Thai Chicken Salad

As of this past Saturday I’m now 36 weeks pregnant. I really do think I’m one of the luckiest pregnant women in the world as you may have heard a lot of pregnant women have unusual cravings during pregnancy. Amongst the strange cravings I’ve heard pregnant women have include wood and coal.

But so far my cravings have been really good. This pregnancy has to an extent put me off red meat but I absolutely love fresh fruit, vegetables and sour dressings. The only unusual craving I’ve had is ice cubes which I absolutely love! My husband has been laughing at me as I’m not normally a cold drink kind of person but with great fortune Edinburgh as of early February is one of the warmest places in the UK and we haven’t snow yet.

One of my other cravings right now is sour food so I made this Thai Chicken Salad. I got inspiration for this salad from a holiday I had in Thailand a few years ago and I absolutely love Thai food. Also since going on maternity leave I’ve been cooking every day and cooking everything from Italian to Chinese to Scottish food, but not Thai.

This recipe probably isn’t that authentic but it’s really delicious, fresh, sour and really healthy, absolutely perfect for my pregnancy.

thai chicken salad

 

Thai Chicken Salad

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 3 people

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken thigh fillets
  • 1 handful Salad leaves I used a mixed salad bag from my local supermarket
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 handful roast cashew nuts or peanuts, chop roughly
  • 2 spring onions chop finely
  • 1 lemon grass chop finely
  • 1 tsp galangal fresh and chopped finely
  • 1 red chili chop finely
  • 15 mint leaves chop finely

Ingredients for chicken thigh fillets marinade

  • 2 cloves garlic chop finely
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seed oil or olive oil

Ingredients for coconut and lime dresssing

  • 2 lime leaves
  • 240 ml coconut cream
  • 1.5 fresh limes only use juice
  • 3 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

Procedure for coconut and lime dressing **

  1. Put all the ingredients except the lime juice into a small sauce pan. Boil at first then simmer for 15~20 minutes. Stir often to prevent the ingredients burning at the bottom of the pan.
  2. Add lime juice and bring it to boil again. Use a sift to pass the dressing and leave the dressing to cool down.

Thai Chicken Salad Procedures

  1. Marinade chicken thigh fillets for 30 minutes.
  2. Use a griddle to char grill the chicken and leave it aside to cool down a little bit. Cut the chicken into strips and mix with spring onion, lemon grass, galangal, mint and chilli.
  3. Place salad leaves and tomato on a plate and place the chicken on top. Sprinkle cashew nuts and dressing on top and it’s ready to serve.

Recipe Notes

** I will make dressing first then start the other preparation works.

 

Red Bean and Coconut Rice Cake Chinese New Year Dessert

Following on from my previous blog post this is another dish that I made specially for Chinese New Year. This dish is called Red Bean and Coconut Rice Cake.

Rice cake has always been one of my favourite desserts to eat during Chinese New Year festivities. I remember when I was a child I always chased after my mother asking her to prepare it for me.

In Taiwan, there are two really popular flavours of sweet rice cakes. One is red bean and the other is brown sugar. I remember this recipe for Red Bean and Coconut Rice Cake from when I was young so I decided to give it bit of a personal twist and give it a go. Personally I really like it, I’m really happy with the way it turned out.

I have some big deadlines coming up with my college class so I didn’t have time to prepare any other kinds of rice cakes, but once these deadlines have passed I’m aiming to prepare some different flavour rice cakes, including the aforementioned brown sugar rice cake which is also really delicious.

Red Bean and Coconut Rice Cake Chinese New Year Dessert
Red Bean and Coconut Rice Cake Chinese New Year Dessert

This is how the mixture should look once it has set and cooled down in the tins.

Red Bean and Coconut Rice Cake Chinese New Year Dessert

This recipe makes approximately 4 to 5 tins of rice cake mixture.

 

Red Bean and Coconut Rice Cake Chinese New Year Dessert

Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 5 hours
Servings 4 tins worth

Ingredients

Ingredients for Sweet Red Bean

  • 400 g red beans soak in water for a couple hours
  • 400 g brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Ingredients for Red Bean and Coconut Rice Cake

  • 450 g glutinous rice flour
  • 450 g sweet red beans
  • 420 ml coconut milk
  • 350 g brown sugar

Instructions

Procedure for Sweet Red Bean

  1. Drain the red beans and put into a saucepan. Add 750ml of water into the sauce pan and boil it first. Once it has reached boiling point reduce the heat and simmer for around 1 hour until the red beans are soft enough that you can squash them with your fingers. Please note you must keep stirring the red beans to prevent them from burning. Add more water to the saucepan if necessary.
  2. Mix sugar and salt with the red beans while they are still hot and leave aside for a few hours.

Procedure for Red Bean and Coconut Rice Cake

  1. Boil coconut milk and add brown sugar. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved and leave it to cool down.
  2. Mix glutinous rice flour with coconut milk from step 1 and make sure there are no lumps in the mixture.
  3. Mix sweet red bean mixture into step 2 evenly.
  4. Brush a layer of oil into tin into some tin foil trays (I used 6x4x2 inch tin foil boxes from my local Chinese supermarket. These tins are exactly the same kind you get at Chinese takeaways) and pour the mixture into it.
  5. Use a steamer to steam the rice cakes. If like myself you’re using a metal steamer, use a clean towel to effectively tie down the lid. This prevents water dripping from the lid onto the rice cake which can affect the final result. Once the water under the steamer has started to boil, leave the rice cakes to steam for 30 minutes.
  6. After the rice cakes have been steamed allow them to completely cool down before attempting to remove them from the tins (otherwise they’ll stick). Cut your rice cake into 3cm cubes and fold them into either spring roll pastries or wonton pastries. Deep fry them until the pastries have turned a golden brown colour. Your oil temperature should be approximately 180 degrees celsius.

 

Turnip Cake

It’s Chinese New Year, or as we say “Xin Nian Kaui Le” / 新年快樂!! For my last Chinese New Year I did some speeches in Glasgow but this year I neither planned to do speeches or really cook a lot of food as I’m 33 weeks pregnant.

It’s quite painful for me to stand for a whole day so big meals are completely out of the question right now. So this year I wanted to do something really simple but really delicious and so I decided to prepare some sweet rice cake and this turnip cake (the sweet rice cake will come in a later blog post).

I’ve always been a big fan of turnip cake. Yeah I know what a lot of people are thinking, turnip, gross(!), which is exactly how my husband described turnip. Whenever I eat dim sum at a Chinese restaurant one of the things I absolutely have to eat is turnip dim sum. There sadly aren’t any restaurants in Edinburgh that sell turnip dim sum and the one time we ordered turnip cake at a restaurant here it was really bad.

So this is my style of turnip cake. I took some influence from recipes I found online but also added my own touches to it. One of these touches was to use gammon steak instead of Chinese ham or Chinese sausage. These ingredients are quite hard to find here but they can also be expensive and as you can imagine with a baby on the way we’re trying to cut down on costs. Also as a note Chinese ham and sausage tends to have really strong flavours which take over the dish. This is something I don’t want.

The main ingredient of this turnip cake is white radish, which is available in most Chinese supermarkets. We believe white radish has a meaning of “lucky” and rice cake has a meaning of “get a promotion or good grade at work or through your studies”. So I hope this New Year dish will bring you good luck, promotion or good grade for your job or study in dragon year.

Just also a quick mention, of course it is now year of the dragon so I will be making some design changes to my website to reflect this really soon.

turnip cake
turnip cake

 

Turnip Cake

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 1 minute
Servings 6 people

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 400 g Thai rice
  • 600 g water
  • 100 g rice flour
  • 100 g raddish shred it
  • 1 handful dried prawns soften in hot water then drain. Chop finely
  • 6 dried shiitake mushroms soften in hot water then drain. Chop finely
  • 1 handful pork mince marinade with 2 tbsp light soy sauce, 1 tsp sugar and 1/2 tsp five spice powder
  • 1 slice gammon steak cut into tiny dice
  • 2 shallots chop finely
  • 3 cloves garlic chop finely

Seasonings for mince garnish

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch pepper powder

Seasonings for radish

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar

Instructions

  1. Soak the Thai rice in 600g water overnight (at least 6 hours) then use a  smoothie machine or blender to blend the rice and water until it looks like soy milk.
  2. Mix step one with 100g of rice flour and make sure there are no lumps at all.
  3. Heat some oil in the wok and sauté shallot and garlic first until the aroma comes out.
  4. Add shitake mushroom, dried prawn to stir fry it for a good 2~3 minutes.
  5. Add mince and gammon steak into step 4 and all the seasonings from mince garnish. Stir-fry it for another few minutes until the mince is totally cooked. Put the mince garnish on a plate and leave it aside.
  6. Use the same wok with a little bit more oil and cook the radish with seasonings. You need to cook the radish until it’s soft and the water comes out from the radish. If the water doesn’t come out it could affect the quality of the final turnip cake.
  7. Add mince garnish into step 6 after the radish is soft and mix them evenly.
  8. Combine step 2 with the radish and turn the gas power down. Keep stirring until it looks like “paste” and turn off the cooker. If you feel the mixture is a little dry or too solid, you can add some water.
  9. This recipe can make 5~6  (6”x4”x2”) tin foil boxes size turnip cakes. So brush thin layer of oil in the tin foil boxes and pour the rice cake mix into the box.
  10. Use a steamer to steam the rice cakes. If like myself you’re using a metal steamer, use a clean tea towel to effectively tie down the lid. This prevents water dripping from the lid onto the rice cake, which can affect the final result. Once the water is boiling under the steamer, steam for around 45 minutes.
  11. You have to wait until the rice cakes have totally cooled down to allow you to remove them from the tin (otherwise they stick). Cut your turnip cake into 1cm thick slices. Heat up a little bit of oil in a frying pan or wok and fry the cakes until it’s golden brown colour on both side. Serve with a little bit of soy sauce or sweet chili sauce. Note the sweet chilli sauce isn’t the traditional condiment to go with your turnip cake but Chris loves it!

 

Salmon Rice Noodle Soup

When I lived in Taipei there was a particular Taiwanese rice noodle soup which I really loved called “Swordfish Rice Noodle Soup”.

Whenever my parents and I went out for weekend brunch, I would almost always eat a bowl of Swordfish Rice Noodle Soup. Unfortunately due to my pregnancy I’m absolutely not allowed to eat Swordfish due to it’s mercury content (which could harm the baby) so I swapped swordfish to salmon. So now we have Salmon Rice Noodle Soup

Salmon Rice Noodle Soup is a really light and low fat dish. This is absolutely perfect for myself right now as high fat foods give me chronic heartburn and also if I eat a lot of high fat foods I would probably get really fat, which I absolutely don’t want to do.

You can use any kind of stock for this salmon rice noodle soup. I used really simple ingredients to make my stock which contains spring onions, bonito flakes, shallots and ginger. You can use any vegetable, chicken or fish stock if you wish to do so. It all depends on your personal flavour.

salmon rice noodle soup

 

Salmon Rice Noodle Soup

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 2 people

Ingredients

Ingredients for stock

  • 1 bunch spring onions cut into 3cm lengths
  • 2 pieces ginger
  • 3 shallots get rid of the head and bottom, remove skin
  • 1 handful bonito flakes
  • 2 ltrs water

Ingredients for rice noodle soup

  • 2 bunches rice noodle soften in warm water (a little warmer than bath water)
  • 250 g salmon fillet remove skin and cut into 2cm dices
  • dried pre-fried shallots
  • 1 spring onion and coriander for garnish

Seasonings

  • 1 drop sesame oil
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch white pepper powder

Instructions

Procedure for stock

  1. Heat up a little bit of oil in a stock pot and when the oil is hot, stir fry the ginger, spring onions and shallots until they are soft and they produce an aroma
  2. Add water and bonito flakes and boil it
  3. Once the stock pot has reached the boil simmer for 1 hour
  4. Pass the stock and leave it in a pot for cooking with the salmon and rice noodle later.

Procedure for rice noodle soup

  1. Boil the stock and use stock to poach the salmon. Keep the salmon in a bowl for later
  2. Cook rice in the boiling stock
  3. Add sesame oil, salt, fried shallots and white pepper powder into a soup bowl. Pour rice noodle and hot stock into the bowl. Put salmon, spring onion and coriander on top. It’s ready to eat!

Recipe Notes

Please note I didn’t really write any measurements for the seasonings as it really depends on your personal taste. Adjust accordingly.

 

Fried Dumplings Recipe

I’ve officially started my maternity leave as of this weekend and I’m now 32 weeks pregnant. Millie (my unborn daughter’s name is Amelia) is very healthy and very active. As confirmed by one of my many midwives (we don’t get a permanent midwife here in Edinburgh) an active baby is a healthy baby and Millie is very active!

I think I’ve been quite lucky my with pregnancy so far as she tends to move around a lot during the day but less so during the night, let’s hope she stays like this when she’s born!. I’ve heard of a lot of pregnant women complaining about babies kicking them and they can’t get enough sleep but “so far” I’ve been lucky.

People have been asking me what it feels like to have a baby move around my belly and the best way I can describe it is it feels like a flower blossoming, albeit a strong one. I can feel her waving her arms and legs and if you can imagine it really does look/feel like a flower blossoming.

Any discomfort at this stage of my pregnancy? Yes! Recently I’ve been suffering from constant heart burn but I’ve learnt how to control it. Soy milk and ginger tea have been really helping me. Apart from that everything is good but I’m really confident that years of working as a chef have made me fairly strong and really fit so even though my belly has grown considerate, everything else; my bum/arms etc, are still fairly normal.

So this is my first recipe in a really long time (sorry!) and I decided to share with you a recipe for “Fried Dumplings” which I also cooked for my colleagues during my last two shifts. I promised them a really long time ago that I would bring in dumplings and finally I did.

If you follow my blog you will know I have cooked dumplings before. This time I changed the recipe a little bit for the filling and the cooking method is different compared with the older dumpling recipes.

Please find the recipe for the dumplings I made previously here: Dumplings Shui Jiao

The reason I changed the ingredients from Chinese chive to spring onion is Chinese chive has, during my pregnancy, made me feel quite ill. On the couple occasions I have eaten it I have felt really bloated so I replaced it. I also added some chopped fried eggs into the filling as it improves the texture but most importantly gives it a stronger flavour.

About changing the method of cooking, last time I boiled the dumplings, which I of course had to do again but I finished the dumplings off by frying them. When I lived with my parents my mother would fry left over dumplings from the previous night’s meal and turn them into a really delicious snack. In effect it gives the dumplings a new life!

Dumplings are fantastic as both a snack and a meal. Whether you fry or just boil them, they are really quick to make (we made around 140 dumplings and it took us about 1 hour although we are really quick nowadays at making them), they’re extremely healthy and they’re filling. Here is one recipe that I often use to make Fried Dumplings.

fried dumplings
fried dumplings

 

 

Fried Dumplings Recipe

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 120 dumplings

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1 kg pork mince
  • 2 bunches spring onions chop finely
  • 3 slices ginger chop finely
  • 6 large eggs beat and season with 1 tsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp dried shrimp soften in hot water and chop finely (available in most Chinese supermarkets)

Seasonings

  • 1 cup light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Fry the eggs as thin as a crepe and chop it finely when it has cooled down
  2. Mix all the ingredients and seasonings evenly and leave it for 30 minutes
  3. Make the dumplings as the procedure photos from the link above shows. You can use a little bit of water to help the edge of the dumpling pastries to stick together
  4. Boil a big pot of water and cook dumplings in the boiling water
  5. When the dumplings have risen and are floating on top of the water, they are cooked (please note this applies to fresh dumplings only, if they are frozen you will need to wait for the water to boil then add more water. Wait to boil again, repeat twice, then they are cooked)
  6. Cool the dumplings down under cold water and drain. Gently mix some oil with the dumplings to prevent them from sticking together.
  7. Heat up a little bit of oil in the frying pan and fry the dumplings until they are golden brown on the outside. They are ready to serve!