Sunday, 31 August 2014

Crab and pork dumplings...a dedication

We're sticking to traditional (well, as close to) Chinese food this time. There isn't always a need to mess with something to try and make it better. And dim sum is a clear example of that. I'm incredibly picky when it comes to dim sum... I rarely go outside three different places in London for the lunch time Sunday rush of trolley dashing...dim sum trolley dashing that is. 
Every Sunday we would join two other families for dim sum in Bayswater. No roasties, Yorkshire puds or apple pie for me...just noodles, har gau and custard buns. What a drag. 
There's something about those Sunday rituals which makes dim sum so special. Even when my brother and I were really young we were allowed in the restaurant (stuffing noodles in our mouths and playing with our toys under the table wasn't just restricted to our house apparently), and I think that really was the start of my education and passion for restaurants and social eating. 

I dedicate this post to my Grandmother, who sadly passed away this week. She was a strong woman who looked after her family with much love. My mum is extremely lucky to have been raised by her. I would only see grandma every few years or so, but the one thing I remember most about her and my grandfather was that we would always go visit her in the same restaurant in Shatin. I remember it for two reasons...the way the staff treated my grandparents like they were their own family (right down to knowing what to order for them) and also the fact we had to pass the Snoopy park every time...amazing. It was probably the most frequented restaurant I ever went to in Hong Kong. Not the best food, but what the restaurant stood for was much more significant. I've been extremely lucky to have known all my grandparents for a long time. It's amazing how a simple lunch ritual can hold such meaning and so many memories.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Hoisin-tahini pork noodles: Chop, cook and chow down


Today was a day for a quick, make it up on the go, sort of recipe. I had some minced pork and cabbage to eat- but no real clue what to put it with until I started cooking. Starving from a run, this was a quick off the cuff meal which is perfect to make with the things lurking in your fridge. 
Noodles seem to be engrained into my weekly staple repertoire - at least twice a week I need to fulfil my noodle crazy craving (much to my boyfriend's dismay).  One of my earliest memories of food is with my brother, secretly sitting under the kitchen table stuffing our mouths with as many noodles as possible. Ultimately, our giggles and mouths jammed packed with noodles led to a mess on the floor...but it did mean my relationship with noodles started off pretty positive afrom what I can remember. 
 

When my friend Jen told me she's working in a noodle/ramen cafe out in LA I COULDNT CONTAIN MYSELF. Jealousy swept over, an unlimited presence of noodles four times a week? Heaven. And although this recipe most probably isn't on any level of noodle greatness..it's an easy one to chop, cook and chow down. Hoisin and tahini is a great sweet and nutty combination, with a nice crunch of cabbage and edamame (I managed to dig out from the freezer). It barely takes ten minutes to cook, so you just got to try this one! 

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Turbo turbo(t) - speedy black bean steamed turbot

As I planned for a post this week, I was finding an excuse to go back to the wonderful Moxons Fishmongers on Bute Street, South Kensington. Great service, great fish and there's just that satisfying thing about trying to go against the supermarket grain and do your big shop in all the farmers' markets, butchers, bakers, local grocery stores etc. Especially when all the supermarkets are within a 2 minute walk from your house, and they scream convenience. It's good to slow down in London sometimes and make a morning out of it, planning, walking, chatting to shopkeepers. Very un-London. However, my British politeness got in the way this time, and I was so quietly angry with myself once I had left the shop. Having to settle for some turbot as opposed to another fish I was hoping for, the guy takes care, time and attention to skin, fillet and deconstruct this whopping turbot. What he said was I could get two fillets out of it, but it was a generous four servings...three more than I really needed for a blog post in fairness. And when it came round to paying, I just had to suck up £25 and pray I wouldn't ruin the fish when I got home. Even my portioning for black cod hasn't been that bad! Leaving the fishmongers slightly cheated and out of pocket, I still find it annoying that I was so British about the whole thing and just coughed up the money...

But boy, did that turbot deliver. Soft, silky and delicate... I was glad that I steamed the fillets to maintain it's juicy goodness. 
We are all familiar with black bean sauce, but so many of us turn to the jar. Actually, in most Asian grocery stores the beans are stocked right there. To make your own black bean sauce couldn't be simpler. Turbo speed for a mid-week dinner - it only takes 7 minutes to steam. Quick cook on your rice cooker, steam some asparagus in the last few minutes in the cooker as well and you're good to go. 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Coconut - raspberry ice pops

Whenever my brother comes to visit from Leeds, it's a physical stomach preparation to keep up. Call it sibling rivalry, call it plain stupidity, I have the insane need to eat spoonful for spoonful against my brother. Because, even if his calorie intake allows it, I feel it it unjust for him to eat more than me. And boy, can he eat a lot. 
We had a wonderful dinner at one of my favourite restaurants, the 10 cases - Covent Garden bistro and brilliant wines done to the best standard, all with a wonderful, friendly and relaxed atmosphere. It takes a lot for my brother to step out of his familiar SW london setting, and he was blown away. Little friendly starters of crispy squid, grilled octopus, jamón iberico...followed by a juicy pork belly main course. All at sensible sizes in anticipation for the most immense and best chocolate mousse I've had...maybe ever. May we hope it is the only constant on the menu for the rest of time. 
 
Desserts aren't HK's strong point, however, when it comes to stealing surrounding cultures' sweet treats, they do a great job! We all know it's been crazy hot up in London and the humidity is anything but pleasant. What better way to come home to a creamy, fruity home made ice pop. Inspired by Magnum's anniversary DIY ice cream bar, this is as sophisticated ice lolly you can't wait to come home to. And it's so simple it's almost embarrassing to write this one up as a recipe. In fact, it's more of an assembly. So, have fun! 

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Check out those mussels...

The past week has been a daze, mainly due to my post holiday buzz and general happiness that the next holiday is only a week away. Last week I was in sunny Spain, in a little place called Tamariu, or should I say the Beverley Hills of España. We stayed in a beautiful villa, up in the hills overlooking the sea and ten minutes away from a beautiful town called Begur. It felt like the Cannes you had always hoped for...full of beautiful artisan shops, restaurants and people, and none of the pretentious and expensive malarkey that taints your memory. If you are ever out there, there is an incredible little beach called Aiguablava with an even more incredible seafood restaurant called Toc al Mar. GO.THERE. 


One thing which always makes me feel like I'm well into the holiday is how your view of food changes. As there were ten of us, (and a beautiful kitchen I could practically live in), we cooked most nights - fresh fish, mountains of Spanish tortilla, salads, jamón, wine...and more wine. We even attempted a cake without any scales (buttery deliciousness for your information). You have the time to cook for enjoyment, as opposed to scrapping a meal of sorts after work, and your whole body seems to reset and relax. It's wonderful. That is, until you leave things out on the table and go poolside...and a wiley gang of cats come in and steal your food. Bastards.

The summer hunger you get after swimming can only be relinquished with seafood and shellfish...and mussels hits the spot for me. I wanted to make some of these sweet suckers with a little punchy zing of spring onions. The bright and contrasting colours are inviting and you can pop these mussels in your mouth again and again, like munching on a packet of crisps. The sauce is a take on what the Chinese normally eat with poached chicken. But, I've realised it's just as tasty on rice, noodles and now as a dipping sauce for this dish. Try it out, mussels are economical and most definitely a crowd pleaser. Serve with egg noodles or even just some steamed mantou buns that you can find in asian grocery shops to soak up that delicious sauce. 

Monday, 23 June 2014

For the Langoust-ine day of the year: Cantonese langoustines with noodles



I cooked up these suckers on summer solstice this weekend, and what's great was there was still a lot of light to photograph these before they were immediately devoured. I don't know how, but the sweet langoustine always seems to be the shy wallflower of the crustaceans. Constantly overshadowed and out-trendied by it's siblings like lobster (beefy royalty of the sea), crayfish (punchy vibrant minions) and crabs (even those soft shell suckers have more prominence than little lango). Perhaps it has been forgotten and cast aside due to our malpractice of dousing them in batter and calling it scampi. This breaded ill fate has meant we've actually forgotten that langoustines, served as they are (i.e. not battered and deep fried to a crisp), are deliciously plump, sweet, delicate and succulent. There seems to be a large gap between the top restaurants cooking langoustine for a delectable (and most probably expensive) dish and the keen amateur chef or dinner party menu appearance...when in fact these cute little guys are so simple to cook. To eat, if their shells are on, can be seen as rather daunting (and with about a 25% yield of pure meat it's hard to overcome), however once you know...it's so simple. Twist the head, turn the tail on its side and press down till you hear a crunch. From there, it'll be easy to pull away the meat and peel the shell off.




This recipe normally calls for shelled jumbo prawns, but the sweet little langoes were calling for me - and it's the type of dish where you sort of have to give in to the mess and accept the glorious, sweet and spicy sauce drape over your fingers. If this isn't finger licking good, I don't know what is. You can, of course, take these out their shell before serving for a more "polite" way of eating, but I like the fun of just getting stuck in in a sort of animalistic way. Egg noodles are a great accompaniment to this - it laps up and takes the sauce wonderfully. Langoustines are a truly British produce, but we associate it with holidays in Spain and France. Having recently been to Salcome and experienced some sea-side delights, it's time that we embrace langoustines with open arms (and mouths). The best of a lobster and a prawn put together - who could say no to that? 



Monday, 9 June 2014

Scallywag scallion pancake

Sorry it's been so long since a post. The bank holiday and the stream of hen do's seem to be taking its toll on me and for some reason I've not been strict enough on getting something tasty up on the blog. Naughty.  What's ironic is, I've been wanting to share this recipe for so long, and had done the photos for this - but wasn't inspired to write. The hunger for this dish was there, but the mind...alas, was not. I'm finally sitting down to this for the 3rd 4th attempt to share with you a recipe that is a simple and addictive appetiser/snack. CARBS CARBS CARBS. I'm not going to Marbella this summer, but I am soon heading off to Barcelona I feel the 'no carbs before marbs' rule,  shouldn't apply.
These spring onion pancakes are found in many breakfast shops and for dim sum. I prefer the breakfast route, and dunking this into a bowl of congee (rice porridge) is akin to a British man's eggs and soldiers. Little flecks of maldon salt and spring onions in layers of a simple dough is so easy to pop on the pan to heat up. Keep a stack of these in the freezer and toast up if you're in a rush for an Asian breakkie hit. Those who fear making bread needn't worry - this is a quick, beginners guide to kneading and proofing.

Spring onions (or scallions for the more 'international' reader) are synonymous with Chinese cooking - it makes up a lot of flavour foundations. Chopped fine enough, with a plain dough, it just gives this flatbread of sorts a ping of flavour - and the texture on top of this completes this feeling of satisfaction.