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!

 

Lion Head Meatballs

lion head meatballs

(獅子頭) Lion head is a famous dish in Chinese cuisine. It originates from Eastern China and the history of this dish goes back to the Sui Dynasty.

Emperor Yang of Sui brought his queens had take a boat trip to south east China. He especially loved the landscape and views of Yangzhou. So, afterwards he went back to his palace and gave his chefs four cooking subjects which were inspirited from landscapes of Yangzhou. Lion head was one of the dishes been created but back at that time Lion head is not known as Lion head. It wasn’t until the Tang Dynasty that the name changed to Lion head because it looks like a male lion’s head.

You will find out the meat balls really look like a Chinese guardian lions head if you have ever seen the pictures. Well, now you know when Chinese people talking about “ hey, let’s have lion head tonight for dinner “ it doesn’t mean real “Lion’s head”, it’s just Chinese style of meatball. I always remember when I told my Italian friend that I’m going to cook him “Lion head” and his jaw nearly dropped to the floor with a terrified look. Until now, this memory still makes us laugh all the time.

Here is the recipe for Lion head meatballs:

 

Lion Head Meatballs

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

Ingredients

Lion Head Meatball's Ingredients

  • 50 g pork mince
  • 300 g pork belly without skin
  • 2 spring onions chop really finely
  • 10 g ginger chop really finely
  • 1 large egg
  • 50 g tofu

Seasonings for Meatballs

  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch white pepper powder
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp potato starch

Ingredients for soup

  • 1/2 medium Chinese leaf medium size leaf quartered lengthways
  • 3 bunches glass noodles soak in warm water until soft
  • 2 spring onions cut 3cm lengthways
  • 1 leek
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 thin slices ginger
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 small piece cinnamon
  • 200 g tofu place into a container and cover in the water. Frozen it for a few hours until it has small honeycomb ish holds. After it defrost a little bit and slice it to 2 cm thick squire shape. (This is optional. “frozen tofu” is very popular in Taiwan because I had lots tofu left over from make mixture of lion head so I deicide to cook with it.)

Seasonings for soup

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • water or stock
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1/2 tsp sugar

Instructions

Lion Head Meatballs Procedure

  1. Cut the pork belly into small dice and use blender to blend it into really finely mince.
  2. Mix all the ingredients and seasonings together and start throwing down the meatballs mixture a few times. This is for pursuing the better texture and taste of meatballs. It’s also a fantastic way to release your anger.
  3. With damp hands, take a large mound of the minced meat mixture and mould into a ball. Place on a plate and repeat with the remaining meatball mixture.
  4. Heat up a deep pan with oil for fry the meatballs or use a frying pay with more than 1cm high of oil to fry the meatballs. This is help the meatballs to settle the shape and enhance the colour of it. After just leave meatballs on aside.

Soup Procedure

  1. Use a frying pan to sauté ginger, garlic, spring onion and leek until it turned a little bit soft.
  2. Add star anise and cinnamon to sauté with.
  3. Place procedures 2 and meatballs we made earlier into a stock pot or a casserole dish.
  4. Add all the seasonings into the pot and use water or stock to cover the meatballs.
  5. Use full strength power to boil it then turn to lowest fire to simmer it for 30~45 minutes and then put Chinese leaf, frozen tofu into the pot to cook for another 15~20 minutes until it’s soft.
  6. Add glass noodle at the end to cook with the meatballs as glass noodles will absorb a lot of soup. After the glass noodles soften add the lion head meatballs. Then of course you can eat.

Recipe Notes

You can also blanch some bok choy for garnish.

 

Smoked Haddock and Prawn Fried Rice

So I’m now 16 weeks pregnant now! One of the main things I have learnt about pregnancy, at least for myself, is one has to eat really healthy. I’m finally getting over morning sickness and I don’t really have any hunger cravings but I’ve found if I eat unhealthily (ie if I eat a curry or deep fried food) then my morning sickness comes back.

With this in mind I’ve changed my diet quite a lot recently. I still enjoy some junk food sometimes (for example a curry / kfc etc) but my body can only handle food like this once in a blue moon. Maybe it’s my baby being demanding but my morning sickness is best controlled when I eat home made fresh food. Recently Chris and I have been eating a lot of seafood and we’re fortunate in Edinburgh to have a really great fishmonger called Eddie’s Seafood. It’s a Hong Kongnese run fishmonger in Marchmont so it’s really nice for me to pop in and have a chat in Chinese but most importantly they sell really gorgeous fresh seafood at excellent prices and a large variety of fish.

Another issue I have, and this is one of the reason I’ve been struggling to update my blog, is I’ve been really busy. I’m studying at college full time, working part time, suffering from morning sickness as well as back ache so I really have to cook quick but really healthy food and fried rice for me is an obvious choice.

This isn’t to say I won’t cook other things but right now fried rice hits the spot perfectly and today I had a craving for a smoked haddock and prawn fried rice

I’m going to try to update this blog more regularly than I have been in the last couple of months and certainly when I go on maternity leave next year I’ll do a lot more cooking (I plan to cook most if not all of my babies food so I’ll be cooking like crazy).

Also a bit more personal, I had my 16 week midwife’s appointment Tuesday this week. We were the first couple to arrive and very annoyingly had to wait for two couples who were booked after me to be seen first as they needed translators (next time I might demand a Chinese translator out of spite) and we heard the baby’s heartbeat. Just like the scan this was really amazing. Our baby’s heart rate was 150bpm and we heard it kick, so awesome!

It looks like we’re going to have a really healthy baby to bring home next year, exciting times!

Hope you like this recipe for smoked haddock and prawn fried rice.

smoked haddock and prawn fried rice

 

Smoked Haddock and Prawn Fried Rice

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 45 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 3 people

Ingredients

  • 1 smoked haddock fillet
  • 200 g raw king prawns
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 spring onions finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 can sweetcorn
  • 1 handful peas
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 shallot finely chopped
  • 1 tsp rice wine
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 bowls cooked rice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Cut the smoked haddock into small dices and heat up a wok with one tablespoon of oil. Stir fry the garlic and shallot first and then fry the smoked haddock together with the garlic and shallot. After putting the smoked haddock in the wok add the rice wine and cook together. Once the smoked haddock is cooked leave it aside for later.
  2. Clean the wok and heat up again with a little bit of oil. Fry the prawns and add a little salt and pepper to season it. Once the prawn is cooked (changed colour) leave aside just like the haddock in step one.
  3. Boil some water in a pan and cook the carrots first then add the peas and cook. Once cooked drain the water and add the sweetcorn (sweetcorn doesn’t need cooking).
  4. Beat the eggs and heat up a wok with 2 tablespoons of oil. Fry the eggs first and put the cold rice in the wok and mix them together. Keep mixing together and make sure there are no lumps in the rice.
  5. Add step 1 and spring onions and mix them evenly with the last step. After that mix everything else together evenly and use soy sauce, salt and pepper to season the fried rice to taste. It’s now ready to serve.

 

Japanese chicken meatball and udon noodle soup

Recently my morning sickness is starting to pass and I’ve started cooking again. It feels really nice to cook again and it feels equally nice to start sharing new recipes with you again.

I made this Japanese chicken meatball and udon noodle soup recipe today and it’s so delicious. Well, my body and my baby really like it anyway. I’ve found one of my biggest challenges of early pregnancy is to find food I like. I discovered to find the right food during early pregnancy is almost like mission impossible. I’ve never been picky with my food. There are literally just a handful of foods I really don’t like but most of my favourite foods I now can’t stand.

I’ve also found pregnancy makes me feel really bloated, so no heavy meals at all or I will fill bloated and ill afterwards.

I’ve also always really liked Japanese food but through my first trimester Japanese food is the one thing I can regularly eat and really enjoy. I guess this is because Japanese food is really light to eat, extremely fresh and Japanese food tends to be a little bit sweet. Oh, and I love icecream now. I’ve become obsessed with Cornetto’s!

So even though I know how to make quite a few different kinds of sushi I’ve now started to collect Japanese recipes online and to buy recipe books. I’m definitely not an expert with Japanese food but I do know a few recipes and I’m also one of the biggest fans ever of Japanese. Chris is loving this btw as he absolutely loves Japanese food. Here is the first Japanese recipe I will share with you.

I’ve also attached the baby scan I had last week. We discovered our baby is 11 weeks and 4 days old and measures 4.8cm long. It was incredible having the baby scan. Both Chris and I were nearly in tears watching our baby jump in my womb and watching it shake it’s arms and legs as well as seeing it’s heart beat. To say we’re happy and excited is an understatement.

So anyway, hope you like this pregnancy friendly Japanese chicken meatball and udon noodle soup recipe.

chicken meatball soup with udon noodle soup
baby scan

 

Japanese Chicken Meatball and Udon Noodle Soup

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

Ingredients

Ingredients for chicken meatballs

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 spring onion
  • 1 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for udon noodle soup

  • 3 packs udon noodles
  • 1 bunch mange tout
  • 1 bunch baby corn
  • 1 pack lily mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp miso
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1/2 spring onion
  • water

Instructions

  1. Cut the chicken breast into small dices. Roughly chop both the spring onions and shitake mushrooms and put the chicken breast, spring onions and mushrooms into a food processor. Blend everything together until you’re left with a fine mixture.
  2. Add eggs, soy sauce, salt, pepper powder and ginger into the processor along with everything from step 1. Blend again for between 1 and 2 minutes.
  3. Boil some water in a pan. Take 2 tablespoons and roll some of the mixture between the spoons to make the meatball shape. Once you have a meatball place the meatball into the boiling water to cook.
  4. When the meatball has risen to the top of the water the meatball is cooked. Place the meatballs aside for now.
  5. After all of the meatballs are cooked use the same water you used to cook the meatball for stock to cook the noodles with. Before placing the noodles into the soup make sure first of all you have enough water. If necessary you can add some more. Also before placing the noodles in the water add spring onions, miso, soy sauce and salt to season the soup.
  6. Make sure the miso has completely dissolved in the soup, there can’t be any lumps at all. Once the soup is boiling place the udon noodle in the boiling soup and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Once the noodle has cooked then add all of the vegetables and the meatballs into the soup and allow a minute or two for the vegetables to cook. It’s now ready to serve.