I visit Beijing often as I have family there – it’s a busy, bustling city, much of it new built around the splendours of the ancient city. The people here are are friendly and it’s opening up in a spectacular way to the outside world, although it’s ancient history is still very prevalent. I love exploring the heritage of my favourite cities and how the food has derived from this and Beijing has a rich culinary offering that I just love.
There are many street stalls selling Muslim delicacies and snacks such as chuan rou (in Mandarin Chinese, ‘Chuan’ means ‘skewered’ and ‘Rou’ means ‘meat’) – in fact, they have become so popular they are found all over China, and not just in the north.
In my Spiced Skewered Lamb recipe, the lamb is coated in spices, skewered and then cooked on a grill or barbecue, which gives it an irresistible smoky flavor. I like it served with a simple orange fennel salad, which complements the spiciness of the dish.
Spiced Skewered Lamb
200g/7oz lamb fillet
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon groundnut oil
1 teaspoon Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
ORANGE FENNEL SALAD
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons orange juice
juice of ½ a lime
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
200g/7oz mixed washed salad leaves
1 fennel, finely sliced, soaked in cold water for 30 seconds, then drained
2 oranges, peeled and segmented
sea salt and ground black pepper
- Soak 8-10 wooden skewers in water for about 20 minutes
- Combine all the ingredients for the seasoning in a bowl. Add the meat and stir to coat in the spices, then thread the meat onto the skewers.
- Heat a griddle pan over a high heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Place the skewers in a pan and cook until browned on one side, then turn them over and cook for 1 minute. Take off the heat.
- To make the dressing for the salad, put the olive oil, orange juice, lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt and pepper into a bowl and mix well. Put the salad leaves into another bowl and top with the fennel, then add the orange segments and drizzle the dressing over the salad.
- To serve, divide the salad between two plates and then place the skewers of lamb on top.
Fiery Singapore Noodles are my ultimate favourite noodle dish - perfect for a quick after work supper. Enjoy! x
ps. you'll have to register for the recipe - but it's completely free!
As we near the weekend, my foody thoughts turn to street food… taking in the sights, smells - and the buzz - of late night stalls and their sizzling fresh food.
Sien shu gi or Salty Crispy Chicken is to die for and it reminds me of home as it’s a famous street snack in Taiwan.
Try my adapted version here - good accompaniments would be steamed rice or chunky chips and a cold beer!
Oyster sauce actually happened by accident! Lee Kum Kee’s founder, Mr Lee Kum Sheung, overcooked a pot of oyster soup that boiled down to a thick sauce and that’s how oyster sauce was created, it’s a flavoursome savoury sauce traditionally made with extract of oysters, although you can also find vegetarian versions.
I’ve tried many varieties and one of my all time favourites is Lee Kum Kee’s Premium Oyster Sauce, it’s great in stir-fries and widely available, it’s also the secret of many Chinese chefs!
There are so many ways to use this delicious sauce, making it a useful store cupboard staple. This super tasty recipe, Oyster Sauce Chicken with Ginger and Shitake Mushrooms, uses oyster sauce and is one of my own flavour combinations, inspired by southern Chinese dishes from regions such as Canton (Guangdong province) and Fujian, where the combination of meat and seafood is very common. Enjoy!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook in: 9 minutes
Serves: 2 – 4 to share
500g/1lb 2oz skinless boneless free range or organic chicken thighs
1 tbsp groundnut oil
2.5cm (1 inch) piece of root ginger, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
5 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
2 large spring onions, sliced on the diagonal
FOR THE MARINADE :
3 pinches of ground white pepper
1 pinch of sea salt
2 tbsp oyster sauce, such as Lee Kum Kee Premium Oyster Sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
FOR THE SAUCE MIX :
1 tbsp oyster sauce
3 tbsp cold water
1 tsp potato flour or cornflour
Spring onion curls for garnish
- Place the chicken pieces in a bowl and marinate with oyster sauce, sesame oil and white pepper for 30 minutes, or for best result, overnight.
- Heat a wok over a high heat until it starts to smoke and add the groundnut oil. Add the ginger and fry for a few seconds, then add the chicken pieces and stir-fry for a few seconds, then add the chicken pieces and stir-fry for four minutes, stirring constantly.
- As the chicken starts to turn opaque, add the rice wine or dry sherry and cook for a further two minutes, then add the sauce mix and bring to the boil. Tip in the shiitake mushrooms and cook for 1 minute, add in a teaspoon of dark soy sauce then stir in the spring onions. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.
(Tips : If using dried/dehydrated shitake mushrooms, soak in hot water for 10 minutes, then drain and slice before use. Pour back the used water into the sauce mix instead of the cold water, as the flavour of mushrooms will add aroma to the dish.)
Just days away, Easter is celebrated all over the world. In England, pancake Tuesday, morris dancers, spring chicks and lamb are all signs of Easter - but none as prevalent as chocolate eggs! There are many different ways we celebrate across the globe - here are a few others:
Traditions are huge in China and Easter is no exception. Going back more than 3000 years, the Chinese painted eggs red - which symbolises good fortune - for spring festivals. Rumour has it this goes as far back as 722 B.C., when a Chinese ruler gave painted eggs as gifts in celebration of a spring festival.
Easter is a key holiday with Norwegians, with celebrations starting a day earlier than in the UK, from Good Thursday until Easter Day. Many Norwegians go to the mountains hunting for snow and ice, supposedly replicating the capers of the very first Norwegian.
Easter in Latin America occurs during the autumn, churches are often decorated with fruits and flowers of the season and church bells are silent from Holy Thursday to Holy Saturday, with maracas used to announce the services.
Easter is a very important day in the Church of Scotland. In many parts of the country an old Pagan tradition saw huge fires being lit on Easter Saturday during spring festivals.
Another country steeped in tradition is Spain. On Palm Sunday children are decorated in sweets and tinsel and they carry palm leaves to be blessed at church. The saints, or pasos, are carried through the streets by specially chosen people in traditional dress.