Saturday, June 23, 2012

Squirrel sauce for pasta

I usually jump at the chance to eat something new, so when I noticed some grey squirrel meat for sale at Edinburgh's Stockbridge Market I decided to give it a try. It looked fairly rabbity, so I decided to give it the same treatment and make a squirrel version of the classic Tuscan pasta dish, pappardelle sulla lepre (pappardelle with hare sauce). It was good - less meat than rabbit but more flavour. I even made some fresh pasta to go with it but, like a great klutz, managed to delete all the photos! Fortunately I had this one in my library:

2 grey squirrels, quartered
500ml red wine
6 cloves
olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 tinned tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tbsps tomato puree
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper


  1. Marinade the squirrel with the red wine and cloves overnight.
  2. The next day, fry the onion in plenty of olive oil, and when nearly done add the finely chopped garlic.
  3. Add the squirrel together with its marinading liquid, bring to a boil, turn to minimum and simmer gently for 2 hours, until the squirrel is very tender.
  4. Remove the squirrel from the pan, set aside and allow to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, add the tomatoes, tomato puree and salt to the pan, bring to a boil and simmer gently until you have a thick sauce.
  6. Remove the squirrel meat from the bone (it's easiest just to pick it off with your fingers), return to the pan and cook slowly for another 5 minutes. Season with freshly ground black pepper before serving.

Potsticker wuntuns

I've been making wuntuns on and off for over 25 years but have only recently solved the dilemma of whether to fry, steam or boil. I like the crispiness of frying, but I also like the juiciness of steaming or boiling. Fortunately, there is a solution - potsticking!

500g minced pork
2 rashers of streaky bacon, finely chopped
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1tbsp rice wine
4 spring onions, finely chopped
2 tsps minced ginger
1 tsp sesame oil
1 egg
1/2 tsp cornflour
1 packet of wuntun wrappers (32 skins)
  1. Mix all of the filling ingredients in a large bowl, mix well, cover, and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  2. Take one wrapper, place a sausage-shaped portion of the mixture in the centre (about 1 teaspoon), and shape to form a mini springroll by tucking the edges in, rolling and sealing the final edge with a little water.
  3. When you have shaped all the dumplings, heat a little oil in a large non-stick frying pan for which you have a lid, fill the pan with a layer of tightly packed dumplings, turm the heat to medium low, spray the dumplings generously with water, and cover.
  4. After about five minutes, the dumplings should be cooked underneath and stuck together in a layer. Flip them over by inverting the pan over a plate, then slide the dumplings back into the pan, adding a little more oil if necessary, spray with a little more water, cover the pan, and continue to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until the dumplings are crisply underneath.
  5. Transfer the cooked dumplings to a plate and serve.
What? No picture
I was sure I had taken loads of pictures of this at every stage, but weirdly enough I can't find them anywhere. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Chinese steamed and roasted duck

We all went to a Chinese/Japanese noodle place the other day, and Carmela was very disappointed when the duck she ordered didn't come shredded and served with pancakes, so I promised to remedy this at the earliest opportunity. Yesterday we went to the Edinburgh Farmer's Market and picked up a whole duck from Gartmorn Farm. Apparently making authentic Peking duck is a complicated process, involving scalding, pumping air between skin and flesh, and air-drying over several days, among other things, so I settled for a slightly simpler (and quicker) steam-and-roast routine.

1 large duck (2.5 to 3 kg)
dry marinade
1 tbsp five spice powder
2 tsps demerara sugar
2 tsps salt
peel of 1 orange, sliced
6 thick slices of fresh ginger
6 spring onions, peeled and chopped into 2cm lengths
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
basting sauce
50 ml rice vinegar
100 ml clear honey
100 ml dark soy sauce


  1. Mix the dry marinade ingredients together. Dry the duck thoroughly with paper towel, and pat the marinade all over the outside and inside of the duck. (You can do this the day before if you are feeling leisurely.)
  2. Mix the stuffing ingredients and insert into the cavity of the duck.
  3. Place the duck on a V-rack in a roasting tin, pour a little boiling water into the bottom of the tin, and cover the whole assemblage with tinfoil (sealing to make sure it is reasonably steamproof), Place the tin on top of the stove, on a gentle heat, and steam for 45 minutes. Check the water level from time to time, and top up if required.
  4. Set the oven to 200oC.
  5. Meanwhile, mix the basting sauce ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce heat to minimum and simmer gently for about 10 minutes until the sauce thickens.
  6. Once the duck has finished steaming, remove the foil from the top, baste generously, and transfer to the preheated oven.
  7. Bake for 1 hour, basting every 20 minutes.
  8. When the duck is cooked, remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Carve and serve with Chinese pancakes, spring onions, cucumber sticks, and plum sauce.

Ducks and dogs
We also took our labrador, Ronia, to the farmer's market, where she was petted by all and sundry, and ate out royally on fried onions (at the burger stand), some bits of pork crackling (from the hog roast), a stray sausage, and a pork bone. The next day we went to Cramond, where she promptly dived into the water in pursuit of some fresh duck. She came back empty-mouthed, but I decided to give her the neck and giblets from this one as compensation.