Saturday, June 5, 2010

Cooking from Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking, Day 1

From Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo

In our first attempt to cook recipes from the book, we were able to get most the ingredients at local supermarkets. Russo's in Watertown, however, is our key local store for getting fresh produce. We started with 5 dishes, that were all fantastic.

Stir Fried Garlic Chives with Scrambled Eggs
These might be one of my new go-to meals. I have never eaten garlic chives before, but snatched them up on a recent trip to Russos.They smelled of sweet garlic, but raw they had a sharp bite. Sauteed on high heat with scrambled eggs, they mellowed into a fresh taste reminiscent of asparagus. I am sold. Next time, I will try them sauteed with tofu or as a vegetarian stuffing for wontons.

The Wonderful Wonton
These were spectacular. We had them 3 ways. First, we boiled some and ate them with the sauce on top. Second, we pan fried them with a bit of oil in a hot wok. The rest we froze for another time. Each was juicy, flavorful and as good as we have had at local restaurants. The best part-these couldn't have been easier. You toss the ingredients in a bowl and then seal them up in wonton wrappers. (Confession-we had to resort to a YouTube video to figure out how to fold them correctly as Yin-Fei Lo's lack of images made our wontons look like mushed envelopes.)

Scallion Oil and Fried Scallions
Usually I skip details like this. But it seemed so simple. And I am so glad we did. It couldn't be easier-simmer sliced scallions in oil. And the result? Two great treats. The scallion oil can be used for sauteing or as a condiment. But the fried scallions are the Chinese version of Fried Onions...but way better!

Stir Fried Shanghai Bok Choy
Blanching the bok choy helped to keep the vegetable green and tender. But a tip for the future-dumping about half a cup of cornstarch in the sauce makes for a gloppy sauce, indeed.

Long Beans with Roasted Sesame Seeds
I have never cooked with these before, but had often noticed them at Russos. Both Momofuku and Yin-Fei Lo noted that they are liked green beans. However, whereas David Chang suggests blanching them first, Yin-Fei Lo has you simply sauteed them up. We tried them both ways-blanched and sauteed with vegetarian oyster sauce. Then, we followed Yin-Fei Lo. The verdict-we preferred the tenderness of the blanched version, but the skip can be skipped. The key to these, though? Being topped with the fried scallions which added a roasted depth.

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