Imitated_crab_Sai_Pang_Xie

Imitated Crab – Sai Pang Xie – a Beijing Imperial Recipe

There’s a story behind this imitated crab (sai pang xie) recipe, and it starts with the Empress Dowager Cixi craving crabs. Unfortunately, being based in Beijing means a lack of fresh crabs, so the imperial chefs found a clever way to cook eggs to make them taste as good as crab meat. I love this recipe because you can make a huge quantity of the “crab” without breaking the bank – and the bonus is that there’s no need to get fiddly with crab shells!

There are many variations of the recipe, starting with the poor-man’s version with just eggs. Others use white fish and a touch of prawns to achieve a texture closest to crab meat. I’ve used only prawns here, as I prefer that more seafood-y taste. I’ve also used a salted egg, as this adds a little extra punch to the recipe, but you can use normal eggs. If you’re using normal eggs, then make sure you add more salt in the egg white and egg yolk mixes.

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Argentinian_pasta_Sorrentinos

Argentinian Pasta: Sorrentinos

When I spent almost two months in Buenos Aires, I have to confess that, if I came across sorrentinos in one of my many meals at Café La Poesia in San Telmo, I didn’t give them too much thought back then. They look like large, round ravioli and often carry similar fillings. Considering that the majority of Argentinians are of Italian origin, the name of this dish could have come from an old recipe of Campanian ravioli, maybe made particularly well by a nonna from Sorrento? However, these round cousins of ravioli actually have their origin in Argentina, and legend says that they used to be served at a restaurant in Mar de la Plata called Sorrento- hence the name. Whilst in Spain I was lucky enough to assist with the preparation of a very original sorrentinos recipe, made with a filling of ricotta, spinach, mushrooms and walnuts. Obviously, I documented it all for you, as well as making sure I tasted them!

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Steamed_Sea_Bass_Fish

Steamed Sea Bass

As a continuation of our steamed recipes, here comes a really simple Chinese-style steamed fish recipe. The fish we’re using here is sea bass, though other kinds of thin white fish fillets such as sole will also work well.

Steaming fish is a bit different from steaming the veggies from previous recipes, as the timing and heat is important. Fish can easily get dry and overcooked. Make sure that the steamer is boiling before you put the fish in, and when it is in there, boil on high heat then mid heat. Continue reading “Steamed Sea Bass”

Dough_Knot_Soup

Dough Drop Knot Egg and Tomato Soup – Chinese Gnocchi

When you think of Chinese food, rice usually comes to mind, but actually flour-based recipes are just as common in the north. This dough drop soup is a home-cooked staple from the north of China as it looks more filling than it is, and it’s really easy to make, so became popular in the Sixties, when food was scarce. You don’t have to worry about making the dough drops even or pretty, because the whole point is that they are supposed to look lumpy and uneven – part of the handmade charm. Continue reading “Dough Drop Knot Egg and Tomato Soup – Chinese Gnocchi”

Dongbei Poussin and Mushroom Stew

Often called a chicken and mushroom stew, it’s traditionally prepared by the bride’s family on the wedding day, but is very much a popular and everyday dish. The actual preparation only takes 10-15 minutes – then you can just leave it to stew on low heat.  The chicken used in the stew is actually closer to a poussin (you can also use corn-fed chicken though), so that’s what I’ve used here. This was one of my favourite stews from childhood, and as it’s a Chinese dish from Dongbei/Manchuria (in the North East), it has quite strong flavours. Continue reading “Dongbei Poussin and Mushroom Stew”