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hzrt8w

Tips on Chinese cooking techniques

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I want to dedicate this thread to share some Chinese cooking techniques, some of which may be handed down from one generation to another... tips that you don't normally find in cookbooks.

Some of these steps may seem insignificant, but they can make the difference between a mediocre dish and an extrodinary dish.


Edited by hzrt8w (log)

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Black bean sauce: smash the garlic and fermented black beans before cooking.

Stir-frying with black bean sauce is a very common dish. Be it beef, chicken, shrimp with black bean sauce, the recipe typically calls for using garlic and fermented black beans. I often see people cook the garlic and black beans separately on this dish.

Here is a tip for you: black beans do not release their "soy" taste when you cook them whole. When you are doing your preparation work, mince the garlic (or just use the side of a cleaver to whack them flat), rinse the fermented black beans, drain, then use a big table spoon to smash the black beans, then mix them with the minced garlic in a bowl to form a paste. This technique is similar to South-Asian cooking where they grind the ginger and other spices to form a paste before cooking.

When you are ready to cook the dish, heat up the wok/pan and add in cooking oil. Cook the garlic/black-bean paste first until fragrant, about 10 seconds, then add a few slices of chili pepper (or jalapeno), a bit of salt, a dash of vinegar/cooking wine, then add 1 diced onion to sautee for a minute, then add sliced green or red bell peppers. Sautee for a few more minutes. Add chicken broth or water. Bring it to a boil. Add the par-cooked (velveted) meat. Add sugar (if you like) and corn starch slurry to thicken the sauce. To enhance the "soy" flavor, I often add some light or dark soy sauce as well.

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A trick I learned from a Grace Young recipe made an astonishing difference in the flavor of the finished dish. After soaking dried mushrooms to rehydrate them (prior to adding them to a chicken stir-fry), the recipe called for the mushroom-soaking liquid to be strained, added to the wok full of chicken and vegetables, and boiled down hard to a syrup before the sauce-elements were added at the end. This kicked up the mushroom flavor by more than a notch.

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hzrt8w, good topic. Guaranteed to garner some useful tips.

To my taste, black bean and garlic sauce needs a bit of minced ginger, especially for seafood.

I tell anyone who will listen my mantra, "hot wok, cold oil" ie, heat the wok before adding oil. This prevents sticking.

Meats that go into large stew type dishes should be blanched first.

More later.

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I usually brown any meat that goes into braised/stewed dishes first...adds nice flavour and a bit of "browning".

I do this when I made a large casserol of black bean garlic spareribs. Once the ribs are browned, I drain off the excess fat. The smashed garlic and ginger is cooked first, then add the black beans before returning the ribs to the pot. To this, I add pork stock to cover, and some black beans that I previously blended with some water. This really adds to the flavour and colour without adding soya sauce.

I boil this mixture for about 20 minutes, then thicken with a half cornstarch and half flour slurry. This prevents the sauce from breaking down when you do the next step.

The whole lot is poured into a cast iron casserol dish. Put the lid on, into the oven at 350F for an hour. When ready, the meat is full of flavour, tender and ready to put over large mounds of fluffy rice...LOTS of rice!

I agree with Ben about the hot wok/cold oil method. This is especially true if you rinse your wok between ingredients. This ensures there is no moisture left on your wok...so no surprise splatters when you add the oil.

Mom said that if you salt your oil before the ingredients, this will also prevent splatters, especially if you are adding freshly washed and drained vegetables.

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Glutinous rice flour in jook, stirred in a little water and added just at the end!

regards,

trillium

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Stir your sauces before adding to the wok. If there is cornstarch in the sauce, it will have settled, but so will other heavier flavorings like hoisin, brown bean sauce, etc. Also, don't dump the whole sauce on top of the things in the wok. You have them nice and hot, so don't cool them off with the sauce ----- rather pour the sauce around the sides of the wok so that it will warm up as it flows down ----then mix in.

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Can someone tell me the difference between black beans and black bean sauce? Is black bean sauce supposed to be rinsed? I know it is very salty and I've frequently used it then not liked the resulting dish because of that.

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Can someone tell me the difference between black beans and black bean sauce?  Is black bean sauce supposed to be rinsed?  I know it is very salty and I've frequently used it then not liked the resulting dish because of that.

Black bean sauce is fermented black beans, mashed and blended with soya sauce. I find it too salty, and don't care for the flavour. I prefer to mash my own soaked and rinsed dried black beans...or blend my own "sauce" with water.

Black beans in the prepared sauces are too fine to be rinsed.

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Oh dear I wish I hadn't bought two jars of black bean sauce as so far, I haven't liked the taste.... :sad:

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Shanghai-style marinade, good for beef, pork, chicken, fish, shrimp, mussels....

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup sherry(or rice wine)

1-2 teaspoons of sugar

pepper to taste.

Combine. Marinate for a minimum of a half hour, covered and refridgerated. Drain and stir fry per Ben Hong.

1 crushed garlic clove or slice of ginger in the marinade is optional.

Sequim, use your black bean sauce to marinate steaks in before grilling them. You'll draw neighbors in like flies to honey.

Cheers.

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I will try that Singapore! I never thought of it as a marinade for meat.

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Oh dear I wish I hadn't bought two jars of black bean sauce as so far, I haven't liked the taste.... :sad:

Fermented black beans, I like. Jarred Black Bean Sauce, I don't like.

Brown (Yellow) Bean Sauce is a different kettle of fish --- er-- bean sauce. I like that from the jar.

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I can peel, flatten and mash or chop garlic, with a cleaver as well as anyone, but my preferred way is to use a hand held cheese grater. (The one with a wooden handle and a blade about 5 inches long, with holes about 1/8 inch)I pinch the tip of the peel of the clove, then run it down the grater, The garlic goes through and the peel stays. I do that with ginger, also. Not when I want slices of threads, but when I want minced ginger (or garlic) I find my grater handy and quick .I run it under hot water, give it a shake, and it is clean.

When needing a lot of garlic &/or ginger for several dishes, I can do a pile of each in a short time.

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When steaming fish or meat, adding a little brandy to the dish for the last five minutes of steaming can only improve the dish. :biggrin:

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Great topic.

Lots of interesting tidbits of culinary wisdom.

Looking forward to keeping up with all of them and hopefully adding a few of my own.

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When peeling ginger, there's no need for a peeler - just slice off the skin. For less waste, simply run a sharp knife over the skin and the skin comes right off. Or the easiest way - just slice off the amount you want, smash it, and cook away! No need for peeling.

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When peeling ginger, there's no need for a peeler - just slice off the skin. For less waste, simply run a sharp knife over the skin and the skin comes right off. Or the easiest way - just slice off the amount you want, smash it, and cook away! No need for peeling.

The square -sided-end of a wooden chopstick aso peels ginger very well. Just hold firmly and 'peel' down with a sharp edge.

I had read somewhere that the best flavor in ginger is directly under the skin. That cookbook author preferred not to peel. When I use my cheese grater, I don't peel, nor do I when I just use a smashed slice -- just as you do.

But I do peel, when I want shreds, or when the ginger pieces are a highlight of the dish.

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Remembered that there was a thread on making dumplings and there was a discussion about jiaozi/guotie dough.

Went home this weekend and my mum made guotie.

She said that for guotie (pot sticklers) dough, you have to mix the flour (just plain non-self raising flour) with boiling water and for jiaozi (boiled ones) dough you mix the flour with cold water.

The boiling water helps to release the gluten and stops the pot sticklers from being too dry and brittle.

I hope this tip is useful for people. :smile:

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She said that for guotie (pot sticklers) dough, you have to mix the flour (just plain non-self raising flour) with boiling water and for jiaozi (boiled ones) dough you mix the flour with cold water.

I have heard that, too. Also, for jiaozi, your make the wrapper thicker in the middle and thinner on the edges. My wife uses a special tapered jiaozi rolling pin for this. Otherwise the "top" of the jiaozi, which is formed by pressing together two edges, would be thicker than the base, and the wrapper wouldn't cook uniformly throughout in the boiling water. This is not an issue with guotie, since the base is cooked differently from the top.

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I used to have difficulties keeping dry ingredients last after the sealed plastic package is opened. For example, wolfberries will turn brown and lose their flavor over time. "Golden needles" (Dry lily buds) will turn brown, then dark brown over time. Whole spices (star anise, clove, etc.) will lose their fragrance over time. Some ingredients may even turn moldy (e.g. dry oysters).

I know the best method to store these ingredients is using air-tight jars. But these nice jars with sealed lids are selling at over US$5.00 a piece. I would need to buy a lot of them. The costs add up.

Here is a trick that I deployed recently: save some of the empty glass jars from your sauces or drinks. The jars that I like to use most are the ones containing oysters, spaghetti sauce and Ovaltine because of their straight wall design. Wash and air dry these empty glass jars.

Put the dry ingredients in the jars. To these jars air-tight, I just use some clean plastic bags from grocery stores. Fold it up maybe 2 to 3 times to increase the thickness. Lay the plastic bags on top of the jar openings, then close the lids. Shut tight. The plastic bags serve as a gasket. They effectively seal off any cracks between the lid and the jar. Use a pair of scissors to trim off the excess plastics hanging over the edge. The dry ingredients can be kept much longer without degrading inside air-tight jars.

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When straining mushroom-soaking liquid, place a paper coffee filter in a wire strainer to remove the grit.

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Great thread! A few thoughts:

When doing your mise en place prep, do the scallions last. If you cut them and let them sit around for a while, they can exude that sticky substance.

There is nothing that replaces wok hei. Establishing a good relationship to a wok is easier than you think, and just requires a quick brushing with water and swipe with oil for maintenance.

Hunting down fresh ingredients to replace stuff you get canned (bamboo shoots, say, or -- especially -- water chestnuts) is really, really, really worth it.

There are very few things that a dash of good chicken stock, schmaltz, or shaoxing don't improve.

Peanut oil is worth keeping on hand at all times.

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This might be obvious, if so ignore me!

When steaming fish, once it is done make sure to heat up the oil you used to cook the garlic/ginger in your wok to almost smoking and then pour it over top the fish. This gives a satisfying sizzle and makes the meat tender and infuses some of the flavours already present in the oil. Of course it also adds a bit of that shine.

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She said that for guotie (pot sticklers) dough, you have to mix the flour (just plain non-self raising flour) with boiling water and for jiaozi (boiled ones) dough you mix the flour with cold water.

I have heard that, too. Also, for jiaozi, your make the wrapper thicker in the middle and thinner on the edges. My wife uses a special tapered jiaozi rolling pin for this. Otherwise the "top" of the jiaozi, which is formed by pressing together two edges, would be thicker than the base, and the wrapper wouldn't cook uniformly throughout in the boiling water. This is not an issue with guotie, since the base is cooked differently from the top.

The way our family does it, you get the rolling pin and roll about 1/3rd the way into the centre then roll out. Rotate the dough 30 degrees and repeat. If you do it right, your left with the outsides thinner than the middle.

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