Shanghai Style Sweet and Sour Pork

It’s very likely at some point in your life you’ve eaten something sweet and sour. If you’ve eaten sweet and sour you’ve almost certainly eaten Cantonese style sweet and sour and it had either pork or chicken. But have you ever tried “Shanghai Style Sweet and Sour Pork”?

Shanghai style sweet and sour pork is one of my all time favourite dishes and is a dish my grandfather used to cook for me when I was a child. My grandfather was a great cook and this combined with all of his love made me madly fall in love with this dish.

To be very honest with you I’m not really a fan of sweet and sour pork that is made with ketchup (Cantonese style). I just think ketchup based sweet and sour pork is too strong for me but I love this Shanghai style sweet and sour pork.

This dish uses “black vinegar” instead of rice vinegar and you can use any kind of sugar you want for this dish. I personally prefer to use demerara sugar or rock sugar for this dish because these two types of sugar have much more flavour than caster sugar.

You can use pork ribs cut into small cubes if you want to (I cooked this dish with pork ribs for my upcoming cookbook “Home-Style Chinese Cooking”) or you can use pork belly (my favourite), pork loin or shoulder roast. If you don’t like pork at all you can substitute pork with diced chicken breast.

As of June 2016 I’m finally finished with studying at university and my life over the last five years has been absolutely manic. My illustration business is really busy at the moment and it looks like I’m going to be very busy until next Spring at least. This is making me immensely happy and with my four year old daughter at nursery four whole days a week I’m now making time to update this food blog again. A lot of my illustration work and a lot of my work in general is because of food and I love updating this blog when I can so I’m back.

I also have a third cookbook which I’m going to have published soon. The title of the book is “Home-Style Chinese Cooking” and I have to admit it’s been bloody hard work combining working part time, working and studying as an illustrator as well as raising a four year old energizer bunny but I’m proud of what I’ve created and can’t wait to see the book. Please stay tuned!

 

shanghai style sweet and sour pork

 

 

Shanghai Style Sweet and Sour Pork

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 800 g pork belly skinless and cut into cubes
  • 1.25 litres water for cooking the pork belly
  • 2 slices ginger
  • 750 ml oil for deep frying the pork

Ingredients for marinading the pork belly

  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 tsp salt

Ingredients for batter

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp corn flour
  • 1 tbsp plain flour

Seasonings

  • 3 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp demerara sugar you can use caster or rock sugar instead
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp black vinegar

Instructions

  1. Marinade pork belly with marinade for couple hours.
  2. Boil 1.25 litres water and 2 slices of ginger in a stock pot and add pork belly. Bring it to a boil first then simmer for 40 minutes. Drain the water.
  3. Mix step 2 pork belly with all the ingredients for batter.
  4. Heat up 750ml oil in a wok or deep saucepan. Deep fry the pork belly until it’s golden colour, take it out from the oil and drain the oil.
  5. Heat up 3 tablespoon water and 3 tablespoon demerara sugar and cook until the water and sugar turn into thick syrup.
  6. Turn the fire to medium temperature. Add pork belly in and keep stirring for a couple minutes until the syrup looks like it has coated the pork belly.
  7. Add light soy sauce and keep stirring for 1-2 minutes.
  8. Add black vinegar and keep stirring for 1 minutes. Ready to serve.

 

George Heriot’s School Chinese Cooking Class

I had my first Chinese cooking class with George Heriot’s School yesterday and it was also my first proper teaching experience in a school.

George heriot's school Chinese cooking class

Last week, I was contacted by Linsey Ballantyne, who is the teacher of health and food technology at George Heriot’s school regarding teaching her students how to make Chinese dumplings as these dumplings are a huge part of Chinese and Taiwanese traditions during the Chinese New Year period. I was really excited about this project as I have never taught in a school and George Heriot’s is one of the top schools in Edinburgh. Of course I’ve taught many people how to cook many things in professional kitchens and I have done a couple cooking classes outside of restaurants but this is my first school job.

If you follow my blog you will know I studied at Edinburgh College of Art so I have passed George Heriot’s school almost every day for the past three years. I’ve always been completely fascinated about this building because the building itself is breathtakingly beautiful, it’s 388 years old and it’s ranked as one of the very best independent schools in Edinburgh. This is another factor as to why I’m so interested in the school. My daughter Amelia will start school in Autumn 2017 so we’ve started looking at primary schools. Both myself and my husband Chris had indifferent experiences at our own schools and unfortunately our local school is ranked the worst in Edinburgh (87 out of 87) so we’re seriously thinking about going down the independent route.

But back to this blog post, you don’t always get a chance to visit a school like this so this teaching opportunity gave me a chance to visit this truly amazing school.

George Heriot's School main building

Chris and I are both very excited about this teaching opportunity. We always say if we are not rich in finance at least we can be rich in life experience. So by visiting this beautiful school there is one thing to tick off from our bucket list.

I have to admit I was very nervous as I have never taught in a school before nor children so I was really worried that they wouldn’t want to listen to me or find that I’m too boring. But thankfully the class which was made up of around 30 pupils (all girls except for 2 boys) were great. They giggled a lot but it felt like they genuinely listened and Linsey said that was the best they had ever behaved in class. So, I must have done something right?!

When I demonstrated four different ways to make dumplings I have never heard so many “wows” in my life and that was a very interesting experience. Most of the time when I teach junior chefs in the kitchen they are either quiet, have an attitude in general, have an attitude with me because I’m a woman (remember real chef environments are still very much male dominated) or in some cases have an attitude with me because I look “Chinese” and so they don’t think they have to listen. So most of the time I have to be aggressive with my students which made me loose interest in teaching anyone. This is also another reason why I haven’t taught for a while so I’ve been spending my last couple years working on my illustration business as well as my writing job at about.com Chinese food. I’m also working on my third cook book right now which is taking up a lot of time but I’m super excited to see the final product.

Linsey, the other two teachers and her assistant were all very helpful and friendly. Linsey was especially awesome (she’s the lady in the middle below) and I thought she was really easy to talk to and working with her felt completely natural. It was also awesome to learn that she visited Shanghai in the past which is somewhere I lived for one year. Her comment that she has “never eaten Chinese food in the UK since coming back from China” was brilliant. Chris is exactly the same. After he travelled to China and then travelled to Taiwan a few times he/we very rarely eat Chinese food outside. I think for a teacher who has researched other people’s work/cooking and invited them to come into her class and get them to teach speciality foods is absolutely great.

I remember in Taiwan we didn’t really have cooking classes at school and Chris said when he was at school they were only taught how to make British food. Maybe this is a “independent school / George Heriot” thing but it’s great and Linsey was awesome to work with.

George Heriot's school dumpling class

I would really love to go back to teach any of students again or even if other schools have interest in Chinese cooking class. Something I have to bare in mind next time is time management. We only had 1.5 hours for the class and that included some of the prep, making the dumplings and cooking them in two different ways. When I make dumplings at home I usually make between 80-100 and I’ll usually spend a few hours making the mixture and then I’ll make them while watching TV/drinking tea etc. For the class I had to prepare mixture for around 300 dumplings. I intended for the students to be able to make around 10 dumplings each but everyone did really well. The students had to leave at five but apart from a couple students who had to shoot off (they took dumplings anyway) everyone managed to boil their dumplings in class. As well as boiling the dumplings I showed them how to pan fry the dumplings as well.

As I explained in class, during the Chinese New Year we’ll make masses of dumplings but because we make and cook so many there are always leftovers. So the next day(s) when we want to eat something we just quickly pan fry them and they’re absolutely delicious.

george heriots chinese cooking class

We weren’t allowed to take any photographs of the students due to protections rules/laws but we took some photos anyway. Incidentally the dumpling fills I made were “prawn and sponge gourd” and “pork and Chinese chive”. Sponge gourd (also known as luffa), which is the long green vegetable above, is popular in the East and is a really interesting/unique vegetable. I must also mention that I decided to buy all the ingredients from See Woo in Glasgow. We had been wanting to find an excuse to go to Glasgow for a few weeks and See Woo Chinese Supermarket was the only Chinese supermarket in the area that had enough sponge gourd. I called ahead with an order, picked up on the Sunday afternoon and then had lunch at See Woo restaurant which is my favourite Chinese restaurant in the area.

Liv Wan Chinese cooking class

George Heriot's school Chinese cookery class

George Heriot's school

The Illustrative Chef Illustrated Cookbook

illustrated cookbookillustrated cookbookillustrated cookbookillustrated 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.

At the beginning of 2015 a really popular and wonderful recipe illustration website called “They Draw and Cook” announced they would publishing books for a few illustrators throughout the year. I believe only 5 or 6 illustrators will be published but their competition was to come up with 30 recipes, submit them to their website and certain illustrators would be selected. I was one of them.

So over the last six months I had to illustrate close to 30 brand new recipes and I can tell you now it wasn’t easy. There are multiple reasons for this including having a child, my studying at university etc but the biggest challenge was to literally challenge myself to create the best illustrations I could produce. If you look at some of my old illustrations compared to these you’ll see there is a night and day different. My way of working in terms of layout, style and colour has completely changed. Some of the recipe are in children’s book style while some focus just on the ingredients.

So let’s talk about the recipes and food as this might be interesting for the foodies who visit my website. Some of the recipes have been accumulated from my time working as a chef, some are personal favourites that I eat at home and some are from memory. All of the recipes are delicious though and most are very easy to follow and generally quick to make. There are a couple exceptions, the Ramen recipe being an example, but one thing I will point out is I made every single recipe while making the book just to make sure they tasted great.

So this book “The Illustrative Chef 30 Illustrated Recipes by Liv Wan” is not only a feast for your tummy but it’s also a feast for your eyes.

This book is only on sale on Amazon but you can purchase it at any Amazon. Amazon has many great things going for it including free delivery in the UK on orders with at least £10 of books and if you want to purchase my book for your friends or family, Amazon even provide a gift wrap and gift card service.

If you are thinking about buying a special and beautiful cookbook that full of delicious recipes, this is the book for you.

The Illustrative Chef Amazon USA

The Illustrative Chef Amazon UK

illustrated cookbookillustrated cookbookillustrated cookbook

Cockle Meatballs Recipe

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. Also, I found cockles are quite salty, so please be careful with the the seasonings.

cockle meatballs recipe

 

Cockle Meatballs Recipe

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 14 meatballs

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 14 cockles shelled
  • 250 g pork mince you can also use beef mince
  • 1 tsp ginger chop finely
  • 1 tbsp spring onion chop finely
  • 1 egg white

Seasonings

  • 1 tsp potato starch or corn flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Ingredients for sauce

  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 150 ml stock vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce or sticky soy sauce
  • 1 tsp potato starch mix with 2 tbsp water. Makes potato starch water

Instructions

  1. Leave the cockles to soak in water for a couple hours to get rid of any dirt.
  2. Pick the cockles meat out. Keep both meat and shells.
  3. Mix the mince, ginger, spring onions, egg white and all the seasonings in a big bowl. Use your hand to mix it evenly in the same direction for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Chop the cockles up and mix with step 3.
  5. Roll the mixture into small balls and put back into the cockle shells.
  6. Steam the meatballs for 7-9 minutes until the meat is cooked all the way through.
  7. Pour the oyster or stocky soy sauce, sugar and stock into a small sauce pan and boil at first then reduce down the liquid to about half the original amount. Gently stir the potato starch water into the sauce and keep the stove at a lot heat. Keep stirring while cooking and turn off the fire after the sauce has started to boil.
  8. Place the cockle meatballs on a plate and pour the sauce on it. The dish is ready to serve.

cockle meatballs recipe

Deep Fried Prawn Balls with Almond Flakes

deep fried prawn balls with almond flakes

Today’s recipe is Deep Fried Prawn Balls with Almond Flakes but before I get onto 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 amazon.co.uk and amazon.com 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 special events. So maybe you can make this dish to treat your friends and family.

deep fried prawn balls with almond flakes

 

 

Deep Fried Prawn Balls with Almond Flakes

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 13 balls

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 380 g prawns peeled
  • 120 g fatty pork
  • 75 g onion finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp spring onions finely chopped
  • 150 g almond flakes
  • 1/2 tbsp potato starch or corn flour
  • 1 egg white
  • 600 ml oil for frying the prawn balls

Seasonings

  • 1/2 tbsp potato starch or corn flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper

Instructions

  1. Use a food processor to process the fatty pork first. Process the pork until it looks like fine mince.
  2. Add the prawns to the mix and process for a further 1-2 minutes. Move everything into a big bowl once the prawns and mince are finely minced.
  3. Add all the seasonings, onion and spring onion. Mix the the mixture clock wise for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Roughly chop the almond flakes and spread onto a plate. This way the almond is smaller and easier to stick to the prawn balls.
  5. Wet both hands with cold water and take a little bit of mixture and roll it into a ball. Repeat this procedures until all the mixture has been rolled into balls.
  6. Coat the prawn balls with almond flakes.
  7. Heat up the oil in a wok and fry the prawn balls at the lowest heat for 3-4 minutes. Moving the prawn balls around gently will help the prawn balls keep a nice round shape. After 3-4 minutes turn the stove to the highest temperature and try the balls until they turned to a nice golden colour.