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Seductions of Rice: White Rice, Black Rice, Congee: The Chinese Way

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  1. I made jook last night/this morning (pp. 65-6) with a lot of modifications. We don't eat pork, so used ground turkey thigh, and less garlic, because I'd cut the recipe in half to serve two. Also didn't have any long grain white rice, so used sukoyaki genmai, American grown partially polished shorter grain rice. Finally, peanut allergy in the household, so roasted cashews to garnish, along with the recommended scallions (from teh garden!,) coriander, and pickled mustard greens, salt and pepper. Actually, I don't think they specify which pickled vegetable, but I had mustard greens. I like jook or congee thick, so used a minimum of water. It was tasty, a good basic recipe.

    5 Replies
    1. re: amyzan

      I had congee almost every morning when I was in China, I had almost forgotten. I liked it with bits of pork, scallions, pickles and peanuts, but there was usually a wide array of possible additions. It was like a comforting, savory porridge. Thanks for reporting on this entry, I'll have to give it a try!

      1. re: amyzan

        Mmm. Sounds yummy...wish I could smell it when you were making it. (Just realizing now that sounds vaguely creepy). I love the smell of coriander and scallions together. Also culantro if there's any. My aunt loves those mustard greens...thanks for the inspiration, I will make some this Sunday!

        1. re: amyzan

          Had congee for the first time while on vacation in Australia and immediately fell in love with it. Have been too busy (and away) to make it, but must do so soon.
          When I had it, there were many condiments sitting around that you could use. I used sesame oil, soy sauce, chopped scallions and a bit of cubed tofu. Was this a reasonable way to go? I don't eat pork. Anyway, it was delicious.

          1. re: LulusMom

            The beauty of rice porridge is that you can put anything you want into it. At my parents' house, it's usually heated up leftovers as well as side dishes of pickled cucumbers (from a jar and they are dark brown), bamboo shoots and fermented tofu.

            This always tastes best to me, after traveling. Something about it just settles my stomach. And, turkey bones are great to use especially if you have a few hours to really let the collagen break down into the rice porridge.

            Lastly, a funny story. Before C and I were married, he arrived at my parents' house before me. My mom fed him rice porridge with the assorted condiments. C ate it, liked it, but was thinking, wow, she really added way too much water to the rice. It's really watery. He had never had it before and didn't realize that's what it's supposed to be like.

            1. re: beetlebug

              Great story about your husband!!

              Thanks for the info on being able to eat it with whatever suits. I'll look for the pickled cucumbers to try. The tofu I tried it with seemed like just the regular stuff I cooked with, but I had somewhere gotten the idea that one was supposed to only eat that cooked, so not sure. I found a recipe on epicurious for congee made with a chicken, and think that will likely be the first I try, although yesterday I noticed that Simon Hopkinson has a veg version in his vegetarian book.

        2. I've never had jook/juk/congee, so I just now read about it in the COTM book. It sounds sort of like fried rice, you can add nearly anything, but this is "creamy" rather than dry. And it's for breakfast, not dinner.

          1. Quick and Easy Chinese, greens page 85,
            with Chinese Black Rice, from page 64.

            I got a bag of mixed Asian braising greens in the CSA box this week, so although they were not the type of greens specified in the recipe, it seemed like the proper treatment. My greens included mizuna, tatsoi, chard, red spinach, kale buds, broccoli raab, and arugula. I used purple spring onions where scallions were specified. These were a bit bigger than scallions, so I cut them in shorter pieces (they look almost like scallops in the photo).

            Garlic, scallions, and ginger are stir fried for 30 seconds, then the greens are added and cooked for a scant couple minutes. Then a mixture of chicken stock, oyster sauce, Chinese wine, soy sauce, and sugar is added to the greens for a three minute simmer. Near the end, cornstarch mixed in water is added and the pot is stirred until the mixture thickens.

            I thought this was quite a tasty treatment for the greens. The sauce has a good flavor, but does not overwhelm the fresh green taste. I served this with plain black rice. The Chinese black rice has a nice nutty taste, but is plain enough to make a good foil for sauces. It is not a glutinous rice, and the grains remain separate, and retain a pleasant toothy texture. I followed the recipe unthinkingly, and it makes a LOT of rice, so now I have a big tub of cooked black rice in search of a new treatment.

            6 Replies
            1. re: L.Nightshade

              There's a Lao dessert that mixes the black rice with sticky rice and sweetened coconut milk. Garnish with coconut and sesame seed so there's an idea for what to do with some extra black rice. Some people add a sprinkling of sweetened yellow mung bean but I don't like the mung bean.

              1. re: S_K

                This sounds good to me. Do you think it would work with this Chinese black rice? It is non-glutinous, unlike Thai black rice. But maybe mixed with sticky rice it could work. It's worth a try, I think, thanks for the suggestion!

                1. re: L.Nightshade

                  Yeah I think it would work if there is enough sticky rice, let me know how it goes! :)

                  1. re: L.Nightshade

                    I think you should use black sticky rice. I don't know for certain that non-sticky black rice wouldn't work, but sticky black rice is a core ingredient of that classic dessert. It has to steam for a long time, and in so doing it leaks its dye all over the white sticky rice. I suspect that the non-glutinous black rice wouldn't leak so the end product will be mottled. I don't know what the texture would be like but I would guess that it would end up too mushy.

                2. re: L.Nightshade

                  Quick and Easy Chinese Greens, Pg. 85

                  We made this very simple but tasty stir-fry twice. The first time with bok choy, the second time with mustard greens. Each vegetable has it's own unique flavor and although the sauce is the same each dish seemed different. I followed the recipe just as L. Nightshade wrote so not much for me to mention, the directions are quite clear. This is a very good basic vegetable stir-fry recipe. Not having bought any specialty rices yet I served the greens each time with plain steamed basmati.

                  1. re: Gio

                    I can't wait until my CSA ramps up this week so I can try this! Sounds so simple!


                3. Everyday Sprouts, Pg. 80

                  I love bean sprouts. In fact I even eat the raw so I knew I was going to love this preparation and I did. It's a good extra side dish. Scallions and bean sprouts are stir-fried then soy sauce and rice vinegar are added and stir-fried for another minute. Place this on a plate and drizzle with toasted sesame oil. Simply delicious. This is my new snack.

                  It was served with plain steamed basmati rice and the Quick and Easy Chinese Greens (bok choy) on page 85. The main dish was Pork Cooked with Sugar (Thit Heo Kho Kho) a Vietnamese recipe on page 338 of Charmaine Solomon's The Complete Asian Cookbook.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Gio

                    Sounds great, Gio. Could you give rough quantities please as I don't have the book. Thanks.

                    1. re: greedygirl

                      Here you are, GG:

                      1 or 2 scallions
                      1/2 lb bean sprouts (3 cups)
                      scant 1/2 t salt
                      1/2 t soy sauce
                      1/2 rice vinegar
                      1/2 t roasted seasme oil


                    2. re: Gio

                      Since I cannot edit my post above...

                      The title of the Pork recipe should be Thjt Heo Kuo Kuo. I just hope what I typed in the report isn't an offensive word... (^.^)

                      1. re: Gio

                        Every Day Sprouts p. 80

                        Not too much too add other than I agree with Gio that this was simply delicious. This and the cucumber salad were addicting little nibbles.

                      2. Eggplant with Spicy Sesame Sauce, Variation, Pg. 86

                        Because we like the flavor and texture better we grilled the eggplant which was sliced in half instead of steaming them. This added greatly to the finished dish. I think they could be roasted as well. Still, the eggplant is wonderfully seasoned and yes, spicy...!

                        Either way you choose to cook it, when the eggplant is cool enough to handle cut in half lengthwise. Cut each half into slices on the bias, no longer than 3 inches each slice. Place into a shallow bowl.

                        Using a mini FP mix thoroughly: garlic, ginger, a pinch of salt, 3 T sesame paste, some warm chicken stock (vegetable stock or water), soy sauce, vinegar, chili oil, sesame oil and ground Sichuan pepper.
                        Stir in about 3 T minced scallions. before serving. Pour some of this sauce over the eggplant and gently combine. Serve the remaing sauce on the side.

                        This was fantastic. Kind of a variation of baba ganoush. I served it over steamed jasmine rice. It was delicious hot at dinner and cold the next day. It's great stuffed into a pita.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Gio

                          That sounds great, and I think grilling/roasting is a good idea - for some reason, steamed aubergine sounds quite unpleasant to me... I can't wait for my copy to arrive!

                          1. re: gembellina

                            i like grilled eggplant too, but have recently tried several recipes using steamed asian eggplant, and have been pleasantly surprised by the results.

                          2. re: Gio

                            So glad to find your review of this as well Gio, another dish on the menu tonight and I'm happy to have read this first as we'll be sure to grill our eggplant as well. Thanks!

                            1. re: Gio

                              eggplant with spicy sauce

                              We had this last night & quite liked it too. Not much to add to Gio's excellent report, except to mention that I used a micro-planer to grate my garlic and ginger and ended up with a bit stronger garlic flavor than I would've preferred. If I used this method again I would up the amount of ginger and reduce the garlic.

                              1. re: Gio

                                Eggplant w Spicy Sesame Sauce – p. 86

                                My turn w this dish and I’m happy to report that my eggplant averse mr bc pronounced this dish to be his favourite of the night and had 3…yes 3 helpings!! No leftovers here unfortunately! Prep and execution has been well-covered above so no need to repeat here.

                                Unfortunately I wasn’t able to obtain the Asian sesame paste so I made my own concoction by mixing tahini w some roasted sesame oil to heighten the sesame flavour. . . this seemed to do the trick. Like Gio, we elected to grill our eggplant. The book gives you a choice of basting the eggplant w sesame oil or chilli oil and we chose sesame. This really was delicious! Served at room temperature it made a lovely side dish that was unique in it’s texture, and flavour profile.

                                Happy to recommend this recipe, two chopsticks up from casa breadcrumbs!

                                1. re: Gio

                                  Eggplant w Spicy Sesame Sauce – p. 86

                                  Eggplants are growing like crazy and this was a great way to eat them. I steamed the eggplants and will try grilling/roasting next time. Spicy and loads of flavor we liked this very much.

                                2. Hilary's Sticky Rice Rolls, pg. 108

                                  Sticky Rice Rolls were breakfast back in my student days, and I've loved them ever since. Somehow though, I've never thought to make them at home, and this may be the first time I've ever seen a recipe for them. It won't be the last time I make them though, 'cause they were wonderful.

                                  Sticky rice is soaked overnight in water, then rinsed and steamed. While the rice is steaming, heat a youtiao (Chinese cruller) in a toaster or other oven. Chop some Tianjin pickle (I also gave it a quick rinse, although the direction don't mention this), and/or some pickled turnip (I had both & used a combination), stir fry the pickle in a little oil and add a bit of white pepper.

                                  When the rice is done, let it cool covered for a few minutes, then assemble the rolls, using saran wrap underneath, layer rice, then pickle mixture, then rousong (a type of cooked dried pork floss), then a piece of you tiao, then roll it all into a log. And it works! The recipes is clear and it comes true. I've been suffering from Taiwan nostalgia all morning long!

                                  1. Cucumber (Wosun, i.e. Chinese Lettuce Stem) Sesame Salad pg. 78

                                    I make a version of this all the time in the summer, but with different proportions and no ginger or sugar, so I thought I'd give Alford/Druid's version a try. I made the dressing per the directions using rice vinegar, grated ginger, sesame oil, but holding off on the sugar until I tasted it.

                                    With the ginger in the mix it did need a little added sugar, so I did that and then tasted again, but it was still too vinegary for me, so I added 2 tsp additional sesame oil, and liked the balance much better. I used the dressing on blanched wosun slices, and the ginger in the dressing was a nice change of pace. However, I still prefer my usual ratio of 1:1 vinegar to sesame oil.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: qianning

                                      I made this today as a little snack with cucumbers. I did use qianning's 1 to 1 ratio of vinegar to sesame oil. So simple and addicting. This was on a plate at the table and each time I'd walk by I sneak a bite.

                                      1. re: qianning

                                        Cucumber Sesame Salad, page 78.

                                        Apparently I trust the recommendations of qianning and BigSal over Alfred and Naomi. I read the reviews and made the dressing 1:1 rice vinegar and toasted sesame oil. And it was perfect. I used a thin skinned middle eastern cucumber and left the skin on. This little salad was light, easy, refreshing and pretty.

                                      2. Chinese Cabbage with Black Mushrooms, Pg. 87

                                        This recipe sounded interesting at first reading and was delicious at the outcome...

                                        Dried black mushrooms are rehydrated for 30 minutes. Boneless pork is sliced thinly and marinated with soy sauce and Shaoxing wine for about 15 minutes. I used pancetta because i served this with roast pork. Rinse Napa cabbage well then slice in thin ribbons. Drain mushrooms, save the water, slice mushrooms in thin strips. Heat a wok, swirl in peanut oil then add a goodly amount of chopped garlic and stir-fry for 2 seconds. Toss in the pork, mushrooms, a pinch of salt and stir-fry 1 minute. Add the cabbage. Stir-fry and toss for another minute then add the mushroom soaking water and bring to a "vigorous boil", cover wok and steam the cabbage for about 3 minutes.

                                        Very flavorful this. I like Napa cabbage and this recipe was a rendition with a pleasant earthy taste. Very nice indeed. Jasmine rice was the rice of choice for this dish.

                                        1. Snow Peas with a Hint of Pork, Pg. 101

                                          This recipe in the M & M G kitchen is now titled Snow Peas with a Ton of Lamb. Lately I've been dividing a pound of various meats into quarters and freezing the little bags (each carefully labeled and dated, and each type of meat in individual larger bags) for use in just such a recipe as this one, where only a 1/4 lb. is needed. It's been working quite well except for a few nights ago. However, the final dish was pretty tasty in spite of the over abundance of meat. Lamb, that is.

                                          Here's what's supposed to happen:
                                          A marinade of Shaozing wine and soy sauce is made then thinly sliced pork (lamb) is marinated for 30 min. - 1 hr. The snow peas are supposed to be blanched but I skipped this step because our peas were very fresh and delicate. Heat a wok, swirl in some peanut oil, toss in garlic and scallions and stir-fry. Add the meat and marinade and stir-fry for 2 minutes. The snow peas are added next and after a few seconds salt, sugar and stock are added and fried. Add a cornstarch slurry, thicken sauce and serve...

                                          This was really tasty but a little salty for me. G liked it, though. Because of the lamb the flavor was slightly gamy but we like lamb so that was OK with us. It was a really dumb mistake, though, making the meat overshadow the delicate snow peas. (I hate it when that happens.)

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: Gio

                                            Freezer archealogy...I take it from the above that my house isn't the only one where it is an inexact science....

                                            1. re: Gio

                                              I have this on the menu for tonight Gio and appreciate your tip about the salt, I'll be sure to taste as I go w this one. Will let you know how it goes w pork! ; - )

                                              1. re: Gio

                                                Snow Peas with a Hint of Pork – p. 101

                                                Tender and crispy with a delicious pork-infused sauce this dish was the star of the evening in my view. We loved this dish and I’ll happily add it to my repertoire.

                                                Gio did a splendid job of describing the prep so I’ll skip that other than to say that I opted to use sugar-snap peas and though I did use pork, I messed up somehow and purchased ground pork shoulder instead of a piece (which is supposed to be sliced). If the dish suffered at all for this mix-up, we certainly didn’t notice it because w loved this dish. I do believe that the stock is a key flavour component in this dish and I was fortunate to have some delicious vegetable stock on hand which made for a fabulous sauce.

                                                I’d happily recommend this as the final dish was greater than the sum of its parts and exceeded our expectations.

                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                  Odd, it only picked up one of the photos, here's the finished dish:

                                              2. Egg Fried Rice – p. 105

                                                Having finally mastered my new Zoji rice cooker, I was keen to try out my new perfectly cooked brown rice in this dish. Prep is simple and quick. Eggs are mixed w salt and soy sauce (I skipped the salt). Scallions, ham or lean bacon are finely chopped (I used a smoked ham). Carrots are listed as an optional ingredient and I didn’t use them though I did elect to used the “optional” sliced cucumber as a garnish.

                                                Oil is poured into a hot wok and the scallions are stir-fried for 30 seconds before adding the egg, which is stirred for 30 seconds before adding the ham and rice. As in other dishes, the book has you sear the rice mixture by pressing it against the sides of the pan. I did manage to achieve a sear on the egg however I can’t say we noticed one on the rice but perhaps that’s because I used long grain brown rice vs white.

                                                The rice was good, nothing special but it did serve as a fairly neutral canvas for the other saucy dishes. We enjoy the nutty flavour of brown rice and the ham did lend a smokiness to the dish but I can imagine this would be fairly bland if you were to use white rice . . .but perhaps that’s the point.

                                                I don’t think I’d make this again.

                                                1. Smokey Red Pepper Chicken - p. 96

                                                  Finally, I was able to pull myself away from “reading” this wonderful book to actually start cooking from it!! Oh and cook I did . . . 4 dishes to be exact! More about that later though, let’s talk chicken!!

                                                  Prep is straightforward and the most time-consuming component is the measuring. A marinade is made by mixing Shao Xing wine w salt and cornstarch. The recipe calls for 1 tsp of salt however I used ¼ tsp since the sauce for this dish calls for 3 tbsp of soy and I imagined we’d find this sufficiently salty (and we did). Cubed chicken is marinated for 30 mins or as long as 12 hours. Mine marinated for 10 hrs. Other than measuring pantry staples, remaining prep consists of chopping an onion and mincing ginger and garlic. Since I needed a large quantity of both, I minced mine in the mini-Cuisinart.

                                                  A wok is placed over high heat and dry chilies are scorched by pressing them onto the dry pan. Once sufficiently scorched, chilies are removed from the pan and set aside while oil is added and heated then the chilies are returned to cook further and season the oil. I have to admit I was quite nervous about using the full quantity of chilies here (6) as I thought the dish might be too hot since those chilies tend to impart a fair bit of heat and one of mine popped open in the process, spilling it’s seeds into the mix! Garlic and ginger are then stirred in before adding the onion, which is cooked until translucent. Chicken and marinade are then added to the pan and stir-fried for 2 mins while pressing the chicken against the sides of the pan to sear it before adding soy sauce, wine and sugar. This chicken searing was a new technique for me and while I was able to achieve a sear, I found that as I then tossed/stir-fried the chicken further, the sear would diminish, perhaps being “washed off” by the sauce ingredients. Finally stock and some rice vinegar are added before plating and topping w chopped peanuts or cashews.

                                                  We enjoyed this dish though I wouldn’t say it was remarkable. I needn’t have worried about the heat, in fact we found the dish to be very mild, the heat was quite subtle. Not sure if my chilies may have played a role. I used 6 Tien Tsin peppers that I purchased from Penzeys approx 3 weeks ago. Since I don’t normally have access to these (sadly, no Penzeys in Canada) previously I’ve used chilies I’ve picked up in Chinatown. Perhaps someone can comment on this. We also felt that this dish failed to deliver on the “Smoky” flavour. Presumably it’s the searing that imparts this to the dish but it simply wasn’t prevalent at all in our case. The sauce was flavourful though, onion was the predominant flavour and the sauce was nice w the rice.

                                                  With so many other chicken dishes to try, I don’t see myself making this again. I hope I don’t deter others from trying it though as it is a tasty dish.
                                                  I served this with:

                                                  Eggplant w Spicy Sesame Sauce – review here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7876...

                                                  Snow Peas with a Hint of Pork – review here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7876...

                                                  Egg Fried Rice – review here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7876...

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                    Thanks for such a thorough review of this dish, Breadcrumbs! I have both the chicken and the eggplant on my list for tonight's dinner, so glad to know that at least one will be delicious!
                                                    I absolutely agree with you about the salt. In the Chinese section especially, I find that the additional salt called for in the recipes is completely unnecessary. It's good to know that you've reduced with success.

                                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                                      Thanks so much Allegra and I'm delighted to hear you're making the chicken tonight. I'm keen to hear how you make out w the searing of the chicken and what you think of the "smokiness" and the heat. I have to admit that while I've dabbled in cooking w a wok, I really only truly got into cooking in one during the Grace Young COTM so my wok skills are amateur at best so undoubtedly this played a role in the final outcome. Happy cooking tonight Allegra!

                                                  2. Yunnanese Spicy Ground Pork Sauce (page 102)

                                                    I marked this recipe on my first flip-through of the book because I knew I’d like the ingredients. It sort of sounded like a Chinese spaghetti with meat sauce. I didn’t think I’d be making it this soon because it’s most definitely not a warm-weather recipe. But after cutting down a huge Costco pork loin and realizing I had almost exactly one pound of pork pieces left over, I decided to grind them up and give this a go.

                                                    Stir-fry a cup of finely chopped shallots until softened, add reconstituted chopped black mushrooms and a pound of ground pork and stir-fry a few minutes more. Add the liquid from the mushrooms plus more warm water, soy sauce, a bit of sugar, salt (I omitted), ground cinnamon, one star anise (I used two and would do so again), and one or two dried chiles (I used two), and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve over rice.

                                                    Although I’ve been using almost exclusively brown rice lately, I decided to make white Thai jasmine for this and I was glad I did. The flavors are rather subtle and I think work better with a more aromatic rather than a nuttier rice.

                                                    A terrific recipe—but one I’d put in a rather specialized category. I would love to come home hungry on a rainy, chilly evening, and know that this was waiting for me in the freezer and all I had to do to prepare a warming, delicious, satisfying meal was to cook some rice. It’s like eating a big bowl of Chinese comfort food. Now what could be wrong with that?

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                      Yunnanese Spicy Ground Pork Sauce (page 102)

                                                      I made this dish recently and thought it was ok. I love meaty, ricey comfort food but this just lacked a bit of something. I tried to punch it up a bit by adding some ground sichuan pepper and it was better. But, what made this dish stand out - instead of cilantro on top, I made Dunlop's cilantro salad as a side. What started off as a ho hum dish just popped out with a minor change in topping.

                                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                                        Surprised you found this only ho-hum before your amendments. We're often in agreement on so many recipes. Maybe it was just the right dish at the right time for me. I have some in the freezer. Wonder if I'll feel the same way on the second go-'round.

                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                          I was surprised as well. But, it's my own fault on my expectations. I was expecting something a little drier and had a different flavor profile in my head. I was looking for this ground pork dish that is usually served with a pan fried chicken, hard boiled egg, stir fried vegetables, pickled vegetables and white rice. Usually the ground pork would be on the rice. I usually get this dish in taiwanese restaurants so I had different expectations going into the dish.

                                                          But, Dunlop's cilantro salad was really lovely with this dish.

                                                    2. Steamed Fish Heaped with Scallions and Ginger (page 94)

                                                      I bought a fresh-off-the-boat, 1-1/2 pound black sea bass at the farmers’ market.

                                                      This is a classic Cantonese recipe, one that can be found in many cookbooks and one I’ve made a number of times before. This is the best version I’ve ever had; even better than the Anita Lo version on Epicurious.

                                                      Salt the fish. Make a paste of ginger and a pinch of salt and rub a third of it into slits in the fish. Make a sauce of the remaining ginger paste, adding soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil, pour it over the fish, and let it marinate for 10 to 20 minutes. Just before steaming, spoon marinade from the plate over the fish, put some slivered scallions into the cavity, and cover the fish with the remaining slivered scallions. Steam for about 15 minutes, then pour over the fish heated oil mixed with more sesame oil to glaze the fish.

                                                      Initially, I just made the fish; nothing else. Do those of you who are often cooking for one do the same? But when I lifted the cover after the fish was cooked and smelled that sauce, I knew I needed some rice.

                                                      Photos don’t look like much. But this dish was a wowser. It will be my steamed fish with ginger and scallions go-to from here on.

                                                      12 Replies
                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                        Joan this dish looks and sounds wonderful. Somehow I missed this dish so I really appreciate your pointing it out. Lovely, and your photos look terrific to me. . . very appetizing!

                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                          Oh gosh, thanks, Joan, for this report. We are now able to buy "fresh-off-the-boat" fish on Thursdays at our local farmers market so this recipe is duly noted. And, I can use my scallion shredder which has sat in the draw since Grace Young's month...

                                                          We often make just one component of a multi dish recipe and as you know we're cooking for two. Especially if that component seems like it's going to be filling. However in the case of something like fish which usually is a "light" protein, it seems to need a little bit extra to round out the meal.

                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                            JoanN, This sounds amazing! I can't wait to try it. Thanks for sharing!

                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                              Wondering why you liked this verion better than others you've tried?

                                                              1. re: qianning

                                                                Most of the recipes I've tried before call for either julienned ginger or ginger coins poured over the top of the fish. With this recipe, you make a paste of the ginger and rub some of it into the slits in the fish before making a sauce with the remaining ginger paste. The fish was more infused with the flavor of the ginger this way. I also like the sesame oil/peanut oil glaze poured over the fish after it was cooked. This may be more a visual than a flavor issue, but I thought it added an extra hit of sesame oil flavor, always a good thing in my book.

                                                                ETA: The 20-minute marinade helps add flavor as well. I don't offhand recall seeing that in other recipes.

                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                  Excellent, that totally makes sense. I've been using an Eileen Yin fei Lo recipe for years now, and that one while very nice and also involving a 20 minute marinade (but no paste) really emphasizes scallion flavor, but I think the emphasis on ginger and sesame that you describe above would be a nice change of pace. I will have to try it.

                                                                  Thanks for the information.

                                                              2. re: JoanN

                                                                Joan, this looks spectacular! What kind of fish do you typically use for steaming and what kind of steamer do you use? The steamer baskets are typically round but your fish looks large and whole, so, I am wondering.

                                                                I mostly cook for one and like to have a "normal" meal - veg, protein and startch on the plate. Usually end up with many leftovers which I do not like.

                                                                1. re: herby

                                                                  I use black sea bass when I can get it. I think it lends itself to this method of cooking particularly well and the delicate, slightly nutty, taste has great affinity with the seasonings.

                                                                  I have a steamer rack similar to this one http://www.wokshop.com/HTML/products/... that fits perfectly in my 14-inch wok. I just put the food to be steamed on an oven-proof plate and put it directly on the rack.

                                                                  In this instance, the fish didn't quite fit and I had to cut off part of the head. I tried to cut it in front of the fish cheeks so I didn't miss out on that part of the fish. I could have cut off the tail, but didn't do so mostly for aesthetic reasons.

                                                                  I think it a blessing that I really like leftovers. In fact, if I know I have really good leftovers in the fridge, I find I start craving them early the next day. I also like having leftovers in the freezer, but find that not many Asian recipes freeze that well so I aim for getting two meals out of whatever it is I'll be cooking.

                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                    Thank you for the information, Joan! I will look for a similar rack in Chinatown, pretty sure I saw something similar before. Do you not defeat the purpose of perforated rack by covering it with plate? Or I am missing something in your explanation? Do you cover the wok?

                                                                    1. re: herby

                                                                      The bottom of the plate that I use for steaming (the part that covers the holes) is 7 inches in diameter; the rack is 11 inches. So the steam comes up all around the sides. And yes, I cover the wok. Couldn't begin to understand the physics of why that arrangement works. All I can tell you is that I've been steaming this way for many years (ever since I got rid of my bamboo steamer because it took up too much space) and have never had any problems with a dish not cooking properly or the timing in a recipe being significantly off.

                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                        Sounds so easy - I just might stop by Chinatown on my way home tonight and look for the steaming rack:)

                                                                2. re: JoanN

                                                                  Steamed Fish (2 lb red snapper) Heaped with Scallions and Ginger
                                                                  This was my first-ever experience with a steaming a whole fish. Aside from some logistical problems (and my lack of experience with fish cookery) I felt the results were just delicious as far as flavors go. For first part of prep, I pounded the ginger and salt for a while, but it did not seem to become a 'paste'. Not sure if I did that correctly or not. I steamed the fish on a plate placed on a steaming rack in a stainless steel steamer. Fish was a bit too big, so I had to cut the tail off in order for it to fit inside. After 15 minutes, I
                                                                  checked and the flesh flaked off easily - though the tail parts
                                                                  were a bit on the mushy side; so next time I'll start checking sooner. Trying to remove the very hot plate from the steamer once the fish was finished was a bit difficult too.
                                                                  It was also a little disconcerting that one of the fishes eyeballs had popped out and adhered to the side of the steamer; perhaps I had the water boiling too high?
                                                                  In any event, flavor-wise this is delicious.

                                                                3. Spicy Cucumber Surprise p. 81

                                                                  Stir-frying cucumber was a pleasant surprise indeed. Stir-fry minced garlic, ginger and chili paste for 15-20 seconds, then add cucumbers (peeled, seeded and cut into fingers about 1" long), cook for 2 minutes, then add mixture of soy sauce, salt and sugar and cook a couple minutes more. Simple to make, deliciously spicy. My cucumber plants are prolific now and this is a different way to use them. I think this treatment would also work with zucchini, but with less time in the wok.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: BigSal

                                                                    Spicy Cucumber Surprise p. 81

                                                                    Just as Big Sal says, it's tasty and interesting. I think I'll still mainly use my cukes in salads, but it was fun to make this recipe.

                                                                    1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                                      I found that I missed what I like about cucumbers in this dish ( like the refreshing cool, crunch). I will try zucchinis this way and save cucumbers for kimchee and other salads and pickles.

                                                                      1. re: BigSal

                                                                        A cucumber is just a squash that is most widely enjoyed raw, because of its flavor and crunch. It's good raw or cooked. So are some other squashes, such as zucchini.

                                                                  2. Summer Stir Fry

                                                                    What is one to do when they come home from a camping trip in mid summer to find a whole pile of giant green monsters awaiting them in the zucchini patch? Why, make this simple stir fry, of course! It's the perfect way to use up some of those overwhelmingly large squashes.

                                                                    This is a gloriously easy stir fry consisting of a couple ears of corn, kernals removed, and a nearly equal amount of zucchini, cut into tiny cubes to match the size of the niblets. The most time-consuming part of ths recipe, as in most stir-fries, is the dicing of the vegetables. Peanuts (I use the red skinned ones for colour) are pre-cooked in the cooking vessel with oil and removed. Some garlic is briefly fried in the wok with a touch of oil, and the zucchini and corn is tossed in and quickly seared to tender-crisp, a minute amount of sugar and soy sauce is added, the peanuts are flung back in, and that's it!

                                                                    I have made this recipe at least once a week throughout the zucchini season (still can't keep up!) and really love it. It makes for an excellent accompaniment to another, saucier, chinese dish, as this one doesn't give off many juices. I have found that I prefer to halve the amount of peanuts; it seems just a bit too crunchy for me as written. I'll usually add some more soy sauce as well, but it's just fine as is.

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                      Perfect timing, Allegra, for me at least. We have an embarrassment of zucchini too and some corn o/t cob to be used up. Today now, it looks like, thanks to your report.

                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                        An embarrassment of zucchini, what a great and accurate way to put it! I hope you enjoy this dish as I have.

                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                          Gio (and others) - a few weeks ago I was also overwhelmed by zucchini, and remembered the wonderful zucchini curry in Gourmet Today. It was as good as I remembered and is a great way to use up an excess of the stuff.

                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                            Amazing the synchronization of our attempts at finding just the right thing to cook. Yesterday I was looking through GT for the Hainanese Chicken recipe which I intend to make today. Thank you for the Zuke curry prompt. I don't think I made that one yet...

                                                                      2. Tofu with Tomatoes and Coriander
                                                                        Recipe here: http://recipe.radafcanada.com/recipe/...

                                                                        This is one of my absolute favorite quick, healthy tofu dishes. We had it for dinner last night (again) and I noticed that nobody had posted about it here, so I thought I would. It is a very simple, very quick dish. I hope some of you try it and enjoy it.

                                                                        Saute chopped garlic and scallions in peanut oil for a minute or two. Add chopped tomatoes and stirfry briefly. Add tofu and seasoning (soy sauce, salt, sugar), stir fry briefly and turn out into a bowl. Season with chopped cilantro and lots and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Definitely more than the sum of its parts. So good over rice.

                                                                        16 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Westminstress

                                                                          This sounds *amazing* and easy and is making me hungry. I don't have this book so I appreciate that you added a link to the recipe. Going to try it soon.

                                                                            1. re: Westminstress

                                                                              Have a strong feeling that I will. I hope to make it in the next two weeks and will let you know. Thanks again.

                                                                          1. re: Westminstress

                                                                            Westminstress, I'm thinking of making this for dinner next week and am hoping you can give me some advice. Did you serve a vegetable or salad on the side or did you feel this covered both protein and vegetable? And if so, was it enough food for 3 hungry people?

                                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                                              LLM, these are interesting questions that you raise. We have always eaten this dish on its own over rice, since it contains protein and veg already. And it has always been enough. But I haven't made this dish in a while and my family eats more food than we used to, plus last time I made this it was for lunch, not dinner. I think if making this for dinner now I would have to serve something else with it. I would probably do some kind of asian greens stir-fried with garlic. Or if Asian greens are a pain to source, the swiss chard from EGOR would work well. If there's another kind of go-to asian veg side in your house, I'm sure that could work too.

                                                                              I hope you like it....

                                                                              1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                I feel like there was some sort of Asian cabbage that maybe Gio was raving about. Maybe on the Stir-Frying to the Skies Edge thread ... going to search and see if I can find that. There is also the option of a salad. Thanks so much for answering.

                                                                                ETA: looks like maybe it was a cabbage salad from Vietnamese month that Gio was talking up. Going to go find that.

                                                                            2. re: Westminstress

                                                                              Finally got around to making the Tofu with Tomatoes and Coriander, and it was a hit. I loved it, and the others seemed to think it was very good too. What I especially liked was the ground pepper - somehow something that simple really adds a lot. And this is so incredibly easy to make.

                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                Oh great, I'm so glad you liked it! Yes, the pepper really makes a difference. Also, just as an FYI, I have successfully used canned tomatoes in this dish. Sometimes I have part of a 19 oz can leftover, and that seems to be the perfect amount. Especially if I also have some scallions or cilantro kicking around, all I have to buy is the tofu and I'm on my way to cleaning out the fridge.

                                                                                1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                  Wow, that is great to know. It was pretty darned easy cutting the tomatoes (I used 5 plum), but during the really glum winter months I normally use canned tomatoes for everything (somehow it wouldn't have occurred to me to do so here). I loved this dish - simple but really good.

                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                    Yes I think it was a desperation moment that led me to try the canned tomatoes, but to my surprise they were fine.

                                                                              2. re: Westminstress

                                                                                Tofu with Tomatoes and Coriander

                                                                                This has been on my list to make since I read your review. My husband opted for bratwurst tonight so I took the opportunity to make this. It was so quick to pull together and very delicious. I used white pepper and it added a nice touch. I'd definitely make this again.

                                                                                For those that enjoy the tofu/cilantro combination should try Florence Lin's Tofu with Cilantro relish from Breath of a Wok by Grace Young. qianning's review got me hooked. One change she made was use sesame oil in the relish which adds a lot of flavor.

                                                                                1. re: BigSal

                                                                                  I'll definitely try that dish from breath of a wok, it's been on my radar for a while now. I'm glad you liked this dish! I'm always surprised by how much I like it since the ingredients are so simple.

                                                                                  1. re: BigSal

                                                                                    We finally tried the Tofu with Cilantro Relish about a month ago and all really liked it.

                                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                      Glad to hear. Your family seems to do well with tofu. I eat quite a bit of it, but the Mr. doesn't. Mapo tofu is really the only exception. He's on the "white and brown diet" (meat, potatoes, white bread, peanut butter...you get the picture).

                                                                                      1. re: BigSal

                                                                                        Lulu and I are going out of town for 4 days, and I have a feeling a lot of meat and potatoes (and bread and eggs ...) will be made/eaten while we're gone!

                                                                                  2. re: Westminstress

                                                                                    Tried this tonight and loved it! And I'm not likely to be nominated for presidency in the 'I love tofu' club...
                                                                                    Still and all, more than the sum of its parts ( as Westminstress says) and quick, easy, inexpensive and low-stress on a weeknight. A definite repeat.