November 13, 2015
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In April, I spent a week and a half in my hometown in China – the city of Guangzhou, otherwise known as Canton. It’s been 3 years since my last visit. Having previously realized that I don’t know much about the city anymore, I decided to be a tourist for 10 days and (re-)discover Guangzhou, the new, the old, the good, the bad, and of course…the food! Cantonese people are known worldwide for amazing, delicate cuisine. While people who are into heavier and stronger tastes might think that Cantonese cuisine tends to be bland and tasteless, we focus on preserving and bringing out the fresh flavour of each ingredient without adding too many spices – that is the unique essence of Cantonese cooking, and even without the heavy spicy and salty flavours, Cantonese dishes are delicious!
But OK, I’m not here to give a lesson about Cantonese cuisine. As I’ve mentioned, food exploration was one of my main missions during this hometown trip, and I sure ate a lot of great food that I’ve missed in Europe, especially in Scotland 😛 This post, however, will not highlight the types of food that you will often see on the dinner table in Cantonese restaurants – stuff like seafood, roast meat, stir-fried vegetables. Instead, I’ll be highlighting dim sum, street food, and home-cooked food.
Let’s start off with dim sum. I’m definitely no stranger to dim sum and in fact, as a Cantonese, it is a semi-staple for me. However, I’ve never experienced the full glory of dim sum until the visit to Guangzhou this year, and just look at this magnificent scene. Let’s not ask ourselves why we needed 5 orders of ha-gow (although we did have a lot of people), but I’ll take any amount of ha-gow (shrimp dumplings) and spring rolls and chicken feet and pan-fried dumplings you throw at me, ha! And really, no one does dim sum better than Guangzhou, where it originated. Proud to be Cantonese, indeed! I just got super hungry…and unfortunately I only managed to take individual photos of two dim sum items because I didn’t want to be a jerk and make my companions wait too long before they get to eat 😛
December 24, 2013
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I haven’t had time to organize my photos from my trip to Italy with my dad, so here’s something while that’s on hold – the 5th part of the “The art and science of cooking” series. After all, everyone likes some good food during the holiday season, no? 😉
As usual, if you want to check out the previous editions, go ahead and read PART 1, PART 2, PART 3, and PART 4.
Ever since I saw my friend Stephane’s post about the most perfect rack of lamb he made, I’d been itching to try it on my own. Then Florence showed me a mouthwatering photo of a rack of lamb that she made. That was it. I was going to make it. With a huge kitchen and a lovely oven at my disposal in Louvain-la-Neuve in October, there was almost no reason NOT to give it a try. And it worked magically. Stephane’s suggestion was so simple yet so perfect – 40 minutes at 400 degrees F, no prior marinating required. I had doubts when I was cooking but when I bit into the juicy, tender meat, I felt like my life has been completed. Thanks Stephane and Florence for the inspiration!
August 11, 2013
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Within the past few months, I’ve realized that I like to cook more than usual. As the thesis-writing and defense season draws near, I find that I generally prefer to cook at home rather than eat out. True, I get lazy sometimes and I don’t want to cook EVERY day, but I am cooking a lot more than I had anticipated before I entered the “thesis dash”. Even if I get home late, I’d prepare some home-made goodies and enjoy it with a bowl of rice. After all, what’s better than a freshly made Chinese meal served hot on a plate? Sometimes when I’m very tired, I just make something very simple that would be ready within half an hour. No complicated procedures or recipes, simple is the best!
Of course, I am living alone and almost always cooking only for myself, unless I invite friends over. The advantage is that my experiments are allowed to NOT work, and I’ll figure out what’s wrong and make it right when I DO invite my friends over! And I do love doing that. Watching friends enjoy eating food that I’ve prepared is one of the most satisfying feelings ever. Actually, two of my bucket list items involve cooking, one of them being “Cook a full dinner for my family at home” and the other “Invite my university friends to my house and cook a meal for them”. Europe, then, has certainly been my chance to hone my skills and prepare for the big days when I complete these challenges!
Well, without further ado, let’s get onto part 4 of this series. Interested in the previous posts in “The art and science of cooking” series? Check out PART 1, PART 2, and PART 3. And now, à table!
Spicy chicken is one of the typical dishes in Sichuanese cuisine. When they say spicy, they’re not kidding – the chicken should literally be buried in the chili peppers so that you’d have to dig out the meat. One day I spontaneously decided to try making this chicken dish as part of a dinner invitation. I knew my Hunanese friend would appreciate it and might even challenge the spicy tolerance of the Sichuanese, so I decided to give it a try 😉 My recipe involved marinating, deep frying, re-frying, and a final stir frying. Seems complicated, but much less work than I had anticipated. Though I didn’t bury the chicken in chili peppers (although I already put as many chili peppers as I thought I could tolerate without burning my stomach), I gotta say my recipe worked out quite well!
April 11, 2013
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Finally, we get to Geneva, the fifth Swiss city in a year, for me.
I was supposed to go to Geneva in May 2011, almost two years ago, but due to some clumsiness in planning, I had to cancel the trip last-minute. Of course having the training school in Annecy this year meant that a Geneva stopover was inevitable since well…the return tickets were from Bordeaux to Geneva (go Easyjet!)
I gotta say, compared to the other Swiss cities I’ve been to (Basel, Interlaken, Zurich, and Lausanne), Geneva did seem lacking in characteristic. I partly blame the weather for this – not a fair evaluation of a city but…oh well. Anyway, the unique memory in Geneva was not in exploring the city itself, but being with my IDS-FunMates one last time and experiencing collaboration in a big group…at our hostel! You’ll see.
(Full photo album is on Facebook, as usual 😉 Catch up on the entire series – part 1 in Lausanne, part 2 and part 3 in Annecy.)
Unlike Annecy, Geneva was met with gray skies 😦 I was so tired by the time I arrived in Geneva, after a whole week of running around. The combination of weather and fatigue dampened my energy quite a bit, which was why I missed quite a few places in Geneva – I was too tired to explore so I stayed back to rest while some of the others headed to the Flower Clock and the Reformation Wall. (By the way, yes that IS the Jet d’Eau behind the flowers, if you were wondering.)
January 27, 2013
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Food is the ultimate epitome of enjoyment in life. As I’ve mentioned before, I will never be skinny because I love food too much. Two weeks ago I was discussing food with a colleague, and when she said she loves food, I replied, “Who doesn’t?” She said, “Some people eat because they have to, but they don’t LOVE food!”
And that is true. The art of food can be so much fun to play with. Sometimes when I am tired at night, I just throw together something simple and eat it to fill up my stomach, but when I have the time and opportunity, I play around with food in terms of taste, texture, presentation…everything! The meticulous combination of all of the above and everything else that makes food more than just something you eat…that is ART. I may not be very skilled, but I certainly enjoy the process of experimenting with food, much like doing science.
Following part 1 and part 2 of the food series, here’s the latest edition with the some new stuff I tried in the past couple of months. Enjoy! 😉
Spicy salty crispy shrimp – yes, the name is long and a mouthful, but I can’t find a better way to translate it from its original Chinese name. I was quite proud of this dish. For the longest time I’ve been wanting to try the “spicy salty crispy” way of Chinese cooking, which involves deep frying the main ingredient (could be shrimp, squid, pork ribs, etc.) and as soon as I got back to Bordeaux and had access to my kitchen again, I KNEW I had to do it. The outer shell was a bit loose because of the starch coating, but my goodness, the combination of garlic, chilli peppers, ginger, and green peppers with the shrimp…heavenly! Let me just say…SUCCESS!