Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Lionheads(Traditional chinese dish)


I discovered this recipe in one of Ching He Huang's book, Chinese food made Easy. I think I own all her books now, and recommend them highly (and I have no commercial interest there!). I love that she promotes healthy traditional dishes, accessible and very Chinese. I am lucky that I can source all the ingredients so easily as I live next to chinatown. All the ingredients are already in my cupboard.
It a very traditional, home type of food, which is very healthy, tasty and so easy to make. 

My HongKong friend remembers the dish from her childhood, named so because of the ressemblance with lion's heads, the meatballs being the head and the cabbage the mane, what a great way to entice kids into eating it -  not that they need so much enticement mind you as it tastes so great!

Since trying this dish, I made it many times, and it has become one of my favourites.
I adapted the recipe a little, as I tend to prefer bigger meatballs, use the whole leaves of the cabbage and I also felt the need to add some sichuan pepper for a kick.

Makes 4 big meatballs

- 2 tablespoons groundnut oil
- 750ml Water or preferably stock
- 4 dried chinese mushrooms
- 1 Chinese dismantled leaf by leaf
- 1 Tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon cornflour blended with 2 tablespoons cold water (optional)
- 2 large spring onions, sliced
- Sichuan pepper, a pinch
- sea salt and ground white Pepper
- steamed jasmine rice

For the meatballs

- 500gminced beef, pints water or vegetable stock
- 4 garlic cloves, finely diced
- 2 tables spoon freshly grated root stem ginger
- 1/2 pinch of sea salt
- 50ml Shaoshing rice wine or dry Sherry
- 2 Tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon cornflour
- 1 pinch of ground white pepper

1. Put all the ingredients for the meatballs into a large bowl and stir to combine.
Using wetted hands take a large mound of the mince mixture and mould into a ball slightly smaller than a baseball. Place on a Plate and repeat with the remaining mixture.

2. Pour the oil into a large deep pan on high heat. Place each meatball in the pan.
Turn very carefully with a big spatula when brown, and repeat until all sides are brown (the meat is sealed, not cooked).

3.Arrange the cabbage leaves curving them lengthway around the meatballs, like a nest. Add the stock, mushrooms and soy sauce and sichuan pepper and bring to the boil.
Cover the pan, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add the blended cornflour, stir until thickened.

4. Take off the heat. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with spring onion and serve with Jasmine rice

Enjoy!

 
 
 
 

 


Source: recipe adapted from Ching He Huang's recipe, photos, myself


Thursday, 22 September 2011

Collaborative Review: Bolton Market


This post is my first collaborative blog, with Sarah (twitter @NorthwestNosh), a fellow blogger whose blog you can find there (a mine of thorough reviews about Manchester eateries). We had a little expedition last Saturday to Bolton Market, I hoped on the train with my camera, and Sara showed me around the market which is her local. 
I really enjoyed it and I know I will be back to do more shopping there. Definitely for fish, cheese and unusual vegges.
Text below from Sara, photos from myself.

Foodies have long heralded the farmers' market; fair trade jute bag in hand, chatting to the suppliers over ears of freshly harvested corn and handmade gluten free cupcakes.


However we need to remember that the raise of the farmers' market is not just a modern phenomenon, but an extension of the traditional market that has been the mainstay of the populace's shopping experience for the past thousand years.
Bolton market is very much a product of the town's industrial past, housed in a Victorian market hall. The town has held the charter to hold a market since 1251 and I can happily say this tradition is still going strong.

We've started shopping at the market after becoming increasingly depressed wandering round brightly illuminated isles being over-charged for intensively packaged shiny fruits and not being able to find much on the farmers' market in our price range - lovely for a spot of browsing or picking up something specialist; but not great at filling the shopping basket for the whole week.

Bolton's a usual mixed market, split in two; with general wares in one section and food in the other. You'll find the food market by following the fresh fishy smell and shouts of "seabass for for a fiver." Get ready for your senses to be assaulted as you're greeted on all sides by amazing sights, smells and sounds.

First stop is the fish stalls - there's a great selection at HJ Grundy; a good looking stall with spanking fresh fish. There's always the usuals including staples such as cod and seabass, but it's also a great place to pick up the unusual. Last Saturday there were razor clams, live brown crab, prawns the size of my forearm, catfish and many others I've neither seen nor tasted before. The staff at Grundy's will clean, fillet and give you any bones of the fish you want. They're also very helpful when asking questions about what's fresh and when certain catches have come in. AND they stock local potted shrimps (Southport), something I stock up on at every opportunity!

On to Meat and Poultry for large, free range duck eggs and then over to Choice Cuts where you can get a good big slab of pork belly including nipple, a proper black pudding (Bury no less) and a cheeky chat with the guys on the stall. There's a handful of meat and fish suppliers here, so there's always plenty of choice for anything you need, including pigs feet and boiling chickens. As Bolton has a large ethnic community there are also a couple of Halal meats stalls, one specialising in super fresh Halal offal as well.


 After the meat and fish you pop through to the fruit, veg and bakery section; which really is a riot of colour. Browse amongst the stalls for the best fruit and veg - most providers have grown savvy to the current localism trend and now mark on whether the stock is from the UK and even where about it's from; one of the stalls has some cracking Hesketh tomatoes at the moment. There doesn't seem to be one veg stall that's better than the other; it's a case of browse them all, picking up the freshest and the best. However there is a stall right at the back that's overflowing with chillies, fresh dates, Asian vegetables and humongous bunches of gorgeous herbs adding their heady fragrance to an already mind blowing shopping experience.


Special mention needs to be paid to Purdons cheese stall, selling a wide range of European cheeses; plus a large selection of local one - this week I purchased a cracking Garstang Blue, which I decided upon with the help of staff (who kindly let me try a few). 

(Note from Easy does it: I bought some Welsh bomber and crumbly lancashire and I was certainly not disappointed!)


Also a mention to Unsworth Deli, a places where real bread reigns supreme and you can pick up specialities such as actual pancetta - not the flabby, little, flavoured lardons you pick up at the big four; but  a whole piece of cured meat off which you're sliced a lovely hunk. Plus the boy is very happy with their selection of pies (well he is Northern).

And last but not least Sweet Treats, found in the general side of the market. It’s a small, white sweet shop, but the only place you can find cream soda, plus put in a request for something you can’t find anymore and they’ll try to track it down for you. It’s recognisable by the yellow trays of Swizle Matlow sweets reminiscent of your corner shop when you were eight.

Bolton Market's a brilliant alternative to the weekly big shop, you can sort all you food out but can't get everything there (such as toiletries); there's plenty of choice, the food fresh and it's good to know that your money stays local.

(Note from Easy does it: I need to mention the little cafes across the market,so typically British, kitsch and cute:



)

Ps - Bolton Market has a market kitchen where they host cookery demos, even the Hairy Bikers have cooked there. AND they won best Indoor Retail Market 2010. Even more reason to pay them a visit!

Pps - there's no parking at the market, however park at Sainsbury's on Trinity Street, parking's free for two hours. The train station is a five minute walk from the market and there's plenty of buses running in from the surrounding area.

Bolton Market is open Tue, Thurs, Fri and Sat - 9am-5pm. There's a second hand section on Friday and a car boot on Sunday.

Bolton Market, Ashburner Street, Bolton BL1 1TQ.


Monday, 5 September 2011

Cantonese stir-fry crab


We are blessed in Manchester with numerous and very good Chinese restaurants. I go out a lot to these restaurants, and was intending to go with a friend last Friday, but she suggested we'd cook something together at home instead. I embraced the idea as I love cooking with other people and the food always end up being something that would not come out of a restaurant's kitchen somehow.
So we met up in Chinatown - 2 min from my home, so my usual food hunts place - not knowing what we were going to do yet. As we entered, the first thing we saw was the seafood, and in particular the lobsters and the crabs. We looked at each other and it was decided, crab it would be. My friend who is originally from Hong Kong and she immediately suggested a dish from back home. We only picked up a few other ingredients as my kitchen already contains all the usual Chinese basics suspects.

The crabs were of course alive so I had a little photo shoot with them before they'd die for the greater good of our stomachs. I must say I've always loved crabs, they are fascinating crustaceans.



To cook this dish (for 2 pers.)
- 2 medium crabs
- Fresh noodles for 2
- 2 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 thumb fresh ginger, chopped
- 1 red chili, chopped
- 6 preserved black bean, chopped
- 1 head broccoli divided in florets
- dark soy sauce
- light soy sauce
 -oyster sauce
- vegetable oil (I used rapeseed oil, healthier)
- 1 bunch spring onions, chopped in diagonals
- a handful of cornflour
- 2 tsp sugar

Crabs:
Prepare a big pan with boiling water, drop the crabs in it (the faster the least they suffer...) and put the lid on.
Take the crabs out when they are red/pink/orange(depends on the crabs used), it only takes a few minutes. Take the crabs out and set aside.


When they are cold, dismember them and break the claws, remove the non edible part of the body.

Chop together chili, garlic,ginger and black beans. reserve some for the broccoli (to be cooked and served separately

Heat oil in a wok, throw in the mix, stir-fry for a minute, throw in the spring onions,and cook some more, then add the crab, mix a bit, add a dash of soy sauce and oyster sauce then add the lid on the wok.

In a small bowl, mix cornflour and 1tsp sugar, add some cold water, stir well and add to the crabs, stir till thickened.




The dish is now ready.

Broccoli:
Blanch the broccoli.
Heat oil in a wok, throw in the mix, stir-fry for a minute,add florets, soy and oyster sauce, stir well, cook for a few more minutes.
In a small bowl, mix cornflour and 1tsp sugar, add some cold water, stir well and add in the wok, stir till thickened.and the dish is now ready

Noodles
Cook the fresh noodles in boiling water, drain in cold water and then pour boiling water (to keep them hot) on top in the colander. Dish o the plates. Add a filet of oyster sauce, a drizzle of light soy sauce, and finish with a filet of hot oil.

Serve the three items.

This dish is really easy to make and has this gorgeous taste of Hong-Kong Street food.
The crab brings a flavoursome sweetness, and the whole dish does not take much time at all.
The noodles cooked that way take a whole dimension, and don't even think a second of skipping the oil, that would be murder!

Source: My friend, this is a common Cantonese dish cooked in HongKong at home.
Photography: myself.