Tag Archives: Chinese

One step closer to my ultimate goal.

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Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Five years ago, standing in a Fort Lauderdale swimming pool on the last day of vacation, I made a commitment. I would go an entire year without eating any takeout or delivered food.

That commitment, so easily made watching the Florida sunset while sipping a cocktail. was just as easily broken when I returned home. In fairness, I think I made it about a month before Moo Shi chicken and pork dumplings were delivered at the end of a long and stressful day.

Wherefore the failure? My entire plan hinged on learning to make the Asian favorites I couldn’t live without. While I’ve mastered light, vegetable filled Egg Foo Yung, Thai stir-fried eggplant and near-legendary dumplings, the rest of the cannon has eluded me. Until now.

Last Saturday, carrying home a beautiful cold-crop of broccoli from the market, I was bound and determined to stir-fry it with beef, bright with ginger and the salty-earthy taste of soy. My first attempt, however, was an abject failure. Sharp onions turned sweet, broccoli browned before turning tender, and the beef was insipid.

Fixing those mistakes turned out as delicious as it was simple. Quick-steaming broccoli in rice wine (thanks for the tip Chris Brush!) produced bright-green, tender florets. Sautéing the beef in batches produced a crisp sear surrounding silky meat, and replacing onions with scallions kept the flavor sharp and green.

I have yet to master Moo Shi, but I am one step close to another attempt at my ultimate goal of eliminating takeout. And we do have another vacation scheduled in that pool…

Stir Fried Beef, Broccoli And Scallions

READ THIS! No wok needed for this stove-top, skillet friendly version. There are, however, two things to keep in mind. First, prep all of your ingredients first. Secondly, there are several steps beginning with marinating the beef. The broccoli is cooked first, followed by the beef, which is cooked in three batches. Finally, you stir-fry the scallions and return the beef and broccoli to the pan, adding the sauce at the end. It feels like a lot of steps until you do it the first time, but I promise the process is simple and the outcome delicious!

Serves 6-8

IMG_4925-1

Photography by Sam Armocido

  • 1 egg white
  • 5 tbs tamari soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup plus 4 tbs rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 lbs skirt steak
  • 2 tbs tapioca or corn starch
  • 2 tbs Wasabi Sesame Oil* or toasted sesame oil
  • 6 tbs plus 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 bunches scallions, whites and greens trimmed and cut in 2” pieces
  • 1” ginger, cut in thin matchsticks

*Where do you get yummy Wasabi Sesame Oil? Stop in or order online from Sapore Oil and Vinegar in Washington, DC. I drizzle it over fresh, steamed veggie and use it as a sauce for fish, chicken and beef. 

Directions:

  • Cut the skirt steak into long, 2-3″ wide strips. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes.
  • Remove steak from the freezer and slice thinly, on the bias – that’s a diagonal toward the cutting board. The goal is to increase the surface are you are searing.
  • Whisk together the egg white, 2 tbs soy sauce, and 2 tbs rice wine in a medium bowl. Mix in steak. Add 1 tbs tapioca starch and mix in with your hands to coat. Add 1 tablespoon Wasabi Sesame Oil and toss with your hands, separating the meat. Let marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • In a 12” skillet over medium heat, warm 1 tbs vegetable oil. Add garlic and cook, turning until browned. Remove garlic and discard.
  • Add broccoli to pan and stir fry 1 minute, add 1/3 cup rice wine and cover. Cook until wine evaporates, about 3-5 minutes. Remove broccoli from skillet and reserve.
  • Return pan to medium-high heat. Add 2 tbs vegetable oil. Cook beef to medium rare in 3 batches, being careful not to crowd. Add an additional tablespoon of oil between batches. Reserve beef.
  • Whisk together sauce ingredients: 3 tbs soy sauce, 1 tbs starch, and 1/4 cup warm water. Reserve.
  • Return pan to heat with 1 tbs vegetable oil. Add garlic and cook, turning until browned. Remove garlic and discard.
  • Add scallions to skillet and stir-fry for 1 minute. Return broccoli to skillet with scallions and cook 1 minute longer. Return reserved beef to skillet and heat through, 1 minute.
  • Move ingredients to the edge of the skillet, opening up the center of the pan. Heat 1 tsp oil in pan and add ginger, stir-frying for 30 seconds.
  • Re-whisk sauce. The starch may have settled on the bottom of the bowl. Add the sauce to the middle of the pan and cook, tossing with beef and broccoli to coat.
  • Add 2 tbs rice wine, and toss ingredients, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze.
  • Drizzle the remaining 1 tbs Wasabi Sesame Oil over the dish and toss, cooking 1 minute longer to glaze the ingredients.
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You’ve got time.

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Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

What would you do with more time?

Do you have a stack of unread issues of the New Yorker, or trail maps to the 48 peaks over 4000 feet in the White Mountains? Though a cold blessing, many people working in DC and around the country, currently have some time to answer this question.

My answer is simple. I would cook. I would braise and bake, make stocks stews and sauces, I would preserve and tackle all those time consuming cooking feats that currently escape my hectic schedule. Recently, I decided to just go for it.

Enamored by the thought of  using the local harvest of Asian pears in a marinade, I decided to braise a bone-in pork loin roast. The sweet, earthy pears paired perfectly with salty, delicate Tamari soy. I ground in some of the bold, floral Szechuan peppercorns I had been playing with recently, along with bright, fresh ginger and sweet maple sugar. My first attempt, 12 hours in the marinade and 10 in the oven, produced tender pork lacking flavor, It tasted much better after a night in the fridge.

Already a two day recipe, I figured I had already crossed a line and headed right back in to the kitchen. On Monday, I patted the bone-in pork loin roast with a blend of salt, peppercorns and maple sugar for an overnight dry marinade. Tuesday morning, I added the liquid ingredients to infuse throughout through the day and night. Wednesday morning, I seared the pork and braised it in a 200 degree oven for 10 hours, then cooled it to room temperature so it could sit in the fridge overnight, taking on even more flavor.

Thursday, after returning home from work, I skimmed the fat from the surface of the marinade. Shredded the meat, tossing it in the thickened sauce and served it with an Asian pear slaw and bao bing, the thin Chinese pancakes served with mù xī pork.

The result? Four days of cooking, requiring less than two hours of work is worth every minute. The flavors are complex, sweet and grounded, everything you want from cool fall days that aren’t yet winter.
If your unwillingly at home from work, my thoughts are with you. May you find joy in the kitchen. Now is the time.

Asian Pear Slaw and Pulled Pork Pancakes

Ingredients:


For pork:IMG_3493-1

  • 4 tbs crushed Szechuan peppercorns or 2 tbs each crushed black and white peppercorns*
  • 1/4 cup maple or brown sugar
  • 2 tbs salt
  • 1 4-5# bone-in pork shoulder
  • 3 Asian Pears
  • 3/4 cups Tamari soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup Rice wine vinegar*
  • 4 tbs sesame oil*
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 4 tbs diced, fresh ginger
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil

For slaw:


  • 3 Asian pears
  • 2 tbs Tamari soy
  • 1 tbs rice wine vinegar*
  • 1 tsp sesame oil*
  • 
1/2 tsp maple or brown sugar
  • 1″ fresh ginger, grated

For pancakes:


  • 2 cups flour
  • 
1 cup boiling water
  • 
2 tbs sesame oil

*You know what makes this taste even better? The Lemongrass-infused rice wine vinegar and Wasabi Sesame oil from Sapore. I’m totally obsessed. The Wasabi Sesame oil is well worth an online order. Give them a call and they would be more than happy to ship you a bottle of Szechuan peppercorns too!

Serves 8

Directions:
Shredded pork:IMG_3514-1

  • Dry rub: Mix together Szechuan peppercorns, maple sugar and salt. Rub mixture into surface of pork roast and place in the fridge overnight.
  • Make the marinade: Puree Asian pears in a food processor. Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, garlic and ginger and purée. Add pork shoulder to marinade, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  • Braise the roast: Pre-heat oven to 200. Remove pork from marinade, pat dry, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Warm oil in a dutch over medium-high heat. Sear pork on all sides.
  • Add marinade and bring to a boil.
  • Cover and place in oven and cook for 10-12 hours. Check every four hours to make sure you aren’t losing steam from your dutch oven. Add hot tap water to replace the liquid level as needed.
  • Rest the roast: Remove pork from oven, let cool and place in fridge for 4 hours or overnight.
  • Shred the pork and finish the sauce: Skim fat from surface and reheat pork on the stove. Remove pork and shred.
  • Strain the cooking liquid, reduce to a thick sauce and toss with pork.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Asian pear slaw:

  • Grate the Asian Pears the medium sized holes of a box grater.
  • Whisk together soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, honey and ginger.
  • Toss Asian pear with dressing and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. The pear will wilt over time, so dress it no more than 20 minutes before serving.

Mandarin Pancakes:

  • Add 3/4 cups boiling water to flour and stir together in one direction with a chop stick or spoon. Add additional water as needed for a slightly tacky dough.
  • Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead for 3-4 minutes until smooth. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes to an hour.
  • Roll the dough into a 1/2″ thick “snake” and cut into 2″ pieces.
  • Roll two pieces of dough into separate 3″ circles. Brush the top of each with sesame oil, and place the oiled sides together.
  • Roll the pancakes out into 6-8″ circles.
  • Warm a skillet over low heat. Add pancakes to pan and cook until brown spots appear, about 2 minutes. Turn and finish cooking, about 1 minute longer. Remove from pan and separate pancakes. Sometimes it take a little work to get them started. Keep warm by covering with a towel.
  • Repeat with remaining dough.
  • Serve pancakes with shredded pork and Asian pear slaw.

Stock stock.

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Asian soupI’m a strong advocate for homemade stock. Store-bought not only lacks the same depth of flavor, but even low-sodium versions end up too salty when reduced. The answer? Make your own.

Vegetable stock is a simple mix of carrot, onion and celery, thyme sprigs and parsley stems, bay leaves and peppercorns. Simmered for 30-40 minutes, it’s flavorful and ready just as you finish the rest of your vegetable prep, easily completed for a Tuesday night meal.

“But,” you say, “I want to make chicken stock.” Simple, just add chicken parts. If you are lucky enough to live near a market that breaks down whole chickens in to breasts, wings, legs and thighs, then you can buy backs and necks for about $1 per pound. Simmer for three hours and you have beautiful, rich stock.

“But wait,” you say,” I never have three hours to cook anything.”

I’m going to make an assumption, and forgive me if I offend, but sometime in the next, let’s say 45 days, you are going to wake up on Saturday morning just a little hungover. Your big plan for the day is to sit on the couch with a giant cup of coffee and watch Tyra Banks chew out models for 8 hours straight (or you’re just checking out the models). Either way, there is no reason that a big pot of stock can’t be simmering on the back of the stove.

We’ve posted recipes for chicken stock and vegetable stock before. Here are two stocks that we use for Indian or Asian sauces, soups and braises.

Asian Stock

Perfect for soups, stir-frys and sauces.

Ingredients:

  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 leek, roughly chopped
  • 1 sheet kombu seaweed
  • 1-2 cups Shitake mushroom stems
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs rice wine vinegar

Directions:

  • Place all ingredients in a stock pot and cover with 8-10 cups water.
  • Simmer for 40 minutes and strain solids reserving stock.

Indian Stock

This special stock adds additional richness to Indian-flavored dishes. You could also use it for soup with the addition of lightly browned pieces of carrot, potato and chicken.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs ghee or butter
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 leek, roughly chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2 whole cloves

Directions:

  • Melt ghee in a stock pot over medium-high heat. Add carrot, celery, onion and leek and cook until browned.
  • Add cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. Cook for 1 minute more and fill with 8 cups water.
  • Simmer for 40 minutes and strain solids reserving stock.

Sobering.

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Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

My friend Ali and I are both responsible, mature adults. However, for a brief period, before we met our husbands, she and I got together regularly for an after work cocktail or seven. We often ended those less-than-sober nights dining on what we affectionately referred to as “cheap Chinese.”

Several years ago, after a glass of wine, we returned to the scene of youthful excess, excited to once again dine on some of DC’s best Chinese food. It was an epic mistake. Rule #1 of drunken dining: don’t ever go back sober. The food was terrible.

Unfortunately, Chinese food, which can be fresh, bright and rich, often disappoints, salty, fatty and limp. Egg fu yung, is perhaps one of the worst perpetrators,  laden with a corn (starch and syrup) gravy. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Farm fresh eggs and toasted sesame oil makes this Asian omelet rich. Lightly stir-fried cabbage delivers the crisp crunch missing in mung bean sprouts, while Shitake mushrooms provide the umami depth typically derived from MSG. Our gravy, thick with cornstarch is bright with vinegar, soy and homemade stock. So sober up, and get ready for some amazingly good Chinese!

Egg Fu Yung

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

For Omelet:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 4 tbs peanut oil
  • 2 cups cabbage
  • 1.5 cups Shitake mushrooms, slice thin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

For Sauce:

  • 2 tbs corn starch
  • 3 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs Sherry Vinegar*
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1.5 cups vegetable stock or Asian stock

*For a more complex flavor with a hint of sweetness, use 1 tbs Sherry vinegar and 2 tbs of Sapore’s Serrano Chile Honey vinegar.

Directions:

  • Whisk together eggs, sesame oil and green parts of scallions in a large bowl.
  • On medium heat, warm 1 tbs peanut oil in a 12” skillet. Sauté white part of scallions until softened. Add cabbage and stirfry until tender but still firm. Add to egg mixture.
  • Return skillet to heat, add 1 tbs peanut oil and shitake mushrooms, sauté until softened and browning on edges. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Stir into egg mixture.
  • Heat 2 tbs oil in skillet over medium-low heat. Pour in eggs, cover and cook.
  • While omelet cooks, mix together sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer until thickened. Keep warm.
  • When the top of the omelet is set, loosen the Egg Fu Yung with a rubber spatula, slide onto a platter, and serve with gravy. (Or just eat it right from the pan.)