Tooting Family Kitchen

Tooting Family Kitchen

Fun Family Cooking

42. China: Cooking a Chinese Feast

Week 42 and we are delighted to arrive at our final destination before we start the final countdown of our last 10 meals! What a week to head to China and gate crash the 15 day new year celebrations with a sumptuous banquet to kick off the year of the Ox!

China’s civilization spans over 5000 years and being the world’s most populous country it certainly packs a punch…on that topic it is country you don’t want to upset having the world’s largest standing army with over 2 million personnel! China’s population of approximately 1.3 billion people means that roughly 1 in 5 people on the planet are Chinese. To offer some proportion, their population is around 20 times bigger than that of the UK. Putting into context the equivalent of nearly half the UK population live in caves but a new skyscraper is built every 5 days, twice the UK population live on less than $1 a dollar a day and twice the UK population are in the top 10% of the richest people on the planet. Men outnumber women by half the population of UK and due to China’s previous one child policy, there is a concern around a phenomenon named 4-2-1. When children from single child families reach working age and need to support 2 parents and 2 sets of grandparents in retirement…this is a country where it is illegal not to visit your parents if they are over 60. However, despite the country being so large (if you put together all its railway lines they would loop the world twice) it is a country with only one time zone and in the West of China sunrise can be as late as 10am!

Chinese culture is incredibly diverse and unique and its heritage can be witnessed throughout the world where its art, literature, martial arts, cuisine and philosophy have had a truly global effect. It is influenced by the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (551–479 BCE), known as Confucianism, a national philosophy which encourages respect for rulers, family and good moral character. In ancient China it was believed that China is the centre of the world which is reflected in their name, Zhōngguó (in Chinese) which means Middle Kingdom. Like us Brits they love a cup of tea but offering guests a nice mug of my preferred brew (Yorkshire Tea) may be met with disdain, as the way you drink your tea and the tea you drink can very much mirror ones social status.

China has 55 UNESCO World Heritage Sites ranking it top of the world along with Italy. Top the of list has to be The Great Wall, an incredible feat of engineering visible from space, but perhaps one of the greatest innovations of the Ming dynasty and what made this possible was the key ingredient used in the mortar to hold it altogether…sticky rice! Using sticky rice as a construction agent in many of their structures enabled them to withstand the toughest earthquakes. Not far behind is the Terracotta Army which took 37 years to build the 8000 clay soldiers to guard an emperors tomb. I have to say though, given the Emperor Tang of Shang had 94 ‘ice men’ whose sole purpose was to make him ice cream I feel they had the recourses to shave a few years off that time frame.

Chinese food can be as diverse as its culture and varies from region to region with perhaps Cantonese being the most popular throughout the world. Whilst we are familiar with the menus of our local Chinese restaurants there are other household staples which can be linked back to China too. We have already seen that Emperor Tang was a big fan of ice cream but a lot of people don’t know that ice cream was invented in China before being introduced to the world by Italy. Most households in the UK will also be in stock of a bottle of ketchup, which has evolved from a pickled fish sauce called ke-tsiap! But to heap disappointment on those who consume the 3 billion fortune cookies made every year, they were invented in San Francisco, but I am sure “a fresh start will (indeed) put you on your way”. Half the world’s pigs live in china so needless to say pork is favourite on most menus. Be prepared for some misleading names too… “Husband Wife Lung Slices” is not cannibalism but thinly sliced cuts of meat seasoned in chilli oil and for a real treat (although it may set you back $3,000) you may want to try a ‘Bird Nest’, an edible nest made from solidified saliva”

We hope we have done Chinese cuisine justice with our Chinese New Year Feast.

Xin Nian Hao!

Tooting Family Kitchen cooks Roast Duck, Dumplings, Stir-fry Crab & Stir-fry Vegetables

Brining & Drying

Prepping the dumplings

Getting them filled!

Checking out the crabs

Last step before cooking!

Hot work!

Roast duck(loosely followed a method by Ching-He Huang)

What’s in it...

2kg duck (giblets removed)

Kettle full of boiling water

2 tbsp soft brown sugar

1 tbsp of salt

1 tbs Chinese 5 spice

1 inch ginger, chopped

2 shallots, chopped

2 star anise


Brining solution

150g brown sugar

1 tbsp salt

200ml of boiled (warm) water

700ml of cold water

300 ml of cider vinegar



Hoisin sauce

Spring onions


What to do with it...
  1. Remove the duck from the packaging and clean inside and out. Pour over a kettle full of water to render off any excess fat and out to one side.
  2. Make the brining solution by missing the ingredients and dissolving the sugar and put the duck in for 3 or 4 hours ensuring to turn half way through.
  3. Remove the duck from the brining solution and pat dry before hanging on a meat hook in a cool dry place for 8 hours.
  4. Score the skin lightly and pre-heat an oven 180 C. Place the duck on a rack in a roasting tray and add 2 cups of water before covering in tin foil ensuring it is sealed but not too tight.
  5. Cook for 45 mins and then remove foil and turn up heat to 200 and cook for a further 45 mins before resting for 15 mins.
  6. Serve with pancakes hoi sin or plumb sauce and finely sliced spring onions and cucumber


What’s in it...

200 g raw prawns, finely chopped

2 spring onions, finely chopped

1 Inch ginger, grated

1 tbsp fresh chive, finely chopped

½ tsp sesame oil

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp white pepper

I pack of gyoza wrappers

What to do with it...
  1. Mix all the ingredients for the dumplings together and leave in the fridge for an hour to let the flavours infuse.
  2. When ready to make the dumplings separate the dumpling wrappers and distribute on a clean surface.
  3. Place a heaped tsp of mixture in the middle of each wrapper and brush/rub a little water around the edges to make a seal. Bring the sides of the wrapper in and twist at the top.
  4. When ready to steam evenly distribute the dumplings in each layer of a bamboo steamer. Place in a pan with one inch of gently simmering water and steam for 15 mins or until cooked through.

Stir-fry crab (loosely followed a recipe by Ching-He Huang)

What’s in it...

2 fresh crab

3 tbsp oil

3 inches of fresh ginger, grated

5 cloves of garlic, finely sliced

8 spring onions chopped not 4 pieces

Salt and pepper

4 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine

2 tbps soy sauce

What to do with it...
  1. Give the crab a good clean and then pace it on its back and twist off the claws followed by the small legs. Give them all a crack. Separate the top shell from the body and remove the lungs (the feathery part) and discard, along woth the mouth and the tail. Give another wash and remove the stomach sac and chop the crab body into quarters and place to one side with the claws and legs.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok until very hot and then fry the ginger, garlic and spring onions for 30 seconds before tossing in the crab pieces and combining for a minute and finally seasoning and pouring in the rice wine and soy sauce.
  3. Stir fry for approx. 10 – 15 mins on high heat.

Stir-fry vegetables

What’s in it...

1 inch ginger, grated

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 spring onion, finely chopped

½ cup Carrot, finely slice

½ cup Shitakke mushrooms, chopped

1 cup of Bean sprouts

1 cup of min corn

1 cup of sugar snap peas

3 x Spring onions

½ cup Roasted slated cashew nuts

1/3 cup soy sauce

3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

What to do with it...
  1. Mix the soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil and sugar together. Make a paste from the cornflour and water and combine together and put to one side.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok until very hot and toss in ginger, garlic and spring onions and fry for 20 seconds before adding the corn and sugar snap peas. Fry for a minute and then cuck in the remaining ingredients and stir fry for 3 mins on highest heat.
  3. Put into the sauce and toss through continuing to cook for another minute before serving.

Our Chinese Feast

Lets get stuck in!


Getting to grips!

Duck went down well!

Thank you China!

Thank you China, that was epic! Can’t wait to explore more of your cuisine.

Next week we are excited to head to Afghanistan!!! … please don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE (scroll to bottom) & SHARE and if you have any International Food ideas or recipes from around the world you wish to share please do drop us a line 👍


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See you next week!
Tooting Family Kitchen


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