I love rummaging around in the Chinese supermarkets straddled down Leith walk in Edinburgh and around Glasgow city centre. They are treasure troves of all things Chinese, bright green Chinese vegetables, mounds of pungent garlic, exotic herbs and spices. Rows of deep freezers are briming with familiar favourites, potsticker dumplings, har gow, and packs of Peking Duck. Tucked at the back there is often a section with bamboo steamers, porcelain bowls, woks and chopsticks.

The Chinese love good food. On our trip to China with my daughter, Olivia, we visited the Muslim Quarter in Xi’an, the city of the Terracotta Warriors.

A narrow, lengthy tiled street lined by open restaurants and street food stalls, showcasing hundreds of types of foods, hand made by laughing happy families. On the most impressive stand, handfuls of dough were taken from a wooden slab, and pulled and stretched between 2 young boys, thrown between them across the street and stretched to create hundreds of hair thin noodles, long enough to reach from one side of the street to the other.

Beat the Italians at their own game!


1 litre chicken stock ( home- made or Chinese stock cubes)

3-4 cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced

2 garlic cloves, peeled

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

10-12 frozen wonton

300g Chinese rice noodles

3 spring onions

8 little gem lettuce leaves

Warm the chicken stock in a large saucepan.

Add the ginger, garlic and soy sauce to build flavour.

Add the wonton and simmer for 10 minutes until they are cooked through (as per instructions).

Cook the noodles for 3-5 minutes in a pot of boiling salted water, drain and add to the soup.

Season to taste.

Finally add the chopped spring onions and lettuce leaves.


Serve with spicy chilli oil

4-5 hot red chillies

Sea salt

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2-3 tablespoons Sesame oil

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

Ground nut oil


Slice the chillies, retaining the seeds.

Add to a pestle and mortar with a teaspoon of sea salt.

Grind together to break the skins of the chillies and release their flavour

Warm the sesame oil in a shallow frying pan.

Add the crushed garlic and warm to infuse, avoiding burning the garlic.

Add the crushed chillies and stir everything together.

Add the sugar and soy sauce. Season to taste.

Store refrigerated in a sterile jar covered with ground nut oil.

Mary Contini OBE is a writer and Director of Valvona & Crolla, Edinburgh, UK’s original Italian delicatessen and Caffè Bar. Keep in touch.


Twitter @mary.contini @valvonacrolla

Instagram @valvonacrolla

Facebook @valvona.crolla