Three Cup Chicken

three cup chicken

From the first time I heard about three cup chicken I thought it was a Taiwanese dish, but after doing some research I discovered it’s actually a Chinese dish.

Wen Tiansiang was the Duke of Xinguo and famous in Chinese history for his loyalty to the Song Dynasty. He refused Khubilai Khan’s demand for the Song forces to surrender to the Khan invasion, so he suffered for 4 years in a military prison before his execution. He wrote a lot of good poems in the prison and one of his famous quotations is “None since the advent of time have escaped death, may my loyalty forever illuminate the annuals of history.”

This three cup chicken was cooked by a kind prison warden who was also from Jiangxi Province (Wen Tiansiang’s home town is Jiangxi.). He made this dish with limited ingredients; one cup of sweet rice wine, one cup soy sauce and one cup of lard to stew the chicken for Wen Tiansiang before his execution.

In Taiwan, three cup chicken has evolved into one cup of rice wine, one cup of soy sauce and one cup of dark sesame oil. The smell and the taste of this three cup chicken is just divine. In Taiwan, especially the area around Yangming mountain (Yangmingshan) has a lot of hot spring B&B and restaurants. The guests can use hot spring first and then have meal in the restaurant after. One of the more popular dishes is this three cup chicken.

Procedures:

  1. Heat up wok with dark sesame oil and fry the ginger until the ginger dry up.
  2. Add chicken legs to stir fry it until the chicken meat turn into white colour.
  3. Add garlic, chilli and all the seasonings and cover the wok to simmer the chicken for 15~20 minutes until the sauce is dry out.
  4. Add basil to stir fry it before place the chicken into plate to serve.

 

Three Cup Chicken

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 2 people

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken legs including thighs, de-bone
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 6 slices ginger thin
  • 1 chili
  • 1 basil just a handful

Seasonings

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup rice wine
  • 1/2 cup dark sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Heat up wok with dark sesame oil and fry the ginger until the ginger dry up.
  2. Add chicken legs to stir fry it until the chicken meat turn into white colour.
  3. Add garlic, chilli and all the seasonings and cover the wok to simmer the chicken for 15~20 minutes until the sauce has dried out.
  4. Add basil to stir fry it before place the chicken into plate to serve.

Oriental Pork Chop

It has now been six weeks since I became a “mum”. Every day my little girl grows healthier but also happier. She occasionally has a little colic, especially at night, but apart from that she is healthy and happy. She’s also growing in size and strength. When she was born she was immediately too long for newborn baby clothes but 0-3 months clothes were a little big. Now she’s six weeks, seven this Saturday, she has to wear 3-6 months clothes but she’s not a fat baby at all.

Whenever she holds my finger, I can really feel her growing strength and while I love being a mother, my sincere advice is to try to take as much rest as you can whenever you can, even if it’s just a nap for an hour or two. If your partner gives you a chance, sleep for 12 hours if you can and really don’t feel any guilt if you do manage to sleep that long.

Just before I gave birth I had a really big college project to complete, which really tired me out, then literally a couple days after the project had been completed I started having contractions which lasted 3 days, so I had absolutely no rest! In the first two weeks we (meaning me, Chris could sleep through a war!) found it was completely impossible to sleep for more than 2-3 hours. Now several weeks along we’re able to sleep for up to 4 hours without any distraction but only because we’ve made some big changes in our lifestyle. We basically now follow a routine which goes as follows.

8am:           Baby wakes for feed. Feed baby, change nappy, baby goes back to sleep for 2 hours.

10am:         Feed baby again and check nappy. Change her into day clothes. Clean her face etc

Afternoon: This is the most important. Take her out! The longer you take her outside, whether it’s to the supermarket, to the park or even a walk around the block, the more tired she will be and the better you will sleep at night. Typically we will take her to the shops then take her to the Botanical Gardens/seaside or wherever, every day. Also note, even if your baby sleeps while you are out, she will still become tired from all of the sounds, sights and smells.

8.30pm:            Give her a bath. Babies are incredibly cute but they’re extremely dirty. They pee a lot, have giant poos, they dribble, they puke milk sometimes. They’re dirty! A bath also hopes the wee one relax and feel sleepy. Feed her, change her nappy, swaddle her as normal then she will sleep. Takes about an hour to put her to sleep at this time.

1-3am:          Amelia wakes up for a feed and change of nappy somewhere between 1 and 3am. Usually she will wake for about 30 minutes, maybe a little longer.

7.30am:            Usually just a really quick feed, nappy change and after a quick cuddle she’ll pass out almost immediately afterwards

10am:            Starts all over again

So, seriously if you’re a mother to be who is reading my blog at moment, turn off your computer now and take a nap or have a good sleep. Book a massage for yourself, because you will need all your energy for giving birth and look after baby!

One other piece of advice I have is don’t be too harsh on yourself when it comes to breastfeeding, especially if you’re a first time mum. In the first couple of days, I followed the strict rule of “you’re not allow to feed your baby with a bottle and you can only feed your baby breast milk or formula, but not both!”. But just like many new mums, at first (and still now to an extent) I simply was unable to provide enough breast milk (I found this out after two days when I hand expressed my breasts and found very little milk coming out), so for the first two days at home Amelia was practically starving. Because of this Amelia basically latched onto my breast for two days which gave me really sore cracked nipples and meant neither of us could get any rest at all.

After two days at home, one of our favourite midwives, Nelly, came round (Nelly is awesome) and she advised it’s ok to give babies both breast milk and formula. This was the perfect news so Chris ran over to the supermarket and bought a big tub of SMA Gold, came home and made up a bottle and Amelia drank the whole lot (about 50ml if I remember correctly). Since then, Amelia has been an absolute sweet little angel and she is a really happy baby. So now, what I do is express milk every 3-4 hours and then give Amelia the breast milk first and then top up her, so to speak, with formula. This ensures she gets all of the nutrients from the breast milk but also ensures she doesn’t starve. I’m still unable to provide Amelia with enough breast milk to last her a day but I can now easily provide enough for 2-3 big feeds per day.

Another thing I’ve found is green papaya with pork ribs soup really helps me to produce breast milk. Remember I mentioned in a previous post this dish gives you big breasts? Well, it also helps to produce a LOT of breast milk. I can’t guarantee this will work for everyone, but for me it really does.

So this is how my motherhood journey is going so far. Amelia will be four weeks old this coming Saturday but so far the experience has had it’s challenges but I absolutely love being a mother. I hope my little experiences will help other mums.

Back to food! The recipe today is oriental pork chop. When I started this blog, one of the very first recipes I did was oriental pork chop. At that time we were learning about food photography as well and the resulting photos were (in Chris’s words) horrendous! So I decided to remake it. As before, this recipe is really easy to make (perfect for a new mum!) and it’s also really delicious. I’ve also shared a couple new photos of Amelia as well.

oriental pork chop

 

Oriental Pork Chop

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 2 people

Ingredients

Ingredients for Oriental Pork Chop

  • 4 pork chops

Seasonings for Oriental Pork Chop

  • 2 spring onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tbsp potato starch

Instructions

  1. Use meat hammer to beat the pork chop and make the pork chop bigger and more tender.
  2. Marinade pork chops with all the seasonings for 1 hour at less and massage the pork chops with seasonings for around 30 seconds. This procedure can help the pork chops marinade better and tastier.
  3. Heat up 3 cups of oil in a wok or deep frying pan to 150c around medium gas power and fry the pork chops to medium well done. Place it onto a plate aside.
  4. Heat up the oil by full gas power to 180c degree and fry the pork chops until well done, then it’s ready to serve.

Recipe Notes

You can also put ½ teaspoon baking soda to make the pork chop texture more tender.

 

New Year Pork Fried Rice

I’m now 38 weeks pregnant and both my mother and grandmother arrived in Edinburgh this last Wednesday. It’s a huge relief for me as they’ve both come to Edinburgh partly to do some sight seeing (they’ve never been to Europe before) but most importantly to give me support during and after I give birth to Millie.

In my culture, one’s mother or mother-in-law will cook lots of Chinese medicine and some dishes that we believe can enrich one self and are good for helping women recover from giving birth. We call this tradition [做月子] (in Pingyin: Zuo Yue Zi). Yue Zi means “month of time” which starts from the time you give birth.

During this month the mother/mother-in-law will cook loads of food for the daughter who has given birth to help them recover. They will also help with cleaning one’s home and everything else that needs to be done. This isn’t an excuse for the new mother’s husband to take it easy / go down the pub (or whatever he does) but any additional support is good).

Today’s recipe contains one of my favourite foods on the planet; New Year Pork. In Taipei there is a shop that opens for just one month every year and they only cured pork. New Year Pork is the Taiwanese/Chinese equivalent of Pancetta and one of our traditional ways of preparing New Year Pork is to steam cook it with rice. This allows the juices that come out of the pork to be soaked up by the rice, making everything super delicious.

The other way I like to cook New Year Pork is as an ingredient for fried rice. This is my recipe for New Year Pork Fried Rice, which incidentally Chris said is the tastiest fried rice he’s ever eaten, which I hope you like.

For me to explain the taste of Chinese/Taiwanese New Year Pork is quite difficult as it’s something I’ve literally forever but Chris described it as “much stronger than bacon/pancetta/parma etc. New Year Pork has a really strong smoked flavour and in the case of the sausages some of them are really spicy”. As a note about the sausages below there are three kinds of sausages. One is just a pork sausage with a strong Chinese alcohol flavour. Another sausage is really hot and spicy (makes your nose run!) while the last kind is a pork and tofu sausage.

new year pork fried rice
chinese new year pork
chinese new year pork
chinese new year pork

 

 

New Year Pork Fried Rice

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 3 small bows rice use cold or leftover rice
  • 1 bowl peas
  • 3 small carrots finely diced
  • 2 spring onions chop finely
  • 2 cloves garlic chop finely
  • 3 large eggs
  • 200 g new year pork cut into small dices

Seasonings

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 pinch white pepper powder

Instructions

  1. Boil a pot of water to cook the carrots and peas separately (due to the carrots taking longer to cook). Refresh each in cold water after they have cooked.
  2. Beat the eggs with one teaspoon of soy sauce and half a teaspoon of sugar. Heat up the wok with a little bit of oil to first of all scramble the eggs. Leave the eggs aside for later.
  3. Heat up a little bit of oil in a wok and add the New Year Pork to fry it for 3-5 minutes, or until the pork is cooked. Add the rice into the wok and stir fry both evenly until cooked. Make sure as with all fried rice dishes there are no lumps in the rice.
  4. Add the eggs, spring onions, garlic and the vegetables into the fried rice and stir fry evenly until cooked. Add the seasonings, mix evenly and taste the fried rice. Note I didn’t use a lot of soy sauce or salt as the New Year Pork can have a really strong taste which can sometimes be quite salty.
  5. Note: If you can’t find New Year Pork in your local Chinese supermarket (only a Chinese supermarket will sell this) you can use as alternative; pancetta or bacon lardons. They won’t be as strong but has the same principle.

 

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!

 

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!