Monthly Archives: November 2014

Recipe: Chinese-Style Fried Rice (炒饭)

I love fried rice(炒饭 – chao fan – say: “chall fun” – literally “stir-fry rice”)! My favorite fried rice is the fried rice from Cantonese restaurants because it is always so deliciously full of wok hay (Cantonese term that describes the quality of food fresh from a wok that was stir-fried over extremely high heat). There is always the delicious sauce and it reacts with the extremely high heat of the wok to create an amazing fried rice. I love most kinds of Cantonese fried rice including Yangzhou fried rice (which is not actually found in Yangzhou)(扬州炒饭 yang zhou chao fan – “yahng joh chall fun”, literally Yang State stir-fry rice), Chinese (actually Cantonese) sausage fried rice(腊肠炒饭 la chang chao fan, “lah chahng chall fun”), Cantonese BBQ Pork (char siu) fried rice(叉烧炒饭 cha shao chao fan, “chah sholl chall fun”, literally fork roast stir-fry rice), etc. I don’t like salted fish fried rice (咸鱼炒饭 xian yu chao fan, “syehn yee chall fun”, literally salt fish stir-fry rice)because it smells quite unpleasant, but my parents really like it. My favorite fried rice ever in the world was XO Sauce Beef Fried Rice (XO Sauce is a condiment made from frying dried shrimps, dried scallops, garlic, chilies, and other fragrant ingredients in oil for a long time until caramelized and golden) at a local restaurant, but sadly it closed :(.

Anyways, Cantonese people eat fried rice in banquets as the final course before fruit and dessert (the actual final “course”). Actually my parents said it was the actual final course, so maybe fruit/dessert is a new edition. In Sichuan, I visited last summer, and watermelon was always the last course. I don’t think they served fruits when my parents were growing up in China. (Sichuan has very few desserts and most sweets are snacks eaten between meals in small amounts with tea.) Anyways, the point is that Cantonese people in Guangdong (maybe they do in overseas though) do not eat fried rice with their meal as a main dish like me. However since it tastes so amazing (and I never have banquets!) I always eat it as a main dish, like most of us overseas Chinese. Usually I eat it for lunch.

At home, nobody can get as much wok hay as in a restaurant unless they have a restaurant stove (duh), but anyone can still make a really really delicious fried rice. You need a cast iron pan or a wok to get started! Preferably it should be well seasoned, or the egg and rice stick. A lot. And it becomes terribly hard to make. Stainless steel pan is also okay but harder to become nonstick. Nonstick pan is also okay but toxic to your body. So I prefer cast iron!

You also need ingredients. First is rice. Cook white rice is best, but brown rice is okay too if you prefer it. I use calrose rice, but jasmine, long grain, etc. rices are good too. I always use leftover rice to make fried rice. Second are other ingredients. I love bacon in fried rice! Traditionally, Cantonese sausage or Cantonese bacon can be used (really different from American bacon), but I like American bacon in my homemade fried rice. No meat is also very delicious. This recipe is very easy to make vegetarian. Eggs are very good in fried rice to add protein, but they can also be skipped for a vegan version. For vegetables, I like frozen sweet corn because it is great with fried rice. Frozen peas are also great, and also peas and carrots, or just carrots, or peas and carrots and corn, or any small dices of vegetables you like. It is most tasty but optional to include green onion, ginger, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes. Basically, this recipe can be modified A LOT. Just use what you like the most in your fried rice and skip what you don’t like or don’t have. If you have a question about how you would like to modify the recipe, please comment below and I will answer. 🙂 I think fried rice is the most flexible recipe in the world. Let’s get to the recipe!

Serves 2 (or 1 really really big serving if you can eat and you are very hungry!)

Ingredients:
about 3 cups room temperature (or cold) leftover cooked rice (white rice is traditional, but if you like brown rice, it is good too.)
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp minced ginger
2 tsp minced garlic
3 green onions, finely chopped, separate white part [stems] and green part [leaves]
1 cup dice-size vegetables (frozen corn, green peas, and/or diced carrots in any combination)
2 eggs + pinch of salt and pinch of pepper (white pepper is traditional)
3 slices bacon, sliced into thin strips (skip for vegetarian version)
some oil for frying eggs
1 tsp XO Sauce (optional)
some salt and pepper (not too much because the sauce is salty, optional)

Sauce: make sure you stir well before cooking!
1 scant tbsp soy sauce
1 scant tbsp Shaoxing wine or Chinese white rice wine such as Kiu Kiang
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 scant tbsp oyster sauce (use vegetarian oyster sauce for vegetarian version)
some more salt and pepper to taste (optional)

Directions:
1. Heat a cast iron pan or wok. Add bacon and fry until oil has come out and the bacon is crispy to your taste. Remove bacon and leave oil in pan.
TIP: Get everything ready now, before stir-frying, including the sauce!
2. If there is not 2 tbsp bacon fat in the pan, add oil to add to 2 tbsp. (If you are making vegetarian version, just add 2 tbsp oil to the pan.)
3. When hot, add pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, and white part of green onion.
4. Add vegetables and stir-fry for 1 minute.
5. Put everything to one side and add some oil (depends on how healthy you want to be, I use around 1 tbsp), then the seasoned eggs. Scramble eggs until cooked (don’t mix with the vegetables yet until cooked). Mix everything together.
6. Add rice with a little salt and pepper. I like seasoning the rice this way, but it is optional. Stir-fry for a few minutes until combined well and rice is drier than your liking (once you add sauce, it becomes good).
7. Add sauce, green part of green onion, and fried bacon. Stir-fry until evenly distributed. Avoid stir-frying too long, or else the sauce may stick to the bottom of the pan.
8. Serve the fried rice in bowls (or plates if you prefer)! Enjoy!

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Recipe: Vegetarian Twice-Cooked “Pork”(素回锅肉)

Twice-Cooked Pork(回锅肉 – hui guo rou – say: “hway gwor eroh”, literally “return wok meat”)is the most famous Sichuanese food. Mapo Tofu, Kung Pao Chicken, etc. are also very famous, but Twice-Cooked Pork is the most famous of all of them. If you like real Chinese food, it is a must-try! Pork belly is boiled until cooked, then cooled, and sliced thinly. The slices are stir-fried with seasoning, especially the Fermented Salted Fava Bean Paste with Dried Facing-Heaven Chilies from Pi County (Pi Xian Dou Ban – 郫县豆瓣 – say: “pee syehn doh behn”, literally “Pi County bean segments”), which is essential to Sichuanese cooking. Often, two other fermented seasonings are Sweet Fermented Wheat Flour and Soybean Paste (Tian Mian Jiang – 甜面酱 – say: “tyehn myehn dzyahng”, literally: “sweet flour sauce”) and Dry Fermented Black Soybeans with Ginger (Dou Chi – 豆豉 – say: “doh chuh”, dou = “bean” and chi = “fermented bean”).  Vegetables are also added, usually bell peppers and/or garlic stems / leeks, and sometimes onions and cabbage. The dish is very delicious, especially with rice. However, some people do not like pork belly’s fat and texture. Also, vegetarians, vegans, Muslims, and other religious groups cannot consume pork.

Last year, when I traveled to Sichuan, I was walking back to the hotel from the Mapo Tofu Restaurant in Chengdu (Please go to Chengdu for cute pandas and delicious Mapo Tofu!!) when I passed a bookstore. Books in China are really inexpensive! I bought a vegetarian Sichuan cuisine cookbook for 10 yuan (approx. $1.70). I can’t find most of the ingredients without going to San Gabriel, which is quite far away. However, reading through this book gives me a lot of great ideas for making vegetarian Chinese food! I found the vegetarian Twice-Cooked “Pork” to be especially very interesting, but it is deep-fried. Many of the recipes are deep-fried!  I will translate more delicious Sichuanese recipes later. 🙂

This is a really authentic Sichuanese recipe. Really authentic Sichuanese recipes have tons of oil. Not kidding. At the end, it says “drain the oil”. It is also very salty and spicy. Lower the dou ban and soy sauce amounts for a less spicy and salty dish. Also lower the 50 grams oil if you want less oil. Otherwise, the finished dish contains 150 grams of oil. (around 245 grams is one pound in the USA) I actually haven’t made this recipe since I never deep-fry at home. I put it here because I thought the way it was made was really interesting! If you want to make it, please try! 🙂

Adapted from: 川味素菜 家庭烹饪丛书

Ingredients:

500 grams winter melon (daikon radish is good too)

15 grams (2 tbsp) bean starch (corn starch or potato starch is good replacement for overseas)

10 grams (2 1/2 tsp) white sugar

1 gram MSG (Skip this unless you use. I don’t use it!)

20 grams (1 tbsp + 1 tsp) soy sauce

20 grams Pi Xian Dou Ban

100 grams green bell pepper (you can also use onion or garlic stems or seasonal vegetables)

5 grams Sichuan salt (sea salt is good :))

50 grams all-purpose flour

500 grams cooking oil (the winter melon will absorb 100 grams) + 50 grams more

Directions:

1. Cut the winter melon into 5 cm by 2 cm triangles, 0.3 cm thick. Coat with the starch and flour. Finely chop the Pi Xian Dou Ban (I usually don’t do this). Cut the green bell peppers into squares (they said 1-3 pieces, I think Chinese bell peppers are much smaller than American!), remove seeds, and lightly stir-fry with a little oil until 60% cooked. Mix sugar, MSG (skip it), and soy sauce into a sauce. (I personally don’t mix any and just add it to the pot.)

2. Heat a wok and add 500 grams cooking oil, heat it 7 levels (I’m not sure what this means, but it might say it the beginning of the book. Just heat the oil like normal for deep-frying.) Deep-fry the winter melon slices until golden and crispy, then strain.

3. Heat the wok again (no oil) over highest flame and add 50 grams oil. Add Pi Xian Dou Ban and stir fry until evenly distributed. Add fried winter melon and stir-fry to coat evenly. Add green bell peppers and stir-fry a little. Add sauce (soy sauce and sugar) and stir-fry to mix the sauce. Once cooked, transfer everything to a plate, draining the oil.

(From the book. It uses two 4-character phrases in Chinese, which are sort of challenging to translate in English.) Specialty: Salty, savory, fragrant, and spicy; delicious and satisfying.

Enjoy!

Baking Recipe: Nutella Cookies with Chocolate Chips

So unhealthy… oh well! Try these when you feel like you can put up with the calories! Maybe go on a diet afterwards. And make sure you don’t eat too many. It’s really challanging though. Nutella is so delicious and these cookies are too! They have nutella flavor and chocolate chips, so good! You can actually skip chocolate chips and make cookies without them, and it still tastes great!

Adapted from Kirbie’s Cravings 🙂

I made 16 cookies with this amount, but it depends on your cookie size.

1/2 cup + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg (extra-large size. I bet using large size wouldn’t make a difference though.)
1 cup Nutella (296 grams if you don’t want to get a measuring cup dirty, put the bowl of flour on a gram scale and add around 296 grams Nutella) (I know it’s a LOT! That’s why they taste good!)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

1. Mix everything together.
2. Spoon balls on parchment paper lined baking sheet.
3. Bake 10 min. at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Take out and cool.
5. Enjoy!

Warning: These are VERY unhealthy (so much sugar!) so don’t eat too many! This is a very hard task since they are extremely addicting too. Just try 🙂