"chinese cooking" news and stories
There are certain things for which a recipe seems silly because it's more of a formula with variables rather than a specific set of ingredients and techniques -- a salad, sandwiches, casseroles, and in the case of Asian cuisine, fried rice. Fried rice is just something you throw together, pulling various ingredients from whatever choices you have in the fridge. You start with a base of leftover rice, then go from there. Meat? Pick one from what you have. Vegetables? Use whatever you have. Seasoning? Well, this one is a little tricky, but it always comes down to your personal preference. Jaden of food blog Steamy Kitchen always uses fish sauce, but I simply splash in some soy sauce, butter, and of course, my favorite hot sauce, sriracha.
Now, if you're a already a professional, then you might just need your own personal set of portable chopsticks. These aluminum chopsticks slide out of a fabric pouch and snap together. Not only are they pretty, but this keeps away the problem of disposable chopsticks creating waste! ThinkGeek also has a pair that screw together.
For an even more "green" Far East feast, the Bird's Eye Maple chopsticks are perfect, which are also fastened together with their very own chopstick rest. They are available from Porterhouse Crafts for $23 for two pairs.
Filed under: New Products
If ever you go for dim sum on a weekend late morning or early afternoon, you might come across these tiny, ruffled dumplings. At first glance they look like every other dumpling, but when you bite into them, you know that there's something special going on inside. Xiao long bao are "juicy dumplings," which are filled with not only a regular meat and vegetable stuffing, but with broth. How does the both get inside the dumpling?!?!
Kuidaore enlightens us by trying her hand at xiao long bao at home. The key is a broth made with pork rind, which "is a miraculous thing extremely rich in albumen and collagen." When the pork rind is simmered in water, it converts into a gelatine that can be cut and added to the dumpling filling. When the dumplings are steamed, they "melt" back into broth.
We're familiar with chives, the long, thin green blades that are most often used as a mild onion-flavored ingredient in cooking. Garlic chives, however, are similar to regular chives, but have a flat, rather than hollow, tubular blade. As the name indicates, they have a garlic flavor.
I rarely see regular garlic chives outside Asian cooking. Koreans pickle the blades in a seasoning similar to kimchee, producing what is called "boo-choo kimchee." However, only recently have I tasted yellow chives, thanks to my Chinese brother-in-law and his family. Yellow chives are "blanched" by shielding them from sunlight as they grow, the same way white asparagus are grown. These albino chives still have a mild garlic flavor and are one of my new favorite dishes when they are stir-fried with beef or pork. I only have to wonder if they have any nutrients.
As we already know, the Chinese New Year is steeped with tradition, and lucky for us at Slashfood, many of those traditions are associated with food. If you plan to celebrate this weekend (we wag in the Year of the Dog this Sunday, January 29, 2006), or want to learn a little bit more about the culture, here are what some of the traditional New Year foods symbolize, mostly health, wealth, and togetherness, based on some research I've done around the web:
- Dumplings - Good
- luck, fortune, and family togetherness
- Lettuce - Prosperity
- Noodles - When noodles are served, they are never cut because long noodles represent long-life.
- Oysters - Receptivity to good fortune
- Seaweed - Specifically, the black moss seaweed is the Chinese word for it also means "wealth"
- Whole fish - The Chinese word for fish "yu," is the same word for "success" or "abundance." Serving the fish whole is a symbol of togetherness of the family.
- Turnips - "Cai tou," the word for turnip, also means "good omen."
- Meat balls - Symbolize reunion because the Chinese word "rou wan" is the same for both
- Chicken - Like fish, chickens are served whole to symbolizing togetherness of the family.
- Lotus seed - Is a symbol (or wish) of having many male offspring
- Ginkgo nuts - Represent wealth
- Dried bean curd - Like many of the foods that are served because the Chinese word for it also means something else, dried bean curd (tofu) symbolizes wealth and happiness
- Bamboo shoots - The word for bamboo shoots also sounds like the phrase for "wishing that everything would be well"
- Garlic chives - Symbolize "everlasting"
- Prawns - Stand for liveliness and happiness
- Mixed vegetables - Represent family harmony
- Oranges - We've already mentioned how they stand for abundance and sweetness of the New Year.