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Tips on Chinese cooking techniques

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#31 BCinBC

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Posted 18 November 2005 - 01:20 PM

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.

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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.

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ICTD - yes it looks like the grapple thing in arcades, and I can't believe you didn't buy it! My parents had one made of cheap aluminum or stainless steel, fixed into ugly pink plastic (the "fulcrum" point), but the thing worked great and was in the kitchen from at least the day I was born (I'm sure) to the day I left home. The key is to be able to lift the dish high enough so that you can actually get a handle on it, or better yet lift it out and set it on top of the stove/counter. This might actually be a "must have" gadget.

hzrt8w - thanks for the tong/plate-at-the-ready tip. If I cannot find the other thing, I will try this method.

ETA: I still can't wrap my head around the salted oil thing - yes the salt will increase the boiling point of the water, but only from 100C to 104C or something like that. Certainly not up to 400C or whatever your oil gets to. Am I just not getting it? Regardless, the concensus is that it works so I will try it at home. Cheers!

Edited by BCinBC, 18 November 2005 - 01:24 PM.


#32 hzrt8w

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Posted 18 November 2005 - 01:31 PM

[...] My parents had one made of cheap aluminum or stainless steel, fixed into ugly pink plastic (the "fulcrum" point), but the thing worked great and was in the kitchen from at least the day I was born (I'm sure) to the day I left home.

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Yeah, my father's 3-leg dish lifter must have last over 10 years at least. Simple, ugly, but does the job. :laugh:

My father only owned one cleaver for all of his life. He used it for any kind of cutting/chopping. I look at my brother-in-law. He owns a set of many different knives held on a nice wooden block. Whenever he cuts something different, he needs pick a different knief. Aiya! :laugh:

Nowadays I see shops like Sur La Table carry so many kitchen gadgets... most of which are designed for one single purpose! ($$$ for the manufacturers, and the kitchen furniture builders) We Chinese do with the minimal. (e.g. do we really need an "egg beater" when we can use our chopsticks? Persuade my aunt! )
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#33 SuzySushi

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Posted 18 November 2005 - 09:41 PM

I have one of those three-pronged plate lifters, which I must've bought 20+ years ago. I never realized it's so hard to find, although I must say I don't remember seeing any of them in stores recently!

It doesn't work on everything... if the plate/dish doesn't have a lip, the edge slips right through.

In such cases, or for those who can't find the plate lifter, you can improvise by making a criss-cross of folded foil handles under the dish before you place it in the steamer. Make sure the foil has been folded enough times so it won't break through as you're transferring the hot dish.
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#34 Dejah

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Posted 18 November 2005 - 10:13 PM

Plates lifters are still being sold here in Manitoba, but I never bother with them.
I guess old skin is tougher. :wink:
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#35 Ben Hong

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Posted 19 November 2005 - 07:30 AM

en
Plates lifters are still being sold here in Manitoba, but I never bother with them.
I guess old skin is tougher. :wink:

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Ditto.

For those with tender fingers, you too can achieve great feats of daring-do like those old cooks who grew up in a commercial kitchen (Dejah, me). Please, try this at home. Dip your fingers/hand in very cold water just before you lift the plate out of the pot. If you do it quickly, no one gets burned. Soon you'll get to be like all us "grown-ups" who have asbestos hands , skipping the cold water process. :raz: :biggrin:

#36 Ben Hong

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Posted 19 November 2005 - 07:51 AM

I look at my brother-in-law.  He owns a set of many different knives held on a nice wooden block.  Whenever he cuts something different, he needs pick a different knief.  Aiya!  :laugh:

Nowadays I see shops like Sur La Table carry so many kitchen gadgets... most of which are designed for one single purpose!  ($$$ for the manufacturers, and the kitchen furniture builders)  We Chinese do with the minimal.  (e.g. do we really need an "egg beater" when we can use our chopsticks?  Persuade my aunt! )

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I think a lot of aspiring cooks should clean out their kitchen drawers and jettison a lot of the toys therein, and really start to learn techniques. Like you said Ah Leung, is there really a need for egg beaters, garlic presses, 5 different tongs, mandolines, 20 different knives, etc., ad nauseam? A pair of chopsticks, a sharp medium Chinese cleaver (or a heavy 8" chef's knife) will meet 95% of my needs. I absolutely hate wasting time looking for, setting up,and washing the "toys".

Garlic press indeed :raz: :raz:

#37 Dejah

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Posted 20 November 2005 - 09:19 AM

I look at my brother-in-law.  He owns a set of many different knives held on a nice wooden block.  Whenever he cuts something different, he needs pick a different knief.  Aiya!  :laugh:

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I think a lot of aspiring cooks should clean out their kitchen drawers and jettison a lot of the toys therein, and really start to learn techniques. Like you said Ah Leung, is there really a need for egg beaters, garlic presses, 5 different tongs, mandolines, 20 different knives, etc., ad nauseam? A pair of chopsticks, a sharp medium Chinese cleaver (or a heavy 8" chef's knife) will meet 95% of my needs. I absolutely hate wasting time looking for, setting up,and washing the "toys".
Garlic press indeed :raz: :raz:

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Well! I, for one, love kitchen gadgets.hrumph! :angry: :laugh: :laugh:
I may only use them once in a blue moon - or is it on a full moon?, but I love getting them as gifts. My drawers are getting full, so I try to keep all these "useless gadgets" in one place. They are fun to use when China and I are trying new recipes.
My knives are in a wood block, and I like different knives for different purposes. It really depends on my mood (so full moon may well explain my eccentricity!)

On the topic of knife blocks, has anyone ever found a block that has an opening for a real Chinese cleaver? I am tempted to "saw" one in my block myself.
Dejah
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#38 jo-mel

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Posted 20 November 2005 - 07:10 PM

Before I bought my plate lifters, I used something similar to SuziSushi. But rather than foil, I used strips of cloth. You just have to use wide enough to support the dish.

Dejah - My most used cleavers rest in the space between my stove and my counter. That space is about 1/2 inch wide, and they fit in just right there. I put them as far back as possible so that the burner can be used.

#39 jo-mel

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Posted 20 November 2005 - 07:25 PM

Aside from the 3-prong plate lifter, I have one like this. It is good on an oval platter.

http://www.orientalp...item_no=4900605

You still have to lift carefully. I let a plate slip ONCE! Too bad there isn't something like those metal paper clips that latch firmly on whatever.

#40 Chris Amirault

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Posted 20 November 2005 - 07:33 PM

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?

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Yet another, along the lines of the cloth strips: tie two longish (2' each) strands of kitchen twine together at the middle, and place the plate on top of the knot, so that the strands are at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o'clock. Tie the ends together, and you can use that knot to raise and lower the plate.
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#41 I_call_the_duck

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Posted 21 November 2005 - 08:01 AM

Dejah - My most used cleavers rest in the space between my stove and my counter. That space is about 1/2 inch wide, and they  fit in just right there.  I put them as far back as possible so that the burner can be used.

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My parents have that same set-up.

Dejah - I saw a knife block in a magazine that was basically a rectangular box that was stuffed with bamboo skewers. This allowed knives of various sizes and shapes to fit in. Do you have wall space? You can also use one of those strip magnets like this one.

Edited by I_call_the_duck, 21 November 2005 - 08:02 AM.

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#42 BCinBC

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Posted 21 November 2005 - 02:14 PM

Thanks for all the tips on plate lifting - a very clever group indeed. I am going to really look for one of those 3-pronged things though, probably while I do my Xmas shopping (which doubles as a time to do my own frivolous shopping). Ben, I am thinking of training myself on the cold water technique, but with empty bowls so as not to spill anything important.

On the subject of truly useless gadgets, I once dated a girl who used one of those rubber cylinders that you stick garlic cloves in, roll them around, and then peel off the skin. Seriously, how hard is it to smash garlic??

I will say that you can never have enough tongs lying around, because they seem most difficult to locate when you need them most. But I can't think of an instance where I use them for Chinese cooking...

#43 Dejah

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Posted 21 November 2005 - 03:48 PM

Dejah - My most used cleavers rest in the space between my stove and my counter. .

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My parents have that same set-up.
Dejah - I saw a knife block in a magazine that was basically a rectangular box that was stuffed with bamboo skewers. This allowed knives of various sizes and shapes to fit in. Do you have wall space? You can also use one of those strip magnets like this one.

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My stove is on an island so jo-mel's suggestion is out. The walls in my kitchen are either covered by cupboards or tiles. I do have a magnetic strip, but have no convenient place to mount it.

Right now, I have my most used knives in the block on the window ledge above my work space. The cleaver sits inside of my utentials drawer on my cooking island. I just have to turn 180 degrees from my prep. area to my stove.

I would just like to have another block...as I said, I love gadgets! :laugh: :laugh:
Dejah
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#44 wesza

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Posted 21 November 2005 - 04:15 PM

Dejah - My most used cleavers rest in the space between my stove and my counter. .

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My parents have that same set-up.
Dejah - I saw a knife block in a magazine that was basically a rectangular box that was stuffed with bamboo skewers. This allowed knives of various sizes and shapes to fit in. Do you have wall space? You can also use one of those strip magnets like this one.

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My stove is on an island so jo-mel's suggestion is out. The walls in my kitchen are either covered by cupboards or tiles. I do have a magnetic strip, but have no convenient place to mount it.

Right now, I have my most used knives in the block on the window ledge above my work space. The cleaver sits inside of my utentials drawer on my cooking island. I just have to turn 180 degrees from my prep. area to my stove.

I would just like to have another block...as I said, I love gadgets! :laugh: :laugh:

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Sue-On:

Try what I have done, simply add a magnetic strip using super glue to the side of your block. They come in various sizes and shapes, any one will hold a "chopper".

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#45 Dejah

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Posted 21 November 2005 - 04:54 PM

Sue-On:
Try what I have done, simply add a magnetic strip using super glue to the side of your block. They come in various sizes and shapes, any one will hold a "chopper".
Irwin

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Now THAT'S what I call a good tip! Thanks, Irwin. I think that's what I will do.
But, now, I have to stop in my quest for that "other gadget"... :sad: :laugh:
Dejah
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#46 lperry

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Posted 21 November 2005 - 07:03 PM

Can I request a tip? How do Chinese restaurants fry their bean curd to get that great texture? I've never been able to do it at home.

Thanks-

Linda

#47 Chris Amirault

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Posted 21 November 2005 - 07:06 PM

Describe the texture you seek! If you deep fry tofu in very hot oil (375F+) briefly, you can get a crispy exterior with a creamy interior. (You can also splatter oil hither and yon.) If you want to dry it out more to give it that meaty texture, then lower the heat (325F or so) and fry until it doesn't hiss and pop -- meaning little moisture is left on the inside.
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#48 lperry

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Posted 21 November 2005 - 07:11 PM

I like the crispy/chewy combination, but there always seems to be a firmer texture to the tofu in restaurants than I can get at home. Is it something other than the fresh stuff?

-Linda

#49 SuzySushi

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Posted 21 November 2005 - 07:43 PM

I like the crispy/chewy combination, but there always seems to be a firmer texture to the tofu in restaurants than I can get at home.  Is it something other than the fresh stuff?

-Linda

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Try pressing the tofu before you use it. Place it on a rimmed plate lined with paper towels. Place a flat-bottomed plate or small cutting board on top and weight down with canned goods or a pot/bottle filled with water. Let stand about 20-30 minutes. You'll be amazed how much liquid comes out of the tofu and how much firmer it is!
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#50 Ben Hong

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Posted 21 November 2005 - 08:09 PM

Or start with firm dou fu.

#51 hhlodesign

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Posted 21 November 2005 - 10:18 PM

A hot wok is the key to good stir fry. Normal home ranges only put out up to 16,00 BTUs. Get yourself a propane tank and fire element from the hardware store. This can put out up to 30,000 BTU's close to what good Chinese restaurants use. Oh, and I'd recommend using this outside.

#52 zaskar

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 06:17 PM

Velveting/Hot Oil Blanching

Not sure if anyone mentioned this but it's the method of cooking meat and seafood also in hot oil about 240F until it's almost cooked. It's suppose to give it a luxurous look

I've only seen this mentioned in a Chinese Cookbook I picked up for 50 cents at a public library sale, the book is from the 70s or very early 80s. I forget who it was by.

It is also mentioned in the Wein-Chaun cookbooks.

-z

#53 I_call_the_duck

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Posted 08 December 2005 - 09:23 AM

Going back to the plate-lifters, I just bought something very similar to this Joyce Chen plate lifter. I chose it over the three-pronged model because it seemed sturdier and would seem to work with both oblong and round plates. (I was in the store lifting different things, testing their weight and balance. I haven't tried it yet with steaming hot food, but hey, it was only $1.50, so I figured what the heck.
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#54 jokhm

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 09:36 PM

Sequim mentioned a dislike for the black bean sauce purchased..
Can I add.. please please try this one!!
It is called Lao Gan Ma's Feng wei dou chi... or 老干马风味豆豉。
It is a bit spicy, but not much and from Guizhou. I use it nearly everywhere...and it is definitely the best one I've ever tried. It is VERY different from the Lee Kum Kee stuff that crowds the aisles.

Edited by jokhm, 21 December 2005 - 09:39 PM.


#55 mizducky

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 10:00 PM

Velveting/Hot Oil Blanching

Not sure if anyone mentioned this but it's the method of cooking meat and seafood also in hot oil about 240F until it's almost cooked.  It's suppose to give it a luxurous look

I've only seen this mentioned in a Chinese Cookbook I picked up for 50 cents at a public library sale, the book is from the 70s or very early 80s.  I forget who it was by.

It is also mentioned in the Wein-Chaun cookbooks.

-z

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Sort of off on a tangent: does anyone know why this technique is called "velveting"? Is it called "velveting" in any of the Chinese dialects, or does the word or words for this translate literally as something else? Just curious, as the texture it gives to meat doesn't necessarily make me think of velvet (the fabric).

#56 Dejah

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 10:51 PM

Velveting/Hot Oil Blanching

Not sure if anyone mentioned this but it's the method of cooking meat and seafood also in hot oil about 240F until it's almost cooked.  It's suppose to give it a luxurous look
-z

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Sort of off on a tangent: does anyone know why this technique is called "velveting"? Is it called "velveting" in any of the Chinese dialects, or does the word or words for this translate literally as something else? Just curious, as the texture it gives to meat doesn't necessarily make me think of velvet (the fabric).

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Velveting required marinating with oil, seasonings and cornstarch first before cooking the meat. This process gives the texture known as " wat in Cantonese, wot in Toisanese". These terms translate to smooth, silky. The surface of the meat, I suppose, reminds one of the texture of the surface of velvet. It's a mouth-feel. "wat or wot" does not translate to the English word velvet.
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#57 mizducky

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Posted 22 December 2005 - 12:27 AM

Velveting/Hot Oil Blanching

Not sure if anyone mentioned this but it's the method of cooking meat and seafood also in hot oil about 240F until it's almost cooked.  It's suppose to give it a luxurous look
-z

View Post

Sort of off on a tangent: does anyone know why this technique is called "velveting"? Is it called "velveting" in any of the Chinese dialects, or does the word or words for this translate literally as something else? Just curious, as the texture it gives to meat doesn't necessarily make me think of velvet (the fabric).

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Velveting required marinating with oil, seasonings and cornstarch first before cooking the meat. This process gives the texture known as " wat in Cantonese, wot in Toisanese". These terms translate to smooth, silky. The surface of the meat, I suppose, reminds one of the texture of the surface of velvet. It's a mouth-feel. "wat or wot" does not translate to the English word velvet.

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Aha. Now "silky" as a descriptor does make sense to me. Thanks!

#58 jo-mel

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Posted 22 December 2005 - 09:04 PM

One cookbook author called the technique 'oil poaching' rather than velveting. Same technique, tho.

The oil is actually not that hot and the technique is described as passing thru warm oil. I mean, if you put your finger in the oil, it will be HOT, but not hot enough to really fry the meat. It simply seals the outside and lets the inside warm up. The meat inside is still raw, but finishes cooking at a later stage.

Definite difference in texture between 'velveted' snd 'non-velveted'.

#59 hzrt8w

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 02:37 PM

Put a little beans in your soup

I learned from my MIL, who makes really good Chinese tonic soups. Her secret: put some beans in the soup. Typically red beans, but it could be black-eye peas, black beans, etc..

e.g. Lotus root soup with pork - red beans
winter melon soup with chicken/pork - black-eye peas

Don't need too much, just 1/4 to 1/3 cup would do. Soak the beans for a couple of hours before cooking to achive the best result.
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#60 Dejah

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 02:41 PM

Put a little beans in your soup

I learned from my MIL, who makes really good Chinese tonic soups.  Her secret:  put some beans in the soup.  Typically red beans, but it could be black-eye peas, black beans, etc..

e.g.  Lotus root soup with pork - red beans
winter melon soup with chicken/pork - black-eye peas

Don't need too much, just 1/4 to 1/3 cup would do.  Soak the beans for a couple of hours before cooking to achive the best result.

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Why?
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