Popular Post abcdefg Posted February 6, 2017 at 10:37 AM Popular Post Report Share Posted February 6, 2017 at 10:37 AM I nearly always have a liesurely bowl of century egg and lean pork porridge 皮蛋瘦肉粥 (pidan shourou zhou) when visiting Guangzhou and Hong Kong as an accompaniment to dim sum 点心。Last fall I was happy to see that a small 小笼包 xiaolongbao shop that I frequent here in Kunming began offering it on the side. I like its relatively bland taste 清淡 as a change from Kunming's bold, spicy fare. And finally this weekend, I worked up the courage to try making it at home. Have made plenty of zhou here over the years, but never with century eggs. Thought I would tell you about it, partly as a general introduction to what zhou 粥 is all about, and partly as an introduction to the famous and exotic century eggs that you have doubtless read about somewhere down the line. Zhou is one of those things I never ate before coming to China; I guarantee you it isn’t big in Texas. It's something that can be made very plain or fancied up to fit one's mood and desires. This particular type, made with the fabled century egg and thinly sliced lean meat, is very popular here on the Mainland in part because it is said to dispel excess internal heat; in other words it is 清热。It's also quite soothing and easy to digest, thus frequently prescribed for people who are feeble or ailing. But you don’t have to be sick to enjoy it; zhou is the ultimate Chinese comfort food. My first stop in gathering ingredients was the trusty Mr. Yang. He's my go to egg guy at the local wet market. I've been buying from him several years, and he has never done me wrong. His free-range chicken eggs are the best of the best. I asked his advice; told him it was my first time using this exotic delicacy at home to make 稀饭。(In Yunnan, xifan 稀饭 is what we call zhou 粥 。) He explained that he had two kinds: 黄色的 yellow and 黑色的 black. For making zhou, he suggested the black ones, since they had a stronger flavor. I bought two at 2.5 Yuan each. These are duck eggs, quite a bit larger than eggs from a chicken 鸡蛋。Here's a picture to show you what I mean. But let me not get ahead of myself. We need to go back and start at the beginning; we need to talk about making zhou. I often use half and half ordinary white rice 大米 and glutinous rice 糯米 because the finished product has a smoother, silkier texture. Sometimes I rely on a combination of white rice and millet 小米。I also occasionally make zhou as a way to use up left over rice. Whatever grain one chooses, it's important not to use too much, because it expands more than you think it will during cooking. The ratio of water to rice should be at least 13 to 1. Actually 15 to 1 is better if you are using combined grains instead of just white rice. Wash it well: Take the wet rice, a handful at a time, and sort of knead it under water. Never do this if making plain steamed rice; but for zhou it's quite helpful since you want the grains to break down instead of remaining intact. Rinse the rice until the water runs clear; 4 or 5 times. You can cook it stovetop using a clay pot 瓦煲; that's the traditional way but it requires nearly constant stirring for about 30 minutes. The lazy person's method is to use a rice cooker, and that's what I did instead. The rice needs to soak for about 30 minutes before starting to cook. Use that time to prep your other ingredients, namely the meat and the preserved egg. I had bought a nice piece of lean pork loin 里脊 at the market from Ms. Li for 5 Yuan. Her sign advertises, “well-fed, healthy pigs from the mountain.” She and her husband had not gotten to return home to Zhaotong 昭通 for Spring Festival and she was a little blue. Chinese prefer fat meat, generally speaking, such a 五花肉, and lean meat is often a bargain. Using my razor sharp new meat knife, sliced the meat thin and let it marinate in a combination of starch 淀粉 and cooking wine 料酒。Added a pinch of white pepper 白胡椒粉 and another of five spice powder 五香粉。 I let the meat marinate about 30 minutes. Some recipes call for letting it stand even longer; this process helps makes it tender. Minced some elegant garlic chives 韭菜/jiucai and then turned my attention to the glorious egg. Peeled it carefully so as to discover whether or not it had the proper “flower pattern” of surface crystals to indicate it had been made properly. This one definitely did, as you can see below. These duck eggs are first brined for a few days, and then packed in a damp coating made of rice hulls and clay mixed with ash and lime. This hardens, and they cure for about three months, Mr. Yang said. The yellow ones cure for a shorter time; they are often served just sliced and arranged as a 凉拌 (cold appetizer) accompaniment to other heavier warm fare at a special meal. They are an acquired taste, enjoyed in much the same way as westerners relish certain aged cheeses like Roquefort, Blue, or Gorgonzola. The eggs (I used two) can be difficult to slice cleanly since the center is soft. And yes they definitely do have a pungent aroma of hydrogen sulfide aroma and ammonia. The smell fills the room. I dipped my knife blade in water so as to keep the egg from crumbling. Saw another tip suggesting coating the knife with salad oil. Then I started my plain zhou 粥 cooking, using the appropriate setting 稀饭 on the rice cooker. This cycle takes about 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, I opened it, gave it a good stir and added the meat, eggs, and garlic chives. Plus a skimpy teaspoon of salt (the egg has some salt, so you don't need a lot.) In retrospect, I should probably have added some extra water at that point, because the finished product was a little too thick. I'll do that next time. Nonetheless, it had a pleasant and well-balanced taste. The preserved egg added a note of flavor contrast but was by no means overpowering, and the meat added a texture contrast even though it was thoroughly tender. And the garlic chives looked pretty, in a subdued way. One can use other herbs in place of it, such as 香菜 leaf coriander. Zhou freezes well, so I put up half of it in a plastic container. Will thaw it out and reheat it one rainy day when I don’t feel like cooking or when I need to dispel excess internal heat. 6 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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