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  1. Many who know me on EGullet know that I don't use a wok to cook Chinese food. I have been using flat frying pans to cook all my meals since I came to the USA for college back in the late 70's. I didn't bother with getting a wok primarily because I feel that using a wok without an adequate heat source is not effective. One thing that I always amused myself with is reading online bulletin board comments, that when someone is getting excited about learning how to cook Chinese food... before he/she even buys any Chinese cookbook, the first thing he/she would do is to buy a wok! And... typically... a "non-stick" wok with flat bottom so one can use it over an electric stove, and a plastic spatula. Anyway, things are about to change... All because I happened to see this gas burner for sale in the local grocery market at only US$32.00: It has 4 rings. The diameter is about 8 inches. Just use a portable natural gas tank. Nice. I was hoping to find some burner that uses compressed air to boost the heat but so far I haven't seen one available in the USA. That just got me interested to start a project on my stove and wok shopping. I am posting my photo journal to share with all of you on my thought process in evaluating different burners/woks and related equipment. The burner that I saw, of course, is far less powerful than the one posted by infernooo: My new wok burner, 120000 BTU/hr! but it is still pretty nice to have. Assuming that I am going to get that burner, my next task is to shop for a good wok, then go through the proper way to season it, etc.. In the same shop, I have found only 2 different models. The first one: is a cast-iron wok, about 28 inches in diameter. I rejected this wok right away because: 1) It is very heavy. There is no way to pick up the wok and toss the food around. 2) It has 2 small "ears" but no handle. I like to use the handle to toss the food around when cooking, the same way I do with the frying pans. The second model: is a stainless-steel (I think - but it's all black in color) wok, about 18 inches in diameter. This looks promising. It is not too big, and not too small. It looks just about right. It has a round bottom, not flat. I picked it up with my left hand and practice the tossing motion and it felt about right. I took the second wok to placed it on top of the burner. It wasn't a perfect fit. The wok was too small to rest on the outer tripod. It was resting on the smaller, inner tripod. The wok could wobble a little bit. I am not sure if this would cause problems. I haven't come to any conclusion yet. I need to shop around some more for different wok models and, possibly, burner models. I will make a trip to San Francisco to see better selections if I have too... Any comments and idea sharings are appreciated!
  2. My post is two-fold. Are there any experts on Taiwanese cuisine out there? My family is Taiwanese---I am American-born. I can navigate Mandarin (conversation) but am illiterate (my parents are bitterly disappointed.) I love going back to see family and they feed me well...but much of the time I don't know what I'm eating and we don't know how to communicate. Is there an authoritative Taiwanese cookbook? My uncles and aunts and etc speak mostly Taiwanese (Fujianese if you will) exclusively and I don't know any at all, beyond a few insults and very few foods. Since it isn't a written language AND i'm illiterate anyway, I don't have a way for googling some of the dishes I really love. Unrelated, but still puzzling note---the majority of Chinese grocery stores here are Cantonese speakers, and I don't understand Cantonese at all. Is the cantonese "choy" the same as the mandarin word "tsai?"
  3. I ordered some of this after hearing it mentioned on Top Chef a few moths ago. So far I've just peeled off a clove to taste it. It's sweet-almost "balsamic" with garlic undertones. The texture is that of roasted garlic. Has anyone ever cooked with it?
  4. At the time one is puzzled by the perplexing question of the first Creation of the earth and of man, or troubled about the sources of defeat or victory and success or catastrophe in the Iliad and the Odyssey, some of us are simply pursuing a passion toward the baby pig. Of several conversations I had with Ms. X (an eGullet dining companion), there was none that did not contain a reference to the baby pig she recently tried at New York Noodle Town. Well, since Montaigne wisely noted that among three classes of philosophers (those who claim to have found the truth; those who deny that truth can be found; and those who confess their ignorance and go on searching) only the last are wise, we decided to pursue our search for the truth about the perfect baby pig by setting a lunch date to be held at New York Noodle Town. Using self-exploration to help illuminate the world may be quite noble in some instances but very disturbing in others. In my case, not taking into consideration the late hour we set for the lunch and leaving the house with nothing but three grapes consumed in a hurry, which added to a quite elaborate symphony successfully conducted by my stomach while passing by China town’s cozy little restaurants and cafés with their enticing smells teasing my senses with the provocative images of delightful and tempting food, wasn’t very smart. Well, the good thing about the bad thing is that everything comes to an end, and, in my case, it was the end of my sufferings as soon as the three of us were seated at a cozy table for four. “I am so hungry! All I had today were three grapes,” said Ms. X while browsing the menu. If one could ever think of a better time to start believing in fate or telepathy or any other weird stuff, that certainly was a good one. Not just any hunger, but the “hunger of three grapes” and the thoughts of the baby pig added a communal sense, and bonded us for life. We ordered: Barbecued baby pig Salt baked seafood combination Roast duck with flowering chives Sizzling casserole with chicken and Chinese sausage The baby pig served at room temperature was certainly a star. A nearly perfect execution of crisp skin and tender baby flesh provoked no less than cute little sounds of satisfaction exchanged among us all, not overlapping but rather creating a perfect harmony. The meat was a little tiny bit too salty for me, but again, I may just be a supertaster. The salt baked seafood combination wasn't as good as I remembered it from two years ago. More or less crisp while still hot, it turned soggy upon cooling, like a balloon losing air. The roast duck with flowering chives was very good indeed. Not as crisp as it would’ve been had we ordered duck separately from the chives, the meat was very tender and added a certain ducky flavor to the chives that was definitely worth trying. What I liked the most was that the dish was not overwhelmed with the flavor of the brown starch sauce, contrary to what we had at New Lok Kee in Flushing. The sizzling casserole was quite sizzling when it was brought to our table. We all agreed that it wasn’t spectacular, but pretty good. To be fair, though, we were quite full by that time. I’ll let others chime in with more details. Overall, the food made us happy, and that is probably the best praise one can give. As to Montaigne, he was wrong. We did find the truth about the perfect baby pig in New York Noodle Town.
  5. Pork Neck Bone Soup with Lotus Root (蓮藕豬骨湯) Today is Chinese New Year. I would like to present a soup that is typical for the new year. Lotus roots and dried oysters are very common in dishes served around the new year. Lotus root symbolizes "continuous", while dried oyster symbolizes "prosperity". I wish everyone to have a prosperous year in the Year of the Dog. Picture of the finished dish: Serving Suggestion: 10 Preparations: Main ingredients: (From left, clockwise) - Lotus roots, about 3 to 4 lb - Pork neck bone, about 2 lb - 1 dried squid or dried octopus - 6 to 7 dried oysters - 5 dried conpoy (dried scallops) - 12 dried black mushrooms - A handful of raw peanuts (about 1/4 cup) - A handful of red beans (about 1/8 to 1/4 cup) - 3 pieces of dried tangerine peels (Chan Pei) - (Not shown in picture) About 20 dried jujube dates Use a mixing bowl, soak the red beans, dried tangerine peels and dried black mushrooms for at least 4 hours. (Drain before cooking.) Soak the dried squid/octopus. (Drain before cooking.) Use a small bowl, soak the dried conpoy (scallops) separately. (You can add the soaking liquid to the soup.) After the reconstituted black mushrooms turn soft, trim off the stems and cut into halves. Cut the reconstituted squid into a few big pieces. Trim and discard the connecting ends of the lotus roots. Cut into slices, about 3/4 inch thick. Cooking Instructions: The following is to illustrate the "double boiling" technique in Cantonese soup making. First, place the pork neck bones in a pot. Fill with just enough water to cover all bones. Set for a boil. Boil the pork neck bones for about 3 minutes. Use a strainer to drain off the hot water. Rinse the bones and cleanse off any suds. Clean the pot. Add about 15 cups of water (1/3 of this pot). Return the pork neck bones to the pot. Bring to a boil. Then turn down the heat to a simmer. Simmer the bones for 1 to 1 1/2 hour. Add the soaked red beans, reconstituted black mushrooms, squid, dried conpoy, dried oysters, dried tangerine peels, raw peanuts and dried jujube dates. Continue to simmer for another hour. This is what the soup looks like after 2 1/2 hour of simmering. Finally, add the lotus root slices. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Simmer for another 1 to 1.5 hour. This is what the soup looks like when it's ready. Add 1 to 2 tsp of salt (or to taste). Stir well. Scoop onto serving bowls. Picture of the finished soup.
  6. I found the recipe and post from rarerollingobject too late for my experiment this past weekend. I will refer to her the next session. This was my first attempt while my s-i-l was out for the weekend. He's a big Scottish lad who loves dim sum. While my daughter is away on a course, he wanted to try his hand on these dumplings and surprise her when she gets home this weekend. The filling and gelatin were spot on. The wrappers definitely need thinning out. Not too shabby for a first attempt. We ate many of these taste testing, so it ended up being an all day lunch or supper... If anyone has a great recipe for the wrappers or tried and true technique, please share! Gelatin was made from 2 skin-on pork hocks, the bone and skin from a fresh pork picnic, big nob of ginger, scallions, and 1 pkg of unflavoured gelatin to 4 cups stock. Filling was ground pork, shrimp, scallions, white pepper, Chinese cooking wine, grated ginger, salt, and soy sauce. We incorporated small bits of gelatin in the meat as well as adding a small cube on top before pleating and closing the wrapper. The baos got smaller and pleats were better as the experiment progressed There was a fair bit of soup in the baos, but the wrapper needs to be thinner. We didn't eat many of the wrappers, but the meat and soup were great! The granddogs enjoyed some of the wrappers.
  7. <img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1205428244/gallery_29805_1195_6256.jpg" hspace="8" align="left">The Daily Gullet is proud to present an excerpt from eGullet Society member Arthur Schwartz's brand-new book Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisted. Here's an old joke about Jews, Chinese people, and food: Two Chinese men are walking out of Katz’s Delicatessen. One says to the other, "The problem with Jewish food is that two weeks later you’re hungry again." Here's another one: If, according to the Jewish calendar, the year is 5764, and, according to the Chinese calendar, the year is 5724, what did the Jews eat for forty years? That Jews have an affinity for Chinese food is no secret. The Jews know it. The Chinese know it. Everyone knows it. Until the dispersal of middle-class Jews to the New York suburbs was complete in the 1970s and 1980s, Chinese take-out shops opened on every corner of the city. It was said that you could tell how Jewish a neighborhood was by the number of Chinese restaurants. Going out "to eat Chinese" continues to be a Sunday ritual for many Jewish families; even kosher families know that there are many kosher Chinese restaurants. In Brooklyn, there’s one called Shang Chai, a play on the Hebrew word for "life," chai. Any Sunday at 6 p.m., step into Shun Lee West on West 64th Street, the Upper West Side’s upscale Chinese restaurant, and you’d think they were holding a bar mitzvah reception. Here's another joke, although it's no joke: What do Jews do on Christmas? They eat Chinese and go to the movies. Eat Chinese because those were the only restaurants open on Christmas. Go to the movies because all the Christians were home, and you could get into the theater without waiting on line. That the Chinese are not Christian is important to understanding the appeal of the Chinese restaurant to Jews. If you went to an Italian restaurant, which, aside from the coffee shop, the luncheonette, or the deli, was likely the only kind of restaurant in your neighborhood before the American food revolution, you might encounter a crucifix hanging over the cash register, or at least a picture of the Madonna or a saint. That was pretty intimidating to even a nonobservant Jew. The Chinese restaurant might have had a Buddha somewhere in sight, but Buddha was merely a rotund, smiling statue -- he looked like your fat Uncle Jack. He wasn't intimidating at all. Important, too, was that the Chinese were even lower on the social scale than the Jews. Jews didn't have to feel competitive with the Chinese, as they might with Italians. Indeed, they could feel superior. As Philip Roth points out in Portnoy's Complaint, to a Chinese waiter, a Jew was just another white guy. Italians didn't go out to eat as much as Jews. Italian-Americans spent Sunday afternoons gathering in large family groups, eating Italian food at home. The Italians and Jews continued to live together when they left their immigrant ghettos on the Lower East Side and started moving to the boroughs, along with the Chinese who wanted to leave the impoverished conditions of the Lower East Side as much as any other group. The Chinese that lived among the Jews and Italians in the boroughs were the owners of the restaurants and the hand laundries. So the Jews' proximity to Chinese restaurants was important, and let's not discount the fact that Chinese food tastes good and costs little. When I asked my parents why, when they were courting in the 1940s, their dates always ended with a Chinese meal, and why we continued to eat in Chinese restaurants as a family more often than at other kinds of restaurants, the answer was simple and obvious. They could afford it. In their youth, during and right after World War II, a classic combination plate of egg roll, fried rice, and usually chow mein cost 25 cents. The attraction of the forbidden aspects of Chinese food should not be underestimated, either. Eating forbidden foods validates your Americanness: it is an indication that you have "arrived." Although both Italian and Chinese cuisines feature many foods that are proscribed by the Jewish dietary laws, such as pork, shrimp, clams, and lobster, there are two big differences. The Chinese don't combine dairy and meat in the same dish, as Italians do -- in fact, the Chinese don't eat dairy products at all. And the Chinese cut their food into small pieces before it is cooked, disguising the nonkosher foods. This last aspect seems silly, but it is a serious point. My late cousin Daniel, who kept kosher, along with many other otherwise observant people I have known, happily ate roast pork fried rice and egg foo yung. "What I can’t see won’t hurt me," was Danny’s attitude. Even Jews who maintained kosher homes often cheated by serving Chinese takeout on paper plates. I had one neighbor who would only let her family eat Chinese on paper plates in the basement, lest the neighbors across the alley that divided the houses only by about ten feet should look into her kitchen window and see those telltale white containers on the table. <div align="center">+ + +</div> Chinese Roast Meat on Garlic Bread with Duck Sauce This is an exquisite example of Jewish crossover food, "fusion food" these days. It was a dish that made first- and second-generation Jews of the 1950s, Jews who no longer abided by the kosher laws, feel like they were truly Americans as well as urbane and sophisticated. Imagine what a scandal it was to observant parents and grandparents, what a delicious act of defiant assimilation it was, to eat Chinese roast pork on Italian garlic bread. This was invented in the Catskills and brought back to Brooklyn where, today, substituting roasted veal for the trayf meat, the sandwich survives in kosher delicatessens in Brooklyn and Queens. (It is particularly well done at Adelman's, a delicatessen on King's Highway and Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn.) With pork, it is also a hot item in diners on the South Shore of Long Island, where Jews from Brooklyn and Queens moved decades ago. By all accounts, the sandwich was created sometime in the mid-1950s at Herbie's in Loch Sheldrake, New York. It was the most popular Jewish-style deli-restaurant in the area. According to Freddie Roman, the Borscht Belt comic who years later starred in the nostalgia show Catskills on Broadway, Herbie's was where all the entertainers would gather after their last shows at the hotel nightclubs. "Specifically for that sandwich," says Freddie. "And everyone else had to eat what the celebrities ate." Herbie's sandwich of Chinese Roast Pork on Italian Garlic Bread was so popular among the summer crowd in "The Mountains," that it was imitated back in "The City." I remember when it was introduced at Martin's and Senior's, two fabulously successful, middle-class family restaurants on Nostrand Avenue in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. In just a few years, it seemed Chinese roast pork on garlic bread became so popular in the southern tier of Brooklyn communities -- from Canarsie through Mill Basin to Bay Ridge -- that every diner and coffee shop made it. The sandwich even made it to Manhattan in the 1960s, at a place called The Flick, an ice cream parlor and casual restaurant near the then-new movie houses on Third Avenue. Eventually, Herbie's, which closed in Loch Sheldrake only several years ago, opened Herbie's International on Avenue N in the Flatlands section of Brooklyn, where many of its Borscht Belt customers lived. It, too, was a well-priced family restaurant, serving, as its name was meant to imply, a little of this and a little of that from all over. But, as would be expected in this neck of the woods, "international" was really limited to red-sauced southern Italian, Cantonese-American Chinese, and a few specialties of the Yiddish kitchen. Maybe they served French crêpes, too. Herbie's original sandwich was undoubtedly made with something other than real butter. Who knows what grease Herbie used. And the garlic flavor may have come from garlic powder, not fresh garlic. There are garlic spreads available in some supermarkets that probably come pretty close to the original flavor. If making the sandwich with pork, you might as well use butter and chopped fresh garlic. Of course, to make it a kosher meat sandwich (using veal), the fat would have to be vegetable-oil based, like olive oil. If you are making a kosher sandwich with veal, using olive oil and chopped garlic not only makes it kosher but also more contemporary. In that case, leave off the Chinese duck sauce, too, and douse the meat with balsamic vinegar. There should be a certain "white bread" quality to the roll with either version. The duck sauce used to flavor the meat is an apricot-based, sweet condiment; Saucy Susan is a popular brand. Serves 4 4 tablespoons softened butter or extra virgin olive oil 8 cloves garlic, finely minced 4 (6- to 7-inch) French-style loaves, not too crusty nor too firm 1 pound Chinese-style red-roasted pork, or plain roast veal Duck sauce or balsamic vinegar, for drizzling Chinese mustard (optional) To prepare the bread, in a small bowl, make garlic butter by working the butter and minced garlic together with a fork until well combined. For an oil dressing, combine the olive oil and garlic. Let the spread stand at room temperature for 30 minutes or up to a few hours. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Heat the bread directly on the middle rack of the oven for about 3 minutes, until hot. Leave the oven on. Remove the loaves from the oven; for each loaf, hold it with a potholder and halve it the long way with a serrated knife. Spread the cut sides of each loaf with garlic butter or drizzle with the garlic oil. Place the loaf halves, spread-side up, on the middle oven rack and toast until the edges are browned. To assemble the sandwiches, arrange a layer of sliced roast meat on the bottom half of each loaf. Drizzle the meat with about 2 tablespoons of duck sauce, and then very lightly with Chinese mustard. Serve open with the top half of the bread, spread-side up, alongside the meat-filled bottom. <div align="center">+ + +</div> Chinese-American Chow Mein There was absolutely nothing trayf about basic chow mein. The base was all vegetables. It could even be served in a dairy restaurant, and it was. Sure it could be topped with roast pork or shrimp, but it was just as Chinese topped with chicken or beef, or nothing. Chow mein became mainstream New York food in the 1930s. It was on the menus of kosher and nonkosher restaurants, and hardly a specialty of just Chinese restaurants. Even the chichi Stork Club had a whole list of different chow mein choices. At the other end of the spectrum entirely, Nathan’s, the hot dog emporium on Coney Island, featured chow mein on a hamburger bun garnished with crisp fried noodles. It still does. Serves 3 or 4 2 tablespoons peanut, canola, or corn oil 2 medium-large onions, peeled, cut in half through the root end, and thinly sliced (about 3 cups) 4 ribs celery, thinly cut on a sharp diagonal (about 2 cups) 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped 11/2 cups sliced white mushrooms (about 5 ounces) 11/4 cups chicken broth 2 tablespoons dry sherry 2 tablespoons soy sauce 4 teaspoons cornstarch 1 cup fresh bean sprouts 1/2 cup sliced fresh water chestnuts (optional) About 2 cups white meat chicken, cooked any way and cut into strips (or red-roasted Chinese pork or veal, or sliced steak or roast beef) Fried Chinese noodles, available at any supermarket In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until very hot but not smoking. Add the onions and celery and stir-fry for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onions are slightly wilted. Add the garlic and mushrooms and stir-fry just 1 minute. Add 1 cup of the chicken broth, cover the pot, and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Meanwhile, in a small cup, with a fork, blend together the remaining 1/4 cup chicken broth and the sherry, soy sauce, and cornstarch. Uncover the pot and stir in the bean sprouts and water chestnuts. Give the cornstarch mixture a final stir to make sure the starch is dissolved. Add it to the pot and stir it until the liquid in the pot is thickened. Taste for seasoning. You may want to add more salt or soy sauce. Serve immediately, topped with the chicken, on a bed of fried Chinese noodles. It is best when eaten immediately, but you can reheat it, gently, if need be, adding a bit more liquid as necessary. <div align="center">* * *</div> Arthur Schwartz is a Brooklyn-based food critic, writer, and media personality. New York Times Magazine has called him "a walking Google of food and restaurant knowledge." His five previously published cookbooks include the IACP award-winning and James Beard award-nominated Arthur Schwartz's New York City Food. Read his 2004 eG Forums Q&A here. Excerpted from Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisted by Arthur Schwartz, copyright © 2008. Reprinted with permission by Ten Speed Press.
  8. In this cold winter, there is nothing better than sharing a spicy Sichuan hot pot with your friends and family. For the uninitiated, Chinese hot pot, a.k.a. huo guo (火鍋), is a group dining activity where a pot of boiling broth is shared. Friends and families cook the raw ingredients of their liking in this communal pot of broth while chitchatting, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company by the table-side. This recipe is for a popular regional hot pot from Sichuan (Szechuan). The broth is infused with lots of aromatic spices, fiery chili oil and tongue-numbing Sichuan peppercorn so it is very fragrant and spicy! This is a make from scratch recipe that I first posted on my blog. If you like to learn visually, I'd recommend you to visit my blog (link in my profile) for the step by step pictorial recipe. Enjoy! Ingredients: For Master sauce (adjust to your own spiciness) 3 tbsp Sichuan Spicy Bean Paste 5 Dried chili, soaked until soft. 1 tbsp Chinese Black Bean 4 slice Ginger, 4 glove Garlic ½ cup Cooking Wine 1tbsp Rock Sugar Dry Spices: 3 star anise, 1tbsp Sichuan Peppercorn, 1 black cardamom, 4 green cardamom, 2 sand ginger, 1 piece cinnamon stick, and 1 tbsp fennel seeds For the stock: 2 lb Beef or Pork or Chicken bones. 3 slice Ginger 2 Scallion 3 Bay leaf 1 gallon water Instructions: The recipe is for half of a 12 inch special pot. Adjust the amount accordingly. 1. Make the base stock by combining beef or pork bones or chicken skeleton with water, ginger, scallion, bay leaves. Broil and simmer for 3 hours. Can be made in advance. 2. The master sauce is the soul of Sichuan hot pot (and is guarded by restaurant owners as top secret but today you’ll get it for free). I recommend making this in advance. To make the aged-spicy paste: chop the Sichuan Spicy Bean Paste, soaked dry chili, ginger, garlic, and black bean. Combine 4 tbsp of oil and all the chopped ingredients, cook in low heat for 10 minutes. Stir frequently. Add the rest of the dry spices and cooking wine and sugar to the paste. Continue to cook in low heat for another 30 minutes then turn off the heat. This is your aged-spicy taste and can be made in advance. 3. Before serving the hot pot, combine the aged-spicy paste with base stock and bring to boil. Add additional ginger, dried chili, and salt to taste. 4. To make the special peanut butter sesame dipping sauce, combine the peanut butter, sesame paste, and fermented bean curd. Mix into a paste. Add oyster sauce, sugar, chopped chive flower and mix well.
  9. Hi. I need a little help planning my dinner for Chinese New Year. My mother in law already called to say they are coming here. My husband thinks I'm ambitious to cook a whole Chinese dinner for New Year. I just think that if I carefully plan, I could do a good job. His family is Shanghainese so I'd like to cook things to surprise his parents. I think in egullet there is somewhere Rarerollingobject recipe (where are you, dear RRO?) for xiaolongbao and I'd like to make those. Definitely some steamed fish and some easy saute' vegetables, eight treasure pudding and some tang yuan and for sure Sunflower's pork belly which is spectacular. Any other idea?
  10. For those of you frequent Sichuan (Szechuan) eateries, you probably know that Dan Dan Noodles is arguably one of the must-try dishes at any Sichuan restaurants. In fact it’s so popular that this spicy, sweet, and tangy noodle dish has often used to measure how authentic a restaurant is! This is a recipe I learned from growing up in Sichuan and imho it's so much better than the restaurant version. If you like to learn with pictures please check out my blog for step-by-step pictorial recipe! Ingredients: 6oz fresh Chinese noodles (can substitute with dry noodles) Handful of fresh leafy vegetables such as spinach Dan Dan Meat Topping: 4oz ground pork 4oz [ya cai (preserved mustard green from Sichuan), chopped 2tbsp soy sauce 1tbsp Chinese cooking wine 1tsp five spice powder Dan Dan Sauce: 2tsp garlic, grated 2tsp Chinese sesame paste 4tbsp soy sauce 1tsp Sichuan peppercorn powder 1tsp sugar 4tbsp chili oil (more if you can handle the heat) 1tsp sesame oil 2tbsp Chinese black vinegar 1cup hot chicken or pork stock, unsalted (can substitute with boiled water) Chopped scallions for garnish Instructions: To make the meat topping: sauté ground pork and ya cai in 1 tbsp of cooking oil over high heat. When the meat turns color, add soy sauce, cooking wine, and five spice powder. Cook for another 3 minutes. Set aside To build the Dan Dan Noodle sauce: combine the garlic and sesame paste in a bowl. Mix using a spoon until smooth Add the rest of the sauce ingredients except the scallions. Stir until well incorporated While building the sauce, cook the noodles in a pot of boiling water until al dente. If using fresh noodles, it should take about 3 – 4 minutes Cook the vegetable in the same pot. To get the best noodle texture, shock the noodles in ice water right after cooking to stop the noodles from cooking Drain the excess water and drop the noodles into the sauce. Add the meat topping and garnish with scallions. Feel free to add additional chili oil according to your own taste
  11. Perhaps the food-related question I get asked most through my blog is “What's it like for vegetarians and vegans in China. The same question came up recently on another thread, so I put this together. Hope it's useful. It would also, be great to hear other people's experience and solutions. For the sake of typing convenience I’m going to conflate 'vegetarians and vegan' into just 'vegetarian' except where strictly relevant. First a declaration of non-interest. I am very carnivorous, but I have known vegetarians who have passed through China, some staying only a few weeks, others staying for years. Being vegetarian in China is a complicated issue. In some ways, China is probably one of the best countries in which to be vegetarian. In other ways, it is one of the worst. I spent a couple of years in Gorbachev-era Russia and saw the empty supermarkets and markets. I saw people line up for hours to buy a bit of bread. So, when I first came to China, I kind of expected the same. Instead, the first market I visited astounded me. The place was piled high with food, including around 30 different types of tofu, countless varieties of steamed buns and flat breads and scores of different vegetables, both fresh and preserved, most of which I didn't recognise. And so cheap I could hardly convert into any western currency. If you are able to self-cater then China is heaven for vegetarians. For short term visitors dependent on restaurants or street food, the story is very different. Despite the perception of a Buddhist tradition (not that strong, actually), very few Chinese are vegetarian and many just do not understand the concept. Explaining in a restaurant that you don't eat meat is no guarantee that you won't be served meat. Meat is seen in China as a status symbol. If you are rich, you eat more meat. And everyone knows all foreigners are rich, so of course they eat meat! Meat eating is very much on the rise as China gets more rich - even to the extent of worrying many economists, food scientists etc. who fear the demand is pushing up prices and is environmentally dangerous. But that's another issue. Obesity is also more and more of a problem. Banquet meals as served in large hotels and banquet dedicated restaurants will typically have a lot more meat dishes than a smaller family restaurant. Also, the amount of meat in any dish will be greater in the banquet style places. Traditional Chinese cooking is/was very vegetable orientated. I still see my neighbours come home from the market with their catch of greenery every morning. However, whereas meat wasn't the central component of dinner, it was used almost as a condiment or seasoning. Your stir fried tofu dish may come with a scattering of ground pork on top, for example. This will not usually be mentioned on the menu. Simple stir fried vegetables are often cooked in lard (pig fat) to 'improve' the flavour. Another problem is that the Chinese word for meat (肉), when used on its own refers to pork. Other meats are specified, eg (beef) is 牛肉, literally cattle meat. What this means is that when you say you don't eat meat, they often think you mean you don't eat pork (something they do understand from the Chinese Muslim community), so they rush off to the kitchen and cook you up some stir fried chicken! I've actually heard a waitress saying to someone that chicken isn't meat. Also, few Chinese wait staff or cooks seem to know that ham is pig meat. I have also had a waitress argue ferociously with me that the unasked for ham in a dish of egg fried rice wasn't meat. Also, Chinese restaurant dishes are often given have really flowery, poetic names which tell you nothing of the contents. Chinese speakers have to ask. One dish on my local restaurant menu reads “Maternal Grandmother's Fluttering Fragrance.” It is, of course, spicy pork ribs! Away from the tourist places, where you probably don't want to be eating anyway, very few restaurants will have translations of any sort. Even the best places' translations will be indecipherable. I have been in restaurants where they have supplied an “English menu”, but if I didn't know Chinese would have been unable to order anything. It was gibberish. To go back to Buddhism and Taoism, it is a mistake to assume that genuine followers of either (or more usually a mix of the two) are necessarily vegetarian. Many Chinese Buddhists are not. In fact, the Dalai Lama states in his autobiography that he is not vegetarian. It would be very difficult to survive in Tibet on a vegetarian diet. There are vegetarian restaurants in many places (although the ones around where I am never seem to last more than six months). In the larger cities such as Beijing and Shanghai they are more easily findable. Curiously, many of these restaurants make a point of emulating meat dishes. The menu reads like any meat using restaurant, but the “meat” is made from vegetable substitutes (often wheat gluten or konjac based). To be continued
  12. Hello all, I appologize if this is not an appropriate place to ask questions but I have probably searched whole of internet without any luck. This is my last resort (maybe it should have been the first) I have an Iwachu traditional, round bottom cast iron wok, which I use on my home stove. The double gas burner with the wok ring has about 3 or 4 kW in power; arround 10.000 BTUs I think. My normal proceedure includes pre-heating the wok for about 5-10 minutes before I start cooking. The first problem is the oil. I use sunflower oil which starts smoking immediately as I put it in. The second problem are the aromatics - garlic and ginger. I throw them in, shove them around a little bit, after 5-10 seconds I put the meat in. Aromatics always burn . The third problem is the meat. Just today I cut some beef into thin strips, say 5mm thick and about an inch long, and stir fried them with the aromatics. They let out a lot of water which did evaporate but it left the meat pretty tough. Im losing sanity here , any help appreciated! Cheers and many greets from Croatia! Alex
  13. I had some Jiaozi type dumplings when I was in Chengdu last year. The sauce which I had with them was absolutely divine tasting. Does anybody have any great recipes for sauces for eating with Chinese dumplings. The one I had from what I remember was quite reddish in colour; it obviously had chillio oil in it. It also had pieces or coriander in it. I think maybe some vinegar and soy sauce too. I've tried to re-create it from recipees I've seen on the web but my efforts haven't been up to the mark. Do you have any recipes/suggestions? Thanks.
  14. I frequently hear that true Chinese stir-fries can't be cooked in home stoves because they aren't hot enough. I'm curious to hear what fellow egulleters think about this. I often cook Chinese food at home on my 20-year old average gas stove and I think that I am getting good results. I am able to get brown spots on veggies and proteins without overcooking the interior, on medium-high heat. I find that when I turn the heat all the way to high, I need to move faster and because precise timing is more important, I'm more likely to make mistakes (e.g. sometimes the oil will overheat, or veggies get a bit too scorched). In other words, I don't feel limited by the heat level of my old gas stove. I understand that in Chinese restaurants they have crazy hot stoves - I heard 200 BTU (is this even possible?) I have no doubt that professional cooks can handle the speed and precision of 200 BTU, but I'm wondering if that's really necessary to achieve the "wok hai" that we associate with a good stir-fry. There is no controversy in the fact that home stoves are capable of causing the Maillard reaction in western cooking. Meaning, we can all cook a thin piece of fish or meat that browns on the outside without overcooking on the inside. I don't see how this is different from wok cooking. Or am I not thinking correctly? Would love to hear your thoughts!
  15. I would like to start this thread to post some guides to buying ingredients to cooking Chinese food, such as sauces, fresh produce and dried goods. This is for the benefits of those who are not familiar with Chinese cooking ingredients. Each page will have a picture accompanying with the description of the item, and some tips on where to find them and what to look for, and (if any) my favorite brand. Feel free to add comments. At some point, I will create an index page for easy references. Over time, we will have a comprehensive list.
  16. I am eager to dive into Fuchia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice. There are two common ingredients that are holding me back. I have not been able to find a kosher certified chinkiang vinegar and shaoxing wine. What are some readily available substitutes for these ingredients? Or, if you know a source for kosher certified versions of these products, even better. Thanks! Dan
  17. How do I use these? Just like any other nut in chinese cooking? I've seen two types in the market, labeled as north and south. I've no idea what the difference is.
  18. Soy Sauce Chow Mein with Chicken (豉油王鸡丝抄麺 ) There was a question about "Soy Sauce Chow Mein" brought up on this board. I have decided to show you my way of making this dish. I also have decided to cook it with some shredded chicken meats. You may use sliced beef, peeled shrimp, sliced BBQ pork or other meats of your choice. The process is very similar. Or leave it as plain soy sauce chow mein. They all taste wonderful. CAUTION: The sequences shown illustrated using cooking wine over a pan of hot oil to induce a flame. If you have poor ventilation or do not want to risk fire hazards, skip the part of using cooking wine. Serving Suggestion: 2 to 3 Main ingredients: Cantonese egg noodles, 1 piece of boneless chicken breast (about 1/2 to 3/4 lb), 1/2 of a small onion, 2 green onions, bean sprouts (only a handful). If the noodles are curled up into fist-size balls, use about 4 to 5 of them (about 1/2 to 3/4 lb). Uncoil and shake the noodles with your fingers. Make them a little bit fluffy. Take the chicken breast. Trim off the fat. Cut up the meat into long and narrow strips. Use a small mixing bowl to marinate the chicken meat. Use 1 tsp of ground white pepper, 2 tsp of sesame oil, 1 tsp of ShaoHsing cooking wine, 2 tsp of light soy sauce, and 1 tsp of corn starch. Mix well. Set aside to marinate for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, boil a small pot of water. When the water is boiling, add the noodles to the pot. Cook the noodles until el dante. Cooking time depends on the types of noodles used. If those are fresh noodles, which cook very fast, only 1 to 2 minutes. If those are dried noodles, it may take up to between 5 to 10 minutes. Adjust your cooking time accordingly. Do not overcook the noodles. Immediately remove the noodles and put them on a strainer. Run them under cold water and drain. (Set noodles on a strainer and drain well.) Prepare the other ingredients: Cut 1/2 onion into small wedges. Cut the green onions diagonally (trim the ends). (Not shown: wash and drain the bean sprouts). Use a small bowl, mix 3 tsp of light soy sauce (for saltiness) and 3 tsp of dark soy sauce (for rich flavor). Prepare about 1 to 2 tsp (no more) of ShaoHsing cooking wine (shown contained in the bottle cap). Use a pan/wok, set for high heat over the stove. Use about 2 tblsp of cooking oil to velvet the marinated chicken. Cooking until the meats show no more pink color. Remove. Note: The following sequences of photos occurred during a very short time frame. The technique is important. So I have slowed down the process for you, frame by frame. Start with a clean pan/wok. Set for high heat over the stove. Add a generous amount of cooking oil, about 3 to 4 tblsp. Keep heating up the pan/wok until the oil start fuming. Don't start prematurely or else you won't achieve the desired taste. You have to do the following 5 steps very quickly. First: add the wedged onions and sliced green onions onto the pan. Stir for about 3 seconds. Immediate add the capful of cooking wine. CAUTION: This will induce a big flame. If you don't have good ventilation or do not want to risk fire hazards, skip the cooking wine. I tried to take a picture of the flame. But during the half a second that it flared up, the flame overexposed the image. I ended up with a picture where every looked dark. Second: The flame will last for only about half a second. When it has subsided, immediately add the bowl of light soy and dark soy sauce mixture. Third: The mixed soy sauce will boil almost instantly. That's a desireable effect. Stir once very quickly. Fourth: Immediately, add the noodles to the pan. Fifth: Also add the bean sprouts. Stir the noodles and bean sprouts and toss. Make sure that the soy sauce is evenly distributed in the noodles. Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes. Re-add the chicken shreds to the pan. Stir-fry for another minute or 2. Finished. (Note: the quantity shown here is about half of the quantity made.)
  19. I love to eat fava beans even though they're a pain to prepare. Usually, I prepare them in Mediterranean dishes where I'll use cook them with pancetta, pecorino cheese, etc.. And,in my lifetime, I've eaten so many chinese meals that I'm sure I must be part chinese by now. But, I've just learned that China is the biggest grower of fava beans in the world and I'm curious what do the Chinese do with fava beans. I don't recall eating any fava bean dishes in a Chinese restaurant. Anybody have any recipes?
  20. Well, this recipe has been in my family since forever, and over the years, I've added some stuff to further enhance the flavours....like the konbu, kao man gai sauce and saffron. Hope to share a bit of Singaporean food with everyone here. By all means, adjust the quantities of everything here to your taste....I seldom measure when cooking this, just a bit of this and that. All measurements here are approximate when given. Anyway, if any of you have been to Singapore, you will be familiar, hopefully, with Hainanese Chicken Rice. Its a Singaporean dish created by Hainanese people (From the Hainan province in China) when they emigrated to Singapore. Its a long long recipe for description, but reveals the secrets of Hainanese chicken rice. Its really very easy. Also, most of the techniques and ingredients have been run through a mate of mine, whose family runs Loy Kee, one of the best and largest Hainanese chicken rice stores in Singapore. Components of Dish: (a) Boiled Chicken (b) Chicken Rice © Sauces (d) Soup For the Chicken (1) 1 large whole chicken, with head, feet, etc..etc... (2) 1 Large knob of ginger (3) 4 cloves of garlic (4) 1 bunch of Pandanus leaves (Might be hard to find if you are not in Asia!) (5) 1 piece of konbu (6) Ice for preparing an ice water bath (7) Tomatoes, cilantro and cucumbers (8) Kikkoman naturally brewed soy sauce (Other brands may taste wierd) (9) Fragrant sesame oil (Chee Seng brand is the best) - Set a large pot with enough water to cover, thow in the chicken's head and feet as well as the tied up pandanus leaves - Wash the rice properly and leave in colander to strain all water - Rub the chicken inside and outside generously with salt, then rinse it away with water - Cut away large flaps of fat around the cavity above the bishop's nose and around the neck. Place fat into a small pan and cook gently over a small fire to extract the chicken oil for use with the rice - Peel garlic, peel and slice ginger into the size of your country's coins! Shove into chicken's cavity - When water has come to a boil, put the chicken breast down into the water - Add the konbu (The konbu contains natural MSG, which brings out the flavour of the chicken) - Cook the chicken uncovered on medium heat for 20 mins - After 20 mins, switch off the heat and steep the chicken in the hot water for a further 20 - 30 mins - Use a meat thermometer and poke it into the thigh to make sure its just cooked. - The meat in the thigh has to be slightly pink. - The gentle cooking in the hot water prevents the chicken proteins from contracting too much and toughening due to high heat, thereby preserving a juicy and smooth texture. Thank Howard McGhee for that explanation. - Prepare the ice water bath in a pot large enough to submerge the whole chicken - Dump the hot chicken into the cold water to immediately stop the cooking process. Leave it there till its cool. - When chicken is cool, debone it a la Martin Yan, I usually chop up the backbone and serve along....if you don't want to, make sure to dig out the meat, especially the 'oysters'. - Slice cucumbers, tomatoes - Arrange everything on a plate, drizzle sesame oil over chicken...be generous - Drizzle soy sauce over chicken....be generous too! For the Chicken Saffron Rice: (1)1 large knob Ginger (2) 1 large head Garlic (3) Long grain jasmine rice (Amount up to your requirements), washed and left to drip dry on a colander at least 30 mins (4) Pinch of saffron or more........as I get Iranian saffron for cheap.....I put 2 pinches (5) 1 piece of konbu (6) Salt (7) Broth from cooking chicken (8) Rendered chicken fat (9) 1 bunch of pandanus leaves - Finely mince ginger and garlic....use more if you like. I use ALOT. - In a hot hot wok, put in the chicken fat + some veg oil if not enough - Fry ginger and garlic till fragrant but not browned, throw in raw, washed rice and toss well - Salt to taste - Fry rice till its dry and whitish. This extended frying of raw rice ensures that when its cooked, it absorbs the maximum amount of stock possible - Put rice into a rice cooker, ladel in stock till the appropriate level...and add 3 to 4 tbs more to compensate for the extra dryness of the rice - Tie up the pandanus leaves, throw it into the rice cooker along with the konbu and saffron - When rice is cooked, remove konbu and pandanus, fluff the rice For the chilli dipping sauce: (11) 6 Fresh Chillies, preferably bird's eye (12) Juice of 8 Limes (13) 1 clove of garlic (14) 1 knob of ginger, sliced (15) Sugar to taste (16) Salt to taste - Blend everything togather For the Garlic/Ginger/Spring Onion sauce: (1) 5 cloves garlic, peeled (2) 1 knob ginger, peeled (3) 1 bunch spring onions (5) Salt to taste (6) A few tbs of veg oil - Blend everything togather Thai Kao Man Gai Sauce: (1) 10 Birds eye chillies, chopped up with seeds (2) 6 cloves garlic, minced (3) 1 knob ginger, minced (4) Ground bean sauce (Dtao jiu) (5) Stock from chicken These soybeans (Dtao jiu) are sold in a bottle and the best one for this Thai style sauce is this one http://importfood.com/sakh2103.html - Combine the garlic, chilli and ginger togather - Add bean sauce to taste (Its salty so add a bit at a time!) - Add chicken stock sparingly to dilute and add flavour - The sauce consistency should be thick enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon, be slightly salty, but not overtly so. For the Chicken Broth Soup (1) Chinese cabbage (Napa Cabbage or Wong Bok) (2) Daikon or Great White Radish (3) Pre boiled chicken feet (My favourite!!!!) (4) A few tbs of chinese wolfberries (5) Chicken livers (Another favourite!) (6) Chinese hairy melon (7) Chinese dried mussels (If you like the flavour ) (8) Thinly sliced lotus roots (9) The rest of the stock (10) 1 to 2 tbs of Japanese MSG-free dashi powder (Dashi no moto). This adds a further dimension of flavour that I really love. (11) Salt and pepper to taste - Boil everything togather till its cooked, add water if necessary, salt and pepper to taste To Serve - Plate rice, garnish with cilantro - Divide sauces into small chinese sauce bowls - Dish soup individually - Place chicken in the centre of table.....everyone uses chopsticks to eat it chinese style If you guys aren't used to sharing the main dishes with chopsticks....just serve individually. Thanks for reading this far, its a long recipe but easy to make and utterly delicious. Just wanted to share a recipe with everyone here and hope you all go try it and enjoy it like I have. Cheers!
  21. Here's a question for you: is there anything out there, and more on the nose anything I've got a chance of finding here in Ecuador, that is an acceptable substitute for Pandan leaves? (I've got access to everything from breadfruits to various jasmines, but Pandan is sadly lacking in this country.) I have a serious hankering for Hainanese Chicken Rice, and every recipe I can find calls for them as a major component of the flavour. Alternately, will the dish come out tasting proper without them?
  22. I'm considering buying Florence Lin's Complete Book of Chinese Noodles, Dumplings and Breads. It's out of print but it's possible to get hold of it but it's expensive. I've seen some brief reviews on this site and basically, most of them rate it quite well if not highly. I would like to hear what people who've got this book think of it? Have they tried making noodles from the recipes provided? Have they made any of the noodle soups/dishes and how did they turn out? And also, how to you rate the dumplings and bread recipes? It's a shame that they don't do a re-print. Thanks in advance.
  23. Hello all, My name in Rustem, I live in Switzerland. I was reading this forum for few of years (well, mostly watching photos in “chinese eats at home” topic and getting salivation:). I like Chinese food, especially stir-fry and I want to cook it at home. I have electrical stove with ceramic surface and after reading internet and reviews I went to a shop and bought an expensive BODUM CAST IRON WOK K0810. I followed every word of user manual. Though, every time I cook something it sticks to the surface at the bottom (chicken, meet, noodles – everything, except vegetables), burns and forms a layer of burned staff which is hard to remove. I am very disappointed because this wok has the “special one-layer coating which is a mixture of glass and porcelain” and supposed to be non-stick (ot it is just a marketing bullshit ?). I noticed that inside surface of my wok is not smooth, but with little bumps (I believe it is called “coarse surface”) - could it be a reason why food sticks to it ? Another problem that no matter for how long I pre-heat wok, it starts with very good temperature (oil is smoking), but loses it quickly so food is not fried but steamed and I believe it is mostly because of layer of burned staff at the bottom which blocks the heat. Can somebody help me to understand what I am doing wrong? Jest to let you know: - I use maximum heat setting on my stove. Though, stove is too “smart” and turns off heating element periodically, I cannot control it. But I don't think temperature is the problem as wok is hot enough to smoke the oil. - I pre-heat for 10 min dry wok until it is hot (it is a heavy wok and it takes time to heat it !), then add oil and wait few seconds until it starts smoking. - then add ingredients such garlic and ginger (almost every recipe starts with them) and they immediately stick to the bottom and burn !! If I add meat before , it sticks too. Please help me. I really want to archive the results of this video: As you can see nothing stick to his wok, not even noodles ! Do you think it is doable with my current wok and stove ? Should I buy new wok ? Which one ? Thank you Rustem.
  24. I'm considering making my own won ton skins/wrappers. Has anybody here tried to make them? If so, do you have a recipe? I do have an Italian pasta maker with rollers so maybe that would be helpful? Any ideas most welcome.
  25. We just went tonight for our anniversary dinner. We loved it. We made reservations and there was no waiting. The food was great. Had the lettuce wraps which were great. The spring rolls that my husband had were very good as well. I had the salt and pepper prawns which were amazing and my husband had the sweet and sour pork which was pretty good. Desert which was shared and couldn't even finish was the BANANA SPRING ROLLS coconut-pineapple ice cream and drizzled with caramel and vanilla sauces. It was outstanding! We're definitely going back!
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