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Entry #0 Chinese (and related) Recipes of 2023

645 Views 7 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  chrislehrer
Having spent the last two years talking cookbooks, this year I'll talk specific recipes from cookbooks and their modern relatives of websites and videos.

My history with the cuisine

I've always liked chinese food though i didn't eat it often growing up. My mom cooked more Japanese Hawaiian for our soy sauce influenced meals. She taught school in Kauai before Hawaii was a state and had some of those influences on her taste.

In the 1980s, PBS started some programming with Martin Yan that I enjoyed. His approach and demeanor made things look simple. A few years later, PBS ran The Frugal Gourmet with Jeff Smith. In 1989, The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines was published. This book was about the food of Greece, Rome and China--though more modern than ancient I suppose. This was my first cookbook I ever bought. I liked Greek, loved Chinese, and Italian was a bonus. I eventually picked up most every Frugal Gourmet cookbook in hardback (used) and gave my paperbacks to my daughter.

This video is from before the 3 ancient cuisines, but its higher quality than some of the other ones available. Part of what I like about both Yan and Smith is the personal excitement and joy they have in what they were doing.

I'll not be discussing Smith's personal failings. If you don't know, check wikipedia.

About this time there was also an infamous infomercial.

I bought one in-store in 1992 as the deal was pretty good. I do still have this wok but it's not my preferred one--the steel is a bit thin--but the hammering really does help hold the food up the sides more. And the cookbook pamphlet that came with it was actually pretty good, especially for the time.

Between the book and wok I was cooking. And failing of course. My first attempt at Hot and Sour was pretty bad, particularly the egg drop part. I burned a hole through the linoleum backsplash behind the stove while trying to tea-smoke a chicken. My house is from the 1940s, and the kitchen was original to the house at that point, though the stove had been replaced. It's been remodeled wtih more fire resistant materials since then.

Of late, a big influence on my cooking has been Mike Chen's various youtube channels. He does do some cooking now and then, but mostly he's out eating and talking about the dishes. This has shown me new dishes to try, what they should look like and include or omit.

And I'm still learning, which is what these topics will be all about. Each topic will be it's own thread here in the Recipes Forum with a title format of Entry #X and the recipe name

Let me introduce the cooks we'll mostly be looking at, in no particular order.

Grace Young
Eileen Yin Fei Lo
Kenneth (or Ken) Lo
Irene Kuo
Mai Leung
Barbara Tropp
Craig Claiborne/Virginia Lee
Jeff Smith
Bruce Cost
Calvin Lee
Jeff Smith

Woks of Life
Steamy Kitchen
Rasa Malaysia

Cook With Mikey/Strictly Dumpling
Souped Up Recipes
Chinese Cooking Demystified
Spice & Pans

They won't all be in every recipe topic but those are the ones I check most often for recipes and understanding. And I'm sure you'll see other guest appearances.

The current recipes to explore in no particular order:

White Cut Chicken and its offspring
Zha Jang Mian and its international travels
Hot and Sour Soup (preview, BDL's is quite good)
Dong Po Pork
Soy Sauce Chicken
Cha Shu (copout--Lee Kum Kee's jarred sauce reigns supreme)

Not recipe based, but maybe more techniques that intrigue me I might explore:
Cooking with commercial Hot Pot base. I see this in Chef Wang Gang's youtube videos, it's all over for malatong (I might do a topic on hotpot/malatong/drypot as they're all related ideas)
Hot Oil Blooming for dressing. This is basically pouring hot oil over aromatics off heat to bloom their flavors and par cook them along with other seasonings usually. It's not something I've seen much in cookbooks, but the autotranslated chinese cooking channels I watch on Youtube do it quite a bit. Jayden Hair (Steamy Kitchen) does it for her steamed fish.
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Another Chinese blogger worth mentioning: Elaine Luo:

Plus she can be found on YouTube.

And thank you for respecting Jeff Smith. I have all of his books, also, and consult them often. His personal issues And ultimate demise seems to have marred his reputation to the point of perpetual obscurity. It’s a shame.
The wife and I met Martin Yan at some sort of wedding registry seminar thing we were at before getting married. He was doing his shctick about being able to debone a chicken in 10 seconds or something like that. I was the one in the audience that got to time him. It ended up taking him something like 12 or 13 seconds. When I told him his time, he jokingly yelled at me and told me I needed a new watch. He said, "When you put together your register, register for a new watch!" It was hilarious.
Nice ifea for a thread @phatch
I'll be following
Fuchsia Dunlop for Sichuan cuisine. Her revised first cookbook is brilliant.

You would probably find Lin Xiangru's book (really written primarily by her father, Lin Yutang, the great scholar, litterateur, writer, and gourmet) to be fascinating, and it does include a (somewhat ill-explained) recipe for Dongpo Rou; you might find the book under Lin Xiangru, Lin Xiang-Ru, Lin Hsiang-Ju, or something similar; I don't have my collection to hand to look it up for you, but WorldCat lists the book as Lin Hsiang-Ju, Chinese Gastronomy (Chinese title Zhi wei 知味).
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I have Chinese Gastronomy--his paperback spine split this morning. Time to reglue it. I have Fuchsia Dunlop's books Both will be quoted in Zha Jiang Mian.
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For some strange reason I struggle with Fuchsia Dunlop's szechuan cooking.
I love her shark's fin & sichuan pepper memoir though
For some strange reason I struggle with Fuchsia Dunlop's szechuan cooking.
I love her shark's fin & sichuan pepper memoir though
For me, there's something very familiar and evocative about the way Dunlop does Sichuan; I suppose it's partly that I spent a year and a bit bumming around Taiwan among a group whose parents were all Sichuanese immigrants. I'm not claiming anything about authenticity, you understand, it just all feels very "right" to me somehow.

Have not read the memoir, but I'm interested.
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