All kinds of Asian cooking in one great book

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Asian Food from around the world

 

I’ve written many times about how fond we are of our Chinese food in this house, with Chinese being the very first food MGG tasted after milk. So, cooking from China Towns by Jean-François Mallet was really no chore.

In fact the only chore was trying to choose which recipe to try! There are over 100 recipes in here, from soups and dumplings through to noodles, drinks and dessert. Although we probably weren’t feeling quite brave enough to tackle the “weird & wonderful” category. Slow cooked sea cucumber and pumpkin followed by chicken feet will have to wait for another day.

 

General Tao's chicken almost ready to serve

 

As the book is based on exploring China Towns around the world, then I chose to try General Tao’s chicken. I can’t be sure but this seems to be the same as General Tso’s chicken which I only ever seem to see on menus in the US, although it’s possible that it involves deep frying.

 

General Tao's chicken ready to serve

 

It’s a pretty simple recipe, involving marinading the chicken in soy sauce, tamarind sauce, rice vinegar cornflour, onion, garlic, ginger and chilli. Sounds like a lot but dead simple other the chopping of the onion, garlic and ginger. It only needs an hour in the marinade, and that’s pretty much it. We’ll make this again.

I’m sure other recipes are slightly more complex, but I would say you could take what you wanted out of this book, however complex or simple you want your experience to be. The one thing I know I wouldn’t be making is bubble tea. Most repulsive thing I’ve ever drunk, even worse than a Singapore Sling!

Great book, published by Jacqui Small. This is currently £20.40 on Amazon with free delivery, or £30 at Waterstones, also with free delivery. Worth having delivered as it’s quite a weight!

 

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The Friday Five – plenty of good reading and cooking ahead

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I’ve suddenly got a stack of great cookbooks to review, which I’m very excited about. There’s a great amount of variety and I almost don’t know where to start. These are the five in the starting blocks:

 

Reading ahead

Sherry: A Modern Guide to the Wine World’s Best Kept Secret – this has a sense of family history as my dad spent many years working for Harvey’s of Bristol. Lots to go at in this in terms of the history of sherry, the places to buy it from and great cocktails to make with it. Going to be some fun.

Inspiralized – I bought this following on from buying a spiraliser, and hoping for some inspiration to do something more than just courgette noodles. Or carrot.

The Art of Making Gelato – oh my, the flavours in here just sound amazing. Not to mention the stunning photography. Could be some very serious gelato eating going on here this summer.

Crepes and Galettes – I’m definitely bringing buckwheat flour back from France ready to start testing from this one. I cannot believe I have never found Cafe Breizh during all my trips to Saint Malo, but I’m definitely making a bee line next time based on this book.

China Towns: Asian Cooking From Around the World – MGG and I are very fond of our Chinese food, so we’re looking forward to trials from this one. It’s pretty heavy, so looks like we have plenty of choices ahead.

So, lots of fun ahead, full reviews to follow over the summer. Big question is, which one to start with? Any thoughts?

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The Friday Five – Getting ready for the Chinese New Year

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This Sunday is Chinese New Year, heralding the start of the year of the snake. Apparently the snake is considered a symbol of luck, with many believing this will be a year of prosperity and peace. Which would be lovely for all of us, and a reason to get friends together for a good meal. In the meantime, here’s five I’d choose to bring some Chinese flavours to life at home:

 

My China by Kylie Kwong - great cookbook gift for a food lover

 

My China by Kylie Kwong – this is one I nearly brought back from one of my trips to Hong Kong. This is a personal story from ancestral village in the southwest through to modern Hong Kong, this seemed to cover the gamut of Chinese cooking but obviously not in massive detail. I liked the personal anecdotes and the personal view on food.

 

Haute Chinese Cuisine - great cookbook gift for a food lover

 

Haute Chinese Cuisine from the Kitchen of Wakiya – another one from the same trip, but definitely well ahead of my current cooking standard for Chinese food. Would make a great gift for someone who is serious about Chinese food, or someone who is prepared to cook for you. Given that the restaurant is at the Gramercy Park Hotel in NYC, it may not be entirely tradtional but sure it is completely delicious.

 

Every Grain of Rice - great cookbook gift for a food lover

 

Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking by Fuchsia Dunlop – I don’t own any Chinese cookbooks, but I have read some of Fuchsia’s writing and like her style. I also like that this is focused on vegetables having the starring role, with meat and fish being secondary, a way I think many are moving to eating. And I have to admit to being intrigued, though also possibly a little revolted, by pock marked old woman’s beancurd. The mind boggles!

 

Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge

 

Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge – definitely something I’d associate with home cooking Chinese food, I had to include something about stir frying. I’ll admit this one is in just because of the title, but there are some very tasty sounding dishes like minced pork in lettuce cups and even Chinese Trinidadian chicken with mango chutney. Also ideal for dishes to be ready pretty quickly, and it includes tips on choosing and treating your wok right.

 

Chinese Vegetarian Cookbook

 

Florence Lin’s Chinese Vegetarian Cookbook – I’ll be honest, I chose this one because of all the books that came up when I searched for Chinese vegetarian food, this had the most appealing cover. It’s not very expensive, and so for something fairly specialist going onto my bookshelf, I’d take a punt.

So, I hope the year of the snake brings everyone the promised prosperity and peace, or at the very least some decent food and gatherings of friends.

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Gung Hay Fat Choy!

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Chinese New Year - a gift of a festival for a Chinese food lover

 

It’s a nice greeting at this time of year, to be wished a prosperous year. As Chinese is pretty much up there in MGG’s top three (chicken chow mein rotates with mussels and chicken pie as her fave) then there is a big demand for Chinese food here. Being close to Leicester, we’re really well supplied for more unusual Indian ingredients, but less so on Chinese. So, these are my fave online sources, as my trips to Hong Kong seem to have dried up for now:

* Wing Yip – I associate these with some really huge supermarkets I’ve seen around the country, and it certainly has everything I think you might need, and then some. I mean, get all the ingredients, and then some paper lanterns as well! Site is a bit hard to navigate though, and for most of these things I may as well go to Sainsbury’s.

* The Asian Cookshop – this is probably my preferred site, as we cook from a wide variety of Asian cuisines, and this covers everything from Chinese to Sri Lankan and Japanese, even Filipino. It covers dried and fresh food, so you can get things like banana leaves and dumpling wrappers.

* Canton Tea Co – you’ll need some good tea and this a good source for a wide variety, with a number that are Great Taste gold award winners. What ever takes your fancy is probably here: black, green, white and flowering. To me, jasmine tea is still the best thing to go with Chinese.

I wish we were nearer to somewhere authentic with a dragon dance, and proper food, so we’ll be busy doing our own. Here’s hoping it’s a prosperous year ahead for all.

Photo by Paolo Camera on Flickr.

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The Saturday Session – Dim Sum no dim supper

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Have a go to recreate your own dim sum banquet!

 

I love dim sum, and trips to London always tend to include finding somewhere to indulge in great dim sum. This week was New World on Gerrard Place, which is fantastic for that full-on traditional dim sum experience with trollies madly dashing around the room.

Then there are great modern versions of dim sum, with Yauatcha being my favourite, for both the dim sum and the macaroons. And for quick dim sum whilst shopping there is always Ping Pong, which is great for good food in a hurry, and great cocktails too. But to attempt it at home? Where do you begin?

Channel 4 have got a small selection, which all look tasty and good, and I also like Asian Online Recipes has a more comprehensive selection. You’re going to need to stock up on things like soy sauce and Chinese flavourings and spices, as well as more unusual ingredients like won ton wrappers. The Asian Cookshop is a great online source for not just Chinese ingredients but also Thai, Japanese and Indian.

If you’re the visual type, then there are plenty of videos over on You Tube. There’s a great one for steamed buns, which is one of my favourite dim sum recipes. You could create a whole banquet working through all of these videos, and it may make some of the tricky moments easier to follow. I looked at Amazon, and there aren’t huge numbers of books devoted just to the subject of dim sum. I like the look of Dim Sum Made Easy by Lucille Liang, and also the authentic looking Chinese Snacks by Huang Su-Huei.

To be honest, if I had won ton wrappers in this weekend, I would spend all weekend trying out these recipes and techniques. If I’m going to be snowed in, I may as well use the time to good use! And there’s something about filling the kitchen with more exotic scents that fills the day with warmth. Go ahead, change the air around you!

Fabulous picture of a great dim sum spread by Looks Like Amy on Flickr.

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Buy someone a whole set of new cooking skills for less

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Learn more skills than you ever knew about

 

Just a quick post to say if you’re scratching your head on what to buy a foodie that’s a bit different, then it’s worth checking out the food experiences and days out on Buy A Gift. Particularly as right now you can buy them with 10% off less from today through to midnight on on Sunday 29 November.

You just need to remember to enter the appropriately named code RUDOLPH10 at checkout, and your loved one can be off enjoying the delights cooking curry or making chocolates, touring Chinatown and learning the secrets of East Asian Cuisine or a masterclass in pies, pates and terrines. There’s even a course for the mini gourmets who want to get more involved in the cooking.

Or you could get involved in more of the liquid stuff, with vineyard tours and wine tastings, cocktail masterclasses and learning to match wine and food. Really, something for everyone, and every kind of price point. One upside of the credit crunch I guess, there are still deals to be done!

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