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Tips on Chinese cooking techniques


hzrt8w
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A hot wok is the key to good stir fry. Normal home ranges only put out up to 16,00 BTUs. Get yourself a propane tank and fire element from the hardware store. This can put out up to 30,000 BTU's close to what good Chinese restaurants use. Oh, and I'd recommend using this outside.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Velveting/Hot Oil Blanching

Not sure if anyone mentioned this but it's the method of cooking meat and seafood also in hot oil about 240F until it's almost cooked. It's suppose to give it a luxurous look

I've only seen this mentioned in a Chinese Cookbook I picked up for 50 cents at a public library sale, the book is from the 70s or very early 80s. I forget who it was by.

It is also mentioned in the Wein-Chaun cookbooks.

-z

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Going back to the plate-lifters, I just bought something very similar to this Joyce Chen plate lifter. I chose it over the three-pronged model because it seemed sturdier and would seem to work with both oblong and round plates. (I was in the store lifting different things, testing their weight and balance. I haven't tried it yet with steaming hot food, but hey, it was only $1.50, so I figured what the heck.

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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  • 2 weeks later...

Sequim mentioned a dislike for the black bean sauce purchased..

Can I add.. please please try this one!!

It is called Lao Gan Ma's Feng wei dou chi... or 老干马风味豆豉。

It is a bit spicy, but not much and from Guizhou. I use it nearly everywhere...and it is definitely the best one I've ever tried. It is VERY different from the Lee Kum Kee stuff that crowds the aisles.

Edited by jokhm (log)
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Velveting/Hot Oil Blanching

Not sure if anyone mentioned this but it's the method of cooking meat and seafood also in hot oil about 240F until it's almost cooked.  It's suppose to give it a luxurous look

I've only seen this mentioned in a Chinese Cookbook I picked up for 50 cents at a public library sale, the book is from the 70s or very early 80s.  I forget who it was by.

It is also mentioned in the Wein-Chaun cookbooks.

-z

Sort of off on a tangent: does anyone know why this technique is called "velveting"? Is it called "velveting" in any of the Chinese dialects, or does the word or words for this translate literally as something else? Just curious, as the texture it gives to meat doesn't necessarily make me think of velvet (the fabric).

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Velveting/Hot Oil Blanching

Not sure if anyone mentioned this but it's the method of cooking meat and seafood also in hot oil about 240F until it's almost cooked.  It's suppose to give it a luxurous look

-z

Sort of off on a tangent: does anyone know why this technique is called "velveting"? Is it called "velveting" in any of the Chinese dialects, or does the word or words for this translate literally as something else? Just curious, as the texture it gives to meat doesn't necessarily make me think of velvet (the fabric).

Velveting required marinating with oil, seasonings and cornstarch first before cooking the meat. This process gives the texture known as " wat in Cantonese, wot in Toisanese". These terms translate to smooth, silky. The surface of the meat, I suppose, reminds one of the texture of the surface of velvet. It's a mouth-feel. "wat or wot" does not translate to the English word velvet.

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Velveting/Hot Oil Blanching

Not sure if anyone mentioned this but it's the method of cooking meat and seafood also in hot oil about 240F until it's almost cooked.  It's suppose to give it a luxurous look

-z

Sort of off on a tangent: does anyone know why this technique is called "velveting"? Is it called "velveting" in any of the Chinese dialects, or does the word or words for this translate literally as something else? Just curious, as the texture it gives to meat doesn't necessarily make me think of velvet (the fabric).

Velveting required marinating with oil, seasonings and cornstarch first before cooking the meat. This process gives the texture known as " wat in Cantonese, wot in Toisanese". These terms translate to smooth, silky. The surface of the meat, I suppose, reminds one of the texture of the surface of velvet. It's a mouth-feel. "wat or wot" does not translate to the English word velvet.

Aha. Now "silky" as a descriptor does make sense to me. Thanks!

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One cookbook author called the technique 'oil poaching' rather than velveting. Same technique, tho.

The oil is actually not that hot and the technique is described as passing thru warm oil. I mean, if you put your finger in the oil, it will be HOT, but not hot enough to really fry the meat. It simply seals the outside and lets the inside warm up. The meat inside is still raw, but finishes cooking at a later stage.

Definite difference in texture between 'velveted' snd 'non-velveted'.

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  • 4 months later...

Put a little beans in your soup

I learned from my MIL, who makes really good Chinese tonic soups. Her secret: put some beans in the soup. Typically red beans, but it could be black-eye peas, black beans, etc..

e.g. Lotus root soup with pork - red beans

winter melon soup with chicken/pork - black-eye peas

Don't need too much, just 1/4 to 1/3 cup would do. Soak the beans for a couple of hours before cooking to achive the best result.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Put a little beans in your soup

I learned from my MIL, who makes really good Chinese tonic soups.  Her secret:  put some beans in the soup.  Typically red beans, but it could be black-eye peas, black beans, etc..

e.g.  Lotus root soup with pork - red beans

winter melon soup with chicken/pork - black-eye peas

Don't need too much, just 1/4 to 1/3 cup would do.  Soak the beans for a couple of hours before cooking to achive the best result.

Why?

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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In answer to Dejah's(?) question, you can get knife blocks that are made to take cleavers. Mine does: I got it in a local place in Hong Kong for around HK$100 (about 12 US). A couple of things I liked about it were that it's upright, not angled (knives are stored pointing straight down), it's reasonably solid, one end has a receptacle for other utensils like chopsticks or stirrers, and it has a cleaver space - the main reason I bought it, in fact.

I couldn't tell you who the maker is, or how to get hold of one, though.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi, all. I'm new to this site and forum but am delighted by the find. This Chinese food forum is a treasure.

For some time now, I've been trying my hand at imitating the clams in black bean sauce dish at a San Francisco restaurant called Yuet Lee (they used to do the dish so well, it was like seafood-crack), and will usually soak the black beans in shaoxing wine while prepping everything else. But from what people are posting here it sounds like the black beans should maybe be fried a little along with the garlic before the liquid elements get introduced. Will be sure to try the pre-frying method next time.

Also, I don't know if this is an obvious one: store ginger in the fridge wrapped in aluminum foil. Plastic wrap for some reason makes it mushy.

For stir frying, I try to make sure the ingredients are as dry as possible, either patted down with a paper towel or given a whirl in the salad spinner.

For seafood in wet sauces (like clams or scallops), my usual procedure is oil + dry sauce ingredients, then wet sauce ingredients, then seafood, finish cooking, then remove seafood, thicken sauce and pour over seafood before serving immediately. This is just to take pains to insure that the clams or scallops don't overcook.

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For seafood in wet sauces (like clams or scallops), my usual procedure is oil + dry sauce ingredients, then wet sauce ingredients, then seafood, finish cooking, then remove seafood, thicken sauce and pour over seafood before serving immediately.  This is just to take pains to insure that the clams or scallops don't overcook.

For scallops, I like to sear them in oil with aromatics until they are about half way done. Remove the scallops, add the wet sauce ingredients, bring to a boil, return the scallops, add the cornstarch heavy slurry, and toss gently to thicken. The scallops would finish cooking quickly without fear of becoming a tough hockey puck.

For clams in the shell, I like to toss them in with the aromatics, stir fry them together, then add the wet sauce ingredients. I love the sound of the shells clattering against the wok! The lid would go on then to steam the clams open. Thicken with slurry and serve.

When I make the cornstarch slurry, I use stock rather than water. There is more cornstarch than the usual ratio(can't remember what Ah Leung uses), so the thickening process is very quick.

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Also, I don't know if this is an obvious one: store ginger in the fridge wrapped in aluminum foil.  Plastic wrap for some reason makes it mushy.

fellowpeon: Welcome to eGullet!

I don't store ginger in the fridge. I found that, as with most things, storing ginger in the fridge will introduce water moisture on the ginger which causes it to sprout or go mushy as you said. I found that doing what the stores do is more effective: leave the ginger in a plastic wire mesh bag and leave it in the open (best where the air circulates a bit). The skin may go a little bit dry but it lasts for weeks.

As far taking scallops/seafood out of the wok, thicken the sauce, then pour on top... that seems more like western cooking technique. (I do use the technique in braised dishes but not stir-fried dishes.) In Chinese cooking, we typically thicken the sauce first before you return the scallop/seafood. Once the scallop/seafood is coated evenly with the sauce, we can transfer the ingredients to the serving dish. Timing is crucial. In order not to overcook the seafood, it should be removed when it just turns cooked (or slightly undercooked) to compensate... just as Chef Dejah said.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Also, I don't know if this is an obvious one: store ginger in the fridge wrapped in aluminum foil.  Plastic wrap for some reason makes it mushy.

fellowpeon: Welcome to eGullet!

I don't store ginger in the fridge. I found that, as with most things, storing ginger in the fridge will introduce water moisture on the ginger which causes it to sprout or go mushy as you said. I found that doing what the stores do is more effective: leave the ginger in a plastic wire mesh bag and leave it in the open (best where the air circulates a bit). The skin may go a little bit dry but it lasts for weeks.

As far taking scallops/seafood out of the wok, thicken the sauce, then pour on top... that seems more like western cooking technique. (I do use the technique in braised dishes but not stir-fried dishes.) In Chinese cooking, we typically thicken the sauce first before you return the scallop/seafood. Once the scallop/seafood is coated evenly with the sauce, we can transfer the ingredients to the serving dish. Timing is crucial. In order not to overcook the seafood, it should be removed when it just turns cooked (or slightly undercooked) to compensate... just as Chef Dejah said.

Thanks for the welcome, Ah Leung. I've been really enjoying your pictorial walk-throughs, by the way. Am looking forward to trying my hand at bitter melon.

If I can remember, I'll try storing ginger both ways the next time I buy some and report back later.

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Not being near a Chinatown when I first started cooking Chinese -- (in the 50s) When I was able to get a piece, I peeled it, sliced it, and stored it in a jar with sherry -- in the refrig. It lasted forever. When it first started appearing in the stores I found about the mush when I just put the root in a drawer in the refrig, but soon found that storing it in paper and plastic helped hold it longer. I read that technique somewhere. The paper absorbed the moisture and the plastic kept it from drying out. But for years now, I just put the roots in my onion/potato drawer in the cabinets. As Xiao Lueng says, they will shrivel up after a while, but now that it is available everywhere, I just get a fresh ones.

And --- there is always planting it. Tried that, too. Interesting plant!

Edited by jo-mel (log)
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Also, I don't know if this is an obvious one: store ginger in the fridge wrapped in aluminum foil.  Plastic wrap for some reason makes it mushy.

We store ginger in sealed clear plastic pint containers soup comes in from takeout Chinese.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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  • 6 months later...

Just the other day I was watching a cooking show from Hong Kong off livestream and the host made scrambled eggs with shrimp. One of her tips was to make sure to beat as little air into the eggs as possible. To accomplish this she separated the eggs first and then beat the yolks separately before gently stirring them into the whites. Also, instead of salt she used light soy sauce because it blends in easier.

Anyone else ever watch this show? It's in Cantonese w/ Chinese subtitles and is on Friday night 9pm-10pm Pacific time in the US, so I guess that would be midday Saturday in Hong Kong. This was the first time I had ever watched the program, but my impression is that while the host is extremely chatty and can go off topic a lot (she only made 3 dishes in the whole 60 minutes) she does give some cooking tips that I had never heard anywhere else. Also, one of the reasons the program is 60 minutes is that none of the prep work is done ahead of time. For example , another dish she made was steamed pork cake and they showed the entire process of very finely mincing the meat with a single cleaver from start to finish, a process that took about 15 minutes.

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Anyone else ever watch this show? It's in Cantonese w/ Chinese subtitles and is on Friday night 9pm-10pm Pacific time in the US, so I guess that would be midday Saturday in Hong Kong.

I have not watched the particular program that you mentioned. But when I was dining at JJ Cafe in Monterey Park one night about 2 weeks ago, the Jade channel (I think it was Jade) was showing a program that looked very much like "Iron Chef". Maybe they had franchised it. Or maybe they just had copied the format. 2 ladies were competing to make 3 dishes out of some feature ingredients. All in Cantonese.

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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I have not watched the particular program that you mentioned.  But when I was dining at JJ Cafe in Monterey Park one night about 2 weeks ago, the Jade channel (I think it was Jade) was showing a program that looked very much like "Iron Chef".  Maybe they had franchised it.  Or maybe they just had copied the format.  2 ladies were competing to make 3 dishes out of some feature ingredients.  All in Cantonese.
Ah Leung, I think it might be "Beautiful Cooking" from the TVB channel. Here is a clip from youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3_J0DQAvlw

Best Wishes,

Chee Fai.

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Ah Leung, I think it might be "Beautiful Cooking" from the TVB channel. Here is a clip from youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3_J0DQAvlw

Yeah, Chee Fai. That's exactly what I saw the other night. I recognize the crazy "I don't need to comb my hair" hair style on one of the hosts. Thank you.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Ok, I've some questions for y'all:

1) Can I do anything with the dong goo stems after I've reconstituted them in water? I hate wasting them.

2) How long does naow mai fan keep for in the fridge after it's been cooked?

Oh and a hint from my mama - she keeps all her dried goodies in fridge instead of the pantry for freshness. We've a mini-fridge for this purpose!

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1) Can I do anything with the dong goo stems after I've reconstituted them in water?  I hate wasting them.

Back in the old days, people use the dried mushroom stems for making soups. They do carry some mushroom fragrance. These days, as the price of good dried Japanese Shittake mushrooms have come down so much, I don't bother with that any more.

2) How long does naow mai fan keep for in the fridge after it's been cooked?

That depends. The sticky rice itself, even after fully cooked, can be kept for a long time in the fridge. But it's the "meat" that would go bad first. If "meatless", can be for one to two weeks. If "meat-ful", I don't trust it any more than a few days. Unless you put it in the freezer. If the rice is cooked with Laap Cheung (preserved meat), then it could be longer. The rice tends to dry up over time, though.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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I would agree with Ah Leung on the mushroom stems. You could throw them into soup, but I would hate to bite on one! Even with long time simmering, they remain tough. Considering the price of mushrooms now, I don't think you should worry about "wastefullness", but your elders would be proud of your thriftiness. :wink:

Nor Mai fan would never stay long in my fridge. But, when my sister brought out three dozen foil trays of nor mai fan from their favourite restaurant in Richmond, B.C., we did freeze them. They had a cardboard lid on top. When we wanted some, we'd let them thaw at room temp. then steamed them before eating. They were fine even after a month.

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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