Sunday, 27 February 2011

辣子雞丁 Chilli Spicy Chicken

Chilli Spicy Chicken by AT

辣子雞丁 by AT

- 3 Chicken legs - Debone, beat to tenderise then cut to small pieces.
- 1 Red, 1 Green and 1 Yellow pepper - Cut to pieces
- 1 Chilli - Chopped
- 1 Ginger- Shredded


- 1 tsp cornfour
- 1 tsp light soya sauce
- 1 tbsp beaten egg

Mix well and leave for 2-3 minutes.

 Cooking method:
- Fry the chicken pieces for about 1 minute to coat them then remove from wok and leave to rest.
- Heat the 豆瓣酱 (bean paste)

- Add chilli and ginger to fry until fragrant.
- Add water and 1 tsp sugar.
- Then add spring onions and the peppers
- Finally add the chicken pieces and shimmer until cooked.

The final product -辣子雞丁

 A beautiful dish full of flavours. Spicy from the bean paste, chillies and ginger, different flavours and sweetness of the peppers, with sugar added to reduce the spiciness of the dish. Delicious!

Saturday, 26 February 2011


'Bully's restaurant

We waited with anticipation to try out this long established restaurant in the centre of Cardiff City!

A restaurant serving traditional French dishes cooked from Welsh ingredients. A very interesting combination whetting one's appetite.

Entering the restaurant, we were greeted by very friendly members of staff who showed a nice smile and extended a very warm welcome.

As we were seated at our table, I noticed that the restaurant's deco has a very rustic ambiance with beautiful chandelliers hanging on the ceiling, collectibles on the walls - a very personal touch by the owner.

To start our evening meal, we were treated to a pre-starter of concentrated tomato soup and homemade bun. The homemade soup was really tasty with a very well balanced sweet and sour taste from the tomatoes, so concentrate that it was like drinking the essence of the tomatoes. The homemade bun had a very thin and crispy crust but yet surprisingly soft centred with some linseed. A very appropriate pre-starter to open up one's appetite for the next course.

Home cured citrus salmon, petite salad, flat Italian parsley oil

Thai crab-cakes with homemade chilli sauce
The starters were very beautifully presented. The cured citrus lemon has a smoky taste to it and very well complimented with a citrusy flavour. A very light start leaving one to anticipate the next course.

The Thai crab-cakes have a very Asian feel and taste to it. Well seasoned and well complimented with homemade chilli sauce to bring out the seafood flavours of the crabcakes. A well executed dish!

Woodlands Pork Cutlets

Medallions of Welsh Black Beef Fillet

The Woodlands pork cutlet in white wine sauce was well cooked. The only let down was that after the 2nd or 3rd cutlet, we began to taste the bitterness of the sauce coming from a vegetable lying in the middle of the dish that we could not identify. Nonetheless, another friend thought that it was not that bitter but in fact the vegetable brought a kind of fragrance to the sauce. Therefore, whether this is a great dish or not, is an acquired taste and is subject to one's preference of tastes in food.

Next up is the medallions of Welsh black beef fillet, French beans, dauphoinise potato, carrot tempura, Brazilian pink peppercorn and thyme sauce. This restaurant is also famous for its Welsh black beef fillet dish. I ordered the beef fillet to be medium to well-done, therefore not as juicy as it could have been but still very tasty from the lovely peppercorn and thyme sauce. The carrot tempura was nicely excuted with a very crispy crust, up to the standard of an authentic Japanese tempura. The dauphoinise potato also had a very nice touch of cripsy cheese topping complimenting the cheesy soft layers of potatoes.

Overall, a very nice dining experience with nice food and superb service though a bit pricey.

PS: The entire restaurant had very soft lightings and almost dark, therefore even using a 1600 ISO with very slow shutter speed, I still could not get a sharp photo for each of the dishes. 

Thursday, 24 February 2011


First comes the smell......
Then you look and see the masterpiece......
Finally you get to savour the dish!

A dish lacking any one of the elements cannot be considered a great dish.

Therefore, we aim to have all three elements in our dishes while cooking our dinners. It is always a blessing to enjoy good food after a hard day's work!

绿花椰烩鸡球 - Braised chicken balls with broccoli

This dish smells absolutely fantastic, so good that it makes you want to go have a peek to see what's cooking.

Then you see a very pretty dish with lots of chicken balls nicely piled up on a bed of broccoli inviting you to have a taste.

The braised chicken balls tastes absolutely amazing and full of flavours.

绿花椰烩鸡球  by AT
Broccoli pieces was boiled and dried then arranged in a circle on a serving plate.

The chicken was cut into pieces then marinated with soya sauce, one beaten egg, cornflour and white pepper. Oil was heated in a wok then the chicken pieces was added and stir-fried for about 10 seconds then removed from wok. Then oyster sauce was heated in the wok until fragrant then garlic, chicken and some water was added and stir-fried till the sauce is dried. The chicken pieces soaked up all the flavours from the garlic and various sauces.

The chicken pieces oozes sweetness from the oyster sauce and soya sauce bringing some saltiness, wrapped in the fragrance of fried garlic - absolutely amazing!

Finally, the chicken pieces were served on top of the broccoli bed.

蒜泥蝦 - Garlic Prawns on glass vermicelli

Another dish that smells good, looks good and tastes good. On first impression, I thought the dish looked like eggs on a bird's nest and it smells wonderful!

蒜泥蝦 by AT
Glass vermicelli was soaked until soft then soya sauce was added and mixed well into the vermicelli on a plate.

The heads of the prawns were removed and then slice along the back of the prawns so that they will open up beautifully once cooked. The prawns were then arranged nicely on top of the vermicelli.

Oyster sauce, sesame oil, chinese wine and sugar were mixed well then poured onto the prawns then steam the dish for 5 minutes until the prawns are cooked.

Finally, heated oil was poured on the prawns to bring out the fragrance and to enhance the taste of the prawns. Then diced spring onion was used to garnish the dish and it's ready to be served!

The fragrance of chinese wine and sesame oil, the sweet and salty taste soya sauce brought a lot of flavours to this dish and enhances the taste of the prawns and glass vermicelli. Yummy!

2 Dishes done and 48 to go!

I am very blessed to have a housemate who can cook good food and is getting better and better!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Spicy Seabream 紅燒魚

This is no ordinary fried seabream. This is SPICY seabream!

Contrary to popular believe that a Malaysian can take spicy food, I am one Malaysian who cannot take very spicy food!

But I must say this is one spicy dish that I enjoy - Spicy Fried Seabream.

A well executed dish with very well balanced flavours. 

The seabream was fried to perfection, giving a crisp fish skin and fish meat cook just nicely. 

The slices of chillies and ginger creates 2 different sensation of spiciness that hits your mouth briefly but does not linger to give an after-taste (which means I can actually eat this spicy dish!). The slices of spring onions give a sweet onion-like taste and kind of 'softens' the spiciness of the dish. 

A delicious dish that goes really well with rice!

紅燒魚 by AT

Chinese New Year Away From Home

Chinese New Year.

The Chinese new year falls on a different date every year as the Chinese follow the Lunar calender, which runs on a different cycle from the calender that we know and use.

As mentioned on previous post, Chinese New Year lasts for 15 days and part of the celebration is feasting!

It is also tradition that family members travel from different places to go home and have a meal the evening before the first day of Chinese New Year.

Although this year a few friends and I stayed back in the UK, we still kept the tradition and feasted!

30th January 2011: We had an early 'evening before Chinese New Year' meal as everyone had to work during the week. We went to a huge 'cash & carry' in Cardiff in the afternoon to buy ingredients for a steamboat in the evening.The ingredients were cooked in homemade 'white radish, pork ribs and chinese cabbage' soup. It was truly wonderful to share nice food with good friends!

Table full of food!
Squids and Prawns
Tofu and fishcakes
Beef slices
9th February (the 7th day)

We had the lovely seafood hotpot made by my housemate. Fresh seafood including langoustine, prawns and mussels were added into the pot, then tofu, crabsticks, mushrooms and vegetables were added. The whole pot was shimmered in water and seasoning. The end product - a very tasty and delicious pot of dish! The broth  was incredibly sweet and the seafood so fresh that the entire pot tastes like the sea!

Seafood Hotpot - by AT

12th February (10th day)

I decided to make my first attempt at cooking the 'cold sliced chicken' as shown in previous post. Very delicious juicy chicken served with tasty chicken rice and fragrant homemade sauce.

Chicken slices with chicken rice
Fragrant sauce on chicken slice

13th February (11th day)

Chinese never put food to waste (almost never). As me and my housemate (AT) could not finish the whole chicken. The left over was stir-fried with some chinese leeks, chopped garlic and seasoning. A very tasty dish with sweetness and saltiness from the soya sauce, fragrance from the chicken fat and some flavour from the chinese leek!

We also had the stir-fry chinese leek with eggs. My housemate said that it was good for the digestive system therefore the dish was really appropriate after we had many heavy meals the last few days!

And of course, these wonderful dishes has to be served with nice and fragrant chinese sausage rice. YUMMY!

Stirfry chicken slices - by AT
Chinese leek and egg - by AT
Chinese sausage rice - by AT

15th February (13th day)

My housemate's very first attempt at these dishes normally served during Chinese New Year.

The pancake-looking dish is made of many layers of soaked then fried 'dried beancurd sheets' and plum sauce. Each layer of bean curd sheets was very crispy and yet soft as the beancurd sheets were soaked before being fried. The sweet and sour taste to the plum sauce just made the dish absolutely mouth-watering!

The other dish was stirfry black+white fungus, marinated pork pieces and glass vermicelli. A very tasty dish as all the different ingredients have very different and distinct textures and they absorb flavours very well.

Dried beancurd with plum sauce - by AT
Black+white fungus, pork and glass vermicelli

We are almost coming to the end of our marathon feasting!

16th February (14th day)

Steamed seabream with chinese pickled vegetable, tomatoes and mushrooms.

The sweetness from the tomatoes and the sourness from the pickled vegetables just increases one's appetite! The seabream was very fresh and its meat has a very full-body texture.

A very healthy dish after the long long feasting marathon but still a very delicious dish!

Steamed seabream - by AT

Last but not least, a box of Ferrero Rocher we found while shopping. Are we preparing ahead for Easter or is this really a special edition box for the 'year of the rabbit'?

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Homemade Hakka Sliced Cold Chicken

Sliced Cold Chicken - 白斩鸡
Fried Water Spinach - Kangkung 

Today is the tenth day of Chinese New Year and it is tradition that we celebrate this festival by gathering with family; visiting relatives and friends;  and of course - feasting.

Today is also the day that I decided to make my first attempt at cooking the Hakka 'Sliced Cold Chicken' dish. This is one of the many dishes that I always have back home during Chinese New Year. My very favourite Hakka dish. Hence, I went in search of a recipe to make this dish which looks very simple but yet one small mistake can destroy the whole dish. After a long search, I found many different ways of making it and got confused. Therefore, I went to my mom for some advice and got her very own recipe for making this dish!

Getting good ingredients is a very important part of making a great dish.

I chose the free range corn fed chicken for its superior texture and flavor. Chicken farmed with this method are allowed to roam freely therefore producing tender meat. The corn fed chicken also offers a unique flavour and a yellow-coloured skin.

Chopped shallots, red onion and garlic for making the sauce to serve with the sliced chicken.

The chicken was put into a large pot with cold water then the cooker turned on to cook the water until boiling. Boil the chicken for 10 minutes then switch off the cooker. Allow the chicken to continue cooking in the hot water for approximately 20-25 minutes until cooked. It is very important to follow these steps to ensure that the meat is tender and juicy.

To test whether the chicken is cooked, stick a bamboo stick deep into the chicken and make sure there is no blood-filled water flowing out.

After the chicken is thoroughly cooked, drain the chicken and allow to cool. The chicken soup can then be kept in the freezer to be used later as chicken stock.

Chop and slice the chicken into smaller pieces.

Arrange the sliced chicken on a large plate ready to serve

A very closed up view of the sliced chicken.

Nice yellow skin of the corn fed chicken.

Tender, juicy and succulent meat.

Stir fried kangkung with chopped garlic and BBQ satay sauce '沙茶醬'.

~Ta~da~ Our very own homemade CNY meal!

Chicken rice with chicken slices
The chicken rice - Sliced ginger and chopped garlic were stir fried until fragrant then rice was added to fry until brown. Then the rice was transferred into the the rice cooker and chicken soup from the boiled chicken was used to cook the rice. Once the rice is cooked, you can smell the fragrance of the rice - absolutely mouth-watering!

Sauce - by AT
The sauce is also a very important part of this dish as it brings out all the flavours of the dish. Chopped shallots, garlic and red onion was fried until fragrant and brown. Then add dark soya sauce and oil to make the sauce.

Sauce on chicken
The sauce was so fragrant that it filled the whole house, with a crunchy texture from the fried onions and garlic, it was also full of flavours. The combination of the sauce on the juicy chicken slices eaten with the chicken rice is definitely heavenly!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Bunch of Grapes

Bunch of Grapes is not just a bunch of grapes. This restaurant is located quietly amongst a row of houses up a hill in Pontypridd. The building does not stand out to the good-food seeker, but it surely offers an outstanding dining experience.

This restaurant offers fresh food sourced locally hence the menu changes from time to time.

Menu - A4 papers on a clipboard

Starter - Soup of the day - Chicken with mushroom soup
 The chicken and mushroom soup was not your regular creamy western-style thick soup. The soup was homemade with fresh chicken pieces, mushrooms and lots of sliced onions. It tastes almost like a Chinese homemade soup we normally have at home! Not only the soup was delicious and filled with flavours, even the accompanying homemade bread was excellent. The bread was really soft with a slightly crunchy crust and goes really well with the soup.

Starter - Carppacio of seared fillet of beef
 I had the Carpaccio of seared fillet of Breconshire Beef, watercress and girolle mushrooms. The seared fillet of beef was pink and tastes really sweet and tender as it was seared to perfection. The watercress and girolle mushrooms with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar accentuates the taste of the beef really well. An amazing start to the evening meal!

Fresh live oysters served on crushed ice with homemade chilli jam
 The £1.75 each oysters were really mouth watering! The oysters were one of the freshest I ever had, with minimal 'fishy' taste to it! A squeeze of lemon and a touch of the homemade chilli jam just brings out all the flavours of the sea from the oysters - yummy!

Great main courses follow the fantastic starters:

12 Hour Confit of Welsh Pork
We had the 12hrs confit belly of Welsh pork with caramelised Cox apple sauce, crackling, braised red cabbage and creamy grain mustard mash potato. The pork belly part is always my all time favourite as the combination of fatty layers and lean meat layers offer different textures to a pork dish. The crackling made from the fat layer of the pork belly also adds another dimension of texture to the entire dish. As the confit belly of Welsh pork was cooked for 12 hours, the meat was very tender and melts in your mouth! The sweet and sour taste from the braised red cabbage and the caramelised Cox apples compliments the pork very well. 10 out of 10 for a main course dish!

Creamy grain mustard mash potato
 Mash potato is also one of my favourite side dish. The mash potato served was really creamy and soft, but for me, it lacked a bit of seasoning.

Black bream
 Pan-fried whole black bream from Poole Harbour with caper, anchovies and almond butter, baked potato and charred lemon. The fish dish was good but not great, it was not the best amongst seafood dishes that I have tried before in many restaurants in Barcelona and in Asia. The fish was pan-fried really well with a crunchy skin and soft meat but it tasted too 'fishy' as we found that the belly were not cleaned properly. Hence, we are still in search of a great seafood/fish dish in the UK (apart from fish and chips).

To end the evening sweetly, we decided to indulge ourselves in 3 nice desserts:
 The blood orange and chocolate flakes cheesecake served with clotted cream was really refreshing and delicious. The orange and chocolate compliments each other really well and made the cheesecake 'something different' just like my friend said:"it is almost like eating a Terry's Chocolate Orange"!

Poached comice pear
 Poached comice pear served with brown sugar ice cream and biscotti. The pear was sweet and tasty with a touch of alcohol to it. Not a bad dish at all!

The beautiful looking Bunch of Grapes Homemade Trifle. Trifles come and many different shapes, forms and tastes. This one made by the restaurant is something different from what we normally see in the supermarket or even other restaurants. It was made of fresh homemade flavoured-cream, some custard, jelly and a homemade biscuit (I do not remember the exact ingredients) and topped with promegranate and toasted pistachio nuts. Yummylicious!

Overall, a very fun evening with great foods and great friends!