Archive for the ‘Chinese’ Category

Gai Lan with Garlic and Oyster Sauce

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Gai lan is a Chinese broccoli served mostly in Cantonese cooking. The flower buds and stalks are both eaten. The recipe I’m about to show you can be used as a universal way of stir-frying any vegetable; you can use this for green beans, spinach, bok choy, choy sum, snow pea leaves, Chinese cabbage, etc. Gai lan has a slightly bitter flavor, and that’s why we cook it in garlic and oyster sauce.

I know, I’m using a non-stick wok. I look like a total amateur, with no authentic Chinese cookware. I gave my real wok away when I moved out of my apartment years ago, and never got a new one, due to laziness.

This is a fairly easy recipe. It actually shouldn’t be a recipe at all; after you do it once, you’ll always remember how to do it.

Gai Lan with Garlic and Oyster Sauce (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of gai lan, washed and patted dry
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp corn oil
  • salt
  • 2 Tbsp oyster sauce

*You will need tongs and a wok

Quick Directions:

1) Soak the gai lan in a big tub of water for a few minutes. Pat dry; the water on the gai lan will make the oil splatter, so the dryer the better.

2) Heat oil in a wok on high. Immediately after you drop the garlic in, put the gai lan in. Use a lid as a shield from splattering oil.

3) Using tongs, flip the gai lan from bottom to top, so all the leaves are coated with oil. Sprinkle salt over the leaves, this will flavor it plus force the water out of the vegetable.

4) Put a lid on it, turn heat down to medium. Cook for 3-4 minutes.

5) When it is done, the gai lan should be a vibrant green, and the stalks should be tender and crisp. You can put the oyster sauce in now, or drizzle it on top when you serve it.

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Illustrated Directions:

1) Soak the gai lan in a big tub of water for a few minutes. Trust me, if you saw my post on salad earlier, the state of gai lan is worse, given that you don’t purchase it pre-packaged in a fancy container. Pat dry; the water on the gai lan will make the oil splatter, so the dryer the better.

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2) Heat oil in a wok on high.

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3) Immediately after you drop the garlic in, put the gai lan in. It will splatter (no matter how much you dried the leaves), so use a lid as a shield.

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4) Using tongs, flip the gai lan from bottom to top, so all the leaves are coated with oil. Sprinkle salt over the leaves, this will flavor it plus force the water out of the vegetable.

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5) Put a lid on it, turn heat down to medium. Cook for 3-4 minutes.

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6) When it is done, the gai lan should be a vibrant green, and the stalks should be tender and crisp. You can put the oyster sauce in now, or drizzle it on top when you serve it.

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See how easy that was?

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Buddha’s Delight

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Buddha’s Delight is a vegetarian dish made up of lots of soy based proteins to mimic real meat. There’s probably a ton of different versions, but this one’s mine.  The can of ‘lo han chai’ I’m using has a variety of vegetarian meats and veggies, containing braised wheat gluten (people sensitive to gluten, beware – I’m also slightly sensitive to gluten, and if I eat enough of this it sits in my stomach like a rock), mushrooms, carrots, tofu.  Btw, the picture on the can shows snow peas, but THERE ARE NO SNOW PEAS.  So add them if you’d like. I also add other ingredients, like shiitake mushrooms (reconstituted in water, I buy bags of dehydrated mushrooms at the local asian market), Bean curd strips (also needs to be reconstituted, bought in dried strips in a bag), and chinese vermicelli. Chinese vermicelli is a noodle made of green beans so it is a good alternative for people sensitive to flour, and, ironically in this dish that doesn’t help much.  In my variety of Buddha’s Delight I add a tablespoon of curry, for an extra kick.

Ingredients:

  • 6 shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted (if dry) and sliced
  • 1 cup of bean curd strips, reconstituted and cut into smaller strips
  • 1 can of Lo Han Chai, drained
  • 2 packages of green bean vermicelli, soaked in hot water to soften, then drained
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth (or water)
  • 1 Tbsp yellow curry (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp green onions, chopped

Shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted

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Sliced shiitake mushrooms

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Bean curd threads, reconstituted in water

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Can of Lo Han Chai

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2 Packages of green bean vermicelli

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Vermicelli soaked in a bowl of hot water until ready for use

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Directions:

1) In a wok on medium high heat, pour the first 4 ingredients in, stirring quickly. Stir-fry for around 2-3 minutes.

2) Add sesame oil, oyster sauce, stir for another minute.

3) Add chicken broth, turn heat down to simmer. Stir curry in. When sauce thickens, turn off heat and pour into a dish to serve. Top with green onions.

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Congee

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Cantonese people call it jook. I just found out where the word Congee came from. It came from other asian countries.  That’s all I know. But we always called it jook, or rice porridge. It’s a chinese soup, with a thick gooey stock made from watered down rice cooked over a loooooong period of time. Using a crock pot is the BEST way to make it, on low heat, for 8 hours. I’ve tried making it on the stove, and the consistency just isn’t right.  It’s okay, but it isn’t like the consistency you’d get at an authentic Chinese restaurant. We eat it mainly for breakfast or brunch, but it can be eaten any time during the day, and especially if you’re sick, because it’s like a chinese chicken soup.  I always add chicken to mine, it gives it a lot more flavor.

Congee with Chicken (Serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 12 cups water
  • 1 medium chicken breast, fresh or frozen
  • 2 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 preserved duck eggs (century eggs), chopped (optional)

*cut all ingredients in half for half the servings.

Directions:

1) Pour 1 cup rice into crock pot.  Add whole chicken breast, water, salt and pepper.

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2) Cook on low for 8 hours. DO NOT STIR.

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3) This is what it should look like when it’s done.

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4) Remove chicken breast and shred with fork, put it back into the jook.

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5) Add preserved duck egg into jook now. The images below show you what they should look like, so don’t panic if you crack them open and they are black, with crystallization patterns on the skin, and a creamy green yolk.

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6) Serve jook with pork sung or chopped green scallions.

Soy Ginger Salmon

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This is one of my husband and I’s favorite dishes.  We eat this once a week.  I’m sort of sensitive to the fishy flavor of salmon, and cooking it this way lessens the fishy taste/smell.  I make a soy ginger sauce for the  fish to marinate in the fridge for a couple hours, then bake it in the oven.  I find cooking it slowly in the oven isn’t as fishy as cooking it over the stove.  I never cook fish over the stove with oil, especially salmon.  Your house will smell like fish for days, it’s horrible, unless you like that kind of thing.  Ginger in chinese cooking gives fish a fresh, clean taste, and it also cuts the gamey-ness of poultry.  This recipe serves 2. Double ingredients if serving 4.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbsp honey OR brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. chives, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. chicken broth
  • 2 6 oz. salmon fillets

Directions:

1.  In small bowl, mix soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper, garlic, and ginger together.  Pour over fish to marinate in fridge for 2 hours.  Sometimes, when I don’t have time, I skip the 2 hours and it still turns out fine.  But the 2 hours gives it a lot more depth in flavor.

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2.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Take fish out of fridge, put in baking dish with deep sides. Pour remaining marinade into dish, and add chicken broth into bottom of pan. This will prevent the marinade from crusting/burning as it cooks, and it dilutes the soy so it’s less salty. Drizzle honey or sprinkle brown sugar on top of fish. Sprinkle sesame seeds and chives over that.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until salmon is flaky.

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Shrimp and Pork Won Tons

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These won tons aren’t the sad looking ones you order at chinese take-out restaurants, with a measily bead of mystery meat inside a thick doughy casing.  The sweetness of the shrimp is combined with the sweetness of the pork to make an ubersweet tasty filling.  My mother and I usually prepared large batches (75-100), and freezing the ones we didn’t eat, since they freeze fairly well.  The won ton wrappers can be found in any asian market.  They are the square wrappers, not the circular ones.  I don’t remember exactly why I had to specify that, except that I’ve been asked a few times what won ton wrappers look like.  One clue is that it says ‘Won Ton Wrappers’ on the packaging.  After making these since I was 8 years old, I developed the uncanny ability to sniff the meat filling to determine if it needs more salt, sesame oil, soy sauce, etc.  And I also developed a complex from the result of 2 generations of chinese mothers exclaiming my technique in wrapping won tons isn’t perfected like theirs, and how I am too slow in the kitchen, as they are won-ton-making-machines at a quick pace of 5-7 won tons per minute.  This recipe is my mom’s recipe, but no matter how well you think you made these, they are NOT as good as hers…

This recipe makes 50 won tons (2 won ton wrapper packages).

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 lb. raw, deveined shrimp
  • 1/3 lb. ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger root
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped green onions
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 packages of won ton wrappers
  • Chicken broth, optional for soup (8 oz. per serving / 64 oz. if you are cooking all 50 won tons that day)

Directions:

  1. Coarsely chop shrimp. In a food processor (yes, even my mom uses a food processor now), combine all ingredients except the last 2 on the list.  Place mixture in bowl.
  2. How to wrap a won ton.  This part gets a little tricky. Usually the wrapper packaging has illustrated instructions, so follow those.  Or if those are totally not understandable, place small spoonful of filling one corner, roll the filled corner until a perfect triangle of wrapper remains, pinch the 2 rolled ends together, seal with water.  It should look like a nurses’ cap, with a little triangular flap in the back.  This is a picture of what the front should look like:wontonsmall
  3. Place in boiling pot of water for 5-7 minutes, drain.  To make won ton soup, boil chicken broth separately. Combine broth and won tons in serving bowls. Garnish with chopped green onions.

How to make fried rice

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Fried rice is typically made to use up leftover rice and food from the night before.  There are no set ingredients to use other than rice, oil, and whatever meat and veggies you have in your fridge.  One important lesson in stir-frying is that it is done to produce ‘wok hei’; the heat of that wok that enhances the flavor of the ingredients, NOT generous amounts of soy sauce. Authentic fried rice is not painted a glossy dark brown by a bottle of soy sauce and heaping amounts of oil; the soy is used to enhance the flavors of the ingredients, and the rice should appear fluffy in texture.  I’m using leftover cooked ham, green peas, and egg since that’s what I have.  If you don’t have ham, you can use leftover barbeque pork, spam, chicken, shrimp, whatever. If you don’t have peas, substitute another vegetable that you can dice up.  If you like pineapple, put some in.  If you don’t like veggies or fruit, don’t use them.  I don’t care. 

Real Fried Rice (serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 cups leftover cooked rice (if you are making fresh rice, cook 1 ¼ cups and set aside to cool)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of chopped ham
  • 1 cup of green peas
  • Vegetable oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Soy sauce
  • Handful of green onion or scallion, chopped (optional)
  • Wok

 Directions:

  1.        Whisk 1 tsp. of vegetable oil into 2 eggs.  On medium heat, pour eggs into wok.  Genty scramble, set aside.
  2.        Increase heat to high on stove.  Coat wok with 3 tbsp. of vegetable oil.  Pour rice in.  Fold rice over itself with spatula, add swigs of oil in increments as you are mixing rice until the kernels look separated and not like sticky clumps.
  3.        Add egg, diced ham, and peas, stir.  Add 1 tsp. sesame oil, stir.  Add soy sauce until desired saltiness/color.  I personally don’t like my rice to taste like salt, so my rice comes out a light brown color.
  4.        Garnish with green onion/scallion.  Serves 4-6.  Or if you’re really hungry, 1-2.
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