Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Kwong's My China: Round 2

Two more of Kylie Kwong's My China recipes were on the menu for this week and they were as delicious as the others. Now before I go on to describe the food, I must first say this: it's rare that you'll get all of the recipes you make from a cookbook to taste good. Now it's either the cooks fault or the authors fault. I lean more towards the latter since a recipe is supposed to guide the cook and too many cookbooks are just thrown together, full of random recipes that are bland and, when you start to think about it, had not been a good idea from the start. So Kwong's book is one of these exceptions, one of those really good cookbooks. Though I still maintain that the prose sections of her book need improving.

The first recipe we made was "Stir-fried Pork with Gai Choy". Now if you're wondering "What the hell is gai choy?" you're not alone. Turns out it's mustard greens, which doesn't exactly help. If you google it, gai choy only look like curly ended bok choy. Knowing that I wouldn't find gai choy in Moncton, I simply opted to replace it with bok choy. There.

So the recipe, like all of the other recipes in this book, is pretty simple. The only non-sauce ingredients are the gai choy or bok choy substitute, pork neck fillet (or whatever cut of pork), ginger and garlic. Basically, you stir fry these in peanut oil, starting with the pork, garlic and ginger, and then add the bok choy. After a good, quick, hot stir-fry, you add shao hsing wine, brown sugar, oyster sauce, sesame oil, brown rice vinegar and white pepper. Cook till it looks like something you'd eat in a Chinese restaurant and there you have it.

Alongside the pork dish I made "Braised Water Chestnuts with Carrots, Lup Yook and Ginger". Yet another weird ingredient, lup yook is dry-cured pork belly which basically means that bacon can be substituted though it won't be entirely authentic. As far as the cooking goes, it's even easier than the pork. Stir fry ginger, garlic and bacon till, I guess, desired bacon doneness. Then add sliced carrot and chestnuts and stry-fry till the chestnuts have warmed through. Remember that your wok should be hot. A bit of brown sugar, a bit of shao hsing wine, soy sauce, vinegar and there you have it. The bacon really works well with the chestnuts and the carrots and the sauce gives it that Asian twang.

All in all, I find Kwong's recipes simple, quick to make, healthy and well worth it.

1 comment:

Madura said...

I just finished reading through 'My China'. Think it's her best book yet. All the recipes sound feasible and delicious, with simple processes--pretty much stir-frying or braising. I love cookbooks like this, where there's a simple pattern. Like Jaffrey's 'World Vegetarian', that was good too. I'm glad the recipes worked out for you.