Coeliac recipe

Crunchy lettuce wrap of pepper beef and pickled carrot, with Vietnamese style dipping sauce (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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Some friends are over for lunch today. I made these tender pepper beef and pickled carrot wraps with a Vietnamese style dipping sauce. The wraps are crunchy,  juicy & satisfying.   Best of all, so very easy to make.

Crunchy lettuce wrap of pepper beef and pickled carrot, with Vietnamese style dipping sauce  (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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

Steamed blue eye cod 蒸鱼 and the market across the ‘Yayan Lane’ 雅言里 (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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How I love steamed fish!

Steamed blue eye cod with shallot & soy (low FODMAP & gluten free)

Growing up in Guangzhou in the early 1970s, we lived in a rundown 5-bedroom terrace house on a little lane way called the ‘Yayan Lane’ 雅言里  , translated as the ‘elegant words lane’. The house was bought by my grandfather in early 1950s for $1,200 yuan from a tea merchant. At the time there was a ‘movement’ to crack down tax evasion. Like some other small businesses, the tea merchant had to sell his house to pay his tax bill.  It was said that most houses on the market were going cheap over that period.

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My grandfather at the old terrace house, Yayan lane, guangzhou

There were many family members lived at the terrace house at various intervals – my great grandmother, my grandparents, my family, 3 uncles & 1 aunt and their families. My grandma cooked dinners for all the families. Food & basic essentials such as rice, oil, meat, fish, coal & fabric were on rations, and we had books of colorful coupons.

There was a state-ran market across the road from our lane way. The market sold all sort of food – meat & vegetables, seafood, Chinese sausages & BBQ meat, tofu, preserves, oil & soy sauce. When very small fish were caught from large schools, sometime coupons were not required.  The neighbors always kept a look out for such rare occasions, and we would hear a shout across the lane way.  Grandmother and I would grab a bamboo basket as fast as we could, rushed over to join the crowd.  There were no such things as lining up – layers of people cramped in front of the concrete table where the fish piled up among large blocks of ice, pushing each other, yelling to attract attention. The fish was always fresh and undeniably small,  not longer than my little hand.  My grandmother steamed the fish with soy sauce for dinner. Our skinny house cats would fight over the bones & left-over sauce mixed with some rice – a rare treat for them.

Riding a bike at Yayan Lane, GuangZhou, China in 1970s
Riding a bike at the Yayan lane in 1970s

Today, we are so very lucky in Australia with all the wonderful seafood, spices & herbs. My favorite method of cooking fish is steaming. From time to time, when I enjoy a good steamed fish, I could still smell the sea at the crowded market place across the road from the Yayan Lane.

Here is my version of steamed fish – fresh & simple.  I used Blue Eye Cod on this occasion. You can use most sort of white flesh fish. My favorite fish for steaming is perch.

 Recipe is as follows: 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 »

Beef fried rice spiced with cumin (Low FODMAP, gluten free)

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 I had some free time today & decided to develop a few FODMAP friendly recipes. Asian food uses lots of low FODMAP ingredients so I found it quite easy to cook Asian style low FODMAP dishes.

To organise myself, I found some old business cards that were blank on one side. I wrote on each cards individual low FODMAP ingredients and serving sizes (some by groups) as recommended by the Monash university. Now I am feeling a lot more confidence.

And here is the my lunch – fried rice with beef, egg, beansprout, capsicum, carrot, coriander, lightly spiced with cumin.

Beef fried rice spiced with cumin (Low FODMAP, gluten free)

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

Chicken stir fry with lemongrass and chili (low FODMAP, gluten free)

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Thai food always brings back memory of a pink restaurant where I worked for a few years during my university days.

The restaurant was owned by a kind Vietnamese couple – An the husband and Ly the wife.   Ly looked after 3 young children and worked in the tiny kitchen every night. An was a full time engineer who managed the dinning room and delivered takeaway food.

When they spoke about their past, I could see Ly’s eyes sparkled, and warm smiles on An’s face. In the old days back home, Ly was known as the ‘Saigon rose’ for her exceptional beauty, and An was a young, well educated officer working for the American army.

I learned to cook some wonderful dishes from Ly. One of my favourite was a ‘xa ot’ dish, meaning lemongrass and chili.

Here is my version of a xa ot chicken.

Chicken stir fry with lemongrass and chili

Easy method is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »