Tuesday 26 September 2017

Ingredient Insight | Matcha

Renowned for its vivid green colour and numerous health benefits. It can only be matcha. Perfect in so many desserts, chocolates and drinks, there's no reason it shouldn't be a cupboard staple. Find out everything you need to know about matcha in this post (and stick around for some superb recipes to use it in at the end).

Where can I find it?

It's a question asked more than you'd imagine. You may see matcha cakes, drinks and ice cream everywhere, but have you ever seen it in your usual supermarket? I doubt it. The easiest way to get some is probably online. There are many companies dedicated to the sale of matcha out there. Choose one with a good reputation. Don't forget Amazon. You name it, Amazon almost always sells it. Failing that, head to a good Asian food shop, ideally Japanese or Chinese. The chances are if they don't sell any, they can certainly give you some good information on where you can get some.

What about the varieties? Which do I buy?

Matcha can generally be bought in 3 or 4 varieties (grades). Ranging from cooking/culinary grade, all the way to ceremonial grade. For a first time user of matcha for cooking be sure to get the cooking grade. It's not as vibrant green but you'll save yourself a healthy amount of money. Cooking quality matcha is best suited to its purpose. It has a slightly bitter taste compared to the premium, but when combined into cakes or other foods it helps to blend the flavour so it's more palatable.

Premium quality is great for lattes or drinking as matcha tea. Of course, cooking is always an option for this grade but matcha of almost any quality is considerably more expensive when compared to other teas. Premium quality is a much healthier alternative, it is full of antioxidants and vitamins. This is definitely the choice for the daily drinker.

Lastly, there is the ceremonial grade matcha. The brightest and greenest matcha available. It's used in Buddhist temples, ceremonies and by tea connoisseurs all around. Only using the finest leaves from tea bushes, grown in a period of darkness, resulting in leaves rich in amino acids. Not used for cooking, only for drinking as a traditional tea. It would take an experienced drinker to recognise the difference between premium and ceremonial grade matcha.


You now have a pouch or tin of matcha. You'll be unlikely to use it in a few days. Cooking and drinking with matcha is not something you use large amounts of. Generally used by weight and measured in the smallest of gram measurements, you could see yourself hanging onto a bag for a long time.

Whatever you do, keep it in a cool dark place. Don't be tempted to transfer into a lovely Kilner jar and have it on show in your kitchen. It may well look fancy but all that sunlight will not be doing it any favours.

Storing in an airtight container or a zip seal bag is a must. Matcha is prone to oxidisation, even after production. Plus, keeping the moisture at bay helps with dreaded clumps and lumps.

Using matcha

It's an ingredient that the culinary scene is seeing grow and grow. With its delicious clean flavour, subtle tea aroma, health benefits and photogenic style, this is an ingredient that I don't think will be a phase. It's around for good. It's taken its time to be truly appreciated, having been around for centuries. However, over the last year or two has it become more appreciated.

Used for flavour and for its colour in many foods from mochi, to ice cream and drinks, it's a flavour profile you must try. The ceremonial grade, when made into tea, is said to have tones of  "unami". Just remember to not go overboard, especially when using with other flavours. Like with everything - you can have too much of a good thing.

Now, for some tried and tested recipes you can enjoy with the whole family. Check them out and be sure to tell me what you think once you've tried them.


Friday 22 September 2017

Lemon Shortbread & White Chocolate Truffles

I don't always cater to my girlfriends tastes, but on this rare occasion she actually had an idea for what to make. Roaming the aisles of PX Mart, she saw some biscuits out of the corner of her eye and with chocolate in her hand, it was only a matter of minutes before we knew what the next recipe would be.

Shortbread is delicious and lemon and white chocolate are a winning combination, sure to please even the fussiest of tastebuds. A silky smooth lemon and white chocolate ganache accompanied by melt in the mouth lemon shortbread covered by a crisp white chocolate. It's lemony heaven. We could have easily eaten them all in one sitting. As it were, they only lasted two days with us, but if you're in more civilised company, they might last even longer for you.

If you are not in the chocolate mood or just fancy a lovely crumbly biscuit, this lemon shortbread on its own is the perfect way to satisfy the urges. Take it from me, the recipe amount of shortbread won't be going into these truffles. It would be rude not to sneak a piece beforehand.

For more delicious truffle ideas and recipes, check out this link 


Ingredients:                                                                                                         (Makes 40-45 Truffles)

110g butter
60g sugar
1 tbsp cream
110g plain flour
2 lemons, zested

125g cream
1 lemon, zested
250g white chocolate, chopped

125g white chocolate
Garnish of your choice

  • For the shortbread, mix all the shortbread ingredients together until combined and comes together in a ball.
  • Press into a lined 18cm/18cm tin. Bake at 160°C for 15-18 minutes.
  • For the ganache, gently the bring the cream and lemon zest to the boil. Pour over the chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth. Leave to cool in a fridge.
  • When the shortbread is cooked and cooled, chop into small pieces. 
  • Beat the set ganache to make it more pliable. Add the shortbread pieces, mix till combined. Leave in the fridge once again to firm up.
  • Divide the ganache into sized balls. Rolling in your hands to create a round ball. (Cold hands are preferable so not to melt the ganache.) Leave in the fridge once again before continuing. 
  • Melt the chocolate for coating. 
  • Dip the ganache balls into the chocolate, let the residual drip off before placing on parchment paper.
  • Either roll using a fork to create a spiky outside or leave to dry smooth. 
  • If drying smooth, add some lemon zest to garnish or even some flicks of dark chocolate for contrast.


Tuesday 19 September 2017

Street Food: Imagawayaki

Originating from Japan these imagawayaki's can now be found all over. Delicious pancake/ waffle batter stuffed full of delicious fillings, there are few street food snacks I enjoy more whilst on the go.

Value for money these can go right at the top. 1 piece set me back $10 Taiwanese dollars which is roughly 25p or 32 cents. Can you even get a Freddo for that nowadays?!

How they're made.

Imagawayaki is made in a unique pan that's just for them which full of 2cm deep circles. Of course, they are now available in almost any shape. From Spongebob to Hello Kitty! 
The sweet batter is then poured into these moulds, brushed up the sides and left to start to cook. After around 30 seconds the filling of choice is added. With most sellers having huge pans they can have up to 60 halves on the go at any one time.
 After the fillings are heated through 2 halves are joined, more batter is used in a squeezy bottle to seal them together. A short sealing time later and they are ready to enjoy.
The flavours.

Predominantly you will find imagawayaki filled with red bean paste or a vanilla custard. Whether there are stools amongst the street markets, on a street corner or even at an event, these two flavours will certainly be there. Having only seen a limited selection you can only imagine my surprise when stumbling upon a stool with 3 extra flavours. Especially that they were savoury aswell! Having only seeing sweet it was time to give them a go. 

They are as follows.

Red bean imagawayaki.

The traditional flavour and one of my favourites in truth. The sweet red bean filling is perfect, there's enough flavour from the beans so it's not boring with the right amount of sweetness to wolf down a fair few. P.S, if you get too many this flavour is yummy cold as well. 
Vanilla custard imagawayaki.

No matter what culture vanilla custard is sure to crop up. Perfectly gooey with the right amount of "stodge", which coats your mouth perfectly with flavour. If you're lucky there are a few stools with chocolate sauce too, the addition to this flavour is superb. 

I'm well aware for the next three flavours my naming of them may not be entirely correct. I'm sure they will have a name for the flavour but I've named them based on flavour.

Spicy garlic chicken and spring onion imagawayaki.

From the first bite, you get this wonderful hit of garlic and fresh chilli. Followed swiftly by a touch of sweetness from the spring onion and fragrance from some ginger. Add that to the meatiness of the chicken and it was just right. The addition of cabbage to help bulk these out and keep them moist hit the spot.
Fragrant chilli chicken imagawayaki.

Next up was the fragrant chilli chicken. Instantly there's an aromatic bouquet of ingredients. Very clean on the palette with a light heat from some chilli flakes at the end. Quite possibly my favourite savoury imagawayaki.
Fish and tomato imagawayaki.

Possibly the biggest surprise. After munching down the four previous imagawayaki's I was certainly hitting a roll full of flavour. I was soon stopped in my tracks. Don't think I didn't like it, it was more of a shock, biting in and finding an intense fishy flavour. I must say the filling was incredibly flaky and moist which made it enjoyable. 
No matter what there is bound to be a flavour out there for you!


Friday 8 September 2017

Chewy Peanut & Caramel Bars

With some leftover condensed milk from some key lime pies earlier in the week, there is no better way to use the rest up than in these chewy peanut and caramel bars.

With a crunch from the thin chocolate, an incredible chew from the caramel and a wonderful roasted peanut flavour combined into the sweetness, these bars will leave you pondering if "just one" really is enough.

If like me you fancy saving yourself some time, there is no need to fully coat these bars individually. They will still be delicious no matter what. Just with sticky fingers! If you do feel inclined to coat in chocolate after cutting for a more refined looking bar, add at least an extra 50g of chocolate to your shopping list.

I enjoyed these at fridge temperature, the caramel has a wonderful chew to it this way. However, place a couple in the freezer, leave them for a good 2-3 hours until completely frozen. Then have a go at them. So much chewier and quite reminiscent of the American candy bar, Charleston Chew.



60g butter
200g condensed milk
1 tbsp clear honey
80g soft brown sugar
50g peanuts, toasted and roughly chopped
2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
120g milk chocolate

  • In a medium sized pan, bring the butter, the condensed milk, the honey and the brown sugar to the boil. 
  • Cook gently until a deep caramel colour. Takes between 2-5 minutes.
  • In a separate mixing bowl combine the chopped toasted peanuts and the peanut butter. 
  • Pour over the caramel mix and stir well until fully combined.
  • Pour into a lined tin or container, roughly 10x18 cm. 
  • Leave to cool on the side before chilling in the fridge to set. Roughly 1-2 hours. 
  • Melt the chocolate over a bain marie for coating. 
  • Remove the set peanut caramel from the mould. Either cut into pieces or leave whole, it's your choice. 
  • If whole, pour half the chocolate on top and spread over until the top is fully covered. Place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to quickly set the chocolate. Turn over and repeat with remaining chocolate on the other side. Quickly set in the freezer once again. Once set cut into desired pieces.
  • If you've portioned, simply dip in the chocolate to get a full even coating. Bare in mind you will need extra chocolate if doing it this way. 


Tuesday 5 September 2017

Sticky Asian BBQ Pork

With the end of the summer in Taiwan soon upon us, it was time to try and use up some left over coal and fire up the barbeque. Using fairly ordinary ingredients you can find at home, this sticky BBQ sauce is one to keep in the fridge.

This soy sauce based BBQ is a variation that once tried will be remembered. It has this wonderful stickiness, a great balance of sweetness, spiciness and sharpness. Whether you want to use it as a marinade like I did, or simply to smother your meat with afterwards, this is the sauce to use.

Packed with garlic, ginger and chilli, it sure has lots of flavour. A sprinkle of sesame seeds gives the perfect subtle nuttiness to make the flavour compound so much stronger. This sauce will keep happy in the fridge so you can come back and enjoy it as you please. Upon barbequing with pork belly you get a delicious char, a hint of smokiness and a wonderful caramelisation with the sauce. It creates this sticky outer layer, packed full of flavour, that's truly finger licking.

Check out this delicious salad to serve together, crispy lychee salad with sesame dressing.



500g pork belly slices
3 garlic cloves, pureed or finely chopped
1/2 red chilli, finely chopped
15g fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
200ml soy sauce
2-3 tbsp chilli sauce
2 tbsp clear honey
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
125g soft brown sugar
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
15g cornflour
2-3 tbsp water
1 tbsp white sesame seeds


  • In a medium sized pan combine the garlic, fresh chilli and ginger. Add to this the liquids. The soy sauce, the chilli sauce, the honey and the worchestershire sauce. 
  • Gently bring everything to the boil. Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Slowly bring back to the boil. 
  • In a small mixing bowl stir the cornflour and water until dissolved. Whisk into the saucepan. 
  • Leave on a medium heat, stir regularly for 5 minutes or until it's just thinner than the desired consistency. (It will thicken as it cools).
  • Pour into a sterilised jar and leave to cool. If not using right away, store in the fridge.  
  • For the BBQ pork, cut the pork belly into your desired sized pieces. Add 4-5 tbsp of the sauce, rub all over thoroughly and marinade over night in the fridge. (Marinating over night can be skipped if need be).
  • Cook over hot coals if using a barbeque, alternatively grilling will work just as well, minus the lovely char and BBQ flavour.
  • Turn regularly brushing with more sauce from marinating or fresh from the jar. When almost cooked give a generous sprinkle of sesame seeds.  
  • Once cooked give once last brush of the sauce, a few sesame seeds and serve. 
  • This sticky Asian BBQ pork is perfect with a crisp fruity salad like this crispy lychee salad with sesame dressing. Be sure to swap out the lychees for a lovely seasonal fruit near you now. 

© A Tall Order | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig