Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Sweet Mandarin Cookery School for 14-16 year olds – Irlam Youth Forum Centre

January 15, 2009
Teenage students are mesmerized by Lisa's knife skills as they watch the demonstration

Teenage students are mesmerized by Lisa’s knife skills as they watch the demonstration

 

Three teenagers learning to cook Chinese dim sum at the Sweet Mandarin Chinese Cookery School with Lisa Tse

Three teenagers learning to cook Chinese dim sum at the Sweet Mandarin Chinese Cookery School with Lisa Tse

Lisa teaching 14-16 year olds at Irlam Youth Forum Centre how to cook Chinese dim sum and cuisine.

Lisa teaching 14-16 year olds at Irlam Youth Forum Centre how to cook Chinese dim sum and cuisine.

SCHOOLS VISITS – FOOD TECHNOLOGY 
DIM SUM MASTERCLASS
Sweet  Mandarin Cookery Courses – Workshops / Demonstrations

Lisa Tse has been visiting schools around the North West, USA, Asia and Carribean teaching Year 7 – 13 the art of making dim sum and the history of dim sum during the food technology classes.

Explained Lisa Tse, co-owner of Sweet Mandarin with her sisters Helen and Janet: “We are really excited to be working with schools. We’ve put together a workshop that will give the students hands-on experience of how to make authentic dim sums and learn a bit about Chinese culture and food. The students will also end the workshop with a fruit origami.

Said Fay Flatt (Arts Officer at Irlam & Cadishead, Irlam Youth Forum Centre): “When my students heard about the opportunity to train with Lisa Tse from the Sweet Mandarin Cookery School they were so excited. Lisa is an excellent teacher and mesmerized the students”

One of the students reported that “learning how to cook dim sum and understanding about Chinese food was brilliant. I wish every food technology class was taught by Lisa.”

INVITE LISA TSE TO YOUR SCHOOL

– Learn the art of dim sum
– Learn Chinese Culture and food
– Learn Chinese New Year food and traditions
– Assembly Guest Speaker – Motivational Talk
– Prize Giving Guest Speaker – Motivational Talk

To book Lisa Tse please email lisa@sweetmandarin.com

COSTS

Email us for more details
Payment must be settled before or on the day. Please make cheques payable to Lisa Tse

– Maximum class size is 15.
– Ingredients need to be provided for the class ( full list will be provided)
– Expenses must be covered also.

Chinese Cookery School “I love Chinese food even more now!”

January 15, 2009
Mr Drake is on the right with his bowl of Chicken and Sweetcorn soup which he made himself at Sweet Mandarin Chinese Cookery School

Mr Drake is on the right with his bowl of Chicken and Sweetcorn soup which he made himself at Sweet Mandarin Chinese Cookery School

mr-drake-on-the-woks

Mr Drake mastering the woks at Sweet Mandarin Chinese Cookery School

Mr Drake is an excellent chef and we had a lot of fun exchanging cooking tips!  He told me he loves Chinese and Thai cuisine, but after the Sweet Mandarin Cookery School, Mr Drake “Loves Chinese food even more now!”  Mr Drake learnt how to cook 6 suppers on a fixed budget, spicing up the dishes for dinner. What did you think Mr Drake? The response, “Excellent! Maybe I can open my own restaurant ?” replied Mr Drake chuckling as he tasted his Chicken and Sweetcorn soup “Not bad if I say so myself. Tastes like the real thing!” I’m looking forward that dinner invite Mr Drake! 

Best Wishes and Sweet Dishes to You and Your Family

Lisa

Book your place on our Chinese Cookery School – Email: sweetmandarin@gmail.com or call Lisa Tse 0161 832 8848

For more information see www.sweetmandarin.com

Availability: January is full. We have availability from February 2009 – every Saturday morning at Sweet Mandarin

Address:  Sweet Mandarin 19 Copperas Street, Design House, Northern Quarter, Manchester M4 1HS

Patrick Swayze – A Fighter Against Cancer – A Dish to Remember (Thanks Mum)

January 7, 2009

patrick-swayzeRemember Your First dance. Your First love. The time of your life. And that famous phrase “No-one puts baby in a corner”?  Heart-throb, actor Patrick Swayze, the Dirty Dancing star has told of his fear as he battles pancreatic cancer.

“Yeah, I’m scared. Yeah, I’m angry. Yeah, I’m (asking), ‘Why me? You can bet that I’m going through hell, and I’ve only seen the beginning of it.”

But the Dirty Dancing star said he would beat the cancer: “Watch me! You watch what I pull off!”

Patrick, you were my hero during my teenage years when I sprouted an afro perm, pastel huge glasses and a tracksuit. I will be praying for you and writing a series of recipes to help you battle cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is a malignant tumour of the pancreas.  Each year in America, about 37,680 individuals are diagnosed with this condition and 34,290 die from the disease. In Europe more than 60,000 are diagnosed each year.

to-do-list-cancer

FIGHT CANCER WITH FOOD

The National Cancer Institute estimates that roughly one-third of all cancer deaths may be diet related. What you eat can hurt you, but it can also help you. Many of the common foods found in grocery stores or organic markets contain cancer fighting properties, from the antioxidants that neutralize the damage caused by free radicals to the powerful phytochemicals that scientists are just beginning to explore. There isn’t a single element in a particular food that does all the work. The best thing to do is eat a variety of foods. The following foods have the ability to help stave off cancer cell growth or reduce tumour size.

 

 

The recipe I want to share with you today is one of our rustic home cooked favourites – Tomato Soup – also helps you to dethaw as we approach -10 degrees celcius in freezing Manchester. (Don’t forget if you don’t want to venture out, we do home deliveries – order online www.sweetmandarin.com)

Tomato Soup

Why Tomato Soup Is Good:

Canned tomato soup provides a concentration of vitamins C, K and A, along with the antioxidant lycopene, found to be protective against a growing list of cancers including colon, breast, lung and pancreatic cancer.

Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidantthat attacks roaming oxygen molecules, known as free radicals, that are suspected of triggering cancer. It appears that the hotter the weather, the more lycopene tomatoes produce. They also contain vitamin C, an antioxidant which can prevent cellular damage that leads to cancer. Watermelons, carrots, red peppers also contain thsese substances, but in lesser quantities. It is concentrated by cooking tomatoes. Scientists in Isreal have shown that lycopene can kill mouth cancer cells. An increased intake of lycopene has already been linked to a reduced risk of breast, prostate, pancreas and colorectal cancer.

Why Red Tomatoes Are Green:

Organic tomatoes (even canned ones) are the greener choice when making soup. These tomatoes are grown on healthy soil without the use of harmful synthetic pesticides, toxic runoff and using agricultural practices that help sustain the land for future generations.

Mum’s Tomato Soup

Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans organic crushed or chopped tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup cream or milk
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1. Heat the butter and the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion and carrot and cook, sweating the juicy goodness from this base and continuously stir for 3 minutes. Add the stock and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered, about 35 to 40 minutes, until the soup begins to thicken.

2.  Cool the soup to room temperature (if in a hurry add four ice cubes). Process the soup in batches in a blender or food processor. Pulse until soup is pureed. Return to the pot and bring to a simmer. Stir in the cream/milk and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Oprah’s Ten Weight Loss Recipes – No. 7 The Classic Chicken Chow Mein – By The Sweet Mandarin Cookery School

January 5, 2009

200901_omag_cover_2206This series of blogs is addressed to Oprah and all those out there battling the bulge and excess weight. I am often asked by my clients to prepare for them a special detox meal over a period of a week to a month. The following recipes are just a sample of our offerings and are unique to Sweet Mandarin (www.sweetmandarin.com). If you would like a one-to-one consultation, contact me, Lisa Tse on sweetmandarin@gmail.com .

egg_noodles

 

A noodle is food made from unleavened dough that is cooked in a boiling liquid. Depending upon the type, noodles may be dried or refrigerated before cooking. The word noodle derives from the German nudel (noodle) and may be related to the Latin word nodus (knot). In English, noodle is a generic term for unleavened dough made from many different types of ingredients. Noodles exist in an abundance of shapes.

 

The first written account of noodles is from the East Han Dynasty between AD 25 and 220. In October 2005, the oldest noodles yet discovered were found at the Lajia site (Qijia culture) along the Yellow River in Qinghai, China. The 4,000-year-old noodles appear to have been made from foxtail millet and broomcorn millet.

 

What Types of Noodles are there?

 

Noodles can be made from various ingredients, primarily wheat, rice, mung bean or mung bean.

 

Millet

Oldest known prehistoric noodles, from 2000 BC.

Indian ragi noodles, made from finger millet flour.

 

Wheat

Ramen, yakisoba

Egg Noodles or Lamian (hand pulled Chinese noodles)

Mee pok (flat, green Chinese noodles, popular in Southeast Asia)

Pasta (approximately 350 variants of Italian noodles)

Udon (thick Japanese wheat noodles)

 

Rice

Flat or thick rice noodles, also known as ho fun

Rice vermicelli: thin rice noodles

 

Mung bean

Cellophane noodles, also known as glass noodles.

 

Potato or canna starch

Cellophane noodles can also be made from potato starch or canna starch or various starches of the same genre.

Gnocchi, small Italian dumplings.

 

Noodles, when cooked properly do not get mushy or sticky. Noodles are the only pasta products made with egg solids which give them a more intense colour than other pasta.

 

Measuring Noodles

 

Most dried noodles doubles in volume when cooked. For accuracy, measure noodles by weight rather than by cup. The general rule is one pound of dry noodles will serve six as an appetizer or four as a main course.  Remember – shapes may vary in size according to the manufacturer, so use these measurements as generalizations.

 

The easiest way to measure noodles is to use your digital scale.

 

4 ounces of uncooked noodles = a 1-inch diameter bunch of dry noodles = 2 cups cooked noodles.

 

How To Cook Noodles Properly

Important Rule:  Noodles should be prepared just before serving it.  

 

  1. Use a Large Pot (A too-small pot and too little water cause the noodles to clump and stick together, thus cooking unevenly).
  2.  Use only COLD Water – fill that big pot 3/4 full of COLD water and cover the pot of cold water with a lid to help bring the water to a boil faster.
  3. Add Salt to the boiling water about 2 tablespoons of kosher salt per pound of noodles.
  4. Add the dried noodles to BOILING HOT water.
  5. Cook the noodles uncovered and gently stir the noodles during the first 1 to 2 minutes of cooking.
  6. Cook for 8 – 12 minutes until the noodles are soft and chewy when bitten into.
  7. Turn off heat and add 1 cup of cold water – this will lower the temperature and stop the noodles from over cooking.
  8. Drain the noodles immediately in a large colander standing in the sink and then pick up the colander with its contents and shake well to remove excess water. (Do not rinse – the starch from the noodles could make the noodles stick together).

 

Tip about when to add the noodles : Noodles added to cold or warm water end up getting mushy and stuck together as the noodles quickly begins to break down in tepid water as the starch dissolves. Only add the noodles once the water is boiling – as this boiling temperature “sets” the outside of the noodles, which prevents the noodles from sticking together.

  .

Should I add oil? No. Oil will coat the noodles and prevent the sauce from adhering.

 

CHICKEN CHOW MEIN

chicken-chow-mein 

This recipe for chicken chow mein mixes the noodles with the chicken and vegetables for a healthier chicken chow mein.

INGREDIENTS:

           1 lb (500 g) boneless chicken breast, cut in thin strips

           1 tablespoon (15 mL) soy sauce

           1/4 (1 mL) salt

           1 tablespoon (15 mL) cornstarch

           1 lb (500 g) Chinese-style steamed noodles or cooked thin egg noodles

           1 1/2 cups (375 mL) Chicken Stock

           ¼ cup (62.5mL) Half an onion thinly sliced onions

           1/2 cup (125mL) Chinese cabbage

           1/8 cup (31mL) One small carrot thinly sliced

           3 large dried Chinese mushrooms, soaked and thinly sliced or from a can

           2 spring onions, cut into 1-inch pieces

           2 teaspoons (10 mL) sesame oil

           3 cups (750 mL) bean sprouts, tightly packed

 

PREPARATION:

Combine chicken and marinade ingredients (soy sauce, salt and cornstarch), mix well and set aside.

Blanch noodles in large amount of boiling water with salt for 3 minute or as per package instructions.

Drain well and cool slightly. Plate up.  Meanwhile, heat wok over high heat, add stock and bring to boil. Add ginger, onions, carrots, Chinese cabbage and mushrooms and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken and cook for 2 minutes. Stock should thicken slightly. Add flowering chives or green onions and sesame oil; stir to mix for 1 minute. Add noodles, bean sprouts and mix together.

 Remove from heat. Serves 4.

 

Each serving includes:

Calories 358, 43 g Carbohydrates, 33 g Protein, 6 g Fat, 1 g Saturated Fat, 100 mg Cholesterol, 5 g Fibre, 466 mg Sodium, 555 mg Potassium. An excellent source of vitamin D, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folacin, and iron. A good source of fibre, vitamin C, vitamin B-12 and zinc.

 

 

 

Best wishes and Sweet Dishes to You and Your Family

Lisa

Oprah’s Ten Weight Loss Recipes – No. 6 Beansprouts and Chinese Chives – By The Sweet Mandarin Cookery School

January 4, 2009
200901_omag_cover_2205This series of blogs is addressed to Oprah and all those out there battling the bulge and excess weight. I am often asked by my clients to prepare for them a special detox meal over a period of a week to a month. The following recipes are just a sample of our offerings and are unique to Sweet Mandarin (www.sweetmandarin.com). If you would like a one-to-one consultation, contact me, Lisa Tse on sweetmandarin@gmail.com .
Best wishes and Sweet Dishes to You and Your Family

Lisa

 

 

bsprout

Bean sprouts and Chinese Chives

 This dish calls for Chinese chives, which have a lighter, more “oniony” flavour. Beansprouts are delicious, healthy and ideal for yang (warm bodied people) as these are yin foods. (Dear Reader – Please refer to my earlier post on Yin and Yang balancing of foods.)

Serves 2 – 3

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 sprig of flowering garlic chives or scallions.

3 cups (about 5 1/2 ounces) mung bean sprouts

3 tablespoons oil for stir-frying

1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger

2 teaspoons light soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon sugar

 

PREPARATION:

  1. Wash and drain the mung bean sprouts.
  2. Wash and drain the chives, and cut into strips about the same length as the bean sprouts.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon oil to a preheated wok.
  4. When the oil is hot, add the minced ginger and stir briefly until aromatic (about 15 seconds). Add the mung bean sprouts and stir-fry until they change colour (about 1 minute), then add the chives, soy sauce and sugar.
  5. Stir-fry for about another 1 – 2 minutes, until the chives have just turned limp, taking care not to overcook the bean sprouts.

Oprah’s Ten Weight Loss Recipes – No. 5 Fluffy White Rice – By The Sweet Mandarin Cookery School

January 4, 2009

200901_omag_cover_2205This series of blogs is addressed to Oprah and all those out there battling the bulge and excess weight. I am often asked by my clients to prepare for them a special detox meal over a period of a week to a month. The following recipes are just a sample of our offerings and are unique to Sweet Mandarin (www.sweetmandarin.com). If you would like a one-to-one consultation, contact me, Lisa Tse on sweetmandarin@gmail.com .

Best wishes and Sweet Dishes to You and Your Family

Lisa

farming-the-field-of-guangzhou

“Cutting stalks at noon time

Perspiration drips to the earth

Know you that your bowl of rice

Each grain from hardship comes?”

(Cheng Chan-Pao, Chinese philosopher)

 

Rice is the staple diet of the Chinese around the world – a symbol of life itself. The Chinese greet each other by asking “Have you had your rice today?” rather than “How are you?”. If you haven’t eaten all your rice, it is considered an insult to the host.

 

According to local folktales, five celestial deities rode into the Guangzhou area of China on five rams, each with an ear of rice in its mouth.  The immortals gave the rice ears to the farmers and promised them that there would never be famine in Guangzhou. This is the region where my family originated from and like other farming families, we grew rice as well as soy beans.

 

Rice is used to make porridge or ‘congee’ and also a type of noodle. It is an ideal alternative for those with a wheat allergy who cannot eat bread or wheat pasta.

 

A harvested rice kernel contains a bran layer, and is enclosed by a hull. White rice has had both the bran and hull removed during the milling process. By contrast, brown rice has had only the hull removed. The result is a much more nutritious dish, containing protein and several minerals. However, parboiled white rice has been processed before milling and thus retains most of its nutrients.

 

Rice Types

 

typesofrice

The Chinese normally use long grain rice, which produces a fluffier rice. If you are following a recipe that calls for long grain rice, and need to use medium or short grain rice instead, remember that rice grains have different absorption rates and adjust the amount of water accordingly. (In this case you would reduce the amount of water by 1/4 to 1/2 cup per cup of rice).  

 

In China, glutinous or “sticky” rice is used mainly for snacks and sweets. However, in other parts of Asia it is used in place of regular rice.  For example, a reader recently shared with me his experience living in Laos and northern Thailand, where glutinous rice is a staple food.  The rice is soaked for at least two hours, and then steamed. People take the steamed rice and knead it in a ball.  It is then dipped in one of the courses and you use a finger to collect some of the course. (Glutinous rice is available at most Asian grocery markets).

 

Two less well-known types of rice are black rice and red rice. Grown throughout Asia, red rice is a member of the glutinous rice family. It is not considered to be very edible, but there is a great deal of interest in the potential health benefits of red rice extract.  You’ll often find it in health food stores, as it is believed to help lower cholesterol levels and improve blood circulation.

 

Grown in China and Thailand, black rice is also a type of sticky rice. A layer of bran covers the rice grains, giving them a brown or blackish colour.  Black rice is used mainly in Chinese, Thai and Pilipino desserts. Like red rice, black rice is considered to have numerous health benefits, particularly the purplish-black variety. 

 

MAKING PERFECT BOILED RICE

 

rice-bowl

Here are classic rice recipes that you’ll want to learn how to make.

Like hard boiling eggs, cooking rice is one of those tasks that appear to be easy, but can go wrong very quickly if you don’t follow the right steps. Here are simple instructions that will help you make rice that turns out light and fluffy every time.

Serves 3-4

 

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups of long grain rice

41/2 cups of cold water

 

PREPARATION

  1. Rinse the rice – rinsing rice helps get rid of any starch and impurities. Rinse until the water is clear and not cloudy.
  2. Combine the long grain rice and water – For every cup of long grain rice, add 1 1/2 cups water.
  3. Boil the rice – Bring the rice to a boil, uncovered, at medium heat.
  4. Turn down heat put rice at an angle – When the rice is boiling, turn the heat down to medium low. Place the lid on the pot, tilting it to allow steam to escape.
  5. After the rice has been cooking for a few minutes, check for holes or “craters.”
  6. When you can see the holes or craters, put the lid on tight. Turn the heat down to low.
  7. Simmer the covered rice for another 15 minutes. Fluff it up with a fork and serve hot.

 

Oprah’s Ten Weight Loss Recipes – No. 4 Ginger Tea – By The Sweet Mandarin Cookery School

January 4, 2009

200901_omag_cover_2204This series of blogs is addressed to Oprah and all those out there battling the bulge and excess weight. I am often asked by my clients to prepare for them a special detox meal over a period of a week to a month. The following recipes are just a sample of our offerings and are unique to Sweet Mandarin (www.sweetmandarin.com). If you would like a one-to-one consultation, contact me, Lisa Tse on sweetmandarin@gmail.com .

Best wishes and Sweet Dishes to You and Your Family

Lisa

ginger-tea

Ginger Tea

 

Treat yourself to a cup of piping hot ginger tea, a healthy drink that’s great for digestion.

 

INGREDIENTS:

           2 thin slices raw ginger

           water

 

PREPARATION:

Boil enough water to fill your cup, remove from heat, and add the slices of ginger. Allow to steep to desired strength (3-5 minutes), strain and enjoy!

 

NUTRITIONAL VALUE 

Ginger – Besides being appreciated for its distinct flavor and ability to diffuse other strong odors, ginger has long been used as a digestive aid. Thought to get rid of air in the body, it is used to treat both stomach acidity and motion sickness. In China, women customarily drink a mixture of ginger cooked in wine and sesame oil shortly after giving birth.

Six Degrees of Separation – Dim Sum, Silk Road, Guangzhou China, Britain, Cuppa Tea and me….

January 3, 2009

As a British Born Chinese, I have lived a very British way of life being educated in Manchester and Australia. However, throughout my life, I grew up with the backdrop of serving and cooking in the family restaurant and continue my involvement in the catering empire as a co-owner of Sweet Mandarin Restaurant (www.sweetmandarin.com).

emperor-people-food-quote 

(Illustration by Lisa Tse “To The Ruler, the People are Heaven, to the People Food is Heaven”)

Chinese food has had an overwhelming presence in my life and been the catalyst for my hunger for understanding China and the significance of food in its culture. This series explores the cities where I stayed, the lives that crossed my path and the amazing food with a story to tell. China is a captivating and vivacious collection of diverse cities, provinces and regions. In the south, Guangdong, the Cantonese speaking region is renowned for its steaming, boiling and stir frying and dim sum feasts which we have become accustomed to and love in the western world. Beijing in the coldest area of China boasts the Emperor’s banquet, the world famous Peking Duck and hot pot. In the east, Shanghai offers its famous Shanghai Dumplings, whilst the Sichuan provinces easily provide the hottest and spiciest cuisine.

I finally arrived at Guangzhou which is famous for its “dim sum”. Literally translated, “dim sum” means “to touch your heart”. Guangzhou is north of the Pearl River Delta, adjacent to Hong Kong and holds a special place in my heart as the place where my family originates from. The nickname for this province is “Flower City” because flowers keep blossoming all year round.

five_rams 

(Five Ram Statute in Guangzhou)

It also holds the myth that there were five celestials riding five rams with rice in their mouth. The celestials gave the rice to the residents of Guangzhou and blessed the province with good harvests and an abundance of food. Today, the celestials have flown away but the five rams have been turned into stone sculptures in the Yuexiu Park area. The blessings have seemingly been fulfilled and the city is brimming with masses of people, bicycles and restaurants.

To date, there are over 10,000 restaurants in the city, with seats for over 500,000. The people of Guangzhou are natural born gourmets. Food in Guangzhou is famous worldwide. Indeed in 1927, Chiang Kai-Shek, the leader of the nationalist party responsible for unifying China, set up his headquarters in Guangzhou and enjoyed dining at the many restaurants serving dim sum.

dim-sum 

(Dim Sum Mania on Sunday Mornings)

Dim sum is often referred to as “yum cha” (饮茶) which means “drinking tea”. This interchangeable expression originated from the teahouses which set up along the Silk Road. The Silk Road linked China to Syria and was travelled by merchants and farmers trading their silk, gold, ivory, spices, exotic animals and plants. Travellers and rural farmers, exhausted after working hard, would also go to teahouses for a relaxing afternoon of tea. At first, it was considered inappropriate to combine tea with food, because people believed it would lead to excessive weight gain. However, people later discovered that tea can aid in digestion. Therefore, teahouse owners began adding more variety of snacks, so the tradition of dim sum evolved.

 restaurant-filled-with-people

(Dim Sum Restaurant – Old Hong Kong)

Dim sum mania spread to Hong Kong as the Guangzhou population immigrated to Hong Kong in the 1920s. Chinese restaurants grew exponentially in Hong Kong and soon dim sum was available from 6am through to late afternoon. Restaurants in Hong Kong and Guangzhou became filled mainly with the elderly population who often gathered to eat after the morning session of tai chi exercises, often enjoying the morning newspapers.

In the west, dim sum came about as a natural result of Chinese immigrants moving to the western world. When Europe started trading with the Orient, the seaport of Guangzhou became the gateway to the West. The Chinese readily absorbed these cosmopolitan influences, and being great travellers themselves, emigrated to the United States of America and the United Kingdom. They were the first to make Chinese cooking known to the Western world and as a result dim sum has become the firm favourite of the Western world.

dimsumrestaurant 

(A Packed Dim Sum Session)

Go to a Chinese restaurant on a Sunday afternoon and you will be greeted by a sea of Chinese families spanning three generations. Dim sum is the Chinese equivalent of French hors d’oeuvres or Spanish tapas. It’s a colourful and loud dining experience starting with the rush for vacant seats and the hustle and bustle of the gesticulating waiters selling their dim sum specials from their trolleys. Bamboo containers filled with steamed dim sum are stacked high and quickly snapped up. Waiting on staff ask what kind of tea we want to drink offering a vast array of jasmine tea, oolong tea, pu-er tea and green tea which helps to wash down the dim sum. The noise of the chatter of the diners is deafening. It’s a busy, frantic affair and there is an air of organized panic in the restaurants, which adds to the excitement and entertainment. Dim sum is an overwhelming introduction to the Chinese nation’s love of food, gregariousness and cheerful chatter.

I love dim sum. There are over 200 dishes to choose from. One Cantonese saying goes that anything that walks, swims, crawls, or flies is edible. Another says that the only four-legged things that Cantonese people won’t eat are tables and chairs.

The range of cooking skills required to make dim sum is vast. There is usually a dim sum master overseeing his section of the kitchen and there is a real art involved in making the dishes. Some dishes are steamed, others are fried. Some are baked. The variety of tastes is also mind boggling – sweet, sour, savoury and chilli.

har-gow-siu-mi 

(Left: Har Gow, Right: Siu Mi)

There are firm favourites such as “har gow” (prawn dumplings wrapped in translucent rice paper), “siu mi” (pork dumplings) and “char siu bow” (pork buns in a white fluffy dough). If you are feeling more adventurous, an eye opening experience with a stronger flavour is “fung jow” (chickens feet in yellow bean sauce and chillis). One caveat – this particular dish is not for the faint hearted. The sweet dishes for dessert range from the egg custard tarts which are extremely delicious to sago pudding or mango pudding which are refreshing and a great ending to the dim sum experience.

youngsters-making-dim-sum1 

(Me (Left) learning how to make dim sum with my sister (centre) and mother, Mabel (Right))

A meal in a restaurant opens the taste buds, but cooking dim sum for my friends and family widens all the senses. I learnt the authentic recipes from Guangzhou and used them at Sweet Mandarin. Together with my sisters, Helen and Janet we made every dim sum from fresh. Stuffing and shaping wontons was the real family enterprise. We made the stuffing from a light prawn mince and wrapped the teaspoon of filling with a fine egg based pastry. We all left our individual stamp on the won tons in the way we crimped the edges. I added a flamboyant tail on these wontons, which can then be dipped in the sweet and sour dip. My everyday rituals of properly selecting produce, cooking and presenting a meal, which I have inherited from my family, have given me an insight to see the meaning of my own cooking as a metaphor for life.

I would love to share with you our recipe on making this exquisite dim sum.
won-tons
Ingredients
For the Prawn Filling
250g pack shrimps
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp potato starch
1 egg white
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Hot vegetable oil to lightly fry the wontons
Ingredients for the Wonton Wrappers
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
1 tsp potato starch
1/4 cup of water
2 cups of plain flour
Dressing for the wontons
Serve with Sweet Mandarin’s The General Tse’s Sweet and Sour Sauce
Method to make the wonton pastry
1. Kneed the ingredients together into a ball. The consistency is dough like.
2. Leave in the fridge for half an hour.
3. Roll out into a very thin sheet (as thick as a piece of paper) with a rolling pin ensuring there is plenty of flour to avoid sticking.
4. Cut into squares 3inches squared.
Method to make delicious and easy wontons
1. Put all the prawn mixture into a food processor and mix thoroughly.
2. Shape into balls the size of walnuts.
3. Place the filling balls into the centre of the wonton wrappers. To make the tail, gather the four edges and twist together.
4. Heat oil
5. Place wontons in hot oil for 5-6 minutes or until cooked through.
6. Drain from oil.
7. Serve the wontons with the Sweet Mandarin’s General Tse’s Sweet and Sour Sauce.

Sweet Mandarin offers a brunch special on Saturdays and Sundays – Eat all you can Dim Sum for 10 pounds per head. Match with Jasmine Tea and it makes for a wonderful relaxing weekend with friends and family.  For more information, go to www.sweetmandarin.com To book a table email sweetmandarin@gmail.com

Perfect Prawn Toast

January 3, 2009

 

I’ve received loads of emails about prawn toast. If you have tried to make prawn toast and it turns out a) burnt b) soggy c) too greasy this is my Sweet Mandarin Internet Cookery Lesson for you.

At the Sweet Mandarin Cookery School, I teach you how to make the perfect prawn toast….and its as easy as ABC. They make great hor d’oeuvres and are wonderful party additions for any occasion.  If you know how to spread jam on bread, you’ll know how to make my wonderful sesame prawn toast.

prawn-toast

Recipe for Sesame Prawn Toast

If vegetarian, one can use tofu or mushroom alternative. If you don’t like prawn – try chicken!

Ingredients
•250g of raw de-shelled prawns blended into a paste
•1 tbsp shaoshing wine
•0.25 tbsp white pepper
•0.25 tbsp salt
•6 slices white bread (large medium thick), crusts removed and cut into quarters
•5-6 tbsp sesame seeds 

Method
•Prawn Paste : Place all the paste ingredients in a food processor and blend until you have a smooth paste. Place the prawn in a covered container for 15 minutes.
•Toast: Spread the prawn paste on one side of the bread with a palate knife or knife, so that the bread is evenly coated. Repeat this with all the slices of bread. [Now isn’t this as easy as spreading jam on bread!]. Place the sesame seeds on a plate and lay the bread (paste side) on the sesame seeds gently pressing them in. Shake off any excess and this baby is ready for a hot bath! 


To Cook
• Preheat oil in a deep fryer or in a wok until hot. Turn down heat to moderate.  Deep fry the bread in batches prawn side down, for 2-3 minutes, until the slices are golden brown. Remove from the oil, drain them on kitchen paper and keep warm in a low oven while you prepare the remaining slices.
 

Hot Oil Tester

How hot is hot? The heat is radiating from the wok but is it hot enough? If you see smoke – its too hot.  If the oil is not hot enough, the prawn toast will not cook well and the bread will soak in the oil making it greasy and soggy. If the oil is too hot, it will burn the bread. 

Try this simple but effective test – get a pair of unpainted bamboo chopsticks (that are dry not wet) and stick the end into the oil.  If the oil bubbles rapidly, the oil is ready for cooking. [Note to cooks – don’t use painted or coloured chopsticks as the hot oil will burn off the colour.]   

 

To Serve
•Slice the toast in small squares or triangles with small bowls of sweet and sour sauce or sweet chilli sauce.

 The Secrets to Perfect Prawn Toast

1)  ensure that the filling (whether prawn or chicken paste) is spread to the very edges of the toast (this avoids the bread from getting burnt);

2) ensure that the layer of raw meat is evenly spread and is not too thickly applied.  A thick layer of raw meat on the bread leaves the meat not being thoroughly cooked or if you leave the prawn toast in the deep fat fryer until cooked, the bread ends up being greasy and soggy; and

3) ensure you cook the prawn toast in hot oil (see hot oil tester above)

Hope that helps. Let me know how it goes. If you want the recipe or have any other questions, drop me an email at sweetmandarin@gmail.com For more information about Sweet Mandarin Cookery School : www.sweetmandarin.com

Best wishes and Sweet dishes to you and your family

Lisa

Sweet Mandarin Cookery School Vouchers are a Great Gift Idea

January 3, 2009

Here is Anita’s Testimony. Its such a great experience to cook with couples. You’ve heard the saying, “The Way To A Man’s Heart Is Through His Stomach” right? Well when I cook with couples, its like getting a glimpse of their life, their inter-actions and their humour. Anita – you’ve done your hubby proud.  This is Anita’s story….

Dr Sharma and Dr Sharma at Sweet Mandarin's Cookery School

“This actually was a birthday present given by the children to their father. He was not sure what to expect. I think he was not expecting this as a gift. My children know that the father likes cooking & experimenting with different food. I have to admit he is good but a messy cook!!

Just to give him a bit of support, as all men need it, I went along. …..we got undivided attention from the master chef. We tasted our own cooked food.

We both enjoyed thoroughly. We amazed ourselves by seeing how perfect spring rolls & prawn toasts we made. I think Lisa looked bit worried by seeing how quickly we both picked up, in case we opened up our restaurant next door to her!!   We are going to demonstrate our skills to our children when they come home for Christmas.

He did not make much mess in Lisa’s kitchen & cleaned as he went along. Again thanks to the chef–one of the good qualities. I will make sure he continues to do that in my kitchen.

We will recommend this to any one who enjoys Chinese food. Much easier & healthier too if you learn to cook the right & healthy way.

Please keep me updated.
Anita

 

To book a surprise birthday gift voucher for the Sweet Mandarin Cookery School, email Lisa Tse at sweetmandarin@gmail.com or call 0161 832 8846. For more information, go to www.sweetmandarin.com