Chinese Daikon, Carrot and Tomato Beef Stew

General Tso's Chicken

Fen Jen Ro

The Illustrative Chef Illustrated Cookbook

“The Illustrative Chef 30 Illustrated Recipes by Liv Wan” is my first “illustrated” cookbook. Two years ago I published my first cookbook, which was a great thing to do, but just in the last week my second cookbook has come out and this time it’s entirely illustrated. For me as an illustrator this is a really big achievement.

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Cockle Meatballs Recipe

Today’s recipe is a Chinese cockle meatballs recipe I learnt whilst I lived in Shanghai but before that a little update about things. I really expected when I quit my job working as a chef my life would become quieter and while it’s an awful lot less stressful I’m busier than ever with my freelance illustration work. I’ve picked up a few commissions recently, two of which came from my home country Taiwan. One job is to initially create 6 illustrations based on popular tourist spots in Taiwan for a Taiwanese souvenir company. The other is to illustrate a children’s interactive book this time for a publisher in Taiwan. I’m also working on a top secret commission job which I can’t discuss right now but this is also something I’m really excited about. One thing I will say, my illustration for the last project will be viewable in supermarkets soon. Back to the food, I made these cockle meatballs around a month about but due to Chris and myself having absolutely tonnes of work to do we literally haven’t had time until now to sort out the photos and type up the recipe. I ate these cockle meatballs while I lived in Shanghai but in Shanghai restaurants they use clams (蛤) instead for making this meatballs dish and they cook this dish with super sweet soy sauce, which is a bit too sweet for me. But in general, I really like this dish no matter the flavour or the presentation. So I remade this dish at home myself based on my memory of this dish but turn down the sweetness.... read more

Deep Fried Prawn Balls with Almond Flakes

Today’s recipe is Deep Fried Prawn Balls with Almond Flakes but before I get on top the recipe I’ve now been back in the UK from Taiwan for a month now and my life has been very busy but I’m really happy I’ve finally quit my job as a chef. Sometimes you just have to take a jump from one career to another and now I’ve quit working as a chef I’m suddenly got a lot of illustration enquiries so it’s perfect that I’m now working for myself. I’ve also finally caught up with most of then projects I have been working on but I’m still struggling to find enough time to balance studying, commission projects and family. I have absolutely no idea how I managed to work in a kitchen and do all my other work as well. With regards to my cookbook, I am always monitoring stock levels of my cookbook on and so I can get an idea of how well the book is selling (it appears to be selling well). It also allows me to chase up my editor to make sure there is enough stock. So back to today’s recipe for Deep Fried Prawn Balls with Almond Flakes, this is a dish really suitable for banquets and special events. I’ve always loved seafood, especially prawns, and the deep fried almond flakes are crispy and delicious. Prawns and almonds are a great combination both in terms of texture and flavour and if you put these Deep Fried Prawn Balls together properly they both look and taste great, making them perfect for banquets and... read more

Thai Rice Noodle Seafood Salad

Today’s new recipe is Thai Rice Noodle Seafood Salad but before I talk about this recipe I have some huge news. I QUIT MY CHEF JOB! Yes, I handed in my notice on Saturday, packed all my belongings, handed in my keys and left. I haven’t had a chance to say goodbye to all of my colleagues who were really kind to me so I decided to use this blog post to tell them “thank you” for looking after me and for tolerating me during my “silly” moments at work. I’m proud to say I’ve made some real friends at work and will miss a lot of people. It was a really interesting 4 years, 6 months and 4 days (OCD side showing itself) and there were a lot of great moments I’ll remember. However, I have been unhappy working as a chef for some time (not necessarily because of the place I worked at) and with recent events, my new career which is coming on really well and my husband picking up a lot more work we made the decision for me to quit work and focus full time on my illustration business. That’s not to say I won’t be cooking anymore, if anything the total opposite. Before with work, child, university and everything else I simply had no time for updating this blog but although I’m busy with the illustration side of things I’ll have a lot more time to cook new recipes and update this website. Back to this recipe. Recently my health has been a bit funny. Earlier this year I had my gallbladder removed... read more

Chinese Daikon, Carrot and Tomato Beef Stew

One day while back in Taipei, I was watching TV with my grandmother and smelt this really awesome dish coming out of a neighbour’s home. So I asked grandma to make this dish for me. I know people might think I’m horrible asking my grandmother to cook for me but grandma is a very old fashioned traditional Eastern lady. Few things make her happier than cooking a big meal for her family. She loves cooking for he children and grandchildren and when we say something along the lines of “Oh grandma, the food you made is so DELICIOUS! We love it!” you can often here her giggling. For a lot of Elder Eastern ladies, most of them are housewives their whole lives. They sacrifice themselves to their family and children so the “kitchen” is their stage. When my grandmother came to the UK in 2012 she brought her rubber gloves with her and when she was cutting vegetables she refused to let me help her, even though I’m a trained chef. This kind of thing always makes me laugh. I cook most of the meals at home for my husband and daughter but a lot of times I really don’t know what to cook. I’m used to people ordering food from me at work so I guess this carries over at home so I usually present Chris with the question “Eastern or Western food” “noodles or rice?” then I have a pretty good idea about what to cook. I believe for a lot of mums who cook most of the food at home they must have the same feeling... read more

General Tso Chicken Recipe

General Tso chicken is a really popular Chinese dish all over the world. There are several stories behind this dish but my favourite is about General Tso’s son who is a drug addict. During a period of time when the Chinese government tried to ban people from using opium, General Tso was really worried about his son so he lost all of his appetite. General Tso’s chef was really worried about him so he made up this chicken dish and hoped the flavours from this dish would help General Tso to enjoy food again. I honestly don’t know if this dish actually helped General Tso or not but this dish and the story has certainly helped my appetite after recent events that have happened. On the 30th August my father passed away after suffering a heart attack. He needed open heart surgery but due to other underlying health issues which needed fixing first he wasn’t able to make it to surgery and suffered a heart attack at home from he sadly passed. So one week after he died I flew back to Taipei for three weeks to sort out his funeral and other family things. The last time I spoke to him was just two days before he passed away and on that day he looked well so when I received the news on the 30th I completely broke down and I’m still in total shock one month on. Right now I’m suffering badly. I’m completely depressed, I have no will to illustrate and I can’t even think about going back to work right now. During the last conversation... read more

Fen Jen Ro – Steamed Pork Belly in Rice Powder with Sweet Potato

After finishing off my cook book and breaking up from University for the summer I’ve suddenly had some spare time (shock!) which I’m really happy about. I’ve been running this blog since the end of 2009 and I have so many great memories from this blog. From all the great people I’ve met through my blog and all the great feedback it’s been a great experience sharing my recipes. Of course there are some smart-arses who like to make snide comments but they really are an absolute minority so, with great joy, I’m now back cooking for this blog and my first recipe is one of my husband’s all time favourite dishes called Fen Jen Ro. Fen Jen Ro (粉蒸肉 in Chinese) or probably easiest translated as “Steamed Pork Belly in Rice Powder with Sweet Potato” is a commonly served dish in Chinese and Taiwanese households. This is also one of my grandfather’s favourite dishes so I’m very familiar with this dish. In Taiwan, we use rice cookers to steam most dishes and for Taiwanese people or even people who have spent some time in Taiwan will know, rice cookers in Taiwan and possibly Chinese are used for a lot more than just cooking rice. Taiwanese people will use rice cookers to steam cakes, make soups, make Chinese buns, make rice of course(!) and many more uses. For the first few years I lived in Edinburgh and the UK I just used a really cheap rice cooker solely for cooking rice and even though I have now bought a more expensive one that can steam, make soup etc, I... read more

Carrot Cake Recipe

It’s been long time since my last blog. Before I gave birth I was able to update this blog every 5-7 days but since then I have been busy watching my daughter grow up. I have also been really busy with my college course, I had some health issues which put me out of action for a little while and I’ve also been busy setting up my illustration business. But one thing I really miss is updating this blog with new recipes and communicating with many of the wonderful people who leave comments here. So this is a new recipe I want to share with you. It’s not Chinese/Taiwanese food, it’s a carrot cake. The first time I ever tried carrot cake was after I moved to the UK. We don’t have carrot cake in Taiwan and I have to admit the first time I heard about carrot cake I wondered if a vegetable cake could be tasty. But in fact, carrot cake is tasty! Delicious even! It’s now one of my favourite cakes and can also be quite a healthy cake if you don’t put too much icing on the top. I learned to make this while working as a pastry chef at the Sheraton Hotel. I worked at the Sheraton for about 18 months and for a few months within that time I worked as a pastry chef. I’ve eaten many different carrot cakes but this is still my favourite recipe by far. The cake itself is very soft, moist and flavoured (at least for myself and Chris) perfectly. I also illustrated this recipe for my illustration... read more

Braised Chinese Chestnut Chicken

Hello everyone, I’m back! It has been a very long time since my last blog post. I’ve finally completed my Lauriston Castle 2013 workshop brochure for Edinburgh council. That project went very well and I’ve learnt a lot and gained a lot of interesting and valuable experience working as an illustrator. Here is the link for the images I created for this brochure. Please have a look if you have interest. My life has been very busy with Amelia, work, college and building up my freelance illustrator business. A lot of the time I really wish I have 36 hours in a day instead of 24 hours. Because of deadlines for various projects as well as work and family commitments I haven’t even been able to celebrate Chinese New Year this year. But even though I didn’t celebrate Chinese New Year in the traditional way I still managed to cook a couple really simple recipes, one of which I’ll share with you now. Do you remember my Chinese new year dishes last year? I explained that Chinese people like  foods that have a lucky meaning behind them, especially when celebrating Chinese New Year. Today’s dish is Braised Chinese Chestnut Chicken. In Chinese language, chestnut is pronounced  “li-zi” (栗子) and “Li” sounds like the other Chinese word, which means “profit” also could mean “mean”. So people will feel really happy when they have this dish in Chinese new year dinner. Here is the recipe for Braised Chinese Chestnut Chicken and I hope you will be very happy, very healthy in this coming year. Ingredients: 8 chicken thighs, de-bone it and cut... read more
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