Monday, January 16, 2012

Chinese Kitchen: Vegetarian

My first day of Chinese New Year vacation I decided to take a day for myself -- my perfect day in Beijing. After enjoying getting Magnolia and Kaleia off to school, I spent an enjoyable hour connecting with my parents on skype. Then I headed to Starbucks for my favorite drink, a Black Tea Latte (the closest I can get to a Chai) and honey raisin muffin. I followed that up with a blissful 2 hour massage at a classy spa near us that gives teachers two hours for the price of one on Mondays -- one perk of my Tsinghua teacher id. 

Fully relaxed, I headed to what I thought was going to be my much anticipated Winter Comfort Foods cooking class at the Hutong. But I had done it again. My class wasn't until tomorrow. I realized this while waiting for the subway when I received a call saying it would be cancelled, again. I was the only one signed up. But I was welcome to come to today's call instead: Vegetarian. Since I was almost there, and I can hardly stomach the smell of the meat section and the sight of full carcasses hanging, I decided to give it a try. I'm so glad I did. It has been my favorite class so far. Click below to see why. 

We cooked three dishes. Two of them, our family has eaten at restaurants and it had been my goal to figure out how to make them. Score! I also learned a bunch of tips and trivia. 
  • Always add ginger before garlic when seasoning your oil. It is more fibrous and doesn't burn as easily.
  • Slide food into the side of the wok. Don't dump it in the middle and jump back. 
  • If the oil is hot enough it will not absorb into the tofu, but will stay in the wok.
  • Wash your hands with oil after cutting a spicy pepper.
  • If you have a long eggplant you can leave the skin on, but round eggplants have tougher skin and should be peeled. 
  • Black bean sauce is an old seasoning. It has been found in tombs over 2,000 years old.
  • Potatos are a "new" food in China. They were introduced from the West in the 16th century. The Chinese view them not as a starch, but rather as a vegetable. So you will see potatoes and rice together.
  • Sadly, the reason why eggplant and our favorite green beans, are so delicious is that they are deep fried. I guess we are not as healthy as we thought. 
Sliding in the tofu

The shape of the vegetable is an important part of each recipe.

Our three dishes:

Tofu with Black Bean Sauce
Di San Xian
Stir Fried Potato, Eggplant and Bell Pepper
Lettuce Stem with Cashews
This one is very clean -- palette cleansing. And the technique is similar for our favorite broccoli dish. 
In case you are curious, I ended my perfect Beijing day with some good Xinjiang Spiced Lamb pizza from Gungho! Pizza, beer and brownies.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

These are great tips and the food looks delicious! I'm glad that you had such a good day.