Saturday, December 4, 2021

Cooking: Chinese Takeout You Can Cook At Home

You will find various lists of the “10 most popular” Chinese takeaway dishes, menu items such as orange chicken, pot stickers, and wonton soup. Most of them are not easy to cook at home, which is one of the reasons, besides the global pandemics, why the wok in Chinese restaurants is always busy.

But a couple of very popular Chinese restaurant menu items are easy to make at home – and it could be better. But for a couple of special ingredients (like toasted sesame oil or sweet soy sauce, which is increasingly sold at mainstream grocery stores), it’s hot and sour soup and fried rice.

Tips for Cooking Asian-Style Fried Rice:

  • This is a one-stop cooking tip for rice. Always rinse paddy rice before cooking (except risotto). This removes a lot of surface starch from the grains and makes them more separable.
  • For fried rice, try day-aged (or earlier) aged rice left in the refrigerator. Put it covered in the refrigerator overnight or at least a few hours. Thus, the rice grains lose some of their moisture and become hard, which helps prevent the fried rice from forming lumps or gruel.
  • Otherwise, spread the freshly cooked batch of rice on a baking sheet. As it cools quickly (at least 1 hour), its lump-causing moisture evaporates.
  • It is better to use rice made from medium-sized grains, such as Thai jasmine. Long grain rice like basmati tends to decay, mainly because it is thinner. After the rice has cooled but before frying, chop the rice to crumble the grains.
  • Don’t go overboard with adding ingredients. A couple of flavors (chopped green onions or ginger), one or two vegetables (peas, spinach leaves, small broccoli blossoms) and leftover raw protein (tofu, shrimp, grilled chicken) are enough. In addition, he does not use sauces; anyone can add more if they wish.
  • Most of us don’t have a wok or, for that matter, a restaurant-grade blast furnace. But it is best to cook fried rice over high heat; so go for it. I found the Dutch oven to be the best substitute for a wok: its heavy bottom can withstand heat, and its high walls prevent overflow when I drop.
  • Cook only one or two servings at a time. If too much goes into the pan right away, you will get a large portion of the gruel.

Homemade Chinese Hot and Sour Soup

Adapted from Cookies.nytimes.com and thewoksoflife.com. For 6-8 people.

Ingredients

For pork:

  • 6-8 ounces pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into strips or matches
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon mirin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

For soup:

  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 6-8 dried wood ears or young king mushrooms
  • 14-16 oz (dry weight) hard or extra hard tofu
  • 2 shallots, only white and green parts
  • 2-inch piece of fresh peeled ginger
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 small dried red chillies, or to taste, seeded and crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons chili paste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cane sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dark sweet soy sauce and 1 tablespoon regular soy sauce or 2 tablespoons regular soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil, toasted
  • 1-2 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup plain rice vinegar
  • 8 cups 50/50 low sodium chicken and vegetable broth mixture
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For the thickener:

  • 6 tablespoons of water
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch

Directions

In a small bowl, combine water, soy sauce, mirin and cornstarch, coat the pork pieces in the mixture and marinate for 15 minutes. Set aside.

Pre-soak dried mushrooms in very hot water in a heat-resistant bowl so that they are covered with a lid until they are well moistened and the caps or “meat” are tender (from 30 minutes to 1 hour). Drain or gently squeeze the mushrooms to remove excess water, cut off the fibrous stems or feathers and cut them into thick matches. Set aside.

Drain the tofu. First cut into cubes or pieces, then cut into thick matches. Set aside in a separate bowl.

Chop the onion into small cubes and set aside in a small bowl. Chop the julienne ginger into 1/8 ” matches and add to the bowl of green onions. In a small bowl or cup, combine the chili seed crumbs, chili paste, salt, sugar, soy sauce (s), sesame oil, white pepper, and rice vinegar and stir to combine. Set aside. Whisk 2 eggs lightly in a small bowl and set aside.

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