Saturday, January 24, 2015

Shanghai Chinese Restaurant

It occurred to me the other day that I hadn't ever posted about some of the eateries my family frequents. It's not as exciting as visiting new places and trying new food, but there is a very good reason we keep coming back. One of these places is Shanghai Chinese Restaurant -one of my family's go to places.

Clockwise from top left: Smoked Egg with Tofu - $10, Spicy Fish Slices - $12, Chicken Cooked in Wine - $12, Sweet and Sour Spareribs - $10
We start off with the cold dishes, which are designed to whet the appetite. Each bite sized portion bursts with flavour.

The pungent smoked egg (which is actually a century egg), soy sauce and a bit of sugar balance perfectly to bring a powerful punch to the otherwise tasteless tofu. The dried shrimp also provides a nice crunch to the dish.

Despite the name, the fish slices are not actually spicy. Nevertheless, it is my mother's favourite dish - the dish has a strong umami flavour which penetrates through every piece. Beware of fish bones though!

The chicken pieces cooked in wine are incredibly soft and tender. The dish is served cold and has a delicate hint of shaoxing wine.

Mine and Jason's ultimate favourite cold dish is the spareribs. The sweet and sour flavours are well balanced and the chewy texture is makes for a great appetizer.

Fried Beef with Deep Fried Bread - $18
Stir fried Chinese donuts may sounds like a weird phenomenon, but it totally works. The texture of the crunchy donuts, lightly coated with sauce, are a fantastic contrast to the tender beef. 

Chili Chicken
The fragrant chili chicken is served over a flame and comes with bean curd skin, lotus root, celery, pepper and a LOT of chili (obviously). The result is something mouth numbingly wonderful.

Sigua with preserved pork
To combat the strong tasting dishes, we ordered the lightly garlicky sigua. If you haven't come across sigua before, it is a soft and fibrous vegetable which takes on the flavour of whatever it's cooked with - in this case, preserved pork and garlic. 

Baby Spinach in Soup with Preserved Egg - $20
The baby spinach may not look fantastic, but the preserved egg, mushroom and garlic lend to a very light soup. The egg white doesn't add too much to the dish.

Chinese Rice Cake
The rice cake is also a delicate dish with only two extra ingredients - pork and cabbage. The chewy rice cake is a great alternative to rice.

Salty Egg Yolks with Prawn Balls - $28
The prawn balls are the seafood equivalent of popcorn chicken. The salty egg yolks add a creaminess to the prawns and are incredibly moreish. 

Wontons and Chicken Casserole - $22
When we have guests joining us, we order the wontons and chicken casserole. This hearty dish is exactly as it sounds - juicy wontons with tender chicken pieces. There are also pieces of cabbage which bring a nice sweetness to the soup. 

Like I said, there is a very good reason we keep coming back -we always leave satisfied.

Shanghai Chinese Restaurant can be found at the Northcote Shopping Centre, 49 Pearn Cresent, Northcote.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Zucchini, Asparagus and Bean Salad

My favourite part about summer is the produce. Summer is when the best tasting fruits become ripe and the vegetables become more affordable. This summer is especially great because we are reaping the rewards of our first vegetable garden.


The plant with one massive zucchini and several smaller ones
Summer is also the time to get excited for BBQs. There are few things better than basking in the evening sun to the sound of sizzling meats with a cold beverage in your hand.

Peeling the zucchini
If, like me, you have recently learned that a BBQ without vegetables is a tad uncouth, I suggest you give this recipe a try. 

Please don't be put off by the name of this salad. It may sound boring but I assure you, it is the perfect side for any BBQ you are sure to have in this stonking hot weather. 

This is one of my favourites because it requires minimal preparation.  The yoghurt brings a creaminess to the salad without being too heavy while the honey helps to accentuate the sweetness of the vegetables. The vegetables are also in season so it's pretty light on the pocket too!

Have you broken out the BBQ yet? What are some of your go to sides?

Zucchini, Asparagus and Bean Salad
A Lucyeats Original


2 medium sized zucchinis, ends cut off
1 bunch of asparagus (about 10-15 stalks)
1 large handful of green beans
Greek yoghurt
Runny honey


1. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the zucchini into thin ribbons and arrange on a plate
2. Cut the woody ends off the asparagus and the stringy bits off the ends of the beans
3. Bring a pot of water to the boil and add the asparagus and beans for 3 minutes
4. Remove the vegetables and plunge into ice cold water to stop the cooking process
5. Drain the vegetables and place on top of the zucchini
6. Place dollops of Greek yoghurt atop the salad and drizzle with runny honey

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A New Year and Some Goals

There are many ways to bring in the new year. In the past, we have done the house party, crazy music festival, night out on the town, quiet night in and even watching the lights in Paris. This year, we celebrated by going on a big camping trip to one of the most beautiful places in the world. 

New Chums Beach, Coromandel
Just down the road, across an estuary, over some rocks and through the bush was New Chums Beach. By just I mean approximately 30 minutes. With its clear blue waters and the spectacular scenery, it is no wonder that it is voted as one of the top 10 beaches in the world. 
Opera Point, Whangapoua
When the weather wasn't at its best, we went for a bush walk through Opera Point which ultimately led us back to more stunning beach views.

Opera Point, Whangapoua
There was also down time (a lot of it actually) where many a crossword was completed and, of course, discussion about everyone's resolutions for 2015 took place. There was the obligatory "I will quit smoking" and " I will be more fit" which no doubt pops up every year. 

Whangapoua Beach, Coromandel
Coming up with resolutions is hard and sticking to them is even harder, especially when they are vague. A good trick is to have specific goals in mind so you have a better idea of what success looks like. Instead of saying "I will go to the gym", how about "I will work out for 30 minutes, 3 times a week"? This provides a target and makes it easier to see whether your are meeting your goal.

Another is to break each goal into smaller, more manageable chunks so it is easy to track your progress -something I have been doing for my engineering projects to make them less daunting. 

In total, I have 5 major categories (Financial, Lifestyle, Fitness and Well-being, Projects and Career), each broken down into sub-tasks. With that in mind, I thought I would share some of mine with you:

1. The only debt I will have by the end of 2015 shall be the mortgage
2. I will aim to bring my own lunch to work at least four times a week
3. Instead of going to expensive restaurants, I will entertain at home more often
4. I will listen to more new music
5. I will aim to cycle a track at least once every two weeks
6. I will take more care into what I wear to work - that is, no jeans unless it is casual Friday or I am going to site for a whole day

Looking out from Opera Point
So that's a little insight into my goals for the new year. Hopefully points 2 and 3 mean that you will see many more recipes for 2015.

What are your goals for this year?