When the time comes to cook for your other half or someone you are dating, you know you have got to impress. Why not try something traditional from other parts of the world? Here are my starter and main suggestions.
You do need to be careful when cooking for your date. Firstly, you don’t want to give anyone food poisoning! You should also go with food that is easy on the mouth! No one wants a toothache that keeps you up at night, which can be the case with too much sugar! Also, avoid anything that is too messy to eat if you have not been dating for long.
The Scotch egg is a firm favorite amongst food lovers, especially those in the UK. It is a dish that needs no introduction, but I am going to give it one anyway. Scotch eggs originated in England. They were created in 1738 by Fortnum & Mason of Piccadilly. Although a considerable amount of time has passed since then, they have not lost their popularity and it is unlikely that they ever will.
For those that are unaware a Scotch egg is essentially an egg that is wrapped in sausage meat and finished off with a coating of breadcrumbs. It is a type of snack food. It wouldn’t be misplaced in a picnic basket or on the menu at a typical British pub establishment, but you can make it a fancy starter too.
Scotch Egg Recipe
Now you know exactly what a Scotch egg is, but how do you make this snack? To create four servings you will need all of the following – 200g of pork mince, 200g of plain sausage meat, six eggs, 50g flour, 100g panko breadcrumbs, one tablespoon of English mustard, vegetable oil, a splash of milk, a pinch of ground mace and three tablespoons of chopped herbs. It’s up to you what herbs you want to use. I’m a fan of parsley and sage.
The first thing you need to do is prepare the eggs. Place four of your eggs into the pan. You should then cover them with water, make sure it is cold, and then bring the water to the boil. Once the water is boiling, the heat should be turned down and allow it to simmer for approximately five minutes. After this, remove the eggs and place them inside a big bowl filled with iced water. They should remain in here for a minimum of ten minutes.
Now you are going to move onto the meat. Grab a bowl and place the sausage meat, mine meat, mustard, mace and herbs inside. Season this and mix it with your hands. Once everything has been mixed together well you should then divide the mixture into four different sections.
Go back to your bowl of eggs and peel each one carefully. The next thing you will want to do is mix together a splash of milk with the two remaining raw eggs. After this, grab another bowl and place the 50g of flour inside. Season the flour and then grab another bowl and pour your 100g of breadcrumbs inside.
Now you have prepared each component of the Scotch egg. You need to prepare your work surface for the upcoming steps. Do this by placing a square of cling film over the top of the surface. Flour the cling film lightly. Grab one of the four meatballs you have separated and put it in the center. Flour this lightly and finish off with another layer of cling film on top. You should then use a rolling pin in order to roll out the meat so that it is big enough for an egg to fit inside.
After this, roll one of the peeled eggs in flour and then put it in the center of the meat. To encase the egg you need to bring up the sides and then use your hands to smooth it into an egg shape. Each egg should be dipped into flour, then egg and then breadcrumbs. For good coverage dip it in egg and breadcrumbs once more.
Once you have done this for all four eggs you should then grab a large pan and pour in vegetable oil until it is a third full. Heat the pan to 170C. Place the Scotch eggs inside until the crumbs turn golden. This should take roughly seven minutes.
If you go into any authentic Chinese restaurant with your date, you can guarantee that Peking duck will be on the menu. This is one of the most famous dishes in Chinese cuisine and a real show stopper when impressing someone. It originates from Beijing and has been enjoyed since the imperial era. It is a delicious dish, with the thin, crisp skin winning the hearts of many diners.
The history of this dish
Roasted duck can be dated back to the Northern and Southern Dynasties in China. In the Yuan Dynasty, a variation of this dish was made for the Emperor of China. However, as Hu Sihui’s 1330 recipe book reveals, the dish was known as Shaoyazi back then. It was later on, in the Ming Dynasty, when the Peking duck that we know and love today was developed. In 1416, the first restaurant specializing in this meal was established, called Bianyifang.
The popularity of Peking duck spread to the upper classes by 1736, which was the Qianlong period. Just over 100 years later, in 1864, Yang Quanren – the founder of the Quanjude restaurant – developed the hung oven to roast ducks. Peking duck became the national symbol of China by the mid-20th century, with tourists also falling in love with the dish.
Peking duck: The traditional way
The process begins by raising the duck. Traditionally the ducks used to prepare this dish originated in Nanjing, yet today Pekin ducks are used. They spend the first 45 days of their life in a free-range environment and for the following 15-20 days, they are force-fed four times a day so that they weigh between five and seven kilograms.
Once the ducks have been slaughtered and gone through the plucking and eviscerating process they are then rinsed and air is pumped underneath the skin so that it parts from the fat. The ducks are hung to dry and maltose syrup is used as a glaze. They are then roasted in a hung oven or closed oven.
Duck is typically served with sweet bean sauce, cucumber and scallion, with a thin pancake, rolled around the filling. Some restaurants replace the sweet bean sauce with hoisin sauce and it is not uncommon for pickled radish to be an additional accompaniment.