Monday, April 29, 2013

Sweet and Sour Pork (Recipe)

Amy Van and Chris Tan have been so kind as to allow Gastronommy to publish some of the recipes from their book, Chinese Heritage Cooking, for you to try out at home. The second recipe to be presented will be the classic Sweet and Sour Pork. (For previous recipes, see Steamed Radish Cake and Chinese Steamed Whole Fish.) 

Sweet and Sour Pork
Serves 4

This southern Chinese classic properly gets its sweetness and tang from fruit. The resulting sauce is light and vibrant, and should never taste syrupy, cloying or heavy. Some cooks may add tomato ketchup to the sauce, a modern addition, but if used, it should not dominate the flavour of the sauce. A childhood favourite with many, this dish is best served with a bowl of freshly steamed white rice.

Pork shoulder meat 350 g (12 oz), cubed
Rice wine 1 Tbsp
Potato starch 11/2 tsp
Oyster sauce 3/4 tsp
Light soy sauce 1/2 tsp
Egg 1, small
Tapioca starch as needed
Cooking oil for frying and deep-frying
Onion 1/2, small, peeled and sliced into wedges
Young ginger 2 thin slices
Green and red capsicums (bell peppers) 1/2 each, small, cored and cut into 3-cm (1-in) pieces
Tomatoes 2, small, each cut into 6 segments
Canned pineapple rings (optional) 2, cut into chunks
Water 100 ml (31/2 fl oz)
Plum sauce 3 Tbsp
Sugar 11/2 Tbsp or to taste
Rice vinegar 1 Tbsp
Light soy sauce 1 Tbsp
Crumbled haw flakes (optional) 1 Tbsp
Salt 1/8 tsp or to taste
Cornflour (cornstarch) 1 tsp
Spring onion (scallion) 1, white part only, cut into slivers

1. Wash pork cubes well, then pat dry with paper towels. Toss well with rice wine, potato starch, oyster sauce and soy sauce. Cover and let marinate refrigerated.

2. Combine all ingredients for sauce and stir until smooth. Set aside.

3. Heat oil for deep-frying until it shimmers and a haze forms above it. Meanwhile, beat egg well and stir into marinated pork cubes. Spread tapioca starch on a plate and roll pork cubes in starch to coat lightly but thoroughly. Let cubes rest for 3–4 minutes, so the starch coat can set.

4. With chopsticks or tongs, drop pork cubes one by one into hot oil. Deep-fry for 2–3 minutes, until pale golden brown and pork is only just cooked through. Fry in batches to avoid crowding oil. Drain on paper towels. When all pork cubes have been fried, heat oil until very hot and fry pork again for 40–50 seconds per batch, until deep golden brown and crispy. Drain well.

5. Heat 2 tsp fresh oil in a clean wok over high heat. When hot, add onion and pineapple and fry until pieces are browned at the edges. Add ginger and capsicums and stir-fry vigorously for about 1 minute, until capsicums are crisp-tender.

6. Add tomatoes and sauce mixture. Stir for 30 seconds more, until sauce boils and thickens. Add pork and toss well. Dish out, garnish with spring onion and serve immediately.

Friday, April 5, 2013

What's Wrong With What We Eat

Mark Bittman is one of my favorite food writers at New York Times.  As a food writer I look up to, he understands all too well how difficult--and unrealistic--it is to give up meat and dairy entirely.  He is probably the first to really make me reconsider how much meat I consume... and how I consume in general.

In this fiery and funny talk, New York Times food writer Mark Bittman weighs in on what's wrong with the way we eat now (too much meat, too few plants; too much fast food, too little home cooking), and why it's putting the entire planet at risk.

Mark Bittman is a bestselling cookbook author, journalist and television personality. His friendly, informal approach to home cooking has shown millions that fancy execution is no substitute for flavor and soul.

Proving he is a man of action and not just all talk (and writing), he has written a book about going vegan.  The book, VB6 will be released April 30, 2013.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Chinese Steamed Whole Fish (Recipe)

Amy Van and Chris Tan have been so kind as to allow Gastronommy to publish some of the recipes from their book, Chinese Heritage Cooking, for you to try out at home. The second recipe to be presented will be Steamed Whole Fish.  (For other recipes, see Steamed Radish Cake and Sweet and Sour Pork.) 


Steamed Whole Fish
Serves 3–4

The success of this dish depends on using supremely fresh fish and having precise timing. Diners should be seated and waiting for the fish as it steams, as once done, the fish will wait for no one. Every element is designed to precisely enhance the taste of the fish in some way—the high heat cooks the flesh quickly, preserving its freshness, the acidity of the spring onion (scallion) and ginger balance the richness of the oils in the fish fat and the final drizzle of sauce over the cooked fish adds umami (savouriness). This recipe can be used for fish such as sea bass, grouper, marble goby (soon hock), snapper, sole, and so on.

Whole fish 1, about 700 g (11/2 lb)
Shaoxing rice wine 1 tsp
Salt 1/8 tsp
Ginger 4–5 thin slices
Spring onion (scallion) 1, cut into 3-cm (1-in) lengths
Rock sugar 25 g (4/5 oz), finely crushed
Water 150 ml (5 fl oz)
Coriander leaves (cilantro) with roots 1 small sprig, well washed

White peppercorns 1/4 tsp
Dried tangerine peel 1 very small piece
Superior light soy sauce 80 ml (21/2 fl oz)
Superior dark soy sauce 1/2 tsp
Spring onions (scallions) 2, cut into fine shreds
Red chilli 1, deseeded and cut into fine shreds
Young ginger 4-cm (11/2-in) knob, peeled and finely shredded
Peanut oil 2 tsp
Sesame oil 1 tsp

1. Make the sauce. Combine rock sugar, water, coriander, peppercorns and tangerine peel in a small pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10–15 minutes. Strain into a bowl and let cool before stirring in light and dark soy sauces. Set aside.

2. Gut and clean fish, then rinse well and pat dry. If it is very thick, make a few slashes on each side or slit it along its belly and splay it out. Rub it all over with rice wine and salt.

3. Lay 2 or 3 chopsticks across a shallow oval dish that is just bigger than the fish. Lay the fish on top of the chopsticks, on one side if the fish is flat-bodied or with its slit stomach splayed out if it is a round-bodied fish.

4. Scatter ginger slices and spring onion over and around the fish. Steam over mediumhigh heat for 9–12 minutes, until fish is just cooked through to the bone. Large or thick fish will take a bit longer to cook.

5. Carefully transfer fish to a serving plate. Discard ginger slices and spring onion. Reserve the juice that has collected in the steaming plate only if it tastes good.

6. Drizzle some of the sauce and cooking juice (if you have kept it) around the fish. Garnish with spring onions, chilli and ginger. Combine peanut and sesame oils in a small pan and heat until very hot. Pour hot oil over spring onions, chilli and ginger to release their aroma. Serve immediately.


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