The Paris issue

Our October issue is on sale - the Paris special. Grab your copy for all-things Parisian, plus ultimate French baking recipes and more.

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Seven ways to do dumplings

Dumplings may be bite-sized, but they pack a flavourful punch. Here are seven mouth-watering recipes, from Korean mandu to classic Chinese-style steamed dumplings.

Recipes with zucchini

Whether served raw with olive oil, grated with fresh herbs, or pan-fried in a pancake - zucchini is a must-have ingredient when it comes to spring cooking.

Best feta recipes

Feta's tang livens up all sorts of dishes, from beef shin rigatoni or blistered kale ribs to Greek-style roast lamb neck.

Cornersmith Annandale opens

Marrickville favourite Cornersmith opens a combined cafe-corner store with an alfresco sensibility.

Pickett's Deli & Rotisserie, Melbourne

Here’s Pickett’s inside running on the menu at Melbourne's new European-style eatery and wine bar Pickett's Deli & Rotisserie.

First look: Cirrus, Sydney

Ahead of opening Cirrus at Barangaroo, Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt talk us through their design inspirations and some of their favourite dishes.

Melbourne's best late-night bars

As the shutters come down in other Australian capitals, Melbourne's vibrant nightlife is just hitting it's stride. Michael Harden burns the midnight oil at the city's best late-night bars and diners.

Nougat, salted peanut caramel and milk chocolate tart

What's not to love about a Snickers bar? All the elements are here, but if you don't feel like making your own nougat, you could always scatter some diced nougat in the base of the tart instead. The caramel is dark, verging on bitter, while a good whack of salt cuts through some of the sweetness - extra roasted salted peanuts on top can only be a good thing.

Chinese takeaway

Tony Tan speaks about the flavours of Beijing street food in our exclusive video interview

Ask a visitor to Beijing what northern Chinese cooking is and the likely response is simple and emphatic: "Peking duck!" It's a perfectly valid answer, too, but that wonderful dish is a relatively recent invention, while northern Chinese cooking, better known as Beijing cuisine, is one of the four great schools of Chinese culinary culture.

This cuisine embraces the distinctive cooking styles from the surrounding provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Shanxi, Henan and Inner Mongolia. It is shaped by the cooking of Chinese Muslims from parts of Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang, and lamb is their preferred meat. The cuisine has also been influenced by the imperial kitchens, as successive rulers have resided in Beijing since the 13th century's Yuan dynasty. Finally, as the national capital for close to a millennium, foods from all the provinces of China have come to be represented here.

Sadly, our knowledge of northern Chinese cooking in Australia is rather scant. Cantonese, the southern school of cooking, is dominant here, and while northern-style restaurants are on the increase, for now they're relatively marginal and aren't equipped to serve the cuisine's full repertoire faithfully.

Beijing's Sanyuanli food market displays the building blocks of northern-style cuisine. Local greens such as leeks, soy beans, ginger, spring onions and the huge variety of Chinese cabbages are key. Tian mian jiang, the sweet flour sauce, and a host of preserved vegetables also play a role, as does the distinctive flavour of roasted sesame paste.

If you're fortunate enough to stroll through the few remaining hutongs (neighbourhood alleys) with their courtyard homes, chances are you'll find a family enjoying a meal in the open courtyards. On the table could be staples such as wheat-based buns called mantou, cold dishes such as eggplant laced with roasted sesame paste, bean curd cooked in every way imaginable, or potatoes stirfried with soy and hints of green onions.

But to really experience the full intensity of Beijing's flavours, pay a visit to the capital's most happening food street, Donghuamen Dajie in Wangfujing. As you approach the Han and Uighur vendors, the delicious scent of grilled cumin-laden meats wafts through the night air, and the vast array of hawker foods is nothing like what you find back home. From skewered quail to calamari and crisp scorpion to savoury buns filled with pork, the snacks represent the multifaceted nature of this vast metropolis. Beijing's enormous gastronomic range is captivating. After all, I think it was the Chinese who invented the saying, 'you live to eat'.

Join Tony Tan on a 12-day gourmet tour through China, 12-23 September, 2008. For more information go to tonytan.com.au or call (03) 9827 7347.

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