What. A. Day. I am still on an absolute high after what I can only describe as a total once in a lifetime food experience! Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Ireland’s residence for the most amazing evening – a cooking demonstration & food tasting event – ‘Taste of China’.
2018 is the EU-China Tourism Year and next year is the 40th anniversary of the establishment of Sino-Ireland diplomatic relations. As a result of this, China and Ireland, as well as Shanghai and Dublin will gain a further mutual understanding and deepen the long-term friendship by this amazing journey on distinctive culture and cuisine! Which means that last night I got the opportunity to explore Chinese culture and tastes from Shanghai, the Yangtze River.
Believe it or not there are seven very different Chinese cuisines and Shanghai food is just one of them. Last night 4 world class chefs were flown in from Shanghai to serve up the most authentic and true Chinese food I have ever eaten IN MY LIFE.
Yu Fengxing, Executive chef of Shanghai Donghu Hotel, State-Banquet Master.
Lai Ronghui, Executive Chef of Siya Cuisine, Hongkong Food Expo Gold Award Winner.
Lu Chunfeng, Head Chef of Chinese Dim Sum of Intercontinental Shanghai Ruijn Hotel, China Gold Chef Award Winner.
Fu Bin, Head Chef Assistant of Xingguo Hotel, the 7th World Championship of Chinese Cuisine Gold Medal Winner.
From their titles alone, you can already imagine that these are top class chefs! Watching them prepare the food was absolutely mesmerising. Afterwards, I spoke to Walter Xiongwen Pan from the Chinese Embassy who was able to shed further light on the path to becoming a world-class chef in China and I was absolutely amazed, shocked and blown away to learn that Chinese chefs only use one knife, known as the Chinese Chef’s Knife, which I would describe as cleaver.
Chinese chefs are known for their varied cuisine and chefs are regularly moving from dish to dish in the kitchen, what most people – and even other chefs – don’t realize is that these chefs focus primarily on one knife: the Chinese Chef Knife. Unlike a butcher knife that can not be used to chop vegetables to very a fine thinness, these knives allow you to do absolutely everything because they are so versatile.
I know you’re dying to hear all about the food so I will cut to the chase!
There was an incredible spread a couple of my top picks were;
Marinade Scallops, Bon Bon Chicken (I get this every time I go out for Chinese food in China Sichuan!), Deep Fried Codfish, Braised Beef with Dried Orange Peel, Braised Duck with Brown Sauce & Fresh Prawns in Huatiao.
If I had to choose my number 1 it would have to be the Braised Beef with Dried Orange Peel closely followed if not on par with the Braised Duck with Brown Sauce not to mention the Deep Fried Codfish… ok, ok, I honestly can’t choose everything was absolutely stunning in its own right!
We also got to sample some amazing spring rolls and learn how to perfect the cooking process- ensure you leave them in the oil for just the right amount of time – leave them too long and they will be too crispy & take them out too soon and they will be too pale!
There were some other fabulous dishes too that I had never tried before and it was so amazing to get to try them like Mixed Jelly Head in Mature Vinegar & Vegetarian Duck both of which I would never in my wildest dreams order when eating out!
The desserts were absolutely STUNNING, when I go out for dinner, and in particular when I go out for Chinese food, I tend to skip over dessert and go straight to coffee (or a cocktail!) so when it came to dessert I opted to try a small bite (or so I intended) of each, in reality, I finished each piece I tried and went back for seconds (and 3rds of the peanut crisp…!)!
I went for a selection of Walnut Puff Pastry, Peanut Crisp, Jian Dui & Purple Sweet Potato Spring Rolls.
If I could learn how to make the Peanut Crisps & Purple Sweet Potato Spring Rolls I think I could happily live off of them for the rest of my life!!
I would like to extend a huge thank you to H.E. Dr. Yue Xiaoyong the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Ireland & Maple Feng Xu for extending an invite to myself and my mum we truly had a fabulous evening!