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.”

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

Red Lantern

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

Sear Scallops and Braised Chorizo

Sauté Scallops, Sweet Potato and Coriander Purée with braised Chorizo

It really is time for me to celebrate a little more of this wonderful island’s amazing produce and what better than diver-caught scallops. Scallops are probably my favourite seafood and very versatile from the classic Coquilles St. Jacques to Asian influenced recipes such as my own Sesame crusted Scallops. This recipe is a marriage made in heaven, sweet pan-seared scallops, a lightly spiced, well-seasoned sweet potato purée and pungent rich braised Chorizo sausage. This is warming indulgent dish ideal on a crisp cold winters day.

Sear Scallops and Braised Chorizo
Pan-seared Scallops with Braised Chorizo

Chorizo is one of my favourite ingredients and would certainly be a candidate for my Desert Island list of ingredients along with anchovies and Sherry vinegar. In this recipe, it is almost cooked confit style in slowly simmering oil. You do not need to use a full flavoured oil to braise the Chorizo in, as the cooking process releases the wonderful flavours of garlic and sweet paprika from the sausage. Any extra Chorizo can be stored in the refrigerator covered in the oil. It is a wonderful base for Paella, a stuffing for chicken breasts and as a garnish for winter soups such as Butternut Squash.

Sauté Scallops, Sweet Potato and Coriander Purée with braised Chorizo     serves 4

16 diver caught Scallops ( ask your fishmonger to prepare them )

A good slug of Olive oil

2 large knobs of Jersey Butter

1½ large Sweet Potatoes, washed, peeled and diced

1 piece of preserved Stem Ginger

6 – 8 crushed Coriander seeds

4 tablespoons of Jersey Double Cream

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

4 oz raw mild Spanish Chorizo sausage ( Chorizo Dulce )

Olive oil

Herb salad to garnish

For the braised Chorizo

Dice the Chorizo sausage into pieces around the size of your little fingernail. Place in a medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan and cover with olive oil. Place over the lowest possible heat and cook for at least an hour and a half until soft. Periodically skim the surface to remove any impurities. Keep the heat as low as possible to prevent burning. If you have gas a pilot light is ideal or the corner of an Aga, you just want the gentlest of simmers. Once cooked allow to cool thoroughly, the Chorizo can be made prior to cooking, stored in the refrigerator and gently warmed through just before plating up.

For the Scallops and Sweet Potato

In a medium heavy-bottomed pan place the sweet potato dice, ginger, coriander and half a teaspoon of salt. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for twenty minutes and strain, place back on the heat for two minutes and steam dry. Pass through a Ricer, Moulis or fine sieve to produce a smooth purée. Return again to the pan add one generous knob of butter and the cream, stir and correct seasoning by adding salt and pepper to your taste. Keep warm over a low heat.

In a heavy-bottomed frying pan melt the butter and olive oil over a high heat. Season the prepared scallops immediately before cooking not before as they can discolour. Place carefully in the pan and sauté for one to two minutes until the scallops are golden brown and the edges caramelising. Turnover and cook for one more minute.

Place a spoonful of the sweet potato purée in the centre of the plate and top with a tiny handful of salad leaves. Arrange scallops and spoon over braised Chorizo and serve.

Allergens in this recipe are;

     Milk Oyster

Please see the Allergens Page

World Apple Day – Jersey Black Butter Ham

Black Butter Ham

The history of Apple Day, held on the 21st of October, is relatively new, the first official celebration was in 1990 in Covent Garden, this event has grown and is now a fixture all over the UK. However, there have been fairs across the south-west cider growing regions for a much longer time. Apple Day is now a celebration of all the myriad varieties of apple, their cultivation, cooking with them and, of course, making cider. There is another tradition much older, as old as cider making itself invoking pagan gods in an ancient fertility ritual which is Wassailing, which takes place in the cider orchards on January 17th.

Black butter

Jersey and Guernsey have a proud apple growing tradition going back many centuries and in Jersey around a fifth of the islands, fertile growing land in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was occupied by orchards. Today both islands boast fine cider makers in La Robeline in Jersey and Roquette in Guernsey. But Jersey has another old, traditional product made from sharp, cider apples, ‘ black butter ’ or ‘ Le Nierre Buerre ’. Black butter is now made on Apple Day, with a great many islanders taking part in the production at the Jersey Nation Trust.

Black butter is made from cider apples, cider and sugar which is slowly cooked and reduced over a very long time, often all night with volunteers stirring all evening, with a special wooden paddle, to prevent the mix burning due to the high sugar content. The concentrate is then flavoured with a secret blend of spices, lemon, and liquorice. During the evening there is traditional singing, dancing, story-telling and perhaps drinking of a few glasses of cider.

The finished product is a sweet, dark, sticky spread which you can eat with a salty cheese or perhaps as an alternative to jam with a scone but my favourite is as a glaze on baked ham.

Black Butter Ham

Ask your butcher to source a traditionally prepared dry cure ham and to tie it for you. For more information on curing please visit A Cooks Compendium. A dry cure ham will shrink less during cooking and produce a better quality easier to cut joint of meat. Poaching the ham before finishing the joint in the oven also improves the carving quality and produce a flavoursome stock from which you can make traditional pea and ham soup.

A piece of boned and rolled dry cured Ham, around 1.5 kg – 2 kg is a nice joint

( ask your butcher to weigh it this is important for cooking times )

1 or 2 Onions, peeled

2 Carrots, peeled and halved

2 sticks of Celery, washed

2 Bay leaves

4 Cloves

10 – 12 whole Coriander Seeds

6 – 8 Black Peppercorns

100 gr Jersey Black Butter

a large pan sufficient to submerge the ham

Place the ham in the pan and cover with cold water. Place on the cooker and bring to the boil. Carefully take to the sink and pour out the water and wash off any scum from the ham. This initial boiling will help reduce excess salt in the finished ham. Cover again with cold water and add the carrots, celery, coriander seeds and peppercorns. Pierce the bay leaves with the cloves, pin to the onions and add to the pan. Bring back to the boil, turn down to a gentle simmer and cover with lid. Cook for twenty minutes per pound of raw weight. Once the cooking time is finished turn off the heat and leave to go cold in the cooking liquor. This can be done the night before.

Preheat your oven to 400 F /200 C / Gas mark 6. Take out your ham from the cold stock which you can strain and reserve to make an excellent soup. Place on a baking tray and with a sharp knife remove the skin leaving a nice layer of fat. Score through the fat with the tip of your knife to leave small, squares or diamonds. Spread over the Black Butter and cook in the oven for thirty to forty minutes turning the oven down if the ham starts to burn. Remove and serve hot or cold.

My Cantonese Pork

When you go out to eat or have a take away from your local Chinese Restaurant you will most likely be eating Cantonese style cuisine. The recipes are often crude copies of authentic Cantonese adapted for Western tastes, which is a huge shame as 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.

Cantonese PorkCantonese cuisine is all about simple dishes, letting the flavour of the key ingredients stand out, using fish and seafood from the region’s coast and the abundant agricultural produce.  The key additional flavours in Cantonese cooking are the ‘trinity’ of scallions or spring onions, ginger, and garlic, with the addition of rice wine and soy sauce. Spices and herbs are only used in moderation although fresh coriander is used as a garnish, perhaps the most popular is Chinese Five Spice. The key method of cooking is stir-frying in a wok.

The most abused Cantonese recipe is the probably Sweet and Sour with cannonball sized lumps of stodgy, deep-fried dough floating in over-sweet, violent orange coloured, gloopy sauces and don’t even get me started on pineapple.  The following recipe is I hope a little more authentic and delicate, although I am not so sure about the fried egg, but it is a delicious addition! The joy of many, but not quite all, Chinese recipes is they are very quick and easy and once you have a few key staples in your cupboard you have any number of dishes available to you. Enjoy.

Cantonese ( Sweet and Sour ) Pork                                   serves 4
AS ALWAYS A NOTE OF CAUTION BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN FRYING IN HOT OIL.

1 Carrot, peeled and cut into fine strips

1 Red Pepper, diced

A small bunch of Spring Onions, washed and very finely sliced

1 small Red Chilli, finely sliced ( you can omit this but I like a little kick of Chilli )

6 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed

½ piece of Ginger, peeled and finely chopped

A good pinch of Chinese Five Spice

2 Cloves

1 tablespoon Corn Flour ( approximately )

100 ml quality chicken stock

2 tablespoons of Olive Oil

2 tablespoons Soft Brown Sugar

2 tablespoons Sherry Vinegar

2 tablespoon Rice Wine

1 tablespoon Tomato Paste

1 tablespoon Dark Soy Sauce

A small bunch of Coriander to Garnish

for the fried Pork
500 gr Pork Loin, skin removed, washed and diced
2 Egg Whites
Juice of 1 Lemon
60 gr  Cornflour
Sea Salt and Cayenne Pepper

1.5 litres Vegetable Oil

For the sauce heat the vegetable oil in a wok and stir-fry the carrots, garlic and ginger for two to three minutes then add the pepper. In a small pan, heat the chicken stock, vinegar, rice wine, sugar, cloves and Chinese five spice and bring to the boil. Simmer for five minutes then thicken with the cornflour mixed with a little water and the tomato puree. After another five minutes simmering, strain into the wok and set on a very low heat.

For the pork, sieve the cornflour into a large bowl and add a generous amount of salt and cayenne pepper. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites and lemon juice. Then dip the pork cubes into the corn flour, the egg whites and back into the corn flour. In your wok or a large heavy bottomed pan heat the oil to 160°C / 320 F using a thermometer to check. If you do not have a thermometer have a few cubes of stale white bread to hand. Place in a bread cube in the oil if it rises to the surface and cooks to a golden brown in a couple of minutes the oil is hot enough.

Fry the pork in batches carefully lowering into the hot oil, for around six to eight minutes or until the batter is crisp and golden, turning from time to time with a large slotted spoon. When the pork is cooked using the slotted spoon remove from the hot oil, drain on kitchen paper and keep hot in a warm oven. When all the pork is cooked place into the hot sauce with the finely sliced spring onions. Stir and then serve with steamed rice and garnish with fresh coriander ( add an egg if you are feeling adventurous ).

Allergens in this recipe are;

  Flour   Milk  Celery

Please see the Allergens Page