It’s no secret that the Yang Sing on Princess Street in Manchester City Centre, is one of my favourite restaurants. Of course I love it for it’s amazing food – but I also love it as a Manchester institution.
I’m referring to the Yang Sing as an ‘it’, when actually it’s a ‘them’! Brothers Gerry and Harry Yeung and now, the next generation. I first came across Gerry when he was President of Manchester Chamber in 2004. He’s currently a Deputy Lieutenant of Manchester. They are a family that like to get involved – but they are also a family who look after their customers and friends. When I had my cancer diagnosis, I received the most enormous bunch of flowers from them – I’ve never forgotten that – they’ve got a good spirit.
So imagine how happy I was when Harry’s daughter Bonnie Yeung agreed to guest blog for 4Manchester Women. It’s a real privilege to welcome her onto the blog for a special series from the Yang Sing. …….
Since the Yang Sing’ began in 1977 we have seen people come and go, restaurants open and close, food trends change and then come back into fashion; but one thing that has remained a constant concern for us: ingredients.
When we create Cantonese dishes we consider the following elements: flavour, temperature, texture and even the season. It is crucial that these are balanced. Fresh ingredients come with their own unique flavour so it is imperative that they are fresh. It goes without saying that fresh food tastes better as well as being full of vitamins. The knowledge and the skills used when cooking Cantonese food are often passed down from generation to generation; they’re inherent within the culture, the home, the kitchen and the family. But by blending fresh ingredients together, and allowing them to naturally complement one another, you can make delicious Cantonese dishes.
It is important to touch, feel and understand ingredients. Use all the senses when choosing them:
Vegetables- uniformity in fresh natural ingredients is an aberration; what we are used to seeing in supermarkets aren’t an accurate representation of what grows on our trees or in our fields. There are so any different fruit and vegetables and so many different ways of ensuring they’re ripe and at their edible best. The proof is always in the pudding, in other words don’t be afraid to taste something; most fruit and veg can be eaten raw so have a nibble! We often go to see suppliers at the New Smithfield’s markets and sometimes tasting is the only way of telling. Don’t be afraid to ask, growers are always more than happy to tell you about their produce.
Fish- check the eyes aren’t cloudy, look behind the gills and ensure the flesh is red/pink. It is important to smell what you eat; if it doesn’t smell right 9 times out of 10 it’s not right. Fish like Turbot or Dover Sole should be slippery to handle and when any fish is prodded there shouldn’t be an indentation left in the flesh.
Meat- Similarly, prod it, handle it, check it. A good piece of meat should bounce back after a poke. Fresh meat retains elasticity which is a result of collagen. The more collagen there is in a piece of meat, the more robust it should feel and the fresher it will be.
The Yang Sing recommends farmer Dennis Ford who runs the Smithybank Nursey in Cheshire; he grows our Choi Sum, Kai Lan and Pak Choi and has done for over 20 years.
Fish wise there is a fantastic little stall called ‘Southquay shellfish’ that sets up every Sunday in Chinatown, where a man called Ian sells an amazing array of sea life from North Wales, its fresh, sweet and sometimes alive and kicking!
For meaty goodness there is an abattoir on the outskirts of Manchester called ‘Kurpas meats’; although they’re a wholesaler they will also retail to the general public, if you ask nicely- they sell all the popular cuts of meat as well as some exciting and bizarre bits that we don’t often see on our supermarket shelves.
Supporting local businesses is a great way of understanding food. At the Yang Sing we have been working with some of our suppliers and growers since the 1980’s and they ensure that we receive only the finest of ingredients at their natural best.
More from the kitchens of the Yang Sing next month. But in the mean time, for more updates on how we use our ingredients and our suppliers follow us on facebook or twitter (@yangsingmcr).
Photographs: Yang Sing
This is not a sponsored blog post.