Tag Archives: chinese

Mongolian Beef

29 Oct

mongolian beef

I recently took a trip to Buenos Aires’ Barrio Chino (Chinatown) and was pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of Asian ingredients available. Finally, I could get my hands on hot sauce, soy sauce not made in Argentina (the versions made here are really quite bad to my taste), sesame oil, and more. They even had my favorite brand of soy sauce – Kimlan. But, unlike in the US, these bottles weren’t re-labeled with English and only had the most basic information written in Spanish on stickers attached to the sides of the bottles. So what I thought was my trusty Kimlan Super Special soy sauce turned out to be thick soy sauce instead. Thick soy sauce (not to be confused with dark soy sauce), also known as soy paste or soy jam, is sweetened and quite thick, often used for dipping sauces and, apparently, to color fried rice in many Chinese restaurants. I wasn’t sure what to do with the stuff, but when I saw this Mongolian beef recipe that called for large quantities of soy sauce and brown sugar, I knew this thick soy sauce would be the perfect alternative. This classic Americanized Chinese dish (despite the name, it is most certainly not Mongolian) is very simple to make, and although I wouldn’t quite call this recipe healthy, I’m sure it’s better than the usual take-out versions. In addition to the thick soy sauce, cornstarch further thickens the sauce (while tenderizing the beef as well). I also tossed in thickly sliced onions and bell peppers for color and variety of texture. I served mine over cauliflower rice, though of course, regular rice will work just fine, too.

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3-2-1 Stir Fry

14 May

3-2-1 stir fry

So you’ve probably heard that pound cake was thus named because it was once made from a pound of butter, a pound of flour, and a pound of sugar? Similarly, Cantonese 3-2-1 sauce is a recipe in a name. Only, unlike pound cake, this is a recipe I use regularly. Three parts soy sauce, two parts oyster sauce, and one part sesame oil yield this amazing basic sauce, full of umami and perfect for stir fries. I’ve mentioned my obsession with umami on here before, right? Officially recognized as one of our basic tastes (the others being sweet, sour, salty, and bitter) just 27 years ago, it’s that rich hearty flavor that makes steak, mushrooms, tomatoes, and cheese so addictive. Thinking about how to pack your food with umami can really make a difference in your cooking. 3-2-1 sauce is a great source of umami, so it’s a simple way to make a very flavorful dish. In this 3-2-1 stir fry, I use a combination of some of my favorite vegetables – beech mushrooms, broccoli, and bell peppers – but you could easily swap these out for some of your favorites.

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Stir-Fried Pork and Vegetables in Black Bean Sauce

18 Apr

stir-fried pork and vegetables in black bean sauce

Stir-frying is a really useful technique; it’s simple, fast, and yields delicious results. I especially love it for fresh vegetables where the high heat draws out their natural sweetness while keeping them nice and crisp. This type of preparation is my favorite for brussels sprouts which I think get a bad reputation due to often being overcooked. I like my brussels sprouts only slightly softened, still retaining a crisp nearly raw interior. Chinese long beans (which are very similar to green beans but a bit better suited to stir-frying as they stay crisper) are a great match here, while ground pork marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, and Chinese five-spice helps to round out the flavors. Despite the jarred black bean sauce being used here (as much as I like to make everything from scratch, sometimes it’s just not feasible), this stir-fry is miles ahead of your standard take-out – both tastier and healthier! Once you get the hang of stir-frying, you’ll realize how invaluable it is to be able to toss together whatever vegetables are hanging out in your fridge and end up with a delicious meal.

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Char Siu Bao

8 Feb

char siu bao

Char siu bao, or Chinese barbecue pork buns, are my absolute favorite dim sum item. Biting into the soft pillowy dough to reveal the bright sticky pork filling is overwhelmingly satisfying. After an order (usually two buns) quickly disappears, I’m always tempted to get more…and more… So after making my own char siu, I knew I had to go the next step and make these buns. As you can see from the photo, mine didn’t turn out nearly as pretty as the restaurant buns (I haven’t mastered the pleating and pinching to shut the buns), but they were every bit as tasty! Plus this recipe makes a goodly amount – 24 buns. Although that does make it a bit dangerous (I will not be held responsible for any overconsumption). Combine these buns with Chinese broccoli with five-spice sauce, sticky rice, and scallion pancakes, and you can have your very own dim sum!

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Char Siu

6 Jan

char siu

Char siu, also known as Chinese barbecued pork, is used in a variety of applications; you’ll find this delicious meat, with its often bright red exterior, on top of ramen, diced in fried rice, as a filling in char siu bao (steamed pork buns), and even served plain, arranged beautifully on a plate. The characteristic red crust is best achieved with the addition of food coloring, but I opted to go without it and still had a gorgeous deep red hue on the outside. I chose to make this using pork shoulder, but for something more decadent, you can use pork belly.

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Chinese Broccoli with Five-Spice Sauce

4 Jan

chinese broccoli

Although I’m pretty sure this dish isn’t authentic (due to the inclusion of butter), it tastes exactly like what I’ve eaten at dim sum restaurants before and is really simple (and fast) to make. The sauce, given a kick from garlic, ginger, and five-spice, is a great match to Chinese broccoli, but should work wonderfully on other vegetables as well. It’s not often that I find something that only takes about 10 minutes to make and still tastes delicious, so I know I’ll be coming back to this recipe.

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Chinese Five-Spice

2 Jan

chinese five-spice

Chinese five-spice is a strange beast; many of the flavors here are usually associated with sweet applications, but the resulting spice mix is traditionally used in savory dishes to amazing result. The five spices referenced in the name are usually star anise, fennel, cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns, and cloves, but some variants include ginger root, anise seed, cumin, and white pepper. I stick with the traditional here, but the amounts used are flexible and can be adjusted to your tastes. This is a great mix to have on hand for adding to stir fried vegetables, upping the flavor in soups, or including in dry rubs for chicken, pork, or duck. And, although desserts aren’t the typical use, I’ve even come across recipes for five-spice cookies and cakes, and I think the spicy licorice-like flavor would be well-suited to sweets. On Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting two of my favorite recipes using this unique spice mix.

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Chinese Sticky Rice

26 Oct

Chinese Sticky Rice

Another dim sum favorite of mine, Chinese sticky rice provides a great combination of sweet and savory. This recipe is a perfect recreation of the dish, studded with little bits of tasty mix-ins, including sweet Chinese sausage (with a taste reminiscent of raisins), dried mushrooms, and dried shrimp, which are all essential to the rice’s success. The technique involves sauteeing all the ingredients, including the rice, and then transferring the mix to a steamer – something I was initially skeptical about that ultimately yielded amazing results. Together with some scallion pancakes (which you undoubtedly have waiting in your freezer, right?), you can be well on your way to your own dim sum feast.

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Moo Shu Vegetables

12 Oct

Moo Shu Vegetables

This recipe has a lot going for it: it’s quick (or, at least, quicker than many of the meals I cook), it’s easy, and it’s got some of my favorite vegetables (mushrooms, carrots, and cabbage!). I also love Asian flavors, and the flavors of the ginger, soy sauce, and hoisin sauce here are a great way to showcase the flavors of the veggies. The moo shu pancakes are surprisingly easy to make, even though I was initially suspicious of the technique of rolling out two pancakes together (with oil inbetween) – it worked out perfectly, and I had no problem peeling the pancakes apart after they’d cooked. And if you’re feeling a little lazier, you can buy moo shu pancakes instead of making your own, use tortillas, or even make lettuce wraps (making these a little lighter and adding a nice crispness).

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Chinese Beef and Broccoli

31 Aug

Chinese Beef and Broccoli

Growing up, beef and broccoli was always my favorite dish to order at Chinese restaurants. But naturally, the heavily Americanized versions feature an overly sweet and thick sauce that I now find much less appealing. This version of Chinese beef and broccoli is a bit more subtle, with the flavors of rice wine, black vinegar, and oyster sauce.

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