Posted on January 30, 2009 by tangstein
It’s Super Bowl weekend, so of course – it’s time for wings, right? Here is a faux Chinese (meaning I created it) recipe for chicken wings – sweet and spicy and baked or grilled instead of fried, so much better for you than the traditional hot wings. You can get whole wings and twist them into a triangle by tucking the tip over the second joint, or you can use the drumettes and/or second joints. Do try to buy pastured chicken if you can find it in your area – you’ll do your tastebuds, your body, your environment (and the chicken) a favor.
- 1 c Shaoxing cooking wine or dry sherry
- 1/4 c light soy sauce
- 2 T honey
- 2 T apricot preserves
- 2 T apple cider vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 T fresh ginger root, minced
- toasted sesame seeds (optional) - a mix of black and white is nice
- Rinse the wings and pat them dry.
- Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl, then add the chicken and marinate in the refrigerator at least 4 hours or as long as overnight.
- Drain the marinade off into a saucepan heat to a boil, reduce to a slow boil until reduced to a syrupy consistency, 15-30 m.
- Preheat the oven to 450 or preheat the grill.
- If you are grilling: grill the wings 4-5 m, baste the top with some of the sauce, turn over, baste the top and grill for another 4-5 m. If the outside begins to blacken too much, move the wings to a part of the grill that is cooler. If you have a gas grill, turn one burner off, move the wings to that side, leave the other side on, and cover the grill. If you are baking: bake the wings10 m, baste the top with some of the sauce, turn over, baste the top and grill for 5-10 m more. The juices should run clear when pricked to the bone at the joint or thickest part.
- After removing from the heat, immediately sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- If you plan to use the sauce for dipping, be sure to bring it back to a boil and simmer it for 5 m, adding a bit of water if it’s too thick.
- Serve with the sauce and/or some hot chinese mustard.
The wings can be prepared ahead and refrigerated overnight – don’t sprinkle with sesame seeds. Brush with the sauce and reheat in a 250 degree oven until warm, then sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.
Filed under: chicken, poultry | Tagged: chicken, wings | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 28, 2009 by tangstein
Getting tired of rice with Chinese food? This savory loaf makes an excellent accompaniment for Chinese dishes, it contains less fat than scallion pancakes, it’s baked instead of fried (so you have time to do other things while it cooks), and it makes a great savory breakfast as well!
- 1 recipe yeast dough
- 1 T sesame oil or neutral flavored oil, if you prefer
- 2 tsp salt
- 3 scallions, minced
- 1 T sesame seeds, a mix of black and white is nice
- 1 egg, beaten
- Roll the dough into a square approximately 1/2″ thick.
- Brush the dough with the some of the oil, then sprinkle with some salt and scallion.
- Fold the right 1/3 of the dough over the middle 1/3, then fold the left 1/3 over that, pressing down gently with your hands.
- Brush the dough with the rest of the oil, then sprinkle with remaining salt and scallion.
- Allow the dough to rest for 5 m – this will make it easier to continue.
- Fold the top 1/3 down over the middle 1/3, then fold the bottom 1/3 up over that.
- Gently roll the loaf into a square approximately 12″ on a side. The oil will make this a bit tricky, but you needn’t make it perfect. If you let the dough rest 5-10 m, it will become less likely to retract when rolled.
- Place the loaf on a baking sheet, brush with the egg (be careful not to let the egg drip onto the pan – it’s a mess to clean up!), sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Move to a warm, draft-free place to rise for 30 m. after 15 m have passed of this time, preheat the oven to 350.
- Bake the loaf for 12-15 m. If you want a more rosy brown color, you can brush the top with oil and CAREFULLY broil it for less than 1 m. Flip it over, brush the bottom with oil, and repeat the broiling process.
- Cut into wedges and serve.
Filed under: breads | Tagged: breads | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 26, 2009 by tangstein
The term “cake” is a bit misleading here – this sweet is really more like a jelly or stiff pudding, but as it is served in slices it seems appropriate to call it a cake. The ingredients may be a bit off-putting – who puts split peas into dessert?! – but you’ll be surprised at how delicious (and nutrtitious) this is. You can find split peas in the dreid beans section of most conventional grocery stores. A good dessert to make ahead for a Chinese meal or to have on hand to serve with tea, it seems like Chinese New Year (gongxi facai!) is a good day to post this.
- 1/2 lb yellow split peas
- 1/2 c sugar, raw cane is best
- 2 T honey
- Sort through the peas carefully, removing any grit and green peas from them, then rinse well.
- If you have a rice cooker, you can cook the peas with 1.75 c water as you would rice; if you use a pot to cook rice, used 2.5 c water (see Basic Steamed Rice).
- Add the sugar and honey, mixing well, then puree in the blender until completely smooth.
- In a saucepan (avoid aluminum or iron, which will cause discoloration of the paste), cook the mixture until when dropped from a spoon it mounds on the top instead of instantly disappearing into the mixture. This can take up to 30 m.
- Scrape into an 8″ or 9″ square baking pan, cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for 5-6 h until completely set.
- Cut into squares, diamonds, or other shapes, and serve.
- For added color, you can cut jellied cranberry sauce into pretty shapes and add them to the top of each piece.
- This also goes well with a fresh fruit sauce, such as a raspberry coulis, which would add color and a bit of acid to cut the sweetness of the cake.
Filed under: desserts | Tagged: cake, desserts, peas | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 21, 2009 by tangstein
Coming as it did after the “Day of Service,” President Obama’s inaugural speech continued this train of thought (and action) by invoking duty, humility, restraint, and responsibility along with hope, virtue, and truth. (I was amused by the coverage of the speech because much of the media was scrambling to identify the line that would be remembered in the ages to come – it seems to me that our new president’s speech defied that sort of analysis because he very pointedly avoided speaking in sound bites.) I was repeatedly struck by his use of the pronouns “we” and “us” – in his very first line he says “humbled by the task before us” when he could very logically and understandably have used “me.“
The call to a Day of Service and the inauguration speech’s challenge to take action made me think more deeply about what change for the better I personally would like to effect in the world. It would all seem very overwhelming – what can one person do in the face of so many large-scale problems – except that I have been keeping one of my New Year’s resolutions and reading an excellent book of essays by Wendell Berry: Home Economics. In the second essay, “Getting Along with Nature,” he writes about the damage an industrial economy wreaks on the relationship between man and nature – it is because of the massive scale of the industrial economy that man and nature are so often considered to be in opposition, whereas “A properly scaled human economy or technology allows a diversity of other creatures to thrive.” In the following piece, “Irish Journal,” he writes,
Industrial hopes have almost invariably tended to devalue…modesty of scale….. [T]hat poor work is affordable is an illusion created by the industrial economy. If bad work is done, a high price must be paid for it; all “the economy” can do is forward the bill to a later generation – and, in the process, make it payable in suffering.
It seems that the bill has now come due – President Obama gave a sobering list of the challenges we face. How will we make ends meet, pay the bill, and move on? It would be amazing to see all Americans step up to the plate and think about what each and every one of us could do with our education/training/experience/passions that would help to make a difference, no matter how small, in the lives of those less fortunate than we are.
My work with GrowingGreat has inspired me to think about re-entering the food business, but not in the way I originally was involved in it by work in restaurants and catering. With a pending move and another chance to reinvent myself, I’m now hoping to find something “socially meaningful” to do with my food background – education? work with food pantries? Stay tuned, and in the meantime, give some thought to what YOU can do to help pay the bill – it’s the small scale work that will allow others to thrive.
Filed under: ethics | Tagged: change, Obama | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 19, 2009 by tangstein
Pronounced mogu jipian in Mandarin, but probably best known as “moogoo gaipan,” this is a basic stirfry that appears on many restaurant menus but is, as most dishes are, infinitely more healthful and tasty when made at home. In the interest of taking out processed/dried ingredients and using fresh, local ones, I replace the dried woodear and/or canned straw mushrooms that many recipes call for with fresh shiitakes, but you could use whatever mushrooms you find fresh at the market. For a bit of color, you can add a green vegetable to the mix – I recommend broccoli or green pepper, but it’s particularly delicious with snow peas, which are already appearing at the farmers’ market in Southern California. (Maybe our 80+ degree heat wave is good for something?!)
- 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, approximately 6 oz – try to find pastured chicken if you can – you’ll do your body, your tastebuds, the environment, and the chicken a favor!
- 1/2 lb fresh snow peas
- 8 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems reserved for making broth, caps cut into 1/4″ slices or quartered
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 T oil
- 1 egg white
- 1 T water
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl.
- Slice the chicken breast against the grain into wide slices, approximately 1/8″ thick, then add to the marinade and let it rest for 20 m, then strain out as much marinade as possible.
- Rinse the snow peas, snap the ends off, pulling off the strings that will come off with the ends. If the peas are large, cut them in 1/2 on a slight diagonal.
- Heat a wok over medium high heat, then add 1 T oil and heat just until it shimmers.
- Stirfry the mushrooms and snow peas briefly, add the salt, and stir to combine, then remove to a plate.
- Heat the remaining tsp of oil until it shimmers, then add the chicken and stirfry quickly until the pieces separate and lose their pink color. Return the vegetables to the wok and stirfry quickly to combine.
- Adjust the seasoning and serve.
Filed under: chicken, poultry | Tagged: chicken, mushrooms, snow peas, stirfry | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 16, 2009 by tangstein
This dish often shows up on restaurant menus in America, and it seems there are a million different variations. Because the pork is cooked twice, you cannot make this with a very lean cut, and pork belly really is the way to go if you can find it – just be sure to serve it with lots of lower-fat vegetable sides to compensate for the high fat content. If you can’t find pork belly, use the least lean cut you can find – stay away from the loin.
I do try to stick to fresh, whole, close to the source ingredients, but in this recipe I do use tian mian jiang, which you can read about in the Pork Shreds with Chinese Broccoli post. Hoisin sauce or even miso paste, available in most conventional groceries’ Asian section is a fine substitute.
- 3/4 lb pork belly, preferably from a pastured pig – better for you, for the pig, and for the environment!
- 1 fresh red chili (or you can substitute 1/4 of a red bell pepper if you don’t like spicy food)
- 2 scallions
- 1 T oil
- 2 T tian mian jiang
- 1 T sugar
- 1 T Shaoxing cooking wine
- 1/2 tsp salt, to taste
- Bring a pot of water to a boil.
- In the meantime, seed and cut the chili into long strips, or, if you are really daring, cut the whole chili into rounds on a slight diagonal.
- Cut the scallions into 1″ pieces on the diagonal.
- When the water boils, add the pork, reduce to a simmer for 20 m. Do not boil, or the meat will be very tough.
- Remove the pork from the water, let it rest until cool enough to handle, then cut it into thin slices against the grain.
- Heat the wok over high heat, then add the oil just until it shimmers.
- Explode the chili until fragrant, then add the meat, stirfrying just until it is heated through and starts sizzling.
- Add the scallions and the remaining ingredients, stirfrying well to combine.
- Adjust the seasoning and serve.
You can add just about any vegetable to this dish, adding to its color and nutritional content – the most common additions seem to be bell peppers and bamboo shoots.
Filed under: meat, pork, stirfry | Tagged: pork | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 14, 2009 by tangstein
The DC restaurant scene is buzzing, trying to figure out which restaurants will rise and fall with the arrival of the Obama administration next week – apparently the President-Elect loves to eat out, according to “Rearranging the Tables in Washington”. But what interests me far more, as a foodlover and a mother of young children, is what will happen on the Obama’s home front, if one can call the White House that.
After much speculation among foodies who would take the helm in the Obama White House kitchen, the transition team announced last week that Cristeta Comerford, who currently holds the position and came on under the Bush administration in 2005, would be staying on. From Mary MacVean in the LATimes:
“Cristeta Comerford brings such incredible talent to the White House operation and came very highly regarded from the Bush family,” [Michelle] Obama said in a statement released last week by the president-elect’s transition team. “Also the mom of a young daughter, I appreciate our shared perspective on the importance of healthy eating and healthy families.”
The Grand Dame of the American foodie world, Alice Waters, has also come out to support the continuation of Comerford, saying,
I’m very pleased that it’s not a celebrity, in the sense of someone who gave the impression that food was about going to fancy restaurants…. The idea is that good food is a right for all Americans and not just for the privileged people who can afford it.
It is indeed wonderful that Mrs. Obama understands the connection between healthy eating and healthy families, and that Comerford is in a sense a behind-the-scenes celebrity. But it’s my hope that they combine forces to take this opportunity to make the commitment to healthy eating and healthy families very public: food – real food, not processed food products – should NOT be a privilege at a time when in many ways, it is. Now is the time for them to plant that White House (Lawn) garden and get involved in promoting programs such as Will Allen’s Growing Power
that try to ensure that that sort of fresh, local, real food is available in every neighborhood of America.
Let the restaurants ride on the coattails of the President – I want to see underprivileged Americans lifted up on the skirttails of the First Lady (or the coattails of the chef whites on the White House Chef)!
Filed under: articles, nutrition | Tagged: articles, health & nutrition | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 12, 2009 by tangstein
This is a wonderful winter comfort food that is a snap to put together, although it does need some time to cook. For this dish you should look for kelp (scientifically called laminaria, known as haidai in Mandarin) that has been dried in strips. If you don’t have an Asian market nearby, you can alternatively order from the Maine Seaweed Company if already know you like seaweed. For more information on seaweed, you can visit this page about the medicinal value of seaweed and Michael Guiry’s Seaweed Site, which has a lot of scientific info and great pictures.
- 1/2 lb pork spareribs, cut across the bone into 2″ sections, then separated into individual ribs
- 1 qt water or broth
- 4-5 strips of kelp (they will grow enormously!)
- salt to taste – seaweed is salty, so you may not need to add any
- Place the ribs in the liquid and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer and skim any scum from the top of the liquid – if you boil too rapidly, your soup will be cloudy. Simmer for approximately 45 m, or until almost completely tender.
- In the meantime, wash the kelp, soak it in cool water, then rinse it again before cutting it into 2″ sections.
- Add the kelp to the soup, and simmer for 30 m more. The kelp will help to thicken the soup slightly and give it a smooth, glossy look and feel.
- Adjust the seasoning, and serve.
Filed under: meat, pork, soup, vegetables | Tagged: pork, ribs, seaweed | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 9, 2009 by tangstein
Perfect protein for vegetarians, especially if you use brown rice! Most cultures have a version of beans and rice – I’m not sure this recipe is really Chinese, but it works and it’s popular with kids. Try to find the tiny red adzuki beans, or substitute mung beans or another small colorful variety – black beans will also work well. This is also a good recipe for leftover rice and beans, if you tend to cook beans and have them on hand, in which case it’s super quick. Add a green vegetable and you have a meal in approximately 30 m.
- 2 c cooked beans (see note)
- 1 c rice
- 2 T oil
- 1 scallion, chopped
- 1 tsp fresh ginger root, minced
- salt, to taste
- freshly ground white (or black) pepper to taste
- 1 T light soy sauce
- Wash, soak, and begin to cook the rice according to the Basic Steamed Rice recipe.
- When the water level reaches the top of the rice, heat a wok over medium high heat, then add the oil until it shimmers.
- Explode the scallion and ginger just until fragrant, then add the cooked beans and stirfry until coated with oil.
- Season with salt, pepper, and soy sauce, and cook 1-2 m, until beans are heated through.
- Gently mix the beans into the rice, then allow the rice to finish cooking.
I have only recently mastered the art of cooking beans – up until a few months ago, I always preferred the texture and flavor of canned ones. I recently discovered – with apologies to Kungfu Panda – that there really is a secret ingredient: patience! Now I usually cook the beans while making some other meal or when I know I’ll be home for a while, and that way I have a container of cooked beans handy for all sorts of last minute meals.
- Sort 1 c. dried beans (they sometimes have little rocks in with them!), then rinse them well and add 4 c of cool water. Allow the beans to soak at room temperature for 24-36 h, changing the water every 12 h.
- Drain the beans, place in a pot, add 4 c cold water, then bring to a boil.
- Immediately reduce to a simmer – a rapid boil will split the skins, cover loosely, and cook until soft and creamy all the way through. Undercooked beans will be grainy and have a whiter center. Do not add salt as it can toughen the skins and make cooking time even longer. Cooking time will vary greatly, from 1 – 2 h, sometimes more, depending on how long you soaked the beans, how old/dry they are, the hardness of your water, the phase of the moon….
- When your beans are done, remove them from the heat and allow them to come to room temperature in their cooking liquid. you can speed this process up by putting the pot into a larger pot or sink with ice water in it.
- Store in the refrigerator in their liquid, draining and rinsing only the amount you need for a recipe.
Filed under: rice & noodles | 1 Comment »