have steamed or fried rice, or fried noodles, paired with any of the hot dishes.

P1060484On the side, a seemingly innocuous but oh so essential table of condiments – mind bogglingly hot sliced bird’s eye chillies in fish sauce (oh yeah, bring it on!)…


…chilli oil with dregs, sweet chilli sauce, crushed peanuts and lemon slices – so you can tailor your meal to your satisfaction. On the other stall, they cook fried noodles or rice to order from a menu of Thai favourites.

BK Kitchen

These are cooked to perfection – really well seasoned, noodles have just the right amount of bite (not too sloppy), and fried rice with a spicy kick. They use heaps of fresh vegetables, spices and herbs and it all tastes good, good, good. Nothing too fancy – just honest, tasty, cheap food like you would find in South East Asia, where workers, families, young and old can sit down for a great meal. As an added touch of loveliness, they give away free prawn crackers on Fridays but you have to get there early before they run out. What more could you want?

It turns out I wasn’t the only one who thinks Bangkok Kitchen is awesome, as the excellent She Simmers wrote about them here. A gem of a curry rice shop indeed…

I’m thrilled to be partnering with Bangkok Kitchen on this, our first South East Asian street food market. Farhen and Guitar, business partners of BK, have been so incredibly helpful – we’ve got off to a brilliant start. So, who next?

How it started

Well, my long time friend and occasional business partner, Hi Ching, heads up an arts company, River Cultures and got in touch to tell me about a new arts festival he was putting together, looking specifically at South East Asian arts and culture. What could I do to help?

Hi and I had worked together a few times before. First he cast me in a mad show that he had written and produced at the Albany Theatre, then we partnered up on various Chinese New Year Festivals at Canary Wharf, in the City and the Southbank, and setting up and running an organic teahouse in Oriental City.

Well – what about something to do with food, I said. Food is, of course, integral to any culture and SE Asian life pretty much revolves around where to get the next excellent meal. Hi knows I’ve always wanted to develop a food court or street food project, knows I’m mad on food, a bit OCD when it comes to organisation and project management – and thus the Five Foot Way street market was born.

So, the next step was to find a place to hold it. I was really keen to hold the market near my office as I had grown to know many of the businesses in the area, and spent my lunch hours walking around and exploring – mainly to find delicious lunch options. By coincidence, Hi had organised several events for the arts festival in the area, and there was a natural synchronicity in the way things were beginning to pan out.

I trawled the internet for venues in the area, pounded the pavements after work and during lunch looking for places that looked like they might be suitable and contacted the very helpful Hire Space in my quest for the perfect venue. Now, Southwark is up and coming, and there were a lot of possibilities but it doesn’t yet have the trendy appeal of Bermondsey or Shoreditch, so it wasn’t looking great.

After pondering the various options, I was thinking we’d have to look further afield which would have been alright I guess, as the arts festival is running Londonwide but it made me feel a bit sad, as I really wanted to put this small patch of London on the map. A bit of resident’s pride I guess. Then as luck would have it, I was picking up my lunch from one of my favourite local eateries, Bangkok Kitchen and they were advertising a new bar and nightclub venture of theirs, Star Anise. Oh – that looks good, I thought – it’s in a railway arch, has lots of room, is nearby, is available to rent for special events, won’t break my budget. The cogs in my head started ticking…

Had a quick Google and found their Facebook page and got in touch. Well, we arranged a meeting and met up with the gregarious and energetiic Farhan, and his talented business partner, Guitar, and the pieces just fell into place. But not in the way I imagined. It soon became clear that great though the space at Star Anise is, the courtyard which houses Bangkok Kitchen would be much better. It’s semi-open-air and semi-covered, so we’ll get the feel of an outdoors bustling market, and still be prepared for possible inclement October weather (although I’ve put in my order for brilliant weather early). I love the atmosphere at Bangkok Kitchen, it’s semi-secluded and when it’s busy there’s the pleasant hum of people just enjoying their food in a relaxed environment. It feels as close to a South East Asian street stall as I could wish. This blog post from She Simmers sums up how great it is there.

So there we have it, the first leg of this journey is done. Next, how to find the food?