My Cantonese style Pork

My Best Chinese Recipes

 

red-lantern.jpg

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.”

My Great Shish Kebab Recipe for your Bank Holiday BBQ

It looks like we are going to get some sunny spells over the Bank holiday weekend and let’s face it if it rains who hasn’t grilled under an umbrella before. Now if you are tired of same old, same old burgers and sausages burnt to a crisp today’s post are not one but a host of recipes. In a restaurant one of your goals is consistency, you want a dish your customers can enjoy again and again and recommend to all their friends. This is one of the reasons we follow recipes. As someone interested in food, and you are reading this article, you will probably look at a recipe then like me tweak a little ingredient here, adjust an amount there. I am going to make a wish and hope you change the following recipe(s) for Shish Kebabs totally, utterly and completely. Just think of them as the loosest of culinary guidelines. There is an almost infinite opportunity to mix and match textures and flavours and experiment to your heart’s content.

Kebab

 

Shish kebab is an English version of the Turkish words for sword and roasted meat. A Shish Kebab is a grilled skewer of marinated meat, normally lamb but chicken, beef, veal, and even swordfish can be substituted. In Turkish cooking, the vegetables are normally cooked separately.

There are a couple of rules for Shish Kebabs, first please if you are using wooden skewers soak them in water overnight as they have a tendency to burn, especially over a barbecue or char-grill. The second is not so easy and requires a little experience. Cut up your ingredients so they will cook at the same time. What do I mean by this? A large wedge of onion will not cook as quick as a king prawn so separate out the layers. Courgettes, mushrooms and bell pepper all add colour and flavour but need to be quite large pieces if mixed with small pieces of chicken or steak as the denser texture of the meat takes longer to cook. If you want to make a seafood Shish Kebab try wrapping scallops in bacon to protect them from the searing heat of the grill and add more flavour. Finally, not a rule but a top tip, a good marinade will add a ton of flavour but be careful, sugary marinades can burn and are better brushed on the food in the latter stages of cooking.

shish-kebab

Chicken and Vegetable ( Shish ) Kebabs                                          makes 8 kebabs

2 large Chicken Breasts cut in two-centimetre chunks

1 large Courgette, washed and cut into slices

1 large Red Bell pepper, cut in chunks

1 large Red Onion, peeled, quartered, and parted in layers

16 large Button Mushrooms, wiped

Quality Olive Oil

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

8 skewers

Thread the meat and vegetables on the skewers. Place on a baking tray, drizzle with oil and season generously. Cook on barbecue or under a medium to high grill turning regularly for around ten minutes until cooked. There that is it the easiest recipe I will probably ever post.

Now let your taste buds run wild, here are a few suggestions;

King Prawn and Rump Steak ( Surf’n’turf )

Monkfish, Prawns, and Scallops wrapped in Bacon

Chicken Tikka

Lamb with Garlic and Thyme

Mediterranean Vegetables

Cajun Tuna

Sweet and Sour Pork with Bell Pepper and Pineapple

skewer

Marinades 

Marinating your meat and fish for a couple of hours will add multiple layers of flavour and you can brush the Shish Kebabs with the marinade during cooking. Remember that if you use a sweetened marinade to lift the kebabs a little higher on the barbecue or turn the grill down a fraction as they will easily burn over a high heat.

Quick Southern Barbecue – 4 tablespoons Tomato Ketchup, 4 tablespoons Vegetable Oil, 1 tablespoon Sherry Vinegar, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce, 1 tablespoon Dark Brown Sugar, 2 Cloves Garlic, peeled and pureed, 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika, ½ teaspoon Hot Pepper sauce, ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper

Greek Style – 4 tablespoons quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, freshly squeezed juice of two Lemons, 2 tablespoons Honey, ½ teaspoon freshly chopped Oregano, ½ teaspoon freshly chopped Rosemary, ½ teaspoon freshly chopped Thyme, ¼ teaspoon Sea Salt, ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper

Asian – 4 tablespoons Vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons toasted Sesame Oil, 2 tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar, 2 tablespoons Light Soy Sauce, 2 cloves of Garlic, peeled and pureed, 1 large piece of preserved Ginger, finely grated, ¼ teaspoon Chinese 5 Spice, ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper

Sweet ‘n’ Sour – 4 tablespoons Tomato Ketchup, 4 tablespoons Pineapple Juice, 2 tablespoon Honey, 1 tablespoon Sherry Vinegar, 2 cloves of Garlic, peeled and pureed, ¼ teaspoon Sea Salt, ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper

Fiery – 8 tablespoons quality Olive Oil, 1 small hot Chilli, finely chopped, 2 cloves of Garlic, peeled and pureed, 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika, ½ teaspoon Hot Pepper Sauce, ½ teaspoon Sea Salt, ½ teaspoon Black Pepper

Wine and Beer

What to Drink? Slightly smoky grilled chicken kebabs pair well with un-oaked refreshing New world Chardonnays and are complemented by the light hop and citrus flavours of IPA or Indian Pale Ales

Allergens in this recipe are;

Celery    Raw Fish     and Soya maybe present in your marinade please check the recipe.

Please see the Allergens Page

Shepherds Pie

British Pie Week – Shepherd’s Pie

 

Pie Week

It is British Pie Week that quintessential staple of a good pub menu, and who doesn’t like pie ( apologies if you don’t dear reader ). I want you to think of tender braised beef in a rich gravy wrapped in short crust pastry, lightly poached seafood in an indulgent creamy sauce and topped with a cheesy mash, a rich lamb, plum, celery and port pie with golden flaky puff pastry, the choices are almost infinite even before we get to desserts and a deep filled apple pie with lashings of custard.

 

Beef Pie
Beef Pie

 

So whatever takes your fancy and makes you Ap-Pie, did you see what I did there, you should go out and get baking a delicious pie for your dinner and while the weather is still cold and blustery here in the Channel Islands I am going to share one of my favourite pie recipes. Traditionally Shepherd’s Pie is a réchauffé dish made from reheating leftover minced lamb and vegetables in gravy and serving with a mashed potato top. My recipe uses one of my favourite cuts of lamb, the shoulder, which is full of flavour and delicious when slow cooked. If you want to try something a little different you could try topping the pie with sweet potato mash. The Shepherd’s Pie can be made in advance and frozen then defrosted and baked as required.

Shepherds Pie
Shepherds Pie with slow-cooked Lamb Shoulder

Shepherd’s Pie with slow-cooked Lamb Shoulder

2kg diced Lamb Shoulder, cut into 2cm cubes

( Ask your butcher to cut this up for you and to give you the bone )

1 large Onion, peeled and very finely sliced

2 large Carrots, peeled and sliced

2 sticks of Celery, washed, peeled and finely sliced

1 x 400 gr can of chopped Tomatoes

500 ml of quality Veal stock

200 ml good White Wine

100 gr Plain Four

60 gr Butter

6 tablespoons Olive Oil

2 tablespoons Tomato Puree

Large handful of Curly Parsley washed and finely chopped

2 Bay leaves

2 generous sprigs of Thyme

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

For the topping

1 kg Mashed Potato

60 gr grated Cheddar Cheese

20 gr finely grated Parmesan

 Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed frying pan and sauté the diced lamb in three batches until the all of the pieces are browned all over. Remove the browned lamb with a slotted spoon and place into a large heavy-bottomed pan or casserole. Add the onion, carrot, bay leaves and thyme to the frying pan and gently sauté for fifteen to twenty minutes until the onion has started to soften.

Add the plain flour and tomato paste to the cooking vegetables and stir in and cook for two minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme and veal stock and bring to a simmer stirring regularly. Return the lamb to the pan, reduce the heat and cook for an hour and a half or until lamb is tender and the sauce is reduced. Remove from the heat, remove the thyme and bay leaves and season. Allow to cool and stir in the parsley.

 Preheat your oven to 375 F / 190 C / Gas Mark 5. Place the lamb mixture into an ovenproof dish and cover with the mash. Sprinkle with the Cheddar and Parmesan and place in the oven. Bake for fifty minutes until the cheese is browned at the edges and bubbling and the Shepherd’s Pie is heated right through.

Wine and Beer

What to Drink? Shepherd’s Pie pairs fantastically with classic English Ales such as Greene King’s Abbots Ale or Timothy Taylors Landlord. If you want to drink wine Rioja is a classic partner for lamb if you want something lighter try a fruity Pinot Noir.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Celery  Flour   Milk

Please see the Allergens Page

Xin nian kuai le – Happy Chinese New Year – Slow braised Lamb with Ginger and Spring Onions

Chinese New Year Wish

There are up to two weeks of celebrations for the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival. This year is the year of the Dog. In China and the Chinese diaspora there are visits to family, fireworks, and feasts and so I thought appropriate over the next ten days to post some more of my favourite Chinese dishes. I am also building up a database of some of the ingredients and base recipes which you can find on here. If you want to know more about one of my favourite styles of Chinese cuisine you can read my post on Cantonese food.

Celebrate Chinese New Year with the following Recipes;-

Crab and Sweetcorn Soup

Spicy Sesame Chicken Wings

Shanghai-style Red Braised Pork Belly

Cantonese Pork

King Prawn Chow Mein

Beef in Black Bean Sauce

General Tso’s Chicken

Char sui – Cantonese BBQ Pork

Perfectly fluffy Boiled Rice

Egg Fried Rice

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.  This is rather a generous recipe best eaten with friends, serve with some perfectly fluffy boiled rice. Now may I wish you all prosperity for this Year of the Dog and Enjoy – Gong xi fa cai

Slow cooked Lamb and Ginger
Braised Lamb and Ginger

 

Slow Braised Lamb with Ginger and Spring Onions

1.5 kg to 2 kg boned Shoulder of Lamb

10 Banana Shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

2 large bunches of Spring Onions, washed, trimmed and cut in 3 centimetre pieces

500 gr Sliced Button Mushrooms

1.5 ltr good quality Lamb or Veal Stock

100 gr Rock Sugar ( you can substitute Demerara )

1 large 6 centimetre piece of Ginger, peeled and very finely sliced

6 cloves Garlic, peeled and finely crushed

6 tablespoons Dark Soy sauce

4 tablespoons Rice Wine or Dry Sherry

4 tablespoons Vegetable Oil

2 tablespoons Sesame Paste

1 tablespoon Tomato Puree

6 Star Anise pods

4 Cloves

2 large pieces of Cassia Bark

Cut the lamb shoulder into large five centimetre dice. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and blanch the lamb by plunging it into the boiling water for five minutes. Strain out the meat and discard the water. Heat a wok or a large frying pan over a high heat until it is hot. Add the oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the pieces of lamb and stir-fry them until they are brown.

Add the shallots, spring onions, mushrooms and ginger to the wok and cook for five more minutes before placing into a large casserole or heavy-bottomed pan and stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring up to the boil and carefully skim off any fat from the surface, then turn the heat down as low as possible. Cover with a lid and gently simmer for around one and a half hours or until the lamb is cooked and tender, skimming occasionally to remove any more fat. When cooked remove the star anise, cloves and cassia bark and serve in bowls with steamed rice.

Wine and Beer

What to Drink? Matching wine with Chinese food used to be considered impossible but more modern sommeliers are making innovative pairings try your lamb with a fruity, Chilean Pinot Noir or off-dry Rosé and why not try a refreshing Continental wheat beer with citrus and coriander seeds as your beer choice.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Sesame Seeds    Flour

There may be gluten in your Soy Sauce

Please see the Allergens Page

Red Lantern

Braised Lamb Shank

Perfect Slow-cooked Lamb Shanks

Spring is not so far away from the Channel Islands, honestly, Jersey Royal potatoes are growing under vast fields of plastic sheeting and soon the Narcissus will be blooming and we can start to look forward to fresh Lamb. Not so long ago frozen New Zealand lamb was a much cheaper option than home reared produce but now you can source delicious Welsh and Dorset Lamb at really keen prices. In the Channel Islands, the sort after lamb is from Sark, eating a rich diet of coastal grasses and sea herbs which helps flavour the meat. One of my favourite cuts of lamb, it used to be one of the cheaper cuts too, alas not now, are lamb shanks, simple to cook well, and more versatile than you think.

Braised Lamb Shank
Slow-cooked Lamb Shank

Lamb shanks are best cooked, up to a couple days in advance and then slowly reheated, I have successfully slow cooked them with lots of coriander, cumin and garlic then reheated them the next day smothered in spiced yoghurt over the dying embers of a charcoal barbecue. The rich charred succulent meat was mouth-watering, tender and flavoursome. I have braised lamb shanks in red wine flavoured with liquorish and fennel for a rich, sweet, slightly anise flavoured sauce. Today’s recipe is perhaps the most satisfying, a one-pot casserole with lots of red wine and vegetables, ideal after a good long walk on the cliff tops in Jersey.

There is a substantial amount of meat on a large shank enough for the largest of appetites and I would say ample for two average dinners with the addition of a selection of vegetables. While the price of all lamb has risen quite substantially there can still be bargains to be had in the freezer section of your local supermarket and frozen lamb shanks are a great product to use as you are really going to drive flavour into the meat with your intensely flavoured cooking liquor and slow-cooking.

Slow cooked Lamb Shanks with Red Wine and Vegetables
Lamb Shanks with Red Wine and Vegetables

Braised Lamb Shanks  with Vegetables                        serves 4 large appetites

For the shanks

4 Lamb Shanks

1 medium Onion, peeled and finely chopped

4 Garlic cloves, peeled and crushed in a little salt

A bottle of good quality Red Wine like a Cabernet or Merlot

A pint of homemade Beef or Veal stock

4 tablespoons of good Olive Oil

2 tablespoons of Plain Flour

1 tablespoon of Tomato Purée

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

 

For the Bouquet garni

2 large sticks of Celery, washed and cut in half

A generous sprig of fresh Rosemary

A few sprigs of Thyme

A small handful of Parsley

3 fresh Bay leaves

Butchers string

 

For the Vegetables

12 smallish Waxy Potatoes, washed and peeled

6 medium Carrots, washed and peeled and cut into chunks

12 small Shallots, peeled

12 Baby Button or small Chestnut Mushrooms, wiped with damp kitchen towel

8 Baby Turnips, washed and trimmed

 

Pre-heat your oven to 200 C / fan 380 F / Gas Mark 6. Heat the olive oil in a large, solid bottomed frying pan, a big cast iron one with a thick base is ideal and add the lamb shanks. Over a medium heat brown the shanks for around ten minutes, turning regularly with a pair of tongues, for an even colour. Searing the meat will give the shanks a lovely appealing colour at the end of the finished dish. Remove the lamb shanks and add the onion. Cook for around ten minutes, until the onions are soft and starting to caramelise, stirring occasionally, then add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Turn down the heat a little as we do not want the next ingredients to stick to the pan and burn. Stir in the flour and tomato purée, cook for two or three more minutes stirring all the time, to cook out the flour mix then add the wine. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a large wooden spoon to release any sticky meat pieces and mix until the wine is combined with the flour and tomato paste.

Place the lamb shanks into a deep sided casserole and season very well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover with the wine mixture and the stock and add your bouquet garni. To make your bouquet garni fill the two sides of the celery stalk with the herbs push together and tie up with butcher’s string. ( Ask your butcher for a few meters or better still if he will sell you a ball ). Leave a few extra inches of string to secure the bouquet garni to the casserole handle. Bring the dish to a simmer, cover with a lid or tightly with foil and place in the oven. Cook for one hour and in the meantime you can wash, peel and chop your vegetables. Using a pair of oven gloves carefully remove the shanks from the oven. Loosen and remove the foil, allowing the steam to safely escape. Sprinkle with the prepared vegetables and reseal with the foil. Replace in the oven and cook for another hour until the lamb is cooked and wonderfully tender. Carefully remove the dish from the oven and place on a heatproof surface.

Carefully pour out the cooking liquid into a medium-sized pan and bring up to a vigorous boil. Keep the lamb and vegetables covered with the foil, in a warm oven, alongside some large deep sided serving bowls. Reduce the cooking liquid by around a third until thick and glossy, straining off any excess fat with a small ladle. You can serve immediately in the deep sided bowls garnished with a sprig of rosemary and an extra jug of sauce, or if you want you can quickly cool and reheat the next day.

Allergens in this recipe are;

Celery  Flour

Please see the Allergens Page