Posts Tagged ‘northern quarter’

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 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


Book your place on our Chinese Cookery School – Email: or call Lisa Tse 0161 832 8848

For more information see

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


Shanghai Dumplings Anyone?

April 8, 2008

Shanghai DumplingIn this series, I will explore with you a few dishes that we serve at Sweet Mandarin, an award winning restaurant in Manchester ( run by three twentysomething sisters (including me).

(c) Food of the Orient – Shanghai by Helen Tse, published by Chinatown Magazine

As a British Born Chinese, I have lived a very British way of life being educated in Manchester and Cambridge University. However, throughout my life, I grew up with the backdrop of serving and cooking in the family food business and continue my involvement in the catering empire as a co-owner of Sweet Mandarin. 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 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.

This week, I stayed in Shanghai and fell in love with the city. In the 1920s and 1930s, Shanghai was home to gangsters, warlords, 24-7 nightclubs and hotels that supplied heroin on room service. Its people were a mix of British, Chinese, Americans, French, Gernans, Japanese and White Russians and life was an extreme pole of poverty and wealth.
Today, Shanghai appeared as alien to my idea of China as it did to its residents in the 1920s. However, a century later, Shanghai remains a foreign influenced metropolis on Chinese soil. From the dazzling new skyscrapers to the imperial British architecture on the Bund, Shanghai is a grand, eclectic mix of East and West. No wonder it is the haven of the new generation of Chinese from Hong Kong and the expatriates.
The beauty that lies before me in Shanghai is breathtaking and silences the noise and confusion on the busy roads. There is grandeur in the heart of the bustling city of Shanghai juxtaposed with absolute poverty and a return to the last century only a few miles out of the city in Zhujiajiao.

It was in these little villages lost to the 21st century, that my first dish of Shanghai dumplings was savoured and enjoyed. The residents continued their daily chores in traditional Chinese cotton jackets with simple butterfly buttons. Babies were strapped to their grandmother’s back with a piece of red cotton and the fat baby’s rosy cheek hung out over the tightly bound material, as his ink black eyes stared in awe at me, a stranger in this untouched and abandoned village, that fell through the net of modernization. Houses were primitive and doors opened, a sign that trust still existing amongst its residents and the bare home life with nothing worth stealing. There were no cars and only the odd bicycle rode by a young boy with wild hair. A blind woman no taller than four feet weaved beautiful straw ornaments. Husband and wife teams huddled around open stoves which cooked dozens of Shanghai dumplings and the aroma of hot, savoury dumplings permeated throughout the street. The glossy pastry bronzed as it slightly stuck to the pot (hence the nickname “pot stickers”). I became hungry just smelling the dumplings. I bought a portion (four beautifully pinched dumplings) to eat and after devouring them, bagged a portion for the road. The dumpling pastry was delicate and broke easily. The juices from the filling were clear and sweet, and the filling was a wholesome meat mince and vegetables. They were just what I needed for the cold winter’s day.
The legend about these Shanghai dumplings was that in the Eastern Han Period (Dong Han) an official called Zhang Zhongjing invented a kind of food to help poor people keep warm in the bitterly cold winter. The original recipe created the dumpling with ears and the filling consisted of mutton, hot pepper and medicinal roots (which helped to circulate the blood). The people loved the taste of the dumplings and started to make them themselves with whatever filling they had available. The dumplings are semi circles shaped like a gold ingots and are a regular dish at dim sum and Spring Festivals. They are eaten to bring good luck and fortune for the new year and probably also because they are delicious. From such a simple dumpling held a piece of political history! I cavorted with the residents until they showed me how to cook the dumplings in the authentic style. The sacred ingredients are detailed below.

Shanghai Dumplings (“Pot Stickers”)

• 4 1/2 cups (500 g) flour
• 9 oz (250 g) lean boneless pork, minced
• 1 tbsp soy sauce
• 5 tsp rice wine
• 1 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
• 1 tsp salt to taste
• 3 1/2 oz (100 g) leeks
• 3 1/2 oz (100 g) sesame oil
• 1 tsp flour mixed with 2 tbsp water

Mix the pork with the soy sauce, rice wine, ginger, MSG and salt. Stir in one direction, adding 5 oz (150 ml) of water, a little at a time until the pork becomes sticky. Add the leeks and sesame oil and blend well, and divide into 60 portions. Set aside.

Stir 7 oz (200 ml) of water into the flour. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Let rest for 30 minutes. Roll into a long cylinder and cut into 60 portions. Flatten each piece and roll into a circle about 3 inches (8 cm) in diameter. Place 1 portion of the filling on each circle and fold over in half. Pinch tightly to seal the edges and form a semi circle. Repeat until all the dough and filling are used.
Arrange the pouches in a large pan. Heat to moderately hot, then add water to cover the pouches one-third of the way up. Cover the pan and cook over high heat until the water is almost absorbed. Trickle the flour-water mixture around the pouches. Cover the pan and saute over low heat until the flour forms a crisp film that link the dumplings together. Sprinkle the dumplings with a little sesame oil, cover again, and saute until the pouches are browned on the bottom. Remove with a spatula and serve. Saute and serve the dumplings in batches.

Juicy Steamed Dumplings
The dumplings can also be steamed rather than fried. Place the dumpling in a steamer and steam for 5 minutes over high heat.
Note: These dumplings are delicate in appearance and taste. the wrappers are thin and the filling deliciously juicy

Come and visit us to try these delicacies – or we can outdoor cater for your events in Manchester.