Since moving to Indiana, I’ve found fewer Chinese or Asian grocery stores (three so far), and fresh Chinese cuts of pork have been slightly harder to find, but chicken is ever-present and evermore inexpensive. So…I guess it’s time to make more chicken? Also, I find myself reverting to making dishes with pork because that’s what I love and am used to eating, so using more chicken is a culinary stretch for me 😉
My mom and grandma started having weekly get togethers at Puopuo Jia (grandma’s house) which involve sharing stories and best of all, food. Sometimes my grandma cooks, sometimes they make food together, and sometimes they find a restaurant to try together. There’s a Sichuan restaurant that they loved (where my grandma and waitress spoke in Sichuanese, which I never even knew puopuo spoke!) that my mom’s going to take me to when we visit in December! Wooo!
My mom was telling me about one of my Puopuo’s most recent food experiments; this time it was feng ji,（風雞）, which translates to ‘wind chicken,’ because part of the process involves drying the chicken outdoors. Chicken gets salted and Sichuan-peppered , put in the fridge for a few days, then is hung outside to ‘dry’ and continue in the curing. Then, you steam it and EAT IT! After all, Chinese people don’t do prosciutto, cheese and crackers as a snack;D
Puopuo used her garage for the curing step, but I have no garage or basement, nor a crafty box to ward off critters as it hangs on the balcony.
Hearing of chicken, salt, and hua jiao (Sichuan peppercorn) made me salivate and want some, too. Since I haven’t devised that box yet, I made this dish to temporarily stave off my craving for some of puopuo’s feng ji. Thanks for the inspiration, Puopuo!
Turns out that this was quite tasty- the hua jiao does not overwhelm the chicken, and yet lends a nice different taste than ‘typical’ stir-fries. The carrots stay rather firm and don’t produce much water, so even if you stove is weaksauce, your stir-fry will not boil 😀 This was NOT created to be a spicy dish; the hua jiao are just supposed to give the chicken a little something. You can certainly add dried hot peppers with the oil at the beginning, if you wish.
I really like black pepper. As a kid, I used to shake a bunch of blackpepper onto my New England Clam Chowder at Souplantation (Sweet Tomatoes in the South), and would put tons and tons on my scrambled eggs at church retreats (so much that sometimes I contemplated unscrewing the cap for a bit). Aside: Looking back, I realize that one of the contributors to me furiously shaking the black pepper was its loss of intensity due to being pre-ground. If you don’t yet have a pepper mill, do yourself a favor and buy 1) a pepper mill 2) whole peppercorns. As you know, whole spices keep much better than ground spices, so do yourself a favor and jump on my whole spice bandwagon! My peppercorns have lasted indefinitely, and I never regret having to grind them fresh because of how superior they are in taste.
When I staged at the French restaurant, one of the now-former garde manger cooks informed me, rather authoritatively, that black pepper was supposed to be an accent, not a main flavor. Though I agreed that one should not add so much black pepper in dishes so that it overwhelms the other flavors, it made me kind of sad that black pepper is not more often the star in the dish. Two memorable food items include the black pepper filet mignon on Chinese banquet menus, and black pepper sauce at Hong Kong-style cafes in the San Gabriel Valley like Regent or
When I first made this dish in May, I had some flank steak to use up, and the poor celery was getting limp from too much time in the fridge. This time, I was equipped with delicious skirt steak, and fresh peppers from the CSA.
I got some zucchini from one farmer fairy (thanks, Ron and Terry!), and had leftover basil from my other farmer fairy (thanks, Patti!) to use up.
-Slice some zucchini (I used 1+3/4 zucchini) into thin slices on the diagonal.
-Roughly chop garlic (I used 3 cloves)
-Add garlic to cold oil, and add the zucchini to the warmed oil.
-Add some salt and saute in olive oil until the zucchini is just tender; turn the heat off.
-Mix in sliced basil to zucchini as you transfer it to your serving plate or bowl. I used 8-9 HUGE leaves!
As I mentioned in the other post, I was really excited to try Leela‘s recipes from her new book, Simple Thai Food ! I was trying to think of a ‘balanced’ dinner that would have different types of dishes, and dishes that wouldn’t make us sweat more, now that it is getting gross and humid outside.
Luckily, most of the dishes sound deeelicious and don’t call for complicated or new cooking techniques. I happened to have red curry paste in the freezer, so I decided on Phat Phrik Khing. Continue reading
I really like black pepper. As a kid, I used to shake a bunch of black pepper onto my New England Clam Chowder at Souplantation (Sweet Tomatoes in the South), and would put tons and tons on my scrambled eggs at church retreats (so much that sometimes I contemplated unscrewing the cap for a bit).
When I staged at the French restaurant, one of the line cooks informed me, rather authoritatively, that black pepper was supposed to be an accent, not a main flavor. Though I agreed that one should not be able to detect black pepper as a main component of most dishes (exceptions include black pepper ice cream?), it made me kind of sad! Two memorable food items include the black pepper filet mignon on Chinese banquet menus, and black pepper sauce at Hong Kong-style cafes like Regent or Garden Cafe.
I had some flank steak to use up, and the poor celery was getting limp from too much time in the fridge.
Black Pepper Steak
1/4-1/3 lb (114-151 g) flank steak, or other cut of your choice
a bit of cornstarch
1/4 tsp sugar
4-6 stalks celery, thinly sliced along the diagonal
1/4 to 1 onion, thinly sliced
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
1) Slice the beef: first, cut on the diagonal, against the grain, so that you have thin slices. If you need to, cut these slices in half so that they are only a little longer than your pinky, maybe 2-3 inches.
Then, stack a few thin slices at a time to cut thin strips. When in doubt, go thinner!
2) Marinate the meat: Put beef in bowl. Add some soy sauce and cornstarch. how much? You don’t want the beef slices to look like they are gasping to be coated with soy sauce or cornstarch, but you don’t want them drowning, either. Just enough to coat the beef. Mix in sugar and several grinds of black pepper.
3) Heat some oil in a wok until the oil starts to smoke, then transfer the beef to the wok, stirring so separate all the beef slices. Cook only until 80% of the beef has changed color..you want the beef between a rare and medium rare at this point. Transfer beef into a bowl.
4) Heat some more oil in a wok until the oil starts to smoke, then add the celery and onions. Add some salt to season the vegetables. Cook until the celery and onions are slightly softened, then add more black pepper! Add the beef, juices and all, back to the celery and onions. Saute until all the beef changes color and is cooked through.
5) Serve with lots of rice, and maybe more black pepper 🙂
-Feel free to substitute or add ingredients here. Please keep the onions, though. Onions and beef are good friends! Mushrooms, while earthy and meaty tasting, may drown your beef in their juices if not cooked properly, so make sure cook the ‘shrooms in small batches on high heat.