Archive | August, 2010

Seafood Soup with dried scallops

28 Aug

With the grim weather and rising fevers, what better way to beat the blues than with a hearty, traditional Chinese soup.

This dish uses dried scallops or ‘conpoys’, which are a staple for any Chinese soup base and are well worth keeping in the store cupboard as they can last for long periods of time when stored correctly. They add a deep, rich, seafood flavour to any dish it is served in, and contain many beneficial minerals such as zinc and calcium. Dried scallops can be added  in soups, stews, stir fries and congee to enhance the flavours and give it that extra boost of flavour.

 Fresh crabs


5 oz/2-3 cups Shrimps (Shells removed)

4 Conpoys or Dried Scallops (Washed and boiled for 30 mins until softened)

2 Whisked egg whites

2 oz/ 55 g Mung bean vermicelli noodles (soaked and drained)

1 Stalk of spring onion (chopped)

600g Green crabs (Steam until cooked – 15 mins approx. then remove meat and roe)

100g white mushrooms (diced)


Dried scallops

Fish Seasoning:

1 tsp Sesame oil

1/4 tsp Ground black pepper

1/2 tbsp Corn flour

1/2 tbsp Vegetable oil


Soup Base:

1.5 litres of Superior stock

1/2 tbsp light Soy sauce

1 tsp Sesame oil

1/4 tsp Black pepper

1 tsp Salt


4 tbsp Corn flour

100ml water


Tear the dried scallops into strips and let cool.

Add the fish seasoning to the dried scallops and shrimps. Blanch in boiling water and drain.

Combine the soup base in a large saucepan. Add the scallops, mushrooms and vermicelli noodles and bring to the boil.

Add the sauce, shrimps, crab meat and roe and bring to boil.

Check seasoning and add in the egg, stirring well.

Serve hot to needy people


Superior Stock (Shang Tang 上汤)

28 Aug

As the weather turns grim and the colds and flus begin their seasonal rampage, there is just nothing better than a hot, warming bowl of Chinese soup. Full of nutrients and flavour, these soups are the perfect antidote to winter blues that you certainly won’t find at your local Chinese take-away!

This stock provides the basis of many delicious soups so it’s a good place to start to make an authentic and nourishing soup.

Superior stock or shang tang is a popular stock in Cantonese cuisine. It is a light flavoursome broth with a colour that resembles Chinese tea.

The Cantonese cooks add this stock to many dishes from shark fin soup to vegetable soup.

The recipe below makes about 10kg of this Chinese soup stock. Reduce the amount according to your needs.

5kg Chicken
3kg Pork leg/shoulder with bones
1kg Chinese ham
1kg chicken feet
150g dried scallops
50g dried longan                                                                                      
200g rock sugar
25g white peppercorns
100g ginger
20 litres water (preferably distilled)


  1. Chop the Chicken, Pork, Chinese ham, and Pork bones into big pieces
  2. Place them into a big pot, add water and parboil them
  3. Remove them and rinse thoroughly
  4. Place the meats into a big stock pot, add the distilled water, ginger and white peppercorns
  5. Bring to a boil and lower to medium heat
  6. Cook for 6 hours
  7. After 6 hours, add the dried longans and rock sugar
  8. Cook for another 2 hours
  9. If possible, strain the stock before use
Recipe source:

THAI: Duck Green Curry

27 Aug

This is a flavoursome dish, prefect for warming up cold evenings. The green curry spices compliment the flavour of the duck and add an aromatic taste. Try this recipe for a delicious way to enjoy the Thai green curry.



Serves 4-6

To make the green curry paste:

2 Green chillies chopped and de-seeded

2 Tbsp Galangal chopped and peeled

2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

2 Tbsp Coriander or Thai sweet basil chopped

1 middle section of Lemongrass

3 Kaffir lime leaves (remove spines)

4 Garlic cloves, minced

4 Shallots, chopped

1/2 Tsp Ground cumin

A pinch of ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon and ground cardamom.



Heat the oil in a frying pan, over a medium heat.

Add the chillies, galangal, garlic, shallots, and cook for approx. 6 mins.

Place in food processor or blender and add the remaining ingredients and spices.

Blend into a smooth paste – adding water if necessary.

Alternatively, you can use ready made pastes which taste just as good!


For the Curry

1 Roasted duck

2 Potatoes or sweet potatoes

5 Small Thai aubergines, quartered

500ml Coconut milk

2 Tbsp Fish sauce

1 Tbsp Tamarind paste

1 Tbsp Fresh lime juice

1 Tbsp Vegetable oil

1 1/2 Tbsp Palm Sugar (chopped)


Instead of roasting a duck yourself, you can find frozen and freshly prepared roasted ducks in-store.



Prepare the duck by carving the meat off the bone and into bite-sized pieces.

Peel and cube the potatoes

In a wok or large frying pan heat the oil over a medium heat.

Add the curry paste and cook for approx. 3mins or until fragrant.

Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and add 250ml water, tamarind paste, lime juice, palm sugar, fish sauce and simmer.

Add the potatoes and simmer for 10mins, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the duck and aubergines and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Add more coconut milk or water if necessary.

Serve immediately on steamed Jasmine rice.



Moon cake Festival!

18 Aug

Yes, its that time of the year again! There are few large-scale celebrations in the Chinese culture and the Moon cake or Mid-Autumn Festival is one of them. Starting on the 15th day of the eighth Lunar Moon of the year, the festival coincides with the Autumnal Equinox – when the moon said to be at its fullest and roundest. The festival is heavily associated with the moon, which is a subject seen widely throughout Chinese poetry and song since ancient times. The festival is said to originate from the ancient ceremony of sacrificing to the Moon Goddess.

“When the moon is full, mankind is one”

In China, the full moon has always represented the gathering of family and friends. During the Mid-Autumn festival, families come together often in scenic locations to eat mooncakes and pomelos, and appreciate the moon

The festival dates back over 3000 years and also coincides with the full harvest, where offerings are made to the Earth God in hopes to bring a bigger harvest next year.

According to popular belief, the custom of eating moon cakes began in the late Yuan Dynasty at a time when the Hans where oppressed by their Mongol rulers. The Han revolutionaries planned a revolt to usurp the throne, but had to find a way of alerting the rest of their people without the Mongols finding out. Finally, the advisor to the leader of the revolutionary group, Liu Po-Wen found a solution. The Hans started a rumour that there was a terrible plague washing over the city and the only way to cure the disease was by eating a special moon cake which was distributed only to Hans by the revolutionaries. When the people cut into their cakes, they read a message imprinted inside, alerting them to the date of the revolt. The Hans were then able to rise up in revolt against their oppressors and moon cakes have since become an essential part of the Mid-Autumn festival.

This year, the Moon cake festival falls on the 22nd September.

         Fresh Raw Egg Yolks                       The famous Three Inch Lotus

What are Moon cakes?

Moon cakes are the traditional celebration food eaten amongst family and friends during the festival period. 

Traditional mooncakes have an imprint on the top, showing the Chinese characters for “longevity” or “harmony” as well as the name of the bakery and filling in the moon cake. Imprints of a moon, a woman on the moon, flowers, vines, or a rabbit may surround the characters for additional decoration.

Mooncakes are considered a delicacy; production is labour-intensive and few people make them at home. Most mooncakes are bought at Asian markets and bakeries.

Moon cakes are small, round or rectangle pastries, with a variety of fillings and containing one or more egg yolks in the centre, which symbolises the moon:

Lotus Seed Paste: Considered to be the most original and desired filling, Lotus Seed is highly priced and highly delicious to many. They can also include egg yolks.

Jujube: Also known as Chinese Date, and is a sweet and fruity filling, similar in taste to red bean paste. Jujube also has medicinal purposes and is used to relieve stress and sore throats.

Sweet Bean Paste: Found in many Chinese desserts and are not actually naturally sweet, but flavoured with sugar. Several types can be found in Moon cakes, Mung Bean and Black bean and most commonly Red bean.

Taro Paste: A purple sweet, nutty flavoured paste made from the Taro vegetable, usually used in Teochew crusty moon cakes.

Five Kernel: Consisting of 5 assorted nuts including sesame, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pumpkin and watermelon seeds. Held together with maltose syrup and flavoured with candied winter melon or rock sugar

Durian: Filled with a Durian fruit paste, and most commonly eaten in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.

Ice cream: There are also a wide variety of Ice cream moon cakes with sweet fillings including Mango, Green Tea, Coffee, Chocolate, Durian.


Dim Sum at Home!

5 Aug


We all love to eat Dim Sum, but sadly we can’t make enough excuses to eat it all the time. Someone might get suspicious… But don’t fret! Central are always fully stocked with all your favourite Dim Sum dishes. Many people do not attempt to make Dim Sum at home as it is very time-consuming and involves a lot of complicated techniques – so we have left all the hard bits to the professionals, to bring you the finest Dim Sum ready to be steamed at your convenience or when you get those Dim Sum withdrawal symptoms.

So what exactly is Dim Sum?

Aside from being our favourite food in the entire world, Dim Sum comes from the age-old tradition of ‘Yum Cha’ which means tea tasting. Traditionally, travellers and local farmers would stop at tea houses located on the Silk Road to rest after a hard day’s work.  After realising that tea was beneficial to digestion, the tea shops started serving small snacks with the tea. The tradition of Yum Cha was transformed over centuries from being a relaxing affair, to a loud and joyful one, as it became a widely popular dining experience all over China, enjoyed at all times of the day. In some areas of China, Dim Sum is enjoyed as a weekend treat with the family. In other regions it is enjoyed as a tasty snack in the morning.

Types of Dim Sum

There are a large range of Dim Sum dishes but the most popular, staple dishes are:


Har Gau (Prawn dumpling wrapped in translucent rice flour skin)

Siu Mai (minced pork and prawn wrapped in won ton pastry and topped with crab roe)

Jiaozi Dumplings (Won ton pastry filled with pork, prawn or vegetables, pan-fried and steamed)

Fung Chaw (Chicken feet marinated in black bean sauce)

Char Siu Bao (Sweet and fluffy bun filled with honeyed roast pork)

Cheong Fun (Wide rice noodles filled with prawns/minced beef/roast pork and rolled)

Lo Mai Gai (Glutinous rice filled with egg yolk, dried scallop, mushroom, water chestnut and meat- usually pork and chicken)

Deep Fried

Taro Dumpling (made with mashed taro, stuffed with diced shiitake mushrooms, shrimp and pork, deep-fried in crispy batter)

Won Ton (Thin pastry filled with meat/or fish and vegetable)

Daikon Cake (Shredded Daikon also known as turnip, mixed with shredded pork or shrimp and pan-fried )

Congee (A thick soup with a variety of meats and fish , with peanuts, ginko nuts, shredded scallop, ginger)


Custard Tarts (Small, sweet custard egg tarts)

Dou Fu Fa (Silken Tofu with sweet ginger syrup)

Jin Deui (Especially popular at Chinese New Year, chewy dough filled with red bean paste, rolled in sesame seeds, and deep fried)

Steamed Sponge Cake (Sweet, soft sponge cake flavoured with Molasses)

HOW-TO: Prepare restaurant quality Dim Sum at home

For those of us who were unsure about how it’s done – here is Dim Sum at its simplest. All you need is a steamer and water! You can use any kind of steamer, but for an authentic feel (and to impress your friends) you can use bamboo steamers.


TIP: Cut out a circle of baking paper on the base of the bamboo steamers to keep the food from sticking to them.

Heat a saucepan of boiling water and simmer. Make sure your saucepan fits the steamers on    top so that no heat can escape. Following the cooking times of each Dim Sum dish, put each ingredient into a bamboo layer, and place over the saucepan, with the longest cooking times on the bottom layers.

TIP: Place a penny in the boiling water. If you hear it knocking around after a while, it means you need to add more water!

Now it’s time to sit back and relax for about 20 minutes and let the steam work its magic…

The delicious results


Ha Gow, Siu Mai, Pork and Vegetable Bao and Mini Glutinous Rice!

Carefully remove the steamers and serve immediately with your favourite sauces


So now you’ve seen just how simple and easy it is, you can throw an easy and delicious dinner party or just spice up your Sunday lunch!