One-pot cooking, Chinese-style.
With the Year of the Rooster set to start cockadoodledoo-ing on Jan. 28, you’ll have to forgive me if I’m craving Chinese food even more so this week.
But what a great excuse to try a recipe from the new “China: The Cookbook” (Phaidon). The cookbook, of which I received a review copy, was written by Hong Kong-based culinary experts Kei Lum Chan and Diora Fong Chan.
This door-stopper of a book is 720 pages. It contains recipes from the 33 regions and sub-regions of China, most of them surprisingly concise. That’s because this book is really about home-cooking. That’s why you won’t necessarily find Peking duck in here, but instead “Braised Duck with Won Tons” and “Duck with Mushrooms and Ham.” There’s all manner of congee recipes, too, including “Congee with Frog Legs.” And simple but more unusual desserts such as “Smoked Plum Soup.”
Leafing through this rather encyclopedic book, many recipes caught my eye, especially “Rice and Lamb Casserole” because it’s fairly effortless even on a weeknight. It also incorporates cumin, which really works well with lamb’s slight gaminess.
Make an impression in the new year with this whole, tea-smoked duck.
New Year’s Eve automatically means Champagne.
Caviar, perhaps. Lots of hors d’oeuvres. Even Dungeness crab or lobster.
Why not add duck to that glam list?
There is something special and regal about presenting a whole duck, especially one that is smoked with fragrant black tea, coated in five spice, and served alongside souped-up sweet-tangy hoisin sauce.
Little pillowy steamed buns filled with morsels of the moist duck would turn this into festive finger-food. Or carve at the table, and serve alongside steamed rice or garlic noodles.
The orange beef of my dreams — and yours.
Chef Dale Talde is a very talented chef, who became known as much for his fly-off-the-handle eruptions as his ferociously flavorful cooking when he appeared on “Top Chef.”
But it’s hard to blame a guy for getting emotional when good food is on the line.
Case in point: His no-holds bar feelings about the stand-by take-out Chinese classic of orange beef.
He laments to no end how this dish has been debased, turning into an evil concoction of cheap beef, battered and fried into oblivion, then tossed with a gloppy, over-cornstarched, candy sweet sauce.
It gives me shudders just thinking about it, too. I never order this dish at a restaurant. Exactly for those reasons.
But in the right hands, it could be a great dish. I mean, beef kissed with a deeply orange-y sauce and garnished with still-crunchy, bright green broccoli — how can that not be delicious?
In Talde’s hands, it actually is. “Orange Beef” finally gets its rightful treatment.
The recipe is from his cookbook, “Asian-American: Proudly Inauthentic Recipes From the Philippines to Brooklyn” (Grand Central Life & Style, 2015), of which I received a review copy, by Dale Talde with food writer JJ Goode.
A spicy, savory Korean pancake that cooks up in no time.
For me, comic books were something my older brothers and cousins collected — first-edition superhero ones that surely would be worth a fortune now, had my aunt not thrown them out years ago, alas.
But to cook out of a comic book?
Now, that’s a new one on me.
But Robin Ha’s delightful “Cook Korean! A Comic Book with Recipes” (Ten Speed Press), lured me to do just that. The unique, whimsical cookbook, of which I received a review copy, was both written and illustrated by Ha, a professional illustrator and creator of the blog, Banchan in 2 Pages, who was born in Seoul and now makes her home in New York.
Simple and not-too sweet. A perfect pick-me-up with Chinese tea.
This cake is like the vanilla wafer of cookies.
Its appeal lies in its plainness, simplicity, and for me, its nostalgic taste.
Other kids may have grown up with snack cakes baked in a square or rectangular pan in the flavors of chocolate, vanilla or apple spice.
But I grew up eating this pale golden sponge cake that was steamed, and bought by my Mom at Chinatown bakeries. It usually came in tall squares or big wedges, its interior sporting tiny, airy bubbles. I could never resist squishing a corner of it between my fingers before taking a bite.
It was the polar opposite of a birthday cake. It was unadorned, plain-Jane, and hardly sweet at all. But unlike birthday cake, I didn’t have to wait for a special occasion to enjoy it, just a regular trip by my Mom to pick up other provisions in Chinatown. She brought it home in the familiar pink box tied with red twine that I tore into the moment she walked through the door.
I have eaten countless squares of that cake, yet I never knew it included a rather surprising ingredient: soy sauce.
That is, until I spotted a recipe for it in the new cookbook, “All Under Heaven” (Ten Speed Press and McSweeney’s), of which I received a review copy.