Monday, June 02, 2008

LIttle Ma's Recipe Corner

I love Chinese food. Sometimes, when I think about Chinese food my thoughts run this way: There has been for the better part of my life, approximately 1 billion Chinamen. And even when I was a youth, that great number of people at at least one meal a day. By 2008, as I write this, the likelihood of the Chinese population eating more than one meal a day is good. So, for approximations sake, that is 1 billion 200 million hungry folks eating twice a day or 16 billion 800 million meals a week. Is it any wonder that the Chinese have had to eat all available ingredients. Is it any wonder that the creativity of Chinese cuisine is so outstandingly varied.

And towards that end, I share:

China Vista

yet, for simplicities sake:

Welcome to Little Ma's Recipe Corner

which is where the recipes are. Some of the recipes list ingredient names which I cannot translate or which are not available in the United States. Sometimes, the instructions are hard to comprehend. I will give a few recipe samples to tease the palate.

Hunan Dishes

Unrobed Eels
300g eels
50g soaked slices of bamboo shoots
25g fragrant mushrooms
50g fresh green peppers
25g coriander
1. Preparations: Skin and bone the eels, scald and slice.
2. Put the slices into a mixture of egg white, cornstarch and seasonings, stir-fry in 50% heated oil.
3. Slice bamboo shoots, fragrant mushrooms and green peppers, stir-fry in 80% heated oil, add the sliced eels and cooking wine, toss a few times.

Unrobed most like means skinned. Fragrant mushrooms means shitake mushrooms: "In Chinese, it is called xiānggū (香菇, literally "fragrant mushroom")." And coriander is what we in the West, commonly refer to as Cilantro leaves. Seasonings would be five spice powder, or roasted and ground Szechuan pepper.

The quantities called for in this recipe would be enough for three people, if there were two or three more courses.

Another Hunan dish:

Red Peppers Stuffed with Pork

500g red and green peppers
300g pork mince
15g prawns
15g mushrooms soaking in water
1 egg
50 garlic

1. Preparations: Rinse and finely chop the prawns and mushrooms, add to the minced pork, then add eggs, MSG and salt stir together with cornstarch to make a filling.
2. Cut off the ends of the peppers, remove the seeds, stuff with filling, seal the ends with dissolved cornstarch, deep-fry till 80% done and remove.
3. Put the peppers into a bowl with the ends done [down?], sprinkle garlic cloves over them and steam till done, drain off the soup stock, turn the bowl upside down on a plate.
4. Add seasonings [five spice powder?] to the soup stock, bring to the boil, thicken, pour over the peppers.

Seal the ends with dissolved cornstarch I take to mean, reserve the tops of the bell peppers. Stuff the peppers, and using the cornstarch as a glue, glue the tops back on the peppers.

As for the "deep-fry until 80% done", that is very hard for me to guess. The recipe doesn't say whether the pork mince is previously cooked, which is important. If the pork is cooked the 80% is probably 4 to 6 minutes. Otherwise if raw pork, 8 to 10 minutes. While the peppers are in the hot oil, bring a steamer up to steaming hot. The bell peppers used are tiny by comparison with American bell peppers. I've never seed such small peppers in Chinatown here in Los Angeles.

Sichuan Dishes
1 duck (500g)
150g pork shreds
25g pickled chilli shreds


1. Clean and scald the duck, then wipe dry; coat the skin with sugar solution, leave to dry.
2. Stir-fry pork shreds in a wok, add thick chilli bean sauce, mustard greens, pickled chilli shreds, five spices powder (prickly ash, star aniseed, sinnamon, clove, fennel), cool.
3. Put the pork shreds into the duck and seal up the duck's anus, stew till done, take out, remove the pork shreds, and mustard greens.
4. Cut the duck into slices, place on a plate together with pork shreds, mustard greens, pancakes and sauce.

Pickled chiles are available at Asian markets. Typically red in color, they come in a brine. Using gloves, remove some from their jar, and shred them lengthwise. For the pork shreds, use any cut of pork, but remove all the fat first. As the recipe call for 500g(rams) of duck, that would be a very small duck. One pound is 450 grams. Serve with mu shu wrappers and Chinese Sweet & Sour sauces.

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