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hzrt8w

Tips on Chinese cooking techniques

162 posts in this topic

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.

Exactly the same with our family - my mother would inspect my rolling with eagle eyes to make sure I didn't roll the rolling pin (aka broom handle!) in too far.

Woe betide the person who rolled over the centre bit!

One thing I've learned is that it's very useful to make hainan jifan (chicken-rice) 海南雞飯 for dinner the day before doing a big Chinese dinner party.

You get great leftover chicken for making 'liangfenr', bangbang chicken or anyother cold dish to start ...and the chicken stock left from poaching is always terrific to use.

Also, any leftover dipping sauces can be put out for the dinner party (If, unlike me, you don't demolish them....)


<a href='http://www.longfengwines.com' target='_blank'>Wine Tasting in the Big Beige of Beijing</a>

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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.

Thanks. Don't know if I used the right combo but last night I took some salted black beans, rinsed them, then mashed them in a mortar and pestle along with garlic and used them as you suggested in a chicken/celery/onion stir fry dish. It came out very good, though a little hot since I had a heavy hand with the sriracha sauce. Overall vey good as well.

As another mentioned here, the hot wok cold oil makes it so foods don't stick. I didn't know this until a recent class I took with Grace Young.

I've always looked in the cooking forum for Chinese food ideas till someone told me to look here. I just wanted to say I think this is a really great thread and I know I"m going to be checking out other threads in this forum.


Charles a food and wine addict - "Just as magic can be black or white, so can addictions be good, bad or neither. As long as a habit enslaves it makes the grade, it need not be sinful as well." - Victor Mollo

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Thanks hzrt8w, another "great thread" vote.

Peeling ginger

Another easy way to peel ginger is by scraping it with a spoon. (Although I must admit to cutting off the skin with a knife myself usually, as I cannot be bothered to grab a spoon out of the drawer.)

Salting oil to prevent splattering

Dejah - or Dejah's Mom - I have heard this "tip" before, but cannot figure out what the basis for this is scientifically. Admittedly I have never tried it, but can anyone confirm 1. if this is true, and 2. why?

Here's a question that I'm sure someone here can answer:

Does anyone have a good method for removing steamed plates / bowls without one of those three-pronged grabbing contraptions that my parents used to have but I have not personally seen for about 12 years? Especially if there is little room between the bowl and the pot. I inevitably spill some liquid contents when trying to remove manually. TIA.

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Peeling ginger

Another easy way to peel ginger is by scraping it with a spoon. (Although I must admit to cutting off the skin with a knife myself usually, as I cannot be bothered to grab a spoon out of the drawer.)

I’m the same way. I’ll get a vegetable peeler, but I won’t reach right in my drawer, which is actually closer, and get a spoon!

Salting oil to prevent splattering

Dejah - or Dejah's Mom - I have heard this "tip" before, but cannot figure out what the basis for this is scientifically. Admittedly I have never tried it, but can anyone confirm 1. if this is true, and 2. why?

My parents do the same thing. I don’t know the scientific reason, but it’s the same reaction as if you add salt to boiling water. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

Here's a question that I'm sure someone here can answer:

Does anyone have a good method for removing steamed plates / bowls without one of those three-pronged grabbing contraptions that my parents used to have but I have not personally seen for about 12 years? Especially if there is little room between the bowl and the pot. I inevitably spill some liquid contents when trying to remove manually. TIA.

I actually saw one of those at my local Asian grocery store and was tempted to buy one. It looks like that grabby thing in the game that you see in arcades, where you get a toy if you’re lucky? But that contraption looked kind of flimsy. I have mental images of it breaking midway and steaming hot liquid splashing over me and my countertops. Maybe turkey lifters will work.

I use my metal spatula and carefully ease it under the dish. If I’m really careful, it’ll lift out enough so I can grab it.

Edited to add: BTW, great thread!


Edited by I_call_the_duck (log)

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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Salting oil to prevent splattering

Dejah - or Dejah's Mom - I have heard this "tip" before, but cannot figure out what the basis for this is scientifically. Admittedly I have never tried it, but can anyone confirm 1. if this is true, and 2. why?

(1) It is true.

(2) The explanation is very simple: salt increases the boiling temperature of water.

If you see that 3-leg gadget to pick steaming dish out of the rice cooker or steamer, BUY IT! It's worth the money. No other method can come close to its effectiveness and simple design.

I use a pair of wire tongs at home - just grib on to the side of the steaming dish real tight and gingerly take the dish out, and hold another big flat plate with the other hand... immediately slide the big flat plate under the steaming dish to carry it as soon as it clears the top of the steamer.


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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Here's a question that I'm sure someone here can answer:

Does anyone have a good method for removing steamed plates / bowls without one of those three-pronged grabbing contraptions that my parents used to have but I have not personally seen for about 12 years? Especially if there is little room between the bowl and the pot. I inevitably spill some liquid contents when trying to remove manually. TIA.

I actually saw one of those at my local Asian grocery store and was tempted to buy one. It looks like that grabby thing in the game that you see in arcades, where you get a toy if you’re lucky? But that contraption looked kind of flimsy. I have mental images of it breaking midway and steaming hot liquid splashing over me and my countertops. Maybe turkey lifters will work.

I use my metal spatula and carefully ease it under the dish. If I’m really careful, it’ll lift out enough so I can grab it.

ICTD - yes it looks like the grapple thing in arcades, and I can't believe you didn't buy it! My parents had one made of cheap aluminum or stainless steel, fixed into ugly pink plastic (the "fulcrum" point), but the thing worked great and was in the kitchen from at least the day I was born (I'm sure) to the day I left home. The key is to be able to lift the dish high enough so that you can actually get a handle on it, or better yet lift it out and set it on top of the stove/counter. This might actually be a "must have" gadget.

hzrt8w - thanks for the tong/plate-at-the-ready tip. If I cannot find the other thing, I will try this method.

ETA: I still can't wrap my head around the salted oil thing - yes the salt will increase the boiling point of the water, but only from 100C to 104C or something like that. Certainly not up to 400C or whatever your oil gets to. Am I just not getting it? Regardless, the concensus is that it works so I will try it at home. Cheers!


Edited by BCinBC (log)

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[...] My parents had one made of cheap aluminum or stainless steel, fixed into ugly pink plastic (the "fulcrum" point), but the thing worked great and was in the kitchen from at least the day I was born (I'm sure) to the day I left home.

Yeah, my father's 3-leg dish lifter must have last over 10 years at least. Simple, ugly, but does the job. :laugh:

My father only owned one cleaver for all of his life. He used it for any kind of cutting/chopping. I look at my brother-in-law. He owns a set of many different knives held on a nice wooden block. Whenever he cuts something different, he needs pick a different knief. Aiya! :laugh:

Nowadays I see shops like Sur La Table carry so many kitchen gadgets... most of which are designed for one single purpose! ($$$ for the manufacturers, and the kitchen furniture builders) We Chinese do with the minimal. (e.g. do we really need an "egg beater" when we can use our chopsticks? Persuade my aunt! )


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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I have one of those three-pronged plate lifters, which I must've bought 20+ years ago. I never realized it's so hard to find, although I must say I don't remember seeing any of them in stores recently!

It doesn't work on everything... if the plate/dish doesn't have a lip, the edge slips right through.

In such cases, or for those who can't find the plate lifter, you can improvise by making a criss-cross of folded foil handles under the dish before you place it in the steamer. Make sure the foil has been folded enough times so it won't break through as you're transferring the hot dish.


SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Plates lifters are still being sold here in Manitoba, but I never bother with them.

I guess old skin is tougher. :wink:


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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en

Plates lifters are still being sold here in Manitoba, but I never bother with them.

I guess old skin is tougher. :wink:

Ditto.

For those with tender fingers, you too can achieve great feats of daring-do like those old cooks who grew up in a commercial kitchen (Dejah, me). Please, try this at home. Dip your fingers/hand in very cold water just before you lift the plate out of the pot. If you do it quickly, no one gets burned. Soon you'll get to be like all us "grown-ups" who have asbestos hands , skipping the cold water process. :raz::biggrin:

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I look at my brother-in-law.  He owns a set of many different knives held on a nice wooden block.  Whenever he cuts something different, he needs pick a different knief.  Aiya!  :laugh:

Nowadays I see shops like Sur La Table carry so many kitchen gadgets... most of which are designed for one single purpose!  ($$$ for the manufacturers, and the kitchen furniture builders)  We Chinese do with the minimal.  (e.g. do we really need an "egg beater" when we can use our chopsticks?  Persuade my aunt! )

I think a lot of aspiring cooks should clean out their kitchen drawers and jettison a lot of the toys therein, and really start to learn techniques. Like you said Ah Leung, is there really a need for egg beaters, garlic presses, 5 different tongs, mandolines, 20 different knives, etc., ad nauseam? A pair of chopsticks, a sharp medium Chinese cleaver (or a heavy 8" chef's knife) will meet 95% of my needs. I absolutely hate wasting time looking for, setting up,and washing the "toys".

Garlic press indeed :raz::raz:

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I look at my brother-in-law.  He owns a set of many different knives held on a nice wooden block.  Whenever he cuts something different, he needs pick a different knief.  Aiya!  :laugh:

I think a lot of aspiring cooks should clean out their kitchen drawers and jettison a lot of the toys therein, and really start to learn techniques. Like you said Ah Leung, is there really a need for egg beaters, garlic presses, 5 different tongs, mandolines, 20 different knives, etc., ad nauseam? A pair of chopsticks, a sharp medium Chinese cleaver (or a heavy 8" chef's knife) will meet 95% of my needs. I absolutely hate wasting time looking for, setting up,and washing the "toys".

Garlic press indeed :raz::raz:

Well! I, for one, love kitchen gadgets.hrumph! :angry::laugh::laugh:

I may only use them once in a blue moon - or is it on a full moon?, but I love getting them as gifts. My drawers are getting full, so I try to keep all these "useless gadgets" in one place. They are fun to use when China and I are trying new recipes.

My knives are in a wood block, and I like different knives for different purposes. It really depends on my mood (so full moon may well explain my eccentricity!)

On the topic of knife blocks, has anyone ever found a block that has an opening for a real Chinese cleaver? I am tempted to "saw" one in my block myself.


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Before I bought my plate lifters, I used something similar to SuziSushi. But rather than foil, I used strips of cloth. You just have to use wide enough to support the dish.

Dejah - My most used cleavers rest in the space between my stove and my counter. That space is about 1/2 inch wide, and they fit in just right there. I put them as far back as possible so that the burner can be used.

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Does anyone have a good method for removing steamed plates / bowls without one of those three-pronged grabbing contraptions that my parents used to have but I have not personally seen for about 12 years?

Yet another, along the lines of the cloth strips: tie two longish (2' each) strands of kitchen twine together at the middle, and place the plate on top of the knot, so that the strands are at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o'clock. Tie the ends together, and you can use that knot to raise and lower the plate.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Dejah - My most used cleavers rest in the space between my stove and my counter. That space is about 1/2 inch wide, and they  fit in just right there.  I put them as far back as possible so that the burner can be used.

My parents have that same set-up.

Dejah - I saw a knife block in a magazine that was basically a rectangular box that was stuffed with bamboo skewers. This allowed knives of various sizes and shapes to fit in. Do you have wall space? You can also use one of those strip magnets like this one.


Edited by I_call_the_duck (log)

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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Thanks for all the tips on plate lifting - a very clever group indeed. I am going to really look for one of those 3-pronged things though, probably while I do my Xmas shopping (which doubles as a time to do my own frivolous shopping). Ben, I am thinking of training myself on the cold water technique, but with empty bowls so as not to spill anything important.

On the subject of truly useless gadgets, I once dated a girl who used one of those rubber cylinders that you stick garlic cloves in, roll them around, and then peel off the skin. Seriously, how hard is it to smash garlic??

I will say that you can never have enough tongs lying around, because they seem most difficult to locate when you need them most. But I can't think of an instance where I use them for Chinese cooking...

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Dejah - My most used cleavers rest in the space between my stove and my counter. .

My parents have that same set-up.

Dejah - I saw a knife block in a magazine that was basically a rectangular box that was stuffed with bamboo skewers. This allowed knives of various sizes and shapes to fit in. Do you have wall space? You can also use one of those strip magnets like this one.

My stove is on an island so jo-mel's suggestion is out. The walls in my kitchen are either covered by cupboards or tiles. I do have a magnetic strip, but have no convenient place to mount it.

Right now, I have my most used knives in the block on the window ledge above my work space. The cleaver sits inside of my utentials drawer on my cooking island. I just have to turn 180 degrees from my prep. area to my stove.

I would just like to have another block...as I said, I love gadgets! :laugh::laugh:


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Dejah - My most used cleavers rest in the space between my stove and my counter. .

My parents have that same set-up.

Dejah - I saw a knife block in a magazine that was basically a rectangular box that was stuffed with bamboo skewers. This allowed knives of various sizes and shapes to fit in. Do you have wall space? You can also use one of those strip magnets like this one.

My stove is on an island so jo-mel's suggestion is out. The walls in my kitchen are either covered by cupboards or tiles. I do have a magnetic strip, but have no convenient place to mount it.

Right now, I have my most used knives in the block on the window ledge above my work space. The cleaver sits inside of my utentials drawer on my cooking island. I just have to turn 180 degrees from my prep. area to my stove.

I would just like to have another block...as I said, I love gadgets! :laugh::laugh:

Sue-On:

Try what I have done, simply add a magnetic strip using super glue to the side of your block. They come in various sizes and shapes, any one will hold a "chopper".

Irwin


I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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Sue-On:

Try what I have done, simply add a magnetic strip using super glue to the side of your block. They come in various sizes and shapes, any one will hold a "chopper".

Irwin

Now THAT'S what I call a good tip! Thanks, Irwin. I think that's what I will do.

But, now, I have to stop in my quest for that "other gadget"... :sad::laugh:


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Can I request a tip? How do Chinese restaurants fry their bean curd to get that great texture? I've never been able to do it at home.

Thanks-

Linda

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Describe the texture you seek! If you deep fry tofu in very hot oil (375F+) briefly, you can get a crispy exterior with a creamy interior. (You can also splatter oil hither and yon.) If you want to dry it out more to give it that meaty texture, then lower the heat (325F or so) and fry until it doesn't hiss and pop -- meaning little moisture is left on the inside.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I like the crispy/chewy combination, but there always seems to be a firmer texture to the tofu in restaurants than I can get at home. Is it something other than the fresh stuff?

-Linda

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I like the crispy/chewy combination, but there always seems to be a firmer texture to the tofu in restaurants than I can get at home.  Is it something other than the fresh stuff?

-Linda

Try pressing the tofu before you use it. Place it on a rimmed plate lined with paper towels. Place a flat-bottomed plate or small cutting board on top and weight down with canned goods or a pot/bottle filled with water. Let stand about 20-30 minutes. You'll be amazed how much liquid comes out of the tofu and how much firmer it is!


SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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      Many years ago, I worked in an office overlooking London’s China town. By around 11 am, the restaurants started getting lunch ready and the smell of FSP blanketed the area for the rest of the day. When I moved to China, I didn’t smell that. Only when I first visited Hong Kong, did I find that smell again.
       
      In fact, FSP is relatively uncommon in most of Chinese cuisine. And if I ever see another internet recipe called “Chinese” whatever, which is actually any random food, but the genius behind it has added FSP, supposedly rendering it Chinese, I’ll scream.

      I get all sorts of smells wafting through the neighbourhood. Some mouth-watering; some horrifying. But I don't recall ever that they were FSP.
       
      But what is it anyway? Which five spices?
       
      Today, I bought four samples in four local supermarkets. I would have would have preferred five, but couldn’t find any more. It's not that popular.
       
      First thing to say: none of them had five spices. All had more. That is normal. Numbers in Chinese can often be vague. Every time you hear a number, silently added the word ‘about’ or ‘approximately’. 100 km means “far”, 10,000 means “many”.
       
      Second, while there are some common factors, ingredients can vary quite a bit. Here are my four.

      1.


       
      Ingredients – 7
       
      Star Anise, Fennel Seed, Orange Peel, Cassia Bark, Sand Ginger, Dried Ginger, Sichuan Peppercorns.
       
      2.
       

       
      Ingredients – 6
       
      Cassia Bark, Star Anise, Fennel Seed, Coriander, Sichuan Peppercorn, Licorice Root.

      3.
       

       
      Ingredients – 15
       
      Fennel Seeds, Sichuan Peppercorns, Coriander, Tangerine Peel, Star Anise, Chinese Haw, Cassia Bark, Lesser Galangal, Dahurian Angelica, Nutmeg, Dried Ginger, Black Pepper, Amomum Villosum, Cumin Seeds, Cloves.

      4.
       

       
      Ingredients – 6
       
      Pepper (unspecified – probably black pepper), Sichuan Peppercorns, Star Anise, Fennel Seeds, Nutmeg, Cassia.
       
      So, take your pick. They all taste and smell almost overwhelmingly of the star anise and cassia, although there are subtle differences in taste in the various mixes.
       
      But I don’t expect to find it in many dishes in local restaurants or homes. A quick, unscientific poll of about ten friends today revealed that not one has any at home, nor have they ever used the stuff!
       
       
      I'm not suggesting that FSP shouldn't be used outside of Chinese food. Please just don't call the results Chinese when you sprinkle it on your fish and chips or whatever. They haven't miraculously become Chinese!

      Like my neighbours and friends, I very rarely use it at all.

      In fact, I'd be delighted to hear how it is used in other cultures / cuisines.
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