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teriyaki king oyster mushroom recipe

Teriyaki King Oyster Mushroom with Snow Peas

This wonderful teriyaki sauce is one of the easiest sauces to make, it is deliciously piquant and so versatile that it can be used on nearly anything: meat, vegetables, noodles or grains. I always turn to this sauce when I am not sure what to cook. My favourite one is teriyaki salmon or chicken served on steamy hot rice with a side of nori seaweed and green leafy vegetables.

But today, I opt for a vegetarian version with my new found favourite king oyster mushroom. This mushroom has the most meaty texture with the least water content compares to all of its other contemporaries. It holds its shape beautifully when cooked which makes it a brilliant replacement for meat.

In this dish, the powerful flavour of the teriyaki sauce is complimented with refreshing and naturally sweet snow peas. The snow peas are barely cooked to retain its freshness and crunchiness, it goes perfectly well with the piquant teriyaki sauce and add a lovely contrast to the tender velvety mushroom. Serve with pipping hot rice as a comforting and satisfying meal. If snow peas is not available, raw julienne celery will make a smashing substitute.

teriyaki king oyster mushroom recipeteriyaki king oyster mushroom recipeteriyaki king oyster mushroom recipe

Teriyaki King Oyster Mushroom with Snow Peas

Ingredients:

serves 2

  • 3-4 large (about 220g-250g) king oyster mushroom, wipe clean with a clean, damp kitchen towel, slice lengthwise (about 3mm thick)
  • a large handful of snow peas, trim both ends
  • sesame seeds for garnish
  • 1 tbsp. of butter (or vegetable oil if vegan)

For the teriyaki sauce:

  • 80ml tamari (or regular soy sauce if not gluten free)
  • 80ml Japanese mirin
  • 1 tbsp. sake
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar (or honey)
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil

To serve:

  • Steamed Jasmine rice or Japanese short grain rice

Combine all teriyaki ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir well, add the sliced mushrooms to the bowl and marinate for about 5 minutes (make sure all sides are covered with the sauce). Remove and transfer the mushrooms to a plate. Reserve the marinade.

Prepare a bowl of ice cold water, set aside. Bring a small pot of water (unsalted) to boil and add the snow peas in the boiling water for 20 seconds. Remove them with a slotted spoon and put them straight in the bowl of prepared ice water, it will stop them from cooking further and retain the lovely green colour. Drain and pat dry with clean kitchen towel. Finely chop them into julienne, set aside.

Melt the butter on medium high heat in a shallow frying pan and add and arrange the mushrooms in one layer, fry for about 4 minutes in medium low heat (turn a few times during cooking, you might need to do them in batches), make sure you don’t burn them. Transfer them to a plate and keep warm, set aside.

Pour in the reserved teriyaki sauce into the same pan we used for the mushrooms, and simmer until the sauce is thicken (about 1-2 minutes). Remove from heat.

Sprinkle the sesame seeds on the mushrooms and topped with the shredded snow peas. Spoon the thicken teriyaki sauce on the mushroom and snow peas. Served immediately with steamy hot rice.

teriyaki king oyster mushroom recipe

 

 

shiitake-meat-ball-noodles-soup recipe

Shiitake Meatball Noodle Soup with Courgette Ribbons

The outside air smelled of firework the other morning when we were on the way to school. The air was crisp, cold and familiar. Though it didn’t take me long to recognise the combination of the cold air and the smell of exploded firework was part of my special childhood memory. I told my daughter who stood right next to me that it was how Chinese New year smelled like in Macau. We talked about we should try to spend Chinese New Year there in the near future, but it seemed far too long for me to wait, so I closed my eyes, breathed deep and hard as if doing so would bring me back to Macau immediately.

We have entered the new Lunar Year, perhaps that’s why the smell of firework seemed so signifiant that morning. Sadly I don’t celebrate it as much as I did when I was still living in Macau with my family. But having said that, I still like to cook one or two dishes that I miss most from home to soothe my homesickness.

My mother used to make meatball congee when we were little, the flavourful springy meatballs submerged into soft pillowy rice porridge. Sometimes served with ‘Century egg’ (preserved duck eggs) and other times with pickled radish. For me it is ultimate comfort food in any day, so is noodle soup (I do have a soft spot for noodle soup, as many of you who follow my blog know). Therefore I thought a handmade meatball noodle soup will be the perfect recipe for this week – a combination of the essence from two of my favourite dishes.

This recipe seems to have a lot of ingredients and steps, but most of the ingredients are pantry items which means you most probably have already. The meatballs do take a bit of time to make, but trust me it is worthwhile. For the vegetables, you can use any seasonal leafy greens such as kale, Pak Choi, Swiss Chards, spinach or even broccoli whichever one you prefer. All you need to do differently is to blanch the vegetable of your choice in the soup before you cook the noodles. Once you are familiar with making the soup base, you can top it with almost anything you like, leftover roasted meat, grilled tofu, sardines (I have a recipe here), sautéed mushroom, edamame, poached egg, and so on.

shiitake-meat-ball-noodles-soup recipe shiitake-meat-ball-noodles-soup recipe

Shiitake Meatball Noodle Soup with Courgette Ribbons

Ingredients:

serves 4 generously

For the meatball: (makes about 24)

  • 5 dried Shiitake Mushrooms
  • 500g minced pork
  • A small bunch of fresh coriander (leaves picked for serving), stems only, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. good quality oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Tamari (or regular soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp. Mirin
  • 1 scant tsp. caster sugar
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of freshly ground black pepper

For the Soup:

  • 1 piece of thumb-size ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 spring onion, cut into 3 pieces
  • 1L good quality beef or chicken stock
  • 200ml Dashi stock (or more beef / chicken stock)
  • 1 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp. tamari (or regular soy sauce)
  • 2 tbsp. fish sauce

For the noodle bowl:

  • 200g dried rice noodles
  • 1 courgette, ribboned with a vegetable peeler
  • 2 large handfuls of mungbean sprouts
  • 2 spring onion, chopped
  • The reserved coriander leaves

In a small bowl, rehydrate the Shiitake mushrooms in just-boiled water, covered and let it stand for at least 30 minutes. Remove and squeeze out excess water (back to the bowl) from the mushrooms. Remove the stems and finely chopped the mushrooms. Do not discard the water or the stems, keep them for the soup.

To make meatballs: In a large mixing bowl, combine minced pork, chopped mushrooms, coriander stems, and the rest of the seasoning. Mix well first with a spoon or fork. Then use your hand to ‘knead’ the mixture and then scoop it up (in one piece) with one hand and ‘throw’ it hard back inside the bowl. Repeat this procedure for about 3-4 minutes (a good workout for your arm), this step ensures the meatballs are springy to the bite and won’t fall apart when cooking.

Shape the mixture into balls, each ball is slightly bigger than the size of a cherry tomato. Leave them in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.

Prepare the rice noodles according to packet instructions and set aside.

Warm a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan (I use a wok) until hot. Carefully lower the meatballs to the hot pan (you might need to do it in batch), lower the heat and fry and turn the meatballs until they are brown (but not burnt) all over and almost cooked through. Remove them from the pan and keep them warm.

Transfer most of the oil from the pan to a little jar (for later use and do not clean the pan as the brown bits on the bottom help flavour the soup) and turn the heat up again.

Add the spring onion and ginger slices in the pan and deglaze the pan with the mushroom water (with the reserved stems).  Then pour in the stock and dashi (if used). Once boiled, add the remaining seasoning and have a little taste. Adjust if needed.

Just before serving, remove the ginger slices, spring onions and mushrooms stems from the soup base with a slotted spoon, then add the meatballs in the soup and simmer for about 3 minutes to finished off cooking through, which will also add in more flavour to the soup. Add the noodles and cook for a minute more (it is all it takes to warm up the noodles).

To assemble the noodle bowl: Prepare 4 large warm bowls and divide the noodles first and then meatballs equally on each bowl. Then place the courgette ribbons, mung bean sprouts, chopped spring onions and coriander leaves to the bowls. At last, ladle the hot soup over the everything on the bowl and serve immediately.

shiitake-meat-ball-noodles-soup recipe

 

 

baba-ganoush recipe

Baba Ganoush with Pink Peppercorns

I didn’t intend to be absent from the blog for so long, I had planned for a mere three weeks break but it turned out to be an ongoing journey of self- (re)discovery, and somehow I didn’t want it to stop. During the break, I returned to my drawing board, literally, and my sketch book, doing sketches of all kinds; things that surround me, people who passing by, or even just ideas in my head. And I realised that I have forgotten how much I enjoyed drawing when I was growing up. I also spent a lot of the time reading novels and writing short stories, and I met some amazing people through a fiction writing class. I hope I can share some of the stories with you soon. I haven’t stopped cooking though, as you know if you are following my Instagram account, and can’t wait to share the recipes that I have created during the break. All in all, it has been a relax and inspiring time for me and I am glad that I had made this decision. I thank YOU sincerely, the followers who have been supporting me since the beginning as well as those many who decided to join my journey even during my absent, for your incredible patient awaiting for my return. I am most grateful.

We, my family and I, have spent the first week of our new year in a warm, beautiful island –  Tenerife, a brief escape from the bitter cold winter in Berlin. Although short, it was one of the most inspiring holidays I have had. I have written a separate post here if you want to know more.

I intended to start writing here again right after our holiday, but I caught an everlasting cold that kept me in bed most of the time for a week. But finally I have found peace and regained my energy to finish this post.

Let talk about the recipe I would like to share with you this week: baba ganoush, it is one of those dishes that I have known and eaten for years, but never really made it myself for some reasons. Then on the eve of new year, I decided to give it a go since I had a sad looking aubergine lurking in the fridge. I found a smoky baba ganoush recipe from Jamie Oliver’s website and I knew it would be a good one (as nearly all of the other Oliver’s recipes), and it turned out to be a big hit, even my husband isn’t really keen on aubergine was impressed by the taste.

But the idea of sharing this Baba Ganoush with Pink Peppercorns recipe as my first post after a long break was not intentional. I was thinking of making something which is more Tenerife inspired, but when I unpacked the little bag of pink peppercorns from my luggage (these peppercorns were collected under a beautiful peppercorn tree in our hotel ‘secret garden’ while feeling like Mary Lennox), I realised I had to put them into good use. These pink peppercorns have a beautiful sweetness with a slight hint of licorice taste and a subtle flora tone. So I thought, its flavour would compliment perfectly with the smokiness of the aubergine. And I was right about that. But just a few berries will do the trick, too many of them will overpower the entire dish.

baba-ganoush recipe

baba-ganoush recipe

baba-ganoush recipe

Baba Ganoush with Pink Peppercorns

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s recipe on jamieoliver.com

Serves 4

  • 2 large aubergine, halved lengthwise
  • Olive oil for roasting
  • 1 tbsp. tahini
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Smoked sweet paprika (for garnish)
  • 5 pink peppercorns, crushed with pestle and mortar

serving suggestions:

  • pitta bread
  • tortilla chips
  • raw vegetable sticks
  • use as a spread for wraps

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Place aubergine on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and drizzle them generously with olive oil. Place in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes or until aubergine is golden brown and the flesh is juicy and soft. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.

Scope out the flesh of the aubergine into a mixing bowl, and discard the skin. Add the rest of the ingredients apart from smoked paprika and pink peppercorns. Use a handheld blender (or you can use food processor or blender) to puree the mixture until you get a nice thick dip. Taste and season when necessary.

Transfer the content into a serving bowl and sprinkle the smoked paprika and crushed pink peppercorns. Finally drizzle a little olive oil on top. Serve immediately.

This dip can be made a couple of days ahead, but of course it tastes great freshly made or even better after a few hours rest.

baba-ganoush recipe

 

 

 

 

tenerife mountain

Tenerife

We spent our first week of  2017 in the warm and wonderful Tenerife, the largest island of the Canaries situated on the Atlantic Ocean, about 100 km from west coast of Morocco. The island formed by an eruption of a volcano three million years ago. The landscape of the island is, in my opinion, most intriguing. The south side of the island features almost desert like landscape dotted with gigantic cactuses, aloe vera, weeds and palm trees where the climate is relatively dryer and warmer compared to the northern side. The more one travels north, where altitude is significantly and gradually higher with a more humid climate, the more green trees and shrubs one sees. Pine forests usually cover the mountain area. I was enthralled by the radical change of the ecosystem on this island which is unique to the world, and I was once again amazed by our wondrous nature. We landed in the Tenerife South Airport and had to drive along the coast to the north where our hotel was, therefore we had seen the change of landscape, the diversity of vegetations and the humble yet attractive local architecture. I fell in love instantly by the ever-changing sights of this island.

Our hotel is in the northern part of the island, in a city called Puerto de la Cruz. It is historically a coastal port for trading, but now the main industry is tourism. The oldest botanical garden in Spain is also situated there. Another famous site is Playa Jardín, a popular black sandy beach with sand and rocky coast that were formed by lava contacted with the ocean years ago. My almost 8 years old had spent hours fishing patiently with a bucket and net among those lava formed rocks. The landscape of Puerto de la Cruz is consisted of high mountains and rocky coasts, a rather interesting combination. From our 9th floor hotel balcony, we could see the snowy top of the famous volcano – Mount Teide (El Teide) surrounded by ghosty mist on one side and the royal blue ocean with fiery waves on the other. I was astounded by this fascinating contrast of sight every time I set eyes on the view. So every morning, I found myself admiring this amazing landscape on the balcony, listening to crickets chirped and the sounds of the awakening city.

tenerifetenerife

The old city of Puerto de la Cruz houses one of Tenerife oldest harbours, near a couple of cozy and well maintained squares and few churches, one of them is the well known Church of San Francisco. The church building itself is considered the oldest building in the city. We spent every night walking through streets with market stalls in the old city and enjoying various local Canarian tapas such as the famous baked canaries wrinkly potato, calamari fritters, grilled pepper, baked goat cheese with mojo verde (green sauce), paella etc. My favourite restaurant is called Restaurante Tropical on Calle Lomo, the food is exceptional and inexpensive. We were there with another family whom we met in our hotel, we feasted on some delicious tapas enough for 7 people with good quality local wine, altogether was merely 70 Euro including tips! It was just marvellous! We wanted to go back there on our last night, but it was closed because of the Spanish Epiphany (also known as Three Kings Day, 6th January), a Spanish Christian feast day equivalent to the commonly known Christmas. Presents for the children are brought by the three kings instead of Father Christmas. We were lucky enough to experience the most important festive celebration with the local people and we witnessed the famous ‘Three Kings Parade’. Everyone was excited to see the ‘Three Kings’, especially the children, who were showered with the sweets threw from the floats. The atmosphere was uplifting and heartwarming, everyone had a big smile on their faces.

tenerifetenerife paradetenerife parade

Another city which I absolutely adore is Garachico, in the north coast of Tenerife, an hour drive from Puerto de la Cruz toward the west. A small city by the beautiful rocky coasts where fishing and sailing are popular among the locals. Although it is also one of the mass tourism town, but it is surprisingly tranquil. Strolling through the narrow streets and hidden alleys gave me a sense of adventure. The architecture is the typical Andalusia and Portuguese inspired. Being there reminds me so much of my home town Macau, stone paved streets and beautiful squares where people can gather and enjoy a relaxing afternoon. Calle Esteban de Ponte, perhaps the most famous street in Garachico, consists of shops, restaurants, hotels and many simple courtyard style stone houses with beautiful handcrafted wooden windows and balconies. Shops are selling mainly local handmade crafts and souvenir. We spent a blissful afternoon exploring the city and had a simple tapas lunch that was wonderfully satisfy. We ended our visit in Garachico by walking along the magnificent rocky coast with ice cream in our hands. Garachico is definitely my favourite city in Tenerife.

tenerife-7GarachicoGarachicoGarachicoGarachicoGarachicoGarachico

The highlight of our visit had to be the trip to Mount Teide, the volcano situates near the centre of Tenerife island. It stands at over 3.5 thousands meter above sea level and is the highest point in the islands of Atlantic. It is surrounded by the Teide National Park (world heritage site) which stretches over 18,000 hectare. I remember it took quite some times for us to drive through the seemingly endless forest to reach Mount Teide. When we arrived at the crater which surrounds the volcano, we were blown away by its size and amazing structure. We could hardly get our heads around the idea of we were inside a volcano crater. It was just sensational. Walking on the lava sands and against the strong cold wind, looking afar to the snow-topped edges of the crater was not doubt a surreal experience. I read about its geographic condition is comparable with Mars, therefore it is also a testing ground for space robotic vehicles. I almost felt like I was in a science fiction movie. We didn’t go all the way up to the summit unfortunately because of my ear-ache, so we drove to the only restaurant in the area and warmed our bellies with some very traditional Canarian dishes: Rancho Canario (Chickpea and potato soup with meat and noodles) and Caldo de Pescado (fish soup). A delicious end to an enchanted journey.

tenerifetenerife mount Teidetenerife mount Teide tenerife mount Teide tenerife mount Teidetenerife

We spent our last morning in Tenerife by the hotel swimming pool as we didn’t have enough time to drive anywhere else. So while my family was having fun in the pool, I took some ‘me-time’ wandering around the hotel ‘secret garden’, it isn’t really a ‘secret’ but the way it was built is somehow mysterious. The garden is laid out on different levels because of its hilly location, each level then divided loosely into smaller spaces by stones, with different types of trees, flowers and shrubs planted within it. One minute you see stocky palm trees and enormous Lilys plants on one level and then, the next minute, just around the corner, you can see banana trees and their blossoms standing happily in the warm warm sun. There is always a surprise everywhere you turn. It was peaceful and quiet, all I could hear was the sound of my own footsteps and the occasional rattling sounds of tiny lizard hurrying by. I came across a beautiful willow-like tree with bunches of little red berries hanging on it. I was curious to know what they were, so I crashed one berry from the ground with my fingers and it released a wonderful peppery aroma, it was pink peppercorns. I was thrilled to see so many have fallen on the ground, so I decided to collect them and bring them home (and I used them in this recipe). I didn’t expect just a brief walk alone through a tranquil garden would give me so much joy. We need a little pleasure from time to time, so after this holiday, I am determine to make ‘pleasure hunting’ my daily habit.

The trip to Tenerife was inspiring and we were happy that we made this last minute decision to go there. I have heard there are many more places worth a visit, so we will definitely go back there to explore the rest of the island, hopefully soon.

tenerifetenerife-pepper-tree1 tenerife-pepper-tree2

Photos by Alexander

 

 

 

 

 

Stewed Plums with Maple Syrup and Cinnamon recipe

Brown Butter Maple Stewed Plums with Cinnamon – plus a note on a short autumn break

I spent the last summer day slicing up the soon-to-be last-season plums and sautéed them in brown butter, cinnamon and maple syrup. Although it is sad to know that summer finally came to an end, but this silky, sweet and sour stewed plums has left me the most beautiful memory of our glorious summer. When I finished making this somewhat comforting and warm dish, I felt like I have done my part to conclude the past summer with the most appropriate mix of flavours. The wonderful thing about this recipe is it calls for only a handful of ingredients and it takes only a little time to make. This recipe is an adaptation of Martha Stewart’s stewed plums recipe, I replaced cardamon with cinnamon as that’s what I had at home. The first time I whipped it up quite quickly as a compliment to a rich, moist chocolate cake that we brought to a friend’s at tea time the other day, and it was hit. The soft tarty plums celebrates brilliantly the intense flavour of the bitter sweet chocolate cake, match made in heaven. The second time, I served the plums with simple whipped cream and fresh mint (pictured) which allowed the delicious plums to shine. I love both versions, and I imagine the plums will be amazing with pancake and as a luscious base for a buttery crumble.

As autumn is one of my favorite times of the year, I have decided to take a short break from the blog and really enjoy the season, spending sometimes in the nature, reading good books, visiting museums and eating lots of good food. I will use this break to prioritise a few plans that I have for the next years, to rearrange my daily work schedule. So I ask for your patient, and bear with me while I am absent. There are definitely a few exciting plans in the picture and hopefully, by the end of my month long break, I will have a better idea of where things are and bring in some fresh ideas and inspirations to the blog.

Until then.

Stewed Plums with Maple Syrup and Cinnamon recipe Stewed Plums with Maple Syrup and Cinnamon recipe Stewed Plums with Maple Syrup and Cinnamon recipe Stewed Plums with Maple Syrup and Cinnamon recipe Stewed Plums with Maple Syrup and Cinnamon recipe

recipe adapted from marthastewart.com

Ingredients:

serves 4-6

  • 550g ripe plums (I used a mixture of Damson and Friar), stoned and cut into wedges (or halves)
  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp. ground vanilla (or vanilla paste)
  • 3 tbsp. of maple syrup
  • 1 small pinch of salt

Serving suggestion:

  • whipped cream
  • pancakes
  • ice cream
  • chocolate cake
  • topped with crumble

Melt the butter in a sauté pan and warm until butter is bubbling and turns slightly golden (but not burnt). Add the cinnamon stick and vanilla to the butter and remove from heat, let the mixture infused for 10 minutes.

Return the pan to the stove on medium heat, add the plums to spiced butter and sauté them for 5 minutes, stir occasionally. Remove from heat and let the fruit stand for about 10 minutes. Serve warm with any of the suggestion above.

Stewed Plums with Maple Syrup and Cinnamon recipe

Braised Chicken Meatballs and Fennel with Miso Gochujang recipe

Chicken Meatballs and Fennel Braised in Miso Gochujang

These chicken meatballs are tender on the inside but firm and springy on the outside, if you care enough to ground your own meat, it tastes so much better than the ready-minced supermarket type, a little effort goes a long way. For the sauce, since I want something rich and spicy, I use a mixture of my favorite pantry staples: miso paste and Gochujang (Korean chili paste), this combination delivers a sharp umami taste with a spicy kick which works wonderfully well with the meatballs. In fact the sauce itself is quite flavoursome, so it becomes amazingly versatile, it makes wonder to all food wherever it is added (I literately use it on everything: salad, stew, marinade, stir fry, even just drizzle it on rice and noodles!) and it only takes a few minutes to whip up. My ‘go to sauce’ when I crave for something hearty and spicy, especially in cool autumn days.

Fennel is one of my favorite vegetables and it adapts well with various flavours without losing its own. Once cooked, its licorice taste became subtle enough not to overpowering but to compliment the others. I also love its texture, it is crunchy when raw but still remains a bite to it when it is cooked. It is one of the most used vegetables on my blog, absolutely great in salad, soup, stew, roast and many more. When I was planning this recipe early this week, fennel was the first vegetable which emerged in my head and I knew it would be the perfect side ingredient for this wonderful early autumn dish, and I was right.

Note: for the sauce: it seems a lot of liquid when you first added the stock to the pan, but the sauce will thicken up and reduce slightly when everything is cooked. Since I just plated up part of the dish for the photos, it doesn’t look like a lot of sauce there, but the amount of ingredients for the sauce should make plenty for the final dish.

Braised Chicken Meatballs and Fennel with Miso Gochujang recipe Braised Chicken Meatballs and Fennel with Miso Gochujang recipe

Ingredients:

Serves 4

For the meatballs:

  • 650g minced chicken (free range or organic), ready minced or ground in food processor
  • 2 pieces (50g) of stale bread (I use gluten free toast bread), pulsed to crumbs
  • 4 stalks spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp. tamari (or regular soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp. mirin
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. brown rice flour (or all purpose flour), plus more for coating

For the Miso Gochujang sauce:

  • 1 heaped tbsp. Gochujang
  • 1 heaped tbsp. miso paste
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. runny honey
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. mirin
  • 300ml good quality chicken stock

For the rest:

  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, stalk removed and cut into wedges
  • 3 stalk spring onions, cut into about 8cm batons
  • 1 stalk spring onion, chopped (for garnish)
  • Steamed rice to serve
  • Freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine all chicken meatball ingredients and mixed well. Prepare a plate of brown rice flour (or regular flour) on the side. Use your hands, form meatball as the size of a ping pong ball. Coat each meatball with brown rice flour as you go (the meat mixture is quite sticky so I found the flour helps to form into shape). This should make about 16-18 balls. Keep the meatballs in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up and help the taste to develop.

Make the miso gochujang sauce by combining all the sauce ingredients apart from the chicken stock in a small bowl, mix well and set aside.

When the meatballs is firm and ready, heat a frying pan or wok with about 2cm of oil in until hot. Add the meatballs carefully in the pan and brown them on all sides (you will have to fry them in batches). Turn the heat down to medium and cook the meatballs a little bit longer (careful not to burn them) until they are quite firm when you squeeze them with a tongs or chopsticks, about 5-8 minutes, turn them regularly. Transfer them to a plate lined with kitchen paper and continue with the rest.

Pour away any remaining oil (if any) and wipe clean the pan with kitchen paper, warm some oil in the pan and add the spring onion batons, fennel wedges and fry for a minute. Add the miso Gochujang mixture in the vegetables and stir and coat well. Then pour in the chicken stock, stir well and have a taste, adjust the seasoning. Bring to boil and add the meatballs, reduce to simmer (turn the meatballs twice during cooking so that they are evenly cooked in the sauce) with a lid for about 6-8 minutes or until cook through (you can test it by breaking up one of the meatballs and see if it it cooked through in the centre).

Transfer the meatballs and the sauce in a platter and garnish with the chopped spring onion and freshly ground black pepper, served with hot steamy rice.

 

Braised Chicken Meatballs and Fennel with Miso Gochujang recipe

Grilled shrimps, figs and summer squash salad recipe

Grilled Prawn, Fig and Summer Squash Salad in Harrisa Yogurt Dressing

I love the feeling of my teeth sink into a cold, plump fig from the fridge every late summer morning, the chill does a better job of waking me up than my strong Oolong tea. Beside that I feel especially nurtured eating them first thing in the morning, nothing too overwhelming for the empty stomach, just a hint of sweetness with the most delicate texture, and most importantly, it is packed with nutrients and a good source of fibre. I also love to add a few slices in my yogurt with honey and toasted coconut, or on my crispy toast with a spread of salty goat cheese and a drizzle of honey; bake them in buttery puff pastry with berries jam, or lay them on top of cake batter, bake until they turn dark burgundy and bursting with heavenly sweetness. I especially fond of adding them to salad, with torn mozzarella cheese and dry-cured ham, or with crumbled goat cheese and peppery rocket. So here it is for today, a humble experiment turns into a wonderful salad recipe. The fig provides a subtle sweetness for the whole dish, compliments brilliantly with the spicy Harrisa, garlic marinated prawns. The texture of this salad is balanced between creaminess and crunchiness, and finally the minty, spicy yogurt dressing ties every flavour and texture together, the end result is a delicious late summer salad that you will enjoy throughout this particular time of the year.

Grilled shrimps, figs and summer squash salad recipeGrilled shrimps, figs and summer squash salad recipe

Grilled shrimps, figs and summer squash salad recipe   Grilled shrimps, figs and summer squash salad recipeGrilled shrimps, figs and summer squash salad recipe

Ingredients:

serves 2 (easily double)

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup (125ml) natural yogurt
  • 1 heaped tsp. harrisa paste (plus more if desire)
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice (plus more if needed)
  • 1 heaped tbsp. finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

For the prawn marinate:

  • 1 tsp. harrisa paste
  • 1 tsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. garlic oil
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the salad:

  • 14 raw tiger prawns
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1 yellow courgette, sliced
  • 1/2 green courgette, sliced
  • 1 head of little gem lettuce, hand-torn into small pieces
  • 3 figs, halved and then quartered
  • olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • A large handful of fresh mint leaves

Peel the prawns, and gently rinse them with salted water, drain and then pat dry with kitchen paper. Add the prawns in the marinate, mixed well and set aside while you are preparing the rest of the dish.

Prepare the dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, have a taste, it should be spicy (you can add more harrisa paste if you like it extra spicy) and tangy, so adjust the seasoning accordingly.

Add generous amount of salt and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper, a good glug of olive oil onto the courgette slices, heat a griddle pan until hot and grill the courgette until char marks formed and the vegetable starts to soften (about 3 minutes on each side), but do not over cook them, they should be a little crunchy but not soggy. Transfer them to a plate.

Assemble the salad (before you grill the prawns) by combine the lettuces, avocado, figs, grilled courgette slices and fresh mint leaves in a large salad bowl, set aside.

Brush the griddle pan with some olive oil and grill the prawns until cooked through, about a minute on each side. Transfer them to a salad bowl, then add the dressing, freshly ground pepper and an extra squeeze of lemon juice just before serving. Serve immediately.

Grilled shrimps, figs and summer squash salad recipe

Portuguese Tomato Rice (Arroz de Tomate) recipe

Arroz de Tomate – Portuguese Tomato Rice

As I was doing some research on Portuguese food for one of my writing projects, I came across a simple recipe which makes use of one of the most delicious summer produces – tomatoes – and they are in season currently and are sold abundantly. Although they are available all year round but the summer tomatoes are definitely more flavorful as they ripen beneath the summer sun, grow into pleasantly sweet, aromatic and succulent fruits that are bursting with flavour. It is hard to imagine not to enjoy these jewels as much as we can throughout the high of summer when they are at their best.

I remember how much I fond of many tomato based dishes in Portuguese/Macanese cuisine when I was growing up in Macau: Feijoada, tomato cream soup, stew seafood with chorizo, pan-fried whole fish then braised in rich tomato sauce (this was one of my mother’s specialties), etc. One of my absolute favorites was baked pork chop with rice (it is more like a local Macau special), long grain rice cooked perfectly in tomato paste and then topped with a crispy fried pork chop in breadcrumb, then covered with an extra layer of starchy tomato sauce, baked in the oven until crusty on top. The rice is toothsome and pairs well with the crispy yet tender pork chop, the top layer of tomato sauce is silky and pungent, just the right element to tie all the flavours beautifully together, this dish has been one of the most famous and beloved dishes in Macau food history.

A nostalgic memory turns into today’s wonderful recipe, a simple rice dish that is bursting with flavour of sun-ripen tomatoes, enriched by sweet onions, bay leaf and smokey bacon, every grain of rice has unapologetically absorbed the luscious tomato sauce. No wonder it is one of the most popular rice dishes in Portugal, which traditionally served as a side for meat or seafood. Although I quite like eating it just as it is for a no-fuss-meal and to fully appreciate its glorious taste; or top the rice with a perfectly fried egg and a side of buttered green beans for a more balance and satisfactory meal.

Note: My cooking method is by no mean traditional, I studied several methods and I came up with this version. I have done an extra step (versus the tradition way) after the rice is cooked on the stove: a 10-15 minutes grilled under the oven broiler will crisp up the top layer of the rice, enhancing the taste and the texture of the overall dish, it is a step that I highly recommend you take because it really worth the extra effort.

Portuguese Tomato Rice (Arroz de Tomate) recipe

Portuguese Tomato Rice (Arroz de Tomate) recipe

Portuguese Tomato Rice (Arroz de Tomate) recipe

Arroz de Tomate

Inspired by Portuguese tomato rice recipes from foodrepublic.com, about.com

Ingredients:

Serves 4

  • 500g ripe tomato (in season, otherwise, use can tomato)
  • 100g diced bacon
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tbsp. of ground sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 500ml Chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 250g Basmati Rice, washed and drained
  • a small handful of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • Olive oil

Serving suggestions

  • Fried egg
  • Green salad
  • Buttered green beans (or any green)

To prepare the tomato, slice an ‘x’ across the top and bottom of the tomatoes, put them into a heat proof bowl or small sauce pan, submerge the tomatoes with boiling water. Cover and stand for a minute. Transfer the tomatoes into ice water. Now careful peel off the skin and roughly chop the tomatoes (seeds and water/juice) and transfer them to a bowl, set aside.

Heat a glug of olive oil in a rimmed cast iron pan (or something similar that can be place under the oven grill), soften the onions and garlic on medium high heat for about a minute. Add bacon and fry for another couple of minutes until the bacon take on a nice brown colour.

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, black pepper, paprika and bay leaf. Use a wooden spatula to break down some of the bigger tomato pieces and cover the pan with a lid, let the mixture, simmer in medium low heat for 15-20 minutes. Stir and break down any remaining larger tomato pieces once or twice during cooking.

Add the drained rice to the pan and mix them well with the tomato sauce. Pour in the hot chicken stock and combine everything well with the spatula. Bring to boil and then turn the heat down to simmer, covered and cook for about 15 minutes or until all water is absorbed by the rice. Turn the heat down to very low and let the rice sit and rest (covered) for a further 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven grill to high. Remove the lid from the pan and place it under the grill for 10-15 minutes or until the top of the rice is nice and crispy. Remove from the oven and scatter chopped  fresh basil on the rice.

Served as a side with meat or fish, or simply topped with a fried egg and a green salad to make it as a main dish.

Portuguese Tomato Rice (Arroz de Tomate) recipe

 

 

Beef and Mango Summer Rolls with Coriander Dipping Sauce recipe

Beef and Mango Summer Rolls served with Coriander Dipping Sauce

It is late summer, the sun is hanging low and casting long shadows. It is the most beautiful period of summer, I love the colour of the sunlight which seems somewhat richer, deeper, it makes everything looks more mature, like a person reaches his golden age. It is the time of harvesting, a sense of gathering and fulfillment. It is also the time to bottle up jam, marmalade; bake pies and pickle the lovely summer produce. I was lucky to have given some bottles of jam and confiture which were homemade by my friend’s aunt in a small french village, so I have spared myself the time of making any this year. And I want to enjoy this brilliant time of the year, so some days I will try not to spend too much time in the kitchen. Hence today’s recipe, minimum cooking but with big flavour.

Summer roll is one of the most versatile foods I know, and one of my favorites as well. It is refreshing, delicious and easy to make. One can fill the rice paper with vegetables, shell fish (the most common one), meat, and even fresh fruits; with various dipping sauce as desire. I have made this version which is one of the most popular dishes on my blog. I like to experiment with different filling and flavours. This particular recipe is a combination of a vietnamese beef noodle salad and a Thai mango salad wrapped in one roll. The tender beef and soft juicy mango contrast with crunchy carrot and cucumber, sweet, tangy, umami all in one setting. The soft herbs like mint, basil and the coriander in the dipping sauce enhance the overall flavour, so they should not be omitted. If you like a bit of heat, some chopped chilies added to the sauce will do the trick.

Beef and Mango Summer Rolls with Coriander Dipping Sauce recipe Beef and Mango Summer Rolls with Coriander Dipping Sauce recipe Beef and Mango Summer Rolls with Coriander Dipping Sauce recipe Beef and Mango Summer Rolls with Coriander Dipping Sauce recipe

Ingredients:

Makes 6 (easily double)

For the Beef marinade:

  • 250g beef filet, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped coriander
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped ginger
  • 1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp. tamari or regular soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil

For the summer roll:

  • The beef (from above)
  • 1 mango, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 large cucumber (or one small), halved lengthwise, scoped the seeds out and ribboned with a vegetable peeler, drained on kitchen paper (or cut in matchsticks if prefer)
  • 100g dried rice noodles, cooked according to package instruction
  • 6 rice paper (plus more if needed)
  • handful of fresh mint
  • handful of basil (or Thai basil)

For the dipping sauce: (makes plenty, enough for 12 rolls)

  • 4 tbsp. fish sauce
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 4 tbsp. water
  • 1 tbsp. Agave syrup (or sugar)
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped coriander
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar

Marinate the beef with all marinade ingredients for at least 30 minutes.

Prepare the dipping sauce by combining all ingredients in a small bowl and stir well. Set aside until served.

Char the beef in some vegetable oil on a cast iron pan or grilled pan until cooked, about 1-2 minutes, transfer the cooked meat on a plate and let it rest and cool.

To assemble the summer roll: dip the rice paper into a bowl of tepid water for 10 seconds. (the rice paper will keep absorbing water while you are assemble it, so don’t leave it too long in the water) Place the rice paper on a slightly wet flat surface or a large plate. Place some of each of the vegetables, noodles, beef and fresh herbs on the (lower) middle of the rice paper (see the instruction pictures from my other post).

Now fold the right and left side of the rice paper toward the middle and then fold the bottom side up. Roll with the ingredients up, until a ‘roll’ has formed. Depending on how much filling you put in each roll, the sizes of the rolls will vary. To prevent the finished rolls from drying out, use a cling film with a damp kitchen towel on top to cover the rolls while you are making the rest. Served with the coriander dip. These rolls are best served within one hour and keep them tightly wrapped before serving.

Beef and Mango Summer Rolls with Coriander Dipping Sauce recipe

 

Gluten Free Almond Plum Cake recipe

Almond Maple Plum Cake

This cake is moist on the inside with hint of vanilla, top of the cake is slightly crunchy flavoured with soft tarty plums. The sponge cake is shy of sweet which allow the maple saturated fruit to shine. Plum is sold in abundance at this time of the year, it is delicious both raw and cooked. In its raw form, the firm but juicy flesh is pleasantly sweet, it carries a floral note and sweet like honey. Its smell mirrors its wonderful taste and lingers on your fingers long after you held one. When cooked, sweetness turns into a nice tarty taste. It is almost unbearable to not take the advantage to include plum in your everyday menu, some days I wake up craving for a juicy plum with yogurt and homemade granola, or other days, I scatter them on salad and then topped with toasted nuts, or stew them quickly in vanilla syrup and serve warm with ice cream for dessert. But bake plum in cake is definitely one of my favorite ways to enjoy these late summer jewels.

This recipe is inspired by the Green Kitchen Stories’s rhubarb upside down cake. I adapted the recipe for the cake base and have altered a few things. After two attempts, I would say I am very happy with the result. Nothing better than having a piece of cake that tastes like summer with a cup of tea while bathing in the cosy late afternoon sun.

Gluten Free Almond Plum Cake recipeGluten Free Almond Plum Cake recipeGluten Free Almond Plum Cake recipeGluten Free Almond Plum Cake recipeGluten Free Almond Plum Cake recipe

Ingredients:

Served 8-10

Inspired by Green Kitchen Stories’s rhubarb upside-down cake

  • 100g butter (plus more for greasing)
  • 3 eggs, separated plus 1 egg white
  • 100g caster sugar, separated (50/50)
  • 200g ground almond
  • 75g buckwheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla powder (or extract or paste)
  • 250ml buttermilk quark (or regular quark)
  • 500g (about 5-6 depends on the size) plum, halved, stoned and sliced
  • 2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • icing sugar to serve

Preheat the oven at 180 degree celsius. Line a rectanglur brownie tin (20x23cm) or 22cm springform cake tin, with parchment paper, greased with butter. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine ground almond, buckwheat flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla powder. Set aside.

In large bowl, cream the butter and half the sugar with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Add sugar in three intervals and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk and beat until everything is well combine. Stir in the quark and then the flour mixture.

Beat the egg white with 3 additions of the remaining sugar until soft peaks formed. Fold in the egg white into the cake mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared tray and lay the plum slices on top. Spoon over the maple syrup on the plums. Bake in the preheat oven for 60 -70 minutes (test with a wooden skewer and it comes out clean when done), the top of the cake should be beautifully brown and the plums are soft but crispy on the edges.

Remove from the oven and leave the cake in the tin for a couple of minutes, then transfer the cake with the parchment paper on a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely.

Cut into small rectangles and sprinkle with icing sugar when served. The left over cake should be stored in the fridge.

Gluten Free Almond Plum Cake recipe