Friday, August 8, 2008

Ode to the Olympic Games. . .Chinese Food It is

I have a friend that just went to Beijing, China about 3 weeks ago and she came back with the most incredible stories. Her husband is a doctor in dermatology AND plays the clarinet in an orchestra. The orchestra was invited to play in China and Beijing was one of the places a concert was held. In 2 weeks time, he played in 10 concerts. Mrs. Fox calls herself the orchestra groupie...too cute! Would you believe she got to go through a silk factory and see the silk worm cocoons? She watched as the cocoons were unraveled, literally. A cocoon would contain a silk thread to be unraveled for meters. Mrs. Fox makes artistic quilts that tell a story. She is such a talented lady! So here she is at this factory, looking at the worms, the cocoons, and THEN she gets to go through the silk shop. . . all FOUR floors containing every color imaginable of silk. She had a terrible time trying to explain that she only wanted 1 meter of a select number of colors for her quilts because the factory people are used to selling several meters of fabric for making clothes. Then her next hurdle was that she didn't want to carry all the fabric with her on the airplane. The hotel concierge wrote her a note in Chinese to give to her taxi driver, telling him to take her to the local post office. She gets to the post office and NO ONE speaks English. In fact, she is the only American in the post office so everyone is watching her. She gets up to the counter and the post office worker makes a waving motion as if going over seas and she shakes her head "no" and tucks her elbows to her side and makes flapping motions with her hands for sending by air. The whole group of people in the post office bust up laughing and everyone is making flapping motions and patting her back.

Mrs. Fox also said that everyone is so friendly and all of Beijing is immaculate. There is even a carpool lane with the Olympics symbol painted on the road to indicate that buses carrying people to and from the Olympics are the only ones allowed in this lane. The excitement is building and I think that China is trying to give their best impression of a welcoming country.

Before I get any further, My Kitchen, My World cooking group is showing support for the Olympics in China by all of us getting together in our separate kitchens and creating a meal of Chinese food. Would you believe I found over 30 dishes that I wanted to make? Time gets pretty limited when we have other not-so-fun duties, like work, so I went with time efficient dishes that were fun to put together. I made wontons for the first time and found that I loved making them. Very easy to make and the possibilities are limitless for fillings. What I really loved was finding out I could make oodles of wontons, freeze them, then take out what I wanted for dinner and throw those in boiling water, then into the waiting broth or sweet-and-sour base for soup. Easy, fast, and delicious! My Dinner consisted of:


Wonton Soup
Vegetable Lo Mein
Szechwan Shrimp




Wonton Soup in Chicken Broth - Easy and Fun










Vegetable Lo Mein - Using Spaghetti








Szechwan Shrimp - Simple and Very Impressive







The wontons were stuffed with ham and shrimp finely diced, a little Sake, some soy sauce, and a little ginger root. I had so much fun making the cute little wontons and the soup smells just like fresh chicken broth, the flavor is kitchen fresh, and being able to serve a soup that looks this pretty was the best part.


Wonton Soup
Ingredients ~
1/2 pound pork loin or ham, coarsely chopped
2 ounces peeled shrimp, finely chopped
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 teaspoon finely chopped green onion
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger root
24 wonton wrappers
4 cups chicken stock
1 T. instant chicken bouillon granules
1/8 cup finely chopped green onion

Directions ~

In a large bowl, combine pork, shrimp, sugar, wine, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon chopped green onion and ginger. Blend well, and let stand for 25 to 30 minutes.


Place about one teaspoon of the filling at the center of each wonton skin. Moisten all 4 edges of wonton wrapper with water, then pull the top corner down to the bottom, folding the wrapper over the filling to make a triangle. Press edges firmly to make a seal. Bring left and right corners together above the filling. Overlap the tips of these corners, moisten with water and press together. Continue until all wrappers are used. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and drop wontons in and cook for 5 minutes.


FOR SOUP: Add instant chicken bouillon granules to the chicken stock. Bring the chicken stock to a rolling boil. Transfer wontons from boiling water to the hot chicken stock. Garnish with chopped green onion, and serve.







The vegetable lo mein was fantastic! I loved the flavor, and again, I can not imagine not feeling comfortable throwing everything but the kitchen sink into this. Do not be afraid of adding spices to this dish. It is so easy for the flavor to get lost with all the vegetables and pasta. I LOVE my hot chili sesame oil. The oil gives the dish just the right amount of kick without offering an overpowering flavor.

Vegetable Lo Mein
Ingredients ~

8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
2 T. vegetable oil + 2 T. hot chili sesame oil
****NOTE**** Use any mixture of veggies that makes you happy! =D
2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms
1 c. broccoli florets
1/2 cup sliced red bell peppers
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
2 c. shredded cabbage (I had a bag of mixed carrots and cabbage, shredded)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon chili flakes

Directions ~

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

Heat oil in a large wok or saute pan. Stir fry mushrooms, broccoli, bell pepper, cabbage, onion, and garlic until tender. I put a lid over my wok to allow for steam cooking. Stir in bean sprouts and green onions; cook one minute. Mix cornstarch and chicken broth in a small bowl and add to stir fry. Stir in hoisin sauce, honey, soy sauce, ginger, cayenne pepper and curry powder. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.

Add cooked spaghetti, and toss. Serve immediately.


Last, the Szechwan Shrimp. I like the way the name rolls off the tongue. . .sounding very impressive and what is shocking is just how easy this dish is to make. I already had leftover rice in the refrigerator, so I just added a little water and steamed the rice back to a fluffy life in the microwave while cooking the shrimp in a skillet on the stove top. For me, the key to cooking Chinese food and remaining calm, since every time I know of, a mad pace is involved when putting any of the dishes together. . .Have ALL the ingredients prepped and ready BEFORE starting to cook. As you can see from a photo above, I had everything pre-chopped and measured before beginning my adventure in the kitchen.

Next time, I want to cook brown rice and put the shrimp with sauce over all. For more or less heat, just adjust how much crushed red pepper you want to add.

Szechwan Shrimp
Ingredients ~

4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoon hot chili sesame oil
1/4 cup sliced green onions
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound cooked shrimp, tails removed


Directions ~

In a bowl, stir together water, ketchup, soy sauce, cornstarch, honey, crushed red pepper, and ground ginger. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in green onions and garlic; cook 30 seconds. Stir in shrimp, and toss to coat with oil. Stir in sauce. Cook and stir until sauce is bubbly and thickened. Place over cooked rice of choice or just eat as is.

9 comments:

Andrea said...

Everything looks delicious! I made wontons for the first time and had such trouble figuring out how to shape them, if only I'd seen your tutorial pictures sooner :) great to know that you can prepare and freeze them, I will have to try that. I loved reading about your friend's trip to China, what an experience, sounds amazing, and I was laughing at the thought of her in the post office flapping her 'wings' -- too funny!

Elra said...

Wow,
I'd love to visit silk factory one day. About your friend with "the flapping motion" I guess sign language really is a universal language.

Wonton is not my favorite, but I'd probably take yours because it's home made! Oh I also like anything deep fried!

sefa firdaus said...

the sechuan shrimps looks yummy - you did great for this week MKMW

I Wonder Woman said...

Gorgeous pictures, and what a fantastic meal!

Flourchild said...

You continue to blow my mind with your fabulous meals. You need to move to Idaho and open a restraunt! I promise you would do VERY well! Your China story about your friend was very interesting. I love to watch the Olympics!

Natashya said...

What a great meal. It all looks so tasty.
I love the green bowl and spoon too, dish junkie that I am.
Did you save me some?

Laura said...

Wow look at all those ingredients! I am intrigued by that chili sesame oil. I usually think that regular sesame oil has too strong of a flavor, maybe I would like this better.

Katie said...

Yum yum! I would love to go see the Olympics in Beijing...I was watching it on TV jut this afternoon.

Susie Homemaker said...

Oh YUM!! All of that looks fantastic - I would Kill for some of that soup!! (well, and the shrimp. well, all of it.)