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.

Rare beef salad with Vietnamese slaw

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

Mushrooms stuffed with parsley (gluten free, vegan)

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Is there such a thing as the perfect vegan dish?

Mushroom with parsley

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

Pork scotch fillet with Korean chili soy bean paste (gochujiang)

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Simple dinner tonight – pan fried pork neck steaks rubbed with Korean chili soy bean paste (g, a pinch of salt and nothing else- no recipe required.

Gochujiang
Gochujiang

Chicken San Choy Bao

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When I was in university, I worked in a Chinese restaurant as a pantry girl. I cut hundreds of san choy bao leaves each evening before meal time. It was one of the most popular dishes.  I wondered if there was such a real dish in China called the San Choy Bao – I never heard of it before.

Anyway, I made some for the school fete, a big hit. And I was happy.

Chicken san choy bao with Chinese mushroom, bamboo and wood ear

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

Lamb rendang (gluten free)

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I use lamb for this curry, as I love the tenderness of lamb.  I use the words ‘a few’ in this recipe, as this is a ‘modern’ rendang,  you can ‘play’ with the ingredients to suit you taste.

Lamb Rendang

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

Fish cake chop suey

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Chop Suey is ‘as you please’ so you can add whatever you like to this dish.  When I visit the Asian stores, I often buy a few packs each of fried fishcakes, five-spice tofu, beef balls & fish balls. When I get home, I throw them in the freezer until ready to use – goes wonderfully with noodles or a simple stir fry with vegetables.

fishcake chop suey

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