Taste of Asia

Wow your guests with this im­pres­sive yet easy-to-pre­pare menu and some clever ta­ble dec­o­ra­tions.

Ideas Entertainment - - Contents -

Wow your guests with easy-to-do Ori­en­tal dishes and dé­cor.

Set the scene

Set a ta­ble full of ex­otic ori­en­tal flavours and dé­cor that matches the theme. We took our cues from the blue-and-white porce­lain that you can find in Chi­nese shops ev­ery­where and used a so­phis­ti­cated pal­ette of ink blue, blush pink, bam­boo and touches of gold and black for our ta­ble. Play with symmetry and round, square and ob­long shapes and com­bine them with mag­no­lia blos­soms, ori­en­tal il­lus­tra­tions and cal­lig­ra­phy for an in­ter­est­ing con­trast.

De­coupaged ta­ble

You can have fun dec­o­rat­ing a plain table­top with de­coupage. Use pages from a Chi­nese news­pa­per along with il­lus­tra­tions like the blue-and-white scenes we used, as well as some prints of lovely cal­lig­ra­phy el­e­ments, and ar­range them over the table­top. Add your menu too. De­coupage with modge podge when you are sat­is­fied with the way they look. Fin­ish off with a bit of gold leaf here and there, if you pre­fer.

Chi­nese take­away boxes

Make a box for each guest, fill them with for­tune cook­ies or Chi­nese sweets and place them on the ta­ble.

You will need

tem­plate for take­away box on page 97

firm white card­board

golden tas­sels or other dec­o­ra­tion

thin wire

long-nosed pli­ers

craft punch

craft knife and cut­ting mat

metal ruler

To make

1 Copy the tem­plate for the box with the blue-and-white scene on page 97 in the de­sired size onto the white card­board and cut it out us­ing your craft knife, cut­ting mat and metal ruler. 2 Use the di­a­gram with the fold lines on page 97 as a guide and mark the fold lines on the un­printed side of the card­board. 3 Go lightly over the fold lines for the base of the box with your craft knife – use your ruler to en­sure you draw neat lines and take care not to cut right through the card­board. Fold the card­board against the ruler to form the base. Fold the rest of the box in the same way. 4 Fold in the sides and punch holes for the han­dle through the lay­ers. 5 Cut a piece of wire for the han­dle and bend it to fit. Use your long-nosed pli­ers and bend the ends in­wards. Hook them through the holes on the sides of the box. 6 Fill the box with sweets and close the lid. Dec­o­rate with a golden tas­sel or other dec­o­ra­tion.


Wel­come your guests with a fresh and fruity cock­tail.

MANGO DRAGON Mix 100ml mango juice, 100ml co­conut wa­ter and 25ml vodka to­gether. Pour over crushed ice. Driz­zle in a lit­tle grena­dine and top with a mango cube that has been threaded onto a small skewer. BLUE GINGER Mix 100ml gin­ger­beer, 100ml pineap­ple juice and 25ml light rum to­gether. Pour over crushed ice. Driz­zle with a lit­tle Bolls Blue. Gar­nish with a slice of lime.

Peg chop­sticks

This is a trick to make it eas­ier to eat with chop­sticks. Use your glue gun to join a set of chop­sticks to­gether by stick­ing them onto a peg – the end of the peg that grips must line up with the back of the chop­sticks (see pic­ture on page 91). Leave to dry be­fore plac­ing them on the ta­ble.

Cut­lery cans

Here is an idea for pre­sent­ing each guest with a set of cut­lery and chop­sticks. Buy Chi­nese cool drinks in cans and cut them open with a can opener. Pour the liq­uid into an­other con­tainer and rinse the cans. Leave them to dry then ar­range the cut­lery in them.


Copy the fun il­lus­tra­tion of how to use chop­sticks, on page 97, onto trac­ing pa­per, cut it out in the cor­rect size and place one on top of each guest’s rolledup bam­boo place­mat.


The pink mag­no­lia blos­soms look so pretty against the blue and white of the rest of the ta­ble. We ar­ranged ours in a va­ri­ety of sake bot­tles.

Sushi salad plat­ter

This is the cheat’s way to pre­pare sushi, but it looks beau­ti­ful and tastes fan­tas­tic. Serve it on a plat­ter, so your guests can choose what they would pre­fer. In­clude cooked prawns and smoked salmon, and cooked fish, if you pre­fer, as well as raw fish.

Serves: 6-8 Prepa­ra­tion time: 45 min­utes Cook­ing time: 10 min­utes

400g sushi rice

60ml rice wine vine­gar

20ml sugar

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

sun­flower oil, for fry­ing

125g smoked salmon or salmon trout

250g sushi-grade tuna or salmon,

thinly sliced

250g peeled prawns, cooked

2 ripe av­o­ca­dos, sliced

6 mini cu­cum­bers, sliced or juli­enned

2 spring onions, juli­enned

toasted se­same seeds, pick­led ginger,

soy sauce, wasabi and Ja­panese

may­on­naise, to serve

1 Rinse the rice in cold wa­ter un­til the wa­ter runs clear. 2 Put the rice into a saucepan and add 440ml wa­ter. Bring to the boil and stir. Once it is boil­ing, re­duce the heat, cover and sim­mer for eight min­utes un­til the wa­ter has been ab­sorbed. Leave the lid on and set aside for an­other 10 min­utes. 3 Heat the rice wine vine­gar, sugar and 1ml salt to­gether. Once hot, re­move from the heat. 4 Spread the rice out in a large, flat dish and driz­zle the vine­gar mix­ture over it. Mix it through gen­tly and leave the rice to cool com­pletely. 5 Make thin omelettes with the eggs. Heat a lit­tle oil in a non-stick pan. Add some of the beaten egg and swirl the pan around quickly so the egg coats the base. Cook for a minute and then flip the omelette over and cook the other side for a few sec­onds. Re­move from the pan and roll up, then slice into wheels. Re­peat with the re­main­ing egg.

6 Spread the rice out on a serv­ing plat­ter. Ar­range the fish, prawns, av­o­cado, cu­cum­ber, spring onions and omelette wheels on the rice. 7 Serve with se­same seeds, soy sauce, pick­led ginger, wasabi and Ja­panese may­on­naise for each per­son to add to their own por­tion as de­sired.

If you pre­fer your fish seared, mar­i­nate it in a lit­tle soy sauce then roll to coat in se­same seeds. Heat a fry­ing pan over a high tem­per­a­ture. Add a lit­tle oil and fry the fish briefly on all sides un­til seared. Slice thinly to serve.

Pork belly

Serves: 6-8 Prepa­ra­tion time: 20 min­utes Cook­ing time: about 2 hours Oven tem­per­a­ture: 220oc

1,5-2kg piece of pork belly on the bone,

skin on

½ onion, thickly sliced

1 car­rot, roughly chopped

6 star anise

15ml Chi­nese five-spice pow­der

10ml peanut oil

2 cloves gar­lic, crushed

10ml grated fresh ginger

80ml soy sauce

100ml honey

80ml dry sherry

2-6 dried red chill­ies

4 spring onions, sliced

1 Put the pork belly into a large saucepan and cover with wa­ter. Add the sliced onion and car­rot and 2 star anise, and bring to the boil. Re­duce the heat, cover and sim­mer for 20 min­utes. Re­move the pork from the wa­ter and place it on a wire rack to drain and dry com­pletely. 2 Score the skin with a sharp knife. Rub the five-spice pow­der over the un­der­side of the pork. Sprin­kle a lit­tle coarse salt over the rind. 3 Put the pork onto a roast­ing rack over a roast­ing tin. Once the oven is re­ally hot, put the pork into the oven and roast for 20 min­utes, then re­duce the heat to 150oc and roast for a fur­ther 1½ to 2 hours un­til ten­der. 4 While the meat cooks, pre­pare the sauce. Heat the peanut oil in a saucepan. Add the gar­lic and ginger and sauté for a few min­utes, then add 80ml wa­ter and the re­main­ing in­gre­di­ents ex­cept the spring onions. Sim­mer for 5 min­utes then add the spring onions and sim­mer for a fur­ther 3 min­utes. Re­move from the heat and set aside. 5 If the crack­ling is not prop­erly crisp, cook it un­der the grill for a few min­utes. Re­move the pork from the oven when it is done and set it aside to rest for 20 min­utes. Cut the meat into squares and serve with the sauce.

Veg­etable stir-fry

Serves: 6-8 Prepa­ra­tion time: 20 min­utes Cook­ing time: 10 min­utes

30ml peanut oil

10ml grated fresh ginger

2 cloves gar­lic, sliced

6 Sichuan pep­per­corns

250g mixed mush­rooms, sliced

1 pack baby corn, halved

1 pack snow peas, halved

2 sweet pep­pers, seeded and cut into

bite-sized pieces


100ml pre­pared chicken stock

20ml soy sauce

20ml rice wine

2ml rice vine­gar

2ml se­same oil

5ml sugar

5ml corn­flour

1 Heat the oil in a wok or large saucepan. Add the ginger, gar­lic and Sichuan pep­per­corns and sauté for a minute, then add re­main­ing veg­eta­bles. Stir-fry for 3 min­utes or un­til just ten­der. 2 Mix all the sauce in­gre­di­ents to­gether in a jug. Pour into the wok and stir un­til thick­ened.

Bok choi

Cut 6 bok choi in half length­ways. Heat a lit­tle peanut oil in a large fry­ing pan over a medium heat. Put the bok choi into the pan, cut side down. Fry un­til browned. Add 40ml oys­ter sauce, 25ml soy sauce, 1ml se­same oil and 40ml wa­ter. Cover with a lid and sim­mer un­til the bok choi is ten­der.


Serves: 6-8 Prepa­ra­tion time: 10 min­utes Cook­ing time: 10 min­utes

1 pack of Chi­nese egg noo­dles

peanut or sun­flower oil

1 medium-sized onion, halved and

thinly sliced

2 cloves gar­lic, crushed

2ml cumin seeds

1 pack of Chi­nese bean sprouts

pinch of chilli pow­der (op­tional)

10ml se­same seeds

20ml soy sauce

1 Pre­pare the noo­dles ac­cord­ing to the pack in­struc­tions and cook un­til just ten­der. Drain.

2 Heat a lit­tle oil in a wok or large fry­ing pan. Add the onion and sauté for a minute, then add the gar­lic and cumin seeds. Stir-fry for a minute then add the noo­dles and re­main­ing in­gre­di­ents. Stir­fry un­til heated through. Serve with the pork and veg­eta­bles.

Mango and co­conut pud­ding

Serves: 6-8 Prepa­ra­tion time: 20 min­utes


60ml cream

2 cans mango slices, drained and syrup

15ml gela­tine pow­der

125ml co­conut cream

squeeze of lime or lemon juice

1 Blend the mango slices in a food pro­ces­sor un­til smooth. 2 Put the gela­tine into a small jug and pour 250ml of the re­served mango syrup over the gela­tine. Leave to swell, then heat in the mi­crowave for a minute or un­til the gela­tine has melted. Stir well then set aside to cool. 3 Mix in the co­conut cream, cream and lime or lemon juice. Pour into small jelly moulds or ramekins and re­frig­er­ate un­til set. 4 To serve, hold a hot cloth over the moulds for a few sec­onds. In­vert and un­mould onto serv­ing plates.

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