The cookbook tour continues! As some of you may know, last week I held a cooking demo and signing at the fantastic BookCourt in Brooklyn and had a great showing and audience discussion. This week started off with an onsite interview with Cathy Erway on Heritage Radio Network, and ended with today's wonderful class at ICE on takeout Chinese food. Up next: more classes in New York, The Roger Smith Cookbook Conference, and San Francisco in April!
But let's take a step back for a moment and talk about pork belly. As some of you may know, The Chinese Takeout Cookbook doesn't just cover dishes you would normally find at a Chinese takeout restaurant. Rather, it includes other dishes that have made major inroads into American culture. One of the dishes that has been talked about, written about, and otherwise obsessed about in cities such as New York, Boston, and L.A. is the pork belly bun.
Many food fans know them from Momofuku Noodle Bar and its offspring restaurants. But as tasty as the Momofuku buns are, the Taiwanese have been snacking on these buns long before this dish hit the US eastern seaboard. Known as "gua bao" in Taiwan, these buns feature pork belly that has been braised in an aromatic mixture of soy sauce, rice wine, homemade stock, cinnamon, star anise, chilies, and Sichuan pepper. Read More
There are few comfort food dishes as easy to make and economical as fried rice. Like many New Yorkers, I fall into the trap of grabbing pizza or halal chicken when I'm famished late at night and everything else is closed. I really should go home and check what's in my cabinets for cooking, I usually think. Then I end up grabbing that slice of pizza anyway.
Then I learned a few years ago to just make extra rice when I do have the time to cook. Because you can always use it for something, whether it's fried rice, congee, or just reheated with other leftovers. Of those three, fried rice might be my favorite. And it also helps you get rid of other leftover meats and veggies in your fridge.
Over the years I've made many variations, including Edamame Fried Rice, Thai Basil Chicken Fried Rice, Pumpkin Fried Rice, and just a simple Vegetable Fried Rice. But when you're also a huge fan of spicy food, eventually you'll also make one featuring chili sauce.
This Sriracha fried rice is vegetarian, but you can easily make it meaty by adding fresh or leftover chicken, pork, or shrimp. It's also kind of a tongue-scorcher, so if you'd like just a hint of spiciness, just cut the amount of Sriracha by half. Read More
I just came back from a nice long trip to Boston to visit family for the holidays. I have to admit: it's been very nice to take a break from blogging for a short while. Having been a blogger for so long (5 years!), I sometimes have a lot of trouble separating it from daily life. It's not like having a 9-5 job, where you can mostly leave your work at the office. Weeknights? Why not stay up until midnight working on a post? Weekends? Perfect time for recipe-testing!
In the past year or so I've gotten much better about setting aside time just for relaxation. I now leave at least an hour before bed for reading or something similarly relaxing, instead of just going straight for editing photos to hitting the pillow. Saturdays have become unplug days (well, mostly...checking email on the phone doesn't count, right?)
Needless to say, my habits could get better. And that's one resolution for 2013, to be more efficient with work so that I have enough leisure time to recharge my batteries. Read More
If you're a big fan of tangy chicken, give this vinegar-glazed chicken a try. I first made this Hunan dish about a year ago from Grace Young's Stir-frying to the Sky's Edge and found it positively addictive. I still come back to it again and again for its wonderful combination of smoky, tart, and spicy flavors.
There's a big bottle of Chinese black vinegar on my counter that I've had for well over a year, surviving at least two apartment moves. I use it every week, from making dumpling dipping sauces to stir-frying dishes like kung pao chicken, but in a year (through intensive recipe testing, no less) it's only about two-thirds done. Bottles of soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, and other pantry staples have been replaced, but somehow this bottle of black vinegar seems bottomless.
I realized the other day that I haven't talk too much on this blog about Chinese black vinegar and its uses. If you've never had the chance to try it, and live near a big Chinese supermarket, I highly recommend you go to the vinegar aisle and buy yourself a bottle. The one to look for is called Chinkiang Black Vinegar from the Gold Plum brand label, and it looks like this is what it looks like: Read More
My cookbook is officially released next week! And it makes me wonder: where did the time go?
It seems like just yesterday I handed in my final manuscript, and now all of a sudden December 11th is just around the corner. There are still interviews to schedule, books to ship off, and a book launch party to plan. It's equal amounts exciting and nerve-racking. Sometimes I just want to take a deep breath and pour myself a large glass of wine. Other times I just want to escape to the kitchen and de-stress by cooking.
So it's ironic that the dish I chose to cook today is also a Chinese-American comfort food classic, like the dishes in The Chinese Takeout Cookbook (which does have a recipe for sweet and sour pork). I hadn't made crispy chicken in months, but just felt like doing it again today on a whim.
The process for making the chicken is very similar to the process for General Tso's Chicken, which is still the most popular recipe on this site. You coat the chicken with salt, cornstarch, and egg whites, then carefully fry the chicken for 3 to 4 minutes, with an optional 2nd frying to get the meat extra-crispy. The tangy and sweet sauce with pineapple chunks takes only 2 minutes to cook down before it coats the chicken. It's like the best sweet and sour sauce you can get at a restaurant, except now you know the exact ingredients that go into it (no gluey preservatives here!) Read More
Thanksgiving kind of snuck up on us this year, didn't it? It seemed like only yesterday that we were carving pumpkins and planning Halloween costumes. Now it's time to prepare oneself for a massive turkey-centric feast.
Earlier this week, to get into the Thanksgiving mood, I decided to make a big batch of turkey and mushroom dumplings. And when I make dumplings, I like to make a good number. I use up an entire back of 50-or-so dumpling wrappers and a pound of meat. While I wrap them, I put on a good podcast or catch up on a week's worth of The Daily Show, and kind of zone out. The whole process is all very Zen.
While pork is often the default meat for Chinese dumplings, I find that turkey is a great option for somewhat lighter but still meaty dumplings. (They're also great if you're cooking for family or friends who don't eat pork.) I also throw in a healthy amount of chopped shiitake mushrooms, which has a great umami-ness that pairs well with the flavor of the turkey. Read More
What a crazy two weeks. Here in the Northeast, many areas are still recovering from Hurricane Sandy. and now we've been hit with a Nor'easter. Right now it's snowing and raining at the same time, which makes me want to just stay inside and make something extra-comforting, like chicken noodle soup.
I first experimented with making Sichuan-style chicken noodle soup 3 years ago. And it's no less of a favorite comfort food dish now.
Rather than the American version flavored with bay leaf and thyme, I decided to make a Sichuan-style broth with star anise, cinnamon, tangerine peel, and Sichuan pepper. (There will be a mild tingle from the peppercorn, to jazz things up.) The best part: you can shred leftover roast chicken, itself a cost-saver, and add it to the soup at the last minute. The simmering anise and cinnamon will make your kitchen smell wondering. And slurping the steamy chicken noodle soup will get you through these chilly wintry days.
Ever since my annual check-up this past summer, I've been looking for ways to incorporate more iron into my diet. Fortunately, Chinese beef stir-fries are pretty healthy as far as red meat dishes go, because the meat is usually paired with vegetables and the sauces are flavorful yet light. (That is, if you make them at home instead of ordering from the local take-out.)
And of course, beef with broccoli is probably the most popular and beloved takeout dishes in this country. I mean, if you're a red meat eater, how can it not sound good? Succulent, tender strips of beef mixed with tender-crisp broccoli? I'd crave it any time. It's an easy one-dish entree (with rice on the side, of course) from which you can get a ton of nutrients.
So here's a pumped-up take on the classic dish that includes fragrant sesame oil, a bit of Worcestershire sauce, and optional chili sauce for a little kick. (A note on Worcestershire sauce, since some of you have asked: yes, it is a common ingredient used in Chinese cooking, especially Cantonese. We've been using it for well over a century, since the British colonial days in Hong Kong, to enhance the meatiness in stir-fries and noodle dishes.) Try it out anytime you'd like to get something fast, healthy, and delicious on the table! Read More