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A Bit of a Different Sweet & Sour Sauce

September 24, 2009 1 comment

Sweet & Sour Sauce 2

Continuing with the sweet & sour mini-series I seem to have going today, this is the first of two sweet and sour sauces. This is the one from Chinese Food Made Easy that goes with the original Sweet & Sour Pork recipe. It’s different from the traditional, but really light and refreshing, and goes very well with the slightly spicy crunchy coated pork. Do try this, but if you prefer the usual, orange coloured, tangy, sugary style sauce, then try this too.

I used to find it difficult to find Shaoxing rice wine, not having a good chinese supermarket nearby, but have discovered Waitrose sell one as part of their ‘Cook’s Ingredients’ range, but dry pale sherry is a perfectly fine substitute.

Recipe from Ching-He Huang’s Chinese Food Made Easy

A Bit of a Different Sweet & Sour Sauce (serves 2)

  • 125g tinned pineapple (in natural juice, not syrup)
  • 125ml pineapple juice (from the tin is fine!)
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice (freshly squeezed is best, but I have used the bottled stuff)
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine (or dry sherry)
  • a pinch of ground white pepper

Put the pineapple, pineapple juice and lime juice into a blender, a blitz, but not too much, until you have a smooth-ish sauce – I like mine a little ‘pulpy’.

Transfer to a saucepan, bring to the boil and then simmer for 2 minutes or so, until the sauce reduces and thickens a little. Season to taste with the soy sauce, rice wine and pepper. Simmer for a further minute and then serve with crunchy coated pork, chicken or turkey, over egg fried rice.

Chinese Takeaway Style Sweet & Sour Sauce

September 24, 2009 Leave a comment

There are lots of different recipes for sweet & sour sauce, and I’ve tried lots of variations in a, possibly a little sad, mini-quest for perfection, by which I suppose I mean one that best approximates my favourite takeaway’s sauce that I can easily make at home. While I’m certainly not saying this is the definitive sweet & sour sauce, I think it’s pretty good. Drawing inspiration from all over, not least this recipe, this is quite a good approximation of the thick, sticky orange sauce we all know and love.

Ok, the list of ingredients is quite long, but stick with it, it’s worth it, and you may have most of the storecupboard stuff in anyway if you cook Chinese food a lot, or will end up amassing it if you plan to. I’ve suggested pineapple, red peppers and water chestnuts to make a chunky sauce, but play around as you wish. Tinned pineapple is fine, and water chestnuts you can buy either tinned or vacuum packed. In both cases, I’ve successfully frozen the leftover contents of the packages for use another time.

Chinese Takeaway Style Sweet & Sour Sauce (serves 2)

  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 x 2cm piece root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
  • 4 tablespoons pineapple juice
  • 1 tablespoon soft, light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons clear honey
  • 2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
  • pinch of salt and ground white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour, stirred well into 4 tablespoons water
  • 50g pineapple chunks
  • 50g water chestnuts, sliced
  • 1 small red pepper, cut into chunks

Heat the toasted sesame oil in a small saucepan, and then add the garlic and ginger. Stir fry for about 30 seconds. Add the soy sauce, vinegars, ketchup, pineapple juice, sugar, honey and sweet chilli sauce. Stir everything together well.

Season with a pinch of salt and ground white pepper, and then simmer for a minute or so. Stir in the cornflour mixture, and stir, over the heat, until the sauce begins to thicken a little.

Add the pineapple, red pepper and water chestnuts, and cook for 1 – 2 minutes, until everything is heated through. Serve with crunchy coated pork, chicken or turkey, over egg fried rice.

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Sweet & Sour Crunchy Coated Pork (or Chicken, or Turkey)

September 24, 2009 2 comments

Sweet & Sour Turkey

Returning, once more, to Ching-He Huang’s Chinese Food Made Easy, this is the first meal I cooked from the book. Everyone loves sweet & sour, no? So, this is my adaption of this recipe, and I think the crunchy coated meat would work in a number of dishes, so I’ll post separately two ideas for a sweet & sour sauce.

Recipe adapted from Ching-He Huang’s Chinese Food Made Easy

Sweet & Sour Crunchy Coated Pork (or Chicken, or Turkey) (serves 2)

  • 2 pork loin steaks, fat removed, or 2 chicken breasts, or 2 turkey breast steaks
  • 6 tablespoons dry roasted peanuts, or the same amount of whole roasted soya beans and a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of ground white pepper
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons ground nut oil

Place your meat between two sheets of clingfilm on a suitable surface, and then bash with a rolling pin or other appropriate instrument until it’s about half the thickness it was. Cut the meat into large chunks (or leave as whole, large steaks if you wish).

Next, make the crunchy coating for the meat. Tip the peanuts and chilli flakes into a mini-chopper or food processor, and a pinch of ground white pepper, a blitz to a coarsely ground coating.

Pour the coating onto a plate or shallow dish, and then firmly press each side of the meat pieces into the crumbs until well coated.

Heat the ground nut oil in a large frying pan, or wok, and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until thoroughly cooked. Serve with this fresh modern take on sweet & sour sauce, or this more traditional takeaway-style one, and egg fried rice.  

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Egg Fried Rice with Tomatoes

September 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Egg Fried Rice

I just love Chinese food, with its wonderful flavours, and quick, easy cooking. I’ve already talked about Ching He-Huang’s Chinese Food Made Easy, which, I think, is a fantastic book, and has encouraged me to try some Chinese cooking at home, and the results have always been great. Cooking Chinese food at home really isn’t too difficult, and much better for your waistline and wallet than ordering takeaway!

I’m going to post a couple of sweet & sour recipes later, but thought I’d start with egg fried rice, as it is my favourite side dish to a Chinese meal, and really goes well with sweet & sour! This recipe is adapted from the Beijing Rice in Chinese Food Made Easy. I’ve reduced the amount of rice, and I think what I’ve suggested is enough of a side for two people, although I haven’t reduced the amount of seasoning, particularly the toasted sesame oil, as this is simply one of my favourite flavours – by all means reduce the amount slightly, or increase the rice up to about 400g, as my preference is for this rice is to have it really flavour-packed, if a touch oily. By all means, change the vegetables too. I love the crunch of the spring onion added in at the end, so my recipe calls for more than the original.

When making egg fried rice, you need to have cooked rice, and its easier to do this the day before, but do bear in mind you need drain it well, cool it quickly, refrigerate it and ensure it is fully reheated. If that all seems like a bit of a hassle, then you can cheat! This rice, and others like it, are designed for microwaving but are basically little packages of cooked rice, in a little oil to stop it sticking, that stir fry really well. I use it all the time, and would use one 280g packet in place of the 300g cooked rice in this recipe. It’s best to break it up in a bowl before you add it to the wok.

Recipe adapted from Ching-He Huang’s Chinese Food Made Easy

Egg Fried Rice with Tomatoes (serves 2)

  • 1 – 2 tablespoons ground nut oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 300g cooked jasmine rice
  • 3 tomatoes, de-seeded and sliced
  • 2-3 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2-3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • pinch of ground white pepper
  • 4 – 5 spring onions, finely sliced

Heat a wok until very hot, and then add a tablespoon of ground nut oil. When the oil is hot, add the eggs and scramble for a minute or two, until just cooked. You should probably remove the eggs at this point, and set aside to be re-added later, but I’ve never bothered and haven’t really noticed it being overdone.

If needed, add another tablespoon of ground nut oil to the wok. Tip in the rice, and stir fry for a minute, then add the tomatoes and stir fry for a further 3-4 minutes.

If you’ve removed the egg, stick it back in at this point. Season, to taste, with the soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and pepper, and then add the spring onions. Give everything a final stir, and serve immediately.

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Chilli Chicken Noodles

August 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Chilli Chicken Noodles

Ching-He Huang’s Chinese Food Made Easy is one of my favourite cook books, and definitely my regular go-to for great, and as you would expect from the title, easy chinese meals. I bought the book the day after the first episode of the TV series aired, and several of the recipes have become regular dinners.

Lots of the dishes have quite a long list of ingredients, but actually across the book there is a core of store-cupboard staples that, once you’ve bought them, allow you to cook many of the recipes. And, despite the number of ingredients, everything is still simple to put together and tastes great.

I’ve played around with the original recipe a little. The OH isn’t the greatest fan of hot foods, although I’m working on that, so I’ve substituted the original red chilli for sweet chilli sauce, adding a sweeter but still warming kick, and a pinch of dried red chilli flakes. The original calls for yellow shi wheat flour noodles, but I generally have egg noodles in the house right now, or you could serve this with rice. There are a few other minor deviations from the original, however, the end result is delicious so who’s complaining? 

Chilli Chicken Noodles (serves 2)

For the sauce:

  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2.5cm piece fresh root ginger
  • 1 small red pepper
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 5 tbsp water
  • 1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • pinch dried red chilli flakes

For the chicken:

  • 150g egg noodles
  • 1 tablespoon ground nut oil
  • 250g skinless chicken breast fillets, sliced into 1cm strips
  • 1 courgette, sliced into strips
  • 1 red pepper, sliced into strips
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 bunch (5 or so) spring onions, sliced

Cook the noodles in boiling water as per the packet instructions. Drain, plunge into cold water, drain again and then dress with a little ground nut oil to stop them sticking. Leave to one side.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Peel the garlic gloves and the ginger and finely chop both. I whizzed them in the mini-chopper, you could grate them on a microplane, or, just do it the traditional way with a knife and some patience. De-seed the pepper and roughly chop into chunks. Roughly chop the tomatoes. Whack the garlic, ginger, tomatoes and pepper into a blender with the sauces, water, sugar and chilli flakes, and whizz. You’re looking for a fairly liquid sauce. Put to one side.

Heat the ground nut oil in a wok, and then stir-fry the chicken for 3-4 minutes until starting to brown. Add the pepper and courgette, and stir-fry for a further minute. Tip the noodles into the wok, give everything a good stir, then pour on the sauce and bring to the boil. Simmer for a minute or two, then season with the soy sauce, and stir in the spring onions. Serve immediately.

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