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Oriental

This dish lasted just long enough to grab the photo.

It’s not just bloggers, we see the same slothfulness on TV, on radio and in press. Yes, I am referring to the pitiful recycling of old material in an effort to eek out one more programme, article or post from the previous year’s material. That “Best Of” programme is probably the most appalling form of TV one can endure. As a side note, comedy programmes bring this to a depth unplumbed by others. The sycophantic praising of old comedy by old comedians is an annual dirge that sickens me. They should be put out to grass, not bootlicked by ageing brownnose colleagues. It is pitiful and should be banned.

Beef and BroccoliThis is probably the simplest of the easy oriental series so far. While I was doing my online research (seeing how others have photographed the dish) I came across the phrase “takeout standard” on a couple of blogs. I won’t provide links here as it probably is not fair to diss the efforts of fellow food bloggers. But, let’s get real. If the height of culinary ambition is to match the dross sold in most Chinese take-out, we are wasting each other’s time. So, either read on my friends, or reach for the phone and that menu you found in the letterbox. 

Tea Smoked ChickenThis post could have almost as easily been titled “Prelude to a divorce”. You need to understand that the Wife is a lady of habit. One of the fulcrums around which she runs her life is her mugs of tea. Not tea-bag tea. Proper leaf tea. I have even been swayed over to enjoying a mug or three at 06:30 most mornings. So when I suggested that I might use a couple of tablespoons of our regular tea leafs to cook a chicken, I got a pretty frosty reaction.

Ma Jong SquidMany years ago, we used to frequent a Chinese restaurant on Pembroke Road in Dublin. To my shame, often, we would hang in pretty late, having “just one more bottle of wine” before making any decisions about falling into a taxi.  As night would inevitably turn into early morning, the staff would put us under pressure to finish up and leave. Repeated visits to the table to see if we wanted the bill would be met with orders for “definitely the last” bottle of house red. 

Mapo Tofu If you’ve come this far with me in this little series, you may as well go the whole way. No, this one can’t be done with your usual supermarket ingredients. You are going to have to make a trip to the Asian supermarket. But, before you throw your hands in the air and mutter something that demeans your spirit, take my word for it, the journey will be worth it. This is probably the most famous dish from the Szechuan region, a provence famed for it’s fiery food. The bad news is that it is very, very (extremely very) hot. The good news is that it is really easy to prepare. The bonus is hot or not, it is delicious.

Char Sui Roast PorkI’m not a big fan of pork fillet. Traditionally, here in Ireland, it would be prepared by slicing it open and pounding it flat with a mallet or rolling-pin. Then it would be filled with a breadcrumb based stuffing, wrapped up and roasted for about an hour longer than needed. The result was always dry, flavourless and, strangely, prized at dinner parties. 

Lion's Head Meatballs (12 of 13)The inspiration for this post in my mini series came when I overheard a conversation last week between two chaps in a Dun Laoghaire bar. Some snippets of their collective Chinese cookery wisdom; “They make it tasty by adding MSG. That stuff is really bad for you, full of lard.” “It makes you real hungry”. “There’s always loads of salt in the curry.” “The one in XXXX got closed down for serving seagull.” So went the assassination of the centuries old culinary traditions of one point four billion people. 

Salt and pepper prawns (14 of 15)

This is the second in my mini series dedicated to showing some really easy and extremely tasty Chinese inspired dishes. But, before we get into that, I have a bit of a problem. A few years ago, one of the media statisticians in our business was presented with a list of numbers and a simple question; Which is the odd one out?

2

4

9

16

27

28

31

44

Being a bit of a boffin (no relation) he got to thinking about the problem. He opened a spreadsheet and got to work…

Five spice duck with plum sauce (10 of 12)I am lucky enough to have a number of friends who hail from China. One of their number (who shall remain nameless for fear of my causing any embarrassment) went back to her home city to visit a sick relative. Knowing of my love for Oriental cookery, she brought me back a knife. I thought I should celebrate by starting a small series on Chinese inspired dishes.

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