Monday, January 14, 2013


Fatty pork with salt cabbage.

One pound pork belly meat.
Quarter to half cup mui choi (梅菜), or slightly more.
Three cloves garlic, slivered.
Several slices of ginger, slivered.
Two TBS soy sauce, plus a little extra.
One TBS rice wine or sherry.
Half TBS sugar.
Small pinch five spice powder.

Coarsely chop the mui choi, then rinse it in a sieve to remove sand. Dump it in a bowl of cold water and let it soak for an hour. Drain, then rinse, drain and rinse again. This removes the salt used to preserve it. Set it aside.

Wash the hunk of pork belly, pat it dry with a paper towel. Use a fork to pierce the skin, then rub it with a little extra soy sauce and the pinch of five spice powder, and set it aside for half an hour.

In skillet or wok sear the chunk of pork belly on the skin side till crispy-brown, then colour it all over in the hot grease that will have rendered. Remove pork from pan.
Drain most of the grease (which can be saved or discarded, as you choose), and parch the mui choi, adding the slivered ginger and garlic half-way through. The purpose is to concentrate flavours slightly, not to fully cook the vegetable matter at this stage.

Put the pork belly in a heavy enameled sauce pan OR a clay pot, distribute the mui choi around it, and add the two tablespoons of soy sauce, the sugar, and the sherry. Put it on heat, and when it reaches boiling temperature, cover it, slip a heat absorber underneath, lower the heat to barely alive, and let it gently cook for three or four hours till the pork is quite tender. Check it occasionally to avoid scorching, and to spoon some of the liquid over the meat. Add water if necessary.

When it is done, remove from heat, and cut the pork belly chunk into finger thick chopstickable slices -- this can be done while leaving it in the pot -- dump some chopped cilantro on top, and serve.

Originally from here:


Sour cabbage and white-cooked pork.

One package of North-East style sour cabbage (東北酸菜).
Scant pound of fatty pork.
One or two enoki clumps, trimmed and sliced.
A small handful of dried tofu sticks.
Two TBS rice wine or sherry.
A few thick slices of ginger, slivered.
One or two garlic cloves, slivered.
Two chopped scallion.
Half TBS chili paste.
A pinch of five spice powder.
Drops of sesame oil.
Drops of tabasco.

Rinse and drain the sour cabbage, chop it coarsely. Scrub the lump of pork, brown it on the skin side to form a nice dark crust, then dump it in a pot of boiling lightly salted water along with some of the scallion and ginger, and simmer it for two hours. Take it out and let it cool.

Soak the tofu sticks till soft, drain, and cut into long chunks.

Heat a little oil in wok or skillet, gild the ginger and garlic to aromatize. Add the scallion, soon followed by the chili paste, then the rice wine or sherry to sizzle. Dump this into a roomy clay pot or enameled stew-pan, with the five spice powder. Add the tofu sticks, cut enoki, and the cabbage, with water to cover and a splash of the pork simmering liquid.
Cook for about ten minutes.

Slice the now cooled and fully cooked pork into thickish slices, add to the pot, with more liquid; the soupiness of the dish will be part of the pleasure. Cook another five or ten minutes.

Dash in a little sesame oil and tabasco, cilantro on top, and serve.

Originally from here:

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Originally published here:

Hot and sour soup

Two cups chicken stock.
Two cups water.
¼ - ½ cup meat - chopped chicken or pork.
¼ - ½ cup bamboo shoots; rinsed and drained, shredded.
¼ - ½ cup tofu, small chunk cut.
¼ - ½ cup cucumber; peeled, seeded, chopped.
3 - 4 black mushrooms; soaked, drained, stemmed, sliced thin.
2 TBS wood ear (木耳 'muk yi'), soaked and drained.
Quarter cup sherry.
1 TBS soy sauce.
1 TBS vinegar.
1 TBS equal mixture cornstarch and water.
1 Tsp. hot toban sauce (辣豆瓣酱 'laat touban jeung').
¼ - 1 Tsp. ground white pepper.
Pinches five spice powder, sugar.
Two or three drops Tabasco.
A little slivered ginger.
One egg, beaten.
Finely chopped scallion.
Sesame oil.

Bring liquids to a boil. Add meat, mushrooms, shoots, tofu, and wood ears. Reboil. Add everything else except the beaten egg, cornstarch water and scallion. Bring back to a boil, and while stirring soup, mix in the cornstarch water and drizzle in the beaten egg.
Add a few drops sesame oil, apportion into bowls, and strew the chopped scallion over.

Some ingredient quantities are very flexible, depending on how filling you want this to be, and how hot. The heat should be primarily dependent on the white pepper, not on the toban sauce (which can be left out) or the Tabasco (which can also be left out).
The amount of vinegar can be increased. The addition of chopped cucumber is NOT traditional.


Originally published here:

Dressed bitter melon.

2 TBS dry shrimp (海米 'hoi may').
2 TBS sherry.
2 TBS soy sauce.
2 TBS lime juice or vinegar.
2 TBS sugar.
2 TBS oil.
A little finely minced garlic, ginger, and green chili.

Two or three bitter melons (苦瓜 'fu gwa').

Mix everything except the bitter melon and the oil, and let stand for 2 or 3 hours. Heat the oil in a pan and sizzle the steeped shrimp and their liquid. After a few seconds, decant. It is now a dressing that can be used for blanched vegetables.

Cut the bitter melons in half, remove the pith and seeds. Slice across into thick slivers. Blanch in some boiling salted water, drain, and toss with the dressing. Let stand half an hour, retoss before serving.


Originally published here:

Stirfried flowering mustard.

One bunch choisum (菜心), root end trimmed, rinsed.
Half a cup finely chopped meat.
Two TBS sherry.
Two TBS stock.
Two Tsp equal parts cornstarch and water mixed.
A small amount of minced garlic and ginger.
Pinch salt.
Pinch sugar.

Heat wok with a little oil. Stirfry the vegetable for one minute with the pinch salt. Add a splash of liquid to steam-flash the vegetable, stir two minutes more, and remove from heat. Arrange on a plate as if it were asparagus.

Stirfry the meat with the salt, garlic, and ginger till fragrant and no longer raw, about a minute or so. Sizzle with the sherry, add the stock and starch water, cook till it becomes glossy, and pour over the choisum, leaving ends bare.


Originally published here:

Double mushroom casserole.

12 black mushrooms.
12 fresh champignons.
One small can bamboo shoot shreds, rinsed.
One cup stock.
3 TBS oil.
2 TBS. soy sauce.
1 TBS. equal parts cornstarch and water mixed.
2 Tsp. sugar
Sesame oil for drizzling.

Soak the black mushrooms for an hour in a little water with a pinch of sugar.
Meanwhile simmer the cleaned champignons in the stock on low heat.
Drain the black mushrooms (trim the stems) and the champignons, reserving liquids.
Heat the oil in a pan, add both sets of mushrooms and the bamboo shoots. Stirfry briefly, add the liquids and sugar. Cook on high till toasty hot, about three minutes. And the cornstarch water to thicken and velvetize, drizzle a little sesame oil over to finish.


Originally published here:

Braised chicken wings.

A dozen chicken wings.
A dozen black mushrooms.
One cup stock.
Quarter cup soy sauce.
Quarter cup sherry.
Two TBS sugar.
Two scallions, coarse cut.
A little minced ginger.

Trim the tips off the wings, and cut them in two at the joints. Soak the mushrooms for thirty or forty minutes in a little water with a pinch of sugar. Drain, reserve liquid.

Lightly stirfry ginger and scallion, then add the wings, sugar, and half of the soy sauce. Once the wings have darkened, add everything else, and simmer for half an hour.


Originally published here:

Clams in saté (peanut) sauce.

One pound of clams, scrubbed and rinsed.
One scallion, coarse cut.
One garlic glove, chopped.
Quarter cup stock.
Two TBS sherry.
Two TBS. oil.
One TBS. smooth peanut butter.
Dash of Tabasco.
1 Tsp. Sugar.
1 Tsp. cornstarch.

Mix the stock, sherry, peanut butter, Tabasco, sugar, and cornstarch till smooth.
Put clams, scallion, oil, and a jigger of water into a saucepan. Cook on moderate heat with the lid on till the clams open, agitating occasionally. When the shell are open, add everything else. While stirring, bring to a boil. Simmer shortly, remove unopened shells, and serve.


Originally published here:

Twice-cooked pork.

Half a pound of pork.
One green bell pepper, chunked.
One Jalapeño, seeded and rinsed in hot water.
2 or 3 cloves garlic.
2 or 3 slices of ginger.
2 or 3 scallions, coarse cut.
Quarter cup stock.
2 TBS. sherry.
1 TBS. toban sauce (豆瓣酱 'touban jeung').

Simmer the pork whole with ginger and scallion, in lightly salted water to cover for half an hour.
Drain, slice thin.

Crisp the pork and bell pepper in a hot pan with some oil. Add the garlic and Jalapeño, toss briefly, and sizzle with the sherry. Add the stock and toban sauce, and turn over high heat to coat the meat. Remove to a serving plate.


Originally published here:

Stir-fried meat (pork) shreds.

One pound lean meat, matchstick cut across grain.
One bell pepper, cut similarly.
Two TBS. wood ear (木耳 'muk yi').
A little chopped garlic and ginger.
Tabasco and sesame oil.

Half TBS. soy sauce.
Half TBS. sherry.
1 Tsp. cornstarch
1 Tsp. oil.
Generous pinch of sugar.

Half TBS. soy sauce.
Half TBS. sherry.
1 Tsp. sugar.

Soak the wood ear for 30 or 40 minutes and drain.
Marinate meat while the wood ear is soaking, then stirfry briefly in a hot pan to change the colour and remove from to plate.
Gild the wood ear, bell pepper, garlic, and ginger. Before the garlic turns evil, sizzle in the sauce ingredients. Add the meat, toss to mix and mingle, add a dash of Tabasco and a drizzle of sesame oil, and plate


This recipe was first posted here:


One plump rabbit, cut into eight or twelve pieces.
Eight or twelve Chinese black mushrooms.
Plenty ginger and a little garlic.
Two cups stock.
Half cup sherry or rice wine.
Two TBS soy sauce.
One TBS sugar.
Pinch of five spice powder.
Dash of vinegar.
Dash of hot sauce.
Flour, black pepper, sesame oil, scallions or cilantro.

Soak the black mushrooms, remove the stems. Reserve the soaking water.
Roll the rabbit pieces in peppered flour, shake off excess, and fry in the skillet till lightly browned. Set aside.
Wipe the skillet, and gild the ginger and garlic. Add the black mushrooms, sauté briefly, add the rabbit pieces, stock, sherry, soy sauce, five spice powder, and the reserved mushroom soaking liquid. Simmer for an hour and half. The liquids should have reduced to a nice semi-glaze at this point. Adjust the taste with the dashes of vinegar and hot sauce, add a teaspoon of sesame oil, and cook a few minutes longer to incorporate the flavours.
Garnish with chopped scallion or cilantro.

Some people recommend Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay with rabbit, however I think a Petite Syrah or a Pinot Noir is better. But it's your choice.

Warm peasant bread is perfect for sopping up the juices.

NOTE: It is best to purchase rabbit from a reliable butcher, or raise it for the table yourself. Wild rabbit needs to be vinegar-brined before it is suitable for the pot, and is usually best roasted.
Little City on Stockton at Vallejo has very nice rabbits.

1400 Stockton Street
San Francisco, CA 94133.


Originally posted here:


Four firm pears.
Four cups water.
Two cups sugar.
Two TBS lemon juice.

Heat water, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan till the sugar dissolves.
Meanwhile peel the pears and quarter them – do not remove the cores yet.
Immerse the pear segments in the liquid, and simmer on very low for about fifteen minutes, making sure that the pears are covered by liquid at all times.
You may add an additional squeeze of lemon juice to prevent discolouration.

Turn off the heat, let the pan and its contents cool.
Remove pears from liquid, and with a coffee spoon remove the cores. It’s much easier now that they are cooked.

Bring the liquid back to a boil, and thicken it slightly. Place the pears in a deep dish and cover them with the syrup. When cool enough, you can flatten a sheet of plastic wrap over them and place them in the refrigerator.
Keeps for several days.

You will note that this recipe is exceedingly simple. It can be modified, and you may want to ‘personalize’ it by doing so.
What I do is add a splash of strong coffee in the cooking liquid, which gives it depth and character. I also use more sugar than I have specified above, because I like syrup. For a very bright flavour you can add a thick curl of orange zest, as well as two or three green cardamom pods. If you throw in a handful of raisins when reboiling the syrup they will plump up nicely.

To serve, heat up two segments per person or more in some of the syrup.
Slide into a dessert bowl and top with a big luscious scoop of vanilla ice cream.


First posted here:


Variant that includes dried oysters, which are optional, and may be unavailable in parts of the world far removed from civilization.

Both the dried oysters and the mushrooms are entirely optional; it is usually made without these.

One pound of chicken, chunked large for chopstick grabbing.
Half a dozen big dried mushrooms (冬菇 dong gu).
Half a dozen dried oysters (蠔豉 ho si).
One clove garlic, smashed and minced.
One and a half TBS sherry.
One TBS soy sauce (豉油 si yau).
One TBS ginger juice.
1½ Tsp. cornstarch.

Shredded ginger, dark sesame oil (芝麻油 ji ma yau), minced scallion, sugar.

Soak the dried mushrooms and dried oysters for about forty five minutes in warmish water with a pinch of sugar. Rinse and drain. Add a drizzle of plain cooking oil and turn to coat. This maintains their integrity during the steaming that will follow.

Marinate chicken chunks with the soy sauce and sherry, plus the ginger juice, a generous pinch of sugar, and the cornstarch. Same length of time as the soaking of the dried ingredients. You might want to rub the cornstarch into the surface of the chicken chunks.

Combine the chicken, oysters, mushrooms and garlic in a broad shallow bowl, with a little of the marinade and a dash of the dry-ingredient soaking liquid. Place in the steamer, and steam for between twelve and fifteen minutes over fiercely boiling water. Remove carefully (hot!).
Drizzle a little sesame oil over for fragrance, strew the scallion and shredded ginger on top.

Serve with rice and a vegetable, and a saucer of chili paste on the side.


First posted here:

[Salt-fish steamed pork patty, also called 咸魚蒸肉餅 haahm yu jing yiuk beng. Jing (蒸) means 'steamed'.]

One pound fatty ground pork.
One TBS cornstarch.
Half TBS soy sauce.
Half TBS sherry.
Half TBS oil (optional - how fatty is your pork?).
A little garlic and ginger, minced fine.
Pinch of sugar.

Salt fish, between 2 and 3 oz, rinsed and soaked, patted dry and cut into a few pieces.

Mix everything except the salt fish together and let it stand thirty minutes. Then spread it into an oiled shallow bowl or plate, arrange the salt fish on top. Steam until done. If you have spread it thinly and you have a big steamer, it will only take ten minutes or so. If, on the other hand, you've made a thick layer it may take half an hour.

Sprinkle shredded fresh ginger and scallion on top ere serving.

Please note that the salt fish is optional - if you are very white you might not like it. But the whiffy salty fishy fermenty sabor autentico it adds is VERY important to the experience.
Besides making it utterly delicious.

You could also substitute some other ingredients in moderation - szechuan pressed vegetable, dried scallop, shrimp paste, whatever.  I usually replace some of the ground pork with Italian sausage. Just squeeze it out of its skin and mix it in.


A recipe for a very traditional "delicacy" which, inexplicably, is severely circumscribed by modern European regulations issuing from Brussels.

Originally posted here:


Two cups stock from cooking meat.
Two cups fresh hog blood.
Eight slices of stale bread.
Half a pound heart.
Half a pound bacon or fatback.

1½ TBS salt.
2 Tsp. ground coriander.
1 Tsp. mace.
1 Tsp. ground pepper.
½ Tsp. ground cloves.
½ Tsp. ground nutmeg.
½ Tsp. ground cinnamon.
½ Tsp. dry ginger.

Large sausage casing.

Bring stock to boil. Add the bread and meats, all finely ground. Add the spices.
After a brief boil, let it cool down and mix in the blood.
Fill the casing, not too firmly, and coil the sausage in a large pan of water with a plate on the bottom. The plate will assist in distributing the heat evenly, as will the heat-absorbing pad which you will also use.
Simmer below boiling till the sausage has stiffened, at which point the blood has congealed - this will take slightly over an hour.
Hang to dry in a cold wind for two days.

Be especially careful not to have the heat under the pan too high, as the sausage might rupture.
You don't want that.
By the same token, do not allow women into the kitchen while simmering, as the sausage might rupture.
You don't want that.

Thick slices of blood sausage may be pan-fried on both sides, and put on bread with a sprinkling of sugar or a dab of hot sauce. Or even some nice sliced apple.


Wrote about wontons over a year ago.
See this post:

Enough for fifty dumplings

One cup chopped shrimp.
One cup ground pork.
Quarter cup chopped water chestnuts (馬蹄 matai).
One TBS minced parsley (洋香芹 yeung heung kan) .
One TBS minced cilantro (芫茜 yuen sai).
One stalk scallion (葱 tsung), minced.
Half TBS sherry or rice wine.
Half TBS oyster sauce (豪油 hoyau).
One Tsp. soy sauce (酱油 cheung yau, 豉油 si yau).
One Tsp. sesame oil (麻油 ma yau).
Half Tsp. cornstarch (玉米淀粉 yiuk mai din fan).
Half Tsp. sugar (白糖 pak tong).

Regarding cup measurements for the shrimp and pork: these are more or less eight ounces or 226 grammes.
Parsley is NOT traditional, but I like the taste, and it's good for the digestion.
Substitutions can be made, for instance the proportion of shrimp increased drastically and the quantity of pork decreased correspondingly.
Instead of water chestnut, chopped rehydrated cloud ear (雲耳 wun yi) could be used, as they too have a wonderful textural effect.

Mix everything, but do not overwork it, as doing so makes the meat tough. The shrimp fragments should be larger than the pork or water chestnut particles, everything else smaller - reason being that you want the 'crunch' of the shrimp, and the lesser ingredients need to be evenly distributed throughout.

Put a dab of filling into each wonton skin, brush the exposed edges with egg wash, and first press two diagonal corners against each other, then bring up the other two corners up to form tails, pressing out the air in the pouch.
The result should look like a purse or hobo's pack.
Place each finished dumpling on a floured plate or tray. It is VERY important that the surface be floured. Otherwise you will rip the wontons when you try to pick them up.

Sufficient for fifty wonton. To freeze, dust with flour, and wrap in a plastic film which has also been dusted. Six or seven dunplings per packet, so that one packet can be removed as needed. You can also arrange them in a sealed container with wax paper between the layers.

NOTE: Rather than making your own wrappers, it is best to buy them premade, so I shall not discuss how to make the skins, other than to say that if you've made kreplach from scratch, you could use the same recipe for the wrapper.
FYI: As a matter of interest, the amount of pork given above is the equivalent of two fresh Italian sausages.


Two pounds chicken on the bone.
One pound pork on the bone.
Half cup pieces dried flounder (左口魚 jorhau yu, 大地魚 daidei yu).
Two TBS dried shrimp.
Four quarts (16 cups, approx 5 litres) water.
Quarter cup sherry or rice wine.
Three or four slices ginger.
Half Tsp. white peppercorns.Roast or fry the dried flounder pieces nicely brown, but do not burn them.
Blanch the chicken and pork briefly in boiling water, drain and rinse well.
Place everything except the dried shrimp in a cauldron and simmer on low for three hours, skimming a few times in the first half hour.
Add the dried shrimp in the last half hour.
Strain very well.

Blanching the meat and bones first prevents overmuch scum, and yields a much cleaner broth.
The dried flounder is the essential Cantonese touch - it will NOT make the broth taste like stinky dried fish, but instead unify the flavours and add a nutty seafood saveur of its own.
Think of it as bouillon base.

Well then. You have your wonton, you've got the broth. What else will you need?


Egg-noodles. These have to be thin and fresh, for the best texture and taste. Fresh egg noodles need about a minute of blanching, whereas dried noodles take between three to five minutes, depending on thickness.
Dried noodles will also have a whiff of lye water.

Vegetables. It is very 'Chinatown' to add a few coarsely ripped baby bokchoi (小白菜 siu paktsoi) to the bowl of soup, though it isn't traditional. For that matter, neither is adding noodles, and most non-Cantonese are appalled at that innovation, so go right ahead.
The sweet crisp freshness of the tiny greens are a marvelous chiddush.

Meats. Some people like to add some thinly sliced charsiu pork (叉燒) on top of the soup. This is not necessary at all, but no great heresy either. If you choose to do so, use the fattier kind.
Chunks of roast duck are also delicious.

Garnishes. Garlic chives are traditional in Hong Kong, but regular chives and chopped scallion works too. Cilantro is optional.

Dipping sauce. I am a barbarian, I like hot and salty. What works for me is equal parts soy sauce, oyster sauce, chilipaste, and dark vinegar, with a little sugar and finely minced ginger mixed in. If it's too stiff, add some Louisiana hot sauce. You do not really need a dip for the wontons, but it is always fun to play with your food.


It's supposed to be merely a snack and require only a small bowl, but after going through all the trouble of getting everything ready you aren't going to cook any other dishes.
So go ahead, use the big bowls.

Keep the broth on the back burner, below boiling temperature.

Heat up a large pot of water. When it boils, dump in the wonton. They're done when they all float. Scoop them out and apportion them in the bowls. Gently pour a sufficient quantity of hot broth over them. Put a porcelain soup spoon in each bowl, anchored by the wonton.

Blanch the noodles in the boiling water till toothsome. Immediately rinse them in cold water to stop them cooking any further. Place a skein on top of the wontons in the bowls, top off with a little more broth.

Add whatever else you feel necessary at this point, but it's fine already.

Garnish with chives, or scallion, and cilantro.


Why so specific an order to the soup assembly? Why not cook the noodles and wontons IN the broth?

There are two very good reasons. The first one is that the wonton and the noodles have different cooking times. The second reason is that you do not want the starches that adhere to either the noodles or the wontons to muddy-up your fine broth.

Additionally, it just looks better if the wontons and the noodles form distinct areas in your bowl. That's why the dark green of scallions are a better garnish than the garlic chives commonly used - they're more dramatic, more visually appealing.
For the same reason, three thin slices of charsiu fanned out on top are also pleasing.

Friday, January 4, 2013


Recipe originally posted here:


2 Lbs. pork, cut into large cubes.
2 Large onions.
Minced garlic and ginger as you think fit.
1 TBS. ground cumin.
1 TBS. cayenne.
1 Tsp. ground coriander.
1 Tsp. ground black pepper.
1 Tsp. sugar.
1 Tsp. salt.
½ Tsp. cinnamon powder.
½ Tsp. turmeric.
Generous pinch of sugar.
One cup vinegar.
Hefty squeeze of lime or lemon juice.
Fresh cilantro.
Ghee, or any reasonable alternative.
A few whole red chilies, either fresh or dried.
Six green cardamom pods.
Three or four whole cloves.

Mix the vinegar and ground spices with the garlic, ginger, salt, and sugar. Massage this into the pork, and set it in the refrigerator for several hours.
Then chop the onions fine, and fry them in plenty of ghee or oil till golden, mooshing with a spatula as you go.
Cast the marinating pork into a sieve with a vessel underneath to catch the juices.
When most of the liquid has drained, add the meat to the pan and sear it well, turning with the spatula to ensure that the spices are also cooked. Then add the retained juices, and water to sparingly cover (approximately one cup), as well as the whole chilies, cardamom, and cloves, and simmer for about an hour on low, by which time the pork should be tender and the oil slightly separating.

Add the squeeze of lime juice and plenty chopped cilantro just before serving, and put the boiled rice and the condiments on the table at the same time.

If you wish, you can go kinda berserk with the garlic, and I wouldn't worry too much about the quantity of grease. It usually takes me one to two sticks of butter and a dash of olive oil to get this right. Besides, I add sambal ulek (red chili paste from a jar, either Indonesian or Dutch) to the pan when adding the meat, because it gives it a deeper, browner flavour.

A tablespoon or two of good sharp mustard added to the marinade is highly recommended, but in no way authentic.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


This was originally posted here:


Half a pound fine or medium noodles.
Half a cup sugar.
Quarter cup oil.
One teaspoon ground pepper.
Quarter teaspoon salt.
Three eggs, slightly beaten.

Preheat your oven at 350 degrees.
Cook the noodles till tender in a large pot of salted water. Drain and cool.
Heat the oil and carefully add the half of the sugar. When the sugar turns colour (caramelizes), remove from heat and stir to keep it from burning, then promptly add the noodles, remaining sugar, salt, and pepper, and mix together. When it is cold enough, mix in the eggs. Gloop it all into a greased pyrex dish, and place it in the oven for an hour or so, till gilded and crisped on top.

The amount of pepper can be increased. Raisins can be added but are not orthodox.
Note that perfect caramel is a beautiful ruddy hue, whereas anything noticeably darker verges on burnt.
 Let it sit for while before serving.


This was originally posted here:


Half a pound fine or medium noodles.
Half a cup sugar.
Two cups (1 pint) sour cream.
Two cups (16 fl.oz) applesauce.
Quarter cup raisins.
Pinches cinnamon, dry ginger, ground cardamom, salt.
4 eggs, slightly beaten.

Cook the noodles till tender in a large pot of salted water. Drain and cool.
Mix all ingredients together. Gloop it all into a greased pyrex dish. Dot with butter.
place it in the oven for an hour or so.
Three hundred and fifty degrees.


A small meal to share with a carnivore.
Alluded to in this post:

[With sautéed asparagus]

For each lamb chop, crack one teaspoon or more peppercorns coarsely. Add a pinch of salt and a pinch of ground coriander. Rub each chop with olive oil, and dip - dab - sprinkle the cracked pepper over the chops.

Heat up the skillet with a little oil till starting to smoke.
Brown the chops boldly on one side, on high.
Flip over, and after a a few seconds turn the heat down slightly, cook a little longer than the first side.
Remove to a platter and let them rest a bit.

There will be little bits of darkened pepper and other crud left in the pan, which you should probably just pour it out and wipe, rather than deglazing.

While the chops are resting, blanch a trimmed bunch of asparagus in boiling salt water with a splash vinegar to preserve colour for two minutes, then rinse under cold in a sieve or colander after they've cooked for two minutes, to stop the cooking. Sauté on high with some slivered ginger, flame with a generous splash of sherry. When the bubbling subsides, add a little freshly chopped parsley or cilantro to the pan, swirl, and decant to a plate.

A lemon-caper sauce (lemon juice, capers, butter), or a mustard glaze with broth added after sizzling the mustard - these go well with both the meat and the vegetable. Minced fresh herbs or paprika may be added to either.

Serve with a simple cucumber salad (sprinkle salt, dash of fresh ground pepper, squeeze of lemon juice, drizzle olive oil, and a pinch of sugar), and either boiled rice or warm crusty French bread.


Probably the easiest Cantonese home-cooked preparation, but it does require other dishes alongside to ameliorate the sheer delicious greasiness.
Note that the cut called five flower brisket (五花腩 ng-faa naam) is the lovely streaky-in-alternating-layers cut that the Cantonese aunties are eyeing hungrily at the butcher shop just off of Stockton Street.
The Chinese Hospital is nearby.
Maybe not a coincidence.


One pound five flower pork, cut into large chunks.
One TBS. shrimp paste (鹹蝦醬 haahm ha jeung).
One TBS. tomato ketchup (optional).
One large thumblength ginger, coarsely slivered.
Pinches salt, sugar, five spice powder.

Rub the shrimp paste and ketchup over the meat. Place in a roomy shallow bowl, sprinkly the pinches over, and strew the ginger on top.
Steam for slightly over an hour and a half.

A dash of rice wine or cooking sherry may be added before placing this in the steamer.
In any case, the juices rendered by the cooking process are perhaps the most delightful thing about this dish.


Pig belly bacon with Chinese sauerkraut.
Originally posted here:

Also called kau yoke, kou yiuk, or various other phonetic renderings of the Chinese characters. Very popular in Hawaii and on the West Coast.


1¼ to 1¾ Lbs. ng-fa naam (五花腩 five flower pork brisket).
Three scallion, two inch lengths.
Three slices of ginger.
Three cloves garlic, smashed.
A large handful of mui choi (梅菜 plum vegetable).
One whole star-anise (baat gok 八角).
A pinch of five spice powder ((五香粉 ng-heung fun).

4-5 TBS. soy sauce.
2 TBS. sherry.
1 TBS. sugar.

Note that mui choi comes in semi-dry vacuum sealed packs as well as canned in brine. So the quantity necessary is best estimated at one quarter to one third of the meat after soaking and rinsing. Or more, depending on your own preference.
The brine version is easier for guesswork, but not necessarily recommended.
Either can be used.

Soak the mui choi for an hour or so in plenty of water, then rinse very thoroughly, drain, and squeeze out excess liquid. This removes sand, grit, and salt.
Chop it small.

Scrub the skin side of the meat with salt to clean it, then simmer it whole for ten minutes in water with the ginger and scallion to pre-cook and 'melt' some of the fat. Remove, drain, dry. Reserve a little of the liquid for the sauce.
Use an ice-pick or a sharp fork to prick holes in the skin, rub a little soy sauce over that side only, and let it sit for a while.

Heat oil in a skillet and carefully slide the meat in, skin-side down. Beware of the oil erupting - it is best to have a spatter-guard or a lid handy. Fry the meat till the skin-side is nicely darkened, almost mahogany.
Remove, drain, and let cool.

When the meat is cold enough to handle, slice it inch-thick across, each piece having all layers including the skin.
Arrange it in a broad bowl, skin-side up. Whisk the soy sauce, sherry, and sugar together and pour HALF of this over the meat, along with the star anise and pinch of five spice powder. Put the bowl in the steamer, and steam for an hour.

Now gild the garlic in a modicum of oil, add the chopped mui choi to parch. Pour in the other half of the soy sauce - sherry - sugar mixture, plus any liquid saved from the blanching at the beginning, and bring to a boil.
Pour this over the meat, making sure that most of the mui choi goes around the meat rather than on top.
Steam for another thirty minutes, or somewhat longer.

A little chopped scallion and shredded ginger to finish, and it can be served.


Recipe originally published here:


Trim -- wash -- dry -- roast.
Chop, and eat.

Purchase your fresh goose a few days in advance of dinner.  When you've got him home, trim off the excess flaps of fat at the neck and reserve, and tip the wings, as the extreme ends of these are virtually useless and will char in the oven.
Save all this for broth and extracting the delicious fat.

Remove the neck and pack of giblets from the cavity.
These can be used as you see fit (goose stock).
Place the goose in a deep pan with a rack.

Now heat a cauldron with water, soy sauce, and sugar or honey.
Proportions: for every cup of water, one to two TBS each soy sauce and sugar or honey. In HK cooks would use Maltose, but that is a bit hard to find over here.
Add whole star anise and a jigger of black vinegar if you feel like it.
Bring to a roiling boil.

Ladle this over the bird, making sure to pour it over the skin entire.
Decant the liquid from the deep pan back into the cauldron, and bring it back to boil. Repeat the procedure. This tightens the skin, which will help it become crisp. The soy sauce adds a little flavour, the sugar or honey will let it brown evenly and deeply, when one or two days hence it is being roasted.

[When doing this to fowl, I usually add a few thick slices of ginger. You may also add a handful of fresh-roasted coffee beans - the ghostly remaining hint on the bird will add a haunting and mysterious fragrance, without dominating the taste.]

There is no set number of washings with the hot liquid, but do it at least once.
You will see the skin tightening up, and three times is probably best.

When this has been done, shove the largest size funnel you have into the rear of the bird, then set it upright so that no part of the skin need touch anything, and place it in your refrigerator for a day or two to dry.
If you do not have an extra large kitchen funnel, make do -- an empty whiskey or brandy bottle will also work, as long as the outer surface of the bird is clear.

On the day when you wish to eat the beast, take it out of the refrigerator and heat the oven up to four hundred and twenty five degrees Fahrenheit (220 grades of Celsius, more or less).
Bung the bird in the oven, and roast for about an hour and three quarters.
Which is about twelve minutes per pound.

You will use a rack, of course, and rotate the bird a couple of times. For the first hour of roasting, it might be best to cover with aluminium foil to prevent excessive darkening.
If, at the end of cooking, there are parts which still look pale, it is perfectly all right to "retouch" those areas with the kitchen torch.
Assuming that you have such a thing.

Remove the bird from the oven, and let it stand for about thirty minutes.
To serve, either waste a lot of time carving it, for an American - British - European presentation, or place it on the block and chop it Chinese style, which is much more efficient, and a hell of a lot easier.
Remember, chopstickable pieces!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


A simple egg dish which is very satisfying.
Originally here:


["Steamed Water Egg"]

Three eggs.
Half or three quarters cup water.
Quarter cup chopped green onions or less.
Quarter cup whatever comes to hand: minced charsiu, chopped shrimp, sliced mushrooms, etc.
Pinch ground white pepper.

A few drops sesame oil.
A few drops soy sauce.
Minced cilantro

Briskly stir the eggs with the water, add the green onions and the charsiu, shrimp, etcetera.
Plus the pinch of pepper.
Pour into an oiled pyrex pie plate (or something of similar shape), and place in a steamer over furiously boiling water.
Steam for about ten minutes. Once gelled it is done.
Garnish and serve.

Use more water for a softer custard (up to a full cup).
When the eggs are done, there will be a little water on top of the custard - this will facilitate distributing the sesame oil and soy sauce evenly. Just gently swirl without tipping.

Often pei dan (皮蛋, 松花蛋 black preserved egg) is cut up and added, sometimes something from the salt-fish category is thrown in. 
A little chopped ham or char-siu is also a good idea.


Originally described here:



Purchase a live fish of between one and two pounds, and bring it home.
Smack it over the head with a heavy object, gut it, clean it, scrape it, and rinse.
If it is particularly thick, slash it on both sides.

Bring a large cauldron half-filled with water to a roiling boil.
Slip the fish in, and when it boils again, lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for two minutes.
Turn off the heat and let it sit for between seven and ten minutes (depending on how large your fish is), at which point it will be done just right.
Remove to a platter and strew very finely slivered ginger over.

Heat up a little oil in a fry-pan, and sauté a little coarse-chopped garlic. Add a splash sherry or rice wine, a drizzle soy sauce, followed by a hefty pinch of sugar. Boil briefly together, then pour over the fish.
Add some cilantro and shredded green onion.

As an alternative, you can steam the fish.

After gutting, cleaning, scraping, and rinsing, rub it with a little oil (sesame and plain oil mixed) and place it on a plate. Whether you add sliced ginger, cut scallion, or even slivers of green chilipepper around it, is up to you - these will aromatize the fish, but as you plan to discard the steaming juices anyway, they are not really germane.
Bring a large steamer to a boil, set the plate therein, and steam for about seven to ten minutes, according to the size of the fish.
Undercooking is best, as once you remove it from the steamer the heat remaining in the flesh will continue to affect it.
When you take the fish out, slide it onto a clean plate.

Garnish with shredded ginger and scallion, and pour a little sweet soy sauce (ketjap manis) over.

Fish either steamed or poached, with some stirfried kailan or yuenchoy, a few pieces of boiled potato avec persil, and plain white rice, is a feast.
As with everything, a dab of chilipaste on the side is nice, but not necessary.


Recipe originally published here:


Two pounds goat.
Four onions.
One thumblength ginger.
Four or five garlic cloves.
One TBS. ground coriander.
One TBS. cayenne.
Half Tsp. turmeric.
Half Tsp. mustard seeds (black).
Half Tsp. cumin seeds (jeerakam).
Half Tsp. fennel seeds (perinjeerakam).
Half Tsp. cinnamon powder.
Half Tsp. salt.
Four or five green cardamom pods, three or four whole cloves, a dozen whole peppercorns, and a bay leaf or two.
Two TBS. tamarind juice. Half a dozen Roma tomatoes, or two beefsteak tomatoes.
Four or five fresh green chilies, finely minced.

Cut the meat into chunks, dry-roast the spices as appropriate. Grind two of the onions with the ginger, garlic, and all spices plus the salt, EXCEPT the bay leaves, cardamon pods, and mustard seeds, to a paste. Stir the tamarind water into this, and rub it all over the meat. Let this sit in the refrigerator for an hour or so to absorb flavours and tenderize.
Chop the tomatoes.

In a roomy pan or chetty fry the mustard seeds briefly in ghee or oil, add the remaining onion, cardamom pods, and the minced green chili, and sauté till nicely golden. Add the chopped tomatoes, cook till soft.
Then add the meat and its marinating paste, and cook till the moisture has dissipated and the oil separated. This, by the way, is the key to developing a good flavour, hence the need for a roomy pan or chetty - you do not want to crowd the chunks of meat.

Add water to cover, plus bay leaves, and simmer on low for about an hour. You may substitute coconut milk for some of the water. Stir it occasionally, and when the meat seems tender enough, remove from the heat. You may fish out the cardamom pods and bay leaves it this point.

Garnish liberally with cilantro, and serve with chapatis or steamed rice, as well as fresh chilies and lime wedges on the side.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


An unusual edible outside of the Chinese world, yet very well worth it.

Originally written about here:

Red-Stewed (Braised) Sea Cucumber

One or two softened sea cucumbers sliced into large chunks across.
3 spring onions, chopped large.
3 slices ginger.
Quarter cup Sherry.
1½ cups chicken stock.
6 dried black mushrooms, soaked till soft, stemmed and cut in half.
One TBS oyster sauce.
One TBS soy sauce.
One Tsp. sugar.
1 TBS cornstarch dissolved in one TBS cold water.
Drizzle of black vinegar.
Drizzle of sesame oil.

Put some oil in the wok and sauté the ginger and spring onions. Seethe with the sherry, and add the chicken stock and sea cucumbers. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and a careful drizzle of black vinegar, the turn the heat low and simmer for about ten minutes.
Stir in the corn starch water and add a jigger more sherry. Add the sesame oil for fragrance, and when the liquid turns velvety, decant onto a serving dish.

This recipe can be modified by including meats or vegetables, and the sauce improved by judicious additions. The horizon is endless.
But as the main appeal is the savouriness of the sauce as absorbed by the main ingredient, it is wise not to go crazy.
Keep it simple.

The merest pinch of five spice powder might not be misplaced.
Some freshly ground white pepper can also be added.
Cilantro as a garnish is a nice touch.

Hoi Sam

Sea cucumber (or trepang) is a Holothurid, lacks a formal brain or central nervous system, and is rather primitive. They are nutritious, and considered tonifying for middle-aged and elderly folks, especially good for people with arthritis and high blood pressure. Their main appeal is that besides a pleasant gelatinous texture, they absorb flavourings and sauces nicely.

When harvested, sea cucumber is usually gutted and cleaned, horny parts trimmed, then simmered briefly in salted water before being rolled in ashes and dried till shrunk and hard. It should keep nearly forever in that state.

To prepare dried sea cucumber for the pot needs a bit of pre-prep.

Place dried sea cucumber in a pot of water and soak for twelve hours. Change water, and simmer for two an hour or two with some slices of dried ginger, let it cool. Remove and rinse. Clean the outside with the vegetable brush, and remove any hard parts or placques of calcined tissue near the outer surface. Then place it in freshly simmering water with a pinch of sugar and a few slices of ginger. Let it cool, and place the container in the refrigerator. The next day dump out the water and refill with cold water.
Repeat as needed, which for smaller sea cucumbers may be three days soaking total. Larger sea cucumbers may require up to four or five days of soaking with daily changes of water.
When it has softened and doubled in size, which will usually be the third day, remove and rinse.
Open it up and make sure that no sand or grit remains in the cavity.


Used by Indonesians and Dutch people in a variety of ways.
First posted here:


One cup peanut butter.
Four TBS brown sugar.
Three TBS lemon or lime juice.
Two TBS soy sauce.
Half TBS chilipaste.
Two or three cloves garlic, minced.
Dash fish sauce.
A few drops of Chinese sesame oil.

Whisk all ingredients together with enough water to make it soupy (about two cups), and cook while stirring till it has achieved the consistency you like.
Let it cool a little before use, as it retains heat much better than you think.


One small onion, minced.
Three cups coconut milk.
Two cups water.
One cup peanut butter.
Four TBS olive oil.
Two TBS each: sugar, fish sauce, lime juice.
Half TBS each: shrimp paste, chili paste, soy sauce.
Two Tsp ground coriander.
One Tsp each: paprika, turmeric, dry ginger.
Three to five cloves garlic, minced.
Small piece fresh ginger, minced.
Dash or jigger of Tabasco.

Gently fry the onion brown, then put in the shrimp paste, garlic, ginger, chilipaste, and dry spices. When good and fragrant, add the coconut milk and fish sauce, and cook till the oil comes out. Mix in the peanut butter, and while stirring, pour in the water. Cook for a few minutes more, and adjust pourability with water. Because you are using low heat, the whole process can take the better part of an hour.

Either version keeps for quite a while in the freezer - double or triple the quantities, cook till thick and let it cool down completely, then roll it as a sausage in plastic wrap, so that you can cut off the quantity you wish to use later.

You can use it in Pinda Brafoe (chicken and peanut soup served with tongtong fu bana), over crisped vegetables, on top of cooked string beans or asparagus, alongside grilled meat, as a dip, or even as a component of noodle dishes.


Chinese steamed rice sheet noodles.
This was originally posted shortly after Thanksgiving in 2011.



One cup plain rice flour.
Quarter cup tapioca flour.
Two TBS cornstarch.
Two TBS oil.
Half a teaspoon salt.
Cold water.

Sift dry ingredients together. Slowly stir water into it, add the oil, and keep adding more water while stirring till you have a batter that looks like heavy cream - approximately 1¾ to 2¼ cups water in all.
Let it stand an hour, re-stir. It is now ready for use.

Grease a pie pan, ladle in enough batter to thinly cover the bottom, and place in the steamer. After about a minute to a minute and a half, add the filling along one side. Steam for another four to six minutes, depending on how thick your layers are. Remove the pie pan from the steamer, and prepare a second pan while the first one cools.
As soon as you have added a filling to the second cheung fan, separate the first one from its pan with a flexible spatula, rolling as you go. Proceed in this manner till all the batter is used up. There should be about eight or nine cheung fan stacked on the plate when you're done. Drizzle a little sesame oil over for fragrance, slash into segments to show the filling, and garnish with minced scallion.


The traditional fillings are thin slivers of of beef (remember to rinse a bit, or soak in a little rice wine briefly to remove that charnel-house fragrance that adheres to the meat), or very fresh shrimp, peeled and veined, or even minced fresh cilantro, which will lend a soft fruity-herby-floral tone to the noodly sheets.
Chopped char-siu or rehumidified dry shrimp also can.

But you could experiment. I often use dried mushroom and codfish silk jerky re-humidified and chopped, with an equal amount of lap cheung (臘腸), and a bit of finely minced of ginger.
The filling should be slightly savoury, slightly sweet, nicely fresh tasting, and not too much. Only a tablespoon or two per noodle sheet.

NOTE: The amount of tapioca flour can be reduced, replaced with a quantity of glutinous rice flour, or it may even be increased slightly. It depends on the mouthfeel that you wish to achieve. An all rice flour batter yields a noodle that isn't very interesting and lacks the tacky toothsomeness that you like. The oil which is added to the batter sweats out slightly during steaming, thus making it easier to lift the cheung fan off the cooking surface.

The same batter can be used for Teochew-style char kwee teow ('fried cake noodle': 炒粿條). Just steam the sheets without any fillings, peel them off the surface, and cut them into broad strips. After cooling they may be used for stir-fried rice noodles with clams, shrimp, and oysters, and bean sprouts. Use pork fat to fry it for that authentic Teochew flavour. Add minced scallion (or chives) and a thin omelette cut into strips, plus some sweet soy sauce and chili paste, and serve it hot from the pan.


Chinese style rice stick noodles in turkey broth.
This was originally posted shortly after Thanksgiving in 2011.



Dump the turkey carcass bits and bones into a cauldron with a stalk of celery and an onion to simmer for several hours.
For a nice clear soup, strain it well. There is no orthodox way to do so.
I use the regular strainer, leaving the solids in the pot, then carefully repeat the process with a tea strainer - the same process also works for bacon grease, by the way.

Rice flour noodles, whether the thin rice stick (mai fun 米粉), or the thick kind (ho fun 河粉) which are called 'river noodles', need very little preparation. All that is really required is a rinse, and brief period in boiling water, and draining, after which they can be dumped in a bowl. Then you inundate them with hot broth.

What you then add should be simple, flavourfull, and clean tasting.

On the day after Thanksgiving, naturally you would use chunks and thick ripped shreds of bird, with cilantro (yuen sai 芫茜) and chopped scallion (ching tsong 青葱).
Lots of cilantro - it's good for the stomach.
Some very finely minced ginger also, as well as one or two grinds of white pepper.

Rice noodles comfort the digestion, by the way.
Which you probably need the day after a turkey feast.


What you can do with left-over bird.
This was originally posted shortly after Thanksgiving in 2011.



Rice porridge, or jook (粥), also called congee, requires forethought - merely jumbling broth, rice, meat scraps, and whatever into a pot and praying for a tasty outcome doesn't work - doing so may make excellent cat food, but not stuff that a human should eat.
Prepare the stock separately, strain, and simmer down to concentrate the flavour.

Then measure out the rice: between a twelfth of the volume of the liquid, to as much as one eighth. Less rice in proportion will yield a thinner soup, more will give you a thicker porridge.
Rinse the rice thoroughly, put it in a heavy pot on high with water to cover, and cook till the grains have swollen and look like roiling clouds (and this explains why you needed to concentrate the stock - you're using plain water to precook the rice, some of the liquid will be taken up).
Drain off the excess water, then place a heat diffuser between the bottom of the po and the flame, add the turkey stock, and turn it low.
Stir regularly to keep the porridge from burning.
You must it cook till the grains have partially fallen apart and the jook is smooth, which will take a few hours.

[A totally unorthodox shortcut is to turn off the heat immediately after the rice has swollen and become soft. Let it cool to a temperature for comfortable handling, then whirr it in the blender till reasonably smooth. After which proceed as usual.
It will require far less stirring and simmering, and the chance of burning the bottom of the pot is enormously lessened.]

Add large boneless scraps of turkey, plus a few pieces of chopped carrot, about half an hour before the end.

To serve, bowl it up, and put some chunks of bird with the nicely roasted skin on top, plus a little chopped scallion for colour.
Add a few drops of Chinese sesame oil (ma-yau 麻油) for fragrance, and perhaps a dash of soy sauce.

NOTE: There are many yummy additions to plain jook that you will find in Chinatown - pork slivers and preserved egg (pei dan sau yiuk juk 皮蛋瘦肉粥), pork and dried oysters (ho-si sau yiuk juk 蠔豉瘦肉粥), or fresh sliced raw fish that poaches perfectly in the heat of the porridge (yi-pien juk 魚片粥), blanched chicken curls porridge (雞球粥), slivered pig liver (chu gon juk 猪肝粥), even cooked beef bits.
For a paradoxically luxurious quick lunch, try abalone and chicken jook (bao yu kwat kai juk 鮑魚滑雞粥), jook with roast duck (fo ngaap juk 火鴨粥), or fresh shrimp jook (sang gwan ha kau juk 生滾蝦球粥).

All of these are perfect cold weather or late night soup.

Further note: 生滾 (sang gwan), meaning ' fresh boiled', indicates that the shrimp, fish, or pork is cooked in the heat of the porridge.