kake: The word "菜單" (Chinese for "menu") in various shades of purple. (菜單)
A white ceramic mortar with ridged, sloping sides and a brown border around the top.  The bowl is half-filled with a puree of steamed peeled aubergine, in which rests a smooth wooden pestle.  A few large slices of grilled green pepper are also visible.

As I mentioned yesterday in my post on 茄子 (qié zi), aubergine/eggplant is my favourite vegetable. I love it baked, fried, barbecued, steamed, stewed, curried, puréed, whatever. I particularly love it in the form of baba ganoush, a Middle-Eastern dish where the aubergine is roasted until the skin blackens, then peeled and mashed with tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and salt.

Given this, I was highly intrigued by the dish pictured above, which I ate at Golden Day in London's Chinatown. It's roughly-speaking a Chinese version of the same thing — 擂蒸茄子 (lēi zhēng qié zi), or steamed, peeled aubergine mashed up with various flavourings in a large pestle and mortar. 擂 (lēi) is the only character here that I haven't posted about before; it means "grind" or "pound". 蒸 (zhēng) means "steamed", while 茄子 (qié zi) means "aubergine".

I don't have a recipe for the specific dish we tried at Golden Day, but I can recommend Viet World Kitchen's recipe for spicy Hmong eggplant, which is reasonably similar and very tasty. Moreover, it's not only vegetarian but also vegan, which fits in nicely with the fact that today is World Vegetarian Day.

And with that, I sign off for a month. As I said previously, I'll still be around reading and commenting on other people's blogs, and I'm always available at kake@earth.li if you have any questions, comments, dinner invitations, or desire to hang out with me in the pub — but my next post here will be on 1 November.

If you have any questions or corrections, please leave a comment (here's how) and let me know (or email me at kake@earth.li). See my introductory post to the Chinese menu project for what these posts are all about.
kake: The word "菜單" (Chinese for "menu") in various shades of purple. (菜單)
Close-up on a dish of braised chunks of belly pork surrounded by broccoli florets.

Red-cooking (紅燒/hóng shāo) is a style of Chinese cooking often used for pork (肉/ròu). The red colour comes from a combination of caramelised sugar and soy sauce, and additional flavour is imparted by Shàoxīng wine and star anise. Optional extra ingredients include garlic, fresh ginger, and cassia or cinnamon bark. One of the most common cuts used is pork belly, cut into chunks but with the skin and fat retained to melt into a delicious tenderness as the meat braises.

I've seen 紅燒肉 on lots of Chinese menus here in London; the photo above is of a version I ate at Dragon Inn on the Old Kent Road. It's not hard to make at home, though. I have a couple of recipes to suggest, each with its own characteristics, and the background information at both links is also well worth reading. The first is an adaptation of a recipe by Fuchsia Dunlop, and the second is a recipe from the Red Cook blog (written by a Singapore-born blogger who likes red-cooked pork so much he named his blog after it). (Edit, June 2011: Kian at Red Cook has now posted a follow-up to his previous post which is also worth reading.)

I should add that I prefer to cook the pork for a lot longer than suggested in both these recipes — I find two-and-a-half to three hours is optimal, to get it really tender. Be careful when stirring it after the first couple of hours, as it has a tendency to fall apart by this point. Another important point is that it's well worth taking the time to blanch the meat before you start, to get out the impurities and make sure your sauce is nice and clear. Put your slab of pork belly in a pan with enough cold water to cover, then bring it up to the boil and let it simmer for a minute or two until the foam/scum has risen on top. Now drain the meat (discard the blanching water) and give it a wash under the tap to remove any remnants of scum. I find this is an easier and less wasteful alternative to skimming the scum off the sauce/stock while the dish is cooking, and I do it as a first step whenever I'm making a stock or sauce from meat or bones.

If you'd like to see 紅燒肉 being made, check out this YouTube demonstration, taken from a Chinese TV channel (all in Chinese, no English translation, but the visuals are easy enough to follow).

An interesting aside on all this is a blog post by Fuchsia Dunlop herself poking gentle fun at attempts to standardise the recipe for 紅燒肉. Also, for anyone wishing to delve further into the intricacies of red-cooking, this eGullet thread on the many meanings of 紅燒 might be of interest.

If you have any questions or corrections, please leave a comment and let me know (or email me at kake@earth.li). See here for what these posts are all about.
kake: The word "kake" written in white fixed-font on a black background. (Default)
On Monday I was supposed to go to choir, but I felt too manky. I did some vague bits of admin stuff instead.

On Tuesday I went to Waterloo to look for Taste Malaysia, but it wasn't there, so I had a not-very-interesting bagel at Smalands instead. Then I got the Northern Line into town to take a few RGL photos, then got back on the Northern Line to head up to Colindale where I was due to meet [livejournal.com profile] catsgomiaow and [personal profile] bob for dinner at Feringgi Bay. I realised on the way that I was going to be ridiculously early, so I stopped off at Golders Green to pick up a few things we needed from Seoul Plaza.

Once in Colindale, I visited the New Chandos (no real ale, friendly enough though) before heading over to the Moon Under Water (a fairly standard Wetherspoons) to meet the others before dinner. Dinner was v.g. — see the RGL review for more.

I didn't do very much exciting stuff on Wednesday, but I did make some lentil soup which bagged three spices for the Snake Soup October challenge. Similarly, the most interesting thing I did on Thursday was make some masala tea that put me another three spices further on.

I have nothing to report for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, except that our house continued to fall apart in increasingly amusing[0] ways.

[0] In the "you have to laugh or you'll cry" sense.
kake: The word "kake" written in white fixed-font on a black background. (Default)
On Monday I had an East London adventure! I started off fairly centrally, with lunch at Rochelle Canteen in Shoreditch, then wandered eastwards, taking photos for RGL along the way. I'd intended to stop for a break at L'Oasis, but it was closed (I found out later that it's closed for good), so I went to the Wetherspoons instead for a 30p pint of lime and soda.

Next, I got the Tube up to Upton Park, where I wanted to hunt out the Quality Foods branch I'd heard about. I found what I thought was it (and later confirmed the address was right), but it really didn't look too brilliant so I didn't bother going in. Maybe next time. Instead, I wandered across to East Ham and had a decent enough dinner in Thattukada (RGL review coming soon) before getting the Overground to Leyton for choir.

I have forgotten what I did on Tuesday and Wednesday. Probably just work.

On Thursday I went on a Metroland adventure! First of all, I went to Willesden Green, intending to have lunch at Sushi-Say, but alas it was closed. So I went round the corner to check out Taste Malaysia, but it was also closed. I ended up having a not-entirely-satisfactory fishcake in the Queensbury. But then it was back on the Jubilee Line, to change to the Metropolitan Line at Wembley Park, to change to the Chesham shuttle at Chalfont & Latimer.

And then I was truly in Metroland. [personal profile] ewan has described Chesham on RGL as “a bucolic village in Buckinghamshire, far outside London and only connected by the Metropolitan Line”, which is a fair enough assessment. The main reason I was here was to visit the Queens Head, a Good Beer Guide pub which needed a proper RGL review, but my research had also revealed the presence of a bookshop (which I browsed around in but didn't buy anything from). Not only that, but on approaching the bookshop I spotted a couple of pubs, the Misty Moon and the Cock Tavern, which I of course had to try out. Then on the way to the Queens Head, I saw that the George and Dragon had reopened, so I had to go in there as well. By the time I reached the Queens Head, it was getting late, and a few sums revealed that there was no way I was going to get to Waterloo in time for the book group meeting I was supposed to be going on to — so I sent [personal profile] ewan a quick SMS and headed back to Willesden Green to meet him for dinner at Sushi-Say (who initially said they couldn't fit us in since we didn't have a booking, but relented and squeezed us in anyway when we made it clear we were prepared to wait).

On Friday I did some work and then cooked saag and prawn patia for dinner.

On Saturday I overslept and missed the Tube Walk (but I did really need the sleep). In the evening I made saag aloo with the leftover saag from last night, and also did baingan ka bhartha to go with it. Then I killed my laptop by knocking a glass of wine all over it. Argh.

On Sunday I mourned my laptop and ate pizza from Cucina.
kake: The word "kake" written in white fixed-font on a black background. (Default)
I worked. And then I worked some more. After eight days straight, I took Saturday off (though I didn't go and do any of the fun things I had planned, because I basically wasn't up to it), and today (Sunday) I am working again.

The end is in sight, though, and the money is kind of useful, and the thing I'm working on today is quite interesting.

Still, the only thing of external interest to report from the past week is that I made cookies.
kake: The word "kake" written in white fixed-font on a black background. (Default)
On Monday I went to choir! It was the first rehearsal after the summer break, and it was great; also good to see [personal profile] techiebabe again.

On Tuesday I went on the first leg of the New Good Beer Guide Pub Crawl, visiting the White Swan in Whitechapel, the Hamilton Hall in Liverpool Street Station, the Hand and Shears and Fox and Anchor in Clerkenwell, the Museum Tavern in Bloomsbury, the Courtfield in Earl's Court, and the Leinster Arms in Bayswater. [personal profile] ewan, [livejournal.com profile] shermarama, [personal profile] superpitching, [livejournal.com profile] mjg59, and [personal profile] wildeabandon joined in at various points along the way. We'd intended to eat at the Leinster Arms, but they were running short of food, so instead we went to Kiasu for Malaysian food.

On Wednesday I did the second leg of the New Good Beer Guide Pub Crawl, starting in Harrow-on-the-Hill with lunch at the Castle. While waiting for the bus to take me to the station ready for the next pub, I had a chat with a chap also waiting for the same bus. He told me he'd lived in Harrow-on-the-Hill for 40 years, but couldn't suggest anything interesting to do in the area — a shame, since I forgot to photograph the pub and hence will have to go back some time.

I also ended up having a conversation in the next bit of the journey; having got the bus to Harrow and Wealdstone, and waited 20 minutes for a train, the train got cancelled and I found myself chatting to a lady who'd also been hoping to catch the cancelled train. I never found out her name, but I did find out that she has a pretty similar attitude to life-work balance to me, and her sister is poly. When a useful train finally did turn up, the journey to Watford seemed to take pretty much no time at all, thanks to her company. In Watford, I went to the Estcourt Arms for a quick one, then headed to Watford's other station to get the Metropolitan line down to Eastcote, where I visited the Case Is Altered for some not-very-good food in an almost laughably bad environment, then beat a quick retreat to the Black Horse for a soothing half to get over it.

Thursday saw the final leg of the New Good Beer Guide Pub Crawl, a much more compact affair covering the New Prince (not actually a NGBGP but it needed a review) and the Lamb in Surbiton, the Boaters Inn in Kingston, the Builders Arms and Adelaide in Teddington, and finally the Railway Bell in Hampton. I'd intended to get food at the Railway Bell, but in contradiction to what both the Good Beer Guide and the pub's own website told me, they only do food at lunchtimes, so I drank my pint quickly and ran off to find a chip shop.

On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I alternately worked and rested, though I did cook a fine roast dinner on Sunday evening, featuring expensive organic chicken roasted on a bed of black pudding, braised parsnips, celeriac stuffing, tamarind gravy, roast potatoes, and a tiny fraction of the frozen-pea mountain from the freezer.
kake: The word "kake" written in white fixed-font on a black background. (Default)
On Monday I went on a Southwest London adventure! I started in Norbiton, with a very nice lunch with [personal profile] bob at Roz Ana, a surprisingly good modern Indian restaurant. Then Richard joined us for pubbing at the Albert, the Norbiton and Dragon, and the Spring Grove. We then walked up to Kingston Station (in a wiggly line so I could take some more RGL photos of places like Wagamama and Lush) and got a train to New Malden, where we had dinner at a tiny Korean cafe called Hamgipak and then a final beer at the Glasshouse opposite the station, before heading home.

On Tuesday I did a big pile of work, then made mangetout and oregano soup and gormeh sabzi for dinner.

On Wednesday I had lunch with [personal profile] bob at Le Vacherin in Chiswick, then visited the Brook and the Andover Arms before meeting [livejournal.com profile] mjg59 and bob at the Salutation. Then we went to Indian Zing for some very tasty Indian food.

On Thursday and Friday I don't think I did anything except work. Though I did have some fun figuring out Korean transliterations and stuff from the bill we got at Hamgipak earlier in the week.

On Saturday I cooked an enormous feast: tomato rasam, cumin fried potatoes, cabbage with lemon and coconut, courgettes with fresh coriander, dal makhani, tarka dal, lamb chops marinaded with yoghurt and chilli, carrot achar, and basmati rice. Astoundingly, [personal profile] bob, [livejournal.com profile] uon, and I managed to eat most of it.

On Sunday I went on a Southeast London adventure! I dragged [personal profile] bob down the Southeastern Main Line to Chislehurst, where we drank beer in the Queen's Head, the Gordon Arms, the Bull's Head, the Crown Inn, the Ramblers Rest, and the Bickley. Then we had dinner at Denny's and got the train home.
kake: The word "kake" written in white fixed-font on a black background. (Default)
On Monday I had lunch at Han Kang, a decent Korean restaurant just off Oxford Street, then took some of the RGL photos that I'd been putting off because the places were all inside Oxford Street department stores (example), then went on a mini pub crawl around Bayswater with Richard.

I have forgotten what I did on Tuesday. Probably just work.

On Wednesday I had lunch at Madsen in South Kensington and bought some expensive cheese at La Cave à Fromage, then headed over to Richard's place to play Rock Band. We had a break in the middle to go and eat some not-very-good roast pork at the Coach and Horses on Kew Green.

On Thursday I went to the pub with [personal profile] bob and others, specifically the Prince Regent on Gloucester Road. We tried lots of the food, and found some to be very good (the steak) and some to be very bland (the spinach soup).

On Friday I did loads of work and also made pork chops with rice noodle salad for dinner. I might even have done some washing up as well. What a good Kake I am.

On Saturday I went on the Epping to Theydon Bois Tube Walk and took some photos, including one of an unidentified flower. Do you know what it is? On the way home I stopped off for a drink and a snack at Parade in South Woodford.

On Sunday I fixed stuff on the Discworld MUD and made braised sausages for dinner.
kake: The word "kake" written in white fixed-font on a black background. (Default)
On Monday I did lots and lots and lots of scanning for [livejournal.com profile] unclutter_2009.

On Tuesday I rewarded myself for a four-hour turnaround on a piece of work with some masala tea, then made dry-fried green beans with hoisin sauce for dinner.

On Wednesday I made some home-made tomato juice.

On Thursday I went on a pub crawl.

On Friday I hung out with [personal profile] bob; first we went for lunch at More, a quite promising new restaurant on Tooley Street, then he went to sort out a misbehaving server for work while I went and took some photos in Shepherd's Bush. Then we reconvened at The Goldhawk, where I drank Brothers festival strength perry and learned that they're having a cider festival next month. Later we wandered along to Patio for dinner; I can recommend the herring and apple salad.

On Saturday I had lunch with [livejournal.com profile] lozette at Haandi in Edgware, and then we both headed along for a nice stroll in the sunshine with the ever-lovely [livejournal.com profile] tubewalkers. Then everyone else went to the pub, while I went home to do some work. (Please do not feel sorry for me; I choose my own work hours, and I'd rather work on a Saturday evening because it gives me free time in the week, when pubs and restaurants are much more pleasant.)

On Sunday our bizarre downstairs neighbours had a party which started at the crack of dawn and continued until about 10am, so I got up at 9 and did even more work. In the afternoon I participated in the Discworld MUD Bugfix Sunday to the grand extent of fixing a single bug, then gave up on thinking for a bit and went out and wandered in a big circle around SE1 taking some photos for RGL.
kake: The word "kake" written in white fixed-font on a black background. (Default)
On Monday I went to choir and sang music by Elgar and Freddie Mercury. I went there via East Ham this time, since I've given myself a project of trying out all the small Indian restaurants along the High Street. I started with Hyderabadi Spice, where I had a very good biryani. (Haven't written the review yet since I need to go back and clear up some confusion over their billing practices.)

On Tuesday I was inspired by a Shaun Hill recipe to make seared scallops with lentil sauce. I used leftovers from the dhal I made last Tuesday to make the sauce. It worked pretty well; I hadn't been sure it was possible to sear frozen scallops without overcooking them, but they turned out fine.

On Wednesday I went for an epic two-hour dim sum lunch at Dragon Castle with [personal profile] amuchmoreexotic, [livejournal.com profile] thekumquat, and the [livejournal.com profile] quatlet. Then [personal profile] amuchmoreexotic and I headed south down the Northern Line to take some RGL photos and visit some pubs in Clapham. We then met up with [personal profile] ewan and [livejournal.com profile] mjg59 for drinks at the Tooting Tram & Social followed by curry at Radha Krishna Bhavan.

On Thursday I looked at the Tooting Tram & Social website to see which other pubs in their chain (Antic) we didn't have yet on RGL, and realised there was one near Liverpool Street, which is a short bus ride from me and technically on the way to the pub I was meant to be going to later. So I summoned some london.pm people and went and checked it out. It was subterranean, and rather noisy despite being deserted apart from us and the staff. Turn the bloody music down a bit! Then I went on to the Pakenham Arms to meet the lovely (and post-exam) [personal profile] superpitching. Other friends turned up too!

On Friday I mostly sat around going "ow, my womb". [personal profile] doop persuaded me to order a takeaway from Everest Inn in the evening.

On Saturday I worked, and on Sunday I rested.

By the way, you are allowed to comment on these posts if you like... even if it's just to say "hello!"
kake: The word "kake" written in white fixed-font on a black background. (Default)
On Monday I went to choir, as is becoming traditional. It was brilliant, again. I decided not to sing in the concert on Saturday, since I've been to exactly three rehearsals and it's a DECADE since I last sang in a choir. People tried to talk me out of this by praising my sight reading, but I still didn't want to risk screwing up. Besides, there are performances in July I can sing in, instead, and I'll definitely be ready by then.

On Tuesday I made stuffed aubergines, tarka dhal, radish salad, and broccoli rice for dinner. It was v.g.

On Wednesday I made veggie chilli for dinner, using 1.5 scotch bonnet chillies in the process. I think I should have used 2.5.

On Thursday I did a catch-up Tube Walk, going from Eastcote to Rayners Lane. When I got to Rayners Lane, I had some tasty Sri Lankan food at Papaya. Then I went to drink beer with Phil and [personal profile] bob at the new location of the Wheatsheaf. Nine real ales including a mild!

On Friday I didn't do anything other than work (well, I did some knitting, and watched the season finale of Grey's Anatomy).

On Saturday I took some photos of the scarf I posted about last week. In the evening [personal profile] doop and I had a takeaway from Super Nova. The "gluten chicken with green peppers and onions" turned out to contain generous helpings of Sichuan peppercorns and dried red chillies, which was a very pleasant surprise. We might have to try eat-in here some time, and see if we can get access to their secret Chinese menu.

On Sunday I did some Bugfix Sunday bugfixing on the Discworld MUD.
kake: The word "kake" written in white fixed-font on a black background. (Default)
On Monday I didn't go to choir because it was a Bank Holiday and the Jubilee Line was closed for engineering works, and I was tired anyway.

On Tuesday I was meant to go out for fun, but I was still tired so I went to bed early and watched House.

On Wednesday I went for dim sum at Joy King Lau with Sarah and Lex, then wandered around taking photos for RGL before meeting people for curry at Gaylord. I tried to pop in to the Crown again on the way home, but it was closed again.

On Thursday I made congee for the first time ever, using the century eggs I bought from See Woo on Wednesday. It was really tasty.

On Friday I made aubergine and prawns in XO sauce, and pork and tofu in black bean sauce. Both were pretty tasty. I think I might have to start ordering XO sauce dishes in restaurants... though they do tend to be a bit expensive, since the sauce itself is expensive.

On Saturday I did some work and then finished knitting a scarf that I was making for my sister.

On Sunday I ventured to Southall with [personal profile] doop, [livejournal.com profile] ewan and said sister, to go on a pretty enjoyable food walk. We had lunch at Mirch Masala and did a bit of grocery shopping. When we got home I made pani puri and they were ace.
kake: The word "kake" written in white fixed-font on a black background. (Default)
On Monday I went to choir again, and it was again awesome. I sang alto 2 this time. I sang alto 1 last week, but although I can cope fine with the high notes, I like singing the low ones and I missed doing that. I mentioned to a couple of people that I'd be interested in giving tenor a go at some point, and this was greeted with great enthusiasm since like many choirs this one has a fairly low proportion of tenors. I have sung tenor before, but I don't want to go straight into that after such a long break.

During the break, I chatted with [livejournal.com profile] techiebabe and another of the singers about stuff I can explore in the area before coming to rehearsal; the plan is to use this to improve RGL's coverage of Leytonstone and the surrounding areas (Leyton, Stratford, Wanstead, Woodford, etc).

On Tuesday I finished importing my old A-Z walk entries from LiveJournal to here. (New ones will just appear here.) I also made braised cauliflower for dinner (along with pork chops and home-made oven chips); there's something about the combination of cauliflower and red bell pepper that works really well.

On Wednesday I spent far too long deciding where in Earl's Court to go for lunch, and eventually settled on Mohsen. Then I wandered around and took some photos and eventually met [personal profile] bob for dinner at the Botanist on Sloane Square. We tried to pop in to the Crown again on the way home, but it was closed.

On Thursday I went to London.pm dim sum at Leong's Legend, and then took the Tube up to Holloway and did a mini pub crawl down Holloway Road (including the very promising Landseer) before meeting [livejournal.com profile] lozette, bellaphon, and MsMarmiteLover for dinner at Dastarkhan, London's other Kazakh restaurant.

On Friday I had a quiet night in, during which I did some knitting, watched some No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, and made prawn bisque with some prawn heads that [personal profile] bob stashed in the freezer a while ago.

On Saturday [personal profile] bob and I went to a beer festival at the Crosse Keys, then walked home along the river and stopped off for dinner at Lovage, a new(ish) modern(ish) Indian(ish) restaurant near Shad Thames.

On Sunday I did some Bugfix Sunday bugfixing on the Discworld MUD and then popped downstairs for a few civilised cocktails with [livejournal.com profile] ali_in_london and [personal profile] montag.
kake: The word "kake" written in white fixed-font on a black background. (Default)
On Monday I made cauliflower-leek soup.

On Tuesday [personal profile] bob got back from Eastercon with a pile of new books, so we did a massive declutter of old CDs, videos, and out-of-date computer books. Then we celebrated with a takeaway from Cafe Nawaz, which was pretty decent for what it was, and well-priced too.

On Wednesday I fixed some bugs on the Discworld MUD (and also did a wee bit of new development, which I can't tell you about until it goes in-game).

On Thursday I made some roasted carrot pate and read my freshly-arrived copy of 42 Magazine. I was planning to make baba ganoush as well, but my aubergine exploded in the oven.

On Friday I made teh interwebs crave fried egg sandwiches.

On Saturday I attempted to watch The Wire with [livejournal.com profile] uon but got bored halfway through the first episode due to being unable to understand what was going on. He appears to be hooked, though.

On Sunday I fixed some more Discworld MUD bugs and wrote some new NPCs for Ohulan Cutash. If you're a Discworld fan, or indeed a MMORPG fan, you really should check this out. It's been around since 1992, and has been properly maintained as well as expanded over the years since then. It also has a very good proportion of active female developers, which I believe a lot of people are touting as one of Dreamwidth's plus points.


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