It’s been a funny old week with a Chinese theme. It started with a Stow-at-home day on Tuesday when we decided to try out the restaurant in the Hoo Hing Chinese supermarket hidden on a trading estate in Leyton. Maybe not an obvious idea for lunch, but what a find! In this massive Chinese supermarket that we never knew existed you can get every conceivable (and a few inconceivable) Oriental delicacy. We came away with fresh Thai holy basil, a variety of tofu, pickled seaweed, rice noodles and jasmine tea but there’s also tanks of live crab and lobsters, roast ducks, freezers full of frozen dim sum and seafood, and aisles of intriguing spices and sauces.
However tucked away upstairs is what we came for – the restaurant. The word ‘restaurant’ may be misleading, think more staff canteen with round decorative glass-topped tables and an industrial feel. It’s a one-woman show, you point at what you want on the laminated menu hung up by the till, she nods, writes it down and then cooks it and shouts ‘hello’ when it’s ready to collect. It’s not amazing food, but it’s cheap, fast, and fun. We had prawn toasts, 2 types of steamed dim sum (£1.99 each), ‘glutinous rice’ with chicken in banana leaf parcels (£2.25) which the other foodie declared to be “food for when the world ends”, a plate of roast duck and char sui pork on steamed rice (£3.95) and a pot of tea (50p each). With a total bill of just over £13 we were content and will be back on lazy weekend days when only dim sum will do but we can’t be bothered to go far. The supermarket is open every day except Xmas & Boxing day and the cafe serves food til 4pm.
Hoo Hing, 1 Dorma Trading Park, Staffa Road, Leyton, E10 7QX
The next Chinese event of the week was an invite to watch the TV chef Ching-He Huang launch her new Lotus Wok and cook up dishes from her ‘Eat Clean’ cook book. This is an East meets West book with easy and healthy soups, salads and stir-fries, and swapping processed, high-sugar foods for feel-good fresh veg flavours. So tonight I made my first dish inspired by this cook book. I had to tweak it to the ingredients I had in the fridge but it worked out well, so I’d recommend getting the book. It has to be one of the easiest and quickest dishes I’ve ever made.
Tofu & Kale stir fry
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
A massive handful of kale (I used a mix of Cavolo Nero and Red Kale), chopped roughly into 1 inch peices
100g mushrooms, sliced100g Tofu – (Chinese 5 spice marinated tofu is great, Ching recommends smoked tofu) chopped into cubes or slices
1 tsp mirin – sweet rice wine
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
juice of 1 lime or lemon
Get all the ingredients washed, chopped and prepared so you are ready to go, this is a quick dish.
Heat a large wok (there’s a lot of greens going in!) and add a tablespoon of vegetable oil. When it’s smoking hot add the garlic, ginger and chilli and fry for a few seconds. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for a couple of minutes.
Now throw in the kale and a small splash of cold water to help it steam and wilt, cook for another minute or two. Then add the tofu and toss all the ingredients together, fry for a couple of minutes.
Add all the sauces – mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil and the lime juice and stir through. Take it off the heat and serve straight away on a bed of rice or noodle. Delicious, nutritious and so simple.