Ginger, chilli and spring onion salsa | Cumquat and soy dipping sauce

Posts have been a bit slow lately. I’ve been sick and am still recovering.

In the meantime, I thought I’d write about some favourite dipping sauces. The ‘salsa’ is so-called because you’re meant to eat the ginger, chilli and spring onion as well and the julienned slices make it feel weird to call it a sauce exactly. It goes particularly well with large bowl of fresh prawns that have been poached whole in plain water. Peel the prawns whilst still warm, dip into the sauce and enjoy the simplicity. Have a cold beer and some good friends beside you.

Specifying neutral vegetable oil below is very deliberate. When I see chefs like Jamie Oliver obsessively use olive oil with EVERYTHING regardless of the cuisine, it drives me crazy. Olive oil isn’t appropriate for most Asian cooking. I use olive oil when cooking Italian and Spanish but Asian? No way. A neutral vegetable oil means that the flavours aren’t muddied.

Neutral vegetable oils that I’ve previously recommended are rice bran oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil and safflower oil.

Feeds: 4 people
Start cooking: 10 minutes before cooking prawns

Ginger, chilli and spring onion salsa


  • 1 large piece x fresh ginger (preferably young)
  • 2 x spring onion
  • 8 scant tablespoons x soy sauce
  • 8 tablespoons x neutral vegetable oil
  • 1-4 x small Thai chillis (red or green, to taste)


  1. If your ginger is not young, scrape off the beige skin with the back of a knife. Then very finely julienne and set aside. We’ll eat the ginger raw so the finer you make it, the more pleasant it will be to eat.
  2. Do the same for the spring onion, white and green parts.
  3. Slice the chillis, ensuring that they aren’t in large chunks. Everything should be delicate.
  4. Divide the ginger, spring onion and chilli in individual dipping plates or small bowls.
  5. Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to each dish, followed by a scant tablespoon of soy sauce.

As mentioned above, poach some fresh prawns and just dip into your individual bowls. It should taste zingy from the raw ginger and spring onions, fiery from the chilli and seasoned from the soy sauce. The oil helps soften the saltiness of the soy sauce and smooths out the overall taste. Make sure you pick up some of the mixture with the prawns as you eat – it all adds texture and freshness.

This salsa goes well with any kind of seafood really; try over a fresh oyster or spooned over poached fish or chicken. It’s even great just tossed with some warm noodles and a bunch of green, leafy vegetables to make a light meal.

This cumquat and soy sauce mixture couldn’t be easier. Even calling it a recipe is a bit of a stretch. It’s a change from lemon and a great way to use this underrated citrus fruit.

Now you can do something else with cumquats other than make tangy marmalade.

Feeds: 2 people
Start cooking: 5 minutes before serving

Cumquat and soy dipping sauce

  • 3 x cumquats
  • 1 tablespoon x soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon x neutral vegetable oil – optional
  1. Cut two cumquats in half and squeeze the juice into a small bowl. Remove the seeds if you wish.
  2. Add the soy sauce and oil (if using). Mix with the juice and taste. Adjust with the juice of another cumquat if you wish or more soy as desired.

The vegetable oil is optional because it’s merely a carrier to extend the dressing further. It will also slightly soften the saltiness of the soy sauce. If you want, you can choose to add a teaspoon of water instead. Don’t worry, you’ll still get the cumquat tang in there.

I love the cumquat dip just with a piece of simple grilled or fried fish (no flour or batter required, just patiently shallow fry in 1 cm of vegetable oil). You don’t need to season the fish at all as the soy will do that and the cumquats will add an unusual tang. If you like, you can scatter some fresh herbs like coriander or shiso leaf on top of the fish. Have salad on the side and that’s your meal done.