Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chinese Kitchen: The Essentials

My first actual cooking class at the Hutong was The Essential Chinese Kitchen. We first learned about typical pantry ingredients. Tasting small dabs of different soya sauce on the back of our hand we experienced the difference in taste between light, regular, and dark varieties. We also got a lesson in the Chinese beliefs about the balance of foods based on seasons and colors as well as some of the foods affects on the body. 

We practiced our knife skills, tucking the finger tips under, using your knuckles as a guide. As I chopped memories of cooking in my dad's kitchen flooded in. My experiences with his sharp knives must of paid off because my teacher commented that I seemed very comfortable in the kitchen. I'd love to find one of these great knives for myself.

Next, we learned about using a wok. First, heat the wok on high until it starts smoking. Then add the oil and reduce the heat. The oil is ready when you touch a chopstick point on the bottom of the pan and bubble form on the tip. Since cooking with a wok is fast and at a high temperature, we learned to blanch vegetables in advance to even out cooking time in the wok and use a slight amount of corn starch to protect them from the heat and keep them vibrant and crunchy.  When stir-frying, mix from the bottom.

We made three dishes in total, each of them twice, with slight variations so we could taste the affects of altering the recipe. Chinese cooking is about using what you have and adjusting recipes to taste so it was great to experiment with the chef before trying it at home.

This is our Class's version of Beef with Garlic Roots

These are my attempts at home: 
Beef with Garlic Roots
I've made this a few times now. Mine turned out less watery than the one at my class.
I think I was pickier about the meat I bought.

Stir Fried Celery and Carrot with Cashews
This was a pretty yummy dish, but I haven't made it very much. 
For best results, you are supposed to blanch the vegetables before stir frying. 
This multi-step method is not easy in my tiny kitchen, so I avoid this one. 

"Xihongshi Chao Jidan"
Stir Fried Tomatoes with Eggs
This is a huge hit at our house and has become a regular weekly meal.
I mix the hot peppers in at the end after I've taken out servings for the girls. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yum ... Makes me hungry. Can't wait for you to teach me your new skills.

Love Dad