Poached Fish with Green Peppercorn青花椒水煮鱼片

cover1.JPGGreen Sichuan Peppercorn has a distinctly different taste than its red sisters and has become very popular in Sichuan over the years. The green peppercorn is very citrusy and numbing both on the nose and tongue. Its fresh and vegetal taste is a great match for fish, chicken and vegetables. Fresh green peppercorn is hard to come by outside China but the dried ones are available in some of the online stores.

Serves 2-4

  • 350g                 fish fillet, thinly sliced 鱼肉(剔骨),切片
  • 1 tablespoon   potato or corn starch 生粉
  • 1/3 teaspoon   salt
  • 1 tablespoon   Chinese cooking wine 料酒
  • 1 tablespoon   cooking oil

  • 2 tablespoons   cooking oil
  • 50g         fresh green Sichuan peppercorn (substitute with  15g to 20g dried peppercorn depending on your tolerance of spice and numbness)
  • 1 slice    ginger
  • 2-3         Sichuan fermented red pepper泡椒
  • 4-6         fresh green chili, cut into small pieces
  • 4-6         fresh red chili, cut into small pieces
  • 500ml     chicken stock
  • 150g         golden mushroom 金针菇
  • 1/3 teaspoon or to taste salt

IMG_8946.JPG

 

 

Method

  1. Slice the fish thinly. Cut fresh red and green peppers and fermented red pepper into small pieces.IMG_9024.JPG
  2. Let’s marinate the fish fillet. In a bowl, add sliced fish fillet followed by corn starch, cooking wine, 1/3 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon of cooking oil. Mix it well. Set aside for 20 minutes.IMG_9025.JPG
  3. Place a pot onto stove over small-medium fire, add into ginger, all the fermented pepper, half of the green peppercorns, fresh peppers. Cook for about 5 minutes till fragrance. Add chicken stock and bring it to a boil.IMG_9026.JPG
  4. Add into golden mushroom. Turn the heat up to high. When the soup starts boiling, add into sliced fish fillet. Use chopsticks to gently move around the fish so all the small pieces can be nicely blended with the soup.IMG_9027.JPG
  5. Add 1/3 teaspoon of salt or to taste. Cook the fish for about 3-5 minutes. The fish is well cooked once the meat turns white. Place onto the other half of the green peppercorn and green and red peppers. Plate or serve with the cooking pot.

Sweet and Sour Ribs糖醋小排táng cù xiǎo pái

cover.JPGIt is a famous Shanghai dish that is intended as an appetizer and served cold. The original recipe requires a large amount of oil for deep-frying and a powerful professional gas stove to get the crispy surface of the ribs. This recipe is altered to achieve the beautiful golden color of the meat and amazing sweet and sour taste by introducing a traditional Chinese meat-browning technique 炒糖色 (chao tang shai), or frying the ribs in melted sugar to add color.

Serves 3-4

For boiling spareribs

  • 500g spareribs, cut to the bite size 猪肋排,切成小块
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 thumb-size ginger, sliced姜片
  • 3 – 4 green onion, white part (save the green part for garnish) 葱白段

For the stir-fry

  • 2 tablespoons            cooking oil
  • 3 tablespoons             caster sugar白砂糖
  • 4 tablespoons             Chinkiang vinegar镇江香醋
  • 3 tablespoons             light soy sauce生抽
  • 1/2 tablespoon           dark soy sauce (optional) 老抽
  • 5 tablespoons            waterIMG_4711.JPG

Method

  1. Cut the pork ribs into small bite size and transfer to a large pot. Add water to cover the ribs. Bring it to a boil and cook for a few minutes. Remove the pot from stove. Rinse the ribs with running water. Return the ribs to the water. Add water to cover ribs. Also add two tablespoons of cooking wine, sliced ginger and green onion. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn to small-medium heat. Cook for about 40 minutes till the ribs become soft. Remove the pot from stove. Transfer the ribs to a colander to drain. Scoop out ginger and green onion.IMG_4753.JPGIMG_4754.JPG
  2. Mix chinkiang vinegar, light soy sauce and water in a small bowl, set aside.IMG_4716.JPG
  3. Now, let’s stir fry. Add the cooking oil and sugar to a wok and cook over medium heat. Stir constantly with a spatula to dissolve the sugar slowly. When the sugar is fully dissolved, use spatula to scoop some liquid mixture to observe its color. The process takes about 5-8 minutes. When the sugar turns pale brown, immediately and carefully add the ribs to the wok. Stir constantly to coat them well with melted sugar. Stir until the ribs turn golden brown, turn off heat.IMG_4755.JPG
  4. Now pour into the mixture of vinegar, light soy sauce and water. Bring it to a boil over high heat. Turn to medium heat and cook for about 20 minutes. When the sauce has significant reduced, turn up the heat to thicken the sauce. Stir well to make sure ribs are evenly coated with the sauce. This process takes about a few minutes.IMG_4756.JPG
  5. Transfer the ribs to a plate. Garnish the ribs with chopped green onion. Serve warm or cold.

Tips:

  1. The traditional Chinese meat-browning technique 炒糖色(chao tang shai), or browning meat in the melted sugar is a common technique in Chinese braised dishes. The result is similar to browning the meat – to add color to the meat and to create a crispy surface. With the chao tang shai method, it quickly adds color to the meat without using dark soy sauce and infuses a sweet flavor to the dish. You start with adding sugar to cold oil. Cook slowly until the sugar melts and turns golden. It’s important to get a hot oil temperature without burning the sugar. You will find that the pork gets a nice beautiful reddish brown color in a minute or so, along with the caramelization of the sugar.

 

 

Chinese Pao 猪肉白菜包zhū ròu bái cài bāo

cover.JPGChines Pao, or bāo zǐ in Chinese, are found all over China. It is a staple food for the wheat-eating North and maybe eaten as part of breakfast or snack in South. There’s a knack to wrapping bao zi, It is easier to watch a video on Youtube rather than follow the printed page. Once you’ve grasped technique, you may find it easy, and even therapeutic.

 Yields about 20 Buns,

Wrappers

  • 300g          plain flour 中筋面粉
  • 1 tablespoon        yeast酵母
  • 2 tablespoons   lukewarm water (40°C)
  • 1 teaspoon     baking powder泡打粉
  • 150g          water in room temperature

Filling

  • 300g           ground pork
  • 150g           Napa cabbage, minced
  • 1 tablespoon    ginger (minced) 姜末
  • 1 teaspoon      salt
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons    light soy sauce 生抽
  • 1 tablespoon     Chinese cooking wine料酒
  • 2 teaspoons      caster sugar 白糖
  • 1 teaspoon     sesame oil 香油
  • 1/3 teaspoon    white pepper 白胡椒粉
  • 1 tablespoon    cooking oil (optional)ingredients (2).JPG

Method

  1. Resolve the yeast in a two-tablespoon lukewarm water in 40℃. Place the flour, baking powder and resolved yeast in a mixing bowl and gradually add in the 150g water. Use your fingers to bring the mixture together and make a dough. Knead the dough for about 6 minutes till it is smooth. Cover the bowl with a plastic bag or kitchen towel. Rest for 30 minutes till the dough rises and doubles in size.IMG_9249.JPG
  2. Now make the filling. Finely chopped napa cabbage, add a pinch of salt. In five minutes later, you will see the cabbage become ‘watery’. Use your both hands to squeeze the water out. Then mix it with ground pork and other filling ingredients. filling.JPG
  3. To make the wrappers, cut the dough into 2 equal pieces. Roll one piece into a long cylinder, then cut off 10 pieces of dough the size of walnuts, about 30g each. Dust them lightly with flour. Stand them cut-side up and press down them into discs with the palm of your hand. Roll each disc into a circle about 9cm in diameter – edges are thinner than center.Now let’s assemble to make the buns (Paos), place a wrapper in one hand, put a tablespoon of the filling(25-30g) in the center of the wrapper. Use your other hand to pinch the edge of the dough to enclose the filling. Fold the edges to the center around the filling while twisting so the bun is completed sealed.wrapping.JPG
  4. Place all the buns in a steamer basket – make sure there is space between them, as they will expand. Leave the buns to rest for 20 minutes – this is the 2nd rise for the dough.2nd rise.JPG
  5. Fill a steamer pot or wok with water. Place onto the stack of bamboo baskets or any the stainless steamer basket you would have. Cover the steamer. Turn to the high heat and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Don’t open the lid yet. Let it rest for 5 minutes then open the lid. Ready to serve.

Wild Rice Stem with Soy Sauce油焖茭白yóu mèn jiāo bái

cover1 (2).JPGWild Rice Stem, or Water Bamboo, is a unique and extraordinary Chinese vegetable. It has the fresh delicacy of bamboo shoots but a softer texture. The plant is widely cultivated in the wetland in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and believed to grow in Vietnam as well. Wid Rice Stem is particularly delicious cooked in this Shanghainese way, with soy sauce and hints of sugar sweetness and sesame oil.

Serves 3-4

  • 400g                          fresh wild rice stem新鲜茭白
  • 2 tablespoons          cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon           Chinese cooking wine料酒
  • 1 tablespoon            light soy sauce生抽
  • 1 tablespoon           dark soy sauce老抽
  • 1 tablespoon            caster sugar白砂糖
  • 1/3 cup (75Ml)          water or stock水或者高汤
  • ½ teaspoon               sesame oil香油
  • ¼ teaspoon or to taste      Salt

Method

  1. Strip off any remaining layers of husk from the wild rice stem, so that you are left with the crisp, pale and ivory-colored stems (the peeled weight will be about 300g). Start from the tips, roll-cut the stems evenly into bite-sized pieces: holding your knife at an angle, cut off a chunk, the rotate the stem a half-turn towards you and, holding your knife at the same angle, cut off another chunk. Repeat the turning and cutting for the rest of the stem.

 

  1. Heat the oil in s seasoned wok over a high flame. Add the chopped stems and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until tinged with gold. Add the cooking wine, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, water and season with a bit salt and mix well. Bring to the boil, then simmer over medium heat for 3-4 minutes to allow the vegetable to absorb the flavors of the sauce. Turn up the heat and reduce the sauce until syrupy, stirring constantly to avoid the bottom of the wok sticking. Turn off the heat, stir in sesame oil and serve.

Soy Sauce Chicken 豉油鸡chǐ yóu jī

cover 3.JPGThe humble Cantonese dish, served in a Singapore Hawker Center, was awarded a much coveted Michelin star in 2017. It is actually quite simple to make it at your home kitchen. Superior soy sauce is obviously the key. However, the process of caramelizing sugar is equally important – it makes the chicken nicely glazed and adds into a sweet and smoky flavour to the tender, springy yet juicy meat.

Serve 2-4

  • I whole chicken, 1.3 kg or 3 to 4 chicken leg quarters if you do not have a big deep pot to hold a whole chicken
  • 2 tablespoons                       cooking oil
  • 25g                                          Rock sugar冰糖
  • 30g (3-4 sprigs)                    spring onions香葱, crushed and tie into knots
  • 20g                                         ginger (crushed to loosen the fiber)生姜
  • 3 star anise      八角
  • 2 cinnamon stick (about 2-inch length) 桂皮
  • 2 tablespoons                      Chinese cooking wine. Either Shaoxing wine or Chinese Rose wine is fine.
  • 3 tablespoons                       light soy sauce生抽
  • 3 tablespoons                       dark soy sauce老抽
  • 500ml, water

Ginger and Spring Onion dip sauce:

  • 10g    ginger, skim removed and minced
  • 1 spring onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons, cooking oil
  • ½ teaspoon, salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon, sesame oil (optional)IMG_9173.JPG

 Method:

  1. Use a Chinese cleaver to smash the spring onions and ginger to loosen the fibres. Tie the spring onions into knots (this makes it easier later when you remove it from the cooked chicken out of pot.)
  2. Now let’s caramelize the rock sugar. There are two most distinguishing flavours in the soy sauce chicken. And caramel is one of them. Caramelizing the sugar helps infuse a sweet and a hint of smoky flavour to the dish and brown (add color to) the chicken. Just start with adding rock sugar to cold oil. Cook slowly over low-medium heat until the sugar melts and turns golden. It’s important to get a hot oil temperature without burning the sugar.IMG_9219.JPG
  3. Place start anise, cinnamon stalk, ginger and spring onions and fry for 1-2 minutes. Add cooking wine, light soy sauce, dark sauce and water. Mix well. Turn off the heat.IMG_9220.JPG
  4. Plunge the chicken into the pot. Leave it soak in the pot for about 30 minutes. Flip the chicken a couple times so the entire chicken is evenly soaked with liquid.
  5. Bring the pot to a boil, then cook the chicken over a medium heat for 30 minutes without covered (no lid). Flip the chicken a couple of times to ensure the bird is evenly cooked. Use a spoon to spray some liquid onto exposed surface of the chicken from time to time. Turn the heat off. Leave the chicken soak in the liquid for at least 30 minutes. Drain. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. It is ready to serve. Soy sauce chicken is usually served cold or at room temperature. Do not dump the sauce left in the pot. You can keep it in the fridge or freezer to reuse it for you next soy sauce chicken.IMG_9221.JPG
  6. In the meantime, prepare the ginger and spring onion dip sauce, place minced ginger, spring onion, salt, and into a small bowl. Heat up 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok until it starts to smoke. Pour the oil into the small bowl and blend well. Set aside.dipping sauce.JPG

 

Shanghai Potsticker Buns 生煎馒头shēng jiān mán tóu

Let's Play Dough

main image 1The most popular street snack in Shanghai. These golden-bottomed buns, known as Sheng Jian Man Tou in Chinese, meaning pan-fried directly without steaming, are the heftier yet equally irresistible big brother of Shanghai Xiao Long Bao.

Yields about 20 Buns,

Wrappers

  • 300g          plain flour 中筋面粉
  • 1 tablespoon       yeast酵母
  • 1 teaspoon     baking powder泡打粉
  • 150g          water in room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon                       black or white sesame seeds芝麻, toasted
  • 3-4 tablespoons    minced spring onions (green parts only)葱花

Filling

  • 300g           ground pork
  • 3 tablespoons    water in room temperature
  • 100g           pork jelly 肉皮冻 (click here for recipe), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon    cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon    ginger (minced) 姜末
  • 30g or 2-3 tablespoons   spring onions (minced) 香葱末
  • 1 teaspoon      salt
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons    light soy sauce 生抽
  • 1 tablespoon     Chinese cooking wine料酒
  • 2 teaspoons      caster sugar 白糖
  • 1 teaspoon     sesame oil 香油
  • 1/3 teaspoon    white pepper 白胡椒粉

Dipping Sauce

  • 2 tablespoon   Chinkiang vinegar 镇江香醋

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Wood Ear Mushroom Salad捞汁黑木耳lāo zhī hēi mù ěr

coverA simple, refreshing and healthy cold appetizer. The wood ear mushroom is called black fungus in English and mu er (木耳) in Chinese – a must-have item in the Chinese pantry because of its super long shelf life, unique texture of crunchiness after cooked and magically making every dish taste better. It is also long acclaimed as a superfood that will cleanse your body by removing toxins from the digestive tract。

The vinegar dressing, highlighted by two different types of rice-based Chinese vinegar, can be made in large quantity in advance and store in fridge for up to two months. And you can mix and match to use any vegetables of your choice.

Serves 4-6

 Vinegar dressing

  • 4 sprigs               spring onions, roughly chopped,香葱切丝
  • 3 tablespoons    Cooking oil
  • 2 tablespoons    Chinese white rice vinegar 白米醋
  • 2 tablespoons    Chinkiang vinegar镇江香醋
  • 2 teaspoons         Sesame oil 香油
  • 1/2 teaspoon       table salt
  • 1 tablespoon      light soy sauce 生抽
  • 2 teaspoons       caster sugar白糖

 

  • 150g           Rehydrated Wood Ear Mushroom (You will need about 25 gram dried Wood Ear Mushroom in water) 黑木耳 (水发后)
  • 1-2            Fresh green pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2-3            Shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2-3            Thai bird chili or any small red chili, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 sprigs      coriander (optional)
  • 250ML        drinking water

Method

  1. Soak the dry wood ear mushrooms in warm water until hydrated. This takes about 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, let’s prepare the Vinegar Dressing. Heat the cooking oil over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add spring onions and fry over low medium heat for about 5 minutes. Drain by removing the caramelized spring onions. This will yield 2-3 tablespoons of spring onions oil. Place the spring onions oil in a mixing bowl. Add into rest of the vinegar dressing seasonings. Mix well. The vinegar dressing is done. Set aside.
  3. Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Blanch all the Wood Ear Mushroom by batches. Cool off the mushroom under the running water. The step #3 takes about 3-4 minutes. Drain.IMG_8893.JPG
  4. Place drained mushroom in a mixing bowl. Add the vinegar dressing. Add 250ml drinking water and toss into sliced green/red peppers, shallots and coriander. Mix well.IMG_8895.JPG
  5. Chill in the fridge for a half hour then enjoy.