Anna Jones’s party recipes for noodle bowls and dumplings | The modern cook

Anna Jones recipes: Its party day, and where theres drink, there should be food which must be friendly, fresh and flavoursome, like these little peanut noodle bowl and mini squash dumplings

I am that person at a party, urgently in accordance with the one tray of vegetarian canapes around, trying to sneak a second mouthful before I get noticed. I cant count the number of parties I have left a little bleary as they were simply wasnt anything to eat. As far as I am concerned, where theres drink, there should be food for everyone. So I have three things I keep in mind when I am making food for a party.

While its hard to cater to all tastes and whims, I cook food that I hope almost everyone can eat. This is a party and no one wants to feel left on the sidelines. Party food should be friendly , not too fussy, casual and convivial. Canapes arent my thing; I favor something a little more substantial, colourful and full of flavor. One thing I always crave at a party is light, fresh food especially with champagne or anything bubbly. I like a reach of freshness and chilli to pep everyone up, clean flavours that sing. Punchy Asian flavour, like the recipes below, are what I want when Im chatting and sipping a drink.

Little peanut noodle bowls

These little bowl of bun cha a fragrant, delicate rice noodle salad are a take over the original Hanoi recipe. Ive constructed it my own with chilli-spiked peanut butter tofu. Its half noodles, half salad, all flavor. Here many of my favourite things jump into the same bowl: crispy tofu, bright and zippy veggies and sprightly herbs. For a quick assembly, have everything prepped and lined up and your bowls in a row so you can quickly drop each element in and move on to the next. If you can get your hands on some Vietnamese basil, mint, coriander and perilla, it would take this bun cha to the next level, but Ive maintained it simple with mint and coriander here.

Makes 10 small bowlfuls
For the tofu
400g firm tofu, chopped into 5mm fingers
2 red chillies
2 garlic cloves
1 stalk of fresh lemongrass
2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp peanut butter
Coconut oil

For the noodles and veg
250g rice vermicelli
1 small iceberg lettuce
2 large carrots
1 cucumber
4 spring onions
1 ripe avocado
A small bunch of fresh coriander
100g unsalted peanuts
A small bunch of fresh mint or other herbs( see introduction)

For the dressing
A small thumb of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 tbsp runny honey or maple syrup
2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
Juice of 2 limes
1 tsp sesame oil
Good dash of chilli sauce

1 Set the tofu into a bowl. Finely chop the chilli, garlic and lemongrass. Set aside half the chilli and garlic and add the remainder to the bowl of tofu with all the lemongrass, the soy sauce and half the lime juice. Set aside to marinate.

2 Mix the other half of the lime juice with the peanut butter and a splash of water and set aside.

3 Set the vermicelli into a bowl, covering with boiling water and leave to soak for 3 minutes, or follow the packet instructions.

4 Shred the lettuce. Cut the carrots and cucumber into matchsticks. Finely slice the spring onions. Slice the avocado thinly. Roughly chop the coriander and do the same to the peanuts.

5 Make the dressing by mixing the reserved chilli and garlic with the rest of the dressing ingredients.

6 Heat a pan and add a little coconut oil. Drain the tofu, reserving the marinade. Once the petroleum is hot, add the tofu to the pan and fry until browned on all sides, then add the peanut butter concoction and the reserved marinade, and fling together to coat. Take it off the heat.

7 Pile the drained noodles into the bowls and top with the veggies, coriander, peanuts and roughly torn mint( or other herbs if you have them ). Set the tofu and any marinade left in the pan on top and pour the dressing over. Each guest can mix up their own bowl.

Anna Well worth the effort Anna Joness mini squash and chive dumplings. Photo: Issy Croker for the Guardian

Mini squash and chive dumplings

These take time to put together: I enlist a couple of helpers for gyoza folding. The finished dumplings will be more than worth the effort. They can be made ahead and frozen if you like. You can make gyoza pastry yourself, but I always buy it. Youll find packets of fresh or frozen in most Asian supermarkets( and theyre available online ). If you are using frozen gyoza wrappers, make sure they are defrosted before you use them: itll take 30 minutes. Encompass them with a somewhat damp piece of kitchen paper to stop them drying out.

Makes about 30 dumplings
red chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
3cm piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
2 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
200g white cabbage, roughly chopped
200g butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and approximately chopped
1 tsp sesame oil
tbsp soy sauce
A small bunch of chives, chopped
30 gyoza wrappers
Groundnut or vegetable oil

For the dipping sauce
8 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
8 tbsp brown rice vinegar
4 tbsp honey
2 tbsp chilli sauce
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1 To construct the filling, put the chilli, garlic, ginger and spring onions in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped( or pound by hand if you like ).

2 Add the cabbage and squash to the food processor bowl, along with the sesame petroleum and soy, and blitz again until you have a coarse paste( you can finely chop the cabbage and grate the squash if you dont have a food processor ). Scrape the concoction into a bowl and mix in the chopped chives.

Assembling Assembling the squash and chive dumplings. Photo: Issy Croker for the Guardian

3 To assemble the dumplings, youll need the fill, the gyoza wrappers, a bowl of cold water and a clean tray. Take one of the wrappers from the pile and put it in the palm of your hand: you will need to do this slowly and carefully. Maintain the rest of the wrappers covered with damp kitchen newspaper to stop them from drying out. Spoon a heaped tablespoonful of the filling into the middle of the wrapper dont be tempted to overfill or it will be hard to seal. Use your finger to stifle the leading edge of the wrapper with a little water. Fold the wrapper in half, pleat the edge and press downto seal altogether. Maintain running until youve used up all the filling. The dumplings can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer for a few months.

4 When you are ready to cook the dumplings, build your dipping sauce by whisking all the ingredients together in a small bowl.

5 Put a little petroleum in a nonstick frying pan big enough to hold at least 8 dumplings and put on a medium hot, remembering that you need to cook them in a single layer. As the pan begin to warm, set the dumplings in with their flat bottoms on the base. Fry them until they are golden underneath.

6 As soon as the bottoms are crisp, pour in hot water halfway up the side of the dumplings. Turn the hot up, bring the pan to the simmer and cover-up with a eyelid. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 8 minutes.

7 When the dumplings are cooked, remove the lid and turn the heat up to high. The water should have almost evaporated. You now want to cook them for a final minute or so until the bottoms get nice and crisp. Serve warm with the dipping sauce.

Anna Jones is a chef, writer and author of A Modern Way to Eat and A Modern Way to Cook( Fourth Estate ); annajones.co.uk; @we_are_food

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