I respect the Thai cuisine as much as I do to Szechuan food because of their mastery of the arts of flavours. Chefs of both cuisines delight in combining a variety of tastes to create dazzling complex flavours. Love the simple Thai salad dressing of sour-sweet-salty-spicy flavors made with lime juice, sugar, salt and chilies. The dressing can be used with boiled or grilled seafood, including fish fillet, mussels, squid, octopus. Feel free to add crispy vegetables such as yard-long beans, shallots of green mango to counter balance the soft and chewy seafood.
- 300g squid, scalded in a crisscross pattern and cut into slices
- 150g shrimps, shelled and deveined, discarded heads but keep tails intact
- 3 yard-long beans (optional), cut into slices in 5cm 豇豆
- 1 lemongrass (green part only), thinly sliced香茅
- 2 small shallots, thinly sliced小红葱
- 2 spring onions, cut into slices in 5cm
- 1 sprig fresh coriander (separate the stalks and leaves)香菜(for garnish), roughly chopped香菜
Sour-sweet-salty-spicy Dressing (makes 1 cup)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt海盐
- ¼ cup fish sauce鱼露
- 4-5 tablespoons caster sugar白砂糖
- ½ cup lime juice青柠汁
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 red Thai bird chilies, minced
- To prepare the dressing, in a small saucepan, combine the sea salt, fish sauce, and sugar and heat over until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a small mixing bowl to cool, then stir in the lime juice, minced garlic and chilies.
- Blanch the squid and shrimp, one at a time in a pot of boiling water over high heat till just done. Drain. Transfer to a mixing bowl, add in yard-long beans, lemon grass, shallots, spring onions and coriander stalks. Toss well. Pour into 1/2 cup of the spicy dressing. Mix well. Spoon onto a serving plate and garnish with sprig of coriander leaves.
- Reay to serve.
- Squid must be cooked either a very short time or a very long time. Anything in between turns it into rubber. Two minutes over high heat is plenty. Beyond that will require at least 30 minutes to an hour to re-tenderize it.
Szechuan cuisine owes its notoriety to the Hot-and-Numbing Flavor’（麻辣味má là wèi）, a powerful combination of chilies and Szechuan peppercorns. The poached beef in hot chili broth, or Shui Zhou Niu Rou, is a classic dish of the favor. The dish is satisfying, addictive and unforgettable once you taste it. The cooking method is surprisingly simple.
- 300g beef tenderloin, thinly sliced 牛里脊肉，切片
- 2 tablespoons potato or corn starch 生粉
- 2 tablespoons water in room temperature
- 1/3 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine 料酒
- ½ tablespoon light soy sauce 生抽
- 300g vegetable of your choice (e.g. soy bean sprouts or bok choy or combination of both)
- 50g bamboo shoots (optional)
- 4 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 to 2 tablespoons Szechuan peppercorns (depending on your level of tolerance of the numbing Szechuan peppercorn)四川花椒
- 12g garlic cloves, minced蒜末
- 6g ginger, minced姜末
- 3 tablespoons Szechuan fermented bean paste (Doubanjiang)四川郫县豆瓣酱
- 8-10 dried chili pepper干红辣椒
- 1000ml water
- 10g sugar白糖
- Coriander for garnishing香菜
- Slice the beef tenderloin thinly.
- In a bowl, add corn starch and 1 tablespoon of water. Mix it well. Combine ‘watered starch’, sliced beef, salt, cooking wine and light soy sauce. Mix well. Set aside for 2 hours. Make sure each slice of beef is well coated with ‘watered starch’. This will help keep the beef from being overcooked during the late poaching process.
- Bring a big pot of water to boil, add the vegetable of your choice. Blanch them by batches. Drain. Place blanched vegetable in a big and deep bowl. Set aside.
- In a frying pan, add 1 tablespoon of oil, fry the Szechuan peppercorn over low heat for about a few minutes. Add in minced ginger and garlic. Continue fry for a few minutes. Add into the dry chili and cook for 1 more minute. Now add the doubanjiang, keep frying until you can see the red oil come out. Now pour into the pan around 1000ML water, add sugar. Simmer for around 15-20 minutes with lid covered. During this process, you may smell the strong aroma brought by the broth.
- During the process, in another pot, bring a big pot of water to boil, add the vegetable of your choice. Blanch them by batches. Drain. Place blanched vegetable in the bottom of a big and deep serving bowl. Set aside.
- Now back to the frying pan. Open the lid. Turn up fire , bring the broth to a boil, add in the beef slices by batches and cook until the broth begins to boil again. Once boiling, wait for around 20 to 30 seconds, transfer them out and place them on top of the blanched vegetable immediately. Pour half of the left broth into the serving bowl.
- Use another pan, heat up 3 tablespoons of cooking oil over high heat until the oil becomes really hot (you can almost see the smoke.) Evenly pour the oil onto the beef in the serving bowl. Be careful during the process; do not get burnt!
- Garnish with coriander. Serve immediately
- The dish needs to be served immediately as the left heat inside will continue heating the slices. But watch out your mouth. Take one piece out and cool down for several seconds before enjoying.
- When poaching the beef, let the beef slices stay still for a minute once you add in the boiling broth. This helps ‘watered starch’ continue coat the beef so to create a layer to keep the beef overcooking, resulting a tendered and juicy beef. After a minute, you can use chopsticks to move around the beef slices in the pan so that each slice is evenly cooked.
You can eat them for breakfast, lunch or midnight snack. The combination of oil infused with the fragrance of spring onion and the umami savouriness of soy sauce is irresistible no matter how humble and simple the ingredients sound.
Spring Onion Oil Dressing (yield about 8 tablespoons) 葱油汁
- 5 to 6 spring onions, 香葱切段，葱白、葱叶分开
- 6 tablespoons cooking oil
- 4 tablespoons light soy sauce 生抽
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce老抽
- 4 teaspoons caster sugar白糖
- 1 spring onion for garnish, minced 葱花
300g-400g noodles (100g per person)
- on a cutting board, separate the white and green parts of the spring onions. You may smack slightly the white part with the flat side of your Chinese clever or a rolling pin to loosen their fibers. Then cut the white and green parts evenly into 6-7cm sections.
- Heat the cooking oil over medium heat for 2 minutes. Turn it to LOW heat. Add the green part of the spring onions and fry for about 5 minutes. Drain and discard the caramelized spring onions. Then add the white part of the spring onions. Continue to fry over low heat for about 10 minutes. Add light soy sauce, dark soy sauce and sugar and fry over low heat for 1-2 minutes. Turn the heat off once you see the bubbles start emerging. The spring onion oil dressing is done. Pour it in a bowl.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over HIGH heat and cook the noodles to your liking, then drain them well – depending on the types of your noodles, the process takes no more than 10 minutes. Cool the noodles off with running water if you’d like. Put the noodles in a serving bowl. Add the spring onion oil dressing and mix well with a pair of chopsticks. Garnish the serving bowl with minced spring onions. Think about adding two tablespoons of spring onion oil dressing for one serving (100g noodles.)
- Ready to serve.
- Make a large quantity of the spring onion oil and keep it in the fridge. Then you can have a bowlful of this gorgeous snack in 10 minutes – the time requires to boil water and cooking the noodles.
- Make the spring onion oil dressing over LOW heat. Boil water and cook the noodles over HIGH heat.
Snow skin (Mochi) mooncake is a non-baked mooncake eaten during Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. The mooncake skin texture is quite similar with mochi: soft, chewy and milky. While snow skin mooncake can be filled with variety of things, lotus seeds paste is my favorite. Lotus seeds are used extensively in Chinese cooking, especially in the form of paste. The paste can be made in advance and keep refrigerated or frozen. Snow skin mooncake should be kept refrigerated in airtight container and typically serve cold. You shall be able to find all the ingredients and the mooncake mould in Asian markets or Amazon.
Makes about 25 pieces (40g each piece)
Homemade lotus seeds paste filling 莲蓉馅 (yield 450g lotus seeds paste)
- 150g dry lotus seeds 白莲子
- 800ml water
- 110g granulated sugar 白砂糖
- 15g glutinous rice flour糯米粉
- 3 tablespoons water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Wrappers (yields about 640g snow skin/Mochi）
- 360g milk
- 40g cooking oil
- 100g glutinous rice flour糯米粉
- 80g rice flour米粉
- 40g wheat starch 澄粉
- 80g powdered sugar糖粉
- 1 teaspoon green tea/cocoa powder（optional）
- A few drops food coloring (optional)
- 50g glutinous rice flour糯米粉 (cooked, instructions below) for dusting
Step 1 make the lotus seeds paste
- Wash and rinse 150g dried lotus seeds. Soak for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator (depending on the dryness of the seeds). Soaking help lotus seeds to cook evenly and reduce cooking time.Split the seed in half and remove the bitter-tasting germ (green sprout).
- Drain the add in 800ml water, bring to the boil, reduce to low heat and cook for 1 hour and half. Keep the pot partially open to prevent boiling over. Try to use a spatula to stir from the bottom every 20 minutes to keep it sticking to the bottom.
- Puree until smooth using a blender. If your lotus seeds seem too dry, just add a few tablespoons of water. Sift the lotus seeds puree for smoother paste texture.
- In a small bowl, mix 15g glutinous rice flour and 3 tablespoons of water. Add the mixture into the pot together with 100g sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt and 75g cooking oil. Stir well.
- Cook over medium-low heat until smooth paste formed, stir constantly. It takes about 40 minutes, cooking time may vary slightly depending on your cooking temperature.
- Cook until puree thicken, smooth and silky paste formed. Wrap with cling film and keep it in the fridge for a few hours. Paste will harden slightly when fully cooled.
Step 2 make the wrappers （snow skin/Mochi）
- Add in all snow skin ingredients, mix until smooth. Sieve the mixture into a bowl. 过筛
- Cover the bowl with clingy film and steam over medium-high heat for 20 minutes.
- Mix the cooked dough with chopsticks while still hot. (it makes easier to handle than with spatula). After the dough has slightly cooled down, wrap it with clingy film and keep refrigerated for 2 hours, or until fully cooled.
Step 3 Assemble
- Prepare the dusting flour by cooking the flour. Place a small amount of glutinous rice flour (50g) evenly in a dry pan and cook for about 10-15 minutes over lowest heat. Stir from time to time. It is done when the flour slightly turns yellow.
- Lightly dust the inside of the mooncake mould with cooked dust rice flour.
- Divide the dough and filling into small equal portions (dough/wrapper 24g each; filling 16g each). Lightly coat your two hands with dusting flour. Flatten the dough piece with palms, top with filling, then fully wrap the filling with dough.
- Shape the filled dough into ball, then put into the mooncake mould to create pattern on it. Chill the mooncakes for 1 hour before serving for a better texture.
- You can make bigger or even smaller mooncakes. Just remember to keep the ratio of filings and wrappers 2:3. I’ve used 16g filling and 24g wrapper to make one 40g mooncake.
One of my favorite tofu recipes. The crispy golden exterior of the battered tofu wonderfully contrasts with its soft and silken interior. The dish can be literally translated into Pot Collapse Tofu (Guo Ta Dou Fu). Guo Ta is a Chinese cooking method in which the food is slowly cooked until it gets dry and sticks to the bottom of the wok (hence the name ‘Guo Ta’). The recipe of the dish was originated from the province of Shangdong, but late has become one of the landmark dishes in Northern China.
- 2 blocks (about 500g- 600g in total) firm Tofu老豆腐
- ½ – 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 teaspoon white pepper powder (optional)白胡椒粉
- 4 tablespoons corn flour for dredging 淀粉
- 2 eggs beaten
- 4-5 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 tablespoons spring onions, minced香葱末
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced姜末
- 250ml chicken stock 鸡汤
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce 生抽
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar 白糖
- 1 teaspoon corn flour淀粉
- For best result, remove as much moisture from the tofu before frying. Unwrap the Tofu packet. Pat dry the Tofu with paper towel. Cut the tofu into equal square pieces of 4-5 cm long and 1cm thick. Season the pieces with salt and white pepper powder.
- In a small bowl mix the seasoning sauce ingredients.
- Get organized for frying: having at the ready separate bowls or plates filled with corn flour and beaten eggs. Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil at a time. Dredge the tofu slices in corn flour, then dip into the beaten egg, coating them completely. Slip the tofu into the hot frying pan. Fry for about 2 minutes until golden brown, then flip over and fry the other side. Place paper towel in a plate and remove the tofu to the plate. Repeat the process for the remaining Tofu pieces.
- To the same hot pan add the minced ginger and half of the spring onions. Fry until fragrant. Return all the fried Tofu pieces to the pan. Add the seasoning sauce and bring to a simmer. Turn heat to low and cook until the liquid is reduced to a thick sauce. To ensure all Tofu pieces are evenly coated with sauce, you can choose either carefully flipping the tofu once or using a spoon to scoop some sauce onto top of the Tofu pieces. This takes about 4-5 minutes.
- Plate, garnish with the remaining spring onions.
A very easy and healthy way to enjoy the moist, tender and mildly sweet flavor of the red snapper, a deep-sea fish high in energy and low in calorie. Hope you don’t mind a head on your fish. If yes, just use filleted fish.
- 1 Whole red snapper (or seabass), about 600g红鲷鱼或者海鲈鱼
- 1 Lemon, thinly sliced柠檬切片
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce鱼露
- 2 spring onions, cut it into long slices in 5cm
- 1 sprig fresh coriander, roughly chopped香菜
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1to 2 tablespoons soy sauce生抽
- 2 teaspoons caster sugar白砂糖
- Preheat the oven to 200C°.
- Scale the fish, discard the guts and clean well (hopefully you can get the cleaned one from your grocery store.) Pat dry with kitchen paper towel. Slice the lemon. Slash the fish to allow your seasoning to penetrate evenly later.
- Place aluminum foil in a baking tray, arrange half of the sliced lemon in the middle of the tray, add on the cleaned fish. Tug 1 piece of lemon inside of the fish then spread evenly the rest of the lemon pieces on top of the fish. Sprinkle the fish with the fish sauce. Cover the fish with another piece of aluminum foil (this helps lock the moisture of the fish resulting in a juicy and tender meat. ) Place the tray in the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove the tray from oven. Arrange the fish in a serving plate and spread evenly the spring onions and coriander on top of the fish. In the meantime, let’s cook sauce. Heat the cooking oil in a sauce pan over medium heat for about 2 minutes, then add soy sauce and sugar, mix well. Once you see bubbles, turn the heat off. The sauce is done now. Pour the sauce onto the fish in the serving plate.
Versions of this salad are served all over China, sometimes spiked with dried chiles, Sichuan peppercorns and other spices for more dimensions of flavor. The smashing process, a classic Chinese technique, cracks the skin, helps release the seeds and splits the flesh into appealing craggy pieces. Salting and chilling the cracked cucumbers give them the perfect cool, crunchy, watery mouth feel. You want to use the slender Japanese cucumbers as they are thin-skinned, never bitter and entirely edible.
- 2-3 Japanese cucumbers (about 400g) smashed and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 red bird chili (optional)
- 4 tablespoons cooking oil
- 4 dried red chilies干红辣椒
- 1 teaspoon Szechuan Peppercorsn花椒
- 1 bay leave月桂叶
- 1 small stick cinnamon bark肉桂
- 1 slice ginger生姜
- 1 small piece leek大葱, sliced
- 15g coriander, roughly chopped香菜
- 1 tablespoon Chinese white rice vinegar 白米醋
- 2 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar镇江香醋
- 1 teaspoon Sesame oil 香油 (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt盐
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce 生抽
- 2 teaspoons caster sugar白糖
- Place the cucumbers on the chopping board. Using the side of a cleaver or chef knife, smash the cumbers until they have cracked into several small long pieces. Remove the tops and bottoms and cut into small bite sized pieces. Place in a serving bowl. Finely sliced red bird chili and mince the garlic. Place garlic and chili on top of the cucumbers.
- Now make the salad dressing, Using another bowl, mix in the rice vinegar, Chinkiang vinegar, salt, soy sauce and sugar. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a frying pan and add a slice of ginger, sliced leek, dried chilies, bay leave, cinnamon balk and Szechuan pepper. Fry over low heat until the leek releases its fragrance and the chili turns bright red. Switch off the heat and remove all the spices. Add the oil to the cucumbers, pour into the vinegar dressing. Mix well. Serve immediately or place in the fridge for about 30 minutes.