Recipes by Melissa Hemsley author of “Eat Happy”


This is the Filipino version of steak and onions, known as bisteak. My mum grew up in Manila cooking it with kalamansi, a cross between a mandarin and a kumquat, but lemon or lime make a good substitute. This takes just 10 minutes to cook, freeing up time to make a great side or two.

Serves 4


2 tablespoons coconut oil or ghee or oil of choice

2 large onions, sliced into rings

500g sirloin steak, cut into 5mm slices

1 tbsp flour - I used chickpea flour, use what you have

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

4 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce, to taste

Sea salt and black pepper


1. Melt half the oil in a large, wide frying pan, add the onion rings and fry over a medium heat for about 3 minutes until softened slightly but still with a bit of bite, then set aside on a plate.

2. Dust the steak slices in flour and season with a little salt and pepper.

3. Melt the remaining oil in the same pan, add the steak pieces, in batches if necessary so you don’t over crowd the pan, and fry over a high heat for about 1 minute on each side, then transfer to the plate with the onion rings.

4. Fry the garlic in the pan for about 30 seconds until softened but not brown. Add the lemon juice, tamari/soy and a good pinch of pepper and simmer for 1 minutes.

5. Return the steak and onions to the pan to gently heat through in the sauce for 30 seconds then serve.

Tamarind Ginger Greens

Tamarind is what makes the sauce for Asian classics like Pad Thai taste so good, and this dish is inspired by my Filipino Mum who loves tamarind and always fed it to me as a child in soups like Sinigang and to flavour stir fries. Its tangy sweet-sour flavour perfectly cuts through the prawns, which you could swap with any type of fish fillet or add chunks of aubergine. The ginger greens are lovely hot or warm, or eaten cold as a salad. You can swap in any green veg you have in the fridge.

Serves 4


1 tbs coconut oil or ghee

500g raw medium prawns, shell off

Sea salt and black pepper

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

For the tamarind sauce

3 tbsp tamarind paste (to taste, depends on strength of the brand)

1 teaspoon chilli flakes or fresh chilli, deseeded and diced, depending on how spicy you like things

1 tbsp maple syrup or honey

2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce (or to taste)

Juice of 1 - 2 limes or 1 lemon

For the greens

1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil or ghee

1 bunch of spring onions, sliced (green parts saved to garnish)

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3cm piece of ginger, finely chopped

1 head of broccoli (about 300g), cut into small florets or broccoli florets

250g green beans, trimmed

250g sugar snap peas or mangetout, chopped

To serve

1 large handful of mixed fresh herbs (such as coriander, basil or mint), finely chopped

1 large handful of cashews, toasted and roughly chopped or peanuts


1. Whisk the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

2. Toast the nuts in a very large deep sided frying pan for 1 minute until golden and then set aside.

3. Melt the 1 1?2 tablespoons of oil in the frying pan, add the white parts of the spring onions, garlic and ginger and fry over a medium heat for 30 seconds - 1 minute.

4. Tip in all the green vegetables and stir-fry on a medium - high heat for 5 minutes until just tender. Add a splash of water if the greens are getting too dry and sticking to the pan and then tip them out into a bowl or plate and set aside.

5. In the same pan, add a little more oil to pan then add a clove of garlic along with the prawns and cook for a few minutes until they turn pink, season with salt & pepper..

6. Add the greens back to the pan and stir in the tamarind sauce.. Increase the heat and simmer for about 30 seconds to heat through. Taste for seasoning, adding a little more tamari/soy if you’d like it to be saltier.

7. Serve with the green parts of the spring onions and the fresh herbs and toasted nuts.

Chicken Tinola

A super tasty, ginger chicken soup which never fails to make me feel better. If you want a really fast version, you could use leftover chicken from your Sunday roast and use shop bought chicken broth or stock. My Mum served this with rice growing up but you could have it with quinoa or noodles. I always change up the veg, sometimes adding courgettes or any cabbage I can get. If you don’t like ‘bits’ of ginger, you can finely grate it in

Serves 4


1 tbsp ghee or coconut oil

6 large chicken thighs

2 large onions, diced

6 cloves garlic, finely diced

2 inch piece of ginger, finely diced

4 large carrots, chopped into medium sized chunks

4 heads of pak choy, shredded or 400g cabbage

1.5 -2l water

2 large pinches of black or white pepper

2 - 3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (half a lemon)

1 tbs fish sauce

For ‘extra sauce’ (to serve in a little bowl)

2 tbsp of soy sauce or tamari

Juice of half a large lemon

1 pinch of black or white white pepper


1. In a large saucepan, cover the chicken thighs with water and slowly poach on a medium heat until the chicken is cooked through – approximately 25-30 minutes.

2. Remove the cooked chicken and allow it to cool slightly before shredding (using two forks or sharp knife and fork) into bite size pieces. Add to a bowl with 2.5 tablespoons of tamari and 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, and set aside (don’t worry if you don’t have time to do this)

3. Place the leftover chicken bones and any skin back into the saucepan with the water to make the chicken stock.

4. Bring to the boil and skim off any scum that forms on the surface. Cover and simmer for as long as possible – a few hours is best, but the longer the better. If you’re in a hurry, let it cook for at least 30 minutes while you chop the other ingredients and start cooking them.

5. Meanwhile in a second large saucepan, fry the onions, garlic and ginger in ghee/coconut oil on a medium heat until softened but not browned for about 5 minutes.

6. Add the chopped carrots and using a sieve to catch the bones, pour in the chicken stock and let everything simmer together for 10 minutes until the carrots are just tender.

8. Season with pepper and the fish sauce (which will add saltiness), and then add the shredded pak choy, the chicken and the sauce, stir and taste for seasoning. Let simmer for a few more minutes to heat through before serving into bowls.

9. Mix the ‘extra sauce’ ingredients in a little bowl. Serve alongside the tinola and let everyone add themselves.

Pancit Noodles

My Mum’s been making this for me since forever and it’s always present at family parties. There was definitely a few years of my childhood when I picked the vegetables out (but was made to eat them anyway at the end before leaving the table!) Rice and egg noodles are traditional but I prefer buckwheat (soba) noodles. Apparently the Filipinos adapted this dish from the Chinese migrants in the Philippines hundreds of years ago. You could throw in cooked prawns, leftover shredded chicken, pork or beef, have fried egg on top or add more even more vegetables – broccoli, pak choy/bok choy, mange tout, the works!

Serves 8 as a side


500g buckwheat or rice noodles

2 ½ tbs ghee (or coconut oil if you like)

2 large onions, diced

6 cloves garlic, finely diced

3 large carrots, julienned

1/2 large white or green cabbage, about 400g, core removed, quartered and finely shredded

3 large handfuls of green beans, about 300g, halved

1/2 mug of broth, stock or water, use chicken or veg

4 tbsp tamari or soy sauce (or to taste)

1 tbsp maple syrup or honey

1 tbsp fish sauce, optional

2 – 3 tbsp lemon or lime juice

Sea salt & pepper to taste

Chilli flakes, optional

To serve

1 limes or 1 lemon, in wedges

1 small bunch of spring onions, finely chopped


1. Cook noodles according to packet instructions, then rinse and drain, leave to cool, toss in a little oil to stop them sticking. Top tip for soba noodles, cook them in plenty of water and use forks to separate the noodles for the first 2 mins of cooking.

2. In a very large frying pan, fry the onions in ghee or oil for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time

3. Add the garlic and a big pinch of sea salt & fry for another minute.

4. Add the carrots to the pan and stir fry for 3 minutes, add some water/stock/broth to stop it sticking & cook until starting to soften.

5. Add the green beans and cabbage for a final 2 mins until the veg is just tender.

6. Add soy sauce/tamari, maple syrup, chilli flakes, lemon juice, fish sauce, stir then add noodles, a few handfuls at a time can make it easier & toss the noodles through the veg.

Add a few tbs of water/stock/broth if it’s dry and taste

for seasoning then serve up with citrus wedges and scatter over the spring onions and extra chilli flakes.