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Dan Bing: Taiwanese Egg Crepe. Delicious!

Oct 10, 2016 by Liv Wan

Stir Fried Beef with Thai Chive Flower and Bean Curd

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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.

 

authentic general tso chicken
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 I had with my father on Skype the only positive I can give is that he saw Amelia playing and being really happy. A lot of my conversation was me complaining about my work situation. I won’t name where I work but suffice to say as a part time worker and a woman working conditions are pretty awful. We don’t get breaks and the more senior chefs bully the junior and part time chefs. I could honestly write a whole book about the disgusting things that have been said to myself and other colleagues but of course this conversation has left me riddled with guilt. Why couldn’t I have been more positive or even told him I loved him? Now I don’t have a chance to do so. Even the day before he passed away he told my mother that he was really worried about me and my mother.

After my father passed, all I have left from him is his diary and on every single page he wrote about how much he loved me and wished he could spend more time with me. He felt like he never did a good job in raising or looking after me but now he has passed I really understand that he was a great father and did the absolute best he could despite all the problems he faced. But still, even now I wish I could tell him once more how great he was, how much I loved him and tell him about all the great memories I have with him.

Right now, all I want to do is curl into a ball and hide inside my bedding. But unfortunately, life has to move on. I still have my family to look after, although my husband has been great with his support, and I still need to complete my University degree which my father always wanted me to achieve. I was expecting he and my step mum (I refer to her as my mum as she is 1000x times a better mother than my birth mother) would come to the UK to see my graduation. This won’t happen now.

So. Food has always been a big comfort for me and I feeling cooking (not for work) and eating is one of the best remedies when you feel sad. While I was back in Taipei my grandmother cooked a lot for me and her food always has a tremendous amount of love in it, so that was a huge comfort and really helped me. So I’ve decided to start cooking for my food blog again to try to help me find some peace. I love cooking for myself and my family and I’ve always loved sharing recipes and receiving wonderful feedback so here is my first dish for this blog in a really long time.

I’m really sorry this is not a happy blog post but no matter, I really wanted to share this really simple but really delicious recipe with you. I’ve got a whole load of new recipes in the pipeline so I promise there won’t be anymore five month gaps between posts in the future.

As a final note, for General Tso chicken you can adjust the usage of sugar if you would like this to be a little sweeter.

 

General Tso Chicken Recipe

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 3 people

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 500 g chicken thigh fillets
  • 2 chilis remove the seeds and slice 3cm lengthways
  • 2 spring onions slice 2-3cm lengthways
  • 1 ltr oil to fry the chicken. Use sunflower or vegetable oil

Seasonings for chicken thigh fillet marinade

  • 1 tsp rice wine
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 egg beaten
  • 2 tsp potato starch or corn flour
  • 1 tsp oil sunflower or olive oil

Seasonings

  • 1.5 tbsp ketchup
  • 1.5 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice wine
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1/2 tsp rice vinegar

Instructions

  1. Cut chicken thigh fillets into big dices and marinade with seasonings for 10 minutes.
  2. Heat up 1 liter of oil in a wok and add one chicken dice at a time into the wok. Fry until the chicken turns golden brown in colour. Drain any liquid/oil from the chicken and leave aside.
  3. Mix all the seasonings in a bowl. Heat up 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok and stir fry the chilli for 20 seconds until the fragrance comes out of the wok.
  4. Add the chicken into the wok and stir fry for 10 seconds. Pour the seasonings form the bowl into the wok and stir fry until the sauce has reduced down. Add spring onion and stir fry it for 10 seconds.  Sprinkle a few drops of sesame oil and add a little bit of ground pepper. The dish is ready to serve.

 

Braised Chinese Chestnut Chicken

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.

braised chinese chestnut chicken

 

 

Braised Chinese Chestnut Chicken

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 3 people

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken thighs de-bone and cut into big dice
  • 1 pack chestnut I like Merchant Gourmand whole peeled chestnuts
  • 2 pieces ginger
  • 3 spring onion
  • 3 cloves garlic

Seasonings

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup rice wine
  • 2 tbsp water

Instructions

  1. Heat up 1 table spoon oil in the wok and stir fry ginger, spring onion and garlic. Add sugar in the wok when you can smell the fragrant.
  2. Add chicken after the sugar is melted. Stir fry it until chicken’s colour turn into golden brown.
  3. Add all the seasonings and boil it. Add chestnut once the sauce is boiled.
  4. Reduce down the sauce until it’s nearly dry and it’s ready to serve.

 

Oriental Pork Chop

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.

 

Chili Bean Paste Fish and Tofu Chinese new year dish

Chili Bean Paste Fish and Tofu Chinese new year dish

Chili Bean Paste Fish and Tofu

Chili bean paste fish and tofu is the name of this Chinese fish dish.  This dish is also my first recipe for this Chinese new year. A lot of people probably don’t know when Chinese New Year is this year but it’s actually the 2nd of February. People from Hong Kong, China and Taiwan will usually celebrate from this day and celebrations will go on for about a week. In

In Chinese language we call Chinese new year eve “除夕” (Chu xi). All of our families will gather together, wear new shoes and wear new clothes. We usually wear red and then we’ll have a large new year dinner together. We call this new year dinner “年夜飯” (Nian ye fan).

Fish is one of the dishes that we must have for new year dinner. Fish in Chinese is called “yu” and it sounds similar to the word “” which means “more than enough, spare”. We usually call the fish dish in New year supper “Nian nian you yu 年年有餘”, The whole phrase means “every year have some good things happen and/or money left. Or every year have more than enough money or luck”.

Different families have different traditions for this fish dish for New Year dinner. In my family, we can’t finish this fish in one go. We must leave some fish on the plate, we can’t eat all of it. This is because we believe leaving some fish will bring us luck and money, which also means more than enough money or luck. My grandfather told me, in his navy friend’s home, they can’t turn over the fish because the method for turning over fish looks like a ship or boat capsizing, which of course no-one and especially a navy officer doesn’t want to see.

There is no strict rule of how to cook “Nian Nian you yu” (this dish) for Chinese New Year. You can use any kind of fish you want so long as it’s a whole fish that includes it’s head and tail. I know you’re probably wondering why it has to be a whole fish but using a whole fish represents you doing everything from start to finish and not just doing something halfway.

For this dish I decided to cook Dou Ban Yu. Dou Ban Yu is a really tasty Sichuan style fish dish that can be as spicy as you like but has a really strong taste typical of Sichuan cooking. The most important thing is the red colour from the chilli bean paste (sauce). As mentioned before red is a very good colour for Chinese New Year.

The English translation for Dou Ban Yu is “Chili Bean Paste Fish” and here is my recipe for this dish. I hope you enjoyed reading about this dish and maybe you could give it a go this Chinese New Year.

Chili Bean Paste Fish and Tofu

 

Chili Bean Paste Fish and Tofu Chinese new year dish

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 2 people

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1 whole fish I used sea bass
  • 2 thin slices ginger chop finely
  • 2 spring onions chop finely
  • 3 cloves garlic chop finely
  • 1/2 chili remove seeds and chop finely
  • 50 g beef or pork mince
  • 350 g tofu cut into the size as the photo shows, pan fry both sides

Seasonings

  • 1.5 tbsp chili bean paste sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 ltr boiled water or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp ketchup
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp rice vinegar

Instructions

  1. Remove all the dirty bits of fish as procedures photo. This procedure ensures the fish tastes better and removes any unpleasant fishy taste.
  2. A teaspoon or similar can help to get rid of the bits you don't want
  3. Cut the fish as the photo shows and use your finger to rub some chilli bean paste into those cuts and inside the fish belly. Leave it aside for 15 minutes after you have done that.
  4. Use your finger to rub some chilli bean paste into those cuts
  5. Use your finger to rub some of chili bean paste inside of fish belly.
  6. Heat a wok with 1 tablespoon of oil and panfry both sides of the fish. Leave each side to fry for 2~3 minutes at least, don’t keep turning the fish or you will just make a mess of the fish. Place the fish on a plate after both sides are a golden brown colour.
  7. Cut the tofu into the size as this photo shows
  8. Pan fry the tofu on both sides
  9. Using the wok from step 3, stir-fry the chilli bean paste first for a couple minutes then add the mince to fry it for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  10. Add rice wine, chilli, ginger, garlic and just half of a spring onion into the wok and stir-fry it until all the fragrance comes out from the wok.
  11. Put the fish back in the wok and add the boiled water or stock to cook.
  12. Add tofu and simmer it to reduce down the sauce.