Archives for category: my food experiments

Mid-Autumn Festival is near- time to have moon cakes! Traditionally they are made with lotus seed paste and salted duck egg yolks. However, there are many variations of moon cakes as well as people in Hong Kong get bored easily. The most exclusive ones are allegedly made by Spring Moon 嘉麟樓 at the Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong. It is limited edition which means every year, people queue for hours and it is usually sold out way before the festival. The price has gone up by nearly double this year to HK$485 (GBP40) a box!

So is it really worth the hype? Check here to see the answer >>

Winkle sizzling on an iron
A recent trip to a wedding in Cork, Ireland, led me to a lovely beach which has a bed of seaweed. To our delight, we discovered lots of winkles under the rocks.

Winkles in Ireland
We stayed in an amazing hotel called Ballymaloe, which has been run by TV chef, Rachel Allen’s family for decades. We were well fed with great food though could not stop feeling peckish looking at the freshly collected winkles.

We just HAD TO eat them!

The lady at the reception told us we could not have a kettle in the room so we could not cook them by boiling. We pretended we would like to have tea in the bedroom but were told there was no kitchen in our building- so blanching/poaching could not happen either.

Luckily, as hotel guests staying for a wedding, there was at least one allowable heat source- an iron!

Upside down iron = Hot plate for searing winkles? We decided to have an experiment…. Continue reading to see how we cooked the winkles on a hotel room iron >>

Inside Chinese bamboo leaf-wrapped dumplings 糉子
Dui Ng Festival 端午節, better known as Dragon Boat Festival in English, takes place on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar on which the Chinese calendar is based. Around that day, we have bamboo leaf-wrapped sticky rice dumplings 糉子 (zong zi) and dragon boat racing. (Why? You can find out at the end of this article.)

Anyway, I am too lazy to do dragon boat racing but I love eating, so 糉子is my highlight around this time of the year. You can buy them in Chinatown or Chinese supermarkets but I prefer to make my own as I can put more of my favourite ingredient inside! Here is my grandma’s recipe:

Dry bamboo leaves for Chinese bamboo leaf-wrapped dumplings 糉子
INGREDIENTS (to make 21 dumplings):
1. Dry bamboo leaves (photo above)
~ 4 leaves per dumpling, get a few extra as some might split in the middle
~ available in big Chinese supermarkets, e.g. the ones in Chinatown.
~ pick the pack with larger leaves as it makes wrapping easier.

Salted duck egg yolks for Chinese bamboo leaf-wrapped dumplings 糉子
2. Salted duck egg yolks (photo above)
~ my favourite ingredient!! In fact, I decided to make my own 糉子 because Continue reading about how to make Chinese bamboo leaf-wrapped dumplings 糉子>>

Slicing Jamón Ibérico de Bellota
A trip to Spain is incomplete without having Jamón, which is the Spanish dry-cured ham. You can just see them everywhere- bars, restaurants and markets. They look a bit like the Chinese version on the outside but while we cook ours, the Spanish do not. They love pairing it with melon which is sweet and moist.

In the famous Boqueria Market in Barcelona, I was curious to see the large price differences among all the Jamón, which ranged from Euro 35/kg to Euro176.60/kg. I decided to do a taste test between the most expensive Jamón, Jamón Ibérico de Bellota , and the cheapest one, Jamón Serrano Bodega.

Spanish Jamón Ibérico de Bellota
Sample 1 (photo above):
The meat was dark red and beautifully marbled with fat, with a subtle golden colour. It was moist and smooth in the mouth. The fat was soft and rich in flavour with a hint of sweetness. It felt like it melted in my mouth! It was not too salty which was fantastic! Amazing! Continue reading about Jamón blind tasting >>

I was curious and excited when I first saw these white beauty- pineberries. They are about the same size as wild strawberries, except that they look like their albino cousins. White body and red seeds- very odd looking indeed!

I like how they played tricks on my senses. While they looked like strawberries, pineberries actually carried an amazing sweet fragrance similar to that of pineapples. This aroma was even stronger at room temperature.

Just when I thought they would taste like pineapples, I was wrong again. Continue reading >>

I love pig cheeks! They are one of the most under-rated cuts of a pig. (4 pig cheeks for £0.92- enough to feed two!) Most chefs like slow cooking them by braising (and charge over £15 for them!) but the meat always turns out to be too tough and dry for my liking. It is best to roast pig cheeks! Personally, I think they are even more tasty than the classic Chinese barbecued pork as they more succulent and juicy. Braising is just so wrong!

Roast pig cheeks
Here is my recipe of roast pig cheeks (to serve 2):

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Marinate time: overnight (recommended)
Cooking time: 15 minutes Continue reading >>

In the UK you can only get 2 types of oysters; the Native, and the Pacific/Gigas (photo below). On our last trip to the Company Shed, we were unable to sample the delights of the Native oyster as it was summer, this year we returned when the Native oysters were in season. After hearing so much about them, and how they were a gourmet delight, I was expecting great things from them.

Pacific oyster

Native oysters are only available when there is an R in the month, whereas Pacific oysters are available all year round. The Natives are nearly twice the price of the Pacifics. However are they worth the price difference? Continue reading >>

Only granola fills me up! I do not know why but it is true! Unfortunately Jordans, the big family miller, recently put up the sugar content of my beloved Superfood Granola by nearly 3g (now a shocking 19.9g of sugar per 100g of cereal!) I have to resume my search for the perfect granola for breakfast again!

Generally speaking, the choices of granola mix in high street shops are more limited than museli. It is good that I managed to find a few new ones in the market.

Swedish granola with strawberries & blueberries by Swedish Chef
The mix looked beautiful. The dried strawberries and blueberries were big and appetising. I was very excited. It claimed to be healthy with pumpkin seeds, crispy flakes and rice puffs etc. But Continue reading to see if I found the perfect granola >>

I love marshmallows. It tastes best toasted.

On cold winter nights, it is great fun to sit by the fire, toasting and enjoying marshmallows with family and friends. In summer,  it is also very nice to have it as a dessert at barbeques.

toasting marshmallow
For me, the best marshmallows for toasting are small ones that have chocolate filling. Sorry, I have eaten them all so I am showing the ones with strawberry jam instead

Continue reading >>

Heston Blumenthal, chef of Fat Duck ( the 3 Michelin starred restaurant and one of the top 3 restaurants in the world) and Dinner  (which explores ancient British recipes) collaborated with high- end supermarket Waitrose to create a range of food products from condiments to pies. I have already reviewed his coriander and rose salt, steak, ale & kombu pie and Lapsang Souchong tea smoked salmon. The next one to try is Vanilla mayonnaise.

Heston Blumenthal's vanilla mayonnaise

Upon opening the cap of the bottle, I could smell immediately a strong aroma of vanilla. The bottle was easy to squeeze and the mayonnaise came out smoothly and neatly. Fresh vanilla pods has been used and the little seeds look beautiful in the mayonnaise.  It also has good consistency. I used it to make sweetcorn and tuna mayonnaise jacket potatoes. It was light and refreshing. Read the rest of this entry »