Oct 17

Women in China

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When I travelled to Guangzhou in 2002, I found China to be a country that was careering head first towards the 21st Century. My base was a hotel housed in a skyscraper which was circled by endless cavalcade of cars and flanked by a shopping mall packed with affluent and well dressed shoppers in the latest designer labels. When Leung and Tai Po were struggling to raise their family, life in the rural villages had remained largely unchanged for hundreds of years. The people grew their food in their own vegetable patches and paddy fields. There was neither medicine nor communication with the outside world. To be born a farmer meant being destined to die as one; trapped in a cycle of poverty. To survive famine, flooding and periodic attacks by bandits, everyone was forced to work towards a common goal, to feed their families.

As a woman, life in China in the 1900s held no prospects whatsoever for my grandmother. Their society dreaded the birth of daughters, often treating them as little more than subhuman, a burden on the family. Mao Tse Tung wrote that all Chinese people had three ropes round their necks, political authority, clan authority, religious authority. But a woman also had a fourth; the authority of the husband.

This suppression of women was engrained in the feudal Chinese social system. Before Mao, Confucius had perpetuated the domination of men over women, fathers over daughters and husbands over wives. Confucianism is characterised by conservative values, strong ethics, emphasis on the family and respect for elders and cold logic approach to man’s problems. Even at the beginning of the Twentieth century, it formed the basis of the views held by many Chinese citizens. The result was that for thousands of years, political power in China had been closely associated with the control of women.

Women did not have any rights over property, nor did they enjoy any independent decision-making power in matters affecting the family and clan. Nor was education an option for women. A shame, as my grandmother proved to be an intelligent and inquisitive child. Women, particularly rural women, were

regarded as objects, whose body and mind were under the total control of their husband. It is an attitude embodied in an old saying describing marriage:

“Having married a cock she must follow the cock; having married a dog she must follow the dog; having married a carrying pole she must carry it for life.”

So profoundly negative was society’s view of female children that every year thousands of new born baby girls were routinely murdered or abandoned by their mothers simply because of their sex.

As the third girl born to rural farming family, it would not have been uncommon for my grandmother to be abandoned on the hillside, fed poison or be buried alive. Some Chinese women even believed that sacrificing a daughter could guarantee the birth of a son in their next pregnancy. In practice, they may have believed that sentencing their daughters to death far better than condemning them to the life of a woman in China. All that lay ahead of my grandmother was a life of discrimination, poverty and drudgery.

However my great grandfather, Leung felt strongly that his daughters were valuable in their own right, that they had the ability to develop their lives into something positive in the generations beyond his lifetime. This, combined with my grandmother’s natural self belief and determination, would change her destiny. Not just for her but for all her female descendants myself included.

When I was at school, my ambition was always to become a lawyer. My parents expressed some concern that I had chosen to work in such a male dominated environment but not my grandmother.

She told me a story that Leung would tell her as a child. A favourite of his that confirmed the value of patience and commitment to one’s ambitions despite the odds. In the story an eccentric old man who decides to level two huge mountains to open a road from his village southward to the bank of the Han River. He was laughed and scoffed at by his neighbour.

‘How can you dispose of so much earth and stones,’ they asked him. His reply was simply:

‘Though I shall die, I shall leave behind my son, and my son’s a son. From generation to generation I hand this task. Since these mountains cannot grow any larger, why shouldn’t we able to level them?’ After five generations the mountains were finally levelled.

My grandmother explained to me that her father told her even though I was a girl, she could earn her place in the world. It was a valuable lesson.

This excerpt is taken from the book Sweet Mandarin by Helen Tse. Published by Random House and sold into 33 countries. Now available to download on Kindle.

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Oct 13

Happy Birthday !

 

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Happy Birthday To You

Happy Birthday To You

Happy Birthday To Lisa and Helen

Happy Birthday To You!

 

We were born and bred in Middleton, Manchester above a takeaway. Word of mouth spread quickly through Middleton that our mother, Mabel had moved to Mills Hill and our gran, Lil’s curry was available once again. Business grew as swiftly as my mother’s stomach ballooned. She would serve the customers and waddle around the shop. As before the business became part of local life and the customers noticed that my mother was pregnant they took an interest in her welfare. Some even knitted and little socks and baby cardigan sets which they gave to her as presents. On some days, it seemed as if everyone was as excited about the new arrival as she was.

When my mother was close to due date, my parents had no idea they were expecting twins. I was lying behind my sister Lisa so they had quite a surprise when we turned up together. They had only seen Lisa on the scan. My mother gave birth to Lisa in the Royal Oldham Hospital, eight miles away from Manchester on 13th October, just after lunch. I came into the world second, two minutes after her.

Despite the shock of taking home two children rather than one, my mother said it was great to have twins. I looked after Lisa and Lisa looked after me. When I cried, Lisa would calm me down by stretching out a tiny arm in comfort me. We shared a bed, then a room and even a study desk, until we were in our late teens. As we grew, we would remain as close as only people who have a shared the same womb could be. We kept each other company at school and when we were old enough to work in the shop too. And now we’re business partners in Sweet Mandarin.

Like many Chinese children, my childhood revolved around the family business. It was a way of life. If you are born into your obligations, you do not know any better. All I knew was that we lived in the shop ate from the shop and worked in the shop. There was nothing else.

Sunday was our day off and this was spent either at a Chinese restaurant having a family meal or at another friend’s shop so my parents could talk with their friends about how business was and how they could improve the takings. My father tried to enroll us into Chinese school on Sundays, We hated it. But luckily Sunday was the only day the shop was closed and my parents were prone to oversleeping. We often moved the clocks forward so the alarms went off too late! As they never woke in time so we missed the classes. Eventually my father exasperated by our determined stone walling of Chinese school, cancelled our subscription and enrolled us into the local orchestra instead. Hence occasionally, you might have to put up with me playing the violin to you in the restaurant!

We just want to thank God, all our family and friends and customers for celebrating our birthday with us at Sweet Mandarin. Be blessed and God Bless You Always.

Love Helen and Lisa

 

To book a table at Sweet Mandarin email sweetmandarintables@gmail.com . Our opening times are Tuesday – Sunday 5-10pm.

Sweet Mandarin is a Chinese Restaurant in Manchester which serves delicious Chinese cuisine and exotic cocktails. We make our own sweet chilli sauce, bbq sauce, sweet & sour sauce which you can buy from Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Ocado, Booths, Wing Yip and Chi Yip. Sweet Mandarin Chinese Restaurant and Cookery Schoolcan cater for the gluten free, dairy free diners. We are a short 15 minute walk from the Manchester Arena. We are not based in Chinatown, but based in the trendy Northern Quarter near the Arndale Centre, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Debenhams and Primark. The nearest hotels to us are the Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn Express, Premier Apartments, Blue Rainbow Aparthotels, Light Hotel and Hatters Hostel.

Oct 10

The Story behind Sweet Mandarin

Sweet Mandarin - Helen Tse 2006.

“To the ruler, the people are Heaven; to the people, food is Heaven”. (An ancient Chinese proverb)

My grandmother, Lilly Kwok, was born in 1918 small village in Southern China. As an unborn child, she kicked so hard that the midwife thought she would be a boy. That independence, strength and energy stayed with her all her life. Lilly is 88 now and still a fit, intelligent and, I’m afraid to say, stubborn woman. She and I are very alike. Along with my mother, she has been the inspiration for much of what I have done with my life; my success at school and in business; my return to the catering trade; and my journey back to China to rediscover my roots. In short, her story is my story.

Having grown up living and working in a Chinese catering tradition she started, it was a path that I and my two sisters vowed we’d never allow to become my livelihood. We never expected that eventually our lives to follow in the footsteps of my grandmother and my mother, Mabel. Despite my sisters and I pursuing professional careers as a lawyer, financier and engineer, we opened a Chinese restaurant together called Sweet Mandarin in 2004.

At the time, we were asked by everyone we knew – why open a restaurant? Restaurants are difficult to run, hard work and financially precarious. It is a tough, male dominated world and no place for three twenty something professional ladies. Indeed our friends in Manchester’s Chinese community were doing everything they could to escape the restaurant and take-away businesses of their parents. Many had even moved away from their hometowns so with their homes a few hundreds of miles away, it was virtually impossible to rush back to help out in the family catering businesses. Albeit extreme, that was the only way one could really escape without being crushed by guilt and obligation. I could count on one hand the number of my Chinese peers who were willing to embark on such a venture and return to their roots.

These people believed we had taken a step backwards. Even on our opening night party, a huge affair with fireworks and a street party, I saw them shake their heads pitying our choice. However I also remember the older Chinese bosses of the Chinatown restaurants and supermarkets smiling at us with respect and quiet acknowledgement that we were the next generation to carry the flickering, dimming torch. They wished their sons and daughters would take a leaf out of our book and continue the family restaurant business.

Opening my own restaurant gave me more than just a chance to test my entrepreneurial streak. It brought me closer to sisters for a start. Though I shall be the voice for all of us in this book, they share this heritage with me but I shall be their voice for all of us in this book. It also introduced me to my grandmother and mother and opened up a bridge between us that crossed East and West as well as the present and the past.

While my sisters and I have faced many problems in getting our business off the ground, these pale in comparison to those faced by our grandmother and mother, who arrived in England off the boat from Hong Kong with nothing.

My mother, my grandmother and I always shop together on Saturday mornings at a Chinese supermarket called Chi Yip close to home. We buy stock for Sweet Mandarin and Chinese produce for our home cooking list. It was during these shopping trips that the story of my grandmother’s life, which had been locked away for decades, was first revealed to me. Of course, I knew some things, the funny characters and anecdotes that all families share when they get together but never the full details of the determination and incredible struggle that had brought my grandmother to England. The story slipped out in parts. As we shopped, week after week, my grandmother would reveal more, often prompted by individual items she picked up around the store. It was as if each bottle or package was tied to a chapter in her life that she wanted to share with us. When your entire family works in restaurants, food, it seems, becomes your family heirloom.

There is very little written about the journey of mainland Chinese immigrants to Hong Kong and Britain, many of whom have built their lives in the restaurant and catering trade. As I discovered more about the journey that has been my grandmother’s incredible life, I wanted to describe to the world her experience, for it is one which is shared by so many Chinese in this country.

Immigration is a huge issue in today’s multiracial society and this book is about those who emigrate from the place of their birth to build a new home in another and the struggles they face to survive in both. This immigrant story is about my grandmother, my mother and myself; three generations of independent Chinese women who made a life in the restaurant business. The story ranges from Guangzhou, in south China in the 1920s, to Hong Kong in the 1930s to England from the 1950s to the present day.

Though these lives have been played out in different eras and countries, they are as dramatic as the times we lived through. Like all families, we have faced unpredictable and devastating upheavals but the women in my family have learnt to survive.

There is no other book that can tell this story because no-one has walked in my shoes. Like the Chinese cooking which has saved us, my family fortunes contain layers of meaning and wisdom that cannot be easily explained. This is a book that is written from the heart and which seeks to remember past generations with gratitude and thanks. It is both a witness to the kindness and cruelty of people and a demonstration of how resilient human beings can be. Sometimes, it seems as if the most terrible of times has brought out the best in my family.

I offer you this book in the spirit of Lilly Kwok’s Chicken Curry, Mabel’s Claypot and Buddha’s Golden Picnic Basket and in honour of the exceptional women who gave me a chance in the world.

Gambei or Cheers!

Helen

This except is taken from the book Sweet Mandarin which was published by Random House and sold into 33 countries. It is now available on Kindle for download.

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Oct 08

Mr Chow’s Oven Baked Barbecue Chicken Wings

photo 5 (8)a‘I can still taste those barbecue chicken wings from old Mr Chow on the corner of Stanley market,’ said my grandmother. ‘They were the first thing your grandfather bought for me on our first meeting. He also had to buy a portion for my friend, Kat. In those days, you couldn’t go on a date un-chaperoned.’ The three of us agreed they were delicious and the majority of the discussion of the evening comprised of guess what ingredients were in the barbecue sauce.

 

It turns out that my grandfather didn’t eat his chicken wings as he was lovestruck. He didn’t want to get his fingers dirty and said he was straight out of a Ming dynasty story ‘The Oil Peddler and the Plum Flower Girl’, where the usually unruffled soul of the leading male character Qin Zhong is as if struck by lightning: ‘He stood dumbstruck for an age, his whole body limp and numb’ known today as ‘love-struck’.

 

It turns out the feeling was mutual love of earth-moving, soul-shattering proportions between my grandmother and grandfather – well at least in the beginning. And straight after that date, my grandmother set about experimenting with the herbs and spices in her employer’s well-stocked kitchen to replicate the very same taste of love that she had experienced on that starry night in Stanley.

 

This very same sauce is what we have bottled and makes this fuss-free recipe and unlike other barbecue recipes doesn’t need any marinade time at all because of the secret ingredient, the Sweet Mandarin barbecue sauce. This sauce is packed with herbs and spices and brings the chicken wings to life and hopefully your love life too!

 

Serves 2

 

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes

 

800g chicken wings

1 x 300g bottle of Sweet Mandarin Barbecue Sauce

3 spring onions, sliced

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas mark 6.

 

Clean the chicken wings in water and drain. Pat dry with kitchen paper. Lay the chicken wings on a foil-lined baking tray and pour over the Sweet Mandarin Barbecue Sauce. Ensure all the chicken is covered evenly. Cook for 20 minutes.

 

Remove the chicken from the oven and scatter the spring onions on top of the chicken wings to decorate and serve.

Oct 01

Chicken Stock

Chicken Stock

Chicken stock is one of the key ingredients in Chinese cooking and is used as a base for many of the recipes in this book.

This really simple Chinese recipe is for a light, delicious and naturally sweetened stock.

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My grandmother, Lily Kwok, met my grandfather, Chan under the most remarkable circumstances. Lily was a maid and cook for an English family in Hong Kong and was walking the baby with a friend when saw the lifeless body of a young boy (who eventually became our grandfather) washed up on the docks. She cried out to her friend and together they raised the alarm to their English family who took him to hospital and resuscitated him. Chan opened his eyes and the lights caused him to squint in pain. As he familiarised himself with the brightness, he saw Lily looking at him – thought she was an angel and that he had died. For days after this incident, my grandmother made chicken stock and painstakingly restored the health of Chan with this soup. She has sworn by this recipe and believes it is almost as powerful as the holy waters.

 

In many Chinese dishes, we use stock as a base. Throughout this book, references to chicken stock will refer to this recipe.

 

Makes 2 litres

 

Prep time 5 minutes

Cooking time 1 hour

 

8 chicken wings. weighing approx. 800g

1 large onion, chopped into large cubes

5cm piece of fresh ginger

3 litres water

 

Wash the chicken wings thoroughly. Add the chicken wings, onion and ginger to a saucepan, cover with the water and bring to the boil. Hard boil for 15 minutes.

 

Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes with the lid covering the saucepan. It will reduce down to about 2 litres of stock, which can be used for soups or dishes. If any scum has formed on the top of the stock, skim it off before using. The boiled chicken wings will be extra tender and can be eaten. Extra stock can be poured into an ice cube tray and frozen. Use the iced stock cubes as and when needed.

 

To book a table at Sweet Mandarin email sweetmandarintables@gmail.com . Our opening times are Tuesday – Sunday 5-10pm.

Sweet Mandarin is a Chinese Restaurant in Manchester which serves delicious Chinese cuisine and exotic cocktails. We make our own sweet chilli sauce, bbq sauce, sweet & sour sauce which you can buy from Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Ocado, Booths, Wing Yip and Chi Yip. Sweet Mandarin Chinese Restaurant and Cookery Schoolcan cater for the gluten free, dairy free diners. We are a short 15 minute walk from the Manchester Arena. We are not based in Chinatown, but based in the trendy Northern Quarter near the Arndale Centre, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Debenhams and Primark. The nearest hotels to us are the Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn Express, Premier Apartments, Blue Rainbow Aparthotels, Light Hotel and Hatters Hostel.

 

Mar 26

Happy Mother’s Day – I Love You Mum

mothers love

The written character for mother love is composed of two elements: love and pain. I had always thought this emotion was felt by daughters for their mothers especially when I was growing up and often reluctantly had to help in the family catering business giving up my weekends, social life and teenage years, but looking at the sacrifices my mother made and her courage, I realised this emotion was for her. My mother suffered deeply to give birth and there are so many things in her life that I long to know.

People keep secrets from each other all the time. Mothers keep secrets from their daughters; daughters keep secrets from their mothers. We tell part truths. And it is these secrets – these stories that have a ripple effect throughout generations. I don’t know every single aspect of my mother’s life – but through her experiences and how she taught my sisters and I, these things have helped to turn us into the persons we have become as adults.

I’ve learnt that the cruelest words in the universe are if only. When I was away from Manchester – Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia, the initial reaction was wow freedom – hurrah. Yet as soon as I landed, I missed the smells of jasmine tea, hungered for my mum’s congee and steamed chicken, missed the chatter with our customers in the shop and the laughter around the family table late at night. I missed having my mum as a confidant – and being able to pour out my failures to my mum. But what I missed most was my mum and my family.

 

During my stint away from home, I’d never admit I was homesick or that I loved my mum. It was this fear of being weak. Yet every day I’d try to re-enact the usual routine I’d been accustomed to at home – even the things I hated doing such as washing up reminded me of my mum and gave me some comfort as I waded through the soapy suds. I had the freedom in Australia to go out, meet whom I wanted and not hear the nagging of my parents. Yet, this fear of not seeing them again. The fear that I might be stuck here forever – scared me and when it was finally time to return home, I was a different person and grateful for my mum.

My mother has tried so hard to protect me as a child but sometimes mothers can’t protect their children even if they try with all their might. I guess we can only do our best in the moment. My relationship with my mother has changed, evolved, endured tension and been rejuvenated through love.

On Mother’s Day (Sunday 10th March), I just wanted to tell you, Mum, that I Love You and thank you for being the best Mum in the world.

To celebrate Mothers Day and to tell your mum that you love her, join us at Sweet Mandarin for a celebratory dinner (from the a la carte menu or banquets).

TO BOOK A TABLE click here

Aug 16

Peter Pan and Stacy Solomon as Tinkerbell spreads some magic in Manchester and at Sweet Mandarin

If you are going to see Peter Pan make your visit even more magical with a treat at Sweet Mandarin (which is a 10 minute walk away from the MEN Arena).

Stacey Solomon joins the cast of this ground-breaking theatrical production to become Tinker Bell. In her role Stacey will be narrating the show and singing the much loved classic You Raise Me Up which has been adapted by musical director Matt Dunkley (a driving force behind music for Moulin Rouge, Black Swan and Inception). This will combine with classic hits by Robbie Williams, Seal and Rod Stewart, to name a few, to create a truly impressive soundtrack to compliment one of the most spectacular arena shows ever seen.

Stacey Solomon has been a family favourite since winning over viewers hearts on the 6th series of The X Factor with her down to earth nature. Stacey said: “Singing and performing is a huge passion of mine and to be asked to be one of my children’s favourite characters is such an honour, I can’t wait to see their faces when I come flying out on stage.”

Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story is a high-flying, hi-tech fantasy adventure that combines the drama and excitement of live theatre with the epic visuals of a blockbuster movie.

Pinch yourself as you watch Peter Pan fly high above the stage without wires – a world first in theatre! Marvel at the spectacular scenery, brought to life by state-of-the-art digital imaging – Neverland like never before.

Lose yourself in the show’s original music score and specially arranged classic songs including Angels, Forever Young, Sailing and Nessun Dorma. And hold your breath as Peter, Wendy, Tinker Bell and the Lost Boys cross swords with Captain Hook and his Pirates.

Featuring an international cast of acrobats, dancers, stuntmen and magicians, Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story is a magical experience that moves live entertainment into a new dimension. Theatre… with added fairy dust!

Jul 16

Rhianna’s here! Are you joining us at Sweet Mandarin?

 

Did you know that Sweet Mandarin is a short 10 minute walk from the MEN Arena where Rhianna is playing. She’s left her Umbrella with us after a sumptuous feast of hot and sour soup and sizzing scallops. If you are going to see Rhianna, come on over and let us treat you to a diamond quality pre-concert dinner. Please book your table here to avoid disappointment please.

 

Following her four sold-out Manchester Arena dates in winter 2011, the international R’n'B returns to showcase tracks from her latest album Diamonds, alongside the chart-topping hits Umbrella, Don’t Stop The Music, Only Girl (In The World), SOS, Disturbia and Shut Up And Drive.

The recipient of six Grammy Awards and seven Billboard Music Awards, Rihanna has sold over 37 million albums and 146 million digital tracks worldwide, and currently holds the record as the top-selling digital artist of all time.


 

 

Jul 12

Congratulations to all the Graduates – Celebrate your graduation at Sweet Mandarin and let me buy you a drink!

Congratulations to all the Graduates.

We see new friends coming in and old friends are about to leave. Graduates now have a big decision to make in their life track. Some of them will start their career next summer while others will plan for their further study. Time flies. Three years at university transform a person from a high school student to a professional ready to serve society. We at Sweet Mandarin congratulate you on your hard earned degrees and give you our best wishes.

But before you start to fly high, please slow down and spend a quiet moment on your university campus, where you have been studying, working and making friends for three years. Give sincere thanks to every road you went through, every book you read, and every friend you made. Because once you begin to work, you will see how different it is from university life.

At university, all moments, happy or sad, have been treasures from heaven. Pack them up in your mind, and embark on a new journey. Plenty more such moments are waiting for you in the years to come. Whether these moments are good or bad, you will understand life through experiencing them.

Years later, when you are in another part of the world, the moment you think of your youth, you will realise that part of your heart is still at university and Manchester will always be your home!

To celebrate, join us at Sweet Mandarin for a graduation banquet. To book a table go online here

Jul 05

Are you going to the Manchester International Festival – Dine at Sweet Mandarin & make it a sweet night

 

 

Manchester International Festival lasts for 17 days and Sweet Mandarin is slap bang in the middle of their venues  so you’re in for a sweet treat – enjoy an evening of delicious food at Sweet Mandarin and a night filled with music and culture. This is one of the festivals that I have been hungering after and its a perfect pick me up to July which sometimes can feel somewhat sluggish and one gets impatient for something new to experience. Well here it is!  The Manchester International Festival is a rich bedrock of music, culture and arts and you’ll be buzzing at the end of the festival because there are some amazing acts on. I’m particularly looking forward to hearing Goldfrapp play with the RNCM string orchestra and Neneh Cherry (blast from the past). Then there’s Shakespeare’s Macbeth with Kenneth Branagh and Alex Kingston – a little piece of Hollywood has descended right on our doorstep. It will fill your yearning to awaken the creative senses in you and at worst put a smile on your face. These events really put Manchester on the map and locals are in for a treat. It’s been a pleasure to cook for many of the talented artists and team who are behind this event. So which events are you going for?

Here’s the entire what’s on guide here

To book a table at Sweet Mandarin click here

Jul 04

May the Fourth Be With You – Sweet Mandarin – Independence Day Bonanza – Awesome!

Happy Independence Day. Today on the 4th July 1776 America celebrated its independence from Great Britain. The funny fact I learnt was that the legal separation of the countries actually occured on the 2nd July rather than the 4th July. However, on the 4th July fireworks, banquet and parties were scheduled. So the entire USA adopted 4th July as the official celebratory day. That means food trumps legal papers! Hey I’m cool with that!
Thank you to America for embracing our book, Sweet Mandarin – which is used in schools in America and has been endorsed by Amy Tan and Oprah’s chef, Art Smith (click here) .

To celebrate this wonderful day, come to Sweet Mandarin for Fourth of July Cocktails and enjoy a spot of al fresco dining in our beer garden. We’re putting on the ultimate barbecue chicken, lettuce wraps and some awesome coconut king prawn dipped in our home made sweet chilli sauce. To book a table go to our website www.sweetmandarin.com (Book a table page).

Jul 02

Thank you to the generations of clients who have supported us. You’re the best.

We held a Thank You Dinner for our longest standing clients – those who through generations have frequented my Grandma’s restaurant, my Mum’s takeaway and now us at Sweet Mandarin.

 

As I was serving these wonderful folk, my heart twinged with sadness and longing. Unlike my grandma’s and mum’s businesses who have loyal regulars every single week – on the same day, at the same time – ordering the same dishes (‘Usual please’) for the last 50 years – being located in the Manchester city centre area – the population is far more transient.

Nonetheless, I value my regular customers and corporate clients and set myself a personal challenge to get to know my regulars with a view to build a lasting legacy for Sweet Mandarin and future generations. Helen, Janet and I want to invite you to Sweet Mandarin for dinner. Who knows, maybe after my 50 years, our grandchildren can invite you, our regular customers to a wonderful event like the above.

 

Jul 01

A fact which is too close for comfort – Foodbanks & Fareshare

Being a restaurateur and sauce manufacturer, I’ve always got food on my mind. When I met with Lucy Danger, CEO of Evolve (which also collaborates with Fareshare) at the Inspiring Women Awards dinner I discovered some uncomfortable truths as we were tucking into our three course gourmet meal. 500,000 people are fed by Fareshare (the warehouse which distributes to Foodbanks such as The Trussell Trust and Salvation Army). That figure swam around in my mind because it was such a large number. The UK is the 7th richest country yet the UK is facing destitution, hardship and hunger on a massive scale.

“In the UK?” I asked. “There’s that many people hungry?”

“Yes” replied Lucy “and the frightening thing is that number is growing every day. These people are falling through the net and without foodbanks they’d be without food. They range from people who have lost their jobs, or people whose benefits have been stopped or people who pay for heating in these freezing months over food. What is most heart breaking and shocking is how many children go hungry – about 130,000.”

I’d only really recalled the Oliver Twist Dickensian era where food shortage was in the forefront of everyone’s minds, but today, 21st century, this situation of starving families is an uncomfortable reality. I remembered as I was teaching dim sum masterclasses to the 174 schools in Manchester, that many students said they did not have any lunch money and hungrily finished every morsel of food which we had made in class.  Then I started to read reports in the newspaper about 13million people living under the poverty line and due to either redundancy or ill health they couldn’t afford food. Indeed the Manchester Evening News reported 1 in 10 people in Manchester skip meals because they can’t afford it. I swallowed hard and shook my head in disbelief. I didn’t feel comfortable sitting in a plush hotel eating my meal knowing these facts and felt compelled to do something.

I asked Lucy what they needed and they said they needed pasta, rice, sauces. Sauces! I immediately pledged to donate a few pallet of our Sweet Mandarin Sauces – which could be perfectly used cold for dipping or with pasta or rice. A few weeks later, I visited the Fareshare warehouse and was pleased to see the pallets of Sweet Mandarin Sauces donated had nearly finished. I’ve pledged to give 10% of my sauces to Foodbanks. Todate, I have donated to 35  foodbanks but there are about 500 foodbanks so I’ve only scratched the surface and one day I will donate to each of them. I cannot and will not sit back and do nothing now I know these statistics. I pledge that I will continue to help where I can. So the more Sweet Mandarin sauces sold, the more I will continue to help.

When we arrived at Fareshare which is based in Smithfield Markets, I was immediately humbled by the enthusiasm ans passion Lucy Danger and her team gave to the cause, and sat and discussed how we at Sweet Mandarin Sauces could lend our expertise in giving Fareshare assistance from a food manufacturing point of view. You see, donations vary vastly and may sometimes include a pallet of mangos with a short shelf life of days. In that circumstance, turning a pile of mangoes into mango chutney extended the life of the product and could be enjoyed by many more families. Its been a bit like pot luck with pallets of lemons, potatoes, carrots – the latter two easily distributed to Foodbanks and families, but the lemons, well its a bit harder to give away 3,000 lemons right?  With the lemon, we discussed the possible products to make from lemons and how to get accredited from a Health and Hygience perspective so that Fareshare can actually commercially sell their products and generate a self sustaining income.  I’ve realised that my manufacturing experience can help Fareshare to process their raw ingredients and create a wonderful product from it which will be enjoyed by many. I know that this is a cause which hits a nerve in my heart and I’ve got to do my bit to help and to raise awareness.

I urge all of us to not waste food but if anything is in your cupboards that hasn’t been used – to donate it to your local food bank. Foodbanks also patiently stand at the front of Sainsbury’s and there you can buy beans, pasta, our Sweet Mandarin sauces and donate a bottle or two to the grateful volunteers.  I am saddened, shocked and called to action by the rising number of people relying on foodbanks and hope that you too can help out a neighbour in these desperate times.

For more information go to http://www.fareshare.org.uk

Jun 28

I love Fridays at Sweet Mandarin

Hurray! We’ve made it to Friday. To celebrate we’re going to make you some amazing cocktails – Tom Cruise inspired – to get you in the mood for the weekend. So first, let’s enjoy the video of the original Cocktail movie.

Come to Sweet Mandarin to celebrate Fridays with our wonderful cocktails. Try the Shanghai Alley cocktail (infused with lychee, passion fruit and a hint of strawberry) or the snake blood cocktail (an aphrodisiac). Oh and don’t forget to sample our wonderful dishes. To book your table go online www.sweetmandarin.com

 

Jun 26

Help he’s choking……

In the restaurant business, I’ve seen it all, including when someone starts choking and goes blue. Its moments like this which put the fear of God in us, especially if we don’t know what to do in a life-or-death situation like this. Luckily, we’ve had nurses and air hostesses in at the time when such incidents happened but I always felt that we as servers to the public should be in a position to also assist.  That is why when I met Joanne who runs Millie’s Trust at the Inspiring Women’s Awards where she deservedly won the Inspiring Women Award I listened with a sympathetic ear when she told the audience how she lost her baby because the nursery staff did not know what to do whilst the baby choked to death, and it also motivated me to enrol on her courses (which she now runs with the help of Stockport First Aid Courses) – so I could step up to this responsibility, as could my entire team, if we were ever faced with this situation at Sweet Mandarin.

For many restaurants, First Aid may well be the last thing on our minds as there are so many other things to juggle – menus, customers, staff, suppliers, but to be honest, that attitude is wrong. First Aid should equally be on the fore front of our minds as the statistics show a staggering 16,000 choke and death can easily be avoided if we know what to do in these circumstances.

The course was taught by Jo-Anne and was excellent. She taught the team and I how to save lives if someone choked, or collapsed or was burned. She even taught us how to save ourselves if we were choking. For 2 hours of our time and the fee (some of which goes to Millie’s Trust), this is well worth it.  I ask all restaurateurs to take this course. We all have a duty and responsibility to our customers and I know you will also benefit personally.

It’s heart rendering to know Joanne lost her baby daughter because of choking and has such courage to set up a charity to teach and empower others so no-one has to face the tragedy she has. I continue to pray for her healing and may God bless their family for their good works. Her Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/milliestrust - get in touch and book onto her First Aid courses.

 

Jun 25

Who’s going to see Kings of Leon? If so, come by for Beer+Ribs before the coolest concert ever!

How exciting, today, Tuesday 25 June the Kings of Leon are here! Their favourite dishes are the salt and pepper ribs ! To celebrate the return of Kings of Leon, we’ve got a show special. Ribs + Beer for £5. This will surely make your evening even sweeter and make you the King of Rodeo.

The Tennessee quartet – Followill brothers Caleb, Nathan and Jared and cousin Matthew Followill – will be performing tracks from their soon-to-be-released sixth studio album, alongside hits from their decade-plus rock back catalogue.

Following a two year hiatus, this June’s shows mark the band’s fifth and sixth Manchester Arena performances. If you are going to see them, then we also look forward to seeing you at Sweet Mandarin for your pre-concert top up of Ribs + Beer = dedicated to the coolest kids on the block.

The Followill clan’s Southern rock hits include California Waiting, Molly’s Chambers, The Bucket, King of the Rodeo, On Call and – from 2008′s Only By The Night – Sex On Fire, Closer and Use Somebody.

Jun 21

The Who come to Manchester – Dine at Sweet Mandarin

Sweet Mandarin is a 10minute walk to the MEN Area. Perfect for a Pre-concert meal. Book here

 

The Who, one of rock’s most legendary and defining bands, return to Manchester Arena this weekend to perform their iconic 1973 double album Quadrophenia in its entirety, along with a selection of Who classics. If you are going to this concert, then make it extra sweet by stopping by at Sweet Mandarin for a pre-concert meal.

Feb 25

Lisa Cooks for The +50 Show (Manchester Central GMEX)

Retirement Show Demonstrationlisa at retirement show

I’m cooking at the 50+ Show which is on at the Manchester Central (GMEX) from 1.00pm onwards. I was invited to cook for this event in the last few years so its an honour to be invited back.

I have a word of advice for husbands and wives who are planning for their retirement to take up cooking.  Many couples who have joined me at the Sweet Mandarin Cookery School have told me that learning how to cook and jazz up meals has really helped keep their marital relations from sagging like a cold souffle. Cooking is in part fun but also a lot of work and at times stressful, if you don’t know how or what to cook.

Retirement itself is a big adjustment from working everyday to wondering what to do with the hours ahead. There can only be so much DIY to be done (if any) but what has endured is the daily dinner hour and the dreaded question ‘What’s for dinner?’, and unless you eat out, you still need to plan and prepare your meals.

Some couples eat out all the time but  in the current economy, the trend in most households is to eat out less.  For the newly retired, taking on the role of cook can be a little daunting for someone who perhaps has never cooked the daily meals. Perhaps you can just about boil an egg, chop an onion and put a pizza in the oven but I’d like to invite you to broaden your horizon and tastebuds and join me at the Sweet Mandarin Cookery School.  There, I can teach you the art of Chinese cooking – its healthy, relatively cheap to re-create at home and delicious. If you want to learn more, come and visit me at Manchester Central (formerly called GMEX) on Friday 1st March and Saturday 2nd March 1.00pm at the Cookery Demonstration or drop me an email to book onto the Sweet Mandarin Cookery School Beginners course.

Here is the link to the 50+Show http://www.50plusshow.com/manchester/programme/5-CookeryTheatre.htm

Dec 06

Sweet Mandarin – Winner of Dragons Den – Featured in the Mirror

Dragon's Den Stats Infographic - Mirror Online
Via: Mirror.co.uk

Oct 10

Michael McIntyre Drops In

Sweet Mandarin is a 10minute walk to the MEN Area. Perfect for a Pre-concert meal. Book here

Michael McIntyre will perform a six-night residency at the Manchester Arena as part of a brand new autumn UK tour.

Tickets for the Wednesday 24 – Monday 29 October shows are on sale now, priced £35.00. Please note, this show is not suitable for under 16′s.

The star of Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow and Britain’s Got Talent follows in the footsteps of comedy giants Peter Kay, Lee Evans, Ricky Gervais and Eddie Izzard by playing multiple nights at the Manchester venue.

Michael’s spot on observational comedy and trademark ability to turn everyday situations into hilarious master-classes of human exasperation have struck chords with millions of fans.

He has released two best-selling DVD’s; Live And Laughing which currently holds the top spot as the biggest selling UK debut stand-up DVD and Hello Wembley which became the fastest selling UK stand-up DVD of all time.

Last year Michael released his first autobiography Life & Laughing - one of the best-selling non-fiction books of 2010 and the Christmas number one – and also hosted the Royal Variety Performance in front of HRH Prince Charles.

Other highlights include a 2010 British Comedy Award for Best Male TV Comic, a 2009 British Comedy Award for Best Live Stand-up Performer plus two nominations for Best Comedy Entertainment Personality and Best Comedy Entertainment Programme for Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow.

Jul 06

The Olympics 2012 comes to Sweet Mandarin

Sweet Mandarin met with Seb Coe, Chair of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and Daly Thomson to talk about the impact of the Olympics on local businesses and Sweet Mandarin’s work with schools. Sweet Mandarin works with over 174 schools promoting healthy eating and food technology programmes (click here to read more) and CEO, Lisa Tse said “It is encouraging that the Olympic games has encouraged more PE lessons and healthy eating to be taken seriously. We go to schools to teach students how to cook dim sum, how to look after one’s diet and that its cool to aim high and achieve academically and on the sports field. ”

Seb Coe outlined the success of the initiative in inspiring young people all around the world to take part in sport – many for the first time in their lives.  Sport is being used to encourage and motivate children and their families and to develop leadership skills in young people. The programme is helping change lives.

Sweet Mandarin is launching a special Olympics Games 2012 menu to celebrate the success of the UK teams competing around the UK. We believe you eat healthy, you will feel a lot better and contribute more to you environment. To book a table click here.

Jul 01

Remember Roxette? They’re here!

Sweet Mandarin is a 10minute walk to the MEN Area. Perfect for a Pre-concert meal. Book here

Pop duo Roxette will play the Manchester Arena this summer as part of their first live UK shows in more than 17 years.

Tickets for the Wednesday 4 July Manchester concert are on sale now, priced £35.00.

Performing tracks from their latest album, Charm School, alongside hits from their pop rock back catalogue, Roxette visit the city this summer for only one of three UK shows.

Formed in Sweden in the late 1980′s, Marie Fredricksson and Per Gessle scored a number of chart-topping hits including Must Have Been Love, Joyride, The Look, Listen To Your Heart, How Do You Do, Sleeping In My Car and Dressed For Success.

Currently on part of a massive two year world tour, Per Gessle said: “The concerts have been amazing so far. Marie and the band are in top shape and the response has been incredible. We feel very fortunate and look forward to a very exciting year!”

Jun 12

Blink 182 at the MEN Arena, Visit Sweet Mandarin

Sweet Mandarin is a 10minute walk to the MEN Area. Perfect for a Pre-concert meal. Book here

Californian trio Blink 182 return to the Manchester Arena on Friday 15 June  for the first time since 2004′s sold-out appearance to perform hits from their pop punk back catalogue including I Miss You, What’s My Age Again, Carousel and All The Small Things plus tracks from their latest album Neighbourhoods.

Support comes from US rock band All American Rejects and Scottish group Twin Atlantic.

Formed in San Diego in 1992 by Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge, the band recruited drummer Travis Barker in 1998.

The band’s breakthrough album, Enema Of The State, was released the following year and went on to sell over 15 million copies worldwide. Their next two albums, 2001′s Take Off Your Pants And Jacket and 2003′s Blink 182, cemented their position as pop punk pioneers.

May 28

Oprah’s Ten Weight Loss Recipes – No. 10 Firecracker Chicken

200901_omag_cover_2209This series of blogs is addressed to Oprah and all those out there battling the bulge and excess weight. I am often asked by my clients to prepare for them a special detox meal over a period of a week to a month. The following recipes are just a sample of our offerings and are unique to Sweet Mandarin (www.sweetmandarin.com). If you would like a one-to-one consultation, contact me, Lisa Tse on lisa@sweetmandarin.com

Best wishes and Sweet Dishes to You and Your Family

Lisa

This final sample dish is to celebrate Chinese New Year….and is a great addition for your diet in 2009 towards a New You

firecracker-chicken

Firecracker Chicken

250g skinless Chicken breast fillet
50g peeled water chestnuts
50g peeled and chopped onions
50g peeled and cubed carrots
50g unsalted peanuts

2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoshing rice wine
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoon cornflour
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon chopped ginger
1 teaspoon chilli sauce
2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar (white)
30ml chicken stock

Method to Cook:

1.Cut the chicken into 1 inch cubes. Place the cubes in a bowl.
2. Cut the onions into dices. Place into a bowl
3. Blanch waterchesnuts in a pan of boiling water then refresh in cold water. Drain. pat dry and cut into thin slice. Alternative is to buy tin sliced waterchestnuts. Separate pan do the same for carrots.
4. Heat wok over high heat
5. Add 1 teaspoon of oil and heat until hot and smoky.
6. Stir-fry the chicken turning constantly until the meat is cooked.
7. Add in the ginger, garlic, chilli sauce, for 10 seconds
8. Add in the onions, waterchestnuts and carrots for 15 seconds
9. Combine the sugar, chicken stock, soy sauce, sesma oil and cornflour – add to thicken.
10. Add the peanuts and toss lightly to coat the sauce.
11. Transfer to a plate and serve hot

Apr 28

Oprah’s Ten Weight Loss Recipes – No. 9 Finger Lickin Good Spare Ribs – By The Sweet Mandarin Cookery School

200901_omag_cover_2208This series of blogs is addressed to Oprah and all those out there battling the bulge and excess weight. I am often asked by my clients to prepare for them a special detox meal over a period of a week to a month. The following recipes are just a sample of our offerings and are unique to Sweet Mandarin (www.sweetmandarin.com). If you would like a one-to-one consultation, contact me, Lisa Tse on lisa@sweetmandarin.com .

spare-ribs

SPARERIBS WITH HOISIN SAUCE

Serves 4 to 6.

INGREDIENTS:

• 2 pounds spareribs

• 3 tablespoons light soy sauce

• 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce

• 3 tablespoons ketchup

• 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

• 1 tablespoon brown sugar

• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

• 2 tablespoons honey

• 1/4 cup boiling water

PREPARATION:

Cut the spareribs apart into 1-inch pieces. Place in a shallow glass baking dish.

Combine the light soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ketchup, rice wine or sherry, brown sugar, and the chopped garlic.

Pour over the spareribs. Cover and marinate overnight in the refrigerator, turning occasionally to make sure the ribs are thoroughly coated.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius, set oven to either 175 degrees Celsius). Dissolve the honey in the boiling water.

Fill a shallow roasting pan with 1/2-inch of water and place in the bottom of the oven. Place the pork on a rack above the water. Roast the pork for 30 minutes, or until the ribs just begin shrinking and the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71 degrees Celsius). Brush the spareribs several times with the honey and water mixture during roasting. Remove and cool.

Spareribs can be cooked ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen. (Thaw frozen pork in the refrigerator or microwave. Use refrigerated pork within 4 days. Reheat frozen or refrigerated pork before serving).

Nutritional Breakdown per serving (based on 6 servings) – 328 calories (kcal), 22 g Total Fat (10 g monounsaturated, 8 g saturated , 2 g polyunsaturated), 17 g Protein, 13 g Carbohydrate, 73 mg Cholesterol, 805 mg Sodium

Note: Using low-sodium soy sauce reduces the sodium count to 590 mg (25 percent of daily total).

Best wishes and Sweet Dishes to You and Your Family

Lisa

Note to Oprah – I know you love your fried chicken – but try this as a healthy alternative – and as a treat for your diet.

Apr 15

JLS & Sweet Mandarin – A Match Made In Heaven

Sweet Mandarin is a 10minute walk to the MEN Area. Perfect for a Pre-concert meal. Book here

JLS need no introduction. On 20th April 2012 they grace the MEN Arena.  They are self-made legends. They inspire us to cook our heart out. Enjoy a match made in Heaven. Dine at Sweet Mandarin, stroll to the MEN and sing your heart out.

Apr 02

#950 Sweet Nothing – Shanghai Dumplings

Shanghai DumplingIn this Sweet Nothing, I will explore with you about the Shanghai Dumplings that we serve at Sweet Mandarin, an award winning restaurant in Manchester (www.sweetmandarin.com) run by three twentysomething sisters (including me).

As a British Born Chinese, I have lived a very British way of life being educated in Manchester and Flinders, an Australian University. However, throughout my life, I grew up with the backdrop of serving and cooking in the family food business and continue my involvement in the catering empire as a co-owner of Sweet Mandarin. Chinese food has had an overwhelming presence in my life and been the catalyst for my hunger for understanding China and the significance of food in its culture.  When I take clients on culinary tours, my eyes are as wide as saucers and my stomach is rumbling constantly. My tours explore the cities where I’ve stayed, the lives that crossed my path and the amazing food with a story to tell. China is a captivating and vivacious collection of diverse cities, provinces and regions. In the south, Guangdong, the Cantonese speaking region is renowned for its steaming, boiling and stir frying and dim sum feasts which we have become accustomed to love in the western world. Beijing in the coldest area of China boasts the Emperor’s banquet, the world famous Peking Duck and hot pot. In the east, Shanghai offers its famous Shanghai Dumplings, whilst the Sichuan provinces easily provide the hottest and spiciest cuisine.

This week, I want to share with you about the tour to Shanghai – and how I fell in love with the city. In the 1920s and 1930s, Shanghai was home to gangsters, warlords, 24-7 nightclubs and hotels that supplied heroin on room service. Its people were a mix of British, Chinese, Americans, French, Gernans, Japanese and White Russians and life was an extreme pole of poverty and wealth.
Today, Shanghai appeared as alien to my idea of China as it did to its residents in the 1920s. However, a century later, Shanghai remains a foreign influenced metropolis on Chinese soil. From the dazzling new skyscrapers to the imperial British architecture on the Bund, Shanghai is a grand, eclectic mix of East and West. No wonder it is the haven of the new generation of Chinese from Hong Kong and the expatriates.
The beauty that lies before me in Shanghai is breathtaking and silences the noise and confusion on the busy roads. There is grandeur in the heart of the bustling city of Shanghai juxtaposed with absolute poverty and a return to the last century only a few miles out of the city in Zhujiajiao.

It was in these little villages lost to the 21st century, that my first dish of Shanghai dumplings was savoured and enjoyed. The residents continued their daily chores in traditional Chinese cotton jackets with simple butterfly buttons. Babies were strapped to their grandmother’s back with a piece of red cotton and the fat baby’s rosy cheek hung out over the tightly bound material, as his ink black eyes stared in awe at me, a stranger in this untouched and abandoned village, that fell through the net of modernization. Houses were primitive and doors opened, a sign that trust still existing amongst its residents and the bare home life with nothing worth stealing. There were no cars and only the odd bicycle rode by a young boy with wild hair. A blind woman no taller than four feet weaved beautiful straw ornaments. Husband and wife teams huddled around open stoves which cooked dozens of Shanghai dumplings and the aroma of hot, savoury dumplings permeated throughout the street. The glossy pastry bronzed as it slightly stuck to the pot (hence the nickname “pot stickers”). I became hungry just smelling the dumplings. I bought a portion (four beautifully pinched dumplings) to eat and after devouring them, bagged a portion for the road. The dumpling pastry was delicate and broke easily. The juices from the filling were clear and sweet, and the filling was a wholesome meat mince and vegetables. They were just what I needed for the cold winter’s day.
The legend about these Shanghai dumplings was that in the Eastern Han Period (Dong Han) an official called Zhang Zhongjing invented a kind of food to help poor people keep warm in the bitterly cold winter. The original recipe created the dumpling with ears and the filling consisted of mutton, hot pepper and medicinal roots (which helped to circulate the blood). The people loved the taste of the dumplings and started to make them themselves with whatever filling they had available. The dumplings are semi circles shaped like a gold ingots and are a regular dish at dim sum and Spring Festivals. They are eaten to bring good luck and fortune for the new year and probably also because they are delicious. From such a simple dumpling held a piece of political history! I cavorted with the residents until they showed me how to cook the dumplings in the authentic style. The sacred ingredients are detailed below.

Shanghai Dumplings (“Pot Stickers”)

INGREDIENTS
• 4 1/2 cups (500 g) flour
• 9 oz (250 g) lean boneless pork, minced
• 1 tbsp soy sauce
• 5 tsp rice wine
• 1 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
• 1 tsp salt to taste
• 3 1/2 oz (100 g) leeks
• 3 1/2 oz (100 g) sesame oil
• 1 tsp flour mixed with 2 tbsp water

Mix the pork with the soy sauce, rice wine, ginger, MSG and salt. Stir in one direction, adding 5 oz (150 ml) of water, a little at a time until the pork becomes sticky. Add the leeks and sesame oil and blend well, and divide into 60 portions. Set aside.

Stir 7 oz (200 ml) of water into the flour. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Let rest for 30 minutes. Roll into a long cylinder and cut into 60 portions. Flatten each piece and roll into a circle about 3 inches (8 cm) in diameter. Place 1 portion of the filling on each circle and fold over in half. Pinch tightly to seal the edges and form a semi circle. Repeat until all the dough and filling are used.
Arrange the pouches in a large pan. Heat to moderately hot, then add water to cover the pouches one-third of the way up. Cover the pan and cook over high heat until the water is almost absorbed. Trickle the flour-water mixture around the pouches. Cover the pan and saute over low heat until the flour forms a crisp film that link the dumplings together. Sprinkle the dumplings with a little sesame oil, cover again, and saute until the pouches are browned on the bottom. Remove with a spatula and serve. Saute and serve the dumplings in batches.

Juicy Steamed Dumplings
The dumplings can also be steamed rather than fried. Place the dumpling in a steamer and steam for 5 minutes over high heat.
Note: These dumplings are delicate in appearance and taste. the wrappers are thin and the filling deliciously juicy

Come and visit us to try these delicacies - or we can outdoor cater for your events in Manchester. To find out more click  here

Mar 30

Drake at the MEN Arena, Visit Sweet Mandarin

Sweet Mandarin is a 10minute walk to the MEN Area. Perfect for a Pre-concert meal. Book here

Award-winning rapper and actor Drake will play his first headline Manchester Arena show on Sunday 1 April.

Tickets for The Club Paradise Tour are on sale now, priced £35.00.

Since breaking onto the rap scene in 2006, Drake has become one of the most talked-about artists in the music industry.

Following a fierce bidding war, he signed with Universal Motown and released his debut EP, So Far Gone, which peaked at number six on the U.S. Billboard charts and won a 2010 Juno Award for Rap Recording of the Year.

His debut album Thank Me Later came out last year and was followed by the critically-acclaimed Take Care in November.

Drake has collaborated with the Kings of Leon, Jay-Z, Kanye West and Lil Wayne as well as writing material for Alicia Keys.

Drake originally became known for playing Jimmy Brooks on the television series Degrassi: The Next Generation.

Mar 28

Oprah’s Ten Weight Loss Recipes – No. 8 The Chicken Stock to Warm Your Heart – By The Sweet Mandarin Cookery School

200901_omag_cover_2207This series of blogs is addressed to Oprah and all those out there battling the bulge and excess weight. I am often asked by my clients to prepare for them a special detox meal over a period of a week to a month. The following recipes are just a sample of our offerings and are unique to Sweet Mandarin (www.sweetmandarin.com). If you would like a one-to-one consultation, contact me, Lisa Tse on lisa@sweetmandarin.com

Best wishes and Sweet Dishes to You and Your Family

Lisa

chicken-stock

CHICKEN STOCK

Makes about 10 cups.

INGREDIENTS:

• 3 pounds chicken pieces (backs, necks, or wings)

• 12 cups cold water

• 3 slices fresh ginger

• Salt, to taste

PREPARATION:

Rinse the chicken pieces under running water. Place in a large pot with 12 cups water (or enough to cover).

Add the ginger. Bring to a boil over medium heat, occasionally skimming off the foam that rises to the top.

Add salt to taste.

Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours.

Chicken Stock is simple to prepare, relatively cheap, nutritious, and easily digested. Chicken stock can be used as a soup is a good food for winter convalescents. Sipping warm soup can also clear the sinuses because of the steam ventilating into the nasal passages, serving as a natural decongestant, which also relieves cold and flu symptoms. Last, but not least, scientists found that the particular blend of nutrients and vitamins in traditional chicken soup can slow the activity of certain white blood cells. This may have an anti-inflammatory effect that could hypothetically lead to temporary ease from symptoms of illness.

Mar 20

Florence + The Machine + Sweet Mandarin

Sweet Mandarin is a 10minute walk to the MEN Area. Perfect for a Pre-concert meal. Book here

Florence + The Machine will perform at the Manchester Arena on Thursday 15 March as part of 2012′s Ceremonials UK tour – the first chance her Manchester fans will have to hear the new album performed live.

Tickets, priced £29.50, are on sale now.

Songstress Florence Welch and band will be performing tracks from the latest album Ceremonials alongside hits from 2009′s debut Lungs, including the singles You’ve Got The Love, Dog Days Are Over and Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up).

Florence + The Machine is the recording name of London musician Florence Welch and a collaboration of other artists who provide backing music for her voice.

Florence + The Machine won the Critic’s Choice Award at the 2009 Brit Awards and the following year scooped the MasterCard British Album award for Lungs.

The Sunday Times describes Florence as “the most peculiar and most highly acclaimed female singer of the moment”.

Support on the Manchester date comes from The Horrors and Spector.

Mar 17

The Four Tops and The Temptations at Sweet Mandarin

Sweet Mandarin is a 10minute walk to the MEN Area. Perfect for a Pre-concert meal. Book here

Legendary Motown artists The Four Tops and The Temptations return to the Manchester Arena joined by very special guests R&B disco kings Tavares and seminal sixties girl band The Crystals.

Tickets for the Friday 23 March show are on sale now, priced £40.00.

Since their 1964 debut hit Baby I Need Your Loving, The Four Tops have been wowing audiences with their infectious blend of pure vocal power and sweet harmonies. March’s Arena show sees founding member Abdul “Duke” Fakir and band perform hits from the Detroit group’s classic collection including Loco In Acapulco, Reach Out, Standing In The Shadows Of Love and Walk Away Renee.

One of Motown’s most influential and successful recording artists, The Temptations return to Manchester with an unforgettable show full of chart topping hits including My Girl, Get Ready, You’re My Everything and Just My Imagination.

The Tavares brothers became one of the most successful R & B, funk and soul names in the seventies.  Their 1976 album Sky High! produced three UK top ten singles, while the following year their version of More Than a Woman from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack won them a Grammy Award.

One of the biggest female acts of the sixties, The Crystals complete this unique bill to perform tracks from their genre-defining back catalogue including Da Doo Ron Ron, Then He Kissed Me and He’s A Rebel – written by Gene Pitney and produced by Phil Spector.

Mar 04

Meeting my Idol, Sir Alex Ferguson

I’ve grown up a Manchester United fan. My mum fed the footballers as their careers rocketed and they still frequent Sweet Mandarin -and she swears it must be our curry that is their secret ingredient to success. So when I met Sir Alex Ferguson it was an amazing day. In actual fact, I was going to HK and Beijing with him and the whole Manchester United team – a Football meets Culinary extravaganza. We had an absolute blast and I realised how important my dual citizenship was to bridging the gap between the East and the West. Since then, the tours to China that I lead every year has been a huge cultural and emotional growth spurt for me and for those that join me. Although there is a sea of difference between British culture and Chinese culture (for example, the Chinese never gift clocks as that means death wishes, and the seating plan is extra important as the hierarchy of the table can dictate whether a deal will fly or fail) through these trips, we learn to appreciate each other’s culture through food. There are many tales from China that I would love to share with you, but it would be all the more sweeter if you could join me in person for a Sweet Mandarin Culinary Tour. For more information on my tours to Hong Kong click here.

Feb 28

Oprah’s Ten Weight Loss Recipes – No. 7 The Classic Chicken Chow Mein – By The Sweet Mandarin Cookery School

200901_omag_cover_2206This series of blogs is addressed to Oprah and all those out there battling the bulge and excess weight. I am often asked by my clients to prepare for them a special detox meal over a period of a week to a month. The following recipes are just a sample of our offerings and are unique to Sweet Mandarin (www.sweetmandarin.com). If you would like a one-to-one consultation, contact me, Lisa Tse on lisa@sweetmandarin.com .

egg_noodles

A noodle is food made from unleavened dough that is cooked in a boiling liquid. Depending upon the type, noodles may be dried or refrigerated before cooking. The word noodle derives from the German nudel (noodle) and may be related to the Latin word nodus (knot). In English, noodle is a generic term for unleavened dough made from many different types of ingredients. Noodles exist in an abundance of shapes.

The first written account of noodles is from the East Han Dynasty between AD 25 and 220. In October 2005, the oldest noodles yet discovered were found at the Lajia site (Qijia culture) along the Yellow River in Qinghai, China. The 4,000-year-old noodles appear to have been made from foxtail millet and broomcorn millet.

What Types of Noodles are there?

Noodles can be made from various ingredients, primarily wheat, rice, mung bean or mung bean.

Millet

Oldest known prehistoric noodles, from 2000 BC.

Indian ragi noodles, made from finger millet flour.

Wheat

Ramen, yakisoba

Egg Noodles or Lamian (hand pulled Chinese noodles)

Mee pok (flat, green Chinese noodles, popular in Southeast Asia)

Pasta (approximately 350 variants of Italian noodles)

Udon (thick Japanese wheat noodles)

Rice

Flat or thick rice noodles, also known as ho fun

Rice vermicelli: thin rice noodles

Mung bean

Cellophane noodles, also known as glass noodles.

Potato or canna starch

Cellophane noodles can also be made from potato starch or canna starch or various starches of the same genre.

Gnocchi, small Italian dumplings.

Noodles, when cooked properly do not get mushy or sticky. Noodles are the only pasta products made with egg solids which give them a more intense colour than other pasta.

Measuring Noodles

Most dried noodles doubles in volume when cooked. For accuracy, measure noodles by weight rather than by cup. The general rule is one pound of dry noodles will serve six as an appetizer or four as a main course. Remember – shapes may vary in size according to the manufacturer, so use these measurements as generalizations.

The easiest way to measure noodles is to use your digital scale.

4 ounces of uncooked noodles = a 1-inch diameter bunch of dry noodles = 2 cups cooked noodles.

How To Cook Noodles Properly

Important Rule: Noodles should be prepared just before serving it.

  1. Use a Large Pot (A too-small pot and too little water cause the noodles to clump and stick together, thus cooking unevenly).
  2. Use only COLD Water – fill that big pot 3/4 full of COLD water and cover the pot of cold water with a lid to help bring the water to a boil faster.
  3. Add Salt to the boiling water about 2 tablespoons of kosher salt per pound of noodles.
  4. Add the dried noodles to BOILING HOT water.
  5. Cook the noodles uncovered and gently stir the noodles during the first 1 to 2 minutes of cooking.
  6. Cook for 8 – 12 minutes until the noodles are soft and chewy when bitten into.
  7. Turn off heat and add 1 cup of cold water – this will lower the temperature and stop the noodles from over cooking.
  8. Drain the noodles immediately in a large colander standing in the sink and then pick up the colander with its contents and shake well to remove excess water. (Do not rinse – the starch from the noodles could make the noodles stick together).

Tip about when to add the noodles : Noodles added to cold or warm water end up getting mushy and stuck together as the noodles quickly begins to break down in tepid water as the starch dissolves. Only add the noodles once the water is boiling – as this boiling temperature “sets” the outside of the noodles, which prevents the noodles from sticking together.

.

Should I add oil? No. Oil will coat the noodles and prevent the sauce from adhering.

CHICKEN CHOW MEIN

chicken-chow-mein

This recipe for chicken chow mein mixes the noodles with the chicken and vegetables for a healthier chicken chow mein.

INGREDIENTS:

• 1 lb (500 g) boneless chicken breast, cut in thin strips

• 1 tablespoon (15 mL) soy sauce

• 1/4 (1 mL) salt

• 1 tablespoon (15 mL) cornstarch

• 1 lb (500 g) Chinese-style steamed noodles or cooked thin egg noodles

• 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) Chicken Stock

• ¼ cup (62.5mL) Half an onion thinly sliced onions

• 1/2 cup (125mL) Chinese cabbage

• 1/8 cup (31mL) One small carrot thinly sliced

• 3 large dried Chinese mushrooms, soaked and thinly sliced or from a can

• 2 spring onions, cut into 1-inch pieces

• 2 teaspoons (10 mL) sesame oil

• 3 cups (750 mL) bean sprouts, tightly packed

PREPARATION:

Combine chicken and marinade ingredients (soy sauce, salt and cornstarch), mix well and set aside.

Blanch noodles in large amount of boiling water with salt for 3 minute or as per package instructions.

Drain well and cool slightly. Plate up. Meanwhile, heat wok over high heat, add stock and bring to boil. Add ginger, onions, carrots, Chinese cabbage and mushrooms and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken and cook for 2 minutes. Stock should thicken slightly. Add flowering chives or green onions and sesame oil; stir to mix for 1 minute. Add noodles, bean sprouts and mix together.

Remove from heat. Serves 4.

Each serving includes:

Calories 358, 43 g Carbohydrates, 33 g Protein, 6 g Fat, 1 g Saturated Fat, 100 mg Cholesterol, 5 g Fibre, 466 mg Sodium, 555 mg Potassium. An excellent source of vitamin D, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folacin, and iron. A good source of fibre, vitamin C, vitamin B-12 and zinc.

Best wishes and Sweet Dishes to You and Your Family

Lisa

Feb 17

Sweet Mandarin Cookery Student Breaks The World Record. Well done to Victoria Pendleton

London 2012 Olympics: Vicky Pendleton and Co rule the track as Team GB scoop two gold medals

Brilliant news to hear that Victoria Pendleton has broken the world record. We met Victoria who joined us on the Sweet Mandarin Cookery School and she was such an enthusiastic cook – really keen to cook delicious Chinese cuisine and a fast learner.  She was also very humble about her achievements and we are so proud to have taught her how to cook Chinese cuisine.  The time Victoria and Jess Varnish scored today was 32.754 seconds – about the same time it took Victoria to make her amazing Firecracker Chicken dish under the skilful guide of Chef Lisa Tse.  Watch Victoria win gold at The Sweet Mandarin Cookery School below. If you want to book your place on the Sweet Mandarin Cookery School then click here

 

Feb 16

Little Mix and the X Factor – Visit Sweet Mandarin

Sweet Mandarin is a 10minute walk to the MEN Area. Perfect for a Pre-concert meal. Book here

Since The X Factor returned to our screens in August, we’ve been treated to more drama, more craziness, more fun and more judges’ putdowns than ever before – and things are only going to get more intense.

But imagine if you could see this year’s singing sensations LIVE at the MEN Arena. Oh, you can? OK, well there’s no need to imagine it then because The X Factor 2012 Live Tour tickets are now on sale and if you’re going – then visit Sweet Mandarin too.

The talent has been super–duper amazing so far and if you’ve loved what you have seen, then come and see it up close on stage. This year’s tour is certain to me massive, no sorry, make that MASSIVE, with the talent already seen at the auditions looking hot.

Its going to be one spectacular show. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Jan 30

Strictly Come Dancing Waltzes to Sweet Mandarin


Sweet Mandarin is a 10minute walk to the MEN Area. Perfect for a Pre-concert meal. Book here

Strictly Come Dancing 2011 winner Harry Judd will lead an all-star celebrity line-up at this year’s live Manchester shows.

Fellow finalists Australian acting and singing superstar Jason Donovan and local actress Chelsee Healey plus ex-Eastenders legend Anita Dobson, former footballer Robbie Savage, feisty property lawyer and entrepreneur Nancy Dell’Olio and ex-Olympic swimmer Mark Foster will join McFly’s Harry in Manchester for the Tuesday 31 January & Wednesday 1 February shows. Kate Thornton will return as the host of the live shows.

Alongside the exciting celebrity line-up will be judges Lee Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood, who is also directing the live tour for a second year running.

Former Blackburn Rovers footballer Robbie Savage said: I’m enjoying each week more and more and I’m really glad to be continuing the experience on tour. I can’t wait to be out on the floor every night, hopefully there won’t be any cameras to crash into this time!”.

Eccles-born Waterloo Road actress Chelsee Healey said: “I’m so thrilled to be part of the Strictly tour, the TV show has been more fun than I ever could have imagined and I can’t wait to carry on dancing every week”.

Jason Donovan added: “I have been overwhelmed with the support I have had so far on the show and I have really enjoyed dancing every week. Learning so many different dances has been an amazing experience and I can’t wait to see the new routines we’ll be performing on the tour”.

The ultimate in feel-good entertainment, Strictly Come Dancing Live features all the must-haves from the hugely popular BBC1 TV series. Stunning costumes, outspoken judges, dazzling dances from your favourite celebrity contestants and some brand new routines courtesy of the ever-popular professional dancers make this a must-see show.

More than 9 million viewers tuned in to watch the series’ launch show on BBC1.  The television format, also known as Dancing With The Stars, entered the Guinness Book of World Records three years ago as the world’s most successful reality television show and has been sold by BBC Worldwide to over 35 international broadcasters.  2010′s final saw more than 14 million people tune in to see Kara Tointon raise the Strictly glitterball.

 

Jan 28

Lisa Tse features on BBC Radio for Chinese New Year

Lisa Tse, CEO of Sweet Mandarin was invited to speak to Becky Want on her show Retail Therapy, BBC Radio Manchester. Lisa talked about Chinese New Year and brought an array of delicious dim sum and Dragon cocktails to celebrate.  They also discussed the Sweet Mandarin Cookery School and the fact that Sweet Mandarin has beaten 10,000 restaurants to win the Best Local Chinese Restaurant on Gordon Ramsay’s F Word Show. To listen to the fun interview click here .

To book a table at Sweet Mandarin click here

Jan 28

Oprah’s Ten Weight Loss Recipes – No. 6 Beansprouts and Chinese Chives – By The Sweet Mandarin Cookery School

200901_omag_cover_2205This series of blogs is addressed to Oprah and all those out there battling the bulge and excess weight. I am often asked by my clients to prepare for them a special detox meal over a period of a week to a month. The following recipes are just a sample of our offerings and are unique to Sweet Mandarin (www.sweetmandarin.com). If you would like a one-to-one consultation, contact me, Lisa Tse on lisa@sweetmandarin.com.
Best wishes and Sweet Dishes to You and Your Family

Lisa

bsprout

Bean sprouts and Chinese Chives

This dish calls for Chinese chives, which have a lighter, more “oniony” flavour. Beansprouts are delicious, healthy and ideal for yang (warm bodied people) as these are yin foods. (Dear Reader – Please refer to my earlier post on Yin and Yang balancing of foods.)

Serves 2 – 3

INGREDIENTS:

1 sprig of flowering garlic chives or scallions.

3 cups (about 5 1/2 ounces) mung bean sprouts

3 tablespoons oil for stir-frying

1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger

2 teaspoons light soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon sugar

PREPARATION:

  1. Wash and drain the mung bean sprouts.
  2. Wash and drain the chives, and cut into strips about the same length as the bean sprouts.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon oil to a preheated wok.
  4. When the oil is hot, add the minced ginger and stir briefly until aromatic (about 15 seconds). Add the mung bean sprouts and stir-fry until they change colour (about 1 minute), then add the chives, soy sauce and sugar.
  5. Stir-fry for about another 1 – 2 minutes, until the chives have just turned limp, taking care not to overcook the bean sprouts.

Jan 19

Wow we’re featured in the Observer !

Jan 15

Happy Chinese New Year to All Our Friends on 23rd Jan 2012


Dear Friends,

Wishing you all a very Happy Chinese New Year for 2012 and thank you for your continued support and friendship.

1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000

People born in the Year of the Dragon are healthy, energetic, excitable, short-tempered, and stubborn. They are also honest, sensitive, brave, and they inspire confidence and trust. Dragon people are the most eccentric of any in the eastern zodiac. They neither borrow money nor make flowery speeches, but they tend to be soft-hearted which sometimes gives others an advantage over them. They are compatible with Rats, Snakes, Monkeys, and Roosters.

Please do book via our Book a Table page (below or click here) and we look forward to accomodating you.

Follow me on Twitter @sweetmandarin

Wishing you a very Happy Chinese New Year

All the best and see you soon.

Lisa, Helen and Janet
www.sweetmandarin.com

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