Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Chinese Culinary Conflict—Shandong Campaign

Advertisements
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Chinese Culinary Conflict—Anhui Campaign

The Anjui region is an inland area located in East China. The region surrounds the Huangshan Mountain, also referred to as Yellow Mountains. The region consists of many different types of terrain—including not only these mounjtains, but also forests and farmland.

Anhui cuisine revolves around wild plants and animals, very similar to Fujian cuisine that we talking about in an earlier post.,,,although there is less emphasis on seafood.

Anhui cuisine is humble and hearty peasant food. ..created by the native rustic cooking styles of the mountain dwellers.

Food is seen as therapy and meant to be healthy, visually stimulating, and simple.

As far as cooking method, it is important that the food is cooked in a way that doea not destroy the nutrients of the food. The cooking methods used in this province are simple, usually one of these four methods—braising, stewing, steaming, salting—with special emphasis on controlling cooking time and temperatures

As far as meat, Anhui cuisine includes more gamey meats than anyjui other regional cuisine.

As far as spices, Anhui cuisine uses many fresh wild herbs,

As far as vegetables, Anhui cuisine uses a lot of woodland vegetables—such as foraged mushrooms, berries, tea leaves, bamboo shoots, and other wild plants that can be found locally.

Examples of Anhui entrees that you might find on a menu are…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Chinese Culinary Conflict—Jiangsu Campaign

Jiangsu cuisine seems like the aristocracy of Chinese regional cuisine. I say this for many reasons.

First of all, Jiangau cuisine places much emphasis on artistic presentation—carefully arranging the food so that it makes visual impact.

Jiangua cuisine also requires being able to use precise and delicate carving techniques, mastering various meticulous cooking methods—such as braising, stewing, and quick-frying.

Not only that, but Jiangau cuisine is often the go-to for elite banquets and state dinners.

Jiangua cuisine combines several taste sensations—saltiness, umami, and sweetness—in almost every single dish. The flavors tend to be rich, light and fresh. The texture tends to be tender. The emphasis seems to be on soup, with soup being a staple on almost all menus. The foods tend to be highly aromatic.

As far as ingredients, the Jiangsu province is widely known as a “fertile land of fish and rice.” Because most of the ingredients come from the many rivers and lakes of the region, as well as the sea, the cuisine often uses a variety of fish.

As far as spices, sugar is often used to round off the flavors.

One dish that you might find on a menu in this region might be Salted Duck.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Chinese Culinary Conflict—Hunan Campaign

When I first decided to take a detour through the different Chinese cooking cuisines, I had no clue that this was going to take up a total of nine posts…what started as one post, soon led into about two or three weeks on my blog.

And all this time I have been thinking back on those times as a kid playing the game of Risk with my brother…fighting over who holds what territory.

 

But Chinese regional cuisine also poses a risk of a sort…the risk of cooking with the wrong methods and ingredients for taking care of a diabetic…as well as the risk of standing at the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet debating between  getting Sichuan chicken or Hunan chicken for about twenty minutes and then settling for the orange chicken of the sweet-and-sour chicken like most of us do anyway…

 

 

Anyway, on to the next province…

 

The Hunan Province is a land-locked agricultural hub in south-central China that produces a broad range of vegetables and herbs.

And Hunan cuisine takes advantage of  the great variety of ingredients that its rolling hills and beautiful valleys that the region provides.

Hunan cuisine is very similar to Sichuan food, but even hotter.

But the fact that the spiciness is derived from chilies makes it even more delicious because you can actually taste the ingredients,  instead of only being able to taste mouth-numbing peppercorns.

 

 

Hunan cuisine is not only known for this spicy flavor, but also for its deep colors, oily texture, and fresh aromas.

Another characteristic of Hunan cuisine is an emphasis on sourness. All shapes, sorts, and sizes of pickles are popular in the Hunan region.

 

 

As far as meat, Hunan cuisine uses lots of peppered and smoked meats, such as cured hams

As far as spices, people in the Hunan region can’t even begin to imagine life with without chilies. In fact, no dish is complete without chilies…kinda like no dish is complete without sour cream to many people, including me..

As far as other ingredients, Hunan cuisine uses heaps of garlic, shallots, and tofu, fermented bean curd.

 

 

Examples of foods that you might find in the Hunan region include…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Chinese Culinary Conflict—Fujian Campaign

 

Because the Fujian province is surrounded by both the mountains and sea, Fujian cuisine can be a true culinary adventure.

This cuisine takes advantage of both worlds by incorporating the best of both worlds..the offerings of the sea—such as mussels, shrimp, and various types of fish—as well as the offerings of the mountains woodland—such as forest-foraged herbs and mushrooms, garlic, bamboo shoots

 

The people of the Fujian province tend to prefer mild and lightly seasoned…with a great passion for what we know as “sweet and sour.”

The chefs of this region take great pride in their expert knife skills and use these skills to enhance the flavor, aroma and texture of their food.

 

Another factor that distinguishes Fujian cuisine from the other Chinese cuisines is the use of fermented products…making the region distinct by its reputation for  marinated dishes, soups, stews and stir-fries.

 

 

As far as meat, Fujian cuisine includes pork, duck, chicken and beef…but especially takes advantage of what the sea offers—such as mussels, shrimp, and various types of fish.

As far as sauces, Fujian cuisine takes advantage of many different sauces—such as fish sauce, shrimp paste, shacha sauce and preserved apricots. In addition to these, orange juice is often used for a little complexity and sweetness.

As far as spices, Fujian cuisine is known for the precise use of scintillating, but not tongue numbing, spices. Fujian cuisine uses sugar, much like Sichuan cuisine uses Sichuan peppers…probably not a bood thing for any of my diabetic readers, right?

 

Examples of Fujian cuisine recipes that you might find on the internet include…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Chinese Culinary Conflict—Sichuan Campaign

Sichuan cuisine is the most unique of the eight main regional cuisines.

Famed for its bold flavors and use of strong spices, this cuisine was strongly influenced by Indian cuisine.

As foreigners, including Buddhist missionaries and Spanish traders, began travelling through this landlocked, mountain-ringed province along China’s famous “Silk Route.” they introduced the locals to the characteristic spicy flavors of Indian cuisine. The people of the area eventually developed their own unique cuisine based on these influences, a cuisine that is so very different and distinct from any other Chinese cooking styles.

Even though this cuisine is famous for being spicy, not all Sichuan dishes are spicy., many Sichuan dishes taste like fish or fried tangerine.

 

 

Let’s take a look at some of the conventional Sichuan ingtredients…

—As far as meat, Sichuan cuisine gives you your typical meats—such as chicken, freshwater fish, and pork…but you will also find more unconventional ingredients—such as shark fins and bear paws. You will also find that air-dried meats are commonly used.

—As far as sauce, Sichuan cuisine tends to use more sesame paste, fish sauce, ginger juice, sweet-sour sauce, garlic puree, red chili oil….(and soy sauce, of course)….

—As far as spices, Sichuan cuisine uses Sichuan pepper…lots and lots of Sichuan pepper…as well as chili peppers and garlic.

—As far as other ingredients, Sichuan cuisine leans more toward pungently flavored vegetables such as garlic and onions. Nuts and seeds are also commonly used in Sichuan cuisine.

 

A few of the most popular Sichuan entrees that you might find on the menu, kook for…

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Chinese Culinary Conflict—Cantonese Campaign

 

Creating a Home, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

The Peking Order of Chinese Regional Cuisine

Every now and then I like to step back and look forward to “What’s Next”…This is one of those posts…

Lately we have been talking about the different cooking methods—specifically sauteeing and stirfrying…

 

 

But before we leave the topic of stirfrying and move on to other cooking methods, I thought that it might be a good time to step back and learn about the “Eight Culinary Traditions” of China.

These are the different cuisines that are found in different provinces of China

These cuisines distinguish the unique flavors of the different regions of the country that vary because of factors such as…

  • agricultural structures
  • availability of resources
  • climate
  • cooking methods
  • cooking techniques
  • eating habits
  • geography, such as the riverlands of the South and mountain ranges of the North
  • history
  • ingredients
  • lifestyle
  • seasoning
  • staple crops grown in each specific region
  • terrain

 

For example, Northern cuisine seems to have more of a preferencfr for salt and noodles. Whereas Southern cuisine seems to have more of a preference for sweetness and rice. Eastern cuisine seems to have more of a preference for spiciness…and Western cuisine has more of a preference for acidity.

 

 

Even though these eight cuisines are considered the most commonly accepted categories of Chinese cuisine, they only represent about a fourth of Chinese cuisine.

 

So let’s take a look at the following regional cuisines, so that whether you’re loading up your plate at the local all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet or cooking healthy meals in your brand new wok at home, you will actually know the difference between Hunan chicken and Sichual porl…(other than the fact that one consists of chicken and one consists of pork, obviously)…

Now for the “bona fide” list…

  1. Anhui
  2. Fujian
  3. Guangdong
  4. Hunan
  5. Jiangsu
  6. Shandong
  7. Sichuan
  8. Zhejiang

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Black is Beautiful

Once you’ve chosen your new wok…or like most of us these days, had it delivered off Amazon, you may be tempted to rush to the nearest Half-Price Books, buy the biggest Chinese cookbook that you can find, and start cooking Chinese as devotely as Julie in the move Julie and Julia…

But wait…

‘Tis the season…

And the season is so very important that you don’t want to miss it.

 

 

So what is the season…and why is it so darn important?!

 

Your brand new wok will most likely have been coated with oil when it was being made in the factory. Manufacturers do this to protect the metal and keep it from rusting or tarnishing in the store before being sold.

Your goal is actually to turn your nice, shiny, and new wok into an even more beautiful*?!) black, nonstick wok with a patina that makes for excellent stir-fry..

So exactly why do you need to season your wok before you start making gourmet meals…and how do you go about it?

 

First the WHY…

Seasoning your new wok will not only removes any metallic taste and the preservative oil manufacturers place on it, but also prevents rust.

Seasoning supposedly also gives you a chance to get acquainted with your wok…

  • how heavy it is
  • how it responds to you
  • how to clean it
  • how to hold it

 

Seasoning your wok properly is so very important because if seasoning is not done properly, your food will probably stick to the pan.

 

 

So now for the HOW

  • Turn the stove burner on as high as it will go.
  • Set your wok on the burner for about a minute,
  • Now take the wok off the heat, Add 2Tbsp  oil,  swirling the pan around to make sure that the bottom and sides are coated.
  • Put the wok back on the heat.
  • Add 1 bunch chopped scallions and 1/2C sliced unpeeled ginger.
  • Reduce the heat to medium,
  • Stir-fry for about twenty minutes.
  • Smear the aromatics up the sides of the wok all the way to the edgem adding more oil if needed
  • Remove the wok from heat,
  • Once the wok has cooled down. rinse the wok with hot water
  • Finally heat the wok over low heat for a couple of minutes.

Even though you have taken all this time to season your wok, time to time you may find from that your wok has become “gummy” and rust spots have started to form. If this is the case, heat the pan as you did before, rub 1-1/2tsp oil and 1Tbsp kosher salt into the wok, and dry completely with a pad made from three layers of paper towels,

 

Cleaning Your Wok

To clean your wok after using, rinse with a soft sponge, dish soap optional…(depends on how much of a germophobe you are…but many chefs recommend avoiding soap). Never use metal utensils or scrubbers to clean your wok because this will weaken the coating.

Dry it off.

Once you have finished drying it off, heat the wok on the stove at a low setting for about a minute in order to evaporate any remaining water.

Now rub in a dab of oil before on the wok before storing. This cost of oil will help to seal any pits in the metal and keeps the surface non-stick.

If something is sticking to the pan that you can’t get off this way, add a dash of salt and scrub it gently with a paper towel..

 

Using Your Wok…After you have been using your wok for a while, you will find that the interior has changed from that shiny silver color that it had when you brought it home from the store to either a brownish, or even a black color.

Don’t worry…you have not ruined your pan.

Black is beautiful.

This is actually what you have been ultimately waiting for.

This permanent black patina makes sure that you have a flavorful meal each time you cook.

 

 

Cooking with Your New Wok

  1. Make sure your wok is very hot before adding your ingredients. There should actually be smoke rising from it.
  2. Now add oil to the pan before adding your ingredients.
  3. Be sure to spread the ingredients evenly and along the sides of the pan
  4. As your ingredients are cooking, only stir them as needed to prevent burning.  while cooking.
  5. Cook your food in batches. Overcrowding them may save you time, but will not be worth it in the long run.

 

Finally for a few more words of wisdom…

  • Hold off on using your wok to steam, boil, or poach.
  • Avoid cooking with any acidic foods—such as tomatoes, vinegar, and lemons—because acidic foods can damage the delicate surface of the wok.
  • And it probably goes without saying to be cautious when using a hot stove, especially when hot oil.
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Bok Choy…The What?!

Another leafy green vegetable that type 2 diabetics should consider adding to their diets is bok choy.

Bok choy has been cultivated in China for more than five thousand years and has played a large part not only in its cuisine, but also in traditional Chinese medicine.

Bok choy is a common ingredient in the foods cooked in the Philippines and Vietnam, even though most other countries rarely even use it as an ingredient, if at all.

Bok choy—sometimes referred to as white cabbage, mustard cabbage, celery cabbage, Chinese white cabbage, Chinese mustard, and white celery mustard—-is in fact a member of the cabbage family. In fact, the name “bok choy” is derived from the Cantonese words “bai cai,” which means “white cabbage.”

However, bok choy doesn’t look like a typical cabbage at all. Bok choy more closely resembles celery.

Nor does bok choy look like any other cruciferous vegetables—such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts—which form “heads” in their more mature plant stages.

Instead bok choy has smooth, dark green leaf blades that form a cluster similar to mustard greens or celery—resembling Romaine lettuce on top and a large celery on the bottom.

Even though we usually only envision the typical variety of bok choy found in local grocery stores, there are over twenty varieties of bok choy available.

A few of these varieties are…

  • Baby bok choy…a miniaturized version of bok choy that can often be found in Asian and Chinese supermarkets
  • Chinensis bok choy…do not form heads and have smooth, dark green leaf blades, much like mustard greens or celery
  • Choy sum…also known as “Chinese flowering cabbage,” has light green leaves and tiny yellow flowers, typically sold as trimmed leaves and stalks of choy sum instead of the whole plant, more expensive variety of bok choy
  • Mibuna Early, Canton, and Ching Chang—bok choy varieties that feature green spoon-shaped leaves and slightly flattened white stalks
  • Purple Hybrid—variety of bok choy with purple leaves
  • Shanghai Green and Green Boy—variety of bok choy that have stalks that are various shades of green

This leafy vegetable has a light, sweet flavor and a crispy, crunchy texture.

Bok choy is slowly becoming more and more popular here in American cuisine.

Bok choy can be used in many different ways—such as salads, soups and stir-fries.

So keep reading to learn what the nutritional benefits of bok choy are and for recipes to help you enjoy adding bok choy to your grocery list.