Chinese food

Stir fried tofu skin 腐竹 with Chinese mushroom 香菇 and capsicum (gluten free, vegan)

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My favorite Northern Chinese restaurant makes this lovely tofu skin dish, with Sichuan pepper infused oil and loads of garlic.  I tried to replicate it a few times but without success.

So here is my own version. It is actually tastier than the one in the restaurant (grins) !

Stir fried tofu skin 腐竹 with Chinese mushroom 香菇 and capsicum (gluten free, vegan)

Recipe is as follows:

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Home style pork spare ribs with soy sauce, wine and vinegar (FODMAP friendly, gluten free option)

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Pork spare ribs are inexpensive in Sydney, a fraction of the cost of pork ribs.  It is one of the most popular cuts of pork for Asian food, lovely when slow cooked in a rich salty, sweet and sour sauce.

Here is our dinner tonight – pork spare ribs braised in a soy sauce, red wine,sesame oil  and vinegar, with a hint of ginger and cumin.

Home style pork spare ribs with soy sauce, wine and vinegar (FODMAP friendly, gluten free option)

Recipe is as follows:

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Homemade wheat noodles in soup, memories of a peasant family at a noodle shop

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Homemade wheat noodles in soup, memories of a peasant family at a noodle shop

A few evenings ago, I watched Behind the News with my 9 year old boy on ABC iview. Behind the News is a TV news program made for the kids. That evening, the program covered the famine situation in Sudan.  “Had China ever have famine?”my little boy asked. These few innocent words had brought back my memories of a peasant family begging at a cheap noodle restaurant. I could still see their shadows, even today.

In early 70’s, my grandmother cooked communal dinners for the extended families. Each family contributed to the cost of the food. Money and resources were limited at the time. We nearly never went out for dinners, as my mother didn’t want to pay for meals twice. One night, for whatever reasons we were at this cheap noodle restaurant. It was a common and shabby place. The kitchen inside was steamy with a large pot of hot water for cooking the noodles, a large pot of cold water to cool and rinse the noodles, and a large pot of soup with nothing in it and barely any color. We found a table outside with wobbly chairs and started to eat our noodle soups. For a few cents, the meal had no meat or vegetables, just plain noodles and a little green shallot floating on top. It was hot and a rare treat for a little 5-year old girl.

Suddenly, 3 children in ragged clothes surrounded our table. They looked different to our city people. They had dark and coarse skin, as they were farmers from the countryside. They were dirty and messy, as they were far away from home and living on streets. They spoke in dialect that I never heard before. They would have traveled from afar, probably from another province where their crops failed. And their eyes, they had such hungry eyes. The littlest one just devoured some leftover soup from the next table, and redirected his attention to my bowl.

I looked up to my mother. ‘Eat up all your food’, she said sternly. When I left some food in the bowl at the end of the meal, she picked up the bowl and swallowed everything in it, including last drops of the soup, the soup of nothingness. The children moved away to another table, motionless.

Peasant family
A peasant family

Many years past, my memories of that family did not fake. Most of all, I was puzzled why my mother was so indifferent to the begging children.  After all, she was an orphan herself. She would have understood the pain and suffering of that family, hungry, homeless and desperate?

This weekend, I made a large batch of noodles from scratch. I served the noodles in a beautiful chicken soup, topped with mouthwatering crispy bacon bits. Life has been kind to our family and we really appreciate what we have.

Like to have a go at making your own noodles?  Recipe is as follows.

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Hairy gourd ‘liangban’ salad with XO sauce 节瓜凉拌

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This week I discovered an Asian grocery store 10 minutes’ drive away. Their stock range was quite comprehensive. The man in the shop helped me with the bags to my car which was sort of services I never experienced from an Asian store. I managed to find a parking spot very close to the shop – can’t believe my luck. I was very impressed.

I picked up a beautifully fresh hairy gourd from the shop. Hairy gourd is a very popular vegetable in Southern China, easy to grow with plenty of subtropical rains. The gourd is normally cooked in a soup or a stew with a tender and soft texture.

Today I decided to do something different with a ‘liangban’ 凉拌 salad. I added XO sauce to the salad for a kick as the gourd, on its own, could be quite plain. XO sauce is a mildly spicy paste made with dried seafood, garlic and chili, packed of flavors.

 

Hairy gourd 'liangban' salad with XO sauce  节瓜凉拌

I first peeled the skin of the gourd; I then julienned the flesh, disregard the seedy part of the gourd (but reversed for a soup dish). I then briefly blanched the vegetable until it was just cooked (about 1-2 minute) and ran it under cold water to cool; I mixed the drained vegetable with sesame oil, XO sauce, a generous dash of dark soy sauce, white pepper, chili, sesame seeds and sliced green shallot. I left the salad in fridge to chill for couple of hours before serving.  So simple and delicious. No recipe required.

Golden pork dumplings 豬肉餃子

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My little boy’s school has a school fete shortly and I am running an Asian food stall for the school.

Last Sunday we had a few school families and friends over to wrap dumplings for the Asian food stall. We used up 16kg of pork mince, 6 large bunch of garlic chive, 3 large wom bok cabbages. At the end of the day we made 1,100 ‘jiaozi’ dumplings and 120 ‘siu mai’ dim sims.

In between wrapping the dumplings, we enjoyed a few bottles of sparkling wines, smoked spicy beef ribs, Vietnamese pork kebabs, some giggles and chats. We also tested our fruit of labor – pan fried dumplings (picture below).

Golden pork dumplings 豬肉餃子

I have learned a few new tricks for making dumplings. Our friend Michelle had kindly came over to help out and she was an expert in preparing the dumping filling.  She soaked some Sichuan red pepper corns with hot water and added the water to the filling, this will give the meat extra favors. She also stirred the mince with chopsticks one circular direction which will smooth the meat.  When she pan fried the dumplings, she added some plain flour mixed with a little water, which formed a lovely web-like base that tasted absolutely delicious.

We also added sesame oil, mirin, soys sauce to the dumpling filling. We used shop bought dumpling wrappers as 1,100 wrappers were too many to be hand made.

Making dumplings for the school fete
Making dumplings for the school fete

Looking forward to sell these lovely dumplings at the fete and raise some money for our school.

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Lemongrass pork scotch fillets (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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We have a bush of lemongrass in the garden. Each harvest we were reward a large bag of juicy stalks. I have been putting lemongrass in so many things – boiled rice, tea, stir fry, and we still have a lot left.

We went to a family gathering this weekend. We brought a large dish of grilled lemongrass pork scotch fillet.  I also made some fried rice to go with the pork.

Hmmm.. still have so much lemongrass left!

Lemongrass pork scotch fillets (low FODMAP, gluten free)

Recipe is as follow:

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Braised beef tendon with Asian spices (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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Winter is finally here in Sydney and I am craving for something rich and hopefully it would make my skin glow again. Beef tendon is pack with collagen, low fat and no cholesterol… not 100% sure about the skin care benefits, but I am cooking a bowl for the OMG deliciousness.

Braised beef tendon with Asian spices (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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