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Festive Friday Food Post – Traditional Christmas Pudding with Thai Rum and Candied Yuzu Peel

Our Friday food post has gone festive this week with a traditional christmas pudding. We have a little twist of course! Eclectic East Christmas puddingYou might think Thai Rum (known as Sang Som) is better suited to being drunk from buckets on a beach in Koh Phangan in the glow of the full moon, and you might be right! But we challenge you to change your preconceptions about and give this a go – it might bring back some happy memories! Our second unusual ingredient is candied yuzu peel. Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit with a milder zest than a lemon or lime – the candied version is quite mellow and adds a nice depth of flavour to this pudding.

Eclectic East Christmas pudding tahi rum and japanese yuzu

Eclectic East Christmas pudding ingredientsWe can’t take credit for this winning recipe. It comes courtesy of the failsafe Delia Smith – you can find it here. We can only take credit for adding the Yuzu and Thai Rum which certainly gives the pudding an Eclectic East kick. If you want to try the same, substitute the rum for Sang Som and sustitute the candied peel for yuzu candied peel.

Eclectic East Christmas pudding thai rum

Garnish your pudding with some yuzu peel (shown below) and serve with flames powered by Sang Som rum and some brandy (or Sang Som!) butter.

Eclectic East Christmas pudding2Ours is currently wrapped in brown paper and waiting for the big day. We can’t wait – Merry Christmas!

Eclectic East Christmas pudding wrapped

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Friday Food Post – Sweet Chilli Popcorn

After a very hectic week, Mr EE and I are settling in to a Friday evening with a movie. So naturally a movie night calls for popcorn…. Eclectic East style!

sweet chilli popcorn finalThis is easy peasy and seriously tasty.

Ingredients – makes a big bowl – plenty for 2 people – probably enough for 4! 

  • 1/2 Cup of popcorn kernels
  • 2 Tablespoons of castor sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons of chilli flakes
  • 1 Teaspoon of sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons of corn oil (or other tasteless oil)
  • 1 Teaspoon of chilli oil

swwet chilli popcorn ingredients

Method 

Start by grinding your sugar, salt and chilli in a pestle and mortar until it becomes a fine dust (the chilli flakes probably won’t grind up completely – this is fine)

sweet chilli popcorn step 1sweet chilli popcorn step 2sweet chilli popcorn ground mixOnce ground, your seasoning will look a bit pink.

Now put your popcorn and oil into a heavy based pan. Make sure that the oil fully covers the bottom of the pan and all the kernels.

swwet chilli popcorn step3Turn on the heat to medium and put on a well fitting lid. You will start to hear pops after about 2-3 minutes. It will pop for about 5 minutes. When the pops start to slow down you can take a peak, once they have slowed to 3 seconds apart it is done.

sweet chilli popcorn step4In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle your seasoning all over the popcorn, mixing well and making sure everything is coated.

sweet chilli popcorn step 5Serve with a glass of wine and enjoy the movie!

sweet chilli popcorn final2

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Friday Food Post – Seriously Garlicky Kale Salad

Kale and Garlic saladThis week, our Friday Food post is brought to you from Weihai. I am unable to cook this week but I have done a lot of eating of delicious local cuisine. This particular dish is right up my street; fresh, flavoursome and bursting with nutrients. Kale is having a bit to a hipster moment in the west right now, but in China it has always been eaten when in season. This salad is an age old dish which is typically served with other cold appetisers at the beginning of a meal. Tradition aside, the hipster hype is not without substance – kale is extremely high in iron, antioxidants, and vitamins A and K. It is also low in calories and tastes delicious – what’s not to love!?

I must warn you, the high content of raw garlic makes it quite antisocial! So make sure you serve it to all your friends and don’t plan any dates after eating this one. The recipe comes courtesy of Chef William Yang of the Huancuiyuan restaurant in Weihai. It is super easy, no cooking required. I ate it with vegetarian dumplings and clear vegetable soup but I think it could go really well with grilled fish or meat, or even as an accompaniment to pasta since the fresh acidity will offset any rich sauces.

Ingredients – Makes a large bowl of salad for sharing

  • One large bunch of kale – approx 400gm.
  • 4 – 6 cloves of garlic (depending on how much garlic you can take!)
  • 4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • a pinch of salt

Method

1. Wash and dry your kale and roughly rip it into biteable pieces using your hands. Place in a large salad bowl.

2. Now crush and finely chop your garlic – in the photos below you can see the garlic on the kale leaves, this is about the size you are going for.

Kale and Garlic salad3

3. Put the garlic, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar and salt in a bowl and mix well until completely combined.

4. Pour the dressing over the kale and toss together to thoroughly coat the kale in the dressing.

Serve as an accompaniment to your selected dish – I’m going to try it with grilled salmon when I get back to the kitchen. Or try your hand at making fresh vegetable and tofu dumplings like I did in Weihai – a good recipe is here.

Vegetable dumplings

Kale and Garlic salad2

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Friday Food Post – Ginger and Citrus Meringue Mess with Coconut Cream.

Ginger, coconut and berry mess final1

We are super excited by this “knock your socks off” pudding. It has it’s roots in a classic pavlova (thank you Delia Smith) but it’s got a little Eclectic East twist! Adding the ginger and the lemon to the meringue gives it a bit of zest and zing which is complimented by the coolness of the coconut cream. I have used blackberries and raspberries because they are my favourite berries, but you can use any that you love. Experiment the Eclectic East way!

Ginger, coconut and berry mess fruit

Ingredients – Makes enough for 6

For the Meringues 

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 100grams caster sugar
  • grated zest of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of finely grated ginger.

For the topping 

  • 1/4 cup coconut cream
  • 1/2 cup single cream
  • One punnet of raspberries
  • One punnet of blackberries
  • Zest and juice of 2 limes
  • Fresh Mint leaves

Method

1. You need to start by making your meringues well in advance because they need to cool before you assemble the pudding. I advise at least an hour cooling time.

2. Pre heat your oven to 150 degrees C.

3. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

4. Start by whisking the egg whites until you have stiff peaks

Ginger, coconut and berry mess whisking-01

5. Once you have stiff peaks, slowly add the sugar little by little. Then add the lemon zest and grated ginger.

Ginger, coconut and berry mess step 4

Ginger, coconut and berry mess step 56. Keep whisking until you have a smooth and stiff mixture, it should stick to the back of a spoon. Now place tablespoon fulls of the mixture in equal spacing on the baking tray.

Ginger, coconut and berry mess step 67. Place into the oven and turn down immediately to 140 degrees C. Cook for 30 mins. After this, turn off the oven and leave them to cool there for as long as you can. If you can leave them to totally cool in the oven then that is best, but if you want to hurry things along, remove each meringue from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack.

Ginger, coconut and berry mess step 7Now on with the fun part! 

8. Blend your coconut cream and single cream together and whisk. Note that it will not whisk into thick, fully whipped, cream because of the coconut cream – you are just aiming to get some air into it.

Ginger, coconut and berry mess blending-02

Ginger, coconut and berry mess step 109. When your meringues are fully cooled, crumble them into random clusters.

10. In a clean glass or bowl start to layer up your ingredients, starting with the crumbled meringue, then adding some cream mixture, then some berries and a squeeze of lime and lime zest. Keep layering up like this until you get to the top.

Ginger, coconut and berry mess step 11Ginger, coconut and berry mess step 13

Ginger, coconut and berry mess layers11. Finish the glass with a bit of mint and some more lime zest to give it a beautiful colour.

Ginger, coconut and berry mess final1

Enjoy! Oh, and relish the fact that meringues are fat free!

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Friday Food Post – Chinese Gooseberry Cous Cous with Pinenuts, Feta and Lemonmint

Chinese Gooseberry cous cousWhilst doing my trip to the market this week I came across the humble Chinese Gooseberry being sold by the punnet load for next to nothing. This made me laugh; in the UK we pay extortionate prices for this fruit –  which we call Physalis – it is often used to decorate pudding plates because of it’s pretty skin. I discovered that in Asia it is considered a wild fruit (much like the common blackberry in the UK) so it is picked and sold cheaply. The Chinese eat it for it’s health benefits such as helping to cure a sore throat.

chinese gooseberry

But I wanted to try to make something different with it. So here you are – my easy Cous Cous with Chinese Gooseberries. Simple, naturally sweet and a little bit tangy. It only takes about 15 mins to prepare so it is an easy weeknight supper or a weekend lunch. Serve with hearty kale salad or mediterranean roasted chicken thighs.

Ingredients – serves 4 as an accompanying dish. 

  • 250grams of dry cous cous
  • Boiling water to cover cous cous (approx one cup)
  • One teaspoon of vegetable bouillon
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • One cup of chinese gooseberries
  • 150 grams of feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup of pinenuts
  • A handful of lemonmint (normal fresh mint will work if you cannot get lemonmint)
  • One Tablespoon of Zaartar
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Freshly ground Salt and Pepper to taste

Chinese Gooseberry cous cous ingredients

Method

  1. Add your dry cous cous to a medium sized mixing bowl (ensure that the bowl is at least twice the size of the volume of your cous cous because once your cous cous cooks it will swell and need space for this).
  2. Stir in the vegetable bouillon powder and one tablespoon of olive oil
  3. Now pour over enough boiling water to just cover the cous cous, cover with a plate and leave the cous cous to steam and cook itself. This will take about 10 mins.
  4. Whilst your cous cous is cooking, take the leaves off your gooseberries, wash and chop into halves.
  5. Wash the lemonmint and roughly chop it.
  6. Gently toast your pinenuts by placing them in a dry frying pan over a medium heat until they are golden.
  7. By now your cous cous should be cooked, take the plate off the bowl and check if the grains are light and fluffy. Use a fork to gently separate the grains and bring air into the mix.
  8. Now all your gooseberries, pinenuts, lemonmint and mix thoroughly.
  9. Add the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and give a good stir to make sure everything is fully dressed.
  10. Transfer into a serving dish and crumble the feta on top.
  11. Sprinkle with the zaartar and a little more olive oil to finish.
  12. You can eat it warm straight away or chill it and enjoy it as a cold salad.

Enjoy!!

Chinese Gooseberry cous cous close up

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Friday Food Post – Asian Mushroom and Mackerel Spaghetti

I have been at the markets again today and found all sorts of different mushrooms. It inspired me to make this delicious pasta recipe – a little east meets west – this is the Eclectic East after all!

pasta4I am lucky enough to have some of the really special mushrooms (the kind that cost the earth in the UK) available in the local markets, if you don’t have these types of mushrooms available you could substitute with what you can find. market mushroomsIngredients – Serves 4-6

  • 500gms Spaghetti
  • Half a red onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic – crushed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Handfuls of oyster mushrooms
  • 1 handful of enoki mushrooms
  • 5 large shitake mushrooms
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup of white wine
  • 3 Tablespoons of creme fraiche
  • 2 grilled mackerel fillets
  • A bunch of fresh dill

pasta18

Method

1. Fill a large bowl with water and set it on the stove to boil

2. Finely chop the onion and crush the garlic.

3. pour the olive oil into a large flat pan and allow to warm, now add the chopped onion and garlic and cook over a gentle heat to allow them to soften.

pasta174. Once the onion has turned transparent and soft (as in the picture here) you are ready to add your some mushrooms.

pasta165. Chop the shitake mushrooms into cubes as shown here and then roughly chop the oyster mushrooms (so they are in smaller chunks and will blend well with the rest of the sauce).

pasta147. Add the shitake and oyster mushrooms into the pan with the onions and garlic on a medium heat – hold back the enoki mushrooms because they are so delicate they only need to go in at the last minute. Sometimes the oil can get very absorbed into the mushrooms at this stage and the pan begins to feel dry, you don’t want it to catch and burn so if it feels dry drizzle a little more olive oil into the pan here. Keep the ingredients moving, they will start to reduce down.

pasta138. By now your big pan of water should be boiling, place the pasta into it and push down so that it is all under the water. Set your timer so the amount of time specified on the packet.

pasta129. When the mushroom mix has reduced in size add the lemon zest and juice into the pan. Let it absorb a bit and then add in the white wine. Allow it to bubble and burn off the alcohol and then reduce the heat.

pasta11 pasta910. Drain the pasta when the timer goes off and allow to drain.

pasta811. Now add the enoki mushrooms and stir well into the other ingredients.

pasta712. Once all mixed in, flake the mackerel and add to the mix.

pasta6

13. Lastly add the creme fraiche and dill and stir everything together ensuring that the sauce is creamy and loose. If it feels a little dry at this stage add a tablespoon of water to loosen it all up again.

14. Finally add the pasta to the sauce and stir well with the pasta spoon to make sure the sauce it fully coating all the spaghetti.

pasta5

Serve immediately on the table for everyone to share family style. Enjoy.

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Friday Food Post – 15 Greens Salad

Here at Eclectic East, we love food; eating it, and also making it. One of the best things about living in Asia is all the delicious foods that we get to eat all the time and the abundance of interesting ingredients. We have decided to bring you a bit of Eclectic East cooking by way of a Friday food post – maybe you can give our recipes a try over the weekend. This week we bring you the 15 greens salad with feta and seeds, this is a hearty and healthy salad. The dressing is quite Asian in flavour and marries well with the assortment of greens, the feta adds a tang and a different texture – we can’t get enough of it!

15 greens salad14So often I hear westerners in Hong Kong complaining that food is so expensive. This is not a lie if you need to use imported ingredients in your cooking. I became fed up with paying above the odds to use western ingredients and focused instead on cooking with as many local ingredients as I could (well, a girl’s gotta have pasta!). It has been an exciting challenge and means I can make use of the wonderful markets with copious amounts of fresh food that hasn’t flown thousands of miles to sit at our table. Today I have been to the market and sourced an array of Asian greens (Hong Kong markets are literally bursting at the seams with green stuff!) from which I am going to make a very tasty and healthy salad. Don’t worry if you aren’t living in Asia, as with most of my recipes, this one is pretty flexible so I have mentioned some switches below if you cannot get hold of some of the weird and wonderful veggies that we have in Hong Kong.

market greens1 market greens2 market greens3 market greens4Ingredients – this will make a lot of salad, enough for 4 people as a main course or 8 as a side, it should keep in the fridge for a day or so but it is best eaten on the first day.

salad ingredients

For the Salad

  • Half a head of brocoli
  • A handful of snakebeans (or french beans if you cannot get hold of snake beans)
  • A bunch of spinach
  • A large bunch of fresh mint
  • A large bunch of fresh coriander
  • A handful of Choi Sum (these are Chinese vegetables, if you cannot get them you could try using sprouting brocoli instead)
  • One green bell pepper
  • A nice ripe avocado
  • One cup of edamame (boiled and de-shelled) If you cannot get edamame try broad beans instead.
  • 2 mini cucumbers (or one large cucumber)
  • A handful of baby asparagus spears
  • A handful of green bean sprouts

For the dressing

  • A thumb sized piece of ginger
  • 2 large green chillies (if you don’t like spicy food then you can reduce this)
  • 2 spring onions
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 5 tablespoons of sesame oil
  • 4 tablespoons of Chianking vingear (if you cannot get this then balsamic could work I think)
  • 4 Tablespoons of light soy sauce (the kind used for sushi)

For the topping

  • A handful of pumpkin seeds
  • A Handful of sunflower seeds
  • Half a packet of feta cheese

Method 

1. If your edamame are not already cooked and de-shelled, place them in a large pan of boiling water and allow to cook for 10-15 mins until the beans are tender and come out of their shells easily.

2. Meanwhile make your dressing. Chop the ginger, chilles and spring onion very finely and place in a medium sized bowl.15 greens salad2

Add the sesame oil, vinegar, lemon and lime juice and then soy sauce and mix all together. Leave to stand whilst you prepare the salad.

15 greens salad1

3. Your Edamame should be cooked by now, so drain them and de-shell them. This part is a bit tedious but it is well worth it because they are yummy and nutritious!

15 greens salad3 15 greens salad64. Now finely chop all the remaining ingredients. It is really important to slice really really finely because they are going to be raw in the salad. If you chop them too large they won’t blend well together and also won’t absorb enough of the delicious dressing that you made.

15 greens salad7 15 greens salad85. When all the ingredients are sliced, put them together in a large mixing bowl and combine together with your hands.

15 greens salad11

6. Once combined, add the dressing and stir really well with a spoon, ensuring that all the greens are well coated with the dressing.

15 greens salad9

15 greens salad107. Finally, you can place on a serving dish and crumble the feta and sprinkle the seeds on top.

15 greens salad148. This works as a light main course (if you want to be very healthy) or why not try as a side with a grilled mackerel fillet – as shown below.

15 greens salad15Happy eating!