Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Chinese Phood Epilogue: Do It Yourself Matsutake/Pork Ribs & Cauliflower Stir-fry

I was asked by a friend for some recipes based on one of the dishes that I had mentioned as a part of the Chinese Phood trilogy. This got me thinking, perhaps it may be a good idea to start including DIY instructions whenever possible. Now, I intentionally used "instructions" instead of "recipe" because I don't really use recipes. To me, Chinese cooking is increasingly becoming a state of mind, a philosophy of food preparation, as opposed to any set repertoire of dishes.

So I'll add some basic directions, and assuming you have any skill at all in operating a large skillet or wok without getting burned, modify to your heart's content.

Matsutake and Pork Ribs (From Pt 2)

Start out with some real ribs - you may need to ask your butcher to cross cut the ribs into thirds, so they'll look like little cubes. You should boil these ribs in very slightly salted water, together with a halved scallion for 15-20 minutes. Take the now-cooked ribs out. In a wok, prepare to heat up some oil and caramelize a bit of sugar as described above. add some large slices of ginger for flavor. Toss the ribs together with Matsutake chunks (you can also use King Oyster mushrooms as a substitute). Feel free to add some complementary veggies, like that yellow bell pepper in the picture.Add soy sauce after all the above is already thrown in the wok, otherwise you'll have a greasy stove and may burn yourself.

Now, what you'll end up with will look and taste different vs. the pro dish. The main reason for this? Instead of boiling the meat, they fried it. And the mushrooms, too. I'm not a big believer in deep-frying anything at home, and I'd recommend you stay away from it, as well. It's really not worth your kitchen/home smelling like a restaurant kitchen for the next week.

Cauliflower Stir-fry (From Pt 2)

There really isn't too much to explain here. I'll just say that because American-grown cauliflower has much more densely-packed flowers than the variety depicted in the picture, it's probably a good idea to pre-cook the cauliflower with a 1 or 2 minute dip in boiling water, depending on how you slice it. Then, some light oil in a wok, sliced fresh garlic, and then add cauliflower a few seconds later. Stir fry with some soy sauce, and you should be done pretty quickly.

For bonus points, you can try adding some sliced carrots. Assuming the same slicing as the cauliflower stems, you're looking at a 2x boil time for those carrots compared to the cauliflower. But whatever you do, don't leave those veggies in there for too long. Not only will it be too soft to stir fry, but the taste and nutrients will be gone.

Finally, a pre-emptive apology to my kosher/halal friends. What I sometimes like to do (in the absence of a nice fresh cut of pork belly) is start with some bacon, chopped into 1-inch pieces. Cook for 2-3 minutes before the garlic gets tossed in. With regularly salted bacon, you can spare at least half the oil and half the soy sauce, and this dish will come out wonderfully.

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