DATE NIGHT: COOKING UP A CHINESE FEAST!

Weekends in quarantine. Weird, amirite? For me the weeks go in pretty quickly, most likely because I’m still working normal hours, so when the weekend rolls around I feel like I have so much time on my hands!

I’m seeing lockdown through with Ryan, my boyfriend, and our week begins with a food plan for the coming week. Every day the conversation at breakfast is ‘what’s for lunch?’ and at lunch it’s remembering what’s planned for dinner that night. We love food and I love to cook! Every night feels pretty much the same during the week, on a Friday we celebrate the weekend by having pizza and Saturday is a day in limbo. Nothing is ever set in stone, a very ‘let’s see what happens’ day. Its beaut but this week I decided we would have a themed date night! A Chinese feast!

Being from Derry, a Chinese take away was a weekend ritual growing up for both of us. In my opinion, nowhere in Edinburgh comes close so we never go down that route… I began to research and came up with an authentic(ish) starter, main and dessert and left Ryan in charge of drinks… if nothing else it was something to look forward to in the midst of Groundhog Day!

If you are surviving lockdown with a flatmate, best friend, sister, dad or partner make plans this weekend! Pick a theme, stick to it, get dressed up and make the most of staying at home! Keep reading for the details and recipes 🥡

During our daily walk we stopped in at the local butchers and fishmonger and picked up some of the most amazing, fresh meat and fish! It was such a beautiful day so we got home and sat in the garden to enjoy a couple of beers. What came as news to me was the preparation time for the dishes I had planned… if you’re going ahead with this plan, get prepped during the day! The cooking takes such a short time for almost all the dishes but prep took me a little over 2 hours which wasn’t ideal starting at 7pm…

DISCLAIMER: as I love to cook, I also love to play with recipes as I go (an obvious reason I cannot bake to save my life), nothing was followed perfectly and additional ingredients were added here and there!

STARTER

ORANGE, SESAME AND HONEY PRAWNS

Found in the depths of a BBC Good Food webpage I went with an Orange, Sesame and Honey Prawn dish. It was intended for a main but for something light I held back on a side and it worked perfectly. If a little sweet, it was just enough for a starter.

Ingredients

Sunflower oil (for cooking)
6 large fresh king prawns
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large orange
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp chinese five spice
garlic clove (crushed)
2 spring onions (sliced)

Method

1.       Mix the olive oil, orange zest, juice, honey and soy in a bowl

2.       In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients – cornflour, sesame seeds and chinese five spice

3.       Toss the prawns through the dry mixture until fully coated and set them aside. Do not throw out the remaining dry mixture.

4.       Add sunflower oil to the wok and let it heat. When hot add in the crushed garlic clove and let it sizzle but don’t let it burn.

5.       Add the prawns and remaining dry mixture to the pan until cooked then remove and set aside on a plate

6.       Add the sauce to the wok until it thickens then add the prawns back into the mix.

7.       Serve with fresh chillies and spring onion. 

MAIN

For the main course, I made two smaller dishes as I couldn’t decide which to go with. Salt and Chilli Chicken is a favourite of ours when getting a take away and after seeing a few videos doing the rounds on Instagram I decided to give it a bash as well as a Crispy Ginger Beef dish! The chicken was good but the beef was the true winner! The flavours were so strong and tasty. I served both dishes with rice but go wild, serve with whatever you fancy!

Remember, if you decide to make the below each dish only serves 1.

SALT AND CHILLI CHICKEN

Ingredients

Vegetable oil (for cooking)
1 chicken breast
1 egg (whisked)
2 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp soy sauce
½ onion (sliced)
1 pepper (sliced)
4 spring onions (sliced)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Chinese five spice
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
1 tsp chilli flakes

Method

1.       Whisk the egg in a bowl and leave to the side

2.       Slice the chicken into strips and place in the bowl with the whisked egg

3.       Heat the vegetable oil in a pan (approx. 5 tbsp) until bubbling. One by one, remove the chicken strips from the egg mix, coat in cornflour and add to the pan

4.       Allow chicken to cook in the oil for 4/5 minutes until cooked fully; it should form a ‘batter’

5.       When satisfied the chicken is cooked remove from the oil and place in a bowl. Place the bowl into a preheated oven on a super low temperature to keep it warm

6.       Mix the salt, sugar, Chinese five spice, garlic cloves and chilli flakes in a bowl to create the seasoning

7.       Prepare the onion, peppers and spring onion and meanwhile heat a little oil and 2 tbsp soy sauce in a clean pan/wok

8.       Add the veg and seasoning mix

9. Remove chicken from oven, add to the pan, mix with the veg and done! Enjoy!

CRISPY GINGER BEEF 

Ingredients

1 sirloin steak
4cm chunk fresh ginger (crushed)
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
4 spring onions (sliced)
half a carrot (shredded into ribbons)
1 tbsp soy sauce
½ tsp caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp water

Method

1.       Slice the beef into strips and coat in cornflour

2.       Heat the oil in a wok and add the beef when hot until it turns crispy. When it has reaced this stage remove fom the wok and place on kitchen roll

3.       In a clean wok add the garlic, ginger,spring onion and carrot. Cook for a couple of minutes and then add the soy sauce, olive oil, sugar and water

4.       Allow to cook for a few minutes and add the beef back in until fully coated in the sauce

5. Serve and enjoy!

DESSERT

The first thing that came to mind when I thought of a Chinese dessert was deep fried ice cream. I remember having it when I was younger in a Chinese restaurant but I didn’t feel brave enough to attempt that… after a lot of research online I settled for custard tarts. Very easy and absolutely delish! The below will make 6.

Ingredients

3 egg yolks
50g caster sugar
75ml single cream
65ml milk (I used oat, any would be fine)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 sheet puff pastry

Method

1.       Mix the yolks, sugar, single cream, milk and vanilla in a jug

2.       Cut the pastry sheet into 6 even shapes, I went for squares.

3.       Grease the muffin tin and shape pastry directly into the muffin cup

4. Pour in custard and cook at 180°/Gas 4 for 25/30 minutes.

Go all out this weekend, make the food you ‘never have time’ for usually or on the flip side, if it all sounds a bit too much effort – order a take away! Either way, make the most of being at home. Ryan’s in charge of date night this weekend… who know’s what could be in store. Whatever happens, we’ll make it work!

Chat soon,
Keels x

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