Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Chris Hennes

Cooking with "Stir-frying to the Sky's Edge" (Grace Young)

Recommended Posts

I just got a copy of Grace Young's "Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge"—I enjoyed cooking from "Breath of a Wok" and wanted to continue on that path. Does anyone else have this book? Have you cooked anything from it?

Here was dinner tonight:

Spicy Dry-Fried Beef (p. 70)

I undercooked the beef just a bit due to a waning propane supply (I use an outdoor propane-powered wok burner), but there's nothing to complain about here. It's a relatively mild dish that lets the flavors of the ingredients (and the wok) speak. Overall I liked it, at will probably make it again (hopefully with a full tank of gas).

Spicy Dry-Fried Beef.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mbhank   

I love Grace Young's books and have all of them...I think. I have cooked one thing out of Sky's Edge and I know I liked it but I made it when the book first came out and I don't remember which one it is. Right now the book is on loan to my Podiatrist and I'll have it back in a couple of weeks.

Her recipes are understated as they probably are in China but they are excellent. I don't think there was one I didn't like in Breath of a Wok.

BTW - Ming Tsais new book Ming's One Pot Meals looks very good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
nakji   

Does the book only contain recipes for stir-fried dishes?

That looks like some fine cleaver work on the carrots and peppers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
nakji   

Rookie.

It's not a good night in my kitchen unless I've almost taken off a fingertip, I imagine a mandoline would make that even more likely to happen.

What's the green veg in with the carrot?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Celery—the recipe is 2 cups carrots, 1 cup celery, and 10 oz beef, plus garlic, ginger, scallions, etc. I love celery, I think next time I might actually include more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stir-Fried Cucumber and Pork with Golden Garlic (p. 73)

This dish was surprisingly bland, at least to my palate. Despite having three tablespoons of garlic to two servings, the way the garlic is cooked tones its flavor down to nearly imperceptible levels. The cucumbers faded into the background, and I was left with basically soy sauce and salt. It wasn't bad, per se, but it wasn't exactly good either. Just sort of... OK. Maybe my cucumbers were too bland?

Stir-Fried Cucumber and Pork with Golden Garlic.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
nakji   
Celery—the recipe is 2 cups carrots, 1 cup celery, and 10 oz beef, plus garlic, ginger, scallions, etc. I love celery, I think next time I might actually include more.

Did you use Chinese celery or western celery? I can't stand most celery in supermarkets in Canada, but the thin kind sold here is lovely. It's not thready at all, and it has a concentrated celery flavour.

This dish was surprisingly bland, at least to my palate. Despite having three tablespoons of garlic to two servings, the way the garlic is cooked tones its flavor down to nearly imperceptible levels. The cucumbers faded into the background, and I was left with basically soy sauce and salt. It wasn't bad, per se, but it wasn't exactly good either. Just sort of... OK. Maybe my cucumbers were too bland?

What kind of cucumbers did you use? Japanese or Kirby cucumbers would provide better flavour than "English" cucumbers, if you have access to them this time of year.

To be honest, not a lot of Grace Young's recipes look that inspiring to me.

BUT, that being said, are you only serving these dishes alone with rice? Because a dish like that might shine in a meal where you're serving a soup, a spicy dish, a braise, and maybe a pickle alongside. It's more of a counterpoint dish, isn't it? For two people, that's too much, but when I stir-fry dinner I always have a separate green or other veg and a pickle on the table as well, so I can take advantage of the contrasts. A plainer dish like that I'd pair with a spicy daikon pickle and maybe a soft vegetable? Braised pumpkin, say.

There are always leftovers, but they get bunged into a Lock n' lock for lunch.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Did you use Chinese celery or western celery? I can't stand most celery in supermarkets in Canada, but the thin kind sold here is lovely. It's not thready at all, and it has a concentrated celery flavour.

I used Western celery: I didn't even think to pick up Chinese celery for this dish, I always have Western on hand. Maybe I'll try that, too.

What kind of cucumbers did you use? Japanese or Kirby cucumbers would provide better flavour than "English" cucumbers, if you have access to them this time of year.

The recipe specifically calls for English, so that's what I used. I guess I didn't communicate my criticism very well in that last post: when I said it was "bland" I didn't just mean "mildly flavored" I really meant "devoid of the flavors of its components." If I'm going to put pork, garlic, and cucumber in a dish, I want that dish to taste like pork, cucumber, and garlic. This one tasted like soy sauce. I don't mind "mildly-flavored" dishes, though I agree that sometimes they are best as a counterpoint. I still have not figured out how to add a third or fourth component to these meals without generating mounds of leftovers (or eating too much!).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli (p. 89)

This was much better than last night's dish: the flavors were bold but not overpowering, with several layers going on. The predominant taste is dark soy sauce, but the fermented black beans, broccoli, and beef all come through separately, giving variety to each bite.

Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stir-Fried Chicken with Black Bean Sauce (p. 137)

This dish was another very good one: not perfect, perhaps (I would have liked a bit more heat), but reasonably well-balanced with a good range of flavors. And no sesame oil! I was starting to wonder if all Young's recipes had sesame oil in them to finish. Is that technique really that common in China?

Stir-Fried Chicken with Black Bean Sauce.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
nakji   

I rarely taste sesame oil at all in Jiangsu, outside of my own kitchen - I can't speak for other provinces, though. I think I've had it drizzled over the odd cold dish here and there, but most things seem to use peanut oil. However, that could be a cost factor. Home kitchens might feel free to use it, where restaurants may find it too expensive to be, uh, splashing out on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mbhank   

I think Grace is Cantonese therefore her recipes will be on the mild side. I will usually add heat to Cantonese dishes myself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
hzrt8w   

I was starting to wonder if all Young's recipes had sesame oil in them to finish. Is that technique really that common in China?

Nope. That may be a diaspora Chinese thing.

And carrots are rarely seen in black bean sauce dishes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
nakji   

I hardly ever see carrots at all in Jiangsu. Are they common in Cantonese cooking, or is their use another diaspora thing?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stir-Fried Cumin-Scented Beef with Vegetables (p. 74)

Well, nakji, here is another recipe with carrots in it (though no black beans this time). I was quite surprised to see cumin in the dish as this is the first time I've seen it used in Chinese (Chinese-style?) cooking: it was really good, definitely a nice change of pace. The beef is cooked using a technique Young calls "jau yau" (she doesn't provide the Chinese characters, but says it translates to "passing through oil"). It amounts to deep-frying the beef at low temp for a few seconds before preparing the rest of the stir fry as normal. I was worried that the dish would wind up oily as a result, but fortunately it didn't. The beef wound up wonderfully succulent, although I think that Young has you add the tomatoes too early, mine basically disintegrated.

Stir-Fried Cumin-Scented Beef with Vegetables.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
heidih   

Chris- that oil technique sounds like "velveting"- does someone know if it is the same?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

According to the book, it's just like velveting, except without using any egg white.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dejah   

Velveting is not always with egg white. I have never used egg white or "passing through oil". For me, velveting is marinating meat with a little oil and cornstarch after seasoning. The effect is the same and less labour involved.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The effect definitely isn't the same: several of the above recipes marinate the meat with cornstarch and oil and then stir fry. Tonight's technique resulted in a dramatically different texture.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
hzrt8w   

The beef is cooked using a technique Young calls "jau yau" (she doesn't provide the Chinese characters, but says it translates to "passing through oil"). It amounts to deep-frying the beef at low temp for a few seconds before preparing the rest of the stir fry as normal.

The Chinese characters for "jau yau" is: 走油

The purpose is to cook (slightly undercook) the meat, typically beef, chicken or pork, in hot oil before stir-frying with other vegetables and seasoning. I don't believe it is "low temperature" though. How low? It is not going to be simmer. The oil needs to be hot enough to cook (undercook) the meat within a minute or so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
nakji   

Stir-Fried Cumin-Scented Beef with Vegetables (p. 74)

Well, nakji, here is another recipe with carrots in it (though no black beans this time). I was quite surprised to see cumin in the dish as this is the first time I've seen it used in Chinese (Chinese-style?) cooking: it was really good, definitely a nice change of pace. The beef is cooked using a technique Young calls "jau yau" (she doesn't provide the Chinese characters, but says it translates to "passing through oil"). It amounts to deep-frying the beef at low temp for a few seconds before preparing the rest of the stir fry as normal. I was worried that the dish would wind up oily as a result, but fortunately it didn't. The beef wound up wonderfully succulent, although I think that Young has you add the tomatoes too early, mine basically disintegrated.

Stir-Fried Cumin-Scented Beef with Vegetables.jpg

Cumin seems to be a lot more common ingredient than carrots in Suzhou. It's often used with beef or lamb in Chinese cooking, am I right? My favourite Xinjiang place here uses it liberally on all its lamb dishes; I've also had an excellent beef with cumin in a Dongbei restaurant in Beijing. Ms. Dunlop provides a recipe for beef with cumin in Revolutionary Cuisine.

Further to hzrt8w's explanation on jau yau/zou you, from Yan Kit-so's "Classic Chinese Cookbook":

In Chinese cooking, there are two types of deep-frying. In one, the ingredients are deep-fried crisp and cooked through; in the other they are deep fried just long enough to seal in their juices. This is know as "going through the oil," and is a preparatory step to the sophisticated stir-frying invariably used in Chinese restaurants. Although it produces a more refined result in certain dishes, it is not essential for everyday cooking.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Chinese characters for "jau yau" is: 走油

The purpose is to cook (slightly undercook) the meat, typically beef, chicken or pork, in hot oil before stir-frying with other vegetables and seasoning. I don't believe it is "low temperature" though. How low? It is not going to be simmer. The oil needs to be hot enough to cook (undercook) the meat within a minute or so.

Sorry, when I said "low temperature" was thinking of it in comparison to a conventional deep fry (which I would consider to be circa 350°F oil) whereas the oil here was only 280°F. Obviously, "low temp" is not quite right! I cooked the beef maybe 20-30 seconds in the oil: it was not cooked through, but had mostly turned from pink to gray on the outside.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cantonese-Style Stir-Fried Pork with Chinese Broccoli (p. 77)

This recipe is attributed to Chef Danny Chan, and as Young points out, the professional chef's style shows. It felt like nearly every liquid ingredient was divided into two or three parts and formed into various mixtures to be added at different times along the way. In theory that is all well and good, but in reality, I just didn't find this dish to be worth the trouble. The flavor was no better than the half dozen other recipes in the book with the same basic seasonings. Part of the problem was my broccoli, though: it was almost completely flavorless... very disappointing. I also wished for more water chestnuts, but that's mostly just my love of water chestnuts talking, no real culinary insight.

Cantonese-Style Stir-Fried Pork with Chinese Broccoli.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
liuzhou   
I was quite surprised to see cumin in the dish as this is the first time I've seen it used in Chinese (Chinese-style?) cooking

Cumin is one of the few spices I can buy in the local supermarkets here in China. It is quite common. Hunan Cumin Beef is well known.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By liuzhou
      We are all used to unami now. Maybe it's time to consider gan. Particularly found in teas, but also in other foods. An interesting article from a great magazine.
       
      Going, going gan
    • By liuzhou
      I’m an idiot. It’s official.
       
      A couple of weeks back, on another thread, the subject of celtuce and its leafing tops came up (somewhat off-topic). Someone said that the tops are difficult to find in Asian markets and I replied that I also find the tops difficult to find here in China. Nonsense. They are very easy to find. They just go under a completely different name from the stems – something which had slipped my very slippery mind.
       
      So, here on-topic is some celtuce space.
       
      First, for those who don’t know what celtuce is, let me say it is a variety of lettuce which looks nothing like a lettuce. It is very popular in southern mainland China and Taiwan. It is also known in English as stem lettuce, celery lettuce, asparagus lettuce, or Chinese lettuce. In Chinese it is 莴笋 wō sǔn or 莴苣 wō jù, although the latter can simply mean lettuce of any variety.

      Lactuca sativa var. asparagina is 'celtuce' for the technically minded.
       

       
      Those in the picture are about 40 cm (15.7 inches) long and have a maximum diameter of 5 cm (2 inches). The stems are usually peeled, sliced and used in various stir fries, although they can also be braised, roasted etc. The taste is somewhere between lettuce and celery, hence the name. The texture is more like the latter.
       
      The leafing tops are, as I said, sold separately and under a completely different name. They are 油麦菜 yóu mài cài.
       

       
      These taste similar to Romaine lettuce and can be eaten raw in salads. In Chinese cuisine,  they are usually briefly stir fried with garlic until they wilt and served as a green vegetable – sometimes with oyster sauce.
       
      If you can find either the stems or leaves in your Asian market, I strongly recommend giving them a try.
    • By Duvel
      “… and so it begins!”
       
      Welcome to “Tales from the Fragrant Harbour”!
      In the next couple of days I am hoping to take you to a little excursion to Hong Kong to explore the local food and food culture as well as maybe a little bit more about my personal culinary background. I hope I can give you a good impression of what life is like on this side of the globe and am looking very forward to answering questions, engaging in spirited discussions and just can share a bit of my everyday life with you. Before starting with the regular revealing shots of my fridge’s content and some more information on myself, I’d like to start this blog and a slightly different place.
      For today's night, I ‘d like to report back from Chiba city, close to Tokyo, Japan. It’s my last day of a three day business trip and it’s a special day here in Japan: “Doyou no ushi no hi”. The “midsummer day of the ox”, which is actually one of the earlier (successful) attempts of a clever marketing stunt.  As sales of the traditional winter dish “Unagi” (grilled eel with sweet soy sauce) plummeted in summer, a clever merchant took advantage of the folk tale that food items starting with the letter “U” (like ume = sour plum and uri = gourd) dispel the summer heat, so he introduced “Unagi” as a new dish best enjoyed on this day. It was successful, and even in the supermarkets the sell Unagi-Don and related foods. Of course, I could not resist to take advantage and requested tonight dinner featuring eel. Thnaks to our kind production plant colleagues, I had what I was craving …
      (of course the rest of the food was not half as bad)

      Todays suggestion: Unagi (grilled eel) and the fitting Sake !
       

      For starters: Seeweed (upper left), raw baby mackerel with ginger (upper right) and sea snails. I did not care for the algae, but the little fishes were very tasty.
       

      Sahimi: Sea bream, Tuna and clam ...
       

      Tempura: Shrimp, Okra, Cod and Mioga (young pickled ginger sprouts).
       

      Shioyaki Ayu: salt-grilled river fish. I like this one a lot. I particularly enjoy the fixed shape mimicking the swimming motion. The best was the tail fin
       

      Wagyu: "nuff said ...
       

      Gourd. With a kind of jellied Oden stock. Nice !
       

      Unagi with Sansho (mountain pepper)
       

      So, so good. Rich and fat and sweet and smoky. I could eat a looooot of that ...
       

      Chawan Mushi:steamed egg custard. A bit overcooked. My Japanese hosts very surprised when I told them that I find it to be cooked at to high temperatures (causing the custard to loose it's silkiness), but they agreed.
       

      Part of the experience was of course the Sake. I enjoyed it a lot but whether this is the one to augment the taste of the Unagi I could not tell ...
       

      More Unagi (hey it's only twice per year) ...
       

      Miso soup with clams ...
       

      Tiramisu.
       

      Outside view of the restaurant. Very casual!
      On the way home I enjoyed a local IPA. Craft beer is a big thing in Japan at the moment (as probably anywhere else in the world), so at 29 oC in front of the train station I had this. Very fruity …

       
      When I came back to the hotel, the turn down service had made my bed and placed a little Origami crane on my pillow. You just have to love this attention to detail.

    • By CanadianSportsman
      Greetings,

      I've cooked several recipes from Keller's "Bouchon" the last couple of weeks, and have loved them all! At the moment (as in right this minute) I'm making the boeuf Bourguignon, and am a little confused about the red wine reduction. After reducing the wine, herbs, and veg for nearly an hour now, I'm nowhere near the consistancy of a glaze that Keller specifies. In fact, it looks mostly like the veg is on the receiving end of most of it. Is this how the recipe is meant to be? Can anybody tell me what kind of yield is expected? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you, kindly. 
    • By Soul_Venom
      The best Chinese food restaurant I have ever been to is a place called the Imperial Buffet in Aberdeen SD. Their General Tso's is unlike the Tso's anywhere else. The closes comparison I could make is the Orange Chicken at the Panda Garden only 3x better. Their Lo-Mein Noodles are done with the skill of a master Italian pasta chef & perfectly seasoned. They also used to do a mean fried squid. I say used to because they had it when I lived in Aberdeen from 02-04 but didn't when I visited in 15'. One of their other discontinued specialties was a dish advertised as 'Golden Fried Cauliflower'. Note, this was NOT a breaded product. The cauliflower was cooked as though it had been boiled perfectly. It was not greasy as I recall but was a golden orange color as was the sauce it was evidently cooked in. I never could identify the flavors in that sauce. I wish I could describe it better but it has been well over a decade since I had it. Is anyone familiar with it or something similar? I can't seem to find anything like it online & all my searches just bring up links to breaded deep-fried crap.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×