Monday, 20 February 2012


I have cravings for sushi over the weekend and decided to make them. I know I could pop into supermarket  to get those ready made sushi box, but I prefer the taste of home made sushi. Sushi bar or restaurants are gaining popularity into UK food scene, as more people are well aware of healthy  Japanese diet. Making sushi is not that difficult, all you need is a sushi mat (makisu). Nowadays you can get them from big supermarkets that stock up Japanese ingredients. You can make fish sushi, vegetable sushi or even meat based sushi. I find it difficult to source sushi grade raw fish like salmon where I live, so I opt for smoked salmon instead. 
Rice is the most important ingredient in sushi. You can get uncooked sushi rice from supermarkets or oriental shops. They are short grain rice grown in Japan. The first key knowledge is how to cook sushi rice. Let me share with you:

Cooked sushi rice

Sushi Rice
Ingredients (makes about 20 sushi)
  • 250g sushi rice- wash and rinse until water is not cloudy. Then let it soak in water for about 30minutes
  • 325 ml dashi stock
  • 1 tbsp of rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp of salt
  1. In a small pot, lightly warm the vinegar, add sugar and salt. Stir to dissolve. Do not bring to boil.
  2. Rinse off the rice and place in pot or rice cooker. Pour in the dashi stock and bring to boil and let it cook until the liquid is almost evaporated, turn off the heat and cover for 15minutes. Do not open the lid.
  3. After 15minutes, pour the rice into large shallow bowl and pour the vinegary liquid onto the rice. Use one hand with spatula to mix bu doing cutting stroke, while the other hand will be pre occupied with a fan to cool down the rice as quickly as possible. Cool to room temperature is ideal.
  4. The sushi rice should look shiny and every single grain rice is visible, not a mushy pile....
  5. Once you've master cooking the rice, next step is to roll the sushi.

I will share with you on my next post on how to roll sushi.... stay tuned. Below are just some sushi roll I made on Sunday.

Crab stick+asparagus roll

Chicken cutlet + avocado roll

Smoked Salmon Roll (if only I have really fresh salmon, this will be nigri roll)

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Vegetable Tempura

As promised, here I am, posting recipes after a long silence from my blog. I made vegetable tempura for New Year dinner at mine, and my guests like them very much. For those who don't know what tempura is, please check this out. Alright, so now at least you know Japanese tempura are battered and deep fried stuff ( can be vegetable or seafood). Well, the Japanese tempura are light and crispy, and so deliciously good. There are few rules to follow to get it right :

Drying the veg

  1. Do not mix the batter too much-Reason for this is that if you beat your batter the gluten will develop and will make your batter heavy and soggy after frying.  Just use a chopstick and stir lightly/gently. No worry about the flour not mixing well or there is lump in the batter. Believe me, this texture will give you the  lightest and crispiest tempura.
  2. Few things that need to be cold (I mean icy cold). Please use icy cold water for mixing the flour. Normally I also tend to put my mixing bowl and flour in the freezer before I start mixing my batter.Prepare some ice cubes too in case you're preparing it in warm environment.
  3. Ensure that your ingredients for frying ( ie vegetables and seafood) is as dry as possible (note: not de-hydrated ) . Normally I will cut the vegetable and pat them dry with kitchen towel and leave to dry on wire rack at least 4 hours before I fry them. 
  4. Use a frying pan that can retain heat and distribute heat well. Cast iron pan or copper based pan is ideal. As the batter is icy cold, the ability to retain the heat of the oil throughout frying is essential to get that light crispy texture.
  5. Don't try to be impatient and drop all your items into the frying oil at one go. This will cause the temperature of the frying oil to drop and you'll end up with soggy tempura. Some of you may ask , how do I test if my oil is hot enough for frying? Drop a trickle of batter into the hot oil, if it's hot enough, the batter will float immediately. I normally fry 3 items only at one go to ensure that the temperature remain constant.
  6. Once your item is in the frying pan, you don't have to interfere with  it, just let it fry and float in the hot oil for a minute or two until golden brown, then just flip once....done.
  7. Remember to drain off the excess oil once the item is out from the pan. Use oil absorbing paper to drain.
  8. Make a small batch, so that they will always taste fresh and crispy once you served them.
With these tips in mind, you'll be back for more tempura I promise.

The batter, I drop in some ice cubes to keep it icy cold

Vegetable Tempura
Ingredients (4 portions as starters)

Crispy vegetable tempura

French bean tempura

  • 16 French bean (trimmed)
  • 4 slices of aubergines (5mm thick)
  • 1 medium Pepper-can be green, red, yellow, orange. Cut into bite size
  • 4 slices of sweet potatoes (5mm thick)
  • 3 tbsp self raising flour
  • 1 tbsp corn flour
  • 1 cup of icy cold water
  • Few ice cubes(optional)
  • 1 litre of vegetable cooking oil
  1. Sift the flour ( self raising+corn flour) into the mixing bowl.
  2. Pour the oil into the pan and heat on medium heat.
  3. Make a hole in the middle of the flour, pour the icy water into the hole. Gently use a pair of chopstick and lightly mix the flour. Don't worry if it's lumpy and doesn't look very well mix. The less you mix the better it is. 
  4. Check if the oil is ready for frying. (Remember the tip)
  5. Coat your item with batter and drop it into the hot oil. I coat French bean in a pair and consider it an item. Fry three items at one go. 
  6. Fry for 1 minute or two until lightly golden and flip over for another minute. Drain.
  7. Continue until done.
  8. Served while it's piping hot with dipping sauce (dashi stock+soy sauce+mirin+sugar)
Crispy French bean tempura
And believe it or not, it was  minus 12deg C on Saturday over here early in the morning. Very cold but absolutely stunning scenery.....Frosted and frozen in time. I went for a walk in the morning and got these pictures.

The row of trees got frosted

Beautiful scenery

Sunday, 5 February 2012

It's Snowing

Hello to all my readers again. I am totally absorbed by so many good TV programmes on BBC lately. Sherlock Holmes Series 2 was one of them. Then the starting of Master Chef series got me glue to the box too.
Apart of being a TV addict, hosted New Year and Chinese New Year dinner at mine. I will post some recipes soon.
Yue Sheng I prepared for CNY

From weather front, it's been pretty mild since Dec until last week when the cold Siberia air swept across Europe. Bet you all have heard the harsh condition in Eastern Europe with many homeless people die of hypothermia. We haven't have proper snow since this winter compared to last. However last evening, we have at least 6 inches or more of snow. And I woke up to a wintry beautiful. Arm with camera and wellies, I went for a wintry walk around my village to snap the lovely scenery. Enjoy....

Mr Snowman in my garden

Lots of snow

Icicle forming on my hose pipe

Sea  of white