Category Archives: Chinese

Fruit loaf and scorpions: How to eat well in Beijing

The title is a lie. We did not eat well in Beijing. Don’t get me wrong, we had some spectacular food but the city is vast and simply trying to get from one sight to another occupied much of the time we had, leaving almost no time to find places to eat. Continue reading


Barbecue pork puffs

These barbecue pork puffs, from Ching-He Huang’s Chinese Food Made Easy, have been on my radar for an age, but the main ingredient in the marinade is yellow bean paste which I was sadly lacking. Once I got my hands on some, I was raring to go. The recipe makes a ton of pork; you’ll barely need half of it to make six puffs so you can either make twice the number or fry the meat up with some greens or some fried rice the next day. You could also use the meat to stuff buns to make cha siu bau (these are cha siu so) but that’s an experiment for another day.

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Pineapple Buns and Fish Balls: Things I ate in Hong Kong

Twenty years ago, on my first visit to Hong Kong, my dad would go out every morning and buy each of us a soft, sweet bun for breakfast. Known as pineapple buns (bo lo baau in Cantonese) they contain no pineapple but are named for the way the sugary topping cracks on top. Two decades later, they, and the bakeries that sell them alongside egg tarts, pork floss pastries and wife cakes, are as ubiquitous as ever. That is why I love going back. Although the city looks as if it changes, its heart stays the same. I can wallow shamelessly in childhood nostalgia, and, at the same time, thrill at trying new things. Continue reading

Last of the summer cucumber – Chicken in oyster sauce


Cooked cucumber? Yes, and its delicious. Oyster sauce is my go to stir fry sauce, and although any mixture of veg will do, I like to stick to one and cucumber is a favourite. Cooked for only a minute or two, it stays crunchy and its grassy freshness is the perfect foil to the sticky, salty sauce. Continue reading

Proper black bean sauce


Fermented black beans. They’re interesting looking. And man are they pungent. And if you dont read the bit in the recipe where it says to soak them and then mash them and instead give them a cursory rinse and a poke with a fork you end up with some chunky bits of bean which are very salty, a little bit sour and a little bit bitter and not entirely pleasant.  So don’t do that. Do this instead. Continue reading

Kung Hei Fat Choi

One of my more esoteric Christmas presents from my husband was a box full of Chinese food ingredients from This was not an entirely unexpected gift, we’d spent a whole rainy weekend last summer watching Ken Hom and Ching He Huang’s oddly melancholy but fascinating Exploring China series and were really quite intrigued. I happened to own two of Ching’s books but had never made much due to lacking at least one vital ingredient from each recipe. Continue reading