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Stir Fried Beef with Thai Chive Flower and Bean Curd

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Squid salad with Taiwanese five-flavour sauce

Salad is always one of the best foods to eat during the summer time. In fact salad is great to eat anytime of the year but one of my favourite summer dishes is this squid salad with Taiwanese five-flavour sauce (五味醬). My husband is only now really warming to salad in his mid thirties but I made this the other day and everyone, my daughter included, loved it.

Taiwanese five-flavour sauce is a popular dipping sauce for seafood in Taiwan. Taiwanese people serve this sauce with raw oysters, cooked prawns, cooked squid, octopus and mussels. You will see this sauce in every seafood restaurant in Taiwan.

This five-flavour sauce as the name suggests embraces five different flavours; sour, sweet, bitter, spicy and pungent. I added some olive oil to this recipe because I hope people can use this sauce as a salad dressing rather than just a dipping sauce. You can adjust the amount of seasonings as per your personal preference. I found the kitchen I got from the supermarkets here in the UK is quite sour so sometimes I will add a little extra sugar to make this sauce sweeter. You can replace the vinegar with rice vinegar, sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar as you wish.

If you are not sure about cross-cutting the squid or you think it’s simply too much hassle or will take too long, then cut the squid into rings or simply dice it. Any method is complete fine. Cooking should be both enjoyable and free and you should never be bounded by a recipe. When I worked as a fine dining chef we were bound by recipes, and that was fine for that cooking scenario, but in my personal cooking I like to improvise a lot. That way rather than eating someone else’s preference you’re discovering your own.

Also if you don’t like boiled or blanched squid, then you can try to chargrill the squid.

I hope you like this simple, quick and delicious salad dish from my home country Taiwan.


A little bit of an update about my life:

I’m now working on a few exciting illustration projects right now which is making me really happy but also super busy. As you’ll know I was a full time fine dining chef a few years but I’ve spent the past five years studying illustration to try to turn my life and career around. Now instead of working all kinds of awful hours with poor pay and even worse conditions I’m now able to
dictate how much and when I’m work, so I’m super happy about that.

I’m also trying to find a new home right now. Over five years ago Chris and I working not brilliant jobs and even though Chris’ earnings went up my earnings hadn’t because I sacrificed work to become a student. So right now we’re still renting and we’re looking for not only a bigger flat with more space and a bigger kitchen we’re also looking into catchment areas f
or our daughter’s school.

In case you’re not familiar with a catchment area, in the UK your child can only go to the school designated for the postcode you live in. The small block of flats we live in is fine but the nearest primary school is in Muirhouse which is a really god awful area. Have you ever watched Trainspotting? Well Irvine Welse, the author, is from Muirhouse and the ideas and story
behind Trainspotting came from Muirhouse. Statistically out of 86 primary schools in Edinburgh, our local is the worst. So we need to move.

So right now I work as an illustrator during the day time but at night I’m a food writer and food blogger. So you can imagine I need a really decent size kitchen t work in. My current kitchen is the size of a birdcage so making complex dishes, the ones where you need to cook multiple things at once while having all the space you need for prep, plating etc is really difficult. As it stands we’ve applied for a new housing development being built in a good area of Edinburgh but Edinburgh is so damn expensive nowadays (easily £1000 a month for a 2 bedroom flat) we’re also considering moving just outside of Edinburgh so Amelia can have a garden, we can have a bigger property and we can save money.

So wish me luck finding a new property and hope you like this recipe for Squid Salad with Taiwanese Five-Flavour Sauce.



Squid salad with Taiwanese five-flavour sauce

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 3 people



  • 370 g squid tube clean, wash and cross-cut
  • 140 g broccoli cut into small florets
  • 6 babycorn cut into half
  • 6 cherry tomatoes cut into half

Ingredients for five-flavour sauce

  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp demerara sugar
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp black vinegar
  • 1 tsp ginger finely chop
  • 1 tsp garlic finely chop
  • 1 tbsp coriander finely chop


  1. Mix all the ingredients for five-flavour sauce in a small bowl and leave it aside for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Boil some water in a saucepan and blanch the broccoli until it’s tender. Take it out from the water and cool down immediately under cold water. Then drain the water. Leave it aside.
  3. Keep the water from blanched broccoli and blanch the baby corn in the same way. Cool down immediately under cold water then drain the water. Leave it aside.
  4. Use step 3 water to blanch squid for 30 seconds then cool down immediately under cold water. Then drain the water and leave it aside.
  5. Place broccoli, baby corn, cherry tomato and squid on a serving plate and you can drizzle the sauce on top or you can just serve the sauce on the side. So people can use the sauce as dipping sauce.

Deep Fried Prawn Rolls

Deep Fried Prawn Rolls

I went to a ceramic workshop call Doodles last week with Chris and where we both painted two items each. Doodles is a ceramics workshop where you can walk in, choose a pot, whether it’s a plate, bowl or whatever, and you paint it whatever colour(s) you want. I choose a cereal bowl and a small square plate and he choose a photo frame and a rectangle plate.

doodles marchmont

We both had a lot of fun and spent three hours in the workshop. Tomorrow is the day that we can bring our ceramic works back. We both can’t wait to see how’s our work turns out.

doodles marchmont
doodles marchmont

My job has been super tiring since the Fringe and Tattoo festivals started. We’re serving a much larger number of covers and everyone has been really stressed out. So, I decided to make this simple, quick but cheerful snack for one of our dinner dish tonight.

deep fried prawn rolls

This deep fried prawn/shrimp rolls dish is one of the famous street foods in Danshui. Danshui is a very popular tourism spot for Taiwanese people and foreigners so it’s always full of people. Danshui was the place that the Spanish arrived in Taiwan and they also built a castle called Santo Domingo in Danshui. The Spanish were however expelled from Taiwan by the Dutch in 1641 and the Dutch built a new fort on the same site as San Domingo, which is known today as Hongmao Cheng.

But the funny thing is when I told my Dutch and Spanish colleague about this part of history and they don’t know anything about it. And I’m the one who gave them a history lesson for them.  So here is this tasty and super easy Taiwanese deep fried prawn roll recipe for you.

Credit: Most of these photos were taken by Chris at: Chris Radley Photography


Deep Fried Prawn Rolls

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 24 prawn rolls



  • 100 g pork loin including the fat, cut into dices
  • 12 raw prawns
  • 12 cooked prawns cut into small dice (I added the cooked prawns for a different texture)
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 thin slices ginger chop finely
  • 1 spring onion chop finely
  • 1 tbsp potato starch
  • 24 sheets spring roll pastry


  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar


  1. 1. Use a food processor to process raw prawn and pork loin until the texture turns quite finely without any big chunks.
  2. 2. Add all the ingredients and seasonings but not the cooked prawn into step 1 and use a spatula to mix it evenly.
  3. 3. Put half a tablespoon of prawn filling on the spring roll pastry and follow the procedure photos to roll it.
    how to make deep fried prawn rolls
  4. 4. Roll the pastry towards the opposite direction
    how to make deep fried prawn rolls
  5. 5. Use a little bit of egg wash to close the edge tightly
    how to make deep fried prawn rolls
  6. 6. Heat up some oil to deep fry the prawn. Oil temperature should be 160C. It’s ready to serve when the prawn roll turns into a pretty golden colour.


Taiwanese fried chicken and sweet potato chips

Taiwanese fried chicken and sweet potato chips

taiwanese fried chicken and sweet potato chips

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to update my blog for over a week due to a few things. First of all I’ve been working on a cook book, about favourite authentic recipes from my home country of Taiwan but also favourites that I have eaten in China and favourites as cooked by my grandparents who originate from China.

The other reason I haven’t updated my blog is I suffered a really bad burn on my arm at work which was fine for around a week, but several days ago I was opening scallop shells at work and got water from the shells in my burn. This resulted in my arm turning red and blowing up quite dramatically. I had to go to hospital and I was instructed to do absolutely nothing for 24 hours.

Most people think if you cut yourself or burn yourself you must let the wound breath and don’t cover it. Even my local pharmacist told me this but the doctor/nurse immediately dismissed this. 24 hours after taking penicillin tablets and wearing a gel patch with a dressing the swelling has come down.

dumpling pastry

The other thing that I want to reply to is Jenny who asked me a couple day ago about which dumpling pastry I used for my dumplings. Here is the photo of the pastry I used but I have to say I’m not entirely happy with this pastry. It’s a little bit thin so you must be carefully when you cook your dumplings. But otherwise it tastes better than other brands I’ve found in the UK. I hope my blog today help you a bit.

I think Taiwanese deep fried chicken (Sien shu gi) and sweet potato chips to Taiwanese people is just like “fish and chips” in UK to British people.

Taiwanese people love this deep fried chicken and sweet potato chips but this snack isn’t only confined to the night markets, it’s a snack that can be eaten anywhere, just like fish and chips in the UK. The chicken is crispy and crunchy with a strong fragrance.

Some businessmen will add some chopped garlic with the chicken to give it different flavour but here is my favourite recipe for this particular dish. I hope you will like it.

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


Taiwanese fried chicken and sweet potato chips

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4 people



  • 3 whole chicken breasts
  • 1 spring onion chopped finely
  • 2 thin slices ginger chopped finely
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes


  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp five spice powder
  • 1 cup sweet potato starch


  1. Cut the chicken breasts into 2.5 cm cubes.
  2. Marinade the chicken with all of the seasonings, ginger and spring onion but not the sweet potato powder for 1 hour.
  3. Peel the sweet potato and cut into 8 cm long strips. Add a couple tablespoons of sweet potato powder into a big bowl with a little bit of water and mix evenly. Add the sweet potato chips into the bowl and coated with the mixture.
  4. Heat up 3 cups of oil to 180c then fry the chicken until the chicken turns to a golden colour and add some basil to fry it with chicken when the chicken has nearly cooked. (Please be careful in this step. Because the basil can make the oil splash really badly.)  Fry the chips in the same way as well.


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



  • 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


  • 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


  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.


Beef Shank with Spring Onion Pancake Wrap

Beef Shank with Spring Onion Pancake Wrap

Beef Shank with Spring Onion Pancake Wrap

Beef Shank with spring onion pancake wrap originates from Northern China. Northern Chinese cuisine uses flour as an ingredient very often while Southern Chinese cuisine uses rice as an ingredient very often.

The weather in Northern China, with it’s extreme climate changes from very hot to very cold is far from ideal for growing rice so they grow wheat which is more suitable for the weather in north China. South China’s weather is humid and warm. It’s the best weather for grow the rice so we can usually find a lot of rice dish from south China, for example: rice cake, rice ball.

Most of the Beijing cuisine restaurants in Taiwan definitely sell this beef shank wrap. I love to have a bowl of soup or cup of pearl milk tea with this wrap for my dinner or lunch when I lived in Taipei. This is yet another sublime dish which is very hard to say not to. When I lived in Taipei I found it difficult to control my weight but now I live in Edinburgh if I want to eat some real, traditional food from China I have to call my mother and grandma to ask them how to make it. It makes me laugh when my mother tells me her cooking skills have improved after she has read my recipes on my blog.

Here is the recipe for this yummy beef shank with spring onion pancake wrap and I hope you will enjoy it.

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

how to make Beef Shank with Spring Onion Pancake Wrap


Beef Shank with Spring Onion Pancake Wrap

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 4 people


Ingredients for stewed beef shank

  • 800 g beef shanke
  • 2 spring onions cut 3cm lengthways
  • 4 thin slices ginger
  • 2 shallots peeled and chopped roughly
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 dried chili or you can use fresh chili

Seasonings for stewed beef shank

  • 1 Chinese spice bag (available in Chinese supermarket) or use 2 star anise, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp spicy bean paste

Ingredient for spring onion pancake

  • 350 g bread flour
  • 250 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp sugar
  • 400 ml warm water
  • 6 spring onions chopped finely
  • Handful white sesame
  • 60 g lard


Procedures for stewed beef shank

  1. Cook the beef shank in boiling water for a couple minutes and rinse under cold water. Leave it to one side.
  2. Stir fry spring onion, ginger, garlic, shallot, chilli until you can smell the fragrance and add spicy bean paste to stir fry for another 30 seconds.
  3. Place step 1 and 2 into a stock pot and add all the seasonings. Pour the water into the stockpot to cover the shank and use full gas power to boil the shank. After it’s boiling turn the gas power to the lowest and leave to simmer for 2 at least.

Procedures for spring onion pancake

  1. Mix flour, salt, sugar with warm water together and knead it until it’s nice, soft and smooth.
  2. Cover the dough with a clean, wet tea towel and leave it on aside for 20~30 minutes.
  3. Separate the dough into 10 small dough balls and flatten them individual.
  4. Brush Lard on the flatten pancake first and sprinkle spring onion, sesame, a couple pinch of salt.
  5. Roll the dough as the way in the procedures photos.
  6. Just use a little bit of oil to pan fry the pancake until both side are golden brown, crispy.

Recipe Notes

* Slice the beef shank into really thin slice and wrap them with spring onion pancake, Hoi sin sauce, spring onion or any salad, vegetable you like.