Month: May 2015

Hometown sweet and savory rice dumplings (家乡咸水角) – memories of my grandfather’s village at ZhongShan (中山)

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These dumplings are distinctively Cantonese- sweet & savory, gentle and tasty. Someone told me that it was originated from the Zhongshan region (中山) where my grandfather was born.

Hometown Sweet & Savory Glutinous Rice Dumplings (家乡咸水角) XianSuiJiao

My grandfather’s family lived in a village called Yunhan (云汉村) in a town called Shaxi (沙溪镇). The town was well known for its connection to overseas Chinese – nearly every family had some relatives overseas.

My childhood memory of the village where our relatives lived was picturesque –  peaceful lychee trees growing alongside a small river, laden with juicy purple-red fruits. The houses in the village were the traditional terrace houses with beautiful classic wooden furniture called red Suanzhi, translated as the red sour-wood (酸枝), one of the most expensive furniture hardwood in southern China. At the back of each house, there was a courtyard with a sand filter.  Water was carried home from a nearby well, commonly in two wooden buckets on a pole, then filtered to drinking water in a sand filter.  Most courtyards were lined with stones. The stoves were also made of stones where straws and sticks were burned to cook food. A well-off region with fertile farm land and money from offshore relations, hospitality at the village was always warm and welcoming.

Zhongshan 云汉村 in 1970s
Relatives walking along the lychee tree lined river, at Yunhan village (云汉村), Zhonghshan, 1970s

 

DelishHomeCook, village, ZhongShan 中山, GuangDong, China
My family’s village at ZhongShan in early 1980s

These savory dumplings are wonderfully interesting  – glutinous rice skin that tastes a little like a doughnut, with extremely tasty fillings.  They are time-consuming to make, but very worthwhile.

Recipe is as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

White cut chicken with Vietnamese slaw & the Chinese New Year’s Eve feast

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White cut chicken is so very close to my heart.

When I grew up in the early 70s in Southern China, we lived simply on limited resources. Earning a first prize in school meant a lot to me, as the prize was typically a pencil with a rubber at the end, a real luxury. I would jump for joy if I received a prize of a few new exercise books as they were frequently out of stock at the shops.

My father was a university graduate and a mechanical engineer.  The year that I was born, he was ‘redistributed’ to work at a factory 150km away from home. Those days, 150km means a 5 hours journey on a train. My father’s monthly salary was about $60 yuan (approx USD10 based on today’s exchange rate). He kept $30 yuan for himself and sent the rest to us. My mother was a factory hand whose monthly salary was $37 yuan (approx USD6 based on today’s exchange rate).  Once a year, our Singapore uncle sent us a little money. My mother would buy some fabric, sew a new piece of clothing for me on my grandmother’s old sewing machine. Our Singapore uncle was very kind to us –  he had a large family to support and he was not well off himself.

At the end of each Chinese Luna year, my father was entitled to a 10-day holiday to spend Chinese New Year with the family. As a special treat for the New Year’s Eve family dinner, my father always brought home a farm chicken which cost around $10 yuan. He had to save up for months to buy the chicken. My grandmother carefully slaughtered and poached the chicken, then served it at the Chinese New Year Eve dinner.  The chicken was shared among the whole family – grandmother, uncles, aunties and us.

White cut chicken with Vietnamese slaw   &  the Chinese New Year's Eve feast

There were only a few pieces for each of us. Grandmother was entitled to the chicken’s bottom, a delicacy. I was the first grandchild born in the house and was entitled to one of the wings – another delicacy. How delicious it was, our once a year white cut chicken feast.

Over the years in Australia I had many white cut chicken dishes – some were delicious, some were cooked without care. I started cooking my own version of the boneless white cut chicken, and my friends always enjoyed the dish.

This recipe is a modern fusion of Chinese & Vietnamese – gently poached juicy tender chicken breast fillet on a bed of fresh Vietnamese style slaw.

 

Recipe is as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Cucumber rolls with lamb, capsicum and eggs (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

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These gorgeous little rolls are so easy to make – scramble a egg with a pinch of salt; pan fry some lamb and red capsicum with a dash of gluten free soy sauce and sesame oil; boil  some rice and cool; slice some cucumber lengthwise (use a peeler);  roll some rice with the egg, lamb and capsicum in the middle very tightly with cling wrap then cut into portion with a sharp knife; wrap a piece of sliced cucumber around the rice roll – and there it goes, pretty and tasty.

Cucumber rolls with lamb, capsicum and eggs (FODMAP friendly, gluten free)

Bean sprout salad with spicy Korean radish (gluten free, Vegan)

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As a Cantonese grown up in southern China in the 70s, bean sprout dishes were a regular on the dinner table because it was very cheap.  My grandmother grew the bean sprouts herself in a large brown urn under the stairs. My childhood memory of bean sprouts was always a stir fry watery dish with very little flavor. It was not until I arrived in Australian and had the opportunity to taste Korean food, to learn that it could be spiced up and taste so wonderful !

Bean sprout salad with spicy Korean radish  (gluten free, Vegan)

Recipe is as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Golden coconut flan

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I learned about flan when I was working as a waitress in an Asian restaurant during my university days. I have to say, my flan is so much better than that restaurant’s.

 Coconut Flan

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Cucumber salad and memories of ‘wine house’ restaurants (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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Compressed rectangle Cucumber salad

As a little child growing up in southern China in the early 70s, our family was considered very fortunate to have relatives and friends overseas. Every few years a small group of the oversea relatives would visit, bringing with them pre-loved clothes, food, small gifts and special foreign exchanged yuan to shout us a feast in a ‘wine house’ restaurant’ – no food coupons required! In my little eyes, the oversea visitors were beautiful people – they dressed well, smelt so nice and they were always very kind to me.

Out of the pre-loved clothes that were given to me by our visitors, the most memorable was my little red jumper with a plastic print of happy reindeers – all jolly and bright. The jumper was thin, so I wore the jumper on top of multiple layers of clothes.  I wore the jumper nearly every day during many winters as it was the only jumper I had. When it was too short for me and did not extend past my belly button, I passed it to my sister who was 4 years younger than me. My sister used it for many years after that.

With our visitors, the ‘wine house’ restaurant that we most visited was the KwangChow Restaurant (also called the GuangZhou Restaurant in mandarine), one of the most celebrated restaurants in the city. It was only 4 blocks away from our house.  Downstairs of the restaurant was the common dining room – plain and simple. The dining area upstairs was so grand that it looked like a palace!  How I enjoyed the aroma of food, tea and wine lingering through the tastefully decorated dining rooms – carved wooden partitions, classic rosewood furniture and traditional paintings on the walls. My favorite dishes were the little side dishes served at arrival – cucumber salad, roasted peanuts and salted vegetables. These little dishes made me so hungry and so looking forward to the special feast.

Our extended family being entertained by oversea relatives in a restaurant
Our extended family being entertained by oversea relatives in a restaurant in 1970s

Many years later in Australia I spoke with one of our visitors about his impression of China in the 70s – ‘awful,’ he said,’ except for that restaurant, the food was really nice.’

A match box I collected from GuangZhou Restaurant, one of the most famous restaurant in the city in 1980s
A match box I collected from the GuangZhou Restaurant, one of the most famous restaurant in the city in 1970s

I hope you enjoy my version of a cucumber salad with a little modern twist.

Recipe is as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Rare beef salad with Vietnamese slaw

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A simple and delicious beef salad – juicy aged rump pan seared 2-3 minutes on each side, on a bed of tasty Asian salad with mint and coriander.

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »