Food · Grain Free Recipes

Yong Tau Foo: Malaysian Food Made Easy

This recipe is one I have been wanting to make for over a year but thought would be horribly laborious and complicated… well I was completely wrong! It’s easy to make (even easier with a blender) and just as delicious made at home.

My late mother-in-law was Malaysian and connecting with that part of her heritage is obviously deeply important to my lovely wife- it also goes without saying that when ill all she wants to eat is the food her mother made her!

Which is why recently I found myself hunting down a recipe for Yong Tau Foo, also known as ‘wow, that’s the best street food I’ve ever eaten’.

Yong Tau Foo

In January 2016, a year after getting engaged, we headed out to Malaysia for a few weeks so I could meet her mother’s family and experience the loveliness that is that very special country.

Her family is Chinese-Malay and her aunts were very excited to take us on a tour of, the capital city, Kuala Lumpur’s China Town. After many hours of excitedly journeying through the streets, picking over things in the markets… and trying on dragon heads… they led us through a tiny alleyway and into a very hot, very humid square, covered in busy tables and chairs. Picking cautiously over open pipes, rocky terrain and the occasional gas line we made our way to the centre of the square where three noisy food stalls were set up, each cooking over an open flame as customers shouted out orders seemingly at random.

Once my dietary requirements were explained to the aunts they pointed me towards the stall with a massive, bubbling wok of delicious smelling soupy oil from which the cook was pulling up colourful stuffed vegetables. I’m not normally a fan of anything deep-fried but the smell was so delightful I just couldn’t resist!

I cannot stress enough how great a decision that was.

This is the day I discovered one of my top 10 favourite foods: Yong Tau Foo. The stuff of dreams.

I love Malaysian food- pretty much all Malaysian food- but eating it generally requires a lot of adapting and it can be a struggle to keep the same beautiful ‘flavour profile’ (which is a very wanky, Masterchef-y way of describing food… but also spot-on). Not so with Yong Tau Foo! I can’t pronounce it but I can eat it. And so can you! Unless you’re a vegetarian.

A fair warning before you begin this recipe: you will need to use your hands so make sure you have something to help you easily clean them to hand otherwise you will get fish all over your house. Fact.


For the Paste:
4 fillets of fresh mackerel (around 480g)
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup water
Some white pepper

10 pieces okra, seeds removed, slit lengthways
1 large aubergine, cut into thick horizontal slices and then slit to create a pocket.
10 pieces deep fried tofu balls (tau foo pok)- you can find them in Chinese shops and online
Small bowl water
I cup cooking oil (keep it light and dear god don’t use rapeseed… oh that awful taste)
The green tips of a spring onion bunch
Chopped coriander

Put all of the ingredients for the paste into a small food processor or nutribullet and blend. You can also chop the fish up incredibly finely using a massive cleaver and add the other ingredients a little at a time. That would be very authentic but also rather difficult if your knife skills aren’t all that.

Prepare to stuff your vegetables. You’ll need a normal dinner knife for this and dipping it in the water first will stop the paste from sticking too badly. Try not to overload the vegetables as obviously they will shrink slightly during cooking.

Whilst you’re stuffing (and I created quite a good production line!) warm a cup of cooking oil in a large frying pan.

You’ll first want to start frying the aubergines as they will take the longest to cook… please excuse the pictures from here on out- it got very dark very suddenly! You’ll know they’re done when they’re brown on each side and the stuffing has become firm.

Once the aubergine slices have cooked take them out of the pan and rest on some kitchen roll to soak up any excess oil while you cook the rest of the stuffed vegetables.

Yong Tau Foo
Done! Enjoy scattered with sliced spring onion tops and chopped coriander. Drizzle soy sauce over the top and teaspoon of chilli oil.


If you want to be daring or just trust that you’re excellent with filleting then you could use a large, whole mackerel for this but make sure you’ve cleaned it and drained it well. Also, you are a brave, impressive person.

Other stuffed things commonly found in Yong Tau Foo include red chillies, bean curd skin sheets and bitter gourd but I’ve kept it to things you can generally easily find in England and also aren’t incredibly spicy.

The easiest way to remove okra’s insides is to delicately slit lengthways on one side and then slightly-less-delicately jam your finger in there from the tip and pull it all out.

Food · Grain Free Recipes · Sugar Free Recipes

Low FODMAP Chicken Laksa Recipe

Following a Low FODMAP diet doesn’t have to be boring or tasteless just because onion and garlic are out of the question! Having cut those two things out I’ve had a flavour revelation in my life in that I now get to eat lots of yummy things but not worry about horrific pain afterwards. It took me so long to work out that these were a problem for me because they are in near literally every dish I was making!

I’ve always loved food from south east Asia but since marrying my wife, who is half Malaysian, I’ve started to make more and more dishes inspired by their regional cuisines. These dishes are amazingly easy to adapt because they still taste great without the allium vegetables that carry a lot of western recipes.

Laksa is one of the most popular dishes in the Peranakan (also known as Nonya) staple. The Peranakans were descendants of early chinese migrants who settled in parts of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, inter-marrying with local Malay people to create a culture that combines the two societies. Nonya, an old Malay term of respect and affection for a woman of prominent social standing, is often used to refer to the cuisine of the Peranakans.

Nonya food blends Chinese ingredients with the distinct spices and cooking techniques traditionally part of the Malay community. The food is tangy, aromatic, spicy and herbal. Laksa is all of these things being a spicy rice noodle soup based on either rich coconut milk or sour asam/tamarind with chicken, prawns or fish.

My one issue with nonya cuisine is that it can be too sweet (and for someone who can’t have sugar that’s quite an issue!) but I’ve made this dish diabetes friendly by using unsweetened sauces and a stevia based brown sugar replacement from Sukrin. This chicken laksa took a bit of experimenting to get right but it’s now such an easy go to dish I make it every other week!



For the paste:

2 tbsp oil

2 red chillies, de-seeded

1 inch ginger, roughly chopped

2 stalks lemon grass (or 1 tsp lemon grass paste)

2 teaspoons unsweetened peanut butter

400ml coconut water

400ml water

For the filling:

8 chicken drumsticks (or a mix of thigh and drumsticks)

2 tbsp fish sauce

2 tsp tamarind paste (or the juice of a lime)

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp Sukrin brown sugar replacement

large handful of beansprouts

1 red pepper cut into strips

dried rice noodles for 4


green tops of 4 spring onions

small handful of coriander and mint leaves, roughly chopped

1 lime, cut into wedges.

  •      Skin the chicken and lay salted skin on a rack in a baking tray ready to go in the oven later. Preheat oven to 180C/350F
  •      Blend the laksa paste ingredients in a small food processor until smooth
  •      Put chicken skin in oven for 45 minutes.
  •      Warm a large, heavy based pan on a medium heat and gently fry the paste for 1-2 mins.
  •      Add coconut milk, water, chicken, fish sauce, tamarind/lime juice, turmeric and brown sugar.
  •      Bring to the boil then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  •      Once chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened, add the beansprouts and red pepper. Cook for a further 2 minutes.
  •      Follow the cooking instructions for your rice noodles.
  •      Divide rice noodles between 4 bowls and ladle in laksa. Top with the chicken skin, sliced spring onions, coriander and mint leaves and wedges of lime.

By far the best way to keep fresh ginger is to buy it in bulk and freeze it. You can chop it into 1inch portions before doing this but I tend to freeze it whole because that makes it easy to grate. The best way to chop it when frozen is to use a breadknife… just don’t try to do so whilst taking a photograph because you will drop something and it may or may not be your very expensive camera that you will then panic about for a while. Deep breath though; it was fine and I learnt my lesson. Ish.

I personally don’t get on well with sugar, we have a long-standing beef, but if you do then by all means use sweetened peanut butter. I don’t think the recipe calls for it but the unsweetened stuff is harder to find so don’t go out of your way. Equally, whilst this version is diabetes friendly, you can use regular brown sugar if that works for you.

‘Light’ coconut milk is a con- you’re paying the same price for less coconut and more water- so just buy the regular stuff and add your own water at home.


Food · Grain Free Recipes · Sugar Free Recipes

Gluten Free Cloud Bread Recipe

It’s been ten years since I ate a slice of bread. I can remember it now… Frenchay Hospital Children’s Ward, the constant streams of not-particularly-hot-but-still-somehow-perfectly-crunchy-to-the-right-amount white toast. Always well buttered too. I’m not sure how nurses have that skill but perhaps ‘Excellence in Toast Buttering’ is a module in nursing school?

But then I became ill-er. And my stomach worked less. And I could no longer have those faultless triangles of cardboard-y goodness.

I now eat a gluten-free, low carb version of the FODMAP Diet. It’s a mouthful to say, even harder to explain but at least it means that my recipes work for the majority of people- because if I can eat it, there’s a high chance you will also be able to!

Unfortunately that doesn’t leave a lot of space in my eating for bread. Ah bread, how I loved you… Ahem. An ode to bread this is not. Oh no, this is an ode to something so much better than bread! This is an ode to the wonder that is (drum roll please)… Cloud Bread! Better than bread because it doesn’t attack my body and just as tasty. It’s also referred to as Oopsie Rolls and it’s the perfect low-carb thing to eat when you feel a hankering for a sandwich.


Truthfully, I always make these with the intention of batch cooking enough for a week and gorging on sandwiches but they’re so darn tasty they never make it past the first 24 hours. Finally something I can mop up sauce with! As you can imagine, I eat a lot of saucy things within those 24 hours.



4 large eggs, separated
½ tsp cream of tartar
55g cream cheese (I use a lactose free brand)
½ tsp sea salt

Optional Extras: 1 tsp herbs of your choice, ¼ tsp garlic powder.

  • Heat the oven to 150C/300F.
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Separate the egg whites and egg yolks placing in two different bowls.
  • Add cream cheese to the egg yolks, beat with an electric whisk or stand mixer until fully blended. Beat in the salt and herbs with garlic if you are using them.
    Remember to thoroughly clean your whisk before using it in the egg whites!
  • Whip the egg whites. Add the cream of tartar and beat on high until firm peaks form.
  • Gently fold the firm meringue into the yolk mixture. Try not to deflate the meringue as we need a foamy, firm texture.
  • Spoon onto the baking sheets in ¼ cup portions. Try to create even 4 inch circles and make sure to leave space around each circle.
  • Bake for up to 30 minutes until golden on the outside and firm.
  • Cool on the baking sheets for several minutes before removing.

The cloud breads can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for several days… if you can resist for that long!

I buy the Dr Oetkr cream of tartar sachets and they’re a revelation! Each one is a teaspoonful so they’re great for following a recipe when you have the ‘can’t be arsed, why isn’t baking like cooking so I can just chuck it in and see?’ genes. I point no fingers.

This recipe is very adaptive and can be changed to suit your palate. If you prefer a hefty garlic kick then go for it and add a little more powder to the mixture. I’ve found through my Low FODMAP diet that eating garlic is NOT a good idea for me (no matter how much I might like it!) so I tend to avoid. The breads work well with an Italianate mixture of dried herbs and I find the flavor a little reminiscent of pizza, which is very exciting. I’m easily pleased. I love these breads. I hope you do too!