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Aug 1, 2010 01:51 PM

*August 2010 COTM - COMPLETE ASIAN: China

Our cookbook for August is The Complete Asian Cookbook, by Charmaine Solomon.

Please use this thread to discuss recipes from the chapter CHINA

There are a variety of editions and publishers of The Complete Asian Cookbook, although it appears that the recipes for the most part are unchanged between them. Please mention the edition you are using along with the page number when you report on recipes.

The Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. I did jump the gun a bit on this as I was looking for a recipe last week with beef and snow peas and the recipe on p408 (1992 ed.) leapt out, called appropriately Beef with Snow Peas. So quick and easy and such great flavor. I think it must have been the mushrooms that added the great flavor as there wasn't much else apart from soy sauce. I'd run out of dried Chinese mushrooms so used dried shiitakes. This is definitely added to my "quick dinner for family" repertoire.

    1. Shiu Ng Heung Gai (Oven Roasted Spiced Chicken). p. 394, 1992 ed.

      I jumped the gun too. I had stocked the freezer when whole chickens went on sale for 67 cents a pound last month, and so have a bunch of marinades/recipes for roasted and grilled chicken marked in the book. She suggests using drumsticks/thighs/wings, but I used the roasting chicken variation (didn't bother turning). I marinated overnight in garlic, Pearl River Bridge light soy, Chinese rice wine, peanut oil, garlic, salt, grated ginger, and Penzey's Five Spice powder.

      I chose this recipe because we had family staying over with three picky kids under the age of 10, and this had less exotic ingredients than some others, though the youngest wanted to know "what smells like cinnamon" when it was roasting ; ) Well, it was a hit! I just served it with plain steamed rice and amazingly they each had seconds.

      Recipe link:

      6 Replies
      1. re: Rubee

        Rubee that looks marvelous. I think I can smell the cinnamon from here. Those children are getting a great introduction into world cuisine. We made a combination Philipine and Chinese dinner tonight... relating to the Chinese influence on Philipine food. I have to get cracking and get my reports up..

          1. re: Rubee

            Shiu Ng Heung Gai (Oven Roasted Spiced Chicken) Pg. 394

            This was the second of our mixed Asian New Year's Eve meal and we absolutely loved it. Curiously, I too used the whole chicken variation and Pearl River light soy sauce plus all the other ingredients Rubee described. We didn't turn the chicken over either. It took about 90 minutes for the chicken to get that wonderful brown and crisp skin. Because we had one more dish to cook we turned down the heat to 170F from the roasting temp of 375F and let the chicken rest there for about 20 minutes or so. And yes, the aroma in the kitchen was magnificent.

            1. re: Gio

              Must try that on my next chicken. Thanks for reminding me!

              1. re: Gio

                Thanks for the reminder on this Gio, It's on the menu for this week.

            2. Junju Shun Ho Lan Dau Changgwa (Young Corn Cobs and Snow Peas with Cucumber), Pg. 412, 1992 Edition

              My final dish was not authentic but delicious nontheless. I substituted fresh off the cob kernels for the baby corn and green beans for the snow peas. Seasonings remained the same though: peanut oil, sesame oil, crushed garlic and fresh ginger. This was one of the few times that I used sesame oil to cook with and the aroma was wonderful. It was a typical procedure where peanut oil is heated in a wok, sesame oil is added, chopped garlic and grated ginger are stirred once. The corn and peas are added and cooked for 1 minute then peeled and sliced cucumber is added and cooked for 2 minutes. That's it. We didn't add any salt. Very nice. Served with Philipine chicken and rice.

              1. Gai Choy Chow Har Kau (pg. 384)
                Stir Fried Prawns with Mustard Cabbage

                This delicious was delicious. However, if you are going to make it, I wouldn't use the method in the book. I think the technique on cooking the shrimp was off and it will lead to overcooked shrimp.

                So, slight changes - I used a lb of shrimp (v. half) and I didn't know what mustard cabbage was. But, I had a lovely head of mustard greens so I used that instead. Since I thought I had more then called for, I doubled the amounts of the ginger/garlic and sauce ingredients.

                What the recipe wants you to do: The recipe has you stir fry garlic, ginger, the shrimp and greens for about two minutes. Then you add the sauce (water, soy, wine and five spice powder). Cover and simmer for 5 minutes, then add cornstarch and water mixture and boil for another minute. I thought that 8 minutes for the shrimp was too long. I did have large shrimp and they looked to be the same size as the one in the picture. Oddly enough, the shrimps in the picture were shell on while the recipe does have you shell and devein (which I did).

                What I did: I stir fried the garlic and ginger first to bring out the flavor. Then I added the mustard greens and stir fried until wilted. Then, I added the shrimp. I did cover the pan but for a shorter time than 5 minutes - probably in between 3 and 4. Even that, I could have shortened some. I also used potato starch instead of corn starch.

                What I should have done: I should have used Dunlop's method of cooking shrimp from RCC. If memory serves, she marinates the shrimp with wine, egg white and potato starch. Then, you first fry quickly until the outside is light pink, then you remove the shrimp from the pan. At this point, I would have then stir fried the garlic/ginger and greens. Added the sauce and shrimp and cooked for a shorter period of time.

                But, the sauce was lovely. So many different flavors and the mustard greens were just delicious in the sauce.

                1 Reply
                1. re: beetlebug

                  8 minutes seems like a long time for shrimp, but the sauce seems like a keeper!


                2. Choy Yuen Har Kau Chow Mi Fun (Rice Vermicelli with Prawns and Chinese Cabbage), Pg.378, 1992 Edition

                  Where to begin...The ingredients:
                  Rice vermicelli, a few leaves of Chinese cabbage, raw prawns (I used Maine shrimp), peanut oil, garlic, ginger, dry sherry, salt, light soy sauce, chicken stock.

                  The directions:
                  Soak vermicelli in hot water for 10 minutes. Prep cabbage and prawns, mix garlic/ginger/wine/salt/soy/stock. In the recipe the prawns are cooked first in hot oil in a wok, removed, then added at the end. Because Maine shrimp are small I elected to wait till the last to add them so started with stir frying the sliced cabbage. The garlic/ginger et al are added and cooked for a couple of minutes. Next comes the drained vermicelli...toss to coat with the cabbage and seasonings. That's when disaster struck. As soon as the vermicelli hit the wok the whole thing congealed into an impenetrable mass. DH did throw in the shrimp in an attempt to finish the recipe but the resulting dish was laughable. Served it looked like a plate of wallpaper paste with little pink thingies popping out. As for was a non-issue. There was none. Although I thought it was weirdly enticing. I picked out the shrimp and they tasted their own sweet selves, but nothing else was discernible. Unless you were one of the kiddies who liked white school glue. He kept muttering under his breath but I couldn't tell what he was saying. I did hear "disgusting" once or twice. In the end we tossed it all out. We're still laughing about it this morning.

                  The vermicelli I used was Vietnamese Asian Boy (E.B.Q.) brand.

                  15 Replies
                  1. re: Gio

                    So sorry to hear about this. It's so disappointing when a recipe goes so miserably wrong.

                    Hmmm...I haven't personally cooked from this book yet, so, it's a little rude of me to opine on the book when I haven't really tried it, but when I compare Solomon's recipes (just on the surface) to, say, Dunlop's or Nguyen's, they are so much more simple. Dunlop and Nguyen take you step by step in excruciating detail.

                    I wonder if Solomon was groundbreaking in her day, but if she's been surpassed. I don't mean that to denigrate Solomon's work--but, maybe it was a key foundation for people like Dunlop. There are a lot of cuisines in Solomon's book, though. So maybe she's been surpassed for some cuisines by Dunlop, Pham/Nguyen, Oseland, Jafrrey/Sahni, but not others. Odd.


                    1. re: Gio

                      That is so wonderful that you two can laugh about these things! Thats a great marriage. But I'm very sorry (and a little surprised) to hear that this was such a disaster.

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        We really can't tell what went wrong or why. The package of vermicelli has the exact same instructions for preparing it. The Napa cabbage I used came from the farm in the morning so was Very fresh. Nothing really unusual with anything we used, except of course the Maine shrimp...but they didn't hit the pan till the very end.

                        TDQ does make a point about the early Solomon writings. Perhaps in her early days she was the only one writing these recipes for the home cook. And, that Australian person who posted in the main TCAC thread indicated that Ms. Solomon was adored in her adopted country... Who knows? Onward and upward. But for tonight we're making a tried and true roast chicken of our own. LOL

                      2. re: Gio

                        I am just laughing out loud here. Poor DH. Poor Gio. I can only imagine the panic as the noodles transformed themselves into an inedible paste, and the quick thinking, what do i do? Only to be followed by tossing in the shrimp in a desperate attempt to salvage the dish. Gosh.... just hysterical!

                        Though sad at the same time.
                        What did you eat for dinner?

                        1. re: smtucker

                          First we had really delicious gin martini. Boy, was that good. Then we had a few bruschetta, very simple: heirloom tomatoes, arugula, prosciutto, and fresh mozz. Oh, and an extra drizzle of EVOO...and another martini.

                        2. re: Gio

                          "Plate of wallpaper paste with little pink thingies popping out" -- tragically hysterical! I suspect you'll be laughing over this recipe for years to come.

                          I did look this recipe up and noticed that several pages before where she talks about the different types of noodles, she specifically says that mi fun (rice vermicelli) should only be cooked for 2-3 minutes in the boiling water. Mistake in this recipe? 10 minutes and then fried seems like a recipe for wallpaper paste indeed. As regards flavorlessness, my only thought is that adding the shrimp at the end might have taken away a layer of depth from not having the residual flavor mixing with the cabbage and other ingredients. That said, I don't think I''m going to be rushing to do this dish and I hope you and DH enjoy your roast chicken tonight!

                          1. re: mebby

                            Mebby... the package directions for these vermicelli said to soak for 10 minutes in the boiling water... So, I don't know. Looking forward to roast cicken!

                            1. re: Gio

                              Did you soak the noodles in hot water or boiling water? Your first instructions say hot then above you say boiling - those would be very different. Generally rice noodles are soaked in hot water off the heat so if you did boil them that may explain the resulting glue. I checked my pack of rice vermicelli (Erawan brand) and that says soak for 3-4 mins then run under cold water. That would have resulted in a much less soggy noodle (though wouldn't have improved the flavor any). Think this is a recipe I'll avoid - thanks for being the guinea pig Gio!

                              1. re: JaneEYB

                                Hi Jane... didn't boil the the vermicelli. Heated up the water to boiling in the water kettle, Plopped the noodles into a bowl, poured the, by that time, hot water on top of the noodles. Let them sit for 10 minutes. Drained, then added them to the wok. There were no instructions for running cold water on them....IIRC.

                                1. re: Gio

                                  Gio - It's so frustrating, been there. But I've finally found the solution to perfect dried rice noodles. They're all so different so IGNORE recipe directions and even IGNORE directions on the package. 90% of the time I would end up with overcooked pasty noodles. Grrr.

                                  Now I soak in boiling water for wide rice noodles, hot water for vermicelli. And then use your own timing - you want them so they're soft enough to bend but still a bit hard so that you can finish them in the pan. It's better to have them underdone than overdone, since you can just stir-fry them longer if you need to.

                                  Made red-curry chicken rice noodles this weekend and ignored the directions in the book which said to boil for 4-5 minutes. Instead soaked in boiling water for 5 minutes, drained, and stir-fried.

                                  1. re: Rubee

                                    That sounds like very practical advice, Rubee. How did the recipe turn out otherwise?

                                    1. re: mebby

                                      Great! Easy and delicious, will be making it again. It's based on a recipe from "The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles" and perfect for leftover roast chicken. Make a sauce of 1 TB red curry paste (I used Maesri), 2 Tb fish sauce, 1 Tb soy, and 1 Tb sugar. In a wok, heat oil, cook four minced cloves of garlic for a few seconds, add sauce, and then combine with soaked noodles and chicken. Toss with scallions and cilantro, serve with lime wedges.

                                      Tonight I'm making a meal from the Complete Asian book: Ayam Panggang Pedis (spicy grilled chicken - Indonesia), Coconut Rice, and one of the cucumber salads.

                                      1. re: Rubee

                                        Thanks, Rubee. Can't wait to hear about your Indonesian spicy grilled chicken -- I had totally overlooked that one and it sounds great.

                                    2. re: Rubee

                                      Thank you Rubee! That's what I needed to hear, I guess. Having had the disaster from now on I will definitely heed your advice in future.

                            2. re: Gio

                              rice vermicelli are a tough ingredient and they easily get oversoaked. Ive wound up with glue, too at times and I suspect experience makes perfect. but I wonder about the sauce - why in the world would you mix the ginger and garlic into the wet ingredients rather than sauteeing the g&g dry, maybe splashing in the sherry as the greens/shrimp cook and letting it evaporate? the whole process seems like a roadmap for a poorly seasoned, flaccid dish

                              There are bound to be weak cuisines in a pan-asian book like this. I think chinese cooking is one of the trickiest