Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Rat in the Kitchen

Today's issue of New York Times talks about "Chinese food" in the United States, or, rather, how it's not anything like the real Chinese food.

The original article is here:

When I first visited Shanghai about two years ago, I was shocked how different the real thing is from what I got used to in the US. Of the most popular American menu varieties - sweet and sour chicken or pork, fried wontons (this is actually the East Coast creation - not usually served in Seattle), or wonton soup - none were available anywhere I ate.

Generally, US chinese variant is heavy on deep-fried, but the food in Shanghai and Beiging is not - it emphasizes steaming, cooking, and uses a lot of creative sauces.

Also, the fresh juices are extremely popular, including unusual for an American palate, but absolutely great cucumber juice, melon and watermellon juices. I now make all of them at home.

A couple of recipies I also brought from my travel in China are fish shanghainese, garlic eggplant, and vegetables in garlic sauce.


  • 1 piece (1-inch long) ginger root, peeled

  • 2 cups water

  • 2 tablespoons each: rice wine, dark soy sauce

  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 cup peanut oil

  • 1 whole small fish or fillets, about 1 pound, cleaned

  • 2 green onions, chopped

Cut ginger in half; grate one of the halves into a medium bowl. Stir in water, rice wine, soy sauce, sugar and salt; set aside.

Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat until just smoking; remove from the heat. Carefully rub the remaining piece of ginger over the interior of the wok; discard ginger. Return the wok to the heat. Add oil; heat over medium-high heat to 350 degrees.

Add fish; cook until golden on one side, about 2 minutes. Turn; cook 2 minutes.
Carefully discard all but 1 tablespoon of the oil in the wok. Add the soy sauce mixture to wok; heat to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium; cook until sauce is thickened and fish is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer fish to a platter; pour sauce over. Garnish with green onions.

Makes 4 servings.

Or here's the variant directly form Shanghai:


  • 4-6 Chinese or Japanese eggplants (these are long and slender-HFSs or Chinese groceries will have them)

  • 1 t chopped fresh ginger

  • 1 T chopped fresh garlic( I use 4-6 cloves, as I really like garlic)

  • 1 T Hot bean paste (available from Chinese groceries-check label to make sure it has no added oil-most don't)

  • 2 T soysauce (adjust down for sodium restriction)

  • 1 t sugar (or sucanat)

  • 1 t salt (again, adjust for low sodium version)

  • 1/2 cup soup stock or water

  • 1 T chopped green onion

Cut eggplant into finger sized pieces-cut lengthwise, then into quarters etc.
Saute with some water in a non-stick pan/wok, until soft. When soft, remove from pan.

On low heat, cook garlic, ginger, and hot bean paste for a minute, then add
salt, sugar, soysauce and stock/water. Return eggplant to the pan and cook for about five minutes until garlic is soft and a sauce forms. If sauce is too
thin, thicken with 1t corn starch mixed with 2t water.

Serve over white/brown rice.

(Reprinted from here:


  • 1/2 cup of rice cooking wine

  • 3 T of light soy sauce

  • 2 T of starch

  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 1 T of oil

  • Several stems of Gai-Lan

Heat garlic in a deep pan with the oil, until it attains a light brown hue. Add the rest of ingredients except for the gai-lan. Heat it to simmering. Add gai-lan so it's 1/2 covered in liquid. Cover. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir approximately mid-way.

The liquid can be reused for the next batch of gai-lan.

It should look similar to this:

Bon Appetit!

1 comment:

dzembu said...

yammy !