Tag Archives: chinese

old school chi-neez

8 Dec

When I was a kid, my Chinese grandpa would feed me dried scallops as an afternoon snack. He insisted these stinky salty golden disks that peeled apart like string cheese were actually sections of dried rattlesnake. I went around telling friends at school that I ate rattlesnake, which naturally made me super cool and popular.

In my Thanksgiving post, I mentioned my friend N made a delicious savory Chinese sticky rice flavored with an abundance of dried scallops. Recently, I decided to try my hand at making this Chinese specialty, just to see how tough it would be.

Surprisingly, once ingredients were gathered, it was just a matter of 3 hours of soaking time, plus 1 hour of mostly non-supervised cook time. Okay, so it’s 20 times longer to make than a stir-fry, but that’s what makes it old school Chinese!

chinese sticky rice with dried scallops, sausage and mushrooms
a fancy rice to fancy

* 3 cups short-grain “sweet” rice
* 1/4 cup dried scallops
* 1 cup Chinese dried black mushrooms or dried shiitake mushrooms
* 5 Chinese sausages, sliced 1/4″ thin on the diagonal
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1/3 cup medium-dry cooking sherry
* 4 tablespoons soy sauce
* 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
* 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
* 2 cups reserved scallop and mushroom liquid or reduced-sodium chicken broth
* Thinly sliced green onions for garnish

Rinse and soak rice in cold water at least 3 hours. Drain and let dry thoroughly.

Soak scallops and mushrooms in separate bowls of warm water for 30 minutes. Drain mushrooms and scallops reserving liquid for later. Rinse mushrooms to remove any grit, then discard stems and coarsely chop caps. Shred scallops.

Heat a saute pan over high heat. Add sausage and stir-fry 1 minute, then add vegetable oil to coat the pan. Add mushrooms and scallops and stir-fry 1 minute. Add drained rice and stir to coat (rice should look shiny with oil). Stir in sherry, soy sauce, sesame oil, and white pepper and stir-fry for a couple more minutes on medium head, adding a little of the reserved scallop liquid if rice begins to stick to pan.

Transfer mixture to rice cooker and add the remaining 2 cups of reserved scallop and mushroom liquid (or chicken broth). Cook on normal rice setting. If using a pot, bring rice to a simmer, stir once, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook 25 minutes more, then remove from heat.

Once rice cooker finishes cooking cycle, stir rice from bottom to redistribute ingredients and let stand, covered, 10 minutes before serving with green onion garnish.

Serves 8.

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thanksgiving digest

1 Dec

Why does it take until December to finish digesting Thanksgiving? Not unlike past years, our cornucopia overfloweth with meat and starch treats in volumes and combinations that would horrify any pilgrim. Case and point, the Thanksgiving fat bastard himself: turkey cake. Two loaves of turkey meatloaf separated by a layer of cranberry sauce, frosted with mashed potatoes and topped with yams and marshmallows.

Yes, I ate it. Along with the deconstructed version the night before. My chef friend C made possibly the most gorgeous bird I have ever seen stuffed with a homemade cornbread and sausage stuffing.

Parsnip and potato puree, yams, cranberry sauce, creamed leeks, braised carrots, salad and amazing caramelized brussel sprouts rounded out our festive meal, which we nested among the gold leaf centerpieces I had crafted.

Post an Old Fashioned-induced dance party, I geared up for the night after Thanksgiving. Another evening of big eating. M’s turkey cake stole the spotlight, an impressive feat considering the presence of an Asian-themed banquet: two roasted ducks, scallop and sausage sticky rice, soy sauce ribs, homemade spring rolls, chinese chicken salad — plus candied yams and my favorite Roasted Bagna Cauda Broccoli.

Even sans cleaver, N made swift work of carving beautiful Golden Gate Meats ducks.

N’s sticky rice, a recipe of his mother’s, glistened with chewy goodness — studded with slivers of red lap cheong, dried scallop, mushrooms and water chestnuts.

K’s “old school Chinese” expertise showed through in a magnificent platter of golden spring rolls — each perfectly crunchy with an ideal portion of savory meat and vegetable filling. R’s soy sauce pork ribs melted off the bone in spectacular fashion, like a harlot proudly disrobing.

My contribution to the evening was a Chinese Chicken Salad minus the chicken because I have a weird chicken phobia. Really, it was just a butter lettuce and raddiccio salad adorned with crispy prosciutto, won ton chips and homemade garlic roasted peanuts. The secret is the dressing, which I’ll rudely refuse to share. I will, however, recommend you make these amazing garlic roasted peanuts to snack on by the handful or dress salads.

Garlic Roasted Peanuts
smelly and addictive… a treacherous combo

* 1 lb raw peanuts
* 5-6 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
* 2 tablespoon oil, peanut oil preferably
* 4 tablespoon soy sauce
* 1 tablespoon fish sauce
* 1/2 tablespoon sugar
* salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 325° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, then put peanuts on sheetpan. Dry roast for 15 minutes.

While the peanuts begin to roast, mix everything else except for the salt and pepper in a medium bowl. After first 15 minutes remove roasted peanuts from oven, mix the peanuts with the marinade, pour back onto sheet pan, then return to oven.

Continue to roast for 10-15 move minutes or until the peanuts are a light golden brown color. Take them out a little before you think they are perfect, because they will continue to cook on their own a little more after being removed from oven.

Allow to cool, then season with salt and pepper. Store airtight at room temperature for 1-2 weeks.

Don’t think I forgot about dessert! There were many notables including C’s fruit crostatas and P’s moist and tender rum cake. My T-day contribution: a silky dark chocolate tart with buttery cookie crust and the interior texture of a ganache. It’s ridiculously easy and impressive….excellent baking ROI.

Dark Chocolate Tart with Gingersnap Crust
adapted from Bon Appétit

Crust:
* 12 ounces gingersnap cookies (Trader Joe’s Triple Gingersnaps are best)
* 3/4 stick salted butter, melted

Filling:
* 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
* 1 cup heavy whipping cream
* 2 large egg yolks
* 1 large egg
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
* Pinch of salt
* 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped crystallized ginger

For crust:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Finely grind gingersnap cookies in processor (yielding around 1 2/3 cups). Add melted butter; process until moistened. Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Place pan on rimmed baking sheet.

For filling:
Combine finely chopped bittersweet chocolate and heavy whipping cream in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk over low heat until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove saucepan from heat. Whisk egg yolks, egg, sugar, flour, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Very gradually whisk chocolate mixture into egg mixture until smooth and blended. Pour chocolate filling into crust.

Bake chocolate tart until filling puffs slightly at edges and center is softly set, about 30 minutes. Transfer to rack. Sprinkle chopped crystallized ginger over top. Cool tart in pan 20 minutes. Gently remove tart pan sides and cool tart completely. DO AHEAD: Chocolate tart can be made 1 day ahead. Cover tart and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Cut tart into thin wedges and serve.

roku. chow. pork.

15 Nov

In an effort to quit evil Comcast cable, I recently acquired Roku. For $80 (less than I would pay for a month of cable), I snapped up a lower-end HD hardware box about the size of 3 stacked CD jewel cases. What sold me on Roku? Well, it’s cheaper than Apple TV, Boxee, Google TV or a dedicated PC, plus they seem to have solid content partnerships.

Honestly, I had higher hopes for the level of free content available, which currently consists of old b&w movies, bad internet programming, a zillion Pandora-esque stations, and porn (if you are so inclined). I’ve resigned to using it purely as a Netflix-streaming watching box (and Hulu Plus, whenever that gets released). The Vimeo and YouTube channels could be good diversions, but are inconvenient to search and navigate.

I do appreciate that Chow has a free channel on Roku. Sure, it’s no replacement for the Food Network, but it does have fun videos including a Celebrity Go-To Dish section with a Steamed Ground Pork with Salted Fish recipe by Charles Phan of Slanted Door fame.

In the video segment, Phan improvises his favorite family comfort meal — a rustic pork patty studded with dried Chinese salted fish (haam yee) and steamed to juicy perfection. Most Chinese folks (myself included) grew up eating this simple to prepare home-style dish served over rice. Unlike Phan, we never “ground” our own pork with dual cleavers, nor spiked the pork with Vietnamese fish sauce.

Inspired by Phan’s fancification, I set out to recreate the dish one Sunday evening. Instead of fresh mushrooms, I rehydrated a fistful of dried shiitakes and opted for a 50/50 mix of fatty and lean ground pork from the local butcher. At the Chinese market, I grabbed a nice and stinky dried mackerel sold in hanging plastic bags with the tail exposed.

I’m not old school Chinese, so I don’t own a wok or bamboo basket steamers. Phan describes how to fashion a steamer from foil and a skillet, but I prefer to use a heatproof footed ceramic bowl carefully set it into a large lidded pot with half-inch of simmering water. My grandparents always used this bowl-steaming trick to maximize surface area — simply push the ground pork up the sides of the bowl with uniform thickness to form a cup-like patty.

steamed ground pork with salted fish
umami in a bowl

* 1 pound ground pork
* handful of dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated and finely chopped
* 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
* 1 tablespoon fish sauce, plus more as needed
* 2 teaspoons cornstarch
* Salt
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 2 (2-by-1-inch-long and 1/2-inch-thick) pieces salted mackerel
* 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced, then cut into very thin matchsticks

Fill a large wok with 1 inch of water and place a large bamboo steamer inside. (The water should not touch the bottom of the steamer.) If you don’t have a wok and a bamboo steamer, try my bowl-steaming method. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat.

Place pork in a medium bowl. Add mushrooms, shallot, fish sauce, cornstarch, oil, and a large pinch each of salt and pepper and stir to combine. Check mixture for proper seasoning by forming a small, thin patty. Pan-fry it until the center is no longer pink. Taste, adding additional fish sauce, salt, or pepper as needed, keeping in mind that there will be additional salt in the dish from the salted fish.

Place pork mixture in a slightly rimmed (to contain the juices) heatproof dish about 8 inches in diameter. Press the pork across the dish to form a large 1/2-inch-thick patty. If using salted mackerel, place it in the center of the pork patty. If using anchovies, scatter them in a single layer on top of the pork patty. Evenly sprinkle with ginger. Carefully place the dish in the bamboo steamer or into pot. Cover the wok or pot with a tightfitting lid or a sheet of aluminum foil and steam until the mixture is just cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with rice and vegetables.

Serves 4. Adapted from Charles Phan recipe.