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nickrey

Chiuchow Cuisine

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nickrey   

Having been lucky enough to sample the food at the T-Chow Chinese restaurant in Adelaide, South Australia, I've developed a strong interest in this form of cuisine. It is variously known as Chiuchow cuisine, Teochew cuisine, Chaozhou cuisine, or Chaoshan cuisine (Chinese: 潮州菜) [descriptions and Chinese characters from Wikipedia].

My problem is that I have not been able to find any cookbooks on this style of food. Some cookbooks have a few recipes but I've not been able to find one that has more than this.

Can anyone help out?

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I can't help, but I'm very interested too. T Chow was one of my favourite restaurants in Adelaide, and I have tried to recreate the dishes I ate with varying degrees of success. Some kind of guidance would be much appreciated.

Nick,

What did you eat? My favourites were the cabbage rolls, the salty fish rice and the oyster omelette.

EDIT: And the tender duck!


Edited by Nayan Gowda (log)

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nickrey   

I also had the duck, the oyster omelette, and a vegetable dish.

They also had a special menu to die. From this, if memory serves me correctly, I had stingray; which was a cold dish. My father, who accompanied me, was brave enough to try this, which was a real achievement.

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Will   

Having been lucky enough to sample the food at the T-Chow Chinese restaurant in Adelaide, South Australia, I've developed a strong interest in this form of cuisine. It is variously known as Chiuchow cuisine, Teochew cuisine, Chaozhou cuisine, or Chaoshan cuisine (Chinese: 潮州菜) [descriptions and Chinese characters from Wikipedia].

My problem is that I have not been able to find any cookbooks on this style of food. Some cookbooks have a few recipes but I've not been able to find one that has more than this.

I'm not sure you will find much in the way of cookbooks, especially in English. There's only so much out there in English even about famous Chinese cuisines. Online, you may be able to find a few things. Chaozhou / Chaoshan cuisine is in some ways a subset of Cantonese cooking (since Chaoshan is technically in Guangdong), but the style is slightly different, partly because of its proximity to Fujian. If there are specific recipes you are looking for, that might be a good place to start, since those could probably be found online.

Starting with some basic Cantonese cookbooks and trying to incorporate the seasonings / stocks mentioned in the Wikpedia article might also be worthwhile (as would learning to make the style of congee / rice soup mentioned in the Wikipedia article). I believe Andrea Nguyen has the recipe for Gu Chai Gue (jiu cai guo) in her book (these "dumplings" are made with Chinese leek / garlic chive, and the outside is the wheat starch wrapper used for har gow / xia jiao, not the one used for normal jiaozi.

Chaozhou cuisine has been pretty popular in some places (like HK) for a while, but where I live, at least, most Chaozhou restaurants don't purely serve the cuisine of that area, but also have either more straight-ahead Cantonese food or Vietnamese food. There are a lot of people from that area who have settled in SE Asia (Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, etc.), so you see a lot of that influence.

You could take a look at http://thelittleteochew.blogspot.com/ -- the name refers to the person, not the cuisine, but but you will find a few recipes and some information about the cuisine there. Learning to make the Muay (plain rice porridge) mentioned in the Wikipedia article would also be a good idea. I'm not sure whether it's made completely white (without stock or fish) or whether Chinese dried scallops are used in the cooking. I would assume you use sticky rice, as with zhou / jook, rather than cooked rice (as with the xi fan made in some other areas).

I think you'll find a bunch of recipes on this site (a friend mentioned it recently, and came across it again today while responding to this post):

Are these helpful as a starting point?

http://rasamalaysia.com/teochew-braised-duck-lo-ack/

http://rasamalaysia.com/fried-eggs-with-preserved-turnip/#more-5422

http://rasamalaysia.com/fried-radish-cake-recipe/

http://thelittleteochew.blogspot.com/2009/05/homemade-radish-cake.html

http://roseskitchen.wordpress.com/2007/02/24/koo-chai-kueh/

Hopefully, if there are any folks from that area on this board, they will grace us with some of their home cooking recipes.


Edited by Will (log)

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Will   

Should have guessed from the name; unlike most Cantonese rice porridge, the 潮州糜 (mei / mue) is made with cooked (normal) rice, not with uncooked sticky rice. I'll try to find a recipe online when I have more time, but basically, take cooked white rice and cook it with more water (maybe 8:1 as a starting point).

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Ce'nedra   

Will, I'm also interested in Teochew cuisine because it's part of own heritage (dad) and there is a particular cookbook I've had my eye on called 'The Food and Cooking of South China: Discover the vibrant flavors of Cantonese, Shantou, Hakka and Island cuisine' by Terry Tan. The "Shantou" mentioned is a Teochew city (within Chaoshan...and also happens to be the city of my ancestry). Unfortunately, I have not yet flipped through the book because I've only caught sight of it online.

But for now, this seems closest to what you're looking for.

However, you may also want to check out some Fujian cookbooks because Teochew is very similar to it (not just because of proximity but the Teochew were in fact a migrating group of people from southern Fujian itself) and shares many dishes.

I have 'Cooking from China's Fujian Province' by Jacqueline M. Newman and while I haven't had the time to cook from it, the recipes seem very authentic.

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LT Wong   

Teochew cuisine generally has a lighter touch where seasonings are concerned to allow the freshness of the ingredients used to shine. A case in point is their steamed fish which uses sour plum, salted vegetables, pieces of lard, tomatoes. I've not come across a book that is dedicated solely to it, so will be interested to find out what Jacqueline Newman's book contains.

You will be able to surf and come up with some recipes. The Teochew recipes from South East Asia may sometimes include the use of ingredients not common in mainland Chinese cooking, because the Teochew and Hokkien Chinese had married South East Asians to produce the Peranakans or nyonyas-babas, who have a unique cuisine. The use of lemongrass and galangal in the braised duck recipe here - My link from Will is one example. My recipe for braised duck is very similar to it, although goose would have been the preferred bird.

We would never use the har gao wrapper for the chive dumpling; making the dumpling skin is an art in itself.

Are there specific dishes that you would be interested in? Some typical dishes would include pig's ear in aspic, oyster omelette (two varieties - the soft and the crispy variety), fish maw soup, steamed fish - pomfret is a favourite fish, braised goose/duck and of course, for dessert, or nee (which is a rich paste of mashed yam with lard and coconut milk).

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nickrey   

Thanks so very much Will. I've ordered the book and will report back about its contents.

And thank you LT Wong, any of those recipes would be great.

Ce'nedra, I know you have a strong interest in regional Chinese cooking so am not surprised that you have also been sourcing books on this area. That Fujian book looks very interesting as well.

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Will   

I've always been curious about the assertion in the Wikipedia article that Chaozhou cuisine is famous for its vegetarian dishes... is there any truth to this? Folks I know who are from this region or visit this region don't seem to be aware of these dishes, though I'd love to hear about them if they do.

Chaozhou is also, of course, famous as the birthplace of gongfu tea, and the region is notable also for its locally produced tea (Fenghuangshan teas such as Fenghuang Shui Xian (different from Wuyi Shui Xian) and Fenghuang Dancong), Shantou / Chaozhou teapots and clay stoves / kettles (all made from local clay).

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I agree wholeheartedly with everyone who loves Chaozhou (aka Teochew or Chiuchow) cuisine. It has to be one of the best around, especially when seafood is on the menu. A dish that is quite popular in Taiwan is Dry Fried Flounder, and I'm pretty certain that this is from Chaozhou, since it has all of the flavor elements of that region. Does anyone know for sure?

Anyway, I never could find a recipe for a dish that we always order in restaurants, so I had a lot of try & fail experiences in working this one out. Finally, after too many attempts to mention, I'm happy to report complete success! This is my own recipe, so I hope you enjoy it as much as we do...

flounder.gif></a></p><p><strong>Dry fried flounder</strong> -- 乾煎龍利  <em>Ganjian longli</em></p><p>Serves 4 to 6 as part of a multicourse meal, or 2 to 3 as a main entree</p><p>1 whole flounder or other flatfish, about 1 pound (see Tips)</p><p>2 teaspoons sea salt</p><p>2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine</p><p>6 cups (or more) frying oil (see Tips)</p><p>2 tablespoons fresh peanut or vegetable oil</p><p>3 green onions, trimmed</p><p>3 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine</p><p>3 tablespoons filtered water or stock</p><p>2 teaspoons regular soy sauce, or to taste</p><p>½ teaspoon sugar</p><p>1. Gut the fish by cutting under the chin and removing the small pouch of organs; scrape out any black skin in there, as this is often very bitter. Remove the gills, too, which look like pink eyelashes. Scale the fish by scraping a knife from tail to head on both sides of the fish; when you are done and all the scales have been washed off, the fish should look pink rather than gray. </p><p>2. Pat the fish dry with a paper towel or two and lay it on a cutting board. Use your knife to cut diagonal slashes a little more than an inch apart, from about a 10:00 position down to a 4:00 position; these should go all the way down to (but not through) the bones, and cover the entire width of the fish body, but do not cut into the frills around the edge. Flip the fish over and do the same thing. (Make sure that the cuts use the same angle on both sides so that when you hold the fish up to the light, you can see XXX marks down its body. This keeps the fish from falling apart as you fry it, while allowing the meat to cook very quickly.)</p><p>3. Lay the fish on a platter and rub the salt into both sides. Sprinkle it with the 2 teaspoons rice wine, and let it marinate for 10 to 20 minutes. At the end of this time, drain off all of the marinade and pat the fish very, very dry. Wipe out even the inside of the head and cavity so that there are no drops of water to explode in the hot oil. Then. lay the fish on a dry paper towel while you prepare everything else.</p><p>4. Pour enough frying oil into your wok so that it is at least 1½ inches deep; this will ensure that there is enough hot oil to rapidly fry the fish and make it both crispy and succulent. Heat the oil over high until it starts to smoke. While you are waiting, prepare a serving platter, and have a pair of cooking chopsticks, a wok spatula, and either a spatter screen or a large lid ready. Also, make the sauce in the next step so that it is ready when the fish is.</p><p>5. Prepare the sauce in a small pan by heating the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over high heat until it is sizzling, and then adding the green onions. Stir them quickly over the high heat to release their fragrance, and then add the rest of the rice wine, water or stock, soy sauce, and sugar. Bring the sauce to a boil, taste, and adjust the seasoning. Turn off the heat under the sauce.</p><p>6. While the oil is heating up, clear the kitchen of children and pets and anyone who will get in your way. </p><p>7. Holding the fish by the tail in one hand and either the spatter screen or the lid in your other, slide the fish into the hot oil and immediately cover the wok with the screen or lid, as the water in the flesh will start to explode. This will die down fast, and if you can, keep your grip on the tail so that you slide the fish around so that all of it gets a chance to brown. There is no need to flip the fish over if you have enough hot oil; just use your spatula to lightly press down on the fish and scoot it around. When the fish has fried for about 5 minutes, slide the tail end in so that all of the tail fin gets fried, too; this is a very thin part of the fish, so it will fry up fast. </p><p>8. Depending upon your fish, the heat of your stove, and the depth of the oil, the fish will be ready in about 7 to 10 minutes. It should be a golden brown all over, the fins and frills will be browned and crispy, and the meat will have pulled away from the bones where you slashed the flesh (see the top photo). Place your platter next to the wok. Use your spatula to scoop down under the fish body and your chopsticks to steady the tail end to lift up the fish, drain off the oil, and place it carefully on your platter. If you feel uneasy about this, use two spatulas, or even ask someone to help. (Turn off the heat and push the wok to the back of the stove out of harm

9. Bring the sauce to a quick boil and pour it over the fish. Serve immediately.

Tips

NOTE: SERVE THIS ONLY TO PEOPLE WHO UNDERSTAND THAT THE BONES ARE NOT TO BE EATEN, ONLY THE FINS AND FRILLS. The bones inside the flesh will be hard and are inedible. Do not serve this to people who are unclear on this point, and this includes children, as they could choke on the hard bones.

Use whatever local flatfish you have that is sustainable and tasty. This link gives some good suggestions.

Do not use a fish that is much larger than a pound here unless you have a restaurant-sized wok. The ratio of fish to hot oil is important, and if the fish is either too thick or too long, it won't cook fast enough and will crumble.

Be sure to use a large amount of oil here. This is crucial to achieving the correct balance of crisp edges and succulent meat before the skeleton cooks too and the fish dissolves into a sodden mess.

Salting the fish helps draw out more of the moisture, since water in hot oil explodes. Also, it lowers the temperature of the oil, and the drier the fish, the faster it cooks.

When drying the fish, don't skimp on the paper towels.

The oil can be reused, since flounder and other flatfish are very mild flavored. Just strain the cooled oil and store it in a cool, dark place, like the fridge. Toss it whenever it starts to darken or have a strong aroma.

Once you master this dish, make it your own. Season it with other aromatics, or even change the sauce. It's up to you.

There's a Chaozhou restaurant in Shanghai, Howard's Kitchen, that I've been meaning to try, but at about $150 a head it's quite pricey, more than double what one would spend even at other very fancy Chinese restaurants.

The review says it has a focus on fresh seafood, but I could spend that money at a sushi place. Anyway, those of you that know more about Chaozhou cuisine, convince me to go to this restaurant. What should I expect?

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jo-mel   

There was a ChiuChow resterant in NYC's Chinatown (long since closed) that had a great chicken dish that had a strange flaky flavorful crispy vegetable -- that turned out to be deep fried spinach. I've never had it this way in any dish and was delighted when I found a recipe for it. Interested in it?

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nickrey   

Yes please. I've use deep fried baby spinach before on a fish dish from a Nobu recipe and it would be lovely to see how it is used in the chicken dish.

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jo-mel   

CHIU CHOW CHICKEN WITH CRISPY SPINACH

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs

Marinade:

1 tsp, dark soy

1 tsp. light soy sauce

1 tsp.sugar

1 tsp. sesame oil

1 tsp. sherry

1 egg white, beaten

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

Sauce: 1 Tbsp. oyster sauce

½ tsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. chicken broth

1 tsp. cornstarch

3 cups oil

½ pound fresh spinach

2 scallions sliced diagonally

1 tsp. coarsely ground pepper

1 Tbsp. sherry or Shao-Hsing wine

1 scallion finely sliced for garnish

PREPARTIONS:

Cut the chicken into 1 inch pieces. / Combine the ingredients for the marinade. / Add the chicken and mix well. / Allow to sit 20 to 30 minutes / Combine the ingredients for the sauce and set aside. / Trim and wash the spinach AND DRY WELL!!! / Measure the pepper in a cup and set aside. / Measure the sherry in a cup and set aside. / Slice the scallion and set aside.

COOKING:

Heat a wok and add the oil. (Have a cover handy for the splatter) When oil has reached 375’, add a handful of spinach, bar against the splatter, and deep/fry for about 30 seconds or until the leaves change color. Remove to paper towels. Continue with the rest of the spinach.

Heat the oil to 350’. Stir the chicken, add to the oil and gently stir around to separate pieces. When golden, about 2 to 3 minutes, remove and drain from the oil.

Drain oil, or use new wok. Add 2 Tbsp oil and heat. Add diagonal scallions and stir/fry a few moments. Add the pepper. Stir. Return the chicken and heat. Add the sherry, stir in to coat the chicken. Stir the sauce mix and add to the chicken. Stir till all is hot.

SERVING: Place spinach around a platter, and place the chicken in the center. Sprinkle with the scallions and serve.

Alternate Method:

Rather than velvet the Chicken, you can stir/fry it.

MARINADE:

2 Tbsp. dark soy

1 tsp. sherry

1 tsp. sugar

salt to taste

2 tsp. cornstarch

Stir/fry in 2 Tbsp. oil, adding a sprinkle of water if needed to keep chicken from drying out.

Remove chicken from wok and continue with the recipe.

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