Monday, February 15, 2010

C is for China.



Gong Xi Fa Cai!

That's right - Happy Chinese New Year! I never miss an excuse to cook Chinese food. It was the first foreign cuisine I ever tried as a teenager and being as how China Town in Manchester is awesome I still have very fond memories of being skint but eating incredibly well at Pearl City, the Golden Rice Bowl and various other restaurants around that area of the City. Not to mention the fixation I developed on baby pickled eggplant serviced by one of the grocery stores in the neighbourhood on the way home from work!
Anyway, enough reminiscing (n_n) - another reason my love for Chinese cuisine is so enduring is that it's so easy to buy vegan-friendly produce at your local Chinese Supermarket. I'm not only talking about the mock meats and vegetarian stuffed buns and rolls, lets not forget the wide variety of iron-rich greens you can buy in bulk in the produce aisle, the vegetarian varieties of condiments like oyster sauce and even the jellies and sweets made using pectin, potato starch and agar instead of the preferred Western alternative - gelatine.
Any trip to the See-Woo supermarket in Glasgow is exciting enough - I don't know what half the stuff in there is, it's like being in some medicinal-smelling wonderland! - but on Sunday they had an impressively-colourful display of Chinese Dragons right by the entrance. As if that wasn't good enough, I also got my mitts on some fresh, soft and sweet tofu-fa in the chiller cabinet.

This is dessert tofu - basically soft tofu in a simple syrup. It was so good I ate half right out of the Styrofoam tub when I got home.

It has a texture reminiscent of those French-set yogurts we get in the UK, but with a much milder, cleaner flavour with just the right twang of sugary sweetness. Delicious!

clockwise l-r: steamed rice, Singapore noodles, chilli and salt shrimp, hoisin tofu puffs, sauteed greens.

Once I got home I started on our Chinese banquet. I made tofu puffs in hoisin sauce, chilli and salt 'shrimp', sauteed greens with spring onions in oyster sauce with vegetarian prawn crackers, steamed rice and Singapore noodles (lovelovelove these!) as accompaniments. I ensured I had all my ingredients prepared and my plates warmed before cooking so that everything went to the table hot and cooking time was kept desirably short. The flavours delivered an appropriate mix of sweet, spicy and salty as I had intended. McGonnagle in particular loves eating a wide variety of dishes at one sitting so she tucked in with great gusto. Ho-Tep fought me for the last few tofu puffs with the proclamation - 'I LOVE tofu!'. Earlier that day he'd announced 'I LOVE spicy things!' while eyeing up my wasabi seasoned pop seaweed. I gave in and let him try a few pieces which he consumed with much appreciation. As a curt nod to Valentines Day (we don't need to be reminded we love each other with edible pants and giant stuffed toys, thanks! We'll save that for EuroDisney.) we enjoyed some Yellow Tail Rose bubbles alongside our delicious feast. Ho-Tep looked at my fluted glass filled with pink fizz and proclaimed 'I LOVE fizzy things!' Nice try, boy, nice try!


And what better way to finish the meal than by settling down to enjoy Mulan with the kids and having a nice cup of green tea and a pink rabbit bun filled with yummy red bean paste!

Funnily enough, these adorable little buns - found in the freezer section - reminded me of the poppy-seed rolls me and my mum would swoon over from the Polish deli in Chorlton. Very good, very tasty but not oversweet. And as you can microwave the buns individually instead of steaming them all it means there's no temptation to eat all of them in one sitting! (-_o)
So as far as celebrating the Lunar New Year I think we did ok.

In Other News: McGonnagle couldn't pass-up the opportunity to dress up for her Valentines Disco at school earlier in the week.


Plus I received gifts of tea from two of my favourite people in the whole wide world through the post the other day - how exciting!!!

You can't smoke it but you can drink it!

My mum sent me a big bag of her bespoke blend of leaf tea - as recommended by great British actor Sir Michael Horden, no less! 1 part Twinings Earl Grey tea to 2 parts Typhoo. And you know, it really is as good as I remember it. Thanks Mama!


Then my fabulous friend Helen sent me a couple of posh fairtrade Earl Grey teabags from the London Tea Company. The search for the perfect cup of Earl Grey intensifies! Thanks, btw, all you lovely people who left me recommendations of different tea blends to try. I can feel another Earl Grey Report coming soon...

11 comments:

  1. Hell YES C is for China! This looks amazing! I loooove Chinese food, but I never make it for myself at home. That has to change because this is too delicious to pass up. That dessert tofu sounds wonderful, I've never had anything like that before but the way you describe it makes me imagine it would be scrumptious!

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  2. That's one cool Asian supermarket you got there. I've never seen tofu-fa here but damn I want to try some - I used to love those French set youhurty things.
    And I've never thought to look at the sweets available either!! You've given me some great ideas now. Chinese food is THE BEST! I made General Tao's Tofu with Vegetable Noodles and mini spring rolls (from Iceland no less!) with Hoisin sauce and Chili oil as dippage.
    YUM!
    Yours looks AMAZING! I like having lots of different things to eat as well, that's probably why Chinese and Indian food are my faves.
    :)
    What recipe do you use for your Singapore noodles? Are they spicey?

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  3. Your CNY feast looks amazing. Although my memories of Manchester aren't as fond as yours, I did appreciate China Town there -- so many great restaurants with great vegan food!

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  4. I love tofu! I love spicy things! I love fizzy things! Sorry, Ho-Tep! :D

    Such yummy goodies! The hoisin tofu puffs are probably my favorite. So glossy! I would have fought you for the last few of those too! ;)

    Rabbit buns! How cute! And speaking of cute, McGonnagle looks adorable! Aww, what a cutie!

    Enjoy your tea goodies and have fun searching for the perfect Earl Grey tea!

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  5. I love our Asian market. It is the best. I have not tried the veggie meats. They look to real to me. I can't get past it. The food you made looks so freakin' good. Yum.

    And how cute is the Valentine's outfit. So sweet.

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  6. Oh I went and checked out my local Asian shop and saw some peanut nougat there. There was one ingredient I wasn't sure of (didn't have my Spanish dictionary with me) so I didn't buy them. When I got home I looked the word up and it was starch!! So those babies are vegan!!
    Vegan Peanut Nougat!!!
    Boy can't wait to go back.
    While I was there though I did pick up some goodies so I left very happy.
    :)

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  7. China:) we had a take away on Sunday from an old favourite(no I still haven't used the tofu yet perhaps I need to come up for lessons:)) but they don't do their tofu like they used to:( D.J your tofu puffs look amazing!!!the dessert tofu sounds interesting I simply must visit a Chinese shop in town!McGonnagle just looks so lovely bless, Valentine disco,our school didn't do anything!I sent your teas today(at last I remembered)

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  8. Ah, bean paste-filled bunnies, too cute! I'm actually planning on making something similar for Easter... I just can't resist adorable baked goods. ;)

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  9. Oh that food looks good! I must try to get hold of that sweet tofu...
    With you about Valentine's day! It passes us by...
    Hope MacG had a good time at the disco! She looks great!

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  11. I love Chinese food! And I always get the red bean buns, they're so good! I've never tried tofu-fa though, looks delicious! I'll have a look next time I'm at the Chinese store,

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