My Cantonese style Pork

My Best Chinese Recipes

 

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My best Chinese recipes – Why am I writing this post after a busy couple of family days and lots of Halloween baking? When I am not in a kitchen at work, I do quite a lot of administration sat at a computer, so you might ask why do I choose this as my downtime? I wish it was as easy to explain as some of the best food writers are able to make it. I want to share my joy and excitement when just a few ingredients come together to make something more as a whole dish. What’s more, you don’t have to a Michelin starred chef or culinary alchemist to experience this. And my best way to try to show you this with just a few basic staples and some herbs and aromatics is Chinese food.*

A table of Chinese Food
A table of Chinese Food

I’m such a fan of Chinese cooking I think it is the contrast in flavours to food styles and cuisines I learned at college and early in my training. There is the simplicity I am writing about to wok-fried dishes that are nutritious, quick to cook and great for an easy supper. At the other end of the scale, you can collate a series of dishes to create a multicourse awe-inspiring banquet. Chinese is not just one flavour but a series of distinct regional styles and use of ingredients. And what ingredients star anise, garlic, ginger, spring onions, soy sauce, seafood, pork and duck some of my all time favourites.

But what I really think about Chinese food is the wonderful mix of slightly sweet and salty soy, a little sour rice wine, some chilli and ginger bite, crisp vegetables tossed in delicious sauces and succulent melt in the mouth meats. I am a very lucky chef to be able to cook with some fantastic ingredients and too have learnt my trade from some inspiring mentors. I am a very lucky foodie to have eaten in some of the best restaurants in the world and tasted some incredible dishes. However, if I had to choose a final meal, I’m not sure in what circumstances, but my choice wouldn’t be some intense creation with numerous exotic ingredients but Crispy Duck Pancakes with sweet, sticky Hoisin Sauce, some Crispy Beef and some Steamed Scallops with Ginger and Spring Onions.

*Other cultures and cuisines have simple great tasting recipes I love dishes from across Asia, India, Italy and Mexico to name but a few, which are all made from just a few excellent ingredients.
Here is a selection of some of my Best Chinese Recipes

Beef in Black Bean Sauce

“I have done was an inspiring course in London with Ken Hom, equipped myself with numerous books, woks, steamers, and ingredients from quaint little Asian specialty suppliers and set to work as only a chef can and chopped, pounded, crushed, fried and ate my way through the Chinese canon. Cantonese, Shandong, Hunan and spicy Szechuan cuisine with noodles, rice, black beans, bok choi and lots of seasoning; garlic, chilli, cloves and ginger, and the wonderfully pungent star anise. Am I giving my little local take away a bit of a run for his money what do you think?”

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Lamb with Ginger

Slow Braised Lamb with Ginger and Spring Onions 

“In China lamb or mutton is eaten mostly in the north and north west and is especially favoured by the Muslim and Mongol populations but it is available everywhere. The most popular street food in China are Xinjiang lamb skewers with fiery and fragrant with chilli and Szechuan peppercorns, which you can find in every major city throughout China. Chinese recipes mostly call for mutton or substitute goat rather than lamb mainly because traditionally lamb was scarce, and the cooking times would be longer. ”

Shanghai Red Braised Pork
Red braised Pork

Shanghai Red-braised Pork Belly 

“In China red coloured meats are eaten for good luck as red is the colour of fire, a symbol of good fortune and joy. ‘Red cooking’ is a popular method of braising dishes in northern, eastern, and southeastern China. The name is derived from the dark red-brown colour of the cooked items and the sauce using both dark and light soy sauces, Chinese Rice Wine, and caramelized sugar flavoured with whole spices such as Star Anise and Cassia bark.

My Cantonese style Pork
Cantonese style Pork

My Cantonese style Pork

“Cantonese is revered in China as one of the most celebrated national styles of cooking. In the eighteenth century, the Qing Dynasty allowed the Guangdong region, home to Cantonese, to be opened to the first foreign traders and natives from the area were amongst the first immigrants to settle in the United Kingdom and America exporting their traditions and food.”

Perfectly Fluffy Rice

“I thought we need to look at how to cook the perfect bowl of light fluffy rice to eat with all the other dishes. If you follow the tips below you don’t need a rice steamer cluttering up your work surface and I know you won’t go wrong with the perfect accompaniment.”

How to Grill – UK BBQ Week

UKBBQWeek2018It is the middle of a heat wave in the UK right now and everyone will have fired up their BBQ’s or more precisely grills and if you are using charcoal or a gas grill, you need to know the best temperature for cooking your food. Now you can guesstimate by holding your hand over the grill, but I would not recommend it. I suggest getting yourself a decent thermometer and attaching the probe to your grill close to where you cook your meat or fish. Your BBQ, if it has a lid, will often have a built-in thermometer but that will measure the air temperature which can be 50 degrees cooler than the cooking surface where the action takes place.

BBQ charcole

Adjusting the temperature is easy with a gas fired BBQ you can simply adjust the flames on a charcoal fire, once the coals are glowing and turning white your best method is to move the distance between the grill and the coals. The higher the grill the lower the direct heat.

Low Heat Around 325 F / 160 C is perfect for sausages which need to be thoroughly cooked with burning or bursting the skins. You will be able to hold your hand over the heat source for up to ten seconds.

Medium Heat  Around 350 F / 180 C is best for cooking chicken thighs and drumsticks where it is important that the meat is cooked through without the exterior burning to a crisp. It is about six or seven seconds before you will need to move your hand.

BBQ 3
Grilling Fish

Medium-High Heat Between 400 and 450 F / 200 to 230 C. When you want to get a nice browning or crust on your food, but the interior is moist and tender, such as a thick piece of fish, grilled vegetables or a tasty medium-rare burger. You will only be able to hold your hand over the grill for about five seconds.

BBQ 2

High Heat

A temperature of 450 F / 230 C and above is perfect for flash cooking seafood, chicken or steak kebabs, and onglet or hanger steaks. The high heat adds some charring, with regular turning to prevent burning, and is sufficient to cook the food. If you hold your hand over the heat you can only bare it for one or two seconds.

Glazed Pork Ribs

My recipe for Jack Daniel’s and Black Treacle Rib Glaze – UK BBQ Week

UKBBQWeek2018.jpgMy last post gave away my secret for really crispy chicken and today to celebrate National BBQ Week ( it’s longer than a week but who cares when its sunny and you have an excuse BBQ every day ) the recipe I am sharing is for one of my personal favourites Jack Daniel’s and Black Treacle Rib Glaze.

Now you may think to add a classic bourbon to a barbecue sauce is a little extravagant, but the addition of Jack Daniel’s adds a silky smokiness to this glaze, which compliments the liquorish sticky sweetness of the black treacle and the gentle kick of the Cayenne and mustard. Use this barbecue glaze to baste ribs, steaks or chicken towards the end of cooking as your barbecue dies down. You want the sauce to cook on to the surface of the meat, but you don’t want it to burn. You can further enhance your dish with a dry rub to marinade your dish before cooking.

Glazed Pork Ribs
Jack Daniel’s and Black Treacle glazed Ribs

Jack Daniels and Black Treacle Rib Glaze

A lot of my barbecue sauces simply use cups ( the American staple ) as most are American influenced or originally from American friends, it is just so convenient and easy. If you wish to change to metric or imperial, American cups are best converted to 240 millilitres, 16 tablespoons or 8 ½ imperial fluid ounces.

1 cup Jack Daniel’s Whiskey

2 cups Ketchup

½ cup light Brown Sugar

½ cup Black Treacle

¼ cup good quality Cider Vinegar

1 tablespoon Lemon Juice

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

3 cloves of Garlic, peeled and very finely minced

1 Bay leaf

1 piece of Orange peel

1 Star Anise seed pod

¼ piece of Cinnamon stick

½ teaspoon dry Mustard powder

A very good pinch of Cayenne Pepper

Combine the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and mix well. Over a medium heat simmer for twenty minutes then allow to cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you make it a few days in advance the flavours will have more time to blend together. Remove the bay leaf, orange peel, and spices before use.

 

Allergens in this recipe depend on your choice of BBQ sauce and may include;

Celery    Raw Fish   In the Worcestershire sauce

 

Red Braised Pork

Shanghai Red-braised Pork Belly

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Today’s recipe is for Shanghai Red-braised Pork Belly, in China red coloured meats are eaten for good luck as red is the colour of fire, a symbol of good fortune and joy. ‘Red cooking’ is a popular method of braising dishes in northern, eastern, and southeastern China. The name is derived from the dark red-brown colour of the cooked items and the sauce using both dark and light soy sauces, Chinese Rice Wine, and caramelized sugar flavoured with whole spices such as Star Anise, Cassia bark, and Fennel seeds. ‘Red cooking’ stews may contain meat, vegetables and other ingredients such as hard-boiled eggs. Dark soy sauce is actually not as salty as the light variety, and it is often used hearty Chinese dishes like stews that require body and colour.

Red Braised Pork
Shanghai Red Braised Pork Belly

Perhaps the most famous ‘Red cooking’ recipe is Shanghai Red-braised Pork Belly or Hong Shao Rou, reputed to be the favourite of Chairman Mao Tse-tung, so much so he supposedly he ate it every day. In China belly pork is a highly valued cut of meat and the perfect order of fat, meat, fat and meat under the skin is known as the ‘Five layers of Heaven’.

Shanghai-Style Braised Pork Belly ( 红烧肉 )

1 kg of Pork Belly, cut into 3 centimetre thick pieces

A small bunch of Spring Onions, trimmed and cut into 2 centimetre pieces

450 ml Water

5 tablespoons Chinese Rice Wine

3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil

3 tablespoons Rock Sugar or Golden Caster Sugar

3 tablespoons Light Soy Sauce

3 tablespoons Dark Soy Sauce

3 whole Star Anise pods

A couple of piece of Cassia bark

2 centimetre piece of fresh Ginger, peeled and sliced

2 cloves of Garlic, peeled and sliced

Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Carefully drop in the pieces of pork and blanch for a couple minutes, as this gets rid of any impurities. Remove the pork with a slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper to drain. Over low heat, add oil and sugar to your wok and melt the sugar. Add the blanched pork and increase the heat and cook until the pork until it is lightly caramelised. The pork may spit as it caramelises so be careful, but it is important to help give the dish its distinctive colour and flavour.

Turn the heat back down and carefully add the rice wine, then the light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, star anise, garlic, cassia, ginger and the water. Cover the wok and simmer for about an hour or until pork is really tender. Whilst the pork is cooking stir every five minutes to prevent burning and add a little more water if it gets too dry. Once the pork is cooked, if there is still a lot of visible liquid, uncover the wok, turn up the heat to reduce the sauce, stirring continuously until it is a sticky and glossy coating.

What to Drink? Matching wine with Chinese food used to be considered very difficult but try your pork with a full of fruit, sweet, jammy Australian Shiraz or blended Cabernet-Shiraz and why not try a crisp, refreshing Continental style Pilsner lager as your beer choice.

Allergens in this recipe are;

    Flour

There will be Soya and may be gluten in your Soy Sauce

Please see the Allergens Page

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Char sui pork

My great Char sui Pork Recipe – Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year Wish

It is Chinese New Year and I am celebrating by posting some more of my favourite Chinese recipes and information about Chinese Cooking. One of my personal favourites is Cantonese food the most international of the different styles of Chinese cuisine. Cantonese food is all about letting the flavour of the key ingredients shine through with a few additional flavourings including garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and spices such as star anise and Chinese Five Spice.

Char sui pork
Char sui – Cantonese BBQ Pork

This is my oven baked version of the classic Cantonese BBQ Pork recipe or Char sui with its distinctive colouring, sticky sweet marinade, and succulent melt-in-the-mouth texture.  This recipe is made using belly pork, you can make Char sui with tenderloin for a less fatty finish but you need to reduce the cooking times. You will need to plan a little ahead for the best results and prepare the night before and the meat requires quite a long cooking process, but I guarantee you will not be disappointed with the end result. My recipe for Char sui includes a little Muscavado sugar not authentic I know but think it adds to the liquorice aniseed flavour. I like to serve Char sui simply, as the Chinese do, with any cooking juices on a bowl of perfectly fluffy plain boiled rice with maybe a few finely sliced spring onions or you can pile the sliced meat into steamed Bao buns with quick pickled mooli and carrot and fresh coriander.

Char Sui – Cantonese BBQ Pork

1 kg rindless Belly Pork

( ask your butcher to remove any bones and cartilage )

5 tablespoons of Tomato Ketchup

5 tablespoons of Hoisin Sauce

2 tablespoons Honey

2 tablespoons of Dark Soy Sauce

2 tablespoons Chinese Rice Wine Vinegar

1 heaped tablespoon Dark Brown Muscovado Sugar

1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil

1 tablespoon Sesame Oil

4 large cloves of Garlic, peeled and finely chopped

4 – 5 cm piece of fresh Ginger, peeled and finely grated

1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice

Place all the ingredients excluding the pork into a medium sized mixing bowl and thoroughly blend. Place the pork into a deep sided baking tray and pour over the marinade. Work the marinade into both sides of the pork with you finger tips then cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat your oven to 160 C / 325 F / Gas Mark 3. Place a piece of baking paper over the pork and then a double layer of aluminium foil sealing the edges. Place the tray in the oven and cook for three and a half hours, carefully removing the tray and basting the pork every hour, then resealing and placing back to continue cooking. Remove the foil and baking sheet and turn the oven up to 180 C / 350 F / Gas Mark 4, baste the pork again return to the oven and continue to cook for around another forty minutes while it caramelises around the edges.

Remove the pork from the tin and set aside on a clean tray covered in foil to rest for twenty minutes. Transfer the sauce to a small pan and spoon off any excess fat and bring to a gentle simmer. Slice the pork, it will be very tender and fall apart as you cut into it, and serve it on bowls of boiled rice with the remaining sauce poured over.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Sesame Seeds    Flour

There will be Soya and may be gluten in your Soy Sauce

Please see the Allergens Page

Red Lantern

Chorizo Jam

If you have read any of my posts you may be aware of a few reoccurring themes, cream, garlic, bacon, seafood and barbecuing but bacon is probably up there as a potential favourite. Now I waxed lyrical about an American recipe Bacon Jam*, a mouth-watering combination of sweet onion, salty bacon with just a tickle of chilli heat but I think I might have just found something even more sticky and moreish. I saw a post for cheese and biscuits online, a fantastic piece of Manchego with a ramekin of Chorizo Jam!

A little bit of online research later and a couple of trials……………..

Homemade Chorizo Jam
Manchego Cheese and Chorizo Jam

So, I only made Chorizo Jam for the first time three week ago and I have eaten Chorizo Jam on toast, stuffed Chorizo Jam into Chicken breasts and used Chorizo Jam as a garnish for soup, but this sweet, slightly spicy, slightly smoky, relish is a must with a cheese board, absolutely delicious in fact. Enjoy

* I was a bacon jam evangelist.

Chorizo Jam

200 gr quality raw Chorizo

2 large Cooking Apples, peeled and diced

1 large Spanish Onion, peeled and very finely diced

2 large cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed

100 ml Port

100 ml Water

50 ml Olive Oil

150 gr soft Brown Sugar

Juice of one freshly squeezed Lemon

½ teaspoon freshly picked Thyme

½ teaspoon Smoked Paprika

¼ teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

Cut the Chorizo into small pieces at most half a centimetre square. Pour the oil into a large, heavy-bottomed, pan and place over a medium heat. Add the Chorizo and fry stirring constantly to prevent sticking and burning until the Chorizo is nicely brown, caramelised and crispy. When the Chorizo is cooked remove it from the pan and strain to drain off the excess oil.

Add the onions to the pan in enough of the oil to allow them to gently fry. Cook over a medium heat, for fifteen to twenty minutes or until clear. Add the garlic, stir well and cook for another two minutes. Add all of the remaining ingredients and bring to a low rolling boil. Stir in the Chorizo and reduce the heat until the jam is simmering. Stir frequently and cook until the onions are meltingly soft and the liquid is reduced to a thick syrup. Be careful due to recipes high sugar content you must keep stirring to prevent the mix sticking and burning.

Remove pan from the heat and allow the mix to cool for fifteen minutes. Using a funnel transfer into sterilised glass jars and seal tightly. The jam will keep in the refrigerator for a month.

Allergens in this recipe are;

  Flour     Check the ingredients in your Chorizo

Please see the Allergens Page