Sunday, 25 April 2010

Dim Sum - New World, Chinatown

Think dim sum and images of leisurely Sunday brunches with a few little bamboo steamers on the table, opened newspapers lying about and lots of tea being drunk should spring to mind. But I'm a Foong and Foongs don't do leisurely dim sum. We do maniacal over-ordering because that's the only way we know how and we love it. If I wasn't bad enough, bring my new manager at work, ISW, into the picture and the world turns into a Mad Hatter's tea party. In between moans and groans about work, we do serious food talking and plot out our future restaurant empire.

First the talk. Next the eating, the important bit. We headed to Chinatown for dim sum midweek and chose New World for it's location and the trolley service. To maximize our ordering capabilities, we roped in JE and TN who both had never had dim sum before. Almost rubbing our hands in glee with 2 extra tummy space, ISW and myself filled the table, to a point it was almost embarassing. As long as JE and TN kept eating, we didn't stop ordering. The two bird size ladies at the next table were giving us positively evil looks. They had 4 dishes on their table when we arrived and they were still pushing the food around the same four dishes when we left - an hour and half later. Maybe they were grumpy they couldn't order more?

Steamed Tripe - New World, Chinatown
Steamed Tripe

Snails in Curry Sauce - New World, Chinatown
Snails in Curry Sauce

Prawn Cheong Fun - New World, Chinatown
Prawn Cheong Fun

Siew Mai - New World, Chinatown
Sui Mai

Xiao Long Bao - New World, Chinatown
Xiao Long Bao

Char Siew Bao - New World, Chinatown
Steamed Barbeque Pork Buns

Steamed Beef Ball - New World, Chinatown
Steamed Beef Balls

Steamed Pork Ribs with Black Beans - New World, Chinatown
Steamed Pork Ribs with Chili and Black Beans

Har Kau - New World, Chinatown
Har Kau

Fried Turnip Cake - New World, Chinatown
Pan Fried Raddish Cake

Woo Kok - New World, Chinatown
Woo Kok

Deep Fried Squid - New World, Chinatown
Deep Fried Squid

Ham Sui Kok - New World, Chinatown
Ham Sui Kok

Roast Duck - New World, Chinatown
Roast Duck

Studded Aubergine - New World, Chinatown
Stuffed Aubergine in Black Bean Sauce

Wonton Soup Noodles - New World, Chinatown
Wanton Noodle Soup

Dry Beef Hor Fun - New World, Chinatown
Fried Beef Hor Fun

Doggie Bag - New World, Chinatown
My doggie bag - with the extra 2 dishes we ordered, Deep Fried Squid Balls and Minced Prwan on Sugarcane

Egg Tarts - Far East Restaurant, Chinatown

And because we couldn't resist dessert but were a tad bit too full we bought a few egg tarts from the bakery section of Far East Restaurant on Gerrads Street. I used to love these tarts but gave mine away to Stuart when I got home. The guilt of that huge lunch had started to creep up on me and I could face another bite.

Ultra Colourful CCakes from a Chinese Bakery in Chinaton, London
On the way back to the office we passed the crazy cake shop ... the colours and decorations on their cakes are so fantastically gaudy that I never fail to stop for a look :)

New World Restaurant
1 Gerrard Place, London W1D 5PA
New World on Urbanspoon

Far East Chinese Restaurant

13 Gerrard Street, London W1D 5PS
Far East Chinese on Urbanspoon

Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore, Spring Greens and Garlic Bread - Sunday Dinner

I remember my mum making this dish way back in the day when having Italian food at home was a wee bit of a novelty. It's not a fancy dish. Just a hearty one pot dish with chunky bits of chicken on the bone with lots of punchy tomato sauce. Comfort in a bowl.

Chicken Cacciatore
6 pieces of chicken on the bone (I jointed a whole chicken and used the legs and wings for this dish)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 glass of red wine (anything drinkable is fine with me - I'm not fussy)
2 tsp tomato purée
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
a good handful of black olives
generous splash of olive oil
salt and pepper
  • Heat the pan on a medium to high heat and add the olive oil.
  • Place the chicken into the pan and let it brown. Don't attempt to move the chicken around too much at this point as the meat will stick to the pan. Once a lovely golden brown, turn the pieces of chicken over to cook on the other side.
  • After all the sides are browned, lift the chicken out of the pan onto a plate and keep warm. Drain the fat from the pan, leaving only a tablespoonful or two.
  • On a medium heat, add the onions and garlic. Once the onions are translucent and the garlic is smelling gorgeous, add the tomato purée. Mix it into the onions and garlic. Let the tomato purée cook out for a few seconds before adding the chicken pack into the pan.
  • Add the wine and tomatoes. Season.
  • Stir and let the mixture come to a boil to cook out the alcohol from the wine. Once the acidic smell has evaporated, the alcohol has cooked off.
  • Scatter the olives and put the lid on the pan. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
I served the chicken with a quick stir fry of spring greens and garlic flat breads from M&S. Rather delicious on evenings when the weather is still not quite warm enough for a salad.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Weeknight Dinners

A quick look at what has been keeping me warm and nourished through the last dregs of winter and the first signs of spring as the daffodil heads poked through the ground.

Mince with Potatoes, Fried Egg and  Green Veg - Week Day Dinner
Minced beef braised with potatoes, onion and garlic in oyster and soy sauce. Served over white steamed rice, a fried egg sunny side up and steamed choy sum. And not forgetting the good shake of Maggie seasoning and white pepper over the fried egg. This is real comfort food for me, especially as the yoke oozes all over the meat and rice.

Fried Mee Hoon - Weeknight Dinner

Stir fried mee hoon with mussels and lots of veg, which I picked up as part of a special deal at the supermarket. I made a simple omelette which I cut up and added to the nearly finished dish. I never noticed how almost deep frying an omelette makes it taste like deep fried tofu. Well, there you go ... I learn something new everyday.

Cold Roast Chicken, Coleslaw and Warm Bread - Weekday Dinner
Rotisserie chicked basted in barbeque sauce that was picked up from the supermarket along with the baguette. I made some slaw with finely sliced white cabbage, carrot and red onion dressed with mayonnaise, lime juice, a touch of ketchup, a splash of sweet chili sauce and a dash of fish sauce.

Miso Ramen with Beef - Weeknight Dinner
Whilst I was at the Korean supermarket I picked up some thinely sliced beef usually used for bulgogi. I marinated the meat in soy and oyster sauces with a touch of sesame oil overnight before adding it to a simmering pot of with a miso base soup and lots of vegetables - Chinese cabbage, beansprouts and broccoli. The meat cooks is about 2 minutes and had the lovely flavours of the marinade. Served with soba noodles.

Tomato Udon with Tofu, Fish Tofu and Vegetables - Weeknight Dinner
I used some of my other Korean supermarket purchases, fish tofu and fresh tofu, for another noodle dinner. This time it was in a katsuobushi dashi base soup flavoured with tomatoes. I guess you can that fish tofu is my new discovery. Soft, yet firm blocks of fish paste ... like a cross between a fish ball and tofu ... crazy, yet very yummy. I added more beansprouts ... huge bags of beansprouts are so cheap at oriental supermarkets. It makes you wonder what sort of killing the high street supermarkets are making with their little bags of 'from bag to wok' stir fry vegetable mixes. I also added some spinach and served it all up with some thick udon noodles.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Four Seasons - Chinatown, London

Roast Duck and Soy Chicken Rice - Four Seasons, Chinatown London

Our last leisurely Friday lunch took us to Four Seasons for duck and rice. I got the 2 meat and rice combo for £6.50 with roast duck and soy chicken as my choice of meats. The duck was good as usual but the chicken was pretty awful. Verging on tough and dry, it was certainly not up to Four Seasons standard. If that wasn't bad enough, the ginger and spring onion sauce that accompanied the chicken (usually one of the highlights of getting soy chicken) was tongue numbingly salty and looked like something they had mixed up the week before.

Fried Kai Lan - Four Seasons, Chinatown London

To balance the heaviness of the meat we got two portions of vegetables. Stir fried ginger for crunch and dau miu (my absolute all time favourite) for deliciousness.

Fried Dau Miu - Four Seasons, Chinatown London

Four Seasons Chinese
12 Gerrard Street, Soho, London, W1D 5PR
Four Seasons Chinese on Urbanspoon

Monday, 12 April 2010

Soy Braised Chicken

Braised Soy Chicken - Weeknight Dinner

Sometimes when you're down and out all you want is something that tastes remotely of home. Tonight I made chicken stew. Not just any chicken stew but soy braised chicken with melting onions and spiced with cinnamon and star anise. And it tasted like a little piece of home heaven ... :)

Braised Soy Chicken - Weeknight Dinner

Soy Braised Chicken

12 chicken pieces (I used leg pieces. Skin and bone the chicken if you wish but I was too lazy. The skin and bone does add extra flavour to the finished dish)
3 small red onions, peeled and roughly sliced
5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
3 pieces of star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp oil
5 tbsp soy sauce and an extra splash for good luck
5 tbsp oyster sauce and an extra blob for 'umph'
2 tsp sugar
150ml water
  • Heat the oil in a wok on high heat.
  • Once the wok starts to lightly smoke, turn the heat down to medium-high. Add the onions and garlic. Fry until slightly browned.
  • Add the chicken pieces along with all the other ingredients except the water. Mix well to coat the chicken.
  • Leave the mixture to bubble. Once the sauce begins to cook down and catch at the bottom of the wok, add the water.
  • Put the lid on the wok and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Check half way through and if the sauce is too watery, take the lid off and continue to simmer uncovered.
  • If you like your sauce thicker, add a mixture of part corn starch and water just before you take the wok off the heat. Serve with a sprinkling of sliced spring onion, pipping hot steamed rice and perhaps a veg of your choice.I made a quick stir fry of spring greens, rocket ad tomatoes.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Crab?

Brown Crabs

A visit down to Folkstone over the bank holiday weekend brought me back to London armed with a few goodies courtesy of the bright blue sea.

Brown Crabs

Four brown crabs needing to be dressed was something I soon discovered was going to be a pretty mean feat. It's one thing to pick, suck and prod at a crab piece for instant gratification and quite another when the eating pleasure is to be delayed. After three long hours picking through the one big beast and three smaller crustaceans, I swore I would never attempt to dress a crab again. There were about a half a dozen little cuts on my hands, crab shell littered the floor and the air was heavy with the salty, wet stench of the sea. Next time I want to eat crab I'll wait till I get back to Malaysia or I'll buy a neatly dressed crab from my local fishmonger who sells them for a very reasonable £5 each.

White and Brown

After all my hard work I was almost tempted to stash the meat away in the freezer until I had managed to get some of the crab smell off my hands (ohhh a few weeks or so ... ) but I went ahead and dressed some of my beautifully picked crab anyway. Some sweet white meat, some brown meat (for that lovely richness), mayonnaise, lemon juice, paprika and ketchup was mixed up for my afternoon snack of crab on toast.

Crab on Toast

The next day the crab became part of a sandwich - dressed with a little mayonnaise, paprika, ketchup, sweet chili sauce, fish sauce (fishy on fishy = quite delicious), finely chopped coriander and lime juice served on tomato bread with cucumber. Yum ... much nicer than the day before. The other sandwich for the day was ham with grain mustard, rocket and cucumber.


The rest of the crab is now sitting in the freezer waiting for me to decide what to do with it .... chili, garlic and lemon crab with pasta or crab cakes? We'll see ...

Ants Climbing on Trees

Ants Climbing on Trees - Easter Dinner

I've been absolutely fascinated by this dish ever since I saw it in my sister's copy of The Food of China by Murdoch Books (I love cookery books with lots of photographs, the more the better). The dish itself is pretty simple ... fried noodles with mince but it's the imagination behind it that I love. The noodles being the spindly branches of a tree, red ants with their fiery bite represented by the mince coated in stinging chili bean paste and I even added foliage to my tree with the addition of slices choy sum.

Ants Climbing on Trees - Easter Dinner

Ants Climbing on Trees
Serves 2

250g mung bean thread noodles, soaked and ready to cook
100g minced pork
small bundle of choy sum, sliced
heaped dessert spoonful of chili bean paste
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 spring onion, finely sliced
a small handful of coriander, finely sliced
splash of oil
splash of soy sauce
splash of oyster sauce
light drizzle of sesame oil
  • Heat a wok (large pan) over a medium meat. Add the oil and allow it to heat until it smokes (or thereabouts). Add the mince to the wok/pan in small batches to allow even browning. If too much liquid is released from the meat whilst cooking and like me you get too impatient for it to cook off, tip the meat and liquid into a strainer. Once the most of the liquid has been strained, return the meat to the wok/pan and let it sizzle to a nice light golden brown colour.
  • Add the garlic to the meat. Allow the garlic to work it's magic in the heat - once there's a delicious aroma of cooking garlic (mind you burnt garlic is not an enticing smell), add the choy sum. Stalks first followed by the more tender leaves. Add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, chili bean paste and sesame oil. Toss to mix evenly. If it looks a little too dry, add a little water.
  • Once the vegetables have wilted slightly, add the noodles to the wok/pan. Give it a good toss to ensure the noodles are mixed in properly. Taste - add more soy sauce/oyster sauce/sesame oil/chili bean paste if you think it necessary.
  • Serve with a sprinkling of spring onion and coriander.