Sunday, 23 February 2014

Apple of my porkie eye! Sweet apple and soy pork ribs

Apple and soy pork ribs
From one extreme to another. Last week a vegetarian's delight was a carnivore's nightmare. So this week I hop to the other end of the scale and make some of those veggie-lovers a bit agitated. Well, a lot. Ribs ribs ribs, London is full of great spots to eat, Pitt Cue in my opinion leading the charge with their mega-saurus 'Flintstones' style ribs - enough to scare away any animal lover away. Sweet, American style ribs aren't the only thing on my mind. Asians love ribs - it's a common dim sum treat, in small bite size wonders, as well as the original cut for sweet and sour (or at least Grandma Lo's style). Pork rib, beef rib, short ribs my my. I actually had some ribs from my visit to the butcher in attempt to make a brulee pork belly confit from one of my favourite blogs 'Lady and Pups' which I highly recommend. A true Asian at heart, I couldn't let the ribs go to waste so looked in my cupboard and fridge to see what I could rustle up for a blog post.

My boyfriend got a slow cooker for Christmas from his parents, which deep down he knows is more of an extra present for me given I take over everything in the kitchen. Craving for Pitt Cue without the queue, we've made some awesome pulled pork burgers - but now its time for these ribs. Apple sweet with chilli sauce draped over melt in your mouth ribs is perfect with simple jasmine rice. I love the simplicity of the slow cooker- chuck it in, switch it on and leave it for a few hours. Coming home to the smell of this is insanely welcoming - and the thought of the meat falling off the bone with a simple nudge of a spoon is slightly...erotic? (Worrying?) 
It has the make ahead ease factor if you're planning a dinner party after work, pop this on the cooker before you leave work and you're good to go. 

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Oats-so crispy chilli "KFC" tofu nuggets

Salt and Sichaun pepper tofu bites with a crunchy, chilli-oat crust.
I recently learnt that the Japanese, and pretty much most of Asia, are enamoured with KFC. It's one of the few fast food places in Hong Kong where you can dangerously order delivery (as if popping down to your nearest one would be an absolute waste of calories - save those puppies for the deep fried grease and wonder of that special fried chicken). It's even been engrained into Japanese tradition on Christmas day to queue up for some finger lickin' goodness. For my family, what I find even more bizarre, is Mama Lo's sense of urgency to get some KFC when she comes to London...I quickly refused to treat her to a bargain bucket and pointed her to the direction of Wishbone in Brixton for an assortment of sublime wings and fries.
For the past week, all I had been craving were those zinger tower devil burgers and popcorn chicken. Those damn feel good and 'witty' (even as I write that I know it's not true) ads seemed to have seeped into my brain to give in. And I would not give in.
What it did give me was a bit of inspiration for my own chicken nuggets. I could have given you Panko breadcrumbs and succulent and juicy chicken thighs, but my mind was somehow on another planet. I love salt and pepper squid, but given it was Sunday, I couldn't break into my fishmongers. And out of the larder shone a little box of tofu - and DING! It was time to convert those tofu haters with this recipe. A take on salt and pepper, with a crunchy and spicy coating with a silky smooth, but firm interior. It's a simple recipe, easy to snack on with some sriracha or sweet chilli (and almost so easy you can pop these in your mouth as quick as a packet of crisps).
Anti-tofu goers can't say no to these bad boys.

The coating was a bit of a mouthful to put into the post title. It's made from toasted oats, chilli and Sichuan peppercorns with a sea salt sprinkling. In nugget, popcorn bites. Mouthful. But I did fall in love with this - the toasted oats gives more texture contrast to the tofu, and the Sichuan peppercorns releases a punchy lemon aroma which ties the salt finish together in quite triumphantly.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Kaya coconut jam: breakfast made simple and sweet

Breakfast of Kaya jam, butter and toast with soy milk
Toast. A staple and acceptable food for my breakfast, lunch and dinner, and one I will be sadly giving up for Lent. It's such a simple pleasure, and although never really the hero of the show, it is the silent supporting act to make other food truly sing out. After reading Nigel Slater's mesmerising words and descriptions in 'Toast', I might stop here as no other person can give justice to toast like he can.

"It is impossible not to love someone who makes toast for you...Once the warm, salty butter has hit your tongue, you are smitten. Putty in their hands."

I only discovered this little wonder of a recipe  a few years ago. Whilst staying in the +852 one summer, I started noticing the emerging market for Hong Kong's love of toast and little breakfast joints. If you think Mcdonalds in the UK has a sensational breakie menu (my guilty pleasure of choice) then I salute you, but it doesn't compare to HK. One major chain is simply named "toast" and it was here I discovered Kaya. Not that hot chick off Skins, but a coconut "jam" to best describe it. Luxuriously creamy and mellow, it's unlike any other jam you've probably had, but as I say with practically all other recipes, you've got to try this. Pandan leaves are infused into the mixture which gives the kaya an added edge of mystery and a "why-do-I-love-this-so-much" questioning after each bite. Easy to find in Thai supermarkets, it's worth getting these when you find them (you can freeze them till they are needed). 
Feel free to add as much as your toast can take - it'll only make life better
Kaya is a spread hailing from Singapore and Malaysia, (meaning 'rich' in Malay), where caf├ęs will set out early in the morning to make fresh batches. There is a quick fifteen minute recipe for this, but the longer way gets better results not only in taste, but in satisfaction that it has been lovingly tended to for an hour for that emotional investment.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Go Go Lo-Lo Bak Go: Prosperous turnip cake

Lo Bak Go a.k.a turnip cake a.k.a mooli cake
Huzzah – the Chinese New Year is officially upon us. Double happiness, prosperous lives, with healthy family and friends is all we can look to for 2014. If you’ve been hiding your head in a hole for the past week or so this year is all about the year of the horse. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all 2013 horse scandal Ikea and Iceland meatballs and burgers on you (the thought did cross my mind albeit extremely briefly… which I was later disgusted at myself for) but I’m going to keep things very traditional here. Both Mama Lo and Papa Lo text me separately saying I should make ‘Lo Bak Go’, a steamed Chinese turnip cake, for prosperity (and deliciousness). I think they had both just eaten Grandma’s cake and been compelled to tell me to immediately this needs to be on the blog. I’ve been saving making this for the new year, however it is eaten all year round for dim sum. It’s one of those dishes I order with my ‘gwai lo’ English friends all the time, as its translation doesn’t really inspire a mouth-watering dish that you would think about trying. But, next time you are having dim sum, do try it – it is something so different but really to quickly fall in love with (and will make you seem like a real dim sum connoisseur – proper foodie kudos). 
Happy Chinese new year! Year of the horse and I'll eat like one thanks.

White turnips (known as mooli/daikon known as well) are the real star of the show here and super easy to work with. Technically, it’s very simple recipe – it just takes a bit of time. You can double the recipe and keep some in the freezer for a rainy day. These little turnips score top marks for health bunnies too – super low in calories and a great source of calcium and iron, as well as improving circulation. If you’re still kidding yourself  on that super January diet cleanse, good for you – you can ignore the last step of frying it at the end, as well as swapping the meat for some spring onions or, dare I say it, quorn mince. But, I highly advise to keep it traditional yeah?