* Recipes (Chinatown inspired) at the end as usual + for those wanting to skim (this post is a bit lengthy/related to family history), I’ve noted what might be helpful travel tips etc. in bold.

I’ll start with our very old photos/memories (late 1970s) – some not far from Shanghai or Hong Kong mostly travelled on trains)...so many push bikes compared to recent times…

A typical street in China in late 70s…this one a few hours on train from Hong Kong so maybe reason for more colour in clothes than other parts of China at the time?
Near Shanghai…many children and adults wore dark blue Cotton Clothes

Not many tourists in this area…most locals were either smiling or staring at us like in this photo

More photos and information on Shanghai can be found in a previous post about our stopover there in 2014.

Our recent week in Sydney was wonderful and included a stroll through Chinatown and dinner nearby (photos below). Whenever we visit a Chinatown, whether in Sydney (or even our tiny “Chinatown” in Canberra – Woolley St Dickson!), I often think of the time we became completely lost in San Francisco…in the days before Goggle maps! Reminds me of how much fun (Eventually!) it can be to occasionally get lost for a while! So further into this piece I’ll post a few photos from our time in SF (2007).

Our granddaughters dressed up for the theatre

TRIP TO SYDNEY VIA TRAIN

This was actually a return trip last yr but shows Central, Sydney

We’ve just returned from Sydney again with our granddaughters…arrived back home last weekend. The very pleasant and scenic train trip from Canberra to Sydney (Central Station) takes 4 hours. It is quicker by car, or even bus, but once in the centre of Sydney, it’s so easy to get around on public transport; also no expensive parking fees when staying at a hotel or similar.

Strolling through Chinatown…we loved the lights and lion sculptures which I just missed (LHS) of this 1

We stayed at a terrace in Dawes Point (pic below), which was a short walk from Circular Quay station (more about terrace at end of post)…so it’s easy to take the train but on this night we took the bus from Dawes Pt/Walsh Bay (bus stop just minutes from terrace) to Town Hall station and then walked to China Town.

Loved the accomodation in Dawes Pt…close to ferries/trains etc.

On this night out we got off the bus at Town Hall station near the Queen Victoria Building (QVB) as it’s close to Chinatown (photo below).

On all our journeys through Sydney I love to take in the architecture (partly due to my 6 years working for Neil Renfree Architects in 70s/80s…photo toward end) so on this occasion the QVB was a highlight again, glowing in the late afternoon sun…

With this view I loved the late afternoon light on the copper dome and stone

Right near Town Hall Station is the beautiful Queen Victoria Building (EST 1893). If you’re in Sydney (and time permits etc) try to spend some time at least looking around as it’s been meticulously restored – even the historic lift.

The lift reminds me of my first P/T job when 15 (1971) at a posh little department store called Barters in Sydney (was near Hurstville station)…instead of automation, I was “the lift girl” for a few weeks…”going up ladies’ gloves…” etc! Mum helped me make the appropriate black dress…”not too short” I was told by the Manager (“mini skirts” were popular).

The suburb of Hurstville, Sydney is very different to what it once was…now a huge Chinese population (similar to parts of North Sydney district). The whole of some Sydney suburbs can feel like a Chinatown at times – especially in Chatswood (near Nth Sydney) on a Thursday or Friday night (photos below and a post about our stay in the future):

The Chatswood (Sydney) mini ‘Chinatown’…more like a multicultural markets start up at about 10 am in Chatswood and go into the late evening (photo below)
One of the interesting small shops along the street in Chatswood

North Sydney has embraced diversity with their Thursday and Friday night street market…lots of great Asian food there too with a big Aust’n/Chinese population

Back to memories of our Sydney visit last week…we only had time for a very quick walk through the QVB (photo below) before heading to Chinatown for dinner…

Interior of QVB…some very upmarket stores but a few with average prices too eg handbags
Some services reflect the Victorian era eg. Shoe shining and tea rooms
Also some interesting window shopping…I asked girls which jacket would suit Pa & suggested we liven his wardrobe up a bit with pink flowered 1😉

I was keen to return to the restaurant in China Town where we celebrated my 21st with family back on 30/12/76 (New Tai Yuen…not so new anymore and nor am I!!) but time was limited this night (it was a pre-theatre meal) so we quickly decided on this Thai restaurant (photo below) on the fringe of China Town.

The best thing about it was the interesting view from our seats on the top floor (photo below) + a few innovative ways with mangos (note to self Asian mango inspired recipes at the end of post ). Watching the woman on RHS cutting the mangos so quickly was also interesting. This view kept our granddaughters interest for a while although it was difficult to talk as such a popular and busy place.

Home Thai Restaurant – close to Chinatown/Capitol Theatre

A few lovely dishes (some too spicy for most children) and well priced (why it’s so popular we thought); however, we preferred the fish cakes we made at home recently as not as fried up/greasy – (photo from the restaurant below)…this is what was leftover! We only ate about a 1/3 of the dish. However, some dishes were good eg. The Pad Thai Noodles although beware of extra chilli flakes on the side!

They even put little mounds of sugar on the rim of the plate in order to desensitise burnt mouths!…are granddaughters found that interesting and helpful! Check the Net if you haven’t heard of this…it does work reasonably well but better to avoid so much spice in the first place of course.

Too fried/greasy…prefer our home cooked fish cakes…our recipe for blog another day

This restaurant was so popular (a long wait at door not long after we arrived…at 6 pm) and our guess is that the serving size + quite good prices + rather large menu attracts people…mostly a young crowd. If you’re a local and visited a few times you could probably just stick with your favourite dishes.

FISH CAKE RECIPE IDEAS at end

Service was friendly and prompt and we had plenty of time to get to the Capitol Theatre nearby (photo below) – an old/historic theatre; very ostentatious but so atmospheric and that added to the glamour and magic of the night, particularly when it’s a first big theatre experience for children…or adults!

Off the track a bit for history nerds like me😉

The Capitol Theatre (photo above and below) was originally a fruit and vegetable market built in 1891...a bit more on it’s history from Wikipedia:

“opened as a theatre in 1928. In 1929 the theatre was fitted to screen talkies but by 1931-32 Greater Union was in financial difficulties with the Depression. In November 1932 the Capitol closed its door...re-opened in April 1933 screening second-rate movies”…

 In 1972 the theatre lease was awarded to Harry M. Miller for the production of Jesus Christ Superstar.” I went to see that with my late older sister, Cheryl…a special night…1 of many as, after my 1969 spinal surgery/rehab, she’d often take me out in Sydney – she loved anything associated with the arts. Here’s a photo of us around that time…

Circa 1970…With my older sister Cheryl…she struggled with serious health problems from around this time onwards (died aged 60) – one of the kindest people I’ve ever known

More on history of the Capital Theatre…

Around 1972 “the atmospheric and ornamental fabric of the Capital Theatre was removed. During the 1990s the lease was transferred and the Capitol Theatre underwent a detailed restoration and reconstruction to recover the original 1928 experience. It has now been returned to its original grandeur.

The original building (1893)presented 36 arched market stalls to the street

Talking of Sydney theatre experiences, here’s me celebrating my recovery from 2017 spinal surgeries (well as good as it gets!) but so much better than prior to surgeries and great to be able to do all this walking again!

This theatre in Darling Harbour is also near Chinatown

The Carole King Musical was fabulous (Tapestry was one of my first LP records when a teenager)…Cheryl loved it too and

Many of the larger theatres are close to Chinatown so it’s a perfect place for a meal beforehand…for example…

DARLING HARBOUR…very short walk from SYDNEY’S CHINATOWN

The Carole King Musical was at the Star Casino Theatre near Darling Harbour and on this occasion, just the 2 of us, stayed at a modern Hyatt hotel nearby (view from room photo below). It was an “opening special” at this hotel (view from room in photo below)… just re-opening under a different name when ownership changed hands to Hyatt Hotels.

They’d just completed a big refurbishment of the whole hotel, and while very pleasant/handy location, we usually prefer smaller places with more character; often with an interesting history and/or people owning and/or running things eg. B&Bs which are now becoming more popular in Australia

View of Darling Harbour…if visiting some of best places/food etc away from touristy area

As can be seen from the above photo foreground, there’s good pedestrian access from one side of Darling Harbour to the other. In the background can be seen the Anzac Bridge (info from Net below).

Another slight diversion!…

If you’re interested in bridge architecture like us? (Tony’s father was a Civil Engineer) this might interest you about Anzac Bridge (close up photo below):

I love this view…Anzac Bridge completed 1996

“Longest cable stay bridge in Australia at 345 m”

connects Sydney’s CBD with inner and outer west. On the other side of this bridge is Rozelle (where my paternal grandparents and great grandparents lived) and a few minutes further on is Balmain – on the harbour where my maternal grandparents (Scottish immigrants) settled (see previous post on Aberdeen-Inverness if interested.

New Zealand connection to the bridge:

“The Australian flag flies from the east pylon (city end) and New Zealand flag from the west pylon. A New Zealand born artist, Alan Somerville, sculptured the 4 metre high bronze World War One Digger (Australian soldier) featured at the west end of the bridge, dedicated on ANZAC Day 2000.” http://www.sydneyarchitecture.com/PYR/PYR11.htm

A bit more about Darling Harbour and surrounds while I’m here…

The next day we left the main tourist area of Darling Harbour (worth a quick visit if 1st time in Sydney but everything is overpriced in that part of Sydney as it is in most big city tourist belts) and we explored around the Maritime Museum (photo below) plus there was an interesting Immigration exhibition as well…

On this visit we enjoyed Malaysian food (photo below) again on the fringe of Chinatown (we’ve heard that some places are over priced in the middle of China Town??…perhaps due to it being a popular tourist attraction). However, Hawker Malaysian Street Food restaurant was reasonably priced and the food was generally good…

This evening we just had a light meal before going to “Beautiful” at the theatre. There’s also many eateries and restaurants in the Darling Harbour/Star Casino complex next to the theatre…also well priced (relatively speaking…parts of Sydney can be expensive). I suppose the prices are average because they want to attract people to the casino?

We also enjoy Malaysian food with it’s many similarities to Chinese food of course with many Malays having Chinese ancestrysee my post on Singapore if interested. I’ll write about our trips to Malaysia in future posts…we hope to visit friends there (while they’re on a posting in KL) in the near future.

NOW ONTO CHINATOWN IN SAN FRANCISCO, USA…

Getting there...1st time to the USA in 2007 and while we were still working (we had Long Service Leave so a 7 week holiday). A generous working condition in Australia after being with the same employer for 10 years.

After our long careers and Tony’s many business trips it was exciting to feel rewarded with being able to use this Qantas lounge…restaurant dining etc

We initially flew from Sydney to LA 🇺🇸

The night before a long flight (about 14 hours to LA) we always come up to Sydney days or the night before (we stay at the Rydges airport hotel…it’s ok + so close to International terminal). Before overseas trips we usually do the Canberra – Sydney leg via a quick domestic flight with Qantas (about 40 min)

If the budget allows, I’d recommend arriving/departing Sydney refreshed, particularly if you’re elderly or like me, have back or similar issues that cause you to dread those long haul flights (we try for daytime flights whenever possible). One day I’ll be sending Tony off on his own, but I’m hoping for at least the next decade, I’ll be able to keep travelling like this.

So in 2007 it was very exciting for me to visit this lounge (photo above) for the first time as Tony had been promoted to the SES (Senior Executive Service) in his Department so on flights with our national airline, Qantas, we could go to Sydney’s first class lounge. The architectural fitout of this lounge (photo above) reflects aeronautical design – brilliantly we thought…perhaps retro as well? I’m no expert in design but have a big interest I’ve picked up over the years, especially with our sons now in building/design game and friends involved in architecture.

We can’t use First Class Lounge now retired, although we do have lifelong membership to the standard Qantas Club lounge, and try to fly with them as often as possible as we find their service/food etc. is generally much better than many airlines.

SAN FRANCISCO – CHINATOWN

A few photos below (from the Net of Chinatown San Francisco)…at the time I wasn’t into photography so much, plus we were lost and frustrated after hours of walking (we plan our day trips more now). We still had a great day as can be seen from some of the photos below.

I would like to return to Chinatown SF one day/evening as I imagine the lights and vibrancy etc. would be wonderful. On the day we went searching for Chinatown (for a look around + lunch), we got very lost for a long time! We took it in our stride (literally!), even though we had no map (before Goggle maps of course), and eventually found a nice enough place for a casual lunch by the sea (photo below).

We almost had a disagreement at one stage when I suggested we call a taxi from the restaurant to return us to the hotel (we had been out all morning) but Tony talked me into walking back. Oh well…great exercise and helped to walk off lunch – which I needed from look of these photos!…think I’ve lost a bit of weight since then (possibly from 3 major surgeries over last decade) but put a bit back on with too much pasta in Italy last year!…if interested see start of my Italian posts from that trip.

Lost near Chinatown SF…we had lunch at white place on the cliff

In San Francisco we walked through many, many miles of suburbia near here!…what looked like a massive area of lower/middle income housing (mainly people with Chinese ancestry). There was not much variety in the style of housing there – lots of concrete/basic rectangular shapes…maybe inspired by brutalist movement of 1950s or 1960s??…or what the Chinese immigrants/builders were familiar with??…would need to do more research on that question before making assumptions.

All these suburbs (went across many miles) were all very clean, tidy, well maintained plus it felt very safe at all times. I tried to make friendly eye contact with a few of the mid age people on the streets (streets were mostly very quiet) but without much luck – they just glanced at us quickly and seemed a bit puzzled…probably thinking “what are these odd tourists doing here?”!!

So it was almost impossible to get any locals to point us in the right direction (puzzling seeing it was USA not China!)…haven’t experienced similar since, but maybe I’m just more confident about approaching strangers now – I’ve learnt better ways to get out of tricky situations in recent years eg. When you’re lost! Advances in IT also helps of course.

Over the 5 nights we were in San Francisco we did a huge amount of walking up and down so many hills…here’s a photo of me probably asking Tony to slow down a bit – he’s always been very fit and energetic! I sometimes blame my back but the extra weight sometimes (as in this photo) didn’t help…I then blame all Tony’s great cooking which is hard to resist! Even last night he made the most beautiful Asia inspired dishes…photos and recipes at the end.

How much further uphill is it??
Great view at top of hill toward Golden Gate Bridge SF

I love our photo above across to the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the most internationally recognisable symbols of San Francisco, and even the USA 🇺🇸 (flag for kids😎and more…it’s a suspension bridge…”where the deck is hung below suspension cables on vertical suspenders. The first modern examples of this bridge were built in the 1800s.” (Siri)

Another slight diversion with some bridge related family history!…skim over if more interested in travel ideas:)

Tony’s father was a Civil Engineer, in earlier part of his career with Department of Main Roads (later in SES Canberra – Dept of Transport) so we all gradually developed an interest in bridges and their construction over the decades…more relevant once we started travelling + walking across many a bridge!

Here’s Tony with his father, mother (very glamorous!) and younger brother…perhaps picnicking and gold panning beside a river (photo below)…they lived in different parts of country NSW during Tony’s childhood. These places often had historic Chinese landmarks nearby or they were established in more recent times (statues/museums etc) to recognise the hard work, and sometimes terrible discrimination, encountered by those early pioneering Chinese…mostly Chinese men attracted to the gold fields from the 1800s.

Similar happened to the Chinese in places like San Francisco as well…on our next visit (probably in a year or two) I’d like to go to some museums I’ve heard about related to Chinese labour and immigration to the USA. Many US history museums are excellent…as in many European cities and parts of Asia and elsewhere, some very engaging exhibits/films/short videos etc. in recent years.

Tony and his childhood family…he’s the older son

Gold panning was a popular recreational hobby for some country based families to do in the 1960s. I was impressed with Tony’s gold panning talents when we visited Canada 🇨🇦 and Alaska 🇺🇸 in 2012...we went to a touristy “historic” park (tacky in parts but good fun!) and Tony excelled at the gold panning and I now have a glass locket, with that gold dust in it, as a lovely memory of that day. It was probably overpriced for what it is but one of those souvenirs that does have a sentimental attachment as I was so excited when Tony was the only one in our group of about 8 who panned anything worth enclosing in a locket!

Here’s a gold related photo that brings back another old memory in 1987 when we visited a similar touristy “Gold” park in Victoria (Bendigo) near Melbourne…

With our 2 sons in Bendigo near Melbourne – 1986…a tourist place at an old gold mine. Chinese history info and exhibits there too…as is often the case in 1800s Gold Rush sites

A detour to Melbourne for a moment!…

Our weekend in Bendigo with young children eventuated because in 1987 we were living in Melbourne (South Yarra) for most of the year as Tony had a work posting with Aust’n Govt (I deferred my teaching studies at Uni of Canberra for that time).

It was such a fun year exploring in and around Melbourne (a future blog post including more recent visits). Melbourne is another great Australian city, although we do love living in the smaller city of Canberra too (+ being closer to family in Sydney) and we were pleased to go home after this posting.

Back to Bridges…interesting fact?…Golden Gate Bridge (Est 1937) was built around the time of Sydney Harbour Bridge (est 1932)…photo below.

Our photo taken from Circular Quay…the Rocks/Dawes Pt is to the left
View from other side of the harbour…Milson’s Pt is near the Nth Sydney Olympic pool (Art Deco style) + Luna Park (amusement park)

WHILE I’M WRITING ABOUT NORTH SIDE OF HARBOUR

When I first met Tony in 1974, he was even living with his parents (at the time posted to Sydney and renting in Kirribilli on Nth side of Harbour Bridge). In 1974 I regularly took the train across the Harbour Bridge on a Friday afternoon and met him at Milsons Point Station…(photo of ferry stop above); had dinner at his parents’ place (his Mum was a great cook…inspired Tony) and we then explored in and around Sydney on Saturday…sometimes going to Chinatown as food was more affordable there for young students.

BACK TO SAN FRANCISCO – 2007

One of the many gorgeous views in SF on our long walks

On long walk back to our hotel we came across this view (photo below)…toward the Federal Prison of Alcatraz 1934-1963. The next day we took a ferry trip out there for a half day tour around (photos below)…

Photo above of views across to Alcatraz – a top security Federal Prison (1934 – 1963)

Audio tour on island of Alcatraz where the former prison was located

The scale and austerity of the prison so obvious in this 1…

The words on sign here are interesting especially about the 1962 breakout…”the escaped inmates are still considered fugitives”

Several movies and TV series have been based on the stories of Alcatraz so we did have a little prior knowledge (not much!) and it was an interesting half day. We were pleased to move onto cheerier activities including eating out!…so at end of this post are some Chinese and Asian inspired recipes seeing this blog post focus has been on Chinatowns. We’ve been to many…including in Singapore 🇸🇬 recently (see previous post if interested:)

WHERE WE STAYED IN SYDNEY LAST WEEK – WINDMILL STREET, DAWES POINT...A 3 bedroom private rental we found so handy for larger groups. It’s a 10 min walk from the historic “Rocks” (where the first European colony was established from 1788) and Circular Quay wharf/train station (see map below + courtyard pic at start of this post).

Recently renovated…thoughtful interior design with interesting pieces eg clock on mantelpiece of what was once the original fireplace
Chinese style furniture as well. The historic terrace was recently refurbished and we obtained a good opening price on rental for
View upwards from the rear courtyard…the modern hydroponic garden with succulent plants was beautiful too…would need frost protection in Canberra as winters are colder than SYD

The Succulent garden wall at this terrace was inspiring for me as I love gardens (only have a small one at the South Coast now…2.5 hours from Sydney). It would survive on our courtyard wall in Canberra but without overhead protection, the frost would kill it in winter.

Canberra winters can drop to about -5 or even lower occasionally; at the moment it’s been very hot but some regular rain has been good! The photo below gives interstate and overseas readers a very rough idea of distance between Sydney and our capital city, Canberra…about 3 hours drive along the highway to the CBD depending on traffic. Avoid peak/rush hour if you can as Sydney traffic can be bad!

This plaque is in a historic park not far from the Museum of Sydney (great exhibitions there)…if visiting Sydney consider “the museum pass”
A short walk from Dawes Point through “the Rocks” to get to Circular Quay & up to Sydney’s CBD

ENTRANCE TO “THE ROCKS” – colonised by British from 1788 and remembered on 26 January each year as Australia Day. Convict labour initially started the cut that can be seen in the above photo…mostly through sandstone.

On topic of Australia Day (coming up soon on 26/1)...a hot topic here as each year there has been a growing protest by Indigenous people and some non Indigenous people, demanding that the date be changed as “it’s not a day to celebrate being Australian…as 26 January 1788 was Invasion Day”.

Already social media activity on this can be seen increasing; for example, I saw one interesting post stating that Australia Day was formerly celebrated on different days – especially around the time of the World Wars. In the interest of cultural harmony, I feel that there’s a good case being put forward to “Change the Date”…which is the name for this active campaign although there are also many Conservatives, particularly in our current Federal Government, who would disagree.

A PARTIAL MAP OF INNER SYDNEY WITH MANY PLACES WE’VE ENJOYED HIGHLIGHTED IN RED…all an easy walk from where we stayed (Google Maps)

LOVED OUR 2 x 3 NIGHT STAYS IN DAWES PT AND WALSH BAY OVER LAST YEAR (2018/JAN 2019)

Around Walsh Bay…easy walk to the Rocks side of Harbour Bridge

Where we stayed near the Rocks was in Windmill St (top left cnr)…previously we stayed in Lower Fort St…a renovated Victorian terrace (AIR B&B). A walk around Dawes Point and the redeveloped precinct of Walsh Bay is recommended…home of the Sydney Dance Theatre and other cultural facilities as well as cafes and restaurants (we enjoyed dinner a few times at the Lotus Dumpling Bar).

Near Lotus Dumpling Bar – street back from harbourfront of Walsh Bay

There are regular bus services to/from this precinct and excellent disability services around Walsh Bay (unfortunately up steep steps to get to Dawes Point one street back…although I did hear there’s a lift somewhere??). There are also many modern apartments (low rise) the design of those reflecting the original warehouses that once lined the harbour (photo below). Worth checking out if you enjoy looking at modern architectural design like we do.

New apartments, restaurants, galleries etc. at Walsh Bay…reflect historic warehouse design and architure

Recent history indicates that “plague!” Was exaggerated back in 1800s as an excuse to move workers out of homes…many grand historic houses in parts too
Ferry lane…our regular walk between Walsh Pt and Dawes Point
Sydney Dance and Theatre Co in historic buildings at “The Wharf”

FINALLY!…OUR ASIAN/AUSTRALIAN INSPIRED RECIPES:…

CHINESE RECIPES FROM OUR BOOKS… “The Essential Asian Cookbook” (Murdoch books); we also have a few books of Sydney based chef, Kylie Kwong (see other blog posts if interested eg. Her egg recipes are quick favourites for us eg. An omelette. Her recipes are generally more authentic than some of our other books but her recipes can include unusual ingredients so we only cook those when near the Asian grocers in many parts of Canberra.

At the South Coast (where we are now) we just rely on the Asian food section of the supermarkets. So here are some simple recipes that might suit busy families as well…the first one a simple egg recipe from Kylie…

MRS JANG’S HOME STYLE FRIED EGGS P120 Kylie’s Recipes and Stories

Entree for 4; main meal with rice for 2

1.5 cups vegetable oil; 4 large eggs; 1 tablespoon oyster sauce; small pinch ground white pepper; 2 green shallots (finely sliced); 1-2 red bird’s eye chillies, finely sliced

Methodnote to self add tonight from Kylie’s Recipes and Stories

STIR FRIED PRAWNS WITH LEEKS P30

Prep time: 15 min; Cooking time 4-5 min; Serves 6

800 g raw king prawns; 2 leeks (white part only and preferably young ones); 1 fresh red chilli; 3 cm piece fresh ginger; 3 tablespoons oil; 2 teaspoons light soy sauce; 1 tablespoon mirin; 1/3 cup chicken stock; 1 teaspoon cornflour

Method: Peel and devein the prawns, leave the tail intact; Rinse leeks well. Cut them 1st into 4 cm lengths and then lengthways into fine shreds. Slit open the chilli, remove and discard the seeds and cut the flesh into fine shreds. Cut the ginger into fine shreds; Heat a little of the oil in a wok and stir fry the prawns in batches until just pink; remove from wok. Add remaining oil and stir fry the leek, chilli and ginger over high heat for 40 seconds, then push to one side of the wok.

Return the prawns to the wok and stir fry for about 1.5 min, or until just cooked through.

Add the soy sauce and mirin to the pan. Mix the chicken stock and cornflour and pour in.

Cook on high heat, stirring until thickened. Serve immediately.

TONY ALWAYS LOVES A NOODLE DISH…this one with Shanghai Noodles

NOODLES WITH PRAWNS AND PORK

Prep: 20 min; Cooking time 10 min; Serves 4

10 large raw prawns; 200g Chinese barbecued pork; 500 g Shanghai noodles; 1/4 cup peanut oil; 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic; 1 tablespoon black bean sauce; 1 tablespoon soy sauce; 1 tablespoon white vinegar; 1/4 cup chicken stock; 125 g fresh bean sprouts (scraggly ends removed); 3 spring onions; fresh coriander leaves for garnish.

Method:

Peel and devein prawns. Cut the pork evenly into thin slices.

Cook noodles in a pan of rapidly boiling water until just tender. Drain and set aside.

Heat oil in a wok or heavy based fry pan, swirling gently to coat the base and sides.

Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until pale gold.

Add the prawns and pork and cook for 3 min, or until prawns are pink.

Add noodles to the wok with the black bean sauce, soy sauce, vinegar and stock.

Stir fry over high heat until the mixture has heated through and the sauce has been absorbed.

Add the bean sprouts and spring onion and cook for 1 minute. Place in a serving dish and garnish with coriander.

If you enjoy a bit of fire in your food add a splash of chilli oil and/or fresh finely chopped chilli at the end of cooking.

SATAYS…more a Sth East Asian recipe is A FAVOURITE WITH OUR GRANDCHILDREN…P60

500 g chicken tenderloins (or thigh fillet); 1 tablespoon honey; 1/4 cup soy sauce; 2 teaspoon sesame oil; 1 teaspoon ground coriander; 1 teaspoon ground turmeric; 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder.

Method:

Thread chicken onto soaked wooden skewers and place them in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Quick Satay Sauce:

Cook 1 finely cooked onion in a tablespoon oil until softened and then stir in 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1/2 cup coconut cream and 2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce. (I like to add some fresh v finely chopped chilli…long 1s aren’t hot like small type).

Cook gently until smooth and heated through. To cook satays place skewers on a preheated grill and cook for 5-7 min, turning and basting with marinade frequently. Serve with warm satay sauce.

Another book we have is “Poh’s Kitchen” – Poh Ling Yeow…a popular Australian celebrity cook (started her career on Masterchef TV series). She has Chinese/Malaysian ancestry and most of her recipes reflect that. Some of the simple ones I love in this book are:

Fried rice (from her koo-poh…great aunt) P146; Chicken with Toban Jiang (Chilli Bean paste) P163; Squid with black beans and celery; Brussel sprouts with ginger and prawns (Tony won’t eat plain Brussel sprouts but likes this) P166.

Also occasional desserts from same book:

Almond and lime panna cotta with lychee cream…or plain cream if you don’t have a similar liquor. Isn’t the photo from Poh’s book beautiful…

Plus a gorgeous double page spread in Poh’s book shows how the above simple dishes can be served as a banquet…

Other interesting recipes from Poh include “Pork & Garlic Shoots”…available in Asian groceries + a more simple Lettuce and Garlic dish

FISH CAKE RECIPES:

We’ve tried a few from the Net with varying success. However, a quick and easy one is from Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients...although we add 1 egg as without it they fall apart very easily even though they taste good.

Quick Asian Fishcakes – Serves 4

1 stick lemongrass; 6 cm piece of ginger; 1/2 bunch of fresh coriander; 500 g salmon fillet, skin off, pin-boned; 4 teaspoons chilli jam (or similar)

I’m summarised Method:

Chop lemongrass, ginger and coriander very finely reserving some coriander leaves for garnish (pop in a bowl of cold water).

Chop half of salmon into 1 cm chunks over the herb mix on your board. Chop rest of salmon super fine, almost like a purée, then mix chunkier bits (+ herbs) back through and season with S and P.

We mix in 1 small egg at this stage and find cakes stay together better when cooking. If mixture a bit too wet, add a tablespoon of cornflour (see alternate recipe below)

Divide into 4, then shape and squash into 2 cm thick patties. We make more/smaller ones sometimes.

Cook in a frying pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil (heated 1st to med/high). Cook for 2 min on each side, or until nicely golden.

Spoon chilli jam over the fishcakes…add a splash of water to pan…turn heat off and jiggle to coat fishcakes. Serve sprinkled with the drained coriander.

Jamie O’s recipe on left of photo below…also like recipe from My Asian Kitchen…we sometimes mix recipes but if you’re an inexperienced cook, might be better to stick closely with the recipe?

My Asian Kitchen (2015) by Linda Le is available at public libraries (this 1 at Ulladulla)

I love the cover of this book!

Here’s another simple recipe from My Asian Kitchen (P89)…Linda Le with slightly different ingredients

4 spring onions (finely sliced); 2 garlic cloves (chop); 2 teaspoon ginger root (chop); 500 gm boneless fish fillet; 1 tablespoon soy sauce; 2 tablespoon kecap manis (sweet soy sauce); 1 egg; 1 tablespoon cornflour; oil for cooking eg peanut oil (not olive oil)

Dipping Sauce: 1 tbsp sweet soy sauce; 2 tbsp soy sauce; 1/2 tsp samba oelek

METHOD similar to Jamie O’s

On the subject of books – this time historic fiction related to China..

For those book lovers like me…one we recently read at my book club group

Gorgeous front cover don’t you think?

I enjoyed this book but did find it hard to get into…pretty good for a debut novel though

The author, Emma Harcourt, certainly knew a lot (from her grandmother) about Shanghai in the 1920s – an interesting piece by her in the Sydney Morning Herald recently…

https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/what-my-grandmother-s-act-of-defiance-as-a-young-woman-has-taught-me-20180614-p4zlf7.html

More for our children/grandchildren one day??…in hope they value education/life long learning like Tony and I do!…This book brought back some memories of my history studies in Year 11 and 12 (Boxer Rebellion; beginnings of Communist movement etc) when I was at Peakhurst High School in Sydney. A time when I was accepted to study history at Sydney University but delayed Uni studies until my late 20s at UC. I later decided on Education rather than History although Primary Ed degree + my curriculum design work during my career further developed my lifelong interest in history. However, pleased I did delay my Uni days as the experience with the Architects (Neil Renfree & Associates, Canberra) and the RAIA was a fabulous 6 years in my 20s.

Just came across this amusing mid 70s photo (below) with large typewriter…

After the HSC (Yr 12) I did a 1 year full time Advanced Secretarial Course (renamed Business or similar now at our technical colleges). It did leave me with fast touch typing which I used with the Architects in 70s/80s (photo taken in that office) and even now on my iPad keypad…how technology etc. has changed!

Many of the young Architects were talented with design and spatial maths but their letter and report writing skills were often lacking. The Manager, Neil Renfree said he relied on me to edit their writing (not that I’m an expert) but I did quickly learn how he wanted things presented and he always valued my work…sometimes even taking me on site visits to see projects, take notes, meet clients etc. I did the bookkeeping/accounts as well, and it also boosted my confidence to see that after a year or so I was paid more than the young Architects! I was very fortunate to be mentored by such a good man – Neil is approaching 80 now. How the years fly by!

Look at that typewriter!!…mid-late 70s
Similar timeframe…late 70s from look of TV – at a friend’s house…we could only afford Black & White TV!

Post a bit longer than I anticipated but enjoyed writing this up with thoughts of grandchildren (and maybe even our sons and DILs) one day reading it too – perhaps?!!

Happy 2019 travels to any readers!

Chris and Tony