Plans for Thanksgiving 2015

It’s that time of year again! I already set on my menu this year; I just haven’t typed it out yet. And since I don’t want to go outside because it’s cold, and I have caught up with all my TV, I am going to write out all the recipes today.

This year, it’s going to be a small Friendsgiving because I’ll be hosting in my new apartment and my kitchen isn’t all that big. I don’t even own a gas oven so I have to make do with my tiny (but the largest that I could find) convection oven and my two-top gas stove. I bought a smoke gun and an iSi dispenser, so things should be interesting at home!

I originally had six courses but when I was writing up the recipes, I realized that the duck confit would take a lot of my time and that it didn’t really make much sense to have two soups on the menu.

Scallop Crudo
Shichimi, Shimeji, Haricots Verts Salad & Fennel Foam
1st Course

Quail
Glutinous Rice, Chinese Sausage, Dried Shiitake, Spiced Black Currant Ximénez Reduction
2nd Course

Shredded Duck Leg Confit
Cream of Mushroom and Chestnut, Crackling, Parsley Chips
3rd Course

Smoked Dry-Aged Duck Breast
Chinese Steamed Buns, Cucumber, Scallions, Cilantro, Tian Mian Sauce
4th Course

Warm Pear Tart
Spiced Crème Chantilly
5th Course

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Spicy Diced Chicken

This post was going to be 辣子鸡丁, a very traditional Sichuan dish, but since I don’t have a wok, it didn’t really work. This dish is supposed to be smokier and spicier but the flat pan didn’t allow me to get it right. However, this was still very tasty so I’m calling it spicy diced chicken.

[100% organic]

For the Marinade

  • 2 TBS dark soy sauce
  • 2 TBS Shaoxing/Chinese rice wine
  • 2 tsp Chinese black vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Marinate the chicken for at least 15 minutes at room temperature, no more than 30 minutes.

For the Sauce

  • 2 TBS chili garlic sauce
  • 1 TBS soy sauce
  • 2 TBS water

Mix together the ingredients for the sauce and then set aside.

For the Chicken

  • 1 lb chicken breast, diced into cubes
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-inch ginger, minced
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup corn starch, sifted
  • 2 TBS whole Sichuan peppercorns
  • 10 dried red chili peppers
  • Canola oil, as needed
  • Salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • Freshly ground Sichuan peppercorn, as needed

In a ziplock bag, sift the corn starch in and add a generous amount of salt, ground black pepper, and ground Sichuan peppercorn. Strain the chicken from the marinade. Add the chicken to the ziplock bag and shake vigorously and toss around to make sure that all sides of the diced chicken are coated with cornstarch.

Heat 1 cup of oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. When the oil starts to smoke, work in batches and fry the chicken until golden brown on all sides. Transfer to a cooling rack when fried.

In a pan over medium-low heat, add 2 TBS canola oil. Add the dried chili peppers and the whole Sichuan peppercorns; let them fry until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Then turn heat to medium-high heat, add in the scallions, garlic, and ginger until fragrant. Stir in the sauce and simmer until slightly thickened. Add the fried chicken, toss to combine, and remove from heat. Serve immediately with rice!

Sichuan Water Boiled Fish

水煮鱼

I did a lot of research on this dish because it is my *FAVORITE* from Sichuan. The ending photo results from the online recipes that I could find… were… well… really shitty. They basically sucked… and they didn’t look right at all.

In the restaurant, this dish is served in a type of basin and there are piles and piles of red chillies in them and a thick layer of oil. I was having a dilemma with this; should I make this as authentic as I can by using a thick layer of oil or should I adapt to how I like it? I chose the latter. It’s less wasteful on the ingredients.

I asked around my Chinese/Sichuanese friends and former colleagues, and the Sichuan restaurants in Shenzhen, and I finally think I’ve got a pretty good recipe. The fish used is typically a river fish but I think you can use any white-flesh fish. At Whole Foods yesterday, there was a sale on hake fillets so I used that. Hake is similar to cod and haddock. Flounder works great too.

*I used potato starch because it’s my new favorite ingredient but corn starch will suffice.

[100% organic, wild fish]

For the Marinade

  • 1 TBS ground ginger
  • 2 tsp white pepper powder
  • 1 TBS potato starch/corn starch
  • 2 egg whites

Whisk together the marinading ingredients and then marinate fish slices for 15 minutes.

For the Fish

  • 1 lb flounder fillets, sliced thinly and roughly to 2-inch x 2-inch squares
  • ½ cup Sichuan whole peppercorns
  • 2 TBS ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • ½ cup Sichuan whole dried chili peppers, halved
  • 2 TBS dried chili flakes
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 stalks of celery, julienned
  • 1 bundle fensi (glass/cellophane/Chinese vermicelli/bean thread noodles)
  • 2 TBS Sichuan garlic bean sauce
  • 2 TBS canola oil
  • 2 TBS chili oil
  • Salt
  • Cilantro leaves, garnish

Boil fensi noodles in salted water and strain then place in cold water, to stop from expanding.

In a wok or pan, roast (without oil) the whole dried chilies and whole Sichuan peppercorns over high heat for 30 seconds and set aside in a bowl. Smash some of the peppercorns to release flavor for later.

Back in the wok/pan, on medium-low heat, add the 2 TBS of chili and canola oil. Sauté the garlic until aromatic and then add in the roasted chilies and peppercorns, along with the ground peppercorns and chili flakes. Turn heat to medium-high and add the garlic bean sauce. Pour in enough cold water to the wok/pan in order to poach the fish. Season generously with salt. When mixture comes up to a boil, bring it down to a simmer and carefully place marinated fish into poaching liquid. Keeping the simmers at a low steady pace, cook fish for 6-8 minutes.

In a large serving bowl, arrange the fensi noodles at the bottom, then place celery on top. Pour the fish and mixture over everything, garnish it with cilantro leaves and serve with rice!

Green Beans with Ground Pork & Dried Shrimp

干煸四季豆

I love ordering this dish whenever I go out to eat in Mainland China. Nothing here in the U.S. compares to what real Chinese people cook and eat in China. Over here, you have to go to many places and find somewhere where they might do a good job at this dish but in China, anywhere makes it perfectly.

When I made this before, it never turned out right… that was until I realized that there is a reason why the Chinese name of the dish starts with the character “干” (dry). So I patted dry the beans after washing and in between cooking the meat.

Next time I’m putting more dried shrimp.

[100% organic]

Ingredients

  • ½ lb green/string/French beans
  • ¼ lb ground pork
  • 1 TBS dried shrimp (rinsed in warm water and diced)
  • 1 tsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp light soy sauce
  • 3-5 dried red chilies (seeded)
  • ½ inch ginger (finely chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 TBS canola oil and more for frying

Instructions

Cut the ends of the beans, wash in cold water, drain, pat dry, and set aside.

Heat up a wok with enough oil for frying. When the oil gets smoky hot and you smell that burnt oil smell, place the beans into the oil and quickly fry them. The beans are ready once the skin becomes wrinkly; transfer them out and place on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.

Heat up the 1 TBS oil in a wok, add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add in the dried shrimp, ground pork, and dried chilies and stir-fry until aromatic. Then add the beans and the remaining seasonings.

Mapo Tofu

麻婆豆腐

Next time when I make this, I’m going to add more peppercorns and less chili powder. I couldn’t finish because I ran out of rice!

Mapo Tofu

[100% organic]

Ingredients

  • 2 TBS canola oil
  • 1 TBS chili oil
  • ¼ lb ground pork
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 TBS Sichuan spicy bean paste
  • 1 TBS fermented black bean paste (with garlic flavor optional)
  • 2 TBS cayenne pepper/chili powder
  • 1 TBS soy sauce
  • 1 package of soft tofu
  • 1 TBS Sichuan peppercorns (roasted and then smashed/powdered)
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

Cut the tofu into small cubes; drain the water and set aside. Heat up a wok or pan on high heat and add the canola and chili oils. Stir-fry the garlic, pork, and spicy bean paste until half-cooked.

Then add the cayenne/chili powder, fermented bean paste, and soy sauce. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add in the tofu, peppercorns, green onions, and water. Stir a little but be careful not to break the tofu and simmer for 5 minutes on medium heat.

Serve with rice.