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Tips on Chinese cooking techniques

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#61 hzrt8w

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 03:43 PM

Why?

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Because it makes the soup taste good.
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#62 Ohba

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 09:21 PM

In answer to Dejah's(?) question, you can get knife blocks that are made to take cleavers. Mine does: I got it in a local place in Hong Kong for around HK$100 (about 12 US). A couple of things I liked about it were that it's upright, not angled (knives are stored pointing straight down), it's reasonably solid, one end has a receptacle for other utensils like chopsticks or stirrers, and it has a cleaver space - the main reason I bought it, in fact.

I couldn't tell you who the maker is, or how to get hold of one, though.

#63 fellowpeon

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 03:50 AM

Hi, all. I'm new to this site and forum but am delighted by the find. This Chinese food forum is a treasure.

For some time now, I've been trying my hand at imitating the clams in black bean sauce dish at a San Francisco restaurant called Yuet Lee (they used to do the dish so well, it was like seafood-crack), and will usually soak the black beans in shaoxing wine while prepping everything else. But from what people are posting here it sounds like the black beans should maybe be fried a little along with the garlic before the liquid elements get introduced. Will be sure to try the pre-frying method next time.

Also, I don't know if this is an obvious one: store ginger in the fridge wrapped in aluminum foil. Plastic wrap for some reason makes it mushy.

For stir frying, I try to make sure the ingredients are as dry as possible, either patted down with a paper towel or given a whirl in the salad spinner.

For seafood in wet sauces (like clams or scallops), my usual procedure is oil + dry sauce ingredients, then wet sauce ingredients, then seafood, finish cooking, then remove seafood, thicken sauce and pour over seafood before serving immediately. This is just to take pains to insure that the clams or scallops don't overcook.

#64 Dejah

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 06:51 AM

For seafood in wet sauces (like clams or scallops), my usual procedure is oil + dry sauce ingredients, then wet sauce ingredients, then seafood, finish cooking, then remove seafood, thicken sauce and pour over seafood before serving immediately.  This is just to take pains to insure that the clams or scallops don't overcook.

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For scallops, I like to sear them in oil with aromatics until they are about half way done. Remove the scallops, add the wet sauce ingredients, bring to a boil, return the scallops, add the cornstarch heavy slurry, and toss gently to thicken. The scallops would finish cooking quickly without fear of becoming a tough hockey puck.

For clams in the shell, I like to toss them in with the aromatics, stir fry them together, then add the wet sauce ingredients. I love the sound of the shells clattering against the wok! The lid would go on then to steam the clams open. Thicken with slurry and serve.

When I make the cornstarch slurry, I use stock rather than water. There is more cornstarch than the usual ratio(can't remember what Ah Leung uses), so the thickening process is very quick.
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#65 hzrt8w

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 08:21 AM

Also, I don't know if this is an obvious one: store ginger in the fridge wrapped in aluminum foil.  Plastic wrap for some reason makes it mushy.

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fellowpeon: Welcome to eGullet!

I don't store ginger in the fridge. I found that, as with most things, storing ginger in the fridge will introduce water moisture on the ginger which causes it to sprout or go mushy as you said. I found that doing what the stores do is more effective: leave the ginger in a plastic wire mesh bag and leave it in the open (best where the air circulates a bit). The skin may go a little bit dry but it lasts for weeks.

As far taking scallops/seafood out of the wok, thicken the sauce, then pour on top... that seems more like western cooking technique. (I do use the technique in braised dishes but not stir-fried dishes.) In Chinese cooking, we typically thicken the sauce first before you return the scallop/seafood. Once the scallop/seafood is coated evenly with the sauce, we can transfer the ingredients to the serving dish. Timing is crucial. In order not to overcook the seafood, it should be removed when it just turns cooked (or slightly undercooked) to compensate... just as Chef Dejah said.
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#66 fellowpeon

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 12:10 PM

Also, I don't know if this is an obvious one: store ginger in the fridge wrapped in aluminum foil.  Plastic wrap for some reason makes it mushy.

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fellowpeon: Welcome to eGullet!

I don't store ginger in the fridge. I found that, as with most things, storing ginger in the fridge will introduce water moisture on the ginger which causes it to sprout or go mushy as you said. I found that doing what the stores do is more effective: leave the ginger in a plastic wire mesh bag and leave it in the open (best where the air circulates a bit). The skin may go a little bit dry but it lasts for weeks.

As far taking scallops/seafood out of the wok, thicken the sauce, then pour on top... that seems more like western cooking technique. (I do use the technique in braised dishes but not stir-fried dishes.) In Chinese cooking, we typically thicken the sauce first before you return the scallop/seafood. Once the scallop/seafood is coated evenly with the sauce, we can transfer the ingredients to the serving dish. Timing is crucial. In order not to overcook the seafood, it should be removed when it just turns cooked (or slightly undercooked) to compensate... just as Chef Dejah said.

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Thanks for the welcome, Ah Leung. I've been really enjoying your pictorial walk-throughs, by the way. Am looking forward to trying my hand at bitter melon.

If I can remember, I'll try storing ginger both ways the next time I buy some and report back later.

#67 jo-mel

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 05:41 PM

Not being near a Chinatown when I first started cooking Chinese -- (in the 50s) When I was able to get a piece, I peeled it, sliced it, and stored it in a jar with sherry -- in the refrig. It lasted forever. When it first started appearing in the stores I found about the mush when I just put the root in a drawer in the refrig, but soon found that storing it in paper and plastic helped hold it longer. I read that technique somewhere. The paper absorbed the moisture and the plastic kept it from drying out. But for years now, I just put the roots in my onion/potato drawer in the cabinets. As Xiao Lueng says, they will shrivel up after a while, but now that it is available everywhere, I just get a fresh ones.

And --- there is always planting it. Tried that, too. Interesting plant!

Edited by jo-mel, 21 June 2006 - 09:10 AM.


#68 herbacidal

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Posted 20 June 2006 - 07:15 PM

Also, I don't know if this is an obvious one: store ginger in the fridge wrapped in aluminum foil.  Plastic wrap for some reason makes it mushy.

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We store ginger in sealed clear plastic pint containers soup comes in from takeout Chinese.
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#69 sheetz

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Posted 25 December 2006 - 09:48 AM

Just the other day I was watching a cooking show from Hong Kong off livestream and the host made scrambled eggs with shrimp. One of her tips was to make sure to beat as little air into the eggs as possible. To accomplish this she separated the eggs first and then beat the yolks separately before gently stirring them into the whites. Also, instead of salt she used light soy sauce because it blends in easier.

Anyone else ever watch this show? It's in Cantonese w/ Chinese subtitles and is on Friday night 9pm-10pm Pacific time in the US, so I guess that would be midday Saturday in Hong Kong. This was the first time I had ever watched the program, but my impression is that while the host is extremely chatty and can go off topic a lot (she only made 3 dishes in the whole 60 minutes) she does give some cooking tips that I had never heard anywhere else. Also, one of the reasons the program is 60 minutes is that none of the prep work is done ahead of time. For example , another dish she made was steamed pork cake and they showed the entire process of very finely mincing the meat with a single cleaver from start to finish, a process that took about 15 minutes.

#70 hzrt8w

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Posted 25 December 2006 - 12:54 PM

Anyone else ever watch this show? It's in Cantonese w/ Chinese subtitles and is on Friday night 9pm-10pm Pacific time in the US, so I guess that would be midday Saturday in Hong Kong.

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I have not watched the particular program that you mentioned. But when I was dining at JJ Cafe in Monterey Park one night about 2 weeks ago, the Jade channel (I think it was Jade) was showing a program that looked very much like "Iron Chef". Maybe they had franchised it. Or maybe they just had copied the format. 2 ladies were competing to make 3 dishes out of some feature ingredients. All in Cantonese.

Edited by hzrt8w, 26 December 2006 - 02:39 AM.

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#71 CFT

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 09:58 AM

I have not watched the particular program that you mentioned.  But when I was dining at JJ Cafe in Monterey Park one night about 2 weeks ago, the Jade channel (I think it was Jade) was showing a program that looked very much like "Iron Chef".  Maybe they had franchised it.  Or maybe they just had copied the format.  2 ladies were competing to make 3 dishes out of some feature ingredients.  All in Cantonese.

Ah Leung, I think it might be "Beautiful Cooking" from the TVB channel. Here is a clip from youtube:
Best Wishes,
Chee Fai.

#72 hzrt8w

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Posted 02 January 2007 - 11:28 AM

Ah Leung, I think it might be "Beautiful Cooking" from the TVB channel. Here is a clip from youtube:

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Yeah, Chee Fai. That's exactly what I saw the other night. I recognize the crazy "I don't need to comb my hair" hair style on one of the hosts. Thank you.
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#73 Gastro888

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 12:06 PM

Ok, I've some questions for y'all:

1) Can I do anything with the dong goo stems after I've reconstituted them in water? I hate wasting them.

2) How long does naow mai fan keep for in the fridge after it's been cooked?

Oh and a hint from my mama - she keeps all her dried goodies in fridge instead of the pantry for freshness. We've a mini-fridge for this purpose!

#74 hzrt8w

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 03:24 PM

1) Can I do anything with the dong goo stems after I've reconstituted them in water?  I hate wasting them.

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Back in the old days, people use the dried mushroom stems for making soups. They do carry some mushroom fragrance. These days, as the price of good dried Japanese Shittake mushrooms have come down so much, I don't bother with that any more.

2) How long does naow mai fan keep for in the fridge after it's been cooked?

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That depends. The sticky rice itself, even after fully cooked, can be kept for a long time in the fridge. But it's the "meat" that would go bad first. If "meatless", can be for one to two weeks. If "meat-ful", I don't trust it any more than a few days. Unless you put it in the freezer. If the rice is cooked with Laap Cheung (preserved meat), then it could be longer. The rice tends to dry up over time, though.
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#75 Dejah

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 05:05 PM

I would agree with Ah Leung on the mushroom stems. You could throw them into soup, but I would hate to bite on one! Even with long time simmering, they remain tough. Considering the price of mushrooms now, I don't think you should worry about "wastefullness", but your elders would be proud of your thriftiness. :wink:

Nor Mai fan would never stay long in my fridge. But, when my sister brought out three dozen foil trays of nor mai fan from their favourite restaurant in Richmond, B.C., we did freeze them. They had a cardboard lid on top. When we wanted some, we'd let them thaw at room temp. then steamed them before eating. They were fine even after a month.
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#76 Gastro888

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 06:52 AM

M'goy sai Ah Leung goh and Dejah jei! I am getting around to the dong goo tonight. Are they still good if they've been soaking for about, uh, 36 hours? I meant to cook them last night but there was a last minute change of plans.

Good to know about nor mai fan. Honestly, I'm not that crazy about it. I prefer yau fan instead. Or joong!!! :laugh:

SB: My father salts his oil prior to stir-frying as well. He swears by it.

PS: Toisan=thrifty. hee hee :cool:

Edited by Gastro888, 04 January 2007 - 06:53 AM.


#77 Dejah

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 09:41 AM

I am getting around to the dong goo tonight.  Are they still good if they've been soaking for about, uh, 36 hours? 

SB: My father salts his oil prior to stir-frying as well.  He swears by it.

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Shouldn't be any problems using the dong goo if they've been soaking in the fridge, but they may not be as flavourful. If they haven't been refridgerated, check and see if they smell like dong goo, and that there's no slime on them. I've had some soaking in the fridge since the 27th and just used them for dong gwa tong on Monday, and hot 'n' sour soup yesterday.

As for salting the oil prior to stir-frying, this helps to better distribute the salt. It's the same as infusing the oil with aromatics, heat from chilis, etc. Po-Po also said it will prevent dangerous splatters if you drop some water into the hot oil. I'm not so sure about the second reason, but I'm not about to question her +85 years of cooking (she will celebrate her 98th bday this August). :biggrin:

Edited by Dejah, 04 January 2007 - 09:43 AM.

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#78 hzrt8w

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 09:43 AM

... Are they still good if they've been soaking for about, uh, 36 hours?  I meant to cook them last night but there was a last minute change of plans. 

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If you change the water, that's better. :rolleyes: If you have soaked some dried mushrooms but have a last minute change of plan, you can drain the water and keep the rest in a Tupperware ™ [yes I get kick back from them for mentioning] in the refrigerator.

PS: Toisan=thrifty.  hee hee  :cool:

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This is so true! Reminds me of my in-laws (Toisanese). They never throw away *anything*! That goes for food and non-food items! "Who knows? Just *someday* you may be able to use it!".
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#79 Ben Hong

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 09:47 AM

SB: My father salts his oil prior to stir-frying as well.  He swears by it.

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But doesn't every one do this?!?! :huh:

#80 XiaoLing

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 11:32 AM

My Grandmother told me this past weekend that if you salt the oil or/and fry a piece of ginger in the oil, it will make frying fish a lot easier (i.e. not stick to the wok.)

*Having serious language issues since being home for two weeks.

#81 Gastro888

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 06:55 AM

Actually not everyone I know who's Chinese salts their oil prior to stir-frying. I was just reinforcing what was previously said by the sage cooks in this forum. :laugh:

I used the doong goo last night in a cabbage braise and they were fine. No noticeable difference in taste or texture.

And yeah, Toisanese don't throw stuff away but my parents and I are getting better at being more, uh, minimalist. We're not as bad as some that I've seen. (shrudder)

#82 sheetz

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 08:54 PM

If the mushroom stems are tender enough I don't bother cutting them off.

I'd just love to see the reaction of my Toisanese mother if I ever suggested she throw away the mushroom stems. You'd think I was asking her to cut off her leg or something.

#83 iii_bake

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Posted 19 February 2007 - 07:17 AM

Hi guys... anyone has tips on making that burning smell for fried rice,noodles or vegetables?
I know that the wok has to be heated way beyond well and the flame should rise and it is best to hav the flame "cralwing" into the wok.
I can make that but the burning smell or flavour is not there?
Is it the oil, the wok or...?

:sad:

#84 Ben Hong

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Posted 19 February 2007 - 10:43 AM

That, Grasshopper, is what we call wok hei. It is that ephemeral quality that many cooks seek. Overdone it is called burnt. In the beginning there is extreme heat, then enough oil, then small portions with little moisture, proper sequences, then technique along with impecable timing.

What was your question??? :blink:

#85 iii_bake

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Posted 19 February 2007 - 08:41 PM

That, Grasshopper, is what we call wok hei. It is that ephemeral quality that many cooks seek.  Overdone it is called burnt. In the beginning there is extreme heat, then enough oil, then small portions with little moisture, proper sequences,  then technique along with impecable timing.

What was your question??? :blink:

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Thank you.
The Q actually is...do i need to have the flame on the food.
And, will any type of oil do? Or it has to be peanut oil?

#86 miladyinsanity

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Posted 19 February 2007 - 10:15 PM

That, Grasshopper, is what we call wok hei. It is that ephemeral quality that many cooks seek.  Overdone it is called burnt. In the beginning there is extreme heat, then enough oil, then small portions with little moisture, proper sequences,  then technique along with impecable timing.

What was your question??? :blink:

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Thank you.
The Q actually is...do i need to have the flame on the food.
And, will any type of oil do? Or it has to be peanut oil?

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The first answer is No! You're not setting fire to the food!

Any type of oil will do.

The most important thing here that most home kitchens lack enough BTUs to get wok hei.
May

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#87 Gastro888

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 08:33 AM

I think he might be asking if he needs to have the flames lapping at the edge of the wok, which you might see in the commerical kitchens of a Chinese restaurant. Yes, that might add a bit of wok hay but follow Ben Sook's advice. Unless you've got access to a commerical kitchen, it's best not to have flames lapping the edge of your frying pan or wok at home.

#88 miladyinsanity

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 08:46 AM

Oops.

My bad. Sorry iii_bake! Will read posts twice before posting next time.
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#89 iii_bake

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 08:52 AM

Oops.

My bad. Sorry iii_bake! Will read posts twice before posting next time.

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It is kind of everyone to pitch in with info.
Thank you.
When i was talking a bout the flame...if you have seen the flaming stir fried vegetable...the flame does go very high. Not just at the edge.

Further...can anyone say how high the heat should be?

My burner is a gas stove double the size of the notmal home kitchen one but not as powerful as the restaurant version.

#90 Gastro888

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 09:06 AM

That's from the intensity of the wok ranges in commerical kitchen. If you've got that plus experience, it's not a problem to have the wok cranked up. If you don't...well...

I would say lard is the first choice for oil and then second peanut. Yum, lard!





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