Tuesday, June 18, 2013

WET MARKET

My local wet market is a wonderful place for buying all my fruit and vegetables. This week everything just looked so tempting. Everything is so fresh and the vendor will always make sure I get the freshest. Must be a good customer having been going at least twice a week for the last 14 months.


So with this nice box of produce I started to plan meals and recipes. Peas and asparagus, easy call, a summer soup. I like to add a few handfuls of spinach at the end of cooking as this keeps a good green colour. Then I blend it all together. Sometimes I hold back a cup of the pea mixture to give a bot of texture, other tomes I strain it for a velvety smooth plate of yumminess. Depends on my mood, and on how much time I have. I would use only the stalks of asparagus and save the tips to add to peas and small onions, with a touch of the mint it would be a nice side dish.


As there was so many peas I made some pea and chickpea falafels. Always a favourite in this house, and with a yogurt and mint dip I was on my way to using up the contents of my shopping basket.

Beetroot would be pickled. 

With left over mint there was only one way to go and that was down the mojito route. A nice cocktail before eating. A perfect beginning for a tasty supper. 



I will continue my trips to the market. I enjoy wandering round, and engaging in basic conversation. It's amazing how attitudes change when I attempt my language skills. Beat a big supermarket shopping experience anytime.

Wonder what the next season will bring.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

HAINAN CHICKEN

For someone who loves to cook, I find living here in Shanghai with all it's many great restaurants, and great social life, I cook less than I normally would. I am not complaining, but when I do cook I realise just how much I enjoy it. So when we were on holiday on Hainan Island a few weeks ago I enjoyed this chicken dish. On returning imagine my delight when browsing through a Ken Hom cook book, Exploring China, there was the very recipe.

Ingredients gathered I set to work. It is a simple but tasty recipe and one I will return to again and again.



The parts of the dish are all served separately and everyone puts it together to suit themselves. It's a bit like a deconstructed chicken soup.

RECIPE (serves 4)

1x1.5kg chicken, salt, 1.75 litres chicken stock, 6 slices fresh ginger, 6 whole spring onions, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper,  1tbsp oil, 2tbsp finely chopped garlic, 400mls long grain rice, measured in a jug.

Rub chicken all over with salt and put into pot and cover with stock, add more water if necessary. Bring to a boil. Add ginger, spring onions and pepper, cover tightly and turn down and simmer for 30 mins. turn off heat and leave for 1 hour.
Remove chicken and allow to cool. Remove ginger and onions from stock and skim off any fat. Measure out 900mls of stock and set aside. Reserve the rest of the stock..

Heat large frying pan. When hot add the oil and add the garlic and 1tsp of salt, stir  then add rice and stir for 2 mins. Now add the 900mls of stock and boil until most of stock has evaporated. Cover tightly and cook at very low temp for 15 mins. Remove and let rest before serving.  

The dish is served with garnish and dipping sauces. Again served alongside the chicken and rice to be added as required. These are very simple and really add to the flavour.

GARNISH

1 large cucumber, 225g tomatoes, 2 spring onions.

Peel and remove seeds from cucumber. Slice. Slice tomatoes and chop spring onions and mix together.

SAUCES
GINGER and SPRING ONION.  4 tbsp finely chopped sprong onion, white part only, 2tsp finely chopped ginger, 1tsp salt 2tbsp oil.
Mix together in a heatproof bowl. Heat the oil in a pan and when it is hot pour over ingredients.

CHILLI SESAME DRESSING. 2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped, 2 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp salt.
Combine altogether in a bowl.

Now you are ready to put everything on the table. 
Chop the chicken into pieces and arrange on a platter. Reheat remaining stock and put in a serving bowl and put salad and sauces into serving bowls. Give everyone a bowl and enjoy.


It is amazing how the simplest of foods always taste so good. Just takes good quality ingredients.
It was good to be back in the kitchen, and with the leftovers I just put some chicken, chopped smaller, some rice and the stock and we enjoyed a delicious bowl of chicken soup for supper the following night.




Sunday, June 2, 2013

A SAD DAY IN SHANGHAI

Last week was a very sad day here as I was saying goodbye to a friend. Moira and her husband Alastair had been two of the first people we met on moving to Shanghai. A lucky chance meeting in a supermarket brought these two wonderful people into our lives.

Sadly their contract is now over and they are headed back to UK.

So last Sunday night we were on our last night out with them in Shanghai. I say in Shanghai, because I hope one day we will meet up again and catch up. It would be hard to think we will never see them again. I know this is going to happen again with other friends. People come and go all the time here, we welcome them, and then we are saying goodbye. However, Moira and Alastair had become good friends, they were Scottish, so there was a natural connection in the beginning. As I got to know Moira it was obvious we liked the same things. We both loved crafts, buying stuff for our homes and of course the shopping trips to the market. She had been here for 5 years so knew all the best haunts. Thankfully I was able to benefit from her knowledge.

Anyway, our last evening together. We were headed to a restaurant we had wanted to try for some time, Mr & Mrs Bund. A pre dinner drink chez Muir, of the bubbly sort, of course, then across the river to the restaurant. On entering I immediately knew why everyone raved about it. There was a great vibe. It was larger than I had thought, it was modern and lively, I knew we would all have a great night here. I was not disappointed.

The menu looked very enticing and choices were going to be difficult. Bread and crackers were brought to the table with the restaurant's signature tuna pate, for us to nibble on while making our choices. The tuna was delicious.

I had to go with the foie gras. It is so seldom you see it on a menu, and I know I will have a lot of people hating me for my choice, but it was delicious. I make no apology for my choice.


Another starter of prawn cocktail was ordered, another foie gras and a smoked salmon completed our starters. All superb. Waiting staff were friendly and attentive but not over fussing. I like that. I hate being interrupted every five minutes to be asked if everything is ok, as my mouth is probably full of food making it very difficult to reply.



Our main courses also proved to be good choices. For me grilled jumbo prawns, for the others a lamb dish, cod baked in a bag and a tomato salad. Served with "skinny" chips it all went down a treat. The delicious wine made everything perfect.


And lastly the desserts. I am not a huge dessert fan but was tempted by a profiterole. A lemon concoction was ordered as was a chocolate fondant. Moira resisted. Such will power.

What can I say but mmm!  All were superb. However Alastair's lemon pudding was the most impressive. It was a whole lemon filled will a lemon mousse and it was all edible. The lemon must have been cooked and scooped out before being filled. I was filled with awe with this beautiful plate. Tasted good too. Thankfully these friends don't mind sharing their food.




So with empty plates and drained glasses it was time to head back across the river, for Moira and Alastair for the last time. 

As we dropped them off and said our goodbyes we were happy we had been lucky enough to have had their company for the last year, but also sad as this was our last night together in Shanghai.

So a big thank you Moira and Alastair for helping us find "our Shanghai" for helping us settle in and for being our friends. We really appreciated it. I hope when we leave we will have left someone with the legacy you left us. 

I wish them lots of luck with their future plans and look forward to seeing them sometime, somewhere. In the meantime we will be returning to Mr & Mrs Bund. A huge thanks to them for a wonderful experience in this Shanghai restaurant. We will not forget it.