CHINESE food is something our senses enjoy long before our taste buds do. The nose-tickling aromas of ginger and garlic, sometimes peppered with spicy sauces, make our mouths spring water, stirring up our appetites for a plate of one of the world’s most addictive food.
Indigenous Chinese cuisine is very different to what the western world has come to know and love as “Chinese food’’, ingredients and mode of preparation differ in cooking from province to province. Flavours vary according to the physical location, with hotter climates embracing a very spicy and heated cuisine, which encourages sweating as a mechanism to cool down. Interior northern regions, where the weather is cold prompts a cuisine that embraces longer methods such as braising which serves to nourish, sustain and warm the home as well.
It is a very intriguing, vast and diverse cuisine with many different flavour profiles. What we have come to enjoy here in TT as Chinese cuisine is an adaptation of Cantonese cuisine. One which we have spiced up to suite our flavour profile.
Vegetable fried rice
2 tbs water
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs minced ginger
1 tsp salt
3 tbs vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup, minced chives
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
8 dried Chinese mushrooms, softened in hot water for 20 minutes, stems removed, and caps cut into 1/4-inch dice.
2 pimento peppers, seeded and chopped
2 tbs chopped celery
5 cups cold, cooked rice, separated with a fork
Combine the sauce ingredients and set aside.
Heat a wok or large skillet, add one tablespoon oil and heat until hot.
Add the eggs and fry over high heat until set, flip and break up with spoon, remove egg from pot.
Heat remaining oil, add ginger and garlic, stir fry until fragrant, add mushrooms and cook for a few minutes.
Add onion, chives, carrots, and pepper and continue to cook until vegetables are tender.
Return egg to pot, add rice and stir fry until heated thoroughly.
Add sauce and toss to coat evenly. Serve at once.
Serves 6 to 8.
Gingery stir-fried shrimp
2 tbs rice vinegar
2 tbs chopped fresh chadon beni
1 tbs chopped garlic
2 tbs sliced ginger
1 hot pepper, seeded and chopped
2 tsp honey
12 ounces uncooked medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails left intact
4 blades chives, sliced
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1 tbs vegetable oil
Mix vinegar, chadon beni, 1/2 tbs ginger, and honey in small bowl. Season shrimp with one teaspoon garlic, salt and pepper.
Heat oil in heavy large skillet or a wok over medium-high heat. Add garlic, ginger, and pepper; sauté until aromatic, about 3 minutes.
Add shrimp, cook until pink and curled, add vinegar mixture to skillet; stir until shrimp are just cooked through, about 3 minutes.
Dissolve cornstarch in 1/2 cup water.
Add mixture to skillet; stir until liquid thickens, about 2 minutes.
Sprinkle on chives and serve.
Hot and spicy Szechuan eggplant
6 dried black mushrooms
1 cup hot water
2 tbs veg. oil
10 cloves garlic
4 blades chive, finely chopped
1 one inch piece ginger, finely chopped
2 large eggplants, cut into strips, 2 inches long and ½-inch thick
1 tbs hot chilli garlic sauce
2 tbs rice or apple cider vinegar
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs sugar
Salt the eggplant strips well, let stand in a colander for about 30 minutes.
Then rinse well, squeeze out excess water and pat dry.
Soak mushrooms in hot water for at least 30 minutes, drain and reserve water.
Cut the mushrooms into narrow strips discard the woody stems.
In a small bowl combine the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
Heat oil in a wok, then add garlic stir fry for a few seconds, then add the chives and ginger.
Stir fry for a few more seconds about 30 secs.
Now add eggplant and mushrooms.
Stir fry for about 3 minutes until eggplant begins to soften.
Stir in the sauce ingredients and the reserved mushroom water.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.