Posts Tagged ‘prawn toast’

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.

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.”


– 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


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 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

Chinese Cookery School – Sweet Mandarin Is Proud of Her Students and Vice Versa

January 15, 2009

group“As family meals seems to have become pushed aside by a barrage of ubiquitous fast food and drive-thru restaurants, Lisa Tse of Sweet Mandarin emerges with a welcoming food philosophy of cooking healthy delicious meals and gathering the family back to the table. Operating from her modern wok fired restaurant, Sweet Mandarin in the Northern Quarter, Manchester, Lisa Tse continues a popular series of cooking classes that seek inspiration from a bevy of local world-class producers. The masterclass may well begin a session with a literal and culinary trip to the Silk Road learning how dim sum was created before actually learning the secrets of making dim sum. There was also some delightful party tricks to take back to the home kitchen. From the hands-on task of preparing the produce, learning knife skills, calculating the food budget and wok technique, a number of succulent stir fries and Chinese dishes were miraculously russled up during the masterclass.”

Oprah’s Ten Weight Loss Recipes – No.2 Garlic Butter Steamed Fish – By The Sweet Mandarin Cookery School

January 4, 2009

200901_omag_cover_2202This 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 ( If you would like a one-to-one consultation, contact me, Lisa Tse on .

Best wishes and Sweet Dishes to You and Your Family





Serves 3 – 4



           4 fish fillets, about 4 – 6 ounces each

           2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

           1/4 teaspoon salt

           2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

           2 tablespoons butter



Prepare the wok for steaming. Rinse the fish fillets and pat dry with paper towels. Cover and steam the fish over high heat until the fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork (10 – 15 minutes). 

Separately, in a small pan, melt the butter, adding the chopped garlic and salt –mix until garlic goes golden brown. Take off the heat.

Place the fish fillets on a deep, heat-proof plate that will fit inside the steamer basket. Pour the garlic butter mixture over the fish.

Serve hot with steamed leafy greens.


Nutritional Breakdown for Steamed Fish (based on 4 servings of 6 ounces fish each) Each serving contains: Calories 157, 3 g Carbohydrates, 31 g Protein, 2 g Total Fat, 73 mg Cholesterol, trace dietary Fibre, 232 mg Sodium, 774 mg Potassium.


Garlic is claimed to help prevent heart disease including atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cancer. Garlic is also useful to treat a common cold, and help regulate blood levels


Butter in moderation is allowed.

Oprah’s Ten Weight Loss Recipes – No.1 – Mabel’s Claypot – By Sweet Mandarin Cookery School

January 4, 2009



This 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 ( If you would like a one-to-one consultation, contact me, Lisa Tse on .

Best wishes and Sweet Dishes to You and Your Family




Instead of meat try ordering the tofu – it is made of soybeans, high in protein and not too high in fat and calories – it soaks up the flavor of the foods that it is cooked with. Avoid dishes using fried tofu.




This is a family favourite of my mother, Mabel. It evokes home cooking at its best and will draw you to the warmth of the family table after tasting this delicious and nutritious dish. The story behind this dish stems from when my mother was only a child of seven and immigrated to the UK. She felt so home sick and hated the rainy cold weather, the fact that she couldn’t speak of word of English and had no friends. Her mother made her this dish, and it immediately transported her back to the warm climate of Hong Kong to a place where she felt safe and secure. This claypot was her comfort dish – her comfort food – and helped her transition to a new world.



•           1 packet of firm Tofu

•           1 1/2 teaspoons (7 mL) dark soy sauce

•           1 ½  teaspoons (7 mL) Chinese rice vinegar

•           1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) salt

•           ¼ teaspoon (1 mL) sugar

•           3/4 cup (187.5 mL) chicken or vegetable stock

•           1 teaspoon (5 mL) cornstarch mixed

•           2 tablespoons (25 mL) water

•           1 tablespoon (15 mL) vegetable oil

•           1 tablespoon (15 mL) sesame oil

•           2 spring onions sliced in one inch pieces

•           2 baby bok choy, cut into rough squares

•           Quarter Chinese sausage (lap cheung) finely sliced – or replace with salami (optional – don’t add if vegetarian)

•           1/2 onion, sliced.

•           1 tablespoon (15 mL) grated ginger

•           1 teaspoon (5 mL) garlic

•           1 large shallot, chopped

•           5 Chinese mushrooms from can or if dried, soak until soft

•           2 sprigs cilantro

•           2 cups (500 mL) jasmine rice




1. Pre-heat oven to 360–375˚F

(180–190˚C or Gas Mark 4–5).

2. Soak mushrooms in hot water for one hour (alternatively use ready-to-cook tinned

Chinese mushrooms).

3. Cut tofu into bite-sized pieces.

4. Mix the marinade ingredients (salt, sugar, Chinese rice wine and corn starch) in a large

bowl, add the tofu pieces and stir gently.

5. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

6. Place wok on high heat. Add the oil, stir in the ginger and garlic, and cook until golden.

7. Drain the tofu (reserve the marinade). Stir-fry the tofu until it’s cooked through.

8. Add spring onions, mushrooms, lap cheung and bok choy. Stir-fry for three minutes until the vegetables soften slightly.

9. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and salt.

10. Add chicken /vegetable broth and marinade and bring to a boil.

11. Add cornstarch mixture and mix well until consistency thickens.

12. Switch off heat. Pour the tofu, vegetables and stock into a clay pot.

13. Cover and place the pot in the oven.

14. Bake for 5-10 mins until mixture is bubbling.

15. Serve with fragrant jasmine rice.



Each serving includes:  Calories 269, 26 g Carbohydrates, 21 g Protein, 10 g Fat, 1 g Saturated Fat, 50 mg Cholesterol, 4 g Fibre, 330 mg Sodium, 420 mg Potassium. An excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and niacin. A good source of fibre, vitamin E, vitamin B-6 and folacin.


Chinese Black Mushrooms – No need to visit the Chinese pharmacist for these – you’ll find bins of Chinese black mushrooms packed to overflowing in any Chinese grocery store. Used in soups stir-fries and braised dishes, they are thought to be helpful in lowering blood pressure.


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.

To learn more about the Sweet Mandarin Cookery School – To book your place on the course or to order specific detox menus – email Lisa Tse on

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 (


(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 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 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.


(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.


(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.


(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.


(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.
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 To book a table email

Yin and Yang Foods – Can Balancing such foods improve your hair and skin?

January 3, 2009

chinese-girl-manga Balancing Yin and Yang can improve one’s hair and skin.

“The created universe carries the yin at its back and the yang in front; Through the union of the pervading principles it reaches harmony” (Lao tzu, Tao-te ching)

The below is a snapshot and for illustrative purposes only. Should you have any medical conditions, you should consult a doctor first including discussing your diet.

Foods differ in their physical, mental, spiritual and emotional effects and can be divided into three main types -those that are ‘balanced’ and some that are ‘Yin’ and some that are ‘Yang’. Yin foods are cooling, while Yang foods are warming to the human system. Together, Yin and Yang combined in balance produce an equalization that translates into health for living creatures.

Yin Foods (Cooling)

Extreme Yin – Tomatoes, Potatoes, Capsicums, Egglpants, Shiitake Mushrooms, Fruit, Spices, Herbs, Seasoning, Sugar, Alcohol, MSG, Soy Milk, Honey, Caffeine, Drugs (e.g. aspirin)

Yin – Yeasted bread, Leafy greens (e.g. asparagus, celery), Beans, Dried Fruit, Nuts, Milk, Tofu, Vinegar

Yang Foods (Warming)

Extreme Yang – Meat, Fish, Egg, Cheese, Salt, Miso,

Yang – Any root vegetables e.g. Carrots, Daikon, Parsnip, Turnips and Buckwheat

Neutral Foods

Brown Rice, Wheat, Azuki beans, Pumpkin, Cabbage, Seaweed, Sesame seeds, Sesame oil, Apples and Pears, Other vegetables (not mentioned above).

If you have low blood pressure or are easily cold, you have a Yin constitution. Eat more Yang foods to warm up the body e.g. spicy foods like garlic, cayenne, ginger, grains, legumes, roots and tubers, which are Yang.  Reduce your intake in Yin foods e.g. tropical fruits and dairy products.

If you have high blood pressure and always feverish, you have a Yang consitution. Eat more fruits, lots of green, leafy vegetables and avoid heavy meats.

To learn more about how to balance your Yin and Yang Foods, and receive recipes that focus on this aspect of balance and detox, book your place on the Sweet Mandarin Cookery School. Email Lisa Tse at To find out more go to

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.


Recipe for Sesame Prawn Toast

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

•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 

•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 For more information about Sweet Mandarin Cookery School :

Best wishes and Sweet dishes to you and your family