Review: Opium

When it comes to going out for dinner or getting a takeaway, Chinese or Oriental food is not my first choice. This is mainly because I’m always so underwhelmed by the food & feel I could make it just as well at home. It’s surprising given where we stay in the West End of Glasgow which has so many different Chinese/Oriental places on hand.

On my husband’s actual birthday, my parent’s present for him was a meal & all he had to do was pick a restaurant. He narrowed it down to Opium & an Italian restaurant & he gave me the task of choosing one. I opted for Opium since it had been on my list of places to go from recommendations from work colleagues.

When we arrived at Opium, it was relatively quiet for a Thursday evening but it worked in our favour as we had the choice of where we wanted to sit. We opted for a table near the back of the restaurant which gave me the perfect view of seeing what other diners were having!

On the table I was delighted to see the cutlery was a spoon & a pair of chopsticks with no fork in sight. This instantly reminded me of restaurants on our holiday last year in Hong Kong & Thailand. The menu in Opium is not Chinese but of Oriental fusion, which as you can imagine, leads to an extensive menu! It also boasts a large dim sum offering which got a big thumbs up from me!

dim sum

As we’d only really eaten breakfast that day, we decided to order 3 dim sum to share for our starter . The crab & chive dumplings were presented in a traditional Chinese steamer & accompanied by a vinegar dipping sauce. The dumplings were melt in the mouth, with the lovely tang of the vinegar accompanying it perfectly. Our second dim sum was chilli salt squid, which I was apprehensive about. This was partly due to having made squid at home a couple of weeks before & it put me off a bit as it didn’t turn out well at all. I had nothing to worry about with this beautiful pile of squid as it was tender & had such a moreish chilli & salt coating to it. I could have honestly eaten a big plate of this on its own! Our final dim sum was satay won ton – chicken & king prawn won ton dumpling covered in a satay sauce. This was probably my least favourite as the texture, for me, was a bit slimy. I’m not sure if this was maybe the different in wrapping compared with the dumplings as I’ve never had won ton before.

With the starters being so good, the mains had a hard act to follow! We shared a portion of thai chilli beef & malay spicy tiger prawn. The beef came with okra (my new favourite vegetable), pepper in a chilli & basil sauce. The meat was lovely & tender but the sauce was a bit disappointing as it lacked a strong chilli flavour. I was expecting more heat like the chilli & basil sauces I’ve eaten in Thai restaurants in both Thailand & here in the UK.

mains

The tiger prawn dish had a lovely fragrant curry sauce, which again was not too hot but neither too sweet. The accompanying vegetables in the dish were cooked perfectly, with a good crunch to them. Our eyes were bigger than our bellies with our side dishes. We opted for steamed jasmine rice & also fried egg noodles as the waitress asked both of us if we wanted a side so we threw caution to the wind! The rice was so fluffy & light, while the noodles had an almost chow mein like taste to them. Needless to say, we didn’t finish all of the sides as we focussed more on the main dishes!

sides

I will take my hat off to Opium as they have opened my eyes to the fact that not all Oriental restaurants are a disappointment. The ferrero rocher given with the bill may have also helped sway me!! I will definitely be back as soon as I can, even if it is only to sample more of the extensive dim sum on offer!!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Recipe: Turkey Meatballs with Tomato Chipolte Sauce

I will apologise in advance for:

  1. The lack of posts as I have broken my elbow so have had to learn to type one handed, which is not very productive!
  2. Spelling errors (see above)
  3. The quality of the photos are not great as I took them on my phone, one handed. Lesson learnt & the camera will be brought out for all future pictures!

Turkey Meatballs with Tomato Chipolte Sauce

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Time: Preparation: 10 mins / Cooking: 25 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 500g Turkey Mince
  • Breadcrumbs of 2 slices of bread
  • 2 red onions
  • 1 thinly sliced Orange or Yellow Pepper
  • Small bunch of coriander
  • 2 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • Small packet of passata (400ml / 500g)
  • Chipoltes in adobo (you can buy from delis) or store bought chipolte paste
Macros Calories Carbs Fat Protein
Per serving, based on 4 servings 315 12 17 28

 

First up is assembling the meatballs. To do this, you need to finely chop the top part of the coriander, leaving the bulk of the stems aside. I used my food processor for this but you can easily use a knife. In terms of how fine, it’s a personal thing as I don’t mind the leaves not being too fine which is how I left them. You will also need to finely chop 1/4 of an onion but I would recommend making this as fine as you can.

Throw together the coriander, onion. turkey mince, breadcrumbs & egg into a large bowl. Using your hands mush together so that it’s all combined.

BowlMix it up

Once combined, it’s time to roll! Depending on how big you want your meatballs & how many mouths you are feeding, roll the meatballs into even sized balls. The recipe can generate about 16 meatballs, although as you can see on the picture, ours were on the large size!

Meatvalls

Using either a little oil or oil spray, brown the meatballs in a frying pan. Set aside once browned.

browned meatballs

Put the meatballs aside, finely chop the coriander stalks & finely slice the red onions. Cook these along with the garlic & peppers for 5 minutes.

Sauce

The next part depends on whether you are using paste or chipoltes and your spice preference. If you’re not a big fan of heat, add a tablespoon of paste or the adobo sauce. If, like us, you like heat, add more. We used chipoltes in adobo & whizzed up 2 of them, along with some sauce to use. Add this along with the passata to the pot.

Sauce

Add in 100ml of water to the sauce & simmer for 10 minutes.

Throw in the meatballs (not literally or they will break) & make sure they are coated in the sauce. Leave to cook for 5 minutes.

Meatballs

You can serve the meatballs with spaghetti, rice or since they are so full of flavour, you can eat them on their own!

Meatballs

Foodies Festival – Giveaway!

Every year the Foodies Festival takes place in Edinburgh & every year (well the past few at least), I always seem to be on holiday at the same time. However, this year, I was determined to go & then as luck would have it, I was asked to be part of their press team & do a review for them! To celebrate, I’m giving away 6 pairs (yes 6!) of day tickets for the festival that can be used on any day over the weekend. But before that, here’s some info about the festival.

Foodies Festival

The festival takes place in Inverleith Park, Edinburgh over the weekend of 8-10 August. There is loads to see & do over the weekend for all of the family including a Children’s Cookery Theatre, Chef’s Theatre where you can watch celebrity chefs doing their thing & a Drink’s Theatre.

There are a whole host of celebrity chefs attending the weekend including Mark Greenaway, Tony Singh, Jacqueline O’Donnell (Great British Menu 14), Adam Handling (Masterchef Professionals) & my favourites, Three Sisters Bake!

For 2014, Foodies are bringing a few new items to the festival:

Feasting Tent – the social hub of the festival where visitors can enjoy eating with chefs, friends & family at long banqueting tables

Vintage Tea Tent – the tent will hold daily tea dances alongside a Vintage Kitchen Market (which I am really excited about!)

Real Ale & Cider Farm – A chilled out area to have a drink & chat with Foodie’s beer & cider experts & beer lovers!

Chilli Food Market – As the name suggests, all things spicy here from chilli growser to sauces & jams. There will even be a Chilli Eating Challenge each day at 5pm for those brave enough!

How do I get my hands on some tickets I hear you ask?! Well it’s as simple as answering the below question & either post a comment or email getstuffedblog13@gmail.com (closing date Saturday 2 Aug)!

If you were a cocktail, what cocktail would you be & why?

Good Luck!