Taste of Asia
Wow your guests with this impressive yet easy-to-prepare menu and some clever table decorations.
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.
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
craft knife and cutting mat
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.
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.
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
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
sunflower oil, for frying
125g smoked salmon or salmon trout
250g sushi-grade tuna or salmon,
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.
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,
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
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.
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
100ml prepared chicken stock
20ml soy sauce
20ml rice wine
2ml rice vinegar
2ml sesame oil
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.
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
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
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.