Archive for the 'Asian/Oriental' Category

How to make Kung Pao Chicken


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* Go to the recipe for Kung Pao Chicken

One of the dishes we returned to time and again when we were visiting our friend Cristy in Beijing a few years ago was the popular Gong Bao Ji Ding or Kung Pao Chicken (also called Kung Po or Gung Po chicken). Traditional Gong Bao Ji Ding is a spicy Sichuan dish, the westernised version of which is often very different from the authentic Sichuanese version. I’m sure there are many variations of the dish within China, as well. But it’s not usual to add other vegetables like onions, peppers (capsicum) or cashews (or even pineapple?!).

I like to call it Gong Bao Ji Ding, because it has such a lovely ring to it, and apologies to Mandarin speakers the world over for my terrible pronunciation. Perhaps, as I’m erring towards attempting to cook an authentic version of the dish, I should also be trying to pronounce it correctly. But the truth is, I simply don’t know how.

There are very few main ingredients in Gong Bao Ji Ding – just chicken, peanuts and spring onions (green onions), really. But, as with many east Asian dishes, the complexity is in the many flavourings. Continue reading ‘How to make Kung Pao Chicken’

Braised pork belly like Mao used to make

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Pork belly – it’s the cut of the moment, isn’t it? On the menu everywhere. Very now. And very cheap, if you buy it in the right places (look beyond the supermarkets, which have copped on to its foodie appeal and adjusted the price accordingly).

This is a recipe that we don’t do often enough. And it’s attributed to Chairman Mao himself, who always made sure he was eating well while starving the rest of the nation. Being left to starve and told to survive on revolutionary zeal alone was good enough for the masses, but let’s face it, you couldn’t lead them through the Great Leap Forward on an empty stomach! Continue reading ‘Braised pork belly like Mao used to make’

Pad thai with two tries

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We reckon you can’t love Thai food without loving pad thai – the country’s national dish. Your average Thai cook can probably whip this up with a few swishes of the wok and flips of the, umm, wok flipper. But for us at home there are two pitfalls that are easy to, errm, fall into. As you’ll find out in this episode.

First thing is those rice noodles (and don’t ever get taken for a ride in a restaurant – unless these particular noodles are under your nose, you’re not eating pad thai). You usually buy the dried variety in a packet. They need to be soaked in warm water before going into the wok. But soaked for how long? You’ve just come to a trap for young players. Continue reading ‘Pad thai with two tries’

Rice to the occasion


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Lenny is a whiz with fried rice. Last time she made it I was well impressed, to the point that I would eat it over stuff from a Chinese restaurant any day.

And that’s saying something. I reckon it’s really hard to replicate the flavours of your better-than-average Chinese takeaway. Maybe it’s down to MSG, which in some Asian cultures is literally known as “taste” (oh, if only you could buy good taste in powdered form). We’ve got nothing against MSG, really – it’s either in the food we buy or it isn’t – but we don’t have it in our kitchen, and don’t have any idea how, or how much of it, to use. Continue reading ‘Rice to the occasion’

We larb turkey


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The leftover Christmas turkey was on its last legs, and sandwiches had long since lost their appeal … time for what Lenny calls a “flavour changer”.

Larb is a simple Laotian dish of spicy mince (usually pork or chicken) that is eaten with sticky rice, also known as glutinous rice. In Laos the rice comes in a little hopper-style basket made of bamboo and woven grass. The lime and chili flavours are heaven together, and ground rice powder adds a bit of crunch. Continue reading ‘We larb turkey’

One chicken, three ways


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What a month it’s been. Moving to a new address on the other side of London, getting to grips with a new kitchen (while mourning the loss of the behemoth stove at our previous address), and on top of that, work work work!

THEN, just as we got this episode – where we make Hainanese chicken rice – shot and edited, Apple decided to bring out their new set-top box, Apple TV. It lets you watch podcasts like ours on your telly. Cool gadget, but it posed some issues, because to make the most of it we’ve had to step up the resolution of our videos.

But more on that later. We decided on something simple for the first show at our new place – Hainan chicken, or as some call it, Hainanese chicken rice. Like many Asian recipes it’s big on fresh ingredients prepared in a straightforward manner. Continue reading ‘One chicken, three ways’

Your momo says …


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Waz and I LOVE dumplings. Pretty much wherever we travel, we try to experience the local yum cha – or dim sum as it’s called throughout much of the world. So we often find ourselves traipsing through Chinatown in various far-flung cities sampling the lovely little morsels in their steaming wooden baskets that make up the dim sum experience.

London has a surprisingly small Chinatown, and, sad to say, we’ve had some very dodgy yum cha on Gerrard Street, which is this Chinatown’s main drag. I would say the variety and quality of dishes is better in such establishments as China House and King of Kings in Brisneyland (that’s Brisbane in Queensland for you non-locals). Even good old Edmonton in Canada had some very fine dim sum establishments. Continue reading ‘Your momo says …’

Tandoori chicken on a barbecue

All right you purists. I know what you’re going to say. “You can’t cook tandoori without a tandoor!”

Yes, well, who has a huge earthenware oven in their kitchen, I ask you? The closest most of can get to tandoori at home is applying the curry paste or powder to meat of some description and cooking the results over a grill.

This is another of our “lost” episodes. I had genuinely forgotten about it, and found the raw video while rabbiting through our archive for holiday footage. Continue reading ‘Tandoori chicken on a barbecue’

Lobster and mussels, alive, alive-o

Click here to view the videoIf Prince Edward Island is famous for one thing, it just might be lobster suppers. These seafood feasts typically start with courses of chowder and mussels. Then the diner is presented with a whole lobster to devour. This instalment begins with us doing just that to two unfortunate specimens.

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Lenny loves mussels, so was inspired by the mussel course to attempt her own version of the dish for this episode. She adds a Thai twist with coconut milk, ginger and limes. But hang on, Jalapeno chilies? What the …? Well, authentic Thai-style ingredients aren’t always close at hand. Continue reading ‘Lobster and mussels, alive, alive-o’

We’re on a (cabbage) roll

Click here to view the videoWe never thought we’d draw culinary inspiration from a place called Vegreville. But that’s just what happened when we dropped into this prairie town on the first leg of our Crash Test Kitchen “Canadian Safari.”

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Vegreville, like much of Alberta, has a substantial Ukrainian population, and the town’s giant “pysanka” (Easter egg) is apparently the world’s largest. No, we didn’t make Easter eggs – we whipped up a version of a staple item that you’d probably find among the leftovers in any Ukrainian refrigerator. Continue reading ‘We’re on a (cabbage) roll’