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Both in Beijing and Qingdao we found a local street stall selling Jian Bing, the most amazing breakfast food in China. Since living in Shanghai, we have not had a jian bing at all…until now!
So what is a Jiang Bing?
Jiang bing consists of a large thin, crepe like pancake. This is cooked on a hot plate type, purpose built gas stove. Once the dough is set and mostly cooked through, an egg is cracked onto the pancake and mixed and spread out using a special tool. The egg is left for a few seconds to set before the whole pancake is flipped over. The egg cooks fully on the outside of the pancake and the fillings are added to the middle. Now, we have had many jian bings since living in China and no two are the same. The general consensus seems to be a brown sauce, similar to hoisin, and chilli sauce. The option of a pink sausage type meat product (we affectionately call mystery meat) can be added at this point. Then the best part the crunchy, crispy fried cracker. This adds a great crunch and some well needed texture. Some of the best jianbing’s we have tasted add crunchy fresh lettuce, spring onions and fragrant coriander before being folded up. It is a popular breakfast street food and the stalls are commonplace in most parts of China. It originated in Shandong Province and can be traced back 2000 years (according to the page on Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jianbing). This may be why we had the best jianbings in Qingdao.
Last Saturday morning, I was heading to the dry cleaners next to our compound and couldn’t believe my eyes when I spotted, almost outside the shop was a man with a small jianbing stall. I was so excited, I messaged John immediately and his reaction was similar to mine – Breakfast sorted! Luckily we hadn’t already eaten! I queued up and ordered two of the basic versions, without the pink sausage inside. This particular man adds coriander and spring onion but not the lettuce, John is not bothered by that but I like the fresh addition of the lettuce. I rushed home with the hot, fresh pancakes and we sat down to eat them straight away. They were pretty good and after so long we were not complaining. The chilli was quite powerful too! Overall a success, I am sure I will be sent out to collect them again. Hopefully he is a regular there and not just visiting for the day!
The Process in Photos
I seem to be late to the homemade yogurt party. I thought I was being creative but the more I talk to people about this, the more it seems I have missed a trend. When living in Asia, or anywhere away from home, there is always a trade off between how much you want that ingredient you are familiar with and how much you are willing to pay for it. We can get most things here but the prices of some are just ridiculous. It has always bugged me how much yogurt costs here. Sweet, fruit, full-fat yogurts are cheap and readily available but trying to find skimmed or low fat plain unsweetened yogurt at a reasonable price is hard. So much so that I don’t buy it anywhere near as often as I would like to.
Fast forward to the last couple of weeks. I finally got around to googling how to make yogurt. I was amazed! Who knew it was so easy! I have definitely been missing out. So after a bit of reading on the subject and a bit of searching Taobao.com (Huge, Chinese online retailer) I ordered a yogurt maker and the starting cultures. I know you do not need a yogurt machine to make yogurt but at about £3.50 for the set I felt it was easier than using a thermometer to measure the temperatures etc. It was fair to say I was a little excited, probably way more excited than I should have been over a yogurt maker.
Once it arrived, I took no time in putting it all to good use. I started with whole milk as I had read that it was the easiest and produced the most reliable results. I have to admit that the thought of it taking hours to make, frustrated me immensely. I just wanted it to be ready now. Anyway, I left it to get on with its bacterial, microbial, probiotic job. I had everything ready for breakfast the next day.
I was not disappointed! The yogurt turned out to be thick and creamy and delicious. It was as good, if not better than anything store bought. I paired it with fruit and oats for breakfast which was delicious and I made up a couple of small jars with honey and jam for John and I as a snack for work the next day.
That was a few days ago now and I have eaten lots of yogurt. It seems to get better with time which has been great. I am looking forward to trying another batch with low fat milk and adding different flavourings.
I urge you all to try making your own yogurt, it is worth any effort! I didn’t take many photos of my first attempt but there is my proud Instagram post below. I will try to document the process better next time.
I have been in Kota Kinabalu for a few days now, initially for a conference and now for a holiday. John flew down to join me on Friday so yesterday was the first day of our holiday properly. The conference was great but now it is time to relax…and eat!
John had a quick look at a few blogs for inspiration for lunch and came across a food blog written by Thanis Lim. He wrote a post (click here to read the post) on a his blog about a Chinese Malay restaurant in town. Being a huge fan of Tom Yum, John knew this would go down well with me. I was very keen and so after I finished my morning sessions we head out to find it.
We have visited the Central Market in KL a couple of times before and so this time was all about food! Along the right hand side of the central market is a street full of street vendors selling food, souvenirs, fake branded clothing etc. It is also lined with some amazing canteen style restaurants. We visited a different restaurant on a previous trip to KL and I think this was better.
We are both huge fans of biryani and so while in Malaysia in the summer we had to try and find the best biryani we could. John did some research online and found a little place that was described as the best biryani, it was also described as being a very local place. That was a pretty accurate description as it turned out. We managed to find the place after a bit of hunting around. It is quite hidden away from a main street.
Some photos of homemade pizza at my parents house where they have their own (father made) pizza oven in the garden. These pizzas were made extra special with the addition of salami from @cannonandcannon and mozzarella from @boroughmarket.
There is not much else I need to say about these…they were DELICIOUS and my last meal at home for the summer!
For our anniversary this year, we decided to look out for dinner deals and find somewhere new and interesting to go. When we come home for the summer it is sometimes harder to find the excuse to go out for a meal by ourselves as there are always so many people to see in a short space of time.
After using Open Table to book a table for a different lunch with family. I received an email with an offer for a dinner at Tredwell’s by Marcus Wareing (www.tredwells.com, @Tredwells). It was for a set menu with a cocktail and sounded delicious. Being a fan of Marcus Wareing, I was very keen to visit one of his restaurants. So we booked for the evening of our anniversary in July.
We arrived at the restaurant and were offered the wine list, from where we chose a nice bottle of red knowing we were going to order the steak.
The amuse-bouche was a small glass of amazing tomato soup, topped with smoked mascarpone foam, accompanied by fresh crusty bread. The next course we ordered individually; John ordered crab and I chose the cured, chargrilled salmon. As you can see from the photo below, the presentation was exquisite. The food was smoky from the char, nicely salted, and beautifully tender. I was very happy with my starter, as John was with his.
For the main course we both ordered the steak option and chose triple cooked chips, spinach and green beans as side dishes. The main course was as delicious as the starter and of course, the steak was cooked to perfection.
For dessert I chose my favourite – salted caramel ice cream. It wasn’t just any old ice cream; it was soft serve, ‘Mr Whippy’ style ice cream in a glass. I was very happy! John enjoyed his dessert also.
We had a great meal and really enjoyed the food. The service was very good and the atmosphere nice. We would happily return and would like to try eating à la carte to sample the variety of food on offer.
One of John’s favourite meals of the whole summer has to have been at this restaurant on Tooting High Street. The restaurant is called Dosa & Chutney (dosanchutny.com), and as the name suggests specialises in south Indian dosa, with a vast menu of other dishes from the same area. We first visited for lunch on our wedding anniversary, despite having decides to have a light lunch to prevent us ruining our celebratory dinner that evening. We were definitely glad we visited.
The menu consists of a range of South Indian dishes, some better known than others, alongside classic Indian curries. We decided on a masala dosa with chicken and a mutton kottu. For those of you who do not know, a dosa is similar to a pancake, and made from a fermented batter of rice or dhal and kottu is a dish made from chopped up roti, mixed together with spices, meat and egg. Both dishes are usually served with a curry sauce, dhal and raita.
Our meals were delicious, the dosa was crispy and the filling spicy and full of flavour. The kottu was better than any we have had before. Both dishes were filling and very tasty. The sauces were great accompaniments to the dishes.
John spent the rest of the summer asking to visit this unremarkable looking restaurant for every meal. Needless to say, he is definitely a fan. We did return again a few more times and were not disappointed. This restaurant comes highly recommended.