I have only cooked Chinese for a few of our friends. It is a difficult meal to serve because there are usually so many dishes to cook, that by the time you finish the last one, the first one is cold. If there's one thing that must be done when eating Chinese, it's to eat it fresh off the wok. So, when I do cook for friends, the meal is served by course instead of family style. I remember growing up, my mom would make these fabulous meals but never sat down until everyone else was finished. She cooked while everyone else sat and ate each dish as it flew off the wok. Whoever sat next to her place setting would collect a portion from each dish on her plate, but by the time my mom finally sat down, her food was always cold and had lost the extra something that can only be when it first left the fire.
Last night, my mom and I cooked together and my sister brought a couple items that were well eaten at room temperature. We also selected a few few items that were braised, so could be served up whenever we needed to with a quick reheat. And so here goes.
Cream of Corn Soup with Minced Chicken and Scallion and Ginger Oil
My parents went gaga over this. I shall make a huge batch for them next time I see them. I love soup like this. Boil, puree, strain, serve. A bag of frozen corn boiled with chicken broth and sauteed onions. Puree, strain and reheat. Blend oil with chopped green onions and minced ginger and drizzle.
Thinly sliced beef and tendon, pressed bean curd and peanuts. My sister brought this from one of our favorite restaurants, Sichuanese Cuisine in Bellevue. Lots of garlic and chili. Yum!
Dunken chicken. My mom made this with a cornish game hen. Marinate in salt. Steam to cook and then marinate in Chinese liquor called Gao Liang Jiu. It might as well be fire water to me, but with the chicken, it is divine. I asked for the leftovers to have in my refrigerator and snag a bite when I had a hunkering.
Tea Smoked Duck. Another of the delectables my sister brought. I'm not sure how they make this other than it is smoked with tea leaves. I'm sure it is marinated in salt and other spices beforehand. You can't get this in many places, so if you find it, try it!
Sticky rice with Chinese sausage, chicken, shiitake mushrooms. Cook the sticky rice. If you love rice like I do, invest in a proper rice cooker. You'll be glad you did. Wok fry the sausage, chicken, mushrooms with oyster sauce, soy, green onions and a bit of sugar. Add to the cooked rice and stir together. I just left it in my rice cooker on warm until ready to eat.
Cured spicy pork belly with peppers and leeks. You can buy the cured pork at a Chinese market like Uwajimaya, here in Seattle. Slice thinly and wok fry with shredded jalapeno, sliced leeks and a little soy, cooking wine and sugar.
Shredded chili pepper and beef. I took flank steak and shredded it, then marinated in dark soy, cooking wine, sugar and a bit of cooking oil. Shred jalapeno, Thai chilies and green onions. Wok fry the beef until cooked and pour out any juice that comes out. Then add the veggies and fry until incorporated. Your mouth will be on fire, but you can't stop eating it!
Three Cup Chicken. Traditionally, it should be one cup of soy, one cup of sugar, one cup of wine. I don't think mine was to these proportions, but probably close. Those are the main ingredients. I add water as my kids use that sauce like it was the juice of life. I par boil the chicken pieces first in water and drain. In heated sesame oil, I add thickly slice ginger, garlic cloves and green onion sections. Then add the chicken, soy, wine, water and sugar. Cook on a high boil to reduce the sauce and then turn off the heat and let sit until ready to eat. Add basil leaves when you reheat to serve. Get a big bowl of rice and settle in!
Baby Bok Choy
Wok fry in oil with a pinch of salt. Don't mess with natural goodness!
My mom said we must have a whole fish for New Years. This is a symbolic dish for fortune in the new year. I went to Uwajimaya for consult. My favorite man behind the counter was there. We had a brief discussion of what to do, and I went with the Red Rock Cod.
Fry in oil first until close to fully cooked. We used a non stick pan as my mom advised in my wok, it would stick and the skin of the fish would come off. Prepare the sauce by sauteing garlic and ginger in oil. Then add sliced shiitake mushrooms, chili bean sauce, soy, wine, sugar and water. We used the water that we soaked the shitake mushrooms in. Then add the fish in the sauce and braise turning once to cook both sides equally. To finish, add chopped green onions and a thickening agent, commonly corn starch and water. I could have sat down with the fish and nothing else. And many of you know, there'd be nothing left but bone when I finished!
Braised Pork Butt. This was another dish my mom said was a must. I was against the potential fattiness of this cut. Yes, you read right, there is actually something that might be too fatty for me. Hours of braising and it is fall of the bone tender. The fat has all but been cooked out and starting it the day before allows you to skim the fat off the next morning when it has solidified on top after chilling. Then it's easy to just peel off the fat layer if you so choose and eat only the juicy pork . We have the leftovers for this as well and I plan to reheat it and serve it with a big bowl of white rice and crispy greens.