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Ben Hong

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Posts posted by Ben Hong

  1. So ------- do take-outs pre-cook them? Are they seasoned before the final cooking? Can you give me any clues?

    I can't seem to find any answers on line.

    Take it from a "lazy, shortcut obsessed ex take-out wok monkey", they are precooked to a degree of "al dente ala Chinois", that is mildly chewy, slathered with the marinade of choice as they cool, refrigerated and then reheated as ordered. Before reheating a fresh brushing of the sauce is added before the ribs go under the broiler.

    V. Gautam, that is an excellent post. You obviously have "paid your dues". Like I said way upthread, I find more satisfactory results with a fry pan when I am cooking for the wife and I, especially with an electric stove top or a low fire gas burner. 45 years of tennis and the attendant wonky elbows have curtailed my wok heaving somewhat.

  2. This argument implies home cooks can't create true stir-fry cooking or achieve wok-hei which is a fallacy.

    Nobody made that argument. The crux of my statement was to recommend cooking smaller quantities, which I even bolded in my prior post.

    Maybe your perception of wok hei is different than mine.

  3. The large burner on an electric range used in conjunction with a plain thin steel 10-12" fry pan will always do a better job in stir frying than a wok on a weak flame/heat.

    If you are cooking any more than a plateful (one serving) of food in a wok in a typical domestic setting you will NOT be able to maintain the high temps required for chowing (stirfrying). What you are doing would be ji, jing, or mun, moist cooking.

    Many domestic gas ranges now come with a 15,000 btu rated burner which is what I would consider the absolute minimum required to achieve wok hei with a wok. Even then a flat fry pan and the large burner on an electric range does a better job, in my opinion. Cook small quantities!

  4. Like most traditions, perhaps the whole experience of yumcha and the eating of tidbits called dimsum started without a "plan", but evolved and became set as a style of dining. Given that the teahouses of China were popular dating back in the mists of time and became the habitat of gentlemen, scholars, and montebanks alike, I can imagine that all these habituees spent long hours in pleasant discourse expounding on their dreams, schemes and the evils of their contemporary world. It is presumed that these immortal "men of the world" would be afflicted with the same corporeal weaknesses that we mere mortals suffer...getting hungry.

    Now everyone knows that exercising the brain and the mouth requires as much energy, collectively, as building the Great Wall :rolleyes: . Now imagine that it is between mealtimes...do you eat another big meal so soon after you have eaten well at home, or so near to the next meal that your wives/concubines have slaved over? (We Chinese men know what pestilence descends on our heads if we refuse our womenfolks' offerings :blink: ) Uhh... no, so you call out to the publican, maitre d', major domo, owner, whatever, and ask for something, a tidbit, a bit of pastry, a bit of meat, whatever, to attenuate the unseemly growling that is emanating from underneath your silk robes.

    TA-DA!! the birth of dimsum :raz:

    Given the scenario which I presented, I am almost certain that there were no flashing bolts of lightning with the accompanying thunder announcing in one single instant of creation the "MENU" of dimsum items and that these would be forever be called "traditional". Like the scenario suggests, dimsum is and should be constantly evolving, and it is a grand testament to the creativity of the chefs involved that they can continually bring out new items, adapting new methods and ingredients.

    I love progress and I am a glutton for dimsum, the more varieties the better.

    Evolution...number 9...number 9...number 9.....number 9.....

  5. I am in favour of judicious msg use but I use very little of the stuff, the 5 year old 1 ounce jar of Accent on my spice rack bears mute witness to that fact.

    A long departed elder relative who was illiterate, but has over 1000 Chinese, western and pastry recipes rolling around in his head pounded into me that frequent and over use of msg (and products like Maggi, oyster sauce) was a crutch for inferior cooks. I don't necessarily subscribe to that theory, but there is a small kernel of veracity to his admonishment. But I did take to heart his encouragement to do things the long way; if I were to make soup, then make a good rich stock first or at least use a lot of animal base, if I were to make a "stew" where meat was the main ingredient there needs to be no enhancement other than a touch of sugar, proper combinations of quality ingredients can and will "enhance" the taste and flavour of a chowed dish, almost all of the Chinese dishes involving strong flavours like fu yu, dow see, haam ha etc. need no enhancement...

    I don't mind msg in food if someone else cooks it :biggrin: , but I personally don't use it much in cooking. Now, flavoured salty snacks and junk food is a whole 'nuther matter. :laugh:

  6. I'm curious if people also use it in Western cooking.

    Every time you eat a flavoured potato chip, a Cheese Doodle, a tortilla chip, bbq peanuts, gravy mix, most canned broths and stock, all canned soups and stews, pepperoni, kielbasa, "flavoured" sausages, most frozen dinners and I dare say, most processed meats like turkey, ham, "roast" beef slices, luncheon meats, you would get added msg. Get the picture? You would probably get more msg in a small bag of bbq flavoured chips than in two Chinese dishes. It occurs naturally in high concentrations in cheeses , especially parmesan; in all meats and fish, soy products, seaweed, etc. It is all pervasive and natural folks, and just because you don't use it in cooking does not mean that you don't eat it. The Japanese coined a word for this "fifth" taste...UMAMI.

    Chinese restaurant syndrome indeed!!!! :raz:

  7. To be honest, I've never made just pig stomach with white pepper soup. I've always added slices to foo juk tong. Can you explain the white pepper soup more? Someone else mentioned it being their favourite.

    I think I mentioned it a while ago that it was a favourite of mine. My mother used to add a handful of rice to the soup as it was slow cooking.

    Funny story; I first returned to HK in 1967 after a 19 year separation from my mother and grandmother. After the requisite social activities had settled down, I made a request for my Mother to make me a pot of pig stomach and white pepper soup. It was just as hot and comforting as I remembered as a 6 year old boy. After several meals of that and some other of my Mother's "village" dishes, I finally felt that I was "home" in the comfort of my Grandmothers and Mother's bosom.

  8. One of my favorites is foo juk (bean curd skin) soup. I remember Dejah showed a photo of her version, and the one my mother makes is very similar. I don't know her exact recipe, but it's contains chicken stock, foo juk, pork stomach, dried oysters, salted turnip, gingko nuts, and if it's around Chinese New Year she adds some hair seaweed.

    Sheetz your term "exact recipe" is what I was trying to stress in the cookbook thread. There are no exact recipes in traditional home cooking. Remember 2-3 generations ago, most women in the villages were illiterate and being so deprived, they learned to improvise by approximation and taste and in doing so after a few times they (hopefully) would achieve the taste that their predecessor...mother, aunt, mother in law, produced. This obsession with exact recipes is the greatest encumbrance to creativity in the Chinese kitchen.

    The list of ingredients forfu juk soup is very complete...a little bit of this and a pinch of that and season with the other thing...adjust for taste and PRESTO, you have a real honest to goodness, bona fide, authentic and traditional genoo-wine Chinese dish.. :laugh::raz::rolleyes: Aren't recipes fun???

  9. Which book has authentic recipes that are also lesser known?

    What does it mean by "authentic" recpies that is lesser known?

    Hey Ah Leung, maybe you should start posting a whole series of "village homecooking" recipes. Can't get any more authentic than:

    fat pork belly with haum ha,

    beef and black beans braised squash,

    Dried bitter melon soup, dried bok choy soup (choy gun).

    Pork stomach stuffed with rice and black peppercorns.

    Pig tongue and choong choy,

    Pig spleen with veggies,

    Congealed duck blood, duck intestines, gizzards "dai jop wui".

    Fu yu stirred sweet potato greens, or amaranth, or chrysanthemum leaves

    Taro stewed with beef and black beans


    and then there are all those sweet potato recipes....... :laugh:

    Folks, the eternal quest for "authentic" recipes in a glossy cookbook is sometimes a fool's quest. A lot of the recipes given and written about are either "banquet" dishes, or restaurant dishes. Even tough I have over a hundred Chinese cookbooks and use recipes to be found therein for when company comes, 90% of what I cook at home is plain simple dishes, which if you ask anyone of my generation is authentic but NOT TO BE FOUND IN your typical glossy full coloured tomes. They are also NOT picturesque. Also the authors write to the readers' expectations, ie: finding recipes that they are familiar with. The joy of Chinese cooking lies in satisfying personal taste by taking into account the resources at hand using the techniques at your own skill level. Slight changes in ingredients and proportions do not make a dish any less authentic. Authenticity lies in the taste buds of the beholder.

    GET COOKING!!! :raz:

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