Dressed Mung Beans – Perfect for Salads

Add mung beans to your diet, and you’ll have the blessings of nutritionists, traditional Chinese medicine practitioners and Ayurvedic docs alike. This tiny green bean is so packed with goodness that simply makes everyone agree on its invaluable nutrition. Magnesium, potassium, vitamin B6, proteins, folate, you name it! Unlike a few trendy super-foods, this legume is largely available in Asia, and you can still find it at honest prices! So I added it to my veggie-packed weekly meals, and cooked it like I do with lentils sometimes, dry and flavoured, ready to be added to salads.

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Polpette al Sugo – Italian Meatballs

I wish I had a magic realism story to tell you about Meatballs and life in the Sardinian countryside, but actually they are all about just-realism. Polpette, AKA meatballs, are probably one of the most common dishes throughout Italy: a dish that speaks about daily life, time spent in the kitchen with your nonna or mamma, crumbling dry bread with your hands. Also, meatballs are probably one of the first recipes one learns to cook, because it’s fun. I can tell you a story of dirty hands, trying to reproduce a perfect sphere of meat, and the only magic here is that my mother never fried the balls before putting them in the tomato sauce, but they never – well, almost never – broke.

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Dongbei Stew – Luan Dun with Ribs and Winter Vegetables

Stew is one of the best hearty and warming winter foods, and North-Eastern Chinese (Dongbei) cuisine is full of these. Luan Dun (cooked here with ribs and winter vegetables) literally means messy stew, so as you can imagine, the recipe is far from precise. It also involves ripping as many ingredients apart with your hands as possible (instead of cutting it neatly with your cleaver/kitchen knife), so it’s a great way to relieve stress!

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Halloween Recipe: Sardinian Dead Bones

In Italy, Halloween is often seen as the American festival that took over our culture, but only a few know that actually our pagan traditions are very similar to this spooky holiday. This Halloween recipe, in dialect called Ossus de Mottu, is representative of what Sardinians called Is Animeddas, a tradition that occurred during the night between All Saint’s and the Day of the Dead. During this night, in the villages of the island, people would keep the house door open, in order to let the souls of the Purgatory come in and help themselves to food and beverages. Also, furniture and drawers would be left open, for the souls to take anything they might need. Spooky uh? Continue reading “Halloween Recipe: Sardinian Dead Bones”

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Chinese Dried Meat – Rou Gan

What do you do with left over minced meat? Try this Rou Gan recipe and turn your meat into a jerky-like snack! It’s saved a lot of expiring meat for me. I’m using minced pork here, but it also works for other types of meat, and of course if you have some leftover meat that’s not minced, you can always put it in a blender.

Bear in mind though that the end result is usually better if you have a cut with a high fat percentage, as the “drying” process will make the lean meat too hard. You can try and add a little vegetable oil to the mince mix if your meat is too lean – feel free to experiment, as this is more of a method than a recipe.

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Halloween Recipe – Bolognese Stuffed Pumpkin

It’s Halloween, and while in most households families get busy carving and emptying pumpkins, we decided to stuff ours! This time, with very typical Italian flavours: we stuffed it with Bolognese sauce, probably the most famous pasta sauce in the world. Since the traditional recipe for Bolognese is very time consuming, we make a big batch so we can save several portions in the freezer. Keep that in mind if you try this recipe, and adjust the quantity of the ingredients according to the amount of meat you will be using. Also, take into consideration that the sauce takes three and a half hours, so we suggest you prepare it the day before you decide to stuff your Halloween pumpkin with it.

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Carbonara – the Italian Recipe

I won’t dwell too much on the name origin of this Italian classic recipe, for which many are the presumed stories , but none of them sure. What is certain is that this classic recipe from Lazio was popular only after the Second World War, it is one of the most famous recipes in the world, and also one of the simplest pasta sauces there are to make. However, you still find some recipes that get it completely wrong, by adding extra ingredients that are not necessary at all for this recipe. It is definitely a winner at dinner parties with Anglo-Saxon friends – who will wonder at how magically you pulled together their favourite breakfast ingredients in a dinner dish. Serves two people.

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Stuffed Squid Chestnuts, Mushroom and Rice (Ikameshi)

I’m a fan of Ikameshi (a Japanese dish from Hokkaido made from whole squids stuffed with glutinous rice), but as it’s part of a regional cuisine, it’s very difficult to find in restaurants here. There are many amazing recipes for Ikameshi, and this version I’m sharing is by no means the most authentic. I wanted to make it without using my rice cooker or pressure cooker, and more importantly, wanted to make the stuffing much heavier on elements other than rice.

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sesame_tuna_sauce messine_recipe

Sesame Tuna and Modified Sauce Messine

Just as much as I easily find good cuts of meat in the Haringey wing of Seven Sisters, well sourced tasty fish is equally as impossible to find. So when I crave it, I make it a proper treat, spending a bit more, but trying to find some sustainably sourced fish. In this case, I got a chunk of tuna from Wholefoods, together with some sea asparagus, and I planned to make something very special with them.  Sauce Messine is a traditional French sauce used for fish – it’s in Elizabeth Davis’ book and I’ve made it a few times, although I almost never have the exact ingredients needed. As usual, I have allowed myself to make some adjustments and the result was simply delightful. This recipe serves two.

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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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