Archive for the ‘Chinese’ Category

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Ringing in the Year of the Pig with Crab Rangoon and other old favorites.

February 18, 2007

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Happy New Year! (Any excuse for revelry is OK by us – especially if you can wish folks a happy new year twice within months.) For the Chinese, and many other Asian cultures, today is the first day of the lunar calendar. In some parts of the world, this occasion will be met with great fanfare and festivity. Personally, we feasted on Peking Duck with friends last night. And this morning, we offer some more festive dishes: A few old favorites and a new one, Crab Rangoon.

OK, we admit it, crab rangoon is not a traditional dish. It’s likely unrecognizable to any devotee to Chinese food. Like meatballs to Italian-Americans, crab rangoon is a derivative dish that probably seeks to satisfy American palettes more than others (um, cream cheese, anyone?). And we further bastardized it by putting a spicy twist on it.

So why choose an inauthentic dish on this day? Because it’s a crowd pleaser – and if you don’t have crowds to please today, you may tomorrow or perhaps next Thursday. If you are looking for other dishes to make to celebrate the day, or at least add a bit of Asian flavor to your table, we also offer you a trio of our favorite old recipes.

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Sui Mai: This is a classic dim sum dish and Wife’s favorite. They’re dumplings filled with pork and shrimp.

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Potstickers: A family favorite filled with the intense flavors of beef, ginger and soy.

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Char Sui Bao: Our take on another classic dim sum dish. Filled with sweet pork swaddled in steamed bread, it’s truly delicious.

Click here to download the recipe for Crab Rangoon.

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Potstickers: Crowd-pleasers, hunger-appeasers

January 17, 2007

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Like my husband, my parents love to cook. (Hence my, ahem, well-fed appearance.) And my parents love to cook for their parties. Nearly all of their dishes are a success, but there are, of course, a few standouts. Potstickers are one of them. Inevitably as the partygoers would wend their way around the buffet table, a bottleneck would result in front of the plate of delicious, artfully-wrapped beauties.

The result? More manual (and dirt cheap) labor on the part of my siblings and I to produce still more potstickers to satiate our ravenous guests.

My dear husband was a fixture at these parties, and could often be seen planted in front of the potstickers on the buffet table. He’d skillfully take a polite and restrained number of the delicious meat dumplings … and then swoop back in for seconds. Or thirds. Or fourths.

It was only a matter of time before the potsticker-lover (and soon to be family member) was drafted into the process of making them, too. Being an impassioned cook and eater, he quickly caught on and adapted the family recipe as his own. And now that he’s taken command of the kitchen, I’ve been released from my duties as potsticker wench (though I can still make a mean decorative ruffle in that wrapper). But one thing that hasn’t changed: The unabashed success of beef potstickers at parties. Or, frankly, their success at any event where satisfying hunger is the order of the day.

So, if you have a party — or just an empty belly — consider potstickers. They’re guaranteed to satisfy.

Click here to download the recipe for Potstickers.

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Look away, Daffy: Asian-Inspired Roasted Duck

November 17, 2006

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My husband and I have pretty similar taste buds, and we usually agree on what is good food. But there are exceptions, of course — and duck is one of them.

Duck is… not my favorite. Badly prepared duck is — let’s face it — gross. Well-prepared duck is pretty good (I will down my share of Peking-style duck at fine Chinese establishments), but not something I’d drive out of my way to get.

My husband, on the other hand, is duck happy. He’d probably drive to the ends of the earth if he thought there was a superior roasted duck at his destination. If we’re feeding bread crumbs to innocent Donalds and Daffys on an area pond, I’m exclaiming over their coloring, and he’s picking out the one he’d eat for dinner. He loves ’em.

Hence, when my dear hubby decided to prepare duck at home, I had mixed feelings. As he mentions in his backgrounder, my similarly duck-obsessed father had tried to make roast Peking duck at home with diastrous results. Despite using tools as diverse as a hair dryer and coat hanger and devoting hours to the project, the end result was an incredibly smelly house and a greasy, inedible (in my view) duck. So I greeted my husband’s efforts skeptically, to say the least.

And yet, he found success. I firmly believed that no home cook — no matter their skill level — could produce a duck that I might deign to eat. They’re too fatty, finicky and fishy, I thought. But my husband — to his delight, no doubt — has proved me wrong. His duck was not too fatty. The house didn’t smell. And the bird itself was succulent and flavorful.

He wins. But has he converted me to duck with his culinary coup d’etat? Not quite.

Donald, you’re still safe from me. But watch out for that maniac husband of mine. He’s got that glint in his eye again.

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Who “am I?” What was that? Oh, sui mai… mmm sui mai

November 8, 2006

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Dim sum good.

Lately I’ve been having extraordinary cravings for dim sum, and we’ve been hitting the “China Garden” in town an embarassing number of times. Luckily that place is always packed (they actually drop off tour buses full of Asian tourists there and it seats about 300 or more), so we’ve remained fairly incognito. (I’d hate to be called out by the hostess… “You again?”)

The real highlight of any dim sum venture is when that steam cart comes rollin’ on up. You gotta hit that thing… hard. Sui mai, haw gao, sharkfin, char sui bao and all that other good stuff. We put a hurt on that cart. If I’m really hungry, I’ll start pulling my grandpa’s favorite move — which is to refrain from all conversation and continously follow the steam cart with my eyes as it wends its way around the dining room — not unlike an eagle tracking its prey.

At these moments, I may fantasize: Wouldn’t it be great if that steam cart just rolled up to my mouth and dropped some dumplings off?

Well, folks, it has.

My husband has actually figured out how to make two of the best dim sum offerings — char sui bao and sui mai — right here in our own kitchen. Char sui bao is the subject of another post, however, so I’ll take this moment to wax poetic about his sui mai…. It’s perfect. It has that delicious mix of pork and shrimp, with just a hint of earthiness from the shitake mushrooms and a tiny whiff of ginger. Steamed to perfection, the dumplings have a really delicate, elegant air that belies their meaty goodness. The only thing missing is that strange red dot they put on top of the dumplings in restaurants. Contented sigh. What can I say? He’s pretty good, that husband of mine.

So, now I can eat dim sum on demand — and maybe I’ll only need to hit China Garden every other weekend.

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Ginger? In Ice Cream? Hmm…

October 25, 2006

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I scream, you scream, we all scream… for ginger ice cream.

Pause. “Ginger?” you say.

Ginger, indeed.

If you’re skeptical, folks, it’s only because you have not yet sampled the delicious ginger ice cream (with coconut caramel sauce) that my husband has concocted. I know I said that mint ice cream was my thing. Perhaps I spoke too soon. Yes, this ginger ice cream was that good. One, it has a vegetable in it — sort of. (Ginger is a plant, right?) So it’s healthy, like mint ice cream is healthy. Two, it has a delicious and unexpected kick to it — delivered by the spicy little morsels of fresh and candied ginger lurking in its white creaminess. And three, it was covered with decadent and beautiful coconut caramel sauce. That just put it over the top.

Then again, I am a fair-weather ice cream eater. Generally, I’m partial to the ice cream I’m eating at any particular moment. But, truly, ginger ice cream has won a place in my heart. Try it, and I think you’ll agree. (And just to be absolutely sure which one is my favorite, I think I’ll have to alternate eating mint and ginger ice cream. Just to be sure of the winner, you know. Ah, what I do for food.)

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Round-up time for: Food Bloggers’ Geography #1: Southern Style

October 22, 2006

MHCCompass_2.jpgI loved doing this event. While this is not the largest event ever done, I was moved by the remarkable quality that people put into them. Without exception, each of the entries speaks to a very personal place the food comes from. People have such a sense of where they live and what they eat. I hope everyone enjoys this run down as much as we enjoyed hosting the event.

275031500_fb832d127f.jpgColumbus Foodie’s Becke sent in Spaetzle mit Speck und Eier (Noodles with Bacon and Eggs) This is a really neat recipe influenced by her own family in the South of Germany, the State of Hesse to be more precise (which I admit I looked up after reading her post). She describes this recipe as a Southern German take on spaghetti carbonara. This sort of recipe is why we did this event, to learn new regional food and to hear connections to people and food.

biscuits-and-sorghum04-400.jpgKevin of Seriously Good sent in what I think is a quintessentially regional eat—sorghum syrup and biscuits. Sweet sorghum is a grassy grain used to produce syrup. The syrup has a distinct flavor and African roots that grounded itself in the US’s South long before the Civil War. Kevin gives us an important look at its role in his life and how food is often associated with home. Kevin apologizes because he was having photo issues, but personally, I couldn’t careless. The story and the piece of history he brings us is infinitely more important and the food still looks delicious.

pork-chop-and-fried-chicken-001.jpgMickey of Kitchen Inferno sends us another piece like Kevin’s. His recipe, Smoked Pork Chops with Sauce Beautiful, speaks to a history and a different time. Mickey recounts the traditions of soul food and its expansion as the South and Southerners changed during the first part of the 20th century. I love dishes that speak of much more than what you are eating.

captaincaribbean.jpgBrilynn of Jumbo Empanadas sent in a great recipe with an even better name, Captain Brilynn’s Caribbean Catch. Like many of us who put headlines on things, she likes alliterations and suggests that she might have changed her name for a moment to get that fourth “C” in there. The recipe has beautiful South American flavors with cilantro, salsa, avocados, and that delicious but dangerous, Scotch Bonnet/ Habenero. She suggested serving it with a Juba from another entry, which I think I might want regardless.

0759hoisinchicken_broccoli600×450.jpgI do love when people take the sense of what we were doing to heart. From the southern exposure of their house in the south side of Toronto in southern Ontario, Elizabeth of blog from OUR Kitchen brings us a dish that I believe might have its roots in Southeast Asia by using cumin and hoisin. This delicious dish is Hoisin Chicken and Broccoli. She hoped she didn’t stretch the “South” too much, I’m just surprised more people didn’t. She gets kudos from us with her free wheeling interpretation.

greentomatoblt.jpgFinally and despite her morning sickness, Jennifer of Weekly Dish sent a beautiful post about this not so fun period and a gorgeous fried green tomato sandwich. My wife and I are terrifically sympathetic to this situation and hope it doesn’t last the whole term. Most pleasing to me is her writing. It had me hooked when she brought up barbeque. She, as a gal from Mississippi near Memphis, contends that barbeque is beef and ribs. I will withhold umbrage from such an affront. Citing my own North Carolina roots, I contend that barbeque is pork and pork shoulder without that thick molasses based stuff. Of course, I am kidding, but she writes well on the subject of how there is no monolithic US Southern cuisine.

Editor’s note: I want to appologize to Mickey at Kitchen Inferno and thank his cousin Kevin. Kevin pointed out that I gave Mickey a gender transformation and that was sloppy on my part. I fixed it so now HE gets the proper credit. I’m an idiot. Also, my name is Kendle and my whole life I’ve gotten mail with “Ms. Kendle”, so I try to becareful and I clearly wasn’t in this case. So I’m terribly sorry.

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Eat this: Char sui bao

October 13, 2006

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I love Char Sui Bao. My wife has already made fun of me recently for my love of bread pudding, and I think she is just waiting to pounce on my obsession with A Southern Season’s Praline Pecans . Char Sui Bao also falls into that same category of “food I can eat even when stuffed.” Thankfully, because we are having a family bonzana fun time with both sets of parents and a good number of siblings here in DC this weekend, I got to put up this post without her lovely intro.

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