Tag Archives: rice wine

Braised “Lion Head” Meatballs (紅燒獅子頭)

23 Mar

Meatballs!

***I apologize for the quality of my photos.  Please know that I understand the importance of visuals in food blogging and am working on it. ***

First of all, what a funny name.  Disclaimer: Lion heads are NOT made of lion meat.  They start with a combination of 3:7 ratio fat to lean ground pork.  To make 10-12 fist size meatballs, you need about 1.5 lbs of ground pork.

Mix the pork with white pepper; one table spoon of rice wine; one table spoon of soy sauce; 20 shitake mushrooms, chopped; and— one box of soft tofu, broken down to tiny pieces. When I first learned of the tofu ingredient, I was surprised.  But apparently by adding tofu, the meatballs will have a silkier texture. You may also add other crunchy ingredients such as water chestnut, dried shrimp, etc.  Different chefs get liberal with what they like in their meatballs.  For me, I chopped some ginger for the crunchy purpose.

After thorough mixing and kneading, form the pork mixture into fist size meatballs, and throw each one down against the bowl repeatedly to loosen the meat.  This technique is used across cultures: Italian meatballs need this step too, to make the texture of the meat more gelatinous, of which Chinese people call “flicking at your teeth (彈牙).”

Work that right arm...

Now roll them meatballs in corn starch and pan fry all sides until golden.  At the same time, start a pot of water to blanch some Napa cabbage.  I used about 10 leaves.  They shrink after being blanched, so if you want your veggies, don’t be shy.  The water used for blanching can also serve as the soup base for the meatballs.  To make the soup: Add a few pieces of ginger, one scallion, and a dash of soy sauce and a table spoon of rice wine to the water.  Depending on what you like, you can add more shitake mushrooms (as I did), or bamboo shoots.  Once the soup came to a boil, add them meatballs in there.  Now give the meatballs a nice long bath by simmering at low heat for at least 45 minutes.  To complete the dish, add rehydrated maun bean threads to the pot when ready to serve.

Voila, now you are a lion head eater.


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Must Have Soup: Chicken and Shiitake Mushrooms

20 Jun

Another simple soup:  All you need are 4 chicken thighs, about 20 dry shiitake mushrooms, a small piece of ginger, and 1/4 cup of Chinese rice wine.

First, heat up a pot of water high enough to cover the chicken thighs.  When it comes to a boil, drop the chicken thighs in and let them cook for 5 minutes.  This will force out all the bloody, marrowy mess.

The foamy mess you don't want in your soup

After most of the mess is out, dump the muddy soup and fill it up with another round of water.

A clear pot of broth. That's what you want

So when the clear pot of water comes to a boil, add the rice wine and ginger, and turn down the heat.  Let simmer for 2 hours.  During the time the soup is stewing, reconstitute shiitake mushrooms by soaking them in hot water.  When the soup is all nice and milky by the end of the second hour, turn the heat up and drop in the mushrooms.  When the soup comes to a boil, you have yourself chicken soup with shiitake mushrooms, my favorite comfort food.

Stir-fried Squid with Chinese Celery (芹菜炒鮮魷)

25 May

Top Chef Masters featured giant squid as an ingredient a short while ago, and even the most seasoned chefs were baffled by its gross appearance.  

Top Chef Masters contestant, Tony Mantuano, knifing through the sea monster

Yet all I could think about while watching the episode: It’s delicious!  I’ve been eating squid since I was a kid.  What is there to be scared of? 

Ok, I guess it can look kind of creepy...

There is something in texture and taste with squid that its other leggy friends (octopus, cuttlefish, etc.) cannot compare.  It does tend to be a bit fishier, I must say.  To tame it, I let my julienned squid sit in 1/2 cup of Chinese rice wine. 

To accompany its oceanic savoriness, Chinese celery is used. 

Chinese celery has a stronger celeriac taste than the American celery, and is much more “petite” in size.  It works well with the squid as it adds a crunchiness to each bite.  The key is to cut the vegetable in similar size as the squid.  

Squid cleaned and julienned, Chinese celery julienned, and chilli pepper

Before stir-frying, make sure the following aromatic ingredients are chopped: 

5 gloves of garlic 

1 tablespoon of ginger 

1 small chilli pepper (Serrano will do) 

Throw garlic, ginger, and pepper into the hot oil for the aroma to come out.  Once the garlic is starting to brown, dump in the squid.  It will take some time to cook it, depending on your stove.  After about 8 minutes of constant stirring (or when most liquid is dried up in the pan), drop in the celery.  Stir-fry until the squid curls up.  Season with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil.   

Sunday dinner: Squid with celery, Luffa, and rice

 

 

Grand Opening: Sichuan Style Wontons (紅油抄手)

18 May Sichuan Wontons

Wontons are definitely one of the most common foods in Chinese cuisine, and they vary from region to region, mostly popular in the south, as the north is better known for dumplings and buns.  The name for wonton also differs from one province to another. They are usually considered “snack food” in the afternoon or late night.  As I recall from childhood, they were often served in between ma jong games at my grandparents’.  And since my paternal grandma (nai-nai) was a native of Sichuan, the Sichuan style wontons are the ones I am most familiar with.

What goes into the wontons are 2 lbs of ground pork, 1/2 lb of shrimp, chopped, with rice wine, sesme oil, white pepper, and salt. Wrappers are store bought.

These “hot oil wontons” (as its literal translation denotes) are eaten dry, with a mixture of aromatic toppings (sans soup), which is different from the Canton and Shanghai styles, often served in a broth.

To cook the wontons:

Add wontons to a pot of boiling water.  When it is boiling again, add a cup of cold water to it.  When that comes to a boil, you’re done.  Remember: It is the same to cook fresh versus frozen wontons (as it will just take frozen wontons a bit longer to come to a boil), and there is NO need to defrost fozen wontons.

To serve:
Mix the finely chopped scallion, garlic, dried shrimp, zha cai (preserved vegetable) with soy sauce, hot oil, and sesame oil atop the wontons.

Wontons!

Toppings: Garlic, scallion, zha cai (preserved vegetable), and dried shrimp