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Ben Hong

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Posts posted by Ben Hong

  1. From what i remember the marinade last time was roughly five parts hoisin, one of honey, some soy and minced garlic. Just make enough to coat all your meat!

    Make it a little sweeter if you want, but use shoulder pork with some fat. If your inlaws are Chinese, they would appreciate a cube or two of fuyu in the marinade. Adds some depth to the flavour.

  2. how about asking someone from Toisan what kinds of ingredients might appear in tsap sui


    sheetz: Hey Mom, since you're from Toisan, could you tell what you put in tsap sui?

    sheetz's mother: Don't be silly, you get whatever you have on hand, chop them up, and stir fry them together. Now get lost and stop bothering me!

    I am from Toisan and that would be the exact answer I would give, even though I am not your mother! :laugh::laugh:

    As for that contentious word "authenticity", if I cook a "Chinese" dish it it IS authentic. I am Chinese dontcha know? Don't be too hidebound and purist over authenticity, to slavishly seek out authenticity and follow explicit directions in a recipe will kill any creativity that you have. Take mapo tofu as an example. I have eaten many versions of the dish; some use minced pork, others use minced beef, some use black beans, others omit it, some use mashed tofu, others use cubed firm tofu, some add scallions, others coriander, etc ad nauseam. Of all the combinations and permutations that could be derived, which one is "authentic"? In my estimation they all are, as long as each dish is toothsome and flavourful. Being Chinese is being pragmatic. The food reflects that characteristic because the rootstock of Chinese cuisine, the house wife, will use whatever is at hand to approximate a dish. Just don't tell her that it is not authentic. :wink:

  3. Back before the dawn of ...when I was living "light" as a bachelor and didn't want to encumber myself with a whole lot of accouterments, I had a good 12" fry pan, a 1 qt. pot, a 3 qt. pot, a medium wt.cleaver and a whole lot of creativity. Some of my best cooking chops were learned then.

    Ps: a frypan on a cherry-red hot electric burner will do better than a wok over a domestic gas burner any old day. To control the heat, just move the frypan off and on the burner :hmmm::raz::blink:

  4. while viewing the video series Chopstick Bowl (Chinese Takeout), the cook frequently blanches/parboils both the meat and vegetables (separately) before stir-frying for common recipes which I have seen just stir-fry the meat and vegetables separately.

    is this a common practice? maybe for some areas of China or styles of Chinese cuisine?


    this seems to be a little faster than the usual food prep before starting to stir-fry. I might even try this technique when I have some prep time a while before I need to cook!

    I am still interested to know if this is a common practice or style of cooking.

    Again, there are no hard and fast rules. The methods you describe are used by second and third rate take out places for a less discerning clientele. Nothing wrong with it, it's just not common in household cooking or in finer restaurants. Hard veggies like broccoli and carrots, etc can be blanched but NEVER, NEVER meats and fish...nor tender leafy veggies. Meats and fish should get the benefit of carmelization in oil over high heat. Please refer to wok hei.

  5. [in addition to the release of liquid that Ben Hong pointed out, Harold McGee states that boiling and stirring can thin out starch-thickened sauces by shattering fragile starch granules into smaller particles. The thicker the sauce, the more dramatic the thinning effect. Similarly, acidity can thin a sauce by breaking starch molecules into smaller fragments.

    McGee rates corn starch as having “moderate” stability to prolonged cooking; arrowroot-thickened sauces are less prone to thinning out.

    Edited to clarify.

    thanks folks, would using more corn starch reduce the problem?

    Yes...and no. You really, really do not want a gloppy dish, a better solution is to use less liquid. If your dish is a stirfry, the amount of liquid in the wok should be barely discernable at the end, just at the moment of adding thickening. Look up wok hei in this forum if you really want to achieve that kind perfection in a dish.

    Unlike western style dishes where the gravy or sauce is poured onto the food, the Chinese style requires that the sauce be made as an integral part of the dish, and as such will suffer the dilution caused by leaching out of liquids from the solid ingredients. Perhaps that why Chinese dishes should be eaten soon after it leaves the wok (to enjoy the wok hei); and that's why in most restaurants catering to the Chinese, dishes come out sporadically, as they are done, instead of all at once.

  6. After adding the corn starch and water to a dish to make the sauce, while heating and stiring the sauce thickens as expected but, after about 3-5 minutes, it becomes non-thick (runny) again. Why does this happen and what can be done to prevent this from happening?

    The ingredients are still cooking even after you turn off the heat, cooking means leaching out moisture from your meats and veg., hence the dilution of the sauce. Can't be helped, happens to the best of us. :wink:

  7. I can't make a decent (Chinese) soup stock without pork neck bones. Depending on your meat seller, you can pick up neck bones with lots of lean meat on them. That's when you cook them up as a main dish.

  8. I've been looking for a Santoku knife for some time now.

    Might I recommend a Chinese cleaver instead?


    For the price of one of those Japanese pretty things, you can have 5-6 real good quality Chinese cleavers of different sizes for different uses.

  9. Back in the villages of Toysan, every house had an earthen hearth/wok stove and a 24" wok. The firebox was fed from the front and the fuel was dried brush that the women of the household cut from the surrounding hillsides. Sometimes to get good woody brush, the women would have to travel quite a distance and tote it back on shoulder poles. The brush was stacked in the style of old haystacks about 12 feet high, and depending on the size of the family there may be 3-4 of these stacks in back of the house. This practice still goes on, despite the advent of modern fuels. Days and days of work for the womenfolk.

    Dry cut brush is almost the ideal fuel for those conditions because it flares very hot and fast, and the cook controls the heat by controlling fuel supply...a handful of brush for more heat etc.

    I would assume that the people in the northern part of China would use coal, which is more abundant.

  10. Would raisins have been widely available, say 60 years ago? I remember my mom saying that my dad used to send containers of raisins back to Guongdong, China from Canada.

    Raisins were readily available in our region. I still remember that a handful of raisins was given to us after taking some gawdawful bitter medicine as a reward and to sweeten the mouth again. That was more that 60 years ago :hmmm::wink: . To this day every time I eat raisins, I have "flashbacks". :laugh:

  11. A good cook can adapt to any type of cooking utensil - wok, skillet, pot, frypan. Once upon a time, our restaurant's 4-wok system conked out at the height of rush hour but the cooks didn't even bat an eyelash. They used frypans and pots on the commercial range and one guy even produce excellent food on the flat griddle.

    Adaptability is a great word, no?

  12. I don't wish to go on a limb and say that 5 spice powder is used indiscriminately nor do I want to say that it is never used, but it is used. In my experience I can readily name several instances where the spice powder is used. My mother and all the ladies in our small corner of Toysaan made a glutinous rice, deep fried , half moon-shaped pastry with meat and chive filling flavoured with 5 spice; sometimes lazy restaurant cooks would freshen up and renew their loo sui with a spoonful of 5 spice powder; I have tasted and made for myself a green bean/ground meat dish using 5 spice as a flavouring agent. Of course if anyone is familiar with the Chinatown cooking of Toronto vs. Montreal the use of 5 spice is definitely evident in the Montreal version of crispy skin roast pork...at least you can get it up to 5 years ago. But alas, more and more restaurants are bowing to the more refined tastes of the newer immigrants :angry: Toysaanese are fast disappearing from the restaurant sector.

  13. Just a couple of decades ago we could not get Chinese noodles of any kind in places where I lived, and some of these were small cities. Pasta was a very appropriate stand-in for Chinese noodle dishes, even in the restaurants where I worked. To this day, I almost prefer lo mein done with linguine or spaghettini.

    Hell didn't the Chinese invent noodles? :raz::rolleyes:

  14. I also realized that by making these baos with/for relatives it's a great distraction for those inevitable questions such as "When are you going to get a boyfriend?!?" and "When are you going to get married?!?!"  :rolleyes:  All I have to say is "Want some bao?"  :biggrin:  :raz:

    And pray tell, uh..er...why are you rejecting all those boys clamouring at your door? Hmmmm...??? :raz::laugh::raz:

  15. Fu yu is indeed great with the beans but I only eat it that way (smashed fu yu with sugar in a small dish for dipping the beans into) when mum cooks this seafood-tofu-long bean hotpot (the sizzling kind, not broth based).

    Otherwise, a simple stir fry (as I described above) of the beans with a tiny bit of minced prok is just divine. One of the best ways to prepare the beans imo.

    I do both quite frequently. Agree with your opinion on fuyu with beans...or zuchini...or cucumber...ong choy...amaranth...peashoots etc... :wub::wub: drool*drool* :laugh: .

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