Expanding my Chinese cooking repertoire

26 May

Earlier this year I posted on two classic dishes that I can make with ease – fried eggs and tomatoes and peapods with sausage.  They remain favorites, but slowly I am experimenting with more techniques and Asian flavors at home.

Two dishes that I have recently been repeating are egg fried rice and Chinese cabbage with tofu in soup.  Both of them are basics, taught to Chinese kids as they prepare to head out on their own.  I’m a little late in learning them – but better late than never!

For the egg fried rice the list of ingredients is pretty basic – you have to have oil, day old rice, eggs, salt, ginger and garlic but then the rest is up to your imagination.  For my first solo rice (when Li wasn’t home to supervise) I added a Taiwanese sausage and chopped red onion.  The order for cooking is the key – first the egg, then pull it out, then the sausage and onion, then add the rice, then add the egg back in.  It really doesn’t take very long and since I am frying it at home I can control the amount of oil that I add.  Now whenever I make rice I want to make extra so I have the option for fried rice the next day.

My first independent fried rice - eggs, onion and Taiwanese sausage

My first independent fried rice – eggs, onion and Taiwanese sausage

For the soup it’s even simpler – Chinese cabbage, ginger, a soup cube and a package of semi-firm tofu.  Cook cabbage in soup with ginger until soft, then add tofu, warm through and serve.  A simple, good balanced dish with protein and vegetables that will also keep in the fridge for a couple of days after.

One of the reasons that I think it is getting easier is that because I have eaten so many Chinese dishes I am starting to guess when things will taste good together or to notice the order in which to do things.  That was emphasized last week when I attended a cooking class arranged by one of my colleagues.  About a dozen of us went to a cooking school to learn how to make some basic dishes.  The cooking school focused on traditional Shanghainese food and had a basic menu for us to experiment.

Listening to the teacher before cooking

Listening to the teacher before cooking

The main dish that we focused on was sweet & sour ribs (糖醋排骨).  The teacher gave information about how to choose ribs, about the order of ingredients and then we all tried to duplicate the dish.  Our group did ok with taste, but we boiled them just a little too long during the last step after adding the final vinegar and our sauce turned hard as if it were a sour caramel sauce.  That’s not ideal for sweet and sour ribs, but we did give it a good try and they were excellent to eat.

糖醋排骨- A traditional Shanghainese dish

糖醋排骨- A traditional Shanghainese dish

The teacher also demonstrated a couple of other dishes, how to stir fry crisp veggies – the secret is to blanch them first, then stir fry quickly with just a little bit of oyster sauce – and how to make a perfect egg drop soup.  That trick is to stir the bottom of the pot when dripping in the eggs to get perfect shreds into the soup.  I plan to use both of those tricks when I experiment in the future.

Stir fried veggies

Stir fried veggies

A professional egg drop soup

A professional egg drop soup

So I’m slowly expanding my repertoire – which of these dishes would you like to try?

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16 Responses to “Expanding my Chinese cooking repertoire”

  1. janalinesmalman May 26, 2013 at 10:00 am #

    I love cooking classes and trying out new dishes! Looks like you had loads of fun!

    • gkm2011 May 26, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

      We did – and the teacher debunked some myths and made it look so easy!

  2. stupiduglyforeigner May 26, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    Some of these notes I feel like I should definitely be recording.

    • gkm2011 May 26, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

      If you want to cook Chinese, it may be useful! I think most of it though is just trying the dishes again and again!

  3. ladyofthecakes May 26, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

    You’re making us choose…?? How unreasonable of you!!!

    • gkm2011 May 26, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

      Well, you could try one and change your mind! I’m curious. 🙂

      • ladyofthecakes May 26, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

        They all look sooooo delicious! I want them all! In tapas format, porfa 🙂

  4. expatlingo May 26, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

    The sweet and sour ribs!

    • gkm2011 May 26, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

      You picked the most involved recipe, but they are finger licking good!

  5. Liz May 26, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

    I love rice and would fry it with anything and still just like it. The recipes are simple and straightforward, thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful week!

    • gkm2011 May 26, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

      Now that I have learned to fry the rice, it is such a simple and delicious dinner! I suggest you try it soon.

  6. Valerie May 29, 2013 at 6:06 am #

    The fried rice — it’s been so long since I’ve had that!

    • gkm2011 May 29, 2013 at 7:04 am #

      It’s actually really easy, you should give it a try.

  7. nancy@jamjnr.com July 4, 2013 at 8:29 am #

    Hi I’ve just come across your blog and I’m really enjoying your perspective on Shanghai. I did a seafood cooking class which really helped ease my apprehension about buying fish at the wet market. I’d go with the pork ribs too to be honest that’s always my goto choice.

    • gkm2011 July 7, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

      A seafood course sounds really interesting! Where did you find that one, I would be interested as well.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Two years later – the 8th quarter review | 中国 Jumble - July 21, 2013

    […] was no different.  I have started to share occasional home cooking adventures that I have and Expanding my Chinese cooking repertoire – the story of going to cooking school with my colleagues was one of my favorites.  Since I […]

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