All posts tagged: chinese

“Shrimp grits” Congee

My family is Cantonese so I grew up with congee as a go-to comfort food. Congee or “JOOK” (rhymes with book) in Cantonese is long grain rice cooked in plenty of water until it resembles a thick porridge. Also known as rice porridge, it can be served plain or stirred through or loaded with various toppings. Being notoriously squishy and easy to digest, it’s also a common baby food, or food for the sick or elderly. Eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. 100% comfort. I’m more than a little obsessed with American soul food. I don’t know why, but shrimp and grits is a fascination of mine even though I’ve never visited the US. Having eaten shrimp and grits in Wellington recently, I’ve had it in my mind to recreate something similar at home. Shrimp and grits was traditionally a breakfast dish but now eaten at other meal times as well. I present to you: the lovechild of congee and shrimp grits! “Shrimp grits” congee Serves 1 Ingredients 1/2 cup long grain rice, rinsed 4 …

Braised beef noodles (Crockpot recipe)

This post was made possible thanks to Crockpot. I am giving away a Crockpot Traditional CHP200 (RRP $119.99) just complete the entry form at the bottom of this post to enter. I was born in Hong Kong and the Cantonese have a long-standing obsession with food. They love to eat well and they love to eat often. Whenever I visit Hong Kong, my days transition from meal to meal. Almost the entire time is spent eating along with the social fanfare that comes with it. There are many dishes I am inspired by. However, locals typically do not cook at home. After working long hours, grocery shopping, followed by cooking at home is undesirable when eating out is so good and very affordable. Here in New Zealand, not so much. Regularly eating out in NZ is expensive but luckily there are clever ways to cook at home using affordable ingredients which yield maximum flavour. Enter the crockpot Thanks to Crockpot I have created a braised beef noodle recipe inspired by a dish found at Dai Pai Dong …

Cocktails and dumplings

This week I tried First Table, a booking website which gives users an early-bird special. Each booking gives the first table of diners (groups of two to four) a generous 50% off their food bill. Food includes dessert and there is no maximum spend. That’s right, no maximum spend. Whether you order $50 or $500 worth of food, you pay half price. While drinks are not included in the special, it’s good to note that your visit may happen to coincide with happy hour at some establishments. First Table currently have about 40 Auckland restaurants to choose from (including The Commons, Pilkingtons, Everybody’s) and covers 16 other regions in New Zealand. The website is easy to use and bookings cost $10 each and can be made up to 6 days prior. Spaces are very limited as there is only 1 first table per day, per restaurant. If you are flexible with dining times or like to eat early and love a great deal, then First Table is perfect for you. After browsing their list of Auckland restaurants, …

Dumpling wisdom from a retired dumpling professional

I am a lucky girl who grew up eating home made dumplings. The dumplings we ate were stuffed with pork mince with different variations. I asked my Mum what ingredients were in the dumplings of my childhood and this post is based around her answer. 12 years ago, back when I was still a hungry design student, I worked in our family’s Chinese take-out. Since I loved dumplings so much, I helped myself to dumplings at the start of every shift. Free dumplings is a (self-proclaimed) perk of working in the family business. Dad made the filling and wrapped a hundred dumplings ahead of time and the dumplings were cooked during service. One of my duties was cooking dumplings fresh to order. So while I can’t proclaim I was a professional dumpling wrapper, I did get paid to cook dumplings. This makes me somewhat of a retired dumpling professional (see pro tips at the bottom of this post). Fast forward 12 years, my love of dumplings has grown. I don’t cook dumplings for money anymore and my …

Freestyler in the Kitchen: Throw-together recipe #2

I recently took Fisher & Paykel’s online quiz WHAT’S YOUR COOKING STYLE? and was branded the Freestyler. Freestylers have mastered the basics and enjoy pushing the boundaries and going “off-piste”. The quiz was designed to help you get the most out of your time in the kitchen and results in eight distinct personalities, from the Curious Novice to the Professional and everything in between. Understanding your style can help you to choose ingredients, recipes and appliances to make your kitchen time more enjoyable and efficient. You can find out what type of cooking style you have by taking the quick quiz here. Go on, I’ll wait. Thanks to Fisher & Paykel, I’ve created a series of throw-together recipes that celebrate the Freestyler approach to cooking. These recipes are more templates than traditional recipes. I’ve suggested ingredients, but in all honesty, whatever you have in the fridge can be substituted and you’ll only know if you try. If you enjoy this recipe and this style of cooking, please check out the other recipes in this series. …

Chinese American kitsch with a twist

Last night I attended a new pop up at Coco’s Cantina on K Rd. Coco’s Cantina is a rustic Italian kitchen with family-style dining. While the Cocos are galavanting and eating their way through Italy (team building exercise: BOSS LEVEL), the restaurant is being “house sat” by fledgling food businesses Judge Bao and The Pie Piper. I’ve blogged about Judge Bao before and mentioned their friends The Pie Piper who regularly impress foodies at The Street Collective on Ponsonby Road with their bao and pies. On different day, the setting could be called romantic. The lighting was dim with small flowers and candles at the tables. We were seated on long tables and served family-style with a mix of food media present. I fan-girled a little bit but didn’t introduce myself to any of the foodie heroes at the other tables. Um…not there yet. We sampled a range of dishes from Judge Bao’s ambitious pop up menu and ended with slice of pie of our choice from The Pie Piper. We dined as guests of Judge Bao and …

Crispy Roast Pork: Cantonese style

This post is part of Our Growing Edge, a monthly blogging event to encourage bloggers to try new food related things. Ash from Organic Ash is the host for this month’s event. If you have a blog and you are eating or cooking something new this month, click below to join. More information here. Crispy roast pork (siu yuk) can be found hanging among roast ducks and slabs of shiny red BBQ pork in the windows of Cantonese BBQ restaurants everywhere. Traditionally, pork is roasted with seasoning in a charcoal furnace and is served as an appetiser* with your choice of dipping sauce. Soy sauce and hoisin sauce are popular but I love it dipped in mustard. Served with a bowl of rice and some Chinese greens, it’s a simple and delicious dinner. It’s interesting to note that the words “siu yuk” directly translates to roast meat, not roast pork. I guess pork is so ubiquitous in Cantonese cuisine that meat equals pork by default. While I have made English-style roast pork on many occasions, I’d never considered cooking the …

The Shanghai Chicken Project

The premise I’ve followed the blog Sybaritica for a while and I enjoy John’s experimental and honest love of Asian cuisine. It was there I found out about The Shanghai Chicken Project and his buddy Stefan’s Gourmet Blog. The Shanghai Chicken Project is based on a mysterious chili chicken dish of dubious origin with pine nuts and broccoli leaves. If you have been following my blog for a while, you’ll know I love a good foodie challenge. I also happened to have some premium New Zealand pine nuts and a fermented chili paste I was hoping to play with so it like it was meant to be. The Shanghai Chicken Project rules: Prepare a dish inspired by Bamboo Restaurant’s Shanghai Chicken. It has to include chicken, chiles of some sort, vegetable greens, and nuts. It could be a known recipe or one of your own — traditional or newly invented. Blog about your dish or send Stefan photos and a description of what you did. Lee Kum Kee’s Chili bean sauce (Toban Djan) Toban Djan …

Dried mushrooms and a recipe from my childhood

Like many Cantonese children, I grew up regularly eating what I we call Dong Gu. Dong Gu literally means “winter mushroom” and is also known as a Shiitake or Chinese Black Mushroom. Dried Shiitake mushrooms are used in various asian cuisines and are inexpensive, easy to use and if stored correctly, last a long time. Dried Shiitake mushrooms taste nothing like fresh Shiitake. Dried have an intensely savoury earthy flavour and the fresh stuff tastes weak in comparison. Do not substitute fresh for dried! My family always bring back a bag or two of dried mushrooms back from trips to Hong Kong, but New Zealand customs can be frightful to deal with so it’s not really recommended. Luckily, you can buy dried Shiitake at any Asian grocer these days, perhaps even at your general supermarket. Dried Mushrooms Tips: Once open, store mushrooms in the freezer. While they will last outside the freezer, they can inevitably attract moths and other nasties. No need to thaw before rehydrating as the lack of water means these don’t really …

Takoyaki and other street food delights

Like many others I went to the Lantern Festival at Albert Park over the weekend and gorged myself on an array of street food, witnessed the horrid karaoke and adored the display of lanterns. Armed with my camera and a 50mm prime lens, it was a learning experience for me and the first time I’ve ever taken my manual focus only lens out. Having to manually focus every shot gets tiring, but thankfully, my friend Miss C was very patient with me. I make no secret that I love street food. It’s one of the highlights of my travels. Even if my body doesn’t always agree. I’ve had meat on sticks in many countries and I love when stalls specialise in a single or few items rather than try and do many dishes poorly. When presented with so many potential delights to choose from, my criteria was simple: pick a dish you don’t make at home. Takoyaki Japan These takoyaki hit the spot. For those that are unfamiliar with these piping hot Japanese snacks, a …

Tale of two prawns: Steamed Garlic Prawns & Super Tasty Grilled Prawns

A thing or two about prawns Prawns in New Zealand are imported raw as we have no prawn fishery. They are snap frozen at sea and can be easily thawed at home, so never buy thawed prawns because you don’t know how long they have been thawed for. Maybe it’s only been a couple of hours, but maybe it’s longer. Why risk it? If they’re snap frozen at sea and you thaw them just prior to cooking, they will be as fresh as possible. Prawn size and weight If you have bought prawns before, you may have noticed a special numbering system in place. It seems counter-intuitive, but the smaller the number, the larger the prawn. Less is more! Well, less is big. U10 or U20 means under 10 or 20 prawns per kilo. These are the biggest prawns and also the most expensive. Handy guide to prawn sizes (per kilo) Extra large 10/20 also displayed as U10 or U20 Under 10 and Under 20 prawns per kilo Large 21/30 Under 30 prawns per kilo Medium …

Moon Rabbit

We’re going to Canton Cafe in Kingsland for dinner tonight with the extended family in celebration of the Moon Festival (12 September 2011). Canton Cafe is one of my all time favourite restaurants and we’re super lucky that we live within a hop and a skip. One of the icons of the Moon Festival is the Moon Rabbit. I kid you not. I didn’t make this up. It’s on Wikipedia, so it must be true. 😉 The Moon rabbit, also called the Jade Rabbit, in folklore is a rabbit that lives on themoon, based on pareidolia that identifies the markings of the moon as a rabbit. The story exists in many cultures, particularly in East Asian folklore, where it is seen pounding in a mortar and pestle. I like to think that there is a culinary rabbit on the moon working away with it’s mortar and pestle. Maybe that is where the phrase “moon dust” comes from? Cultures that have the moon rabbit are Chinese, Japanese, Buddhist, Mexican and Native American (Cree). Also from Wiki: The moon rabbit was mentioned in the conversation between Houston and the Apollo …

Like a Chinese Paella

The other night, The Koala and I got takeaways from Love A Duck on Dominion Road. While waiting for our meals, I was pleased to see that during winter, they offer a range of claypot cooked dishes. Claypot Chicken Rice Claypot Chicken Rice is popular in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore. For those not familiar with this style of cooking, rice, chicken and various sauces and flavoursome ingredients are cooked in a claypot. The rice sticks to the bottom resulting in a fragrant, delicious mess like a Chinese version of paella. Chicken Can’t have this dish without the hardcore marinated chicken. Cantonese love bones and I always make this with chicken wings but you could use boneless thigh or breast to make this a kid friendly dish. Lap Cheong Chinese dried sausages or Lap Cheong are dry cured sausages normally made of pork and fat. These are smoked, sweetened, seasoned and taste like awesome. The sausages I buy from my local are vacuum packed and hail from Canada. You might like these if you like streaky …

Overeat at a Steamboat

For those who are unfamiliar with this style of cooking, a brief introduction: Steamboat begins with simmering stock to cook a range of raw (or pre-cooked) ingredients at the table. Everyone at the table participates and take turns fishing out their cooked treats. Various sauces are used for dipping. Personally, I prefer a beaten raw egg with a little oil, soy sauce and chili. The egg helps to cool the food so that you can eat it fairly quickly. Other names include hot pot or Chinese fondue. Many different cuisines have a variation of this and are known as Shabu shabu in Japan, Thai suki in Thailand and Lẩu in Vietnam. It’s easy to overeat at a steamboat because you never really know how much you have eaten. So you cook a piece and eat a piece until you can’t do it any more. Steamboat is usually a big social affair and with lots of people, there are usually lots of different dishes. This time it was just my parents, sister and The Koala and …

How to deal with 60+ types of New Zealand seafood

The Greatest Meal On Earth website has a handy table on New Zealand fish. All the basics about 60+ local seafoods including characteristics of the meat and how to cook each kind. If you come across an unfamiliar fish at the fish markets you can count on this table to tell you what to do with it. I especially like how you can sort by each of the categories. For example, you can choose to view all local seafoods that are eaten raw. There are 16 of them and of those, there is only 1 seafood that is not cooked at all. That would be kina. A Ruby is not a jewel. The other day at the fish shop, I spied some pretty looking Ruby fillets. I’ve never cooked Ruby before and I didn’t know what to do with it. Lucky for me the table recommends: Poach, Smoke, Steam, Bake, BBQ, Casserole, Fry. Which pretty much means I can do whatever the hell I want with it except eat it raw. So I pan fried …