All posts filed under: Chinese

One from Column “A” ~ Mongolian Beef

Strictly speaking, There is no such thing as Mongolian Beef. There is a “style” of Mongolian Barbeque and a style of stewing things in a Mongolian(ish) way…. but Mongolian Beef as we know it … is an American thing. Almost as American as Apple Pie, as it were…. I know… weird. It varies drastically from take out menus to affected restaurants to quasi~authentico~chinesey places in shopping strip centers. So, while mine might not be what you’ve had before – I have just as much right to call it Mongolian Beef as anyone else.  And… if I’m going to be completely honest, this is better than anyone else’s….I don’t care who they are. Right then… You all know I’m working in a soy deficit environment. So I’m always on the job to make soy delicious things without using the actual ingredient. In our case I’m putting the Haddar Sauce to work again… so, that’s our starting point. Depending on where you get your MB fix – the rich, sticky, sweet/salty sauce is either a mix of …

One from Column ‘A’ – Five Spice Caramel Pork

To be fair, I’ve never seen this on any Chinese take-out menu. I have only been able to get it in Bangkok…. or at my favorite Chinese fare haunt in the city. So, dont hate me there. In fact, if you are going to hate me at all – its because I’ve monkeyed around with the traditional recipe a goodly amount… I’m not using pork belly, Jane is deathly allergic to soy, neither of us like our head blown off with heat….. and (God forbid), I’m not using a wok, it’s a Dutch oven. Five spice pork is an old Cantonese recipe that has cousins and distant relatives across most of Asia. And, unlike most take-out oferings, is more of a stew rather than a quick wok fried dish (hence, the dutch oven.) It is smoky, spicy, slightly sweet and terribly flavor packed. Short of Char Sui, it is my absolute favorite way to enjoy pork. Alrighty then… on with the changes we’ve made. Chinese Five Spice Powder – If you wanted to go through …

One from Column “A” – Braised Tofu with Pork

So, I used to go to this little hole-in-the-wall Chinese place. It was partly because of the “other” menu, as they did serve some pretty non – standard fare… or at least they did when “the usual suspect” was dining with me. I had my first Shark Fin Soup there, my first 1000 year old egg, and my 1-1/2 hour Oyster Pancakes  I found out later that they really didn’t take that long, they ran out of oysters and made a special run to the international market to buy enough for the cakes… so it was partly because of the service… But mainly, it was because of the chili sauce they brought to our table. It was spicy without being painful. It was oily. It was electric. It was supremely flavorful… and it was porky…. yes… porky. There would be nights that we would only order dumplings – and a bowl of that sauce with rice crackers. It was addictive. After six years trying to wrangle the recipe out of them, I just gave up. …

One from column “A” – Pork Fried Rice

Given that it’s essentially:  rice – some variety of diced meatage – vegetables (usually carrots and peas) and some sort of seasoning, you really wouldn’t think there would be that much differentiation between recipes and production…. stir-fry it all together and you get fried rice…. right? The possibilities for construction are endless, and if you happen to find that magical step-to process, you’d be rewarded with starchy, salty, meaty nirvana. Why then is fried rice the culinary crap shoot at Chinese restaurants? Tasteless and oily, gummy and salty, dry and..well… just d r y. But understanding what the majority of fried rice is – a way to utilize leftovers in a restaurant environment – then you can see why there really is very little thought put into something that is basically a throwaway dish. However, in order to be good (and I mean really good) fried rice,  it has to be made fresh, with quality ingredients, and not left to steam away to oblivion in some holding table waiting for that specific “quality” diner that prefers fried over …

One From Column B – Twice Cooked Pork

Alright, it’s confession time. This really isn’t authentic Twice Cooked Pork. But in my defense, I can probably count on one hand… with 3 fingers missing… the number of times I had authentic Twice Cooked Pork in a Chinese restaurant… including my trips to Asia. I’ve decided that it has become the Chinese version of refrigerator stir fry, where as long as you’re using already cooked pork – you’re golden. In the past, the pork has been left over Chinese BBQ pork (my personal favorite), left over stir fry, pork belly, or just roasted. It’s come with pineapple, bean sprouts, big chunks of onion, water chestnuts and whatever diced veg goes into every other dish. The sauce is often laden with garlic, hot pepper, or overrun with gloppy, sweetened generic brown sauce. It’s a hot mess. So, in all fairness, I’ll tell you what it’s supposed to be: The Pork is to be boiled in water, rice wine and ginger – cooled and sliced. The Vegetables should only be leeks and red bell pepper. The Sauce is …

1 From Column “B” – Sesame Chicken

When I lived in the city, my house was within spitting distance of 4 different Chinese restaurants… none of them, really, very good. Be that the case, my fridge was awash in half-eaten Chinese take-out boxes trying to find that one thing they cooked really well. I had gotten to the point where I’d only order Salt and Pepper Shrimp from one guy.. and nothing else. Another would get my Mu Shu Pork order.. And the other guy?  Well, he got the Lemon Chicken / No Sauce. “That’s just fried chicken…! “Yes, Mr. Woo… that’s right…. I’ve always loved the idea of Sesame Chicken. Sesame oil, Toasty, Toasty sesame seeds and a rich aromatic sauce surrounding crispy bits of marinated and fried chicken….. At least that’s how I imagine it would be. But what I THINK – and what I GET rarely match up. Doing the take-out route, I’ll rarely order anything that’s fried and comes in sauce. Invariably, whatever they have battered just becomes a grease haven, and the sauces, for my tastes, are usually way too sweet and …

One from Column A – Chicken Chow Mein

Okay, don’t shoot me… I grew up eating La Choy Chicken Chow Mein and somewhere deep in the back of my rather large head, I really believe that’s what Chinese food should taste like. I’ve been to Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and rolled around in veritable vats of authentic local food, so it’s not like I don’t know better. …. But when it’s quiet out… and no one is around… it’s that can of silky, bean sprout laden, very non- Chinese cuisine  – that I want. Granted, even real Chow Mein is just about the mildest of anything Asian you can eat… next to congee. It’s simple flavors, mild to no spice, and just a sea of corn starched sauce en-robing an over abundance of bean sprouts…. with a little chicken. I decided it was time to try my hand at it. Plate Fodder Chicken Chow Mein Serves 4 to 6 For the meat – you’ll need: 3 Chicken Thighs – boned and skinless 8 Large Shrimp – Shell off – tails removed 2 …

Chickety China the Chinese Chicken

Duck in the Hen House Chicken in the Duck Pond Duck Fried Chicken Crispy Fragrant Duck (Made with Chicken) Crispy Fragrant Duck is quite possibly my second favorite Asian thing that I usually wont make myself, for several reasons – none of which is I’m lazy.. With the price of duck these days, I just can’t wrap my head of spending $22.00 for a carcass and frying the crap out of it. In my mind, it’s too much like buying a whole tenderloin and  making chicken-fried steak out of it. So, I am attempting to kinda, sorta recreate the crispiness and depth of flavor you get with duck in a $3.95 small chicken fryer Crispy Fragrant chicken with PF Hoisin Sauce First, a couple of disclaimers: Fair warning, this is going to be terribly time consuming – so plan on three days. I’ve based this recipe on 4 different preparations, and made my own corrections and alterations, so no one recipe gets a particular nod one way or another. While the end result is a rather tasty …

One From Column B …

Recently Sung, a good friend of mine from Taiwan, asked why I don’t write about good Chinese recipes. A fair enough question… The truth? I don’t know any. I mean, I make a killer Fragrant Crispy Duck and a passable Peking Duck – but that’s pretty much the extent of my repertoire. Anything else I try just ends up being a generic stir fry… and you don’t need me to tell you how to do that. And… since I’m being perfectly honest,  if I want Mu Shu Pork or Mongolian Beef – I’m going to go someplace that knows how to make it right, and not waste the fifteen bucks in groceries to make an inedible copy. I’m all for Cooking the World, but sometimes you just have to admit someone does  something better than you… and besides, I love those little white boxes. But Sung’s question stuck with me, and while I’ve been recuperating from last week’s wedding I thought I’d relax by putting my spin on a Take Out Classic…. Chicken with Snow Peas – and see …