Asian food

Autumn sword flower soup 霸王花汤

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Cantonese loves soups.  There are soups for spring, summer, autumn and winter.

For autumn, one of my favorite therapeutic soups is the sword flower soup.  I cook it as a light bone broth with chicken bones, dried sword flowers,  carrots, almonds,  Chinese dates and Chinese mushrooms.  Just put all the ingredients in a pressure cooker, and it is done in 60 minutes.

Autumn sword flower soup 霸王花汤

Autumn sword flower soup 霸王花汤

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Meals for the homeless – grilled chicken with Korean pepper flakes and Indian garlic ginger paste

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Simple, delicious and budget – 4 kilo of chicken fillets for our homeless friends. Have a great weekend everyone.

Grilled chicken fillet with Korean pepper flakes and Indian garlic and ginger paste

Easy steps as follows:

  • Dice the chicken drumstick or thigh fillet
  • Saute the chicken with generous amount of  cooking oil, Korean pepper flakes, Indian garlic and ginger paste, a dash of fish sauce, a little sugar
  • Once cooked, transfer to a plate, discard any liquid / sauce
  • Briefly grill the chicken pieces on a hot griddle,  splash a dash of dark soy sauce and toss slightly
  • Serve hot or chilled

 

Chili, ginger and garlic prawns (gluten free)

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Some summer Friday afternoons following the school pick ups, my school-mum friends may drop by for a few glasses of bubbles and the kids have a swim in the pool.

I always keep some easy-to-cook ingredients in my freezer for such occasions – homemade curry puffs, spring rolls, and of course, wild caught Australian prawns. The prawns are delicious, already peeled, easy to defrost, and quick to cook.

Chili, ginger and garlic prawns

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Saute spiced cauliflower, with grilled kiwi fruit (gluten free, vegan)

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Over twenty years ago I lived and worked in Tasmania. I fell in love with the stunning landscape and its beautiful bays. Recently we took our little boy to the east coast of Tasmania. The highlight of the trip was the walk at the Bay of Fire, jumping and running among the colorful rocks. I took many photos. Here are two of my favorite:

Bay of Fire, Tasmania
Bay of Fire, Tasmania

 

DSC03294 #1
Colorful sea rock at Bay of Fire, Tasmania

I was so fascinated by the ‘kiwi fruit’ on the rock, I decided to make a dish. I sauteed some finely chopped cauliflower and Spanish onion with a little cooking oil, spiced with some turmeric, cumin, garam masala, a little fresh chili and sea salt.  The veggies were served with lightly grilled kiwi fruit slices – the ingredients complemented each other very well, sweet, sour and spicy.

So simple, no recipe required.

Saute spiced cauliflower, with grilled kiwi fruit  (gluten free, vegan)

Fried cactus flowers, with Chinese five-spice and fried green shallot (gluten free)

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The cactus flowered again this year, yielding 2 single strikingly beautiful flowers, with pink and pearl like colors.

Fried cactus flowers, with Chinese five-spice and fried green shallot (gluten free)

Fried cactus flowers, with Chinese five-spice and fried green shallot (gluten free)

Last harvest I made a soup with the flowers. This year I fried them with some egg and corn flour, flavored with Chinese five-spice and green shallot.

DSC02150 #1

Method is as follows:

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Tomato and egg soup, with Chinese mushroom and miso, memories of friends from the GuangYa Middle School (廣東廣雅中學)

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In the 1980s, I attended a local selective school called “GuangYa” in Southern China. It was one of the few schools with boarding facilities. During high school years, boarding was compulsory so the school could control the kids academic progress with minimum disruption. We worked really hard and rarely did anything remotely exciting. On the weekends, other kids were eager to return home to their families. I liked to stay in the school over the weekends to avoid home, a place lack of warmth.

There were a few other kids staying behind too, mostly boys. It was scary to stay in the empty dormitory on my own. It was a huge room lined with over 20 bunk beds, dimly lighted with a few bare bulbs, and filled with dark shadows. There were no cleaners, the kids took turns to sweep the floor. So the room was full of spider webs and dust.

I tried to persuade some other girls to stay behind too. Two of my good friends, Yi and Qin, stayed with me sometimes. We studied the whole weekend at our own pace without bells and patrolling teachers – it was rather peaceful. The school canteen was closed and we were to manage our own meals.

At the back of the school, there was a busy bus terminal, a noodle shop and a few small grocery shops. A strip of the street was occupied by a few vendors that sold fruits, vegetables and some other basic essentials. We often ate noodles for dinner, and brought back a few eggs and vegetables to make soup for supper – we were peckish after our evening study sessions. With no cooking equipment available, we used a small electric kettle.

One of our favorite soups was the tomato and egg soup. It was the simplest soup you could imagine – drop some diced tomato and an egg in the boiling water, a quick stir, salt to taste (or a little soy sauce), and some chopped coriander. The soup is done in 2 minutes, light and delicious.

Ah, good old days – hardship and friendships.

Memories of GuangDong GuangYa Middle School - Friends
Memories of GuangDong GuangYa Middle School – good friends

I am visiting China in a few weeks, and I will be seeing Yi and Qin. It has been 30 years since we said good-bye to each other. I crossed the oceans and moved so very far away from my friends. Today, Yi is a devoted Buddhist and Qin is an energetic entrepreneur.

Here is my more creative version of an egg and tomato soup, with a Chinese mushroom and miso base. I am looking forward to see Yin, Qin and some of my school friends again in a few weeks.

I didn’t write up the recipe – imagination and creativity work best for this dish.

Tomato and egg soup, with Chinese mushroom and miso

Chinese mushroom, fresh mushroom and capsicum stir fry, with oyster sauce

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This morning, I soaked a few dry Chinese mushrooms in hot water no particular recipes in mind.  Dinner time, I found some fresh mushrooms and a capsicum at the bottom of the fridge, and made this simple stir fry.

Chinese mushroom, fresh mushroom and capsicum stir fry, with oyster sauce

So simple, no recipe required +- slice everything and throw them in a frying pan over high heat;  Add a dash of cooking oil, a little oyster sauce, a little sesame oil and white pepper; toss for a few minutes; and it is done; garnish with sliced shallot (scallion) and sesame seeds.