Chilli & garlic prawns; Sweet & sour pork

I received Ching-He Huang’s Chinese Food Made Easy cook book for my birthday a few weeks ago and so last weekend decided it was high time to try out a few recipes. For starters, I plumped for the “zesty chilli & garlic tiger prawns” followed by the sweet and sour pork.

The prawns are from the spicy sichuan section of the book, and were really flavoursome, tasty and juicy. I will definitely be making these again!

To serve two –

  • Around 200g raw prawns
  • 2 tbsps groundnut oil
  • 5 (yes, 5!) finely chopped cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium red chilli, finely chopped (the recipe calls for it to be de-seeded but we left some in as we like a bit of a kick)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • chopped French beans
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • pinch sea salt

Before starting, butterfly the prawns (cut in half down the middle of the back), which somehow seems to make them more satisfying! Heat the oil in a wok and stir fry for the garlic and chilli. Add the prawns, rice wine and lime juice and keep stir frying until the prawns are beginning to turn pink. Add the beans (we had par-boiled ours just for a few minutes first). Once the prawns have cooked through, season with the salt and chilli flakes and tuck in! These were so tasty, really moreish, and the sauce that formed in the bottom of the bowl was eaten afterwards with a spoon!!

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Moving onto Ching-He’s Sweet and Sour Pork, the recipe calls for the following, to serve two;

  • 2 pork loin chops
  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil
  • few dashes light soy sauce
  • dash of rice wine
  • steamed jasmine rice

For the pork coating;

  • 3 tbsps roasted whole soya beans (Which we couldn’t get), or dry-roasted peanuts
  • Few pinches of ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed dried chillies

For the sauce;

  • 4oz tinned pineapple in natural juice
  • 4fl oz pineapple juice
  • 3 tbps freshly squeezed lime juice (we almost doubled this as it just tasted too sweet for our tastes)

Grind all the ingredients for the pork coating in a pestle and morter then sprinkle onto a plate or board and press the pork into the mix so that it sticks to the meat.

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Put the ingredients for the sweet and sour sauce into a blender and blitz into a paste. Heat the oil in a wok on a high heat and add the pork. Cook on one side until browned then turn over.  Once cooked, remove the pork from the pan and keep warm. Pour the blended pineapple and lime into the wok and simmer for a few minutes until reduced and thickened, season with the soy sauce, rice wine, salt and pepper. We served this with pak choi stir fried with soy sauce, rice wine and a little garlic.

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This dish was nice enough, but, I have to say, a bit of a disappointment. I didn’t think the sauce was that great, maybe we did something wrong, but the flavour just didn’t seem quite right. Having tried a few of Ching-He’s recipes in the past I expected this to be as tasty as everything else of hers!

There are still plenty of great sounding recipes in this book though which I am looking forward to trying out!

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Slow-cooked Chinese spiced beef with sticky rice, pak choi and red pepper slivers

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!

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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!

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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

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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.

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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!

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(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!