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January 2011 Cookbook of the Month: STIR-FRYING TO THE SKY'S EDGE

Welcome to our January COTM: STIR-FRYING TO THE SKY'S EDGE

Please use this thread for review and discussion of recipes from STIR-FRYING TO THE SKY'S EDGE. Please give us the name of the recipe along with the page number. Photos are welcomed.

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  1. Stir-Fried Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake (Cremini) Mushrooms (page 209)

    Since I had made the stir-fried shiitakes from Breath of a Wok, I decided to make this dish with creminis, one of her suggested substitutions. You stir-fry minced ginger for a few seconds, add quarterd mushroom caps and stir-fry for about half a minute, then swirl in a mixture of chicken broth (again I used Dunlop’s Everyday Stock), Shao Hsing wine, and soy sauce, cover and cook until almost all the sauce is absorbed. Add more oil (not sure why and probably won’t next time), dump in the sugar snaps, sprinkle with salt, and stir-fry for about a minute, swirl in more broth mixture, and stir-fry one minute more.

    I adore sugar snap peas and will eat them whenever I can find them, but as Young says, they are best in late spring. Mine looked beautiful, but were, as she said they would be, somewhat “tough and fibrous.” Still, the dish was lovely, subtly flavored, quick and easy to make, pretty much an all-around perfect side dish

     
    6 Replies
    1. re: JoanN

      The beans look SO fresh and good! But if they are more tender in spring, is there a substitute vegetable for winter? And maybe this is a bad stir-fry question, but would further cooking make them less "tough and fibrous", or just worsen the situation?

      1. re: blue room

        I saw some pea pods in the market the other day and thought they'd be perfect in this dish. I really don't think it's a question of cooking the beans more. They weren't what I'd consider undercooked. I just think it's that at this time of year they're simply not at their best. I wouldn't hesitate to make this again during the winter, I just think perhaps it will be even better come late April/early May.

      2. re: JoanN

        Stir-Fried Sugar Snap Peas (Broccoli) with Shiitake Mushrooms (page 209)

        Well, unlike Joan, I did have shiitakes. However, what I did not have was peas, so I subbed in some broccoli. (Really, it went like this: What shally we have for a vegetable? Well, I have broccoli in the garden that I need to harvest because it's gigantic. And look, I have some nice fresh shiitakes. What can I make? Okay, sure, that looks close enough.) In any case, it came out great!

        I put the sliced broccoli stems in shortly after the mushrooms (which I sliced rather than quartered, because they were rather large), then I added the broccoli florets and gave it a bit longer than one would peas.

        Also, I didn't have chicken broth, so I added a generous dollop of oyster sauce plus some water. Yeah, I know, but it made for a nice side dish. I really like oyster sauce with mushrooms.

        I made this one first, put it on a plate and stuck it in the oven with the wok cover over it. Then I made Martin Yan's Genghis Khan beef, which was done in a snap. Great dinner!

        1. re: Karen_Schaffer

          I made this last night using shitakes and mange tout rather than sugar snaps. It was a really nice vegetable accomaniment to the chicken with sichuan pepper from BOAW. Mr GG loved the shitakes - I used around twice as many as stated in the recipe.

        2. re: JoanN

          Stir-Fried Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms, Pg 209

          Here it is late April and indeed the sugar snap peas are fabulous... bright green, sweet, crisp, perfect. I hydrated dry shiitakes, 10 of them, and used the soaking water instead of broth, a tad more Shao Hsing wine than called for, and increased the soy sauce to 1 Tablespoon. The peas maintained their fresh qualities and were absolutely delightful. I tossed the peas and mushrooms with soba noodles. There was just enough sauce to cover. Delicious. Side dish was the Garlic Sesame-Cured Broccoli Salad on page 66, from Melissa Clark's In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite.

          1. re: JoanN

            Not exactly late spring around here, but saw beautiful sugar snaps at the farmers market and made this again, this time with shiitakes. Such a great, easy side dish. Served it with another favorite, Steamed Fish Heaped with Scallions and Ginger from "Seductions of Rice."

             
          2. Spicy Dry-Fried Beef (page 70)

            This was the first dish I made from these two books and I was not yet attuned to less aggressive flavors so this dish wasn’t as spicy as I had hoped it would be.

            Stir-fry julienned carrots and celery along with 3 small dried chilies (I used Thai chilies; next time I’ll at least double the number) for a minute and set aside. Stir-fry flank steak cut into matchsticks until wok is almost dry. Add ginger and garlic and stir-fry a few seconds before adding sesame oil, shredded scallions, and salt and pepper.

            This was good but, because of the title, it didn’t meet my initial expectations. The beef was perfectly cooked and delicious, but the whole dish was just too subtle.. It could be that my failed attempt to julienne the carrots in the food processor had something to do with it, but I doubt it. Even though it will probably be just the excuse I use to buy both the Kinpira Peeler and the Negi Cutter. How have I managed to live so long without knowing about those?

            Now that I have more experience with these recipes, I’m eager to try this again to see if it is the dish itself that disappointed or just that it wasn’t what I had expected it to be.

             
            24 Replies
            1. re: JoanN

              You may have been disappointed with the dish, but it looks gorgeous. When I have ordered Chinese take out, and the heat doesn't meet with my expectations, I usually sprinkle on a few drops of Siracha, which seems to meld perfectly with Chinese food. It may not be authentic, but it really works well in getting the heat level up and not interfering with the taste...

              1. re: roxlet

                I'm never far from a bottle of Sriracha myself. Even have them parked at the homes of friends where I hang out and cook. But this wasn't just wanting to up the heat factor. There's no question that going into this I had in mind the steak equivalent of Dunlop's Dry-Fried Chicken, one of my favorite recipes of all time. Well, with expectations like that, no surprise I was somewhat disappointed. That's the reason I really am eager to try this again. Now that I have more experience with GY's recipes, I believe I'll appreciate it for what it is rather than be disappointed because of what it's not.

              2. re: JoanN

                I can't wait to try this dish so I can try my Kinpira Peeler and the Negi Cutter!

                ~TDQ

                1. re: JoanN

                  Yes, gorgeous picture of dinner piled high!
                  I'm happier *without* heat, so this book might be very nice for me.

                  1. re: JoanN

                    Spicy Dry-Fried Beef (page 70)

                    This is one of my favorite recipes! I've made it a couple times. It really isn't spicy, but I've always thought it had a lot of flavor. My favorite thing is the texture - I love the chewy texture the beef gets. The first time I made it I undercooked the vegetables, but since then I've gotten it right. The first time I made it I was so scared by how much liquid the beef gave off, and cooking it so long. It's such a different way to treat beef. But the liquid does evaporate just like she says it will and the beef is amazing. I think it's pretty important to do the beef as thin as possible to get the right texture.

                    You can see in the picture how awful my wok is looking, but that will be the subject of another post....

                     
                    1. re: sarahcooks

                      I only realize now that I'm reading your report and looking at your photo that I left the flank steak in thin slices rather than completing the instructions and cutting those slices into matchsticks. I wonder if that's why I wouldn't have called the texture of the steak "chewy" at all; mine was very definitely tender. Will have to try it as written and see what the difference is. Will also have to do something about those julienned vegetables. Yours look great.

                      1. re: JoanN

                        Personally, the tender beef sounds a lot more appealing to me (no offense to either sarah or the author!).

                        1. re: LulusMom

                          It doesn't *sound* appealing, but it is so good! It reminds me of the crispy beef that is popular at chinese restaurants in England and I see once in a while here. Or this Ethiopian dish I've had a few times that I now realize must be dry fried also (or deep fried maybe). I think it's called tibs, but I could be wrong.

                        2. re: JoanN

                          I noticed those generous flank steak matchsticks too! Figured you'd done it on purpose.
                          It would change the cooking time for the meat-- haha I'm thinking to myself "this looks easy, just pay attention" I'll be humbled!

                        3. re: sarahcooks

                          Sarah, your vegetables look terrific. Do you julienne those by hand or do you use one of the tools?

                          ~TDQ

                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            By hand, I don't have the tools and am a bit afraid of them. I got a japanese mandoline after getting the book and during my first attempt at using it (knowing full well how dangerous they are and being very careful) I managed to slice a hunk of skin off my knuckle. It was very traumatic.

                            1. re: sarahcooks

                              Oh no! That sounds very traumatic. I can relate. I have a nice mandoline (called a V-Slicer, I think) that I'm frankly afraid to use. (My husband bought it as a bachelor because he like to make his own french fries.) It has all of these nesting attachments and I've always been terrified that I'm going to slice a finger off just trying to take it apart or put it back together for storage, let alone use it. About 6 months ago I hung a nail in my kitchen to make it "more accessible" thinking I would use it more but, frankly, I'm still afraid of it.

                              I recently bought one of these http://www.chefn.com/Product.aspx?id=117 at Target and have been pretty happy with it. It's just simpler and more intuitive than the V-slicer. Dishwasher-safe, too. The only thing is I don't think mine has the folding handle.

                              I also bought one of those steel mesh gloves to use with it.

                              That's weird that the wok chuan is damaging to your wok. My wok came with the wooden paddle and, so far, I've just used the metal one. But, I don't have a patina to ruin yet, either. I wonder if the metal utensils are harder on the carbon steel woks?

                              ~TDQ

                              1. re: sarahcooks

                                The tools are great. I bought them when I was at a Grace Young booksigning for Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge and they are not dangerous.

                                1. re: dimsumgirl

                                  Mine arrived in the mail Thursday. I agree that they do not appear to be dangerous, each has it's own cover to be used when storing. They are sharp, however, and simple caution is all that's needed, I would say. They'll get their initial use tonight when I shred some scallions and carrots for Banh Mi and quick pickled vegetables I'm making. There's some description and instruction in the book...page 45. I think.

                                  1. re: Gio

                                    I bought a scallion cutter yesterday at Kam Man in Manhattan - I don't read Japanese but the Chinese characters I can read advise extreme caution when using it. The cover for the cutter itself has a big "be careful" sticker on it. The back of the package has very detailed instructions I wish I could read!

                                    1. re: buttertart

                                      I've used each cutter twice so far, and I say just keep your fingers behind and away from the direction in which you are pulling the cutters. I Love them...!

                                      1. re: Gio

                                        It does look very useful - especially for concocting a fast Tiger Salad (cilantro, shredded green onions, green chili peppers, all in 2 -3 in lengths, sesame oil, salt, black vinegar) which is what I wanted it for.

                            2. re: sarahcooks

                              By "...awful...wok..." do you mean the splotched look of the coating, the seasoned surface?
                              I've seasoned a deep carbon steel fry pan only to have it come undone-- but I expect results too soon probably. Weeks, not months or maybe even years.

                              1. re: blue room

                                Yes, the splotchiness. I've been using it for a while and parts of the inside never get any darker, and I only use wooden tools. I briefly tried using a metal wok chuan as recommended, but it was way too hard on my wok.

                              2. re: sarahcooks

                                My turn! I bought beef marked "Bulgogi" from the Korean market which I think is flap steak. It was already sliced thinly so turning it into matchsticks was easy. I think my carrot juliennes were a bit too large, and I increased the number of carrots since I really dislike celery.

                                I used three Sanaam peppers from India and never would have known they were there. I was disappointed at the lack of ooomph. However, I love the method of cooking and want to explore this method more with some other spice combinations.

                                And finally, in the future, I will use less oil. I just didn't need the full amount specified and the flavor was too prominent for my tastes.

                                What peppers are people using? I need a little more pizzazz!

                                1. re: smtucker

                                  I used three dried Thai chiles and I, too, would have like more pizzazz. Made a note to double that number next time although I think that cutting them in half so the seeds are released instead of just snipping off the end might also do the trick.

                              3. re: JoanN

                                I made this dish on Sunday (with venison) and absolutely loved it. I definitely agree that there was much (any?) heat to it, though. I couldn't find any peppers that fit the bill except a bag of Badia red chili peppers; I thought that was the root of my problem. But if you used Thai chilis and didn't get anything, guess it wasn't just me!

                                I loved the way the meat turned out, especially. The browning process gives it such a delicious flavor compared to the other stir-fries I've done.

                                I was a little hesitant about using celery in a stir-fry, but was pleasantly surprised.

                                (I saw several posts that were a year and a half after this was COTM, so I thought it would be okay to join in.... Sorry if this wasn't supposed to be revived! :/ )

                                1. re: Kontxesi

                                  <"(I saw several posts that were a year and a half after this was COTM, so I thought it would be okay to join in.... Sorry if this wasn't supposed to be revived! :/ )">

                                  Hi Kontxesi,,, It's perfectly fine for you or anyone to report on past COTMs. In fact we expect folks to and love it when it happens. For the past several weeks I too have been cooking from a book that was a COTM in March 2008, "Revolutionary Chinese Cooking" by Fuchsia Dunlop. I loved the book then and I'm loving it now. So post away and Happy Cooking!

                                  Here's the list of archived COTMs if you're interested in seeing other cookbooks we've cooked from...

                                  http://www.chow.com/cookbook_of_the_m...

                                2. re: JoanN

                                  Spicy Dry-Fried Beef, p. 70

                                  This is a recipe that, when I browse through the book, I am convinced I have already made. But I guess that is just because I have made other versions from other books. I really do lose track of what I have made, and what I have not.

                                  The recipe has already been described. I'll just say that I used skirt steak instead of flank (although this particular skirt was not as good as what I am accustomed to), and I added more chiles than called for to up the spice. It was a solid version, as is usual for this book.

                                   
                                3. Stir-Fried Garlic Spinach (page 202)

                                  I was reading the introductory material and came across the comment that this recipe was an easy one to start learning how to stir-fry. Purely coincidentally, dinner was going to be grilled fish with stir-fried spinach. No reason not to do it her way.

                                  She uses smashed, not minced garlic, and adds ½ teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon sugar. My smashed garlic began to brown, but that was okay with me. The sugar wasn’t discernable, but I’m sure contributed to the lack of bitterness in the spinach. I thought the dish too salty and next time I’ll cut the salt by half. But I’ve cut way back on the amount of salt I consume and suspect I find even a small amount more assertive than most.

                                   
                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: JoanN

                                    Stir-Fried Garlic Spinach

                                    I found this on the salty side too, but it meant my husband enjoyed it, so I better keep making it that way! I think he also liked the addition of sugar because he thinks spinach is usually bitter, but this wasn't. I've never noticed spinach being bitter, so I guess we have very different taste buds (okay, I knew that already!)

                                     
                                    1. re: JoanN

                                      Stir-Fried Garlic Spinach, Pg. 202

                                      Echoing JoanN's and Saracooks' report I too found this finished dish too salty even though the salt was reduced by half. G, however thought it was perfect.

                                      I don't think spinach is bitter and new spinach tastes sweet to me, especially the stems. The other two dishes were the Stir Fried Tofu with Pickled Ginger, on the next page, and a gingered rice from Donna Hay's Off the Shelf cookbook.

                                      1. re: JoanN

                                        Stir-Fried Garlic Spinach, Pg. 202

                                        Made this spinach to serve with a recipe called Pacific Lime Chicken from Diana Henry's book titled Pure Simple Cooking in which the author calls for simple stir-fried greens and rice. I omitted the salt all together. Apart from being one of the easiest dishes I've ever made the spinach was a perfect compliment to the chicken. Will keep this in mind for other occasions too...

                                        1. re: Gio

                                          Stir-Fried Garlic [Spinach], Pg. 202

                                          Popping in here again to say we made the recipe yet again but this time used Swiss chard. Omitted the salt but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. Delicious. The chard was from our CSA and the white stems were sweet, the leaves that pleasant vegetal flavor that makes chard so tasty. This is such a versatile recipe!

                                          1. re: Gio

                                            Stir-Fried Garlic [Spinach], Pg. 202

                                            Escarole sliced in thin ribbons is Delicious using this recipe!

                                      2. Stir-Fried Garlic Shanghai Bok Choy, Pg. 220

                                        Happy 2011 Everyone...!
                                        We Love bok choy and this Shanghai variety is simply delicous, even raw. Bought in the morning at our local Asian market, it was fresh and perfect for this dish.

                                        Combine chicken broth, rice wine, soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl. Rinse, sepaate leaves and slice bok choy leaves. Heat wok, swirl in peanut oil, add 3 smashed garlic cloves, and stir-fry. Add bok choy, sugar and salt... next time I'll omit the salt. Stir-fry the bok choy about a minute. Add broth mixture and stir-fry another minute or so.

                                        This was so easy! And beautiful. And delicious. It tasted like Chinese comfort food.
                                        The dish was a component of a 4 dish menu for New Year's Eve one of which was steamed basmati rice.
                                        Qing yong.

                                        9 Replies
                                        1. re: Gio

                                          Happy New Year Gio (and everyone!) I'm interested in hearing how the pacing of your meal worked.

                                          ~TDQ

                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            Hiho TDQ.

                                            G put 3 gallons of salted water on first so we could par cook a 6 pound lobster. I had asked for one 2 pounder per the recipe, but in his infinite wisdom he brought home Mr Giant. More is better, right? He cooked the lobster and drained it in a colander in a bowl to be used later.

                                            While rice was cooking, we made the Shanghai bok choy. When that was finished it went in a 175F oven, tented on a plate. The eggplant was next then Singapore-Style Stir-Fried Lobster. The whole procedure went along smoothly and without the usual angst of "OMG what do I do with these 2 smashed garlics? I thought you said...". Of course a hefty pitcher of mighty gin martinis helped. There's not a drop of anything left except rice.

                                            1. re: Gio

                                              Oh, wow. That just sounds lovely! Did you choose your dishes for their symbolism or because they just sounded delicious?

                                              ~TDQ

                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                Honestly, I didn't give the symbolisim a thought, though I originally thought that would be cool. I just chose foods I knew we like to eat, recipes that seemed relatively easy to accompolish and dishes that would hold up well while other recipes were being prepared. I was going to make the lamb with scallions as well, but the three we did make went together very well. Another dish would have been overkill. Another menu I have planned is the lamb, stir-fried cauliflower, and Sichuan dry-fried beans...

                                                1. re: Gio

                                                  Sounds like a fabulous way to ring in the new year to me!

                                                  ~TDQ

                                          2. re: Gio

                                            Wonder if we were at the store at the same time? The produce at the northern market was SO much better than in Allston. The difference was absolutely huge. This is one of the recipes I have chosen for my wok initiation, so I will head back up early in the week to find all the refrigerated ingredients. I did look for lotus root, but didn't find it. For all I know, it simply isn't in season.

                                            1. re: smtucker

                                              Oh gosh wouldn't that have been terrific..if we were there. You'd know me, I need a wheelchair when I go shopping and G is tall with white hair.. But yesterday G went by himself since it's a bit of a pain to hoist the wheelie in and out of the car. He said the produce was 10 times better than the old Super 88. I can't wait to see for myself. He was able to find everything except the Tianjin, but that was probably because he didn't look in the right place.

                                              Happy New Year, SMT.

                                            2. re: Gio

                                              Stir Fried Garlic Shanghai Bok Choy (pg. 220)

                                              This was very tasty and basic. A quick green for the table. I added leftover bamboo shoots which was an excellent addition because there was a nice textural contrast with the crisper stems of the bok choy.

                                              1. re: beetlebug

                                                Yep, enjoyed this too last night as a side dish for the Vinegar-glazed chicken.

                                            3. Stir-fried Garlic Eggplant with Pork, Pg. 228

                                              Stir-fry a mixture of a bit of pork, minced scallions, water, soy sauce and ginger about 30 seconds then remove to a plate. Add a bit more peanut oil and when hot add a tablespoon minced garlic, stir-fry for a few seconds then add almost a pound of Asian eggplants that have been halved lengthwise then sliced in 1/2" pieces. These are stir-fried till the oil is absorbed. After adding rice wine to the wok, the pan is covered and cooked for 30 seconds on medium heat. Uncover the pan, add some sugar and a mixture of soy sauce and water, turn heat to high. Stir-fry 1 min. Add the pork back, cover again and cook till eggplant is tender, about 2 minutes. Uncover again and stir-fry 15 seconds, add 2 smashed garlic cloves Cover and remove from heat. Sprinkle with more minced scallions.

                                              Whew! sounds complicted but it's not. What it is - is a nice tasty dish that brings out the lovely texture of the eggplants and their sweet flavor. Definitely a make-again dish.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Gio

                                                Stir Fried Garlic Eggplant with Pork (pg. 228)

                                                Another pretty good dish. Unfortunately, I can't really tell how much flavor it had because I served it with Dunlop's Shrimp with Garlic Chives from RCC. That dish has so much going on that any dish accompanying it is dull in comparison. So, any assessment I make would be unfair to the dish. I think it had a lot of flavor but it's really hard to say.

                                                In a small bowl combine ground pork with water, scallions, soy and ginger. Stir fry the pork briefly and then remove it from the wok. Stir fry garlic and eggplant for a few minutes until the eggplant softens. Then add rice wine and briefly cover the wok. Mix in sugar and a mix of soy sauce and combined with water into the wok. Re- add the pork and then there are a bunch of directions to cover and stir fry and recover, etc. until done.

                                                1. re: Gio

                                                  Stir-fried garlic eggplant with pork

                                                  Loved this! I had a ton of very small japanese eggplants in my garden I needed to pick before they froze and since my husband was out of town (he hates eggplant) I thought I'd try this. I had 1/4 cup ground pork frozen in little baggies from making dry fried green beans so it was very convenient. It was very flavorful (how could anything with that much soy sauce not be?) My eggplants ended up being kind of between tender and chewy. My parents (eggplant newbies) really enjoyed this. I'd say if you like dry fried green beans, give this a try. I might even try it out on my husband.