Feb 15, 2017 by Liv Wan

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Apr 9, 2017 by Liv Wan

Caramalised Pineapple Coconut Rice Pudding

Feb 04, 2017 by Liv Wan

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Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Jan 22, 2017 by Liv Wan

Thai Steamed Fish with Coconut Quinoia

Oct 20, 2016 by Liv Wan

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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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

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.

Yes Sushi Restaurant Review

Yes Sushi is one of a few restaurants that Chris and I really like to go to when we want to eat out. We always go there for all you can eat hot pot and sushi and while I don’t think it’s the best hotpot and sushi in Edinburgh but for the price we paid I think it’s fair. The food is about 7.5 out of 10. We simply like go there to dine because of the combination of price, the location and that we can eat both hotpot and sushi.

If you go to yes sushi do try the sushi but make sure you don’t order either the duck or pork sushi’s, they really aren’t good (at least for my taste). Other sushi is fine although the best sushi in Edinburgh is still Kanpai. Another thing about Yes Sushi is you can’t pay by card for the hotpot. This wasn’t clear the first time we went so we had the annoyance of having to run outside to find a cash point. All you can eat hot pot and sushi, minus drinks, is £17.99 per person. The ingredients they use for the hot pot are fresh and clean and it’s a relaxing price to have some food that really warms you up inside. This is exactly what you want to eat during the Scottish winter and that’s why we like to go there and have a couple hours of chatting, laughing, relaxing and eating hot pot and sushi until we’re ready to explode.

Another thing worth mentioning is the service at Yes Sushi. The first time we went there we took Amelia and the service was great. The staff were friendly, they made a fuss of Amelia, they refilled the broth in our hotpot without asking them to do so and it was a great experience. 10 out 10, 5 stars, great!

The most recent visit I would have given their customer service a minus 10 if I could. No matter whether I go to an English, Scottish, Chinese or whatever restaurant in the UK I always speak English. There are two reasons for this. One is as a courtesy to other guests. I’m in an English speaking country so I speak English. Another is a lot of Chinese restaurants are actually run by people from Hong Kong and I don’t speak Cantonese. This most recent visit which was actually today I caught one of the waiting staff red handed complaining about me in Chinese to her colleagues.

Maybe she thought I’m “British Born Chinese” and can’t speak Chinese but regardless it’s absolutely unacceptable for waiting staff to complain about their customers out loud.  I shouted back at that member of staff who looked completely shocked for a moment then said “oh I’m joking”.

So to summarise Yes Sushi. The hot pot by UK/Edinburgh standards is really good. The sushi is lower side of average but the customer service (at least recently) absolutely sucks.

Yes Sushi Edinburgh Restaurant ReviewYes Sushi Restaurant Edinburgh DecorYes Sushi Restaurant Fish selectionYes Sushi Edinburgh Meat SelectionYes Sushi Restaurant Edinburgh Hot PotYes Sushi Edinburgh SushiYours trulyHow to eat hotpotYes Sushi Restaurant Edinburgh MenuYes Sushi Restaurant Edinburgh Menu

Ma Po Tofu Sichuan Recipe

Ma Po Tofu Sichuan Recipe

It feels like months since I last updated my blog and prior to giving birth I used to update my blog every week or so, but recently I’ve spent a lot of time working towards my new illustrator business, setting up a website for it and most importantly working on my portfolio. While I have still been cooking in recent times, with both Chris and my workloads we don’t really have time to sit down and eat elaborate meals so we’ve been eating fairly simply.

One thing I have felt though is a bit lost for not having time to cook. I’m due to go back to working in the same restaurant I worked in before part-time and I do actually miss the feeling of cooking properly. I also spent roughly two years working on this website so it’s upset me a litle not being able to update it.

Just recently as well, Chris has been incredibly busy with his photography business so he hasn’t had the time to photograph any dishes for me and we’ve both been really sick with baby flu which Amelia picked up at nursery. Seriously, if you haven’t had a baby, be warned(!), baby flu is literally 10 times worse than adult flu.

So to get back into the run of my blog, I had a re go at cooking and photographing one of my original recipes from this website, Ma Po Tofu. Here is the orignal blog with the story behind this dish and the recipe. I hope you will like it. 🙂

麻婆豆腐) Ma Po Tofu is a well known dish from Sichuan. The creator is a lady who has pockmark on her face and pockmark is Ma in Chinese and Po is a respectful form for a old lady. Ma Po had this small restaurant in Chengdu city and the most of her customers were porters. They usually bought some tofu and mince to ask Ma Po to cook them something to eat. After a long time, this tofu dish got more and more popular and famous, so people named this dish after Ma Po’s name. That’s how we called this dish Ma Po tofu.

I also know of a British chef called Fuchsia Dunlop who is a so called expert on Chinese food after she learnt some Chinese and spent some time at a cookery school in China. The way she pronounces this dish in Chinese translates to “Pock-Marked Mother Chen’s Bean Curd” but if you ever go to a Chinese restaurant in Sichuan or Sichuan restaurant in Taiwan and China . ” Ma Po Tofu “ is the proper way to call this dish.

I went to the original site of Ma Po’s restaurant in Chengdu when I was 14 year-old. But this restaurant was burned down in 2005. Many people felt really sad about this as Ma Po’s restaurant plays an important part in the history of Sichuan cuisine. So, the Sichuan government rebuilt it again at another address in Chengdu city.

Here is one of the cooking methods for Ma Po tofu which was taught to me by my grandpa. My grandpa originated from Sichuan and was a really excellent cook and some of my happiest memories are of the time I spent with him in the kitchen learning to cook many different delicious dishes.

ma po tofu sichuan recipe

 

 

Ma Po Tofu Sichuan Recipe

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 600 g tofu
  • 230 g pork mince or beef mince but I used pork
  • 2 spring onions chop really fine
  • 2 cloves garlic chop really fine

Seasonings

  • 1.5 tbsp chili bean sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1.5 tsp Sichuan pepper powder

Instructions

  1. Remove the hard edge of Tofu and cut it into 1.5 cm cubes. Place it into a plate with kitchen napkin to suck the water from tofu.
  2. Heat your wok with two tablespoons of oil and sauté pork mince. Add spring onion, garlic and chilli bean paste in. stir it constantly for another 20 seconds. Season it with soy sauce, salt, sugar and add tofu cubes into it, gently mix everything together but do not damage the shape of the tofu.
  3. Pour a cup of stock to reduce it down. This way can make tofu suck all flavour from sauce and stock.
  4. After reducing the stock, place it into a shallow bowl. Sprinkle a little bit of chopped spring onion on top to garnish it.

ma po tofu sichuan recipe

Hot and Sour Soup

Hot and Sour Soup

hot and sour soup

Hot and sour soup is a very common dish in both Taiwan and China. People usually have fried or plain dumplings with hot and sour soup. The sourness of this soup is very good for one’s appetite and my mother use to tell me when I got flu that it will go away quicker if I drink a lot of this soup when I was young.

I don’t know if it’s true or not but I think drinking a lot of hot fluid is good for your body when you catch the flu, right? But please go to doctor if you catch flu or don’t feel well.

The Eastern way to cook soup and western way to cook soup are so different. Most of the western ways to cook this soup are to puree the soup to make it really smooth and soft but in eastern people usually like chunks of meat, fish and vegetables in their soup that they actually can see it. I have to cook a few different kinds of “western soup” when I work and it’s a precious experience for me because I can learn western cooking during work and learn eastern cooking from my family or learn it by myself in my personal time. It’s always fun to learn new things, don’t you think?

Credit: These photos were taken by Chris at Chris Radley Photography

 

Hot and Sour Soup

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 2 people

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1 ltr chicken stock
  • 80 g pork loin
  • 10 wood ears soak in warm water for 15 minutes to soften then julienne
  • 1 medium carrot julienne it
  • 300 g fresh tofu drain the water and cut into 5cm strips
  • 2 eggs beaten

Marinade for pork

  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp potato starch
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp rice wine

Seasonings

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp dark rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp normal rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp potato starch

Instructions

  1. Marinade the pork for 15 minutes.
  2. Boil a pot of water to blanch pork, carrot, wood ear and tofu then leave it on aside.
  3. Boiled the chicken stock and add all the ingredients from step 2 to bring it to boil again.
  4. Add soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, salt into the soup, then mix the potato starch with a little bit water first (Remember the potato starch with water must be mix evenly and without any lumps) and add into the soup to make it look a bit dense and sticky.
  5. Turn the gas power to lowest heat and pour the egg into the soup. Stir the soup gently after 30 second and turn off the gas.