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  1. Sheepish: In the Chinese villages, board beans are spread out in a thin layer on a damp wooden board and put away from the sun. Yeast in the air will settle and grow on the board beans. This is how they prepare fermented board beans. The process will take from a few days to a month according to different sources. I guess the time difference is because of the different kinds local yeast.
  2. Whoever has visited Hong Kong or Guangdong must have been impressed by the Cantonese deep-boil soup. In the next few days I will post some recipes of these wholesome, nutritious and healthy treats. Any particular soup you want included?
  3. Homemade sichuan style dou ban jiang (chili bean paste) Disclaimer: the following receipt is based on the materials I found on the internet. I did not tried it myself (and have no intention to do so) so don’t hold me responsible if the result is undesirable. Ingredients: 1. Fermented board bean 800gm 2. Chili 2000gm 3. 2 large sticks Fresh green pepper 4. 5 Star anise 5. Brown sugar 200gm 6. Chinese yellow wine 250cc 7. Salt 500gm 8. Garlic 200gm 9. Vegetable oil Preparation: Day 1 1. Finely chop chili and mix well with salt. Leave in a clean pot for 24 hours 2. Wash fermented board beans. Soak in distilled water for 24 hours to revitalize the yeast. Do not refrigerate. Do not use tap water as the fluorine in tap water will kill the yeast. 3. Lightly fry green pepper and star anise in a pen until aroma comes out. Grind into powder with a blender. Day 2 4. By now the board bean should double in size. Drain the water and place the board beans on a clean towel to remove moisture. 5. Add minced garlic to the chili and salt mixture, cook to medium heat and let it cool down. 6. When chili is cooled sufficiently, transfer it to a clean container. Add dried board beans, brown sugar, pepper/star anise powder and yellow wine. Mix well. 7. Cover container with cloth and let the ingredients brew. Do not refrigerate. 8. Stir the ingredients every 1-2 days for the next 6-8 days. Day 10 9. Check for bubbles and slime substances on the surface. The ingredients should look darker and this indicates successful first stage fermentation. 10. Cover the surface of the ingredients with 2 cm of vegetable oil to seal off oxygen supply. This will force the yeast into anaerobic respiration and start breaking down the sugar and protein in the board beans. 11. Tightly seal the cover of the container. Leave to brew for at least 3 weeks. Check progress every 5-6 days. 12. If everything goes as planned, the dou ban jiang will be ready in 35-40 days. Note:It is important to keep the yeast alive. Do not use tap water and do not cook the fermented board beans. Do not refrigerate as yeast does not grow well in low temperature (you do not want the smell to infiltrate other items in the fridge anyway)
  4. Sheepish: Given your courage and inquisitive nature to go with the pig’s head, I will be happy to provide a receipt for the chili bean paste but it will take me a little time to translate the Chinese material I found. Stay tuned, perhaps pig’s head with chili bean paste sauce is a good idea.
  5. Mr. Wozencoft: Are you really serious about making your own chili bean paste? Let me tell you something before you decide: The process will be messy and takes 40-60 days to complete. While the bean ferments, your kitchen will be filled with a horrible stink. Just hope your neighbor would not complain. Assuming that you find all the right kinds of chilies and ingredients, your surroundings may or may not have the same kind of yeast to guarantee successful fermentation, and yeast is the key reason for the distinct flavors of chili bean pastes made in different regions. I would suggest asking you friend in China to send the stuff than making it yourself.
  6. Dejah: Only high-end restaurants adhere to the broth protocol. Most other restaurants use chicken powder for cost and efficiency reasons. Even for the chicken powder, there are some professional variants with improved contents of the real-stuff and less MSG, which is quite different from what we use at home.
  7. Anything that cannot be farmed or domesticated will likely fall into this category. As restriction of habitats and pollution grows, their supplies will dwindle and status change is inevitable.
  8. Mr Wozencroft: There are many types of dou ban jiang in China and they taste very different from one to another. Some are broad bean based and other are soybean based, some are salty, and some are sweet. Some varieties are hot and some varieties are mild. Which receipt are you looking for? I can easily locate 20-30 different receipts on the internet – in Chinese. No wonder you could not find it.
  9. Dejah: In the Chinese Restaurants, there are 3 classes of broths: 1. “tou tong” or “first broth” made with similar receipts in my original post; 2. “er tong” or “second broth” made by re-cooking what’s left after the tou tong is harvested, usually with bones and chicken feet added; 3. “wai tong”, the “last broth” made by cooking the leftover with vegetables. The applications of the broths are versatile. Tou tong is usually reserved for exquisite dishes such as shark fin. Er tong and wai tong are used as condiments in stir fry, braise… etc and as the base of soup dishes. However, this practice is found only in high-class restaurants where MSG has no place. I use my broth in place of chicken cube and oyster sauce to avoid MSG. The flavor of the tou tong is so intense that only a small amount is needed for each dish. Depending on the style of cooking and personal favor, you may experiment with any kind of spices while making broth. Cinnamon is not an absolute necessity but a flavor I like. While you mention that there are many flavors in the broth, I want to point out that there is no golden rule about the ingredients. We can tune the flavor by making adjustment to the ingredients but I do not recommend taking out the rock sugar. I believe cooking is an adventure and it takes a lot of imagination.
  10. Try the Shanghai groceries in Wanchai, they are referred as "Southern goods groceries" by Hong Kong people. These store sometimes stock authentic dou ban jiang but I am not sure if they still do. Indeed this ingredient is rarely used in Cantoness cooking.
  11. The chicken is poached instead of steamed or baked. When the chicken has reached medium-rare it is taken out of the pot and immediately dumped into ice water to stop further cooking. This method keeps the meat at medium-rare and causes the skin to shrink, thus the nice-looking appearance. The common ingredient in the sauce are garlic, ginger, chili, spring onion, sugar, dark soy sauce, yellow rice wine and a touch of dark vinegar. Depending on different recipes sesame oil or chili oil is added. Experiment with these ingredients to make the sauce to your taste.
  12. The Sheen on the rice is in fact oil. Depending on the restaurants different kinds of oils are used but lard and roast dripping are rapidly disappearing from the kitchens in Hong Kong due to health issue. I use groundnut oil in my fried rice because of the strong flavor. To produce a similar aroma of the restaurant, there are 3 ingredients I recommend: ginger, garlic and sugar. I lightly caramelize the sugar with grated ginger and garlic before putting in other ingredients. Soy sauce should be added at the last moment because it turns sour on high heat.
  13. Kylie Kwongs cooking is not Chinese. I am a Chinese and I have never heard of malt vinegar. I watched some of Kylies shows, what she used in the show is something looks like a dark vinegar, a famous produce of the Shanxi Province.
  14. This is a recipe I learned from a professional chef. The secret of good shang tong is in the chicken. Use only old chicken for broth making. The meat is firmer but holds lots more of flavor than young chicken. To get better result I boil all the ingredients for a few minutes and drain the water to remove the blood and unpleasant smell of raw meat. Here are my ingredients: one whole chicken, 50g of Chinese dry ham, a small piece of pork, 4-5 dry scallops, rock sugar, white pepper, half a stick of cinnamon, 2-3 bay leaves and about 4 liter of water. I simmer the whole thing for 6-8 hours; it is done when the liquid reduces to half. I Remove the cinnamon and bay leaf in the second hour of cooking, otherwise their smells are too overwhelming.
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