Masterchef Beijing

When Masterchef Australia finished for the year, I felt that there was a hole in my life. It’s slick. It’s addictive. It’s nail-bitingly tense. It makes you drool. And, it’s educational.

What better way to fill that hole but with more food!! So, we hosted a Masterchef challenge at our place. Every participant was given a mystery ingredient, and that ingredient had to star in 3 courses. We all voted, plus we had a guest judge, in case of any close calls.

The results were fantastic! We had such a wide variety of delicious food – way too much though. Next time, we need to invite extra guests as well.

We had a quite a few dietary restrictions within the group, which made it an extra challenge! By looking at the dishes, you can probably guess what they were.

My ingredient was ginger. For my entree, I made sushi with pickled ginger. When pickling ginger, if it’s young enough, it should naturally turn pink in the pickling process. Mine had no luck  though, so I cheated and used some food colouring. I did a sushi making course ages ago at my fave Japanese restaurant, Hatsune, and I’d been dying to try it out. I think it worked out pretty well! I filled the sushi with carrot, cucumber, daikon and fried enoki mushrooms.

Pickled ginger recipe from: http://www.rain.org/~hutch/ginger.html

My main course was fried tofu in a ginger broth. I really struggled with this one. I think I put a lot of extra thought into my dessert, and lost a bit of focus on the main. It was yummy, just nothing exciting.

My dessert was based around gingerbread. I made edible cups and spoons of gingerbread. Then I filled them with chocolate risotto. I’d seen Jamie Oliver make choccy risotto on TV, and had been dying to try it out. I topped the dish with candied ginger too!

Candied ginger from: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2008/12/candied-ginger/

And here are some pics of what the other contestants cooked:

Andy‘s ingredient was carrot. He made carrot soup with baby carrot rolls, carrot ravioli with pickled carrots and carrot cake icecream with candied carrot. And, he was the champion of the day!

Michelle‘s ingredient was lemon. She made baked fennel stuffed with lemon, lemon risotto and lemon curd panna cotta.

Nic’s ingredient was chocolate. She made mexican chocolate soup, mole and jicama salad, followed by Ancho chilli and chocolate truffles.

Zac‘s ingredient was chilli. He made pan-fried salmon with chilli salsa, chickpea and chilli curry and chocolate chilli muffins.

As you can imagine, after all this food, it was nap time!

5 China Moments

China is… well… just China sometimes. Little things catch your eye and just make you giggle.

A new subway line has opened up and in an attempt to clean the place up a little, there are flower pots delicately arranged on every rubbish bin.

I thought this shop looked a little out of place. The colour didn’t suit the street, the windows looked strange and the door completely odd. It’s a fake!! Hiding a construction site!

Phew! I was worried about where I was (on the walkway in Shanghai airport).

Our little room in a local Japanese restaurant had the classiest of decor. Munching on sushi and tempura… dreaming of coffee, juice and cake.

Taking the birds out for a ride. Caged birds inside a cage on the back of a bike!

A Night of Feasting

Hatsune is our favourite restaurant in Beijing. It was actually the first foreign restaurant that we ever visited after moving here. It has since opened another branch, which is positioned dangerously close to our house. Their Japanese menu is creative, fresh, delicious and every dish is a piece of art.

Room is a relatively new restaurant in Beijing. Their decor is bright and simple, evoking a feeling of space and fun. I’ve eaten there once, and the drinks were fantastic and the food yummy and well-presented.

So, you can imagine that when I saw an ad for Hatsroomie I started jumping up and down in excitement! Brian McKenna (from Room) and Alan Wong (from Hatsune) had prepared a 10-course menu together.

Brian McKenna’s Menu

Appetizer: Shellfish 1-2-3

A mini lobster burger, a freshly cracked oyster with lime and anise star flavoured crushed ice, lightly curried sweet potato soup, coconut foam and marinated shrimp. The crushed ice ‘popped’ in your mouth like those elf chocolates did back home! And this was the first time I’d drunk soup from a test tube!

1st Course: Crab and Avocado

Hand-picked crab meat with crushed avocado, sweetcorn sorbet and basil oil. The most amazing thing I’ve EVER eaten out of a cocktail glass. This was my favourite savoury thing on Brian’s menu.

2nd Course: Salmon and fois gras

Slow-cooked Norwegian salmon with spiced lentils, sauteed fois gras and herb creme fraiche. Fois gras goes surprisingly well with salmon.

Main Course: Beef and Bone

36 hour braised rib of Australian beef with sauteed bone marrow, paris mash and wild mushrooms.


Dessert: 1-2-3

Sweet breakfast (juice/eggs/toast/coffee); Pineapple, rum, coconut flavours; Hard-boiled lemongrass and mango egg; French toast/espresso foam/milk sorbet/coffee crumble. The dessert was out of this world. The concept of eating something that looks like an egg yet tastes like sweet mango is a sensory overload. The ‘coffee crumbles’ added an amazing texture to the foam and sorbet.

Alan Wong’s Menu

Appertizer:

Torched unagi and foie gras sushi ball, dashi poached spinach roll with shiitake mushroom and flying fish roe, miso marinated black cod in a lettuce wrap with shredded daikon and gobo root.


The Onsen (Spring Bath):

Lightly poached egg with chilled urchin, sashimi squid, salmon roe and black tobiko caviar in a dashi bath. This was my favourite thing on Alan’s menu. It was a flavour unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before. The texture was smooth and it glided down your throat. The roe and caviar ‘popped’ in your mouth as you sipped the cool, salty ‘soupiness’.

The Sukiyaki:

Premium marbled wagyu beef and seasonal vegetables. Sumptious beef. I just didn’t eat enough because by this stage I was getting pretty full and I wanted to save some space for dessert.

The Sweets:

Sticky rice and diced Lexie’s cupcake sushi roll topped with almonds and mango chutney; Diced mango, dragonfruit and asian grapefruit in a cookie spoon; Strawberry shortcake in a cookie spoon. Mmmm…. cupcake in a sushi roll. Genius. The cupcakes are from Beijing’s now-famous Lollipop Bakery.