Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the Society.

Photo

Tips on Chinese cooking techniques

Chinese

  • Please log in to reply
161 replies to this topic

#1 hzrt8w

hzrt8w
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 3,855 posts
  • Location:Sacramento, CA

Posted 28 July 2004 - 11:56 PM

I want to dedicate this thread to share some Chinese cooking techniques, some of which may be handed down from one generation to another... tips that you don't normally find in cookbooks.

Some of these steps may seem insignificant, but they can make the difference between a mediocre dish and an extrodinary dish.

Edited by hzrt8w, 29 July 2004 - 12:19 AM.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#2 hzrt8w

hzrt8w
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 3,855 posts
  • Location:Sacramento, CA

Posted 29 July 2004 - 12:15 AM

Black bean sauce: smash the garlic and fermented black beans before cooking.

Stir-frying with black bean sauce is a very common dish. Be it beef, chicken, shrimp with black bean sauce, the recipe typically calls for using garlic and fermented black beans. I often see people cook the garlic and black beans separately on this dish.

Here is a tip for you: black beans do not release their "soy" taste when you cook them whole. When you are doing your preparation work, mince the garlic (or just use the side of a cleaver to whack them flat), rinse the fermented black beans, drain, then use a big table spoon to smash the black beans, then mix them with the minced garlic in a bowl to form a paste. This technique is similar to South-Asian cooking where they grind the ginger and other spices to form a paste before cooking.

When you are ready to cook the dish, heat up the wok/pan and add in cooking oil. Cook the garlic/black-bean paste first until fragrant, about 10 seconds, then add a few slices of chili pepper (or jalapeno), a bit of salt, a dash of vinegar/cooking wine, then add 1 diced onion to sautee for a minute, then add sliced green or red bell peppers. Sautee for a few more minutes. Add chicken broth or water. Bring it to a boil. Add the par-cooked (velveted) meat. Add sugar (if you like) and corn starch slurry to thicken the sauce. To enhance the "soy" flavor, I often add some light or dark soy sauce as well.
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#3 mags

mags
  • participating member
  • 794 posts

Posted 29 July 2004 - 12:25 AM

A trick I learned from a Grace Young recipe made an astonishing difference in the flavor of the finished dish. After soaking dried mushrooms to rehydrate them (prior to adding them to a chicken stir-fry), the recipe called for the mushroom-soaking liquid to be strained, added to the wok full of chicken and vegetables, and boiled down hard to a syrup before the sauce-elements were added at the end. This kicked up the mushroom flavor by more than a notch.

#4 Ben Hong

Ben Hong
  • participating member
  • 1,383 posts

Posted 29 July 2004 - 06:04 AM

hzrt8w, good topic. Guaranteed to garner some useful tips.

To my taste, black bean and garlic sauce needs a bit of minced ginger, especially for seafood.

I tell anyone who will listen my mantra, "hot wok, cold oil" ie, heat the wok before adding oil. This prevents sticking.

Meats that go into large stew type dishes should be blanched first.

More later.

#5 Dejah

Dejah
  • participating member
  • 3,311 posts
  • Location:Brandon, Manitoba

Posted 29 July 2004 - 09:13 AM

I usually brown any meat that goes into braised/stewed dishes first...adds nice flavour and a bit of "browning".

I do this when I made a large casserol of black bean garlic spareribs. Once the ribs are browned, I drain off the excess fat. The smashed garlic and ginger is cooked first, then add the black beans before returning the ribs to the pot. To this, I add pork stock to cover, and some black beans that I previously blended with some water. This really adds to the flavour and colour without adding soya sauce.

I boil this mixture for about 20 minutes, then thicken with a half cornstarch and half flour slurry. This prevents the sauce from breaking down when you do the next step.

The whole lot is poured into a cast iron casserol dish. Put the lid on, into the oven at 350F for an hour. When ready, the meat is full of flavour, tender and ready to put over large mounds of fluffy rice...LOTS of rice!


I agree with Ben about the hot wok/cold oil method. This is especially true if you rinse your wok between ingredients. This ensures there is no moisture left on your wok...so no surprise splatters when you add the oil.

Mom said that if you salt your oil before the ingredients, this will also prevent splatters, especially if you are adding freshly washed and drained vegetables.
Dejah
www.hillmanweb.com

#6 trillium

trillium
  • participating member
  • 1,515 posts

Posted 29 July 2004 - 09:49 AM

Glutinous rice flour in jook, stirred in a little water and added just at the end!

regards,
trillium

#7 jo-mel

jo-mel
  • participating member
  • 1,633 posts
  • Location:New Jersey via Massachusetts

Posted 29 July 2004 - 12:51 PM

Stir your sauces before adding to the wok. If there is cornstarch in the sauce, it will have settled, but so will other heavier flavorings like hoisin, brown bean sauce, etc. Also, don't dump the whole sauce on top of the things in the wok. You have them nice and hot, so don't cool them off with the sauce ----- rather pour the sauce around the sides of the wok so that it will warm up as it flows down ----then mix in.

#8 sequim

sequim
  • participating member
  • 438 posts
  • Location:Seattle

Posted 29 July 2004 - 12:57 PM

Can someone tell me the difference between black beans and black bean sauce? Is black bean sauce supposed to be rinsed? I know it is very salty and I've frequently used it then not liked the resulting dish because of that.

#9 Dejah

Dejah
  • participating member
  • 3,311 posts
  • Location:Brandon, Manitoba

Posted 29 July 2004 - 01:36 PM

Can someone tell me the difference between black beans and black bean sauce?  Is black bean sauce supposed to be rinsed?  I know it is very salty and I've frequently used it then not liked the resulting dish because of that.

Black bean sauce is fermented black beans, mashed and blended with soya sauce. I find it too salty, and don't care for the flavour. I prefer to mash my own soaked and rinsed dried black beans...or blend my own "sauce" with water.

Black beans in the prepared sauces are too fine to be rinsed.
Dejah
www.hillmanweb.com

#10 sequim

sequim
  • participating member
  • 438 posts
  • Location:Seattle

Posted 29 July 2004 - 01:54 PM

Oh dear I wish I hadn't bought two jars of black bean sauce as so far, I haven't liked the taste.... :sad:

#11 Singapore

Singapore
  • participating member
  • 180 posts

Posted 29 July 2004 - 02:08 PM

Shanghai-style marinade, good for beef, pork, chicken, fish, shrimp, mussels....

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sherry(or rice wine)
1-2 teaspoons of sugar
pepper to taste.

Combine. Marinate for a minimum of a half hour, covered and refridgerated. Drain and stir fry per Ben Hong.

1 crushed garlic clove or slice of ginger in the marinade is optional.

Sequim, use your black bean sauce to marinate steaks in before grilling them. You'll draw neighbors in like flies to honey.

Cheers.
Be polite with dragons, for thou art crunchy and goeth down well with ketchup....

#12 sequim

sequim
  • participating member
  • 438 posts
  • Location:Seattle

Posted 29 July 2004 - 02:16 PM

I will try that Singapore! I never thought of it as a marinade for meat.

#13 jo-mel

jo-mel
  • participating member
  • 1,633 posts
  • Location:New Jersey via Massachusetts

Posted 29 July 2004 - 05:08 PM

Oh dear I wish I hadn't bought two jars of black bean sauce as so far, I haven't liked the taste.... :sad:

Fermented black beans, I like. Jarred Black Bean Sauce, I don't like.

Brown (Yellow) Bean Sauce is a different kettle of fish --- er-- bean sauce. I like that from the jar.

#14 jo-mel

jo-mel
  • participating member
  • 1,633 posts
  • Location:New Jersey via Massachusetts

Posted 29 July 2004 - 05:17 PM

I can peel, flatten and mash or chop garlic, with a cleaver as well as anyone, but my preferred way is to use a hand held cheese grater. (The one with a wooden handle and a blade about 5 inches long, with holes about 1/8 inch)I pinch the tip of the peel of the clove, then run it down the grater, The garlic goes through and the peel stays. I do that with ginger, also. Not when I want slices of threads, but when I want minced ginger (or garlic) I find my grater handy and quick .I run it under hot water, give it a shake, and it is clean.

When needing a lot of garlic &/or ginger for several dishes, I can do a pile of each in a short time.

#15 Laksa

Laksa
  • participating member
  • 874 posts
  • Location:Verona, NJ

Posted 29 July 2004 - 07:06 PM

When steaming fish or meat, adding a little brandy to the dish for the last five minutes of steaming can only improve the dish. :biggrin:

#16 yogi

yogi
  • participating member
  • 7 posts

Posted 30 July 2004 - 07:56 AM

Great topic.
Lots of interesting tidbits of culinary wisdom.
Looking forward to keeping up with all of them and hopefully adding a few of my own.

#17 lorea

lorea
  • participating member
  • 246 posts

Posted 30 July 2004 - 07:14 PM

When peeling ginger, there's no need for a peeler - just slice off the skin. For less waste, simply run a sharp knife over the skin and the skin comes right off. Or the easiest way - just slice off the amount you want, smash it, and cook away! No need for peeling.

#18 jo-mel

jo-mel
  • participating member
  • 1,633 posts
  • Location:New Jersey via Massachusetts

Posted 30 July 2004 - 09:00 PM

When peeling ginger, there's no need for a peeler - just slice off the skin. For less waste, simply run a sharp knife over the skin and the skin comes right off. Or the easiest way - just slice off the amount you want, smash it, and cook away! No need for peeling.

The square -sided-end of a wooden chopstick aso peels ginger very well. Just hold firmly and 'peel' down with a sharp edge.

I had read somewhere that the best flavor in ginger is directly under the skin. That cookbook author preferred not to peel. When I use my cheese grater, I don't peel, nor do I when I just use a smashed slice -- just as you do.

But I do peel, when I want shreds, or when the ginger pieces are a highlight of the dish.

#19 Jeannie

Jeannie
  • participating member
  • 39 posts

Posted 01 August 2004 - 03:32 PM

Remembered that there was a thread on making dumplings and there was a discussion about jiaozi/guotie dough.

Went home this weekend and my mum made guotie.

She said that for guotie (pot sticklers) dough, you have to mix the flour (just plain non-self raising flour) with boiling water and for jiaozi (boiled ones) dough you mix the flour with cold water.

The boiling water helps to release the gluten and stops the pot sticklers from being too dry and brittle.

I hope this tip is useful for people. :smile:

#20 Gary Soup

Gary Soup
  • legacy participant
  • 865 posts

Posted 01 August 2004 - 08:02 PM

She said that for guotie (pot sticklers) dough, you have to mix the flour (just plain non-self raising flour) with boiling water and for jiaozi (boiled ones) dough you mix the flour with cold water.

I have heard that, too. Also, for jiaozi, your make the wrapper thicker in the middle and thinner on the edges. My wife uses a special tapered jiaozi rolling pin for this. Otherwise the "top" of the jiaozi, which is formed by pressing together two edges, would be thicker than the base, and the wrapper wouldn't cook uniformly throughout in the boiling water. This is not an issue with guotie, since the base is cooked differently from the top.

#21 hzrt8w

hzrt8w
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 3,855 posts
  • Location:Sacramento, CA

Posted 04 November 2005 - 01:57 PM

I used to have difficulties keeping dry ingredients last after the sealed plastic package is opened. For example, wolfberries will turn brown and lose their flavor over time. "Golden needles" (Dry lily buds) will turn brown, then dark brown over time. Whole spices (star anise, clove, etc.) will lose their fragrance over time. Some ingredients may even turn moldy (e.g. dry oysters).

I know the best method to store these ingredients is using air-tight jars. But these nice jars with sealed lids are selling at over US$5.00 a piece. I would need to buy a lot of them. The costs add up.

Here is a trick that I deployed recently: save some of the empty glass jars from your sauces or drinks. The jars that I like to use most are the ones containing oysters, spaghetti sauce and Ovaltine because of their straight wall design. Wash and air dry these empty glass jars.

Put the dry ingredients in the jars. To these jars air-tight, I just use some clean plastic bags from grocery stores. Fold it up maybe 2 to 3 times to increase the thickness. Lay the plastic bags on top of the jar openings, then close the lids. Shut tight. The plastic bags serve as a gasket. They effectively seal off any cracks between the lid and the jar. Use a pair of scissors to trim off the excess plastics hanging over the edge. The dry ingredients can be kept much longer without degrading inside air-tight jars.
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#22 SuzySushi

SuzySushi
  • participating member
  • 2,400 posts
  • Location:Hawaii

Posted 04 November 2005 - 02:08 PM

When straining mushroom-soaking liquid, place a paper coffee filter in a wire strainer to remove the grit.
SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."
My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

#23 Chris Amirault

Chris Amirault
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 19,626 posts
  • Location:Rhode Island

Posted 04 November 2005 - 02:23 PM

Great thread! A few thoughts:

When doing your mise en place prep, do the scallions last. If you cut them and let them sit around for a while, they can exude that sticky substance.

There is nothing that replaces wok hei. Establishing a good relationship to a wok is easier than you think, and just requires a quick brushing with water and swipe with oil for maintenance.

Hunting down fresh ingredients to replace stuff you get canned (bamboo shoots, say, or -- especially -- water chestnuts) is really, really, really worth it.

There are very few things that a dash of good chicken stock, schmaltz, or shaoxing don't improve.

Peanut oil is worth keeping on hand at all times.
Chris Amirault
camirault@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics Signatory
Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

#24 fud

fud
  • participating member
  • 791 posts
  • Location:Vancouver

Posted 09 November 2005 - 06:35 PM

This might be obvious, if so ignore me!

When steaming fish, once it is done make sure to heat up the oil you used to cook the garlic/ginger in your wok to almost smoking and then pour it over top the fish. This gives a satisfying sizzle and makes the meat tender and infuses some of the flavours already present in the oil. Of course it also adds a bit of that shine.
"There are two things every chef needs in the kitchen: fish sauce and duck fat" - Tony Minichiello

#25 Shalmanese

Shalmanese
  • participating member
  • 3,454 posts
  • Location:San Francisco

Posted 09 November 2005 - 08:17 PM

She said that for guotie (pot sticklers) dough, you have to mix the flour (just plain non-self raising flour) with boiling water and for jiaozi (boiled ones) dough you mix the flour with cold water.

I have heard that, too. Also, for jiaozi, your make the wrapper thicker in the middle and thinner on the edges. My wife uses a special tapered jiaozi rolling pin for this. Otherwise the "top" of the jiaozi, which is formed by pressing together two edges, would be thicker than the base, and the wrapper wouldn't cook uniformly throughout in the boiling water. This is not an issue with guotie, since the base is cooked differently from the top.

View Post


The way our family does it, you get the rolling pin and roll about 1/3rd the way into the centre then roll out. Rotate the dough 30 degrees and repeat. If you do it right, your left with the outsides thinner than the middle.
PS: I am a guy.

#26 Fengyi

Fengyi
  • participating member
  • 291 posts
  • Location:Beijing

Posted 11 November 2005 - 05:06 AM

The way our family does it, you get the rolling pin and roll about 1/3rd the way into the centre then roll out. Rotate the dough 30 degrees and repeat. If you do it right, your left with the outsides thinner than the middle.

View Post


Exactly the same with our family - my mother would inspect my rolling with eagle eyes to make sure I didn't roll the rolling pin (aka broom handle!) in too far.
Woe betide the person who rolled over the centre bit!

One thing I've learned is that it's very useful to make hainan jifan (chicken-rice) 海南雞飯 for dinner the day before doing a big Chinese dinner party.
You get great leftover chicken for making 'liangfenr', bangbang chicken or anyother cold dish to start ...and the chicken stock left from poaching is always terrific to use.
Also, any leftover dipping sauces can be put out for the dinner party (If, unlike me, you don't demolish them....)
<a href='http://www.longfengwines.com' target='_blank'>Wine Tasting in the Big Beige of Beijing</a>

#27 CtznCane

CtznCane
  • participating member
  • 434 posts
  • Location:far Western Kentucky

Posted 16 November 2005 - 02:46 PM

Black bean sauce:  smash the garlic and fermented black beans before cooking.

Stir-frying with black bean sauce is a very common dish.  Be it beef, chicken, shrimp with black bean sauce, the recipe typically calls for using garlic and fermented black beans.  I often see people cook the garlic and black beans separately on this dish.

Here is a tip for you:  black beans do not release their "soy" taste when you cook them whole.  When you are doing your preparation work, mince the garlic (or just use the side of a cleaver to whack them flat), rinse the fermented black beans, drain, then use a big table spoon to smash the black beans, then mix them with the minced garlic in a bowl to form a paste.  This technique is similar to South-Asian cooking where they grind the ginger and other spices to form a paste before cooking.

When you are ready to cook the dish, heat up the wok/pan and add in cooking oil.  Cook the garlic/black-bean paste first until fragrant, about 10 seconds, then add a few slices of chili pepper (or jalapeno), a bit of salt, a dash of vinegar/cooking wine, then add 1 diced onion to sautee for a minute, then add sliced green or red bell peppers.  Sautee for a few more minutes.  Add chicken broth or water.  Bring it to a boil.  Add the par-cooked (velveted) meat.  Add sugar (if you like) and corn starch slurry to thicken the sauce.  To enhance the "soy" flavor, I often add some light or dark soy sauce as well.

View Post


Thanks. Don't know if I used the right combo but last night I took some salted black beans, rinsed them, then mashed them in a mortar and pestle along with garlic and used them as you suggested in a chicken/celery/onion stir fry dish. It came out very good, though a little hot since I had a heavy hand with the sriracha sauce. Overall vey good as well.

As another mentioned here, the hot wok cold oil makes it so foods don't stick. I didn't know this until a recent class I took with Grace Young.

I've always looked in the cooking forum for Chinese food ideas till someone told me to look here. I just wanted to say I think this is a really great thread and I know I"m going to be checking out other threads in this forum.
Charles a food and wine addict - "Just as magic can be black or white, so can addictions be good, bad or neither. As long as a habit enslaves it makes the grade, it need not be sinful as well." - Victor Mollo

#28 BCinBC

BCinBC
  • participating member
  • 833 posts
  • Location:Vancouver, BC

Posted 18 November 2005 - 12:20 PM

Thanks hzrt8w, another "great thread" vote.

Peeling ginger
Another easy way to peel ginger is by scraping it with a spoon. (Although I must admit to cutting off the skin with a knife myself usually, as I cannot be bothered to grab a spoon out of the drawer.)

Salting oil to prevent splattering
Dejah - or Dejah's Mom - I have heard this "tip" before, but cannot figure out what the basis for this is scientifically. Admittedly I have never tried it, but can anyone confirm 1. if this is true, and 2. why?

Here's a question that I'm sure someone here can answer:

Does anyone have a good method for removing steamed plates / bowls without one of those three-pronged grabbing contraptions that my parents used to have but I have not personally seen for about 12 years? Especially if there is little room between the bowl and the pot. I inevitably spill some liquid contents when trying to remove manually. TIA.

#29 I_call_the_duck

I_call_the_duck
  • participating member
  • 1,243 posts
  • Location:Philadelphia via New York

Posted 18 November 2005 - 01:03 PM

Peeling ginger
Another easy way to peel ginger is by scraping it with a spoon. (Although I must admit to cutting off the skin with a knife myself usually, as I cannot be bothered to grab a spoon out of the drawer.)

View Post

I’m the same way. I’ll get a vegetable peeler, but I won’t reach right in my drawer, which is actually closer, and get a spoon!

Salting oil to prevent splattering
Dejah - or Dejah's Mom - I have heard this "tip" before, but cannot figure out what the basis for this is scientifically. Admittedly I have never tried it, but can anyone confirm 1. if this is true, and 2. why?

View Post

My parents do the same thing. I don’t know the scientific reason, but it’s the same reaction as if you add salt to boiling water. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

Here's a question that I'm sure someone here can answer:

Does anyone have a good method for removing steamed plates / bowls without one of those three-pronged grabbing contraptions that my parents used to have but I have not personally seen for about 12 years? Especially if there is little room between the bowl and the pot. I inevitably spill some liquid contents when trying to remove manually. TIA.

View Post

I actually saw one of those at my local Asian grocery store and was tempted to buy one. It looks like that grabby thing in the game that you see in arcades, where you get a toy if you’re lucky? But that contraption looked kind of flimsy. I have mental images of it breaking midway and steaming hot liquid splashing over me and my countertops. Maybe turkey lifters will work.

I use my metal spatula and carefully ease it under the dish. If I’m really careful, it’ll lift out enough so I can grab it.

Edited to add: BTW, great thread!

Edited by I_call_the_duck, 18 November 2005 - 01:33 PM.

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

#30 hzrt8w

hzrt8w
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 3,855 posts
  • Location:Sacramento, CA

Posted 18 November 2005 - 01:15 PM

Salting oil to prevent splattering
Dejah - or Dejah's Mom - I have heard this "tip" before, but cannot figure out what the basis for this is scientifically. Admittedly I have never tried it, but can anyone confirm 1. if this is true, and 2. why?

View Post

(1) It is true.
(2) The explanation is very simple: salt increases the boiling temperature of water.

If you see that 3-leg gadget to pick steaming dish out of the rice cooker or steamer, BUY IT! It's worth the money. No other method can come close to its effectiveness and simple design.

I use a pair of wire tongs at home - just grib on to the side of the steaming dish real tight and gingerly take the dish out, and hold another big flat plate with the other hand... immediately slide the big flat plate under the steaming dish to carry it as soon as it clears the top of the steamer.
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Chinese