So this weekend was Chinese new year, and we are now into the year of the snake! The snake is apparently known for its charm, wisdom, beauty and intelligence but also its pride and anger. So I’m not entirely sure what that means the year ahead will entail… What I do know is that it was a great excuse to try out out some new Chinese inspired cooking!
I decided to make the most of a rare quiet weekend and go for a slow-cooking option. I asked the butcher for some great slow-cooking beef (apparently shin, chuck or blade are best) and got to work!
To make the beef this is what I used (loosely based on a recipe in Olive Food Magazine)
(serves two, generously!)
- Around 500g braising beef, cut into large-ish chunks
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- A chunk of ginger, grated
- 1 red and 1 green chilli
- A decent handful of spring onions
- 1 star anise
- 2 tsp Chinese five spice
- 2 tbsps muscovado sugar
- 4 tbsps mirin
- 2 tbsps dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 200 ml water
I literally just chucked everything into the pot (it smelt delicious already!) and whacked in the oven at 150C for two and a half hours.
After the two and a half hours was up, I scooped out the (meltingly tender) beef and thickened up the sauce on top of the hob. It looked so sticky and tasty and smelt so amazing it was difficult not to just dig in there with a spoon straight away! (Ok, so I did, chef’s perks and the importance of tasting! 😉 )
Having watched the lovely Ching He Huang on Saturday Kitchen that morning, I had the idea to tart up my rice a bit instead of just serving plain boiled white rice. I cooked the rice as usual, left it to cool a little, then in a hot wok added some more mirin, toasted sesame oil and dark soy (a good few slugs of each) as well as a touch more ginger, garlic and chilli. Once this was nice and hot, I tossed in the rice and stirred it around for a few minutes.
I had pak choi and red pepper to serve with this. I sliced the red pepper into nice thin strips then again in a very hot wok tossed in some more mirin, toasted sesame oil, dark soy, chilli, ginger and garlic plus a little water then quickly stir fried the pepper and pak choi.
Serve (preferably with a good glass of red!) and enjooooy!
(please ignore those two rogue bits of rice, which are driving me mad! Argh! Wipe the plate!!)
All in all, this was, by far, one of the tastiest things I have ever made. The beef was literally melt-in-the-mouth perfect, tossing the rice in the wok with those additional flavours really made an enormous difference, and the overall flavour of the sauce was just heavenly. Yuuummm!
The weekend before last I had a mission – to finally get to The Parlour on a Sunday afternoon in time for Sunday Lunch! Despite living in Chorlton for a year and a half, I have so far failed, despite several attempts, to get to The Parlour early enough to secure a table (you can’t book) for their legendary Sunday roast. (Winner of the Observer Food Monthly’s 2012 Best Sunday Lunch, no less!) The Parlour is one of my favourite places in Chorlton and I have eaten and drunk there many another time, in fact having lunch there one Monday on a day off was a particular tease as we tucked into the leftover roast beef in a sandwich – perfectly pinky red and juicy, cooked exactly to my liking. Mmmmm.
So this weekend we were up bright and early and at The Parlour for a rather early 1240pm! Even still we secured the last table for 4! After a little time warming up and letting our appetites grow while enjoying a pot of tea and the Sunday papers in the lovely cosy relaxing environment of The Parlour, we were ready to order. Despite the fact we knew there was a delicious and massive roast dinner to come, we couldn’t help but order some tasty starters to share. The mackerel pate with granary toast was absolutely delicious and definitely helped whet our appetite.
We moved from tea to red wine and soon it was time for the Main Event! We all went for the roast beef over the pork (or nutroast). It arrived on a plate towering with scrumptious looking food including perfect roast potatoes and mashed potato, roast parsnips, carrot and swede mash, braised red cabbage and a mahoosive Yorkshire pudding. All smothered in a generous helping (there’s nothing worse than having to ask for extra gravy!) of rich and flavoursome gravy. The beef, I must admit, was a teeny bit disappointing, in comparison to the beef I had previously had there – it was only just still pink in the very middle of the slice which is a bit over-cooked for my taste. However, I should probably have specified that I’d like some properly pink juicy meat! The roast potatoes were smashing – perfectly crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy inside. I’m a big fan of roast parsnips and liked that they came glazed with mustard. I’ve never had both mashed potato and roast potatoes on a roast dinner and remain somewhat unconvinced that both are needed. In fact, while the carrot and swede mash was tasty, I may just venture it out there that I’d perhaps like a little more un-mashed veg on my plate, particularly with all that scrummy gravy sloshing around, just to keep the texture varied. But maybe that’s just me! The two real stand outs on the plate for me were the red cabbage and the Yorkshire pudding. Firstly the cabbage, this was a welcome surprise to find on the plate! We couldn’t work out exactly what the flavours were but it seemed almost like cloves or star anise had been used. However it had been cooked, it was absolutely gorgeous! The yorkie, oh the yorkie. Thankfully this was not one of those towering Yorkshire puddings that looks amazing on arrival to promptly flop, collapse and go soggy leaving you underwhelmed and disappointed. No, this was a perfectly cooked Yorkshire pudding. The texture was bang on and it remained resolutely un-soggy right ’til the end – the perfect gravy mopping companion!
Please excuse the pictures, I had to resort to using my phone when my camera battery unexpectedly died!