Food, food, food

Trip Start Oct 08, 2010
Trip End Oct 22, 2010

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Flag of China  ,
Monday, October 11, 2010

The weather was picture perfect. We had a cooking class followed by lunch and show, a visit to the market and a fantastic haircut. Sichuan dinner - super spicy.  

After a nice breakfast at the hotel we headed out at 9am. We drove over to what must have been a very nice part of Beijing, drove past Prada, Gucci and all the luxury brands.

The cooking class was taken by the chef at 21 Century hotel at their onsite training kitchen. It was just the two of us, our guide and the chef. We had some tea to warm up. We were shown how to cook three dishes, then we got to try it ourselves. We cooked chicken hot pot, mapu tofu and garlic broccoli - all delicious. We tasted the food, even though we had lunch afterward. Our guide, Debbie, took our cooking home for her dinner. 

We then headed out for lunch and show. We went to De Yun She - a popular spot for stand up comedy and Chinese Opera - owned by a famous actor. The people there were very happy to show us around the place. They had lots of antiques, old photos of Beijing and curios. It was good fun to have a look around and take some photos. Selena seemed to enjoy holding the whip a little too much...

We had a nice lunch, although we weren't that hungry after tasting our efforts at the cooking class. There was nice fired fish with a sweetish sauce and a bunch of other dishes. Way too much food for two people.

The show started when a big group arrived straight from the airport. Noisy bunch. Anyway, the show started with a rather shrill opera. Not entirely sure what the story was was, but she did lots of cool ribbon waving. Then it was followed up with acrobatics and juggling. Very cool.

The obligatory tea tasting. It was fun to try the different teas. I liked the Oolong tea with ginseng and jasmine tea. They had cool cups that changed picture and colour.

We had a brief trip to a market. Saw veges etc, cute little dogs (pets not for food).

Hair cut was a highlight. We had told our guide that we both want a hair cut. Before she took us there, she said it was the five star of hair cuts in Beijing and very expensive. Turns out its 60 yuan per person (thats about NZ$12). The hair cut was amazing. Washed our hair, then there was at least 15 minutes of massage to get us relaxed then the 'master' hair guy cut our hair. My hair was a bit of an issue for them (the little machine was protesting quite a bit), but they knew exactly what Selena wanted. Another wash after the cut - ah best $12 I have spent in China.

Back to the hotel for a bit of rest. Being a weekday there was a lot of traffic on the roads, we could see it from our hotel. Headed out for dinner around 7, turns out the taxi driver had no clue of the destination, so took a while, but got there in the end.

It was a surprise the taxi driver didn't know the place, as you can see the giant sign from the motor way! Dinner at Fei Teng Yu Xiang - Sichuan restaurant. To be fair its more like a small city, the place was huge! The waitresses were very distressed that we couldn't speak Chinese. Really wasn't an issue as I just pointed to the food and it was all OK. We had beans, eggplant and sichuan chicken wings. Everything was really nice and after the chicken our lips and mouth were all tingly and numb - only sichuan peppers can do that!

Another good day in Beijing. Glad the fog has lifted and temperature is really comfortable. Although there is a lot of pollution. You can see it when washing clothes, lots of black stuff comes out. But its really no different to London or Paris.

Garlic broccoli
Broccoli – 1
Garlic – 8 cloves, minced
Salt – teaspoon
Sesame oil – 1 Tbsp 
Starch (with two soup spoon water)

1.    Boil water with salt and tablespoon of oil (and a little chicken stock if you like). Cook broccoli until just bright green. Drain and reserve.
2.    Heat oil in wok until it shimmers. Add garlic until fragrant. Add broccoli, a little salt, sesame oil and stir fry. Add starch with water until mixed.
3.    Arrange and serve.

Mapu tofu
Tofu – 1 packet, cubed
Garlic – 4 cloves
Spring onion – 1, whit part only, julienne
Ginger – 3 cm, julienne
Sugar – tsp
Broad bean paste – 1 soup spoon
Starch with water (about 2 soup spoons)
Chinese prickly ash (?) could be sichuan salt-pepper

1.    Gently boil tofu to get silky texture. Drain and reserve.
2.    Heat oil in wok. Add ginger, garlic and spring onion. Once fragrant add broad bean paste.
3.    Add tofu and tsp sugar and salt.
4.    Add starch and water and mix through. Serve.

Chicken hotpot
Chicken – 200g, cubed
Green capsicum – small cubes
Peanuts – 50g, fried
Chillies – 10, cut in half
Sichuan peppers – 2 Tbsp
Broad bean paste – 1 soup spoon
Chilli oil – 1 Tbsp

Starch – 1 soup spoon
Brandy – splash
Vinegar – 1 soup spoon
Water – just enough to make a sticky marinade

Ginger – 3cm, finely chopped
Garlic – 3 cloves, chopped
Spring onion – 1, finely chopped, white part only

1.    Deep fry chicken. Oil should be moderately hot, not smoking. Cook until just past white. Drain and reserve.
2.    Add back some oil to wok, add chillies and Sichuan peppers. Once lightly browned add bean paste.
3.    Once paste is coloured, add chicken, capsicum and peanuts.
4.    Add the sauce in batches, you don't want it to go gluey.
5.    Add chilli oil. Stir and serve.
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