Month: November 2015

耶里夏丽- Xinjiang amazingness

Hey!!! So yesterday night, a very special family friend decided to stop by which translates to : EPIC DINNER!!!!! While home cooking is nice, this occasion was just too special so we went to a restaurant. My dad chose the 耶里夏丽 at 918 DongFang RD. Here’s how it went.

Appearance and Atmosphere

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To be honest, I thought we made a wrong turn when I first came. We were pretty much in an alley and the big lighted sign and plastic drapery didn’t really help it’s elegance. It also seemed pretty small, but boy was I wrong

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As I stepped in, I learned to never judge a book by it’s color a) the restaurant is huge  b) it had a very cool Middle eastern flair.

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The atmosphere was vibrant and welcoming. Even better, from 6:30-7:00pm, they have mini performances!! YAY!!! Now onto the important stuff

Food

Xinjiang food is not your traditional Chinese fare. The region is largely populated with the muslim Uyghur minority. Consequently, their food has a heavy Middle Eastern influence full of lamb, beef and more lamb. As for this restaurant, here’s some of the dishes we ordered:

20151126_182550_resized Cold Beef Tendon

This dish is basically boiled beef tendon that has been chilled and doused with spiced chili oil. Despite the rather unappetizing description, the dish itself was quite delicious. The tendon was actually chewable, but not too soft, but the chili oil made it a bit too greasy and wasn’t distributed evenly

20151126_182633_resized Grilled Saury

I was very surprised to see this dish on the menu since it is a staple on Japanese menus, but as it turns out, grilled fish is common in Uyghur cuisine. The fish was very delicious and flavorful, especially with the middle eastern spices. Most importantly, it was crispy on the outside while retaining a juicy and tender inside

20151126_182532_resized Grilled Lamb Kebabs

This is probably the most cliché item on the menu. It’s literally on the menu of every middle eastern restaurant. The ones at this restaurant were very good (and juicy) and flavorful, but they didn’t taste much different from ones at other restaurants, like 西贝.

20151126_183657_resized Boiled Lamb Chops

Sound boring? Not quite. This dish is probably some of the best lamb I’ve eaten. While the cooking method is simple, the meat is stewed to tender perfection and the broth is sooooo good. The only downside is that the meat is a bit bland, but luckily, the dish comes with seasoned chili oil and you can always ask for condiments. I dipped mine in spice powder. Did I mention I pretty much ate the entire plate of this stuff??

20151126_183533_resized Traditional Roast Lamb leg

This dish was the hero of the night. It was perfectly well seasoned, flavorful, juicy, tender….etc. It was so well done that I didn’t even need the extra flavorings. Did I forget to mention that it is HUGE!!!!! There was at least 600g of meat on that thing. If there’s one thing to order, order this

20151126_193425_resized Homemade Yogurt

So everyone’s stuffed and we’re about ready to go, when my mom sees the waitresses carrying trays filled with little ceramic jars of yogurt. When we heard that the yogurt was housemade, we just had to try some. As expected it was creamy, rich and delicious. However, I thought it was a bit too sweet- but that’s just me. It was the perfect way to end dinner

Service

One word: Fast. Most of our food was already on the table in 30 minutes. Pretty impressive considering that the restaurant was nearly full.

Overall impression:

The restaurant is a great one. It has a good, vibrant atmosphere and amazing food. I highly recommend it, or at least on of it’s other 8 locations in Shanghai. Check out the website for more info: www.yelixiali.com

 

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Steamed Short Ribs

Hi. I usually reserve posting for weekends, but today is special for 2 reasons. A) I have no homework B) My aunt and 4 year old cousin came to visit Shanghai from Hunan and decided to stop by and eat. YAY!!! There were only 2 guests so we didn’t exactly prepare a feast (less than 10 dishes), but we did make some pretty good dishes. Among them: steamed short ribs. They’re simple, healthy and sooooo delicious. Let’s get cooking!!

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Marinate the ribs in cooking wine and some salt, throw in some ginger and steam in a pressure cooker. Violà- it’s that simple.

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Steamed Short Ribs

Ingredients

  • 5-2lb spare ribs
  • cooking wine
  • salt
  • ginger

Directions

  1. Place the ribs in a bowl and add the cooking wine, ginger and salt. Allow to marinate for 15-30min
  2. Fit a pressure cooker with a steaming rack and steam the ribs for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Remove and Enjoy!!!!

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Mini Chocolate Layer Cake

Hey!!! This week has been pretty uneventful, nothing special happened. However, as some of you might know, I joined Google+!!!! It’s freaking awesome!!! I never knew there were so many foodies out there. So what does this have to do with chocolate cake? Well, I’m following this blogger called Eva Miret Cakepuntcom, and she posted this really cool recipe for chocolate cupcakes. I adapted into a cake so I could finally use my really nice mini cake tins:

20151121_173541_resized         Cake

The cake isn’t anything really special, just a regular chocolate bizcocho (Spanish sponge cake) with vanilla buttercream.The presentation isn’t the best but it got high rating from my family- good enough for my first layer cake… right?.

Decorate

Of course, things didn’t go exactly as planned, I put way too much batter in the tins and they went over the top in the oven. But hey, they turned out ok  Without further ado, the recipe!!!!

Cakes

1/3 cup unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

1 2/3 cups flour

10 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1.5 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

Buttercream

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

150g icing sugar

2tsp vanilla extract

3tbsp milk

Directions- Cakes

Preheat the oven to 160o C and grease 3 mini cake tins. In a bowl, sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and set aside. In a separate, larger bowl, cream together the butter and sugar and beat in the eggs one by one on a low speed until well combined. Add the vanilla if using. Mix in the flour in 2-3 batches alternating with the milk and continue mixing until the mixture is homogenous. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 20-25min until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool completely

Directions- Frosting

Cream together the butter, icing and vanilla, ensuring that there are no lumps. Put a small part of the icing into a piping bag and reserve the rest. Keep refrigerated.

Assembly

When the cakes are completely cooled, use a serrated knife to trim off the rounded part at the top. Spread a layer of frosting on the top of a cake and stack the cakes. Cover the rest of the cake with icing and decorate with piping. Serve and enjoy

Original: http://cakepuntcom.blogspot.com.es/2015/11/cupcakes-de-chocolate-y-fresa-rellenos.html

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Anyways, I highly suggest you guys check out Eva’s blog: http://cakepuntcom.blogspot.com.es/ . It’s in Spanish but hey, that’s what the translate function is for. Enjoy and add me on Google+!!!!!

 

 

 

 

Oxtail Soup

Hi! So this weekend, Shasmun happened! It’s my school’s very own MUN conference. Even better, my resolution passed and I got Most Diplomatic!!!!!! Since I was pretty busy representing New Zealand in the General Assembly, I forgot to post, but don’t worry, my mom made oxtail soup. Onto the cooking!!!!

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Some tips :

  1.   Before making the soup, trim off the fat or parboil the meat or else the soup will end up overly greasy
  2. The best add-in’s are vegetables with a unami flavor such as tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach. Those flavors compliment very well with the earthyness of the oxtail.
  3. Divide the tomatoes and put one group in at the beginning and  the other at the very end. That way, the soup will have  flavor and not all the tomatoes will melt into the soup.

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Oxtail Soup

Ingredients:

  •  500-600g oxtail
  • 4-5 medium tomatoes, chopped (more or less, depending on taste)
  • vermicelli (soaked at least 3hrs)
  • onion, peeled and chopped
  • spinach
  • cooking wine
  • ginger (sliced into wide, thin pieces)
  • green onions, finely chopped
  • water

Directions:

  1.  Defrost and soak the meat for 2-3hrs and wash thoroughly to remove blood.
  2. Put the meat in a pot with some of the ginger and cooking wine. Parboil for 10-15min.
  3. Remove from heat and transfer to a pressure cooker. Add 2-3l of water, 1-2 tomatoes and potato.
  4. Cook under pressure for 40-50min then remove pressure  and add in the rest of the tomatoes and vermicelli. Continue cooking for another 10-15min.
  5. Add in the rest of the ingredients and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Serve and enjoy!!!!

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Hangzhou Recap

This week was a long weekend so my parents decided to take us to Hangzhou. The trip was extremely brief, but amazing. Here’s an overview

Friday afternoon, we left for Hangzhou and after a 40min subway ride and a 1hr train ride, arrived in Hangzhou at around 5.

We got into a taxi, checked in, blah, blah and around 6 had dinner at 山外山!!!!!! The restaurant was amazing (and not crowded). After dinner, we walked back to the hotel and went to sleep. Thus concleded a not so eventful day.

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The next morning, we hiked……..for 6.5hrs. The route took us from ZheJiang University, through the mountains, all the way to 宋城, for a total of 22km. It seems long and hard, but we stopped a lot so the hike itself was pretty easy.

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First we walked over to ZheJiang University and strolled along, looking at the buildings. Both my parents graduated from there 25 years ago, so they had fun looking at the old buildings. After a while, we went over to the start of the hike, which was behind the school

Starting gate of the hike
Starting gate of the hike

And thus, we continued to hike through the mounains

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Remember the blue skies from the university picture? Forget about it. 15min after we got into the mountains, it started raining. The mist was amazing though.

It finally stopped raining
It finally stopped raining

After a few hours, we finally got out of the mountains and into the Longjing tea plantations. Soon afterwards, we got to 梅家坞, a beautiful and small village full of small teahouses. Sadly, we didn’t have time to stop and have a cup.

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We then continued to 宋城, another 5km or so from 梅家坞, but it was really fake and not worth visiting. Plus, we were all exhausted. That night, we took a taxi to 茅家埠, another little village where we had delicious farm style cuisine at a tiny restaurant.

The family literally turned their main living room and courtyard into a restaurant
The family literally turned their main living room and courtyard into a restaurant

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We had quick, preserved cucumber, sauteed bok choi, and stewed chicken. That chicken was to die for!!!! After saying goodby, we headed for the train station and returned to Shanghai!!! What a wonderful trip

Have you been hiking in HangZhou? Please comment

 

山外山 Hangzhou

When I first heard we were going to Hangzhou for the long weekend, I immediately thought of was West Lake (西湖)and fish- head soup!!!!! There are tens probably hundreds of restaurants around Hangzhou that make decent fish head soup, but if there’s one place that gets it right, it’s 山外山.

About 山外山

山外山(mountain outside mountain) is located in 8 Yuquan Rd, Xihu, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China- right in the center of the Hangzhou Botannical Gardens. It’s designed as a traditional Chinese villa with plenty of open space. Very beautiful and elegant in a traditional way. Plus, it’s only a 15min walk from Zhejiang University (My parents’ alma mater!!!).

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The inside is equally well decorated with traditional Chinese paintings on the walls and good lighting (good for pictures at least). The restaurant can get very crowded and loud, but since we went on a weeknight, it wasn’t that busy. Nevertheless, it got pretty rowdy in the main dining hall downstairs. However, there are quite a few private rooms which are great for hosting parties. We were lucky enough to get a seat right by the window/balcony but it was dark so no pics 😦

Food

Here’s just a brief overview of what we ordered:

20151106_183944_resized_2 Fish Head Soup

This is the crown jewel of the restaurant. It features a HUGE and very fresh West Lake fish head  with shrimp, greens, 3 types of mushroom, Chinese ham, fish balls and dried abalone. All these flavors meld together into a rich, perfectly seasoned stew. I would go to Hangzhou just for this dish, it’s that good.

20151106_183930_resized Dong Po Braised Pork

This is a traditional and very common dish in HangZhou. It’s essentially a peice of red-braised pork, however, the meat is preferably at least half fat. It is extremely flavorful and rich, but a bit too salty. I personally didn’t like all the fat- too rich. The restaurant make it in single servings, which is nice.

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 4.19.00 PM Salad

This dish was a complete miss. The dressing was overly sweet and the vegetables were not fresh. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, don’t order western style food at a restaurant famous for it’s Chinese cooking.

Service

Overall, the service was good. The food arrived extremely fast and the waitress was attentive . However, it did take some time before we actually got our order placed

Overall impression

Overall, it’s a superb restaurant. It’s the perfect place to host friends or large parties. The food’s great (if you know what to order) but comes in large sizes so the more people, the better. If possible, avoid going on holidays as it gets crowded, fast. However, as long as you make a reservation.

For more information, visit their website (Google Translate helps): http://www.shanwaishan.com/index.asp