Friday, February 21, 2014

"Madame Wu's Art of Chinese Cooking" & "Dim Sum" - for the Chinese New Year

Date I made these recipes:  February 13, 2014 (for the Chinese New Year)

Madame Wu's Art of Chinese Cooking by Sylvia Wu
Published by:  Bantam Books Inc.
© 1973, 1975; 9th printing October 1981 (paperback)
Recipe:  Barbecued Pork - p. 29, used in Barbecued Pork with Vegetables – p. 146
Purchased at Falling Rock Cafe, Munising, MI

Dim Sum - The Essential Kitchen by Vicki Liley
Published by:  Periplus
ISBN:  13: 978-962-593-528-7
Recipe:  Snow pea Shoot Dumplings – p. 52
Purchased at Arc's Value Village Thrift Stores, Richfield, MN

Good thing for me (and you) that the Chinese New Year lasts 15 days because I came in just under the gun. What can I say?  Sometimes, the schedule just goes off-road for a little bit but with 15 days at my disposal, I figured "I got this."

What I've also "got" is a rather warped sense of humor when it comes to book titles.  When my husband and I are feeling down, we often say to each other that we're kind of "woo."  So the minute I saw this book title, Madam "Wu's" Art of Chinese Cooking, I had to have this book.  Had to.  It did not disappoint.

If you Google Madame Sylvia Wu, you'll find that her website refers to her at the "Legendary" Madame Wu; that she opened her first restaurant on Wiltshire Boulevard in Santa Monica in 1959; that she entertained Hollywood's top dignitaries (she's pictured with the legendary Cary Grant on her book's back cover) and that she authored four cookbooks.  That is not a shabby resume. 

I liked Madame Wu's book a lot because it was pretty comprehensive.  There are several recipes in each category – Appetizers; Soups; Seafood; Chicken; Duck; Beef; Pork and so on, plus instructions on tea, where to shop, what to buy and even Chinese wines.  I decided on the barbecued pork simply because I like Chinese barbecued pork but had never made it.  But you should know that in order to make the Barbecued Pork with Vegetables, you will need to make the barbecued pork ahead of time and you will also need to reserve at least four hours for it to marinade.

To accompany the pork and vegetables, I pulled out a book titled – quite simply – Dim Sum.  Here, you can have your pick of recipes for steamed dumplings, fried dumplings, egg rolls, steamed pork buns (tempting, except I already decided on the barbecued pork) and other delectable goodies suitable for snacking.  I let my husband, Andy, make the final selection and he decided on the snow pea (and shrimp) dumplings and dang, they were yummy.  The sweetness of the snow peas and shrimp was perfect and was a great contrast to the tangy barbecued pork.

Now, as I mentioned the pork recipe calls for marinating at least four hours and then cooking the tenderloin in the oven and then adding it to the wok along with the other vegetables for the complete dish.  Well.  I thought I could pull off the marinade, tenderloin cooking and wok all in one night but I was running behind schedule and was feeling the stress.  And so when my poor husband came in and said "What time do you think we'll eat?"  I about bit his head off and served it back to him on a platter.  I know he was only asking because if dinner would be late, he'd have a snack.  I suggested – quite strongly – that he have a snack.  Quite strongly.  In the end, I made the pork tenderloin, wrapped it in foil and put it in the refrigerator for dinner the next day.

When the "next day" rolled around, I enlisted my man's help with the dumplings.  He has a nice touch with those kind of things and so he made the prettiest dumplings (after I combined all the ingredients) and I got to work on the main course.  And so together we made our meal, a rarity in our house, and the tension of the day before went away...and we were "woo" (or "wu") no more.

Barbecued Pork  - serves 4 (Note:  requires 4 hours or more of marinade time)
1 1-pound pork tenderloin, cut in two strips
¼ cup dark Chinese soy sauce
1 teaspoon light Chinese soy sauce
3 tablespoons catsup
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon red wine

Make a marinade of soy sauces, catsup, sugar, Hoisin sauce, garlic and red wine and marinate the pork overnight, or for a minimum of 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Place marinated pork strips on oven rack, with pan underneath to catch the drippings.  (Ann's Note:  Unless you want a messy oven, I suggest you skip this part and use a broiler pan instead.  Much easier to clean!)  After 20 minutes, lower the heat to 300F and brush both sides with the marinade and barbecue 20 minutes.  Brush both sides again, turn over and barbecue 15 more minutes.  Brush, turn over, and complete barbecuing after 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven.  (Ann's Note:  Proceed to the recipe below for Barbecued Pork with Vegetables.)  If pork is to be served as an appetizer, cut into thin strips.  If main course, cut into larger pieces.

Barbecued Pork with Vegetables – serves 4
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ¼" slice ginger root
1 cup Chinese cabbage (use the tender center, wash thoroughly and cut into 2" lengths).  (Ann's Note:  Chinese cabbage is also known as Napa cabbage.)
½ cup chicken broth (or water) (Ann's note:  divide the broth; you will use ¼ now, ¼ later.)
½ pound snow peas (pull strings)
½ cup canned whole button mushrooms
½ cup canned thin-sliced bamboo shoots
½ cup canned thin-sliced water chestnuts
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon monosodium glutamate (optional)
1 tablespoon thin-sliced green onions with stems
1 pound barbecued pork, thin-sliced
1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch

Add 2 (out of 3) tablespoons of oil to a preheated wok over high heat.  Swirl ginger root around bottom and sides, then discard the ginger.  Add Chinese cabbage and stir-fry for 2 minutes, then add ¼ cup broth.  Cover and cook for 1 minute.  Uncover and add the pea pods, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, salt and MSG (if desired).  Stir thoroughly for 1 minute.  Spoon into a bowl and set aside.

Clean the wok, preheat and add 1 tablespoon oil.  Add the thin-sliced onion and the barbecue pork; stir-fry a few seconds.  Add the vegetables and mix well.  Blend the cornstarch with the remaining ¼ cup of broth and stir evenly into the mixture.  Using a slotted spoon so that the liquid remains in the wok, remove the pork and vegetables to a platter and serve immediately.  (Ann's Note:  I served this over rice.)

Snow Pea Shoot Dumplings – makes 15
4 oz fresh snowpea shoots, roughly chopped  (Ann's Important Note:  I could not find snowpea shoots so I used snowpeas instead and just made sure I chopped them so that they would fit inside a wonton wrapper.  We still loved this recipe.)
4 oz (raw) jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined and coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
3 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Asian sesame seed oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
15 wonton wrappers (round or square)

Blanch snowpea shoots (or snow peas) in a pan of boiling water for 1 minute.  Drain and refresh immediately in cold water.

In a bowl, combine snowpea shoots, shrimp, ginger, oyster sauce, soy sauce, rice wine, salt, sugar, sesame oil and cornstarch.  Using wet hands, mix until well combined.  (Ann's Note:  I used a spoon to mix and it worked just fine.)

Place wonton wrappers on work surface and cover with a damp kitchen towel.  Working with one wrapper at a time, place 3 teaspoons of filling in the center and brush edges of wrapper with water.  Fold three sides of wrapper into the center, forming a triangular shape.  Using your fingertips, press edges of wrapper together.  Cover with a damp kitchen towel and set aside.  Repeat with remaining wonton wrappers.

Line a medium bamboo steamer with parchment (baking paper).  Ann's Note:  we don't have a bamboo steamer but we do have a large fry pan that has a steamer tray so we used that (it sort of makes for a large double-boiler).  You can also use a metal steamer that you insert into a pan; just be sure to avoid getting the dumplings wet.

Once you line your steamer with parchment, half fill a medium wok (steamer pan) with water and bring to a boil.  Arrange dumplings in steamer, cover and place steamer over boiling water.  (Again, do not get the dumplings wet).  Steam for 10 minutes, adding more boiling water to pan when necessary.  Lift steamer off pan and carefully remove dumplings.  Serve warm with soy sauce.

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