For the last few months now, Mimi and Katie’s food blog has been a source of tantalising distraction in those many moments in between everything else I do when I am not thinking about my next meal. What I love about foodie & the chef’s approach to food, is not just their effervescent enthusiasm for the culinary delights they comes across, but their passion for fusion in their own cooking. Delicious, irreverent innovations that draw on different countries’ food traditions – more of an attitude than a recipe!
It probably should have been no surprise when inviting Mimi and friends over for dinner one night that she asked if I’d like to do a guest food blog. It’s my first one, but I love food and I love sharing food, so I hope you all enjoy this ex-post meal as much as we did eating it!
Starter: Hoisin fried quail eggs with capers
Simple and a fusion flavour explosion – this dish was concocted by one of our dinner guests, Vid, especially for the occasion. He takes one quail egg per person, carefully broken and fried in the pan like an incey, tiny normal fried egg. Place this on a small piece of lightly toasted artisan bread, a little bit of hoisin (not too much!) and a few capers, and you have a delectable little entrée. Mouthwateringly the sweet taste of hoisin gets punched through by the saltiness of the capers over the smooth texture of the egg with the bread providing body to the dish and tempering any overbearing richness.
Main: Across the bridge rice noodles (guiqiao mi xian): the original Chinese student noodle soup
Once upon a time in Yunnan, China, the wife of a scholar studying for the infamously difficult imperial examinations, to save him time would bring his dinner to him in the imperial library. As the journey took some time, and she wanted her food to be as fresh and tasty as possible to cheer up and sustain her studious husband, she brought in one hand an earthenware pot of hot chicken soup, and separately in the other an assortment of fish, meats and vegetables. Once across the bridge into the imperial student complex, together they would plunge the ingredients into the steaming broth and enjoy their noodle picnic.
I thought this dish would be perfect for a dinner gathering of stressed-out students. It does however have a few extra twists that I can recommend after getting over the bridge. The chicken broth is prepared as long as possible in advance to give it time to soak in the flavours. Take a chicken and saw through the bones to release the marrow and pop into a pot of water. I added whole star anise and cardamom to this and brewed it up for a few hours. Remove the chicken (it’s had all the flavour sucked out of it but you can slice off the breast meat and add it to the meal) and skim off the spices and fat to get a nice clear broth.
Thinly slice some good quality beef and some fish, and prepare your veggies and noodles. I used broad rice noodles cooked in a separate pot of water. Your imagination is your limit with the veggies – we had bean sprouts, white fungus, red chillies and capsicum, Chinese greens and red onion. The more colours the better!
So now for the fun part – everything is laid out in attractive little dishes. Each person creates their own dish to taste: adding meats first (which will be cooked in the hot boiling soup), noodles, then veggies. Add some fish sauce (maybe a little hoisin, but not too much!) to season.
The combination of fresh flavours is stupendous. The dish is so healthy and colourful, no matter how much you eat, your body feels cleansed and unbloated afterwards. And I ate a lot! The soup is full of the subtle flavours of chicken and spices – be careful not to kill this off with over seasoning with fish sauce or hoisin – the natural tastes of the meat and fish are delightful interspersed with the crunchy fresh flavour of the veggies.
(I would like to acknowledge my friend Alicia from China, who put me onto this dish, but sadly couldn’t make it to the dinner as she was studying for exams. Some things don’t change, except now it’s just as likely the boys will be cooking for their girlfriends!)
Dessert: Mimi’s coconut-soy rice pudding
This was a little surprise that Mimi had whipped up the night before. An Asian take on one of my Scandinavian favourites. Served cold. Creamy like a rich custard, but because of the soy, it sat surprisingly lightly in the tummy after dinner. The coconut gave it a fresh tropical taste and we washed it down perfectly with some Bailey’s liqueur. Think a decadent crème caramel but healthy and light without the rich, fatty diary. You’ll have to get the recipe off Mimi!
Thanks, I hope you’ve enjoyed my guest blog – writing it has been the next best thing to eating it all over again!