From My Wok to Yours - Taking the Mystery Out of Everyday Dining and Meals!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Journey Back East, to the FAR East.

Every now and then, even the BEST cook can make a mess of a good recipe.  I think that happened last night.  I was trying to make a Ground Beef with spicy Beijing Sauce and I tried to do it without ALL of the necessary ingredients.  Another HUGE mistake I made was not checking to make sure that the ground beef I was using was NOT pre-seasoned.  Yeah, there are grocery stores here in San Antonio that offer pre-seasoned ground beef, which, for all other uses, is pretty good.  But when you want to make a dish that features its own bold flavors, you must make sure that the meat itself is fresh and plain.  The mixing of sauces that I had with the pre-seasoned beef created a flavorful but overly salty final product.  Very disappointing, as all of the mechanics were there. And to think: I had wanted to make a Szechuan meal for the family...

Szechuan Style Cuisine

Nestled in the mountains, with the famed Himalayas to the north, Szechuan province has given the world a unique cuisine. In English, the province is also often misspelled Sichuan. The more common spelling is influenced by the Cantonese dialect. Whether it's Kung Pao chicken, Ma Po Tofu or Bang Bang Chicken, Szechuan cooking is renowned for being hot and spicy.  It was often the featured style of cooking by Iron Chef Chen Kenichi, the most successful Chinese Chef in the original production of Iron Chef.
The reputation for hot and spicy food is well deserved. The hot, humid climate of the Szechuan province accelerates food spoilage. Pickling, drying salting and smoking with spices help preserve food as well as opening the pores to cool the body. But far from chiefly practical concerns, the spicy foods native to this region of China simply tastes delicious.

Szechuan chefs are well known for using liberal amounts of garlic and dried chili peppers of different varieties. Their use creates a taste sensation that not only wakes up the palette but is said to satisfy the soul.  While Kung Pao Chicken is one of the most well known dishes and recipes, the Szechuan province does offer many dishes that utilize little or no seasoning.
But there's much more to Szechuan cuisine than merely stimulating the tongue with chemical heat. In the realm of spices alone the food is rich in garlic hints and full of the flavorful salts popular in the region.

Szechuan cuisine is full of heat and spice and not even vegetables are spared the fire of their savory sauces.
While spice is generally the featured taste, sweet offerings are equally easy to find whose origins come from the region. Beet root and cane sugar often provide a sugary taste to a dish here. They're then combined with everything from orange peel to ginger from pickled vegetables to bean paste and from vinegar to sesame oil. That gives food in the province a combination of delightful flavors. For, Szechuan cuisine is nothing if not varied. While it may be more famous for spicy dishes, there is a wide range of tastes that make up native recipes.

Even the noodles in this once-forgotten area of the country are distinctive. Though made from wheat just as are ordinary noodles, the result is anything but mundane.
BuIf you don't think your tongue or your stomach can handle the heat, not to worry. The hot oils that secure Szechuan spices to the noodles, beef and other solid food are easy to deal with. Drinking water is of limited help, since oil repels it. Water won't wash the hot spice away. A bite of rice, a drink of beer or a bit of plain bean paste can help ease the situation.

While you have time to cool off, Good Eating, Friends...

Ground Beef with Beijing Sauce Over Noodles

If you don’t have bean sauce, it is acceptable to substitute hoisin sauce or oyster sauce and omit the sugar. To save time, boil your noodles according to package instructions while you’re cooking. I’ve added dried peppers, but of course you can leave them out if you’d like. If you enjoy spice, try the “hot bean sauce” instead of the regular bean sauce, add more dried chilies and leave the seeds in or use chopped fresh chilies instead.  Serve over your grain of choice.
serves 4
For the sauce

1/4 cup stock (chicken/beef/veg)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon ground bean sauce

1/2 tablespoon cooking wine

1/2 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons cooking oil

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

1/4 cup minced onions

4 dried chili peppers, cut in half, seeds shaken out/discarded

1 pound lean ground beef or chicken

1/2 cup frozen vegetables (I used carrots and peas), no need to defrost

1/2 cup chopped baby corn (1/2 can)

1 tablespoon cornstarch slurry
cooked rice or noodles
Mix the sauce ingredients together, set aside. In a wok or large over high heat, add the cooking oil. When the oil is just getting hot, add the garlic, onions and the chili peppers, fry until fragrant about 30 seconds. Add the ground beef and stir fry for 1 minute until browned.
Add the frozen vegetables and baby corn and stir well. Pour in the sauce and turn the heat to medium. Bring sauce to a boil.
Add in the corntarch and stir for about 10 more seconds, until sauce has thickened and vegetables have achieved a shiny glaze. Taste and adjust for seasoning – you may add a little more soy sauce if needed. Serve over noodles or rice.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

, , , , , ,

No comments:

Post a Comment