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abcdefg

Revisiting the classics 家常菜

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abcdefg

I thought it might be fun to revisit some of the classics of Chinese cuisine, things you run into again and again in simple mom-and-pop restaurants all over China. Would want to focus on dishes that are easy to make at home; ones that don't require exotic ingredients or specialized equipment. 

 

Have bought the fixings for 红烧茄子 -- hongshao qiezi (red-braised eggplant) and will make it later tonight to kick things off. It's good either meatless for vegetarians, or with meat for omnivores. The method of making it is easy to adapt to other red-braised dishes, such as Chairman Mao's beloved 红烧肉 -- hongshao rou (red-braised pork,) red-braised ribs 红烧排骨, red-braised chicken wings 红烧鸡翅 and so on. 

 

My short list so far has 鱼香肉丝 -- yuxiang rousi  (fish-flavored pork slivers), which doesn't taste anything like fish, but is spicy and loaded with southwest charm. The same technique and flavor palette can be used with eggplant to make 鱼香茄子 -- yuxiang qiezi if one does not eat meat. 

 

Also thought I'd make 扬州炒饭 -- yangzhou chaofan (Yangzhou fried rice,) not only because it's great in its own right, but as a rough template for how to make other kinds of fried rice.  

 

Please let me know what else you think should be included. Everyone is also welcome to post their own recipes, preferably with photos to make them easier to understand and use. 

 

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suMMit

宫保鸡丁,鼓包肉

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abcdefg
1 hour ago, suMMit said:

宫保鸡丁,鼓包肉

 

Thanks, those are winners. (Assuming you mean 锅包肉.) 

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suMMit

We had some 家里做的包子 tonight

IMG_20191013_194400.jpg

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IMG_20191013_194408.jpg

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889

Epicures can sneer all they want, but you can't ignore 古老肉/糖醋里脊. (But yes, it seems embarrassing to order it, so I usually don't.)

 

Another can't-miss is 炸酱面. (It can be ordered without embarrassment.)

 

麻婆豆腐 and 京酱肉丝 also belong on the old-standbys list.

 

(These all assume you can these days still afford to order meat.)

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DavyJonesLocker
2 hours ago, abcdefg said:

Have bought the fixings for 红烧茄子 -- hongshao qiezi (red-braised eggplant) and will make it later tonight to kick things off. It's good either meatless for vegetarians, or with meat for omnivores. The method of making it is easy to adapt to other red-braised dishes, such as Chairman Mao's beloved 红烧肉 -- hongshao rou (red-braised pork,) red-braised ribs 红烧排骨, red-braised chicken wings 红烧鸡翅 and so on.

 

 

do you use different 老抽  or 生抽 for the different dishes. I have bought a few different 生抽 now but some seem to verge towards the 老抽 end of things 

 

 

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ChTTay

Gotta have 回锅肉 on “the list”. 

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Luxi

I look forward to 红烧茄子, and even have some aubergines at home waiting for a recipe.

 

If there's room for another request, I used to like 罗汉斋 (Buddha's delight), I guess the dish can take different combinations of tofu and many types of vegetables (or pickled Chinese veggies only?),  and would love to know what is the sauce.

 

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Shelley
8 hours ago, 889 said:

Epicures can sneer all they want, but you can't ignore 古老肉/糖醋里脊

 

A favorite of mine and on the menus here in the UK along with sweet and sour chicken or prawns or even beef.

 

One thing I think that is often forgotten is soups, egg drop soup or sweet corn soup. there are probably more - a clear soup I don't know the name of.

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abcdefg

Many thanks for all those fine suggestions. To be frank, some of them are things I've only eaten in a restaurant, have not tried making them at home. I will start doing some background reading and talking to my local cooking friends. 

 

On 10/13/2019 at 8:20 PM, suMMit said:

We had some 家里做的包子 tonight

 

@suMMit -- Those look delicious. Were they a lot of trouble to make? I usually buy 小笼包 and 包子 outside instead of making them at home, mainly out of laziness. Do you have a bamboo steamer basket? The place I usually go is very small and they do the whole process out front where customers can see their meat and how they handle it. Somehow I find that reassuring; they aren't hiding the process in a dark back room. 

 

@Shelley -- Fore sure some sweet and sour dishes need to be on the short list. I love those too. And you are right about soup being often overlooked. Chinese have soup with nearly every main meal (not with breakfast.) I particularly like soups during the colder months, and they are coming up. 

 

On 10/13/2019 at 9:06 PM, 889 said:

麻婆豆腐 and 京酱肉丝 also belong on the old-standbys list.

 

@889 -- Yes indeed. In particular I'm a die hard fan of 麻婆豆腐。Go through spells of making it once a week, and then I don't think of it again for a month or two. Always a pleasure to return to it. 

 

On 10/13/2019 at 9:21 PM, DavyJonesLocker said:

do you use different 老抽  or 生抽 for the different dishes.

 

@DavyJonesLocker -- That's a great question and it comes up a lot. I definitely can help with "the soy sauce issue." Promise to give you some info on that within the next 24 hours. It's an interesting subject. 

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Shelley

I have no idea if this going to be new to you or something that is known to all chinese foodies such as yourself. Have you heard of or indeed read The Mountain House Cookbook, recipes from the Song dynasty. Apparently it is still in print and available.

 

I am not necessarily proposing you cook any of them but it might be an interesting read and may inspire. 

 

If the logistics weren't so complicated I would buy this for you as a Christmas present.

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889

Funny you mention that, because I've often thought it would be interesting to open -- well, visit at least -- a restaurant serving dishes hewing as closely as possible to ancient meals. Hard, because so many things -- sugar, tomatoes, chilis, potatoes, peanuts, corn, etc -- are by historical reckoning relatively new to China.

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abcdefg
1 hour ago, Shelley said:

Have you heard of or indeed read The Mountain House Cookbook, recipes from the Song dynasty. Apparently it is still in print and available.

 

What a kind thought, @Shelley! I was totally unaware of that cookbook. I will definitely look it up. At one time, before beginning my China travels, I had a nice collection of cookbooks. Used to love to leaf through them seeking either specific knowledge or general inspiration. Over the years I've given most of them away. Some I still miss. Here in China I rely on the internet and then run things by a few savvy local friends. 

 

26 minutes ago, 889 said:

Hard, because so many things -- sugar, tomatoes, chilis, potatoes, peanuts, corn, etc -- are by historical reckoning relatively new to China.

  

Chilies is the one that always surprised me most of all, living in the "spicy" Southwest of China. Had figured they dated back the time of Oracle Bones or maybe the time of Peking Man, but you're right about them being recent. I was dead wrong. 

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DavyJonesLocker

Forgive the naiveness but what exactly is 红烧? 

 

I see it in recipies but do I just assume it's 老抽 + 生抽 mix?

 

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889

I'm sort of surprised you have to ask the question.

 

Used to be, one of the first things you learned in China was that Mao Zedong's favorite dish was 红烧肉. Used to be, at least. I always suspected friends would order it just so they could tell you, once again, 你知道吗,这是毛泽东最爱吃的菜!

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DavyJonesLocker

Yeah I've heard all that but I'm curious as to  the  exact definition of 红烧 ?

Is it just anything with 老抽 as the main ingredient ?

 

Oddly enough when I ask native  Chinese this I never get a straight answer from anyone just generalities 

 

Stick 红烧 in a cooking app and will get all sorts of various ingredients, 老抽being the common denominator though.

 

Perhaps it's like the Western concept "Sunday roast " can mean beef, lamb , roast potatoes, mashed, parnsips carrots etc etc but obviously not spaghetti 

 

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Bibu
31 minutes ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

Is it just anything with 老抽 as the main ingredient ?

 

in the old nice days, 红烧 means soybean sauce + sugar, the two would make the color of dish  into red(红),  for me it looks more dark brown.

 

The major differ between 生抽 and 老抽 is have sugar in or not..., so in a modern recipe it is always use 老抽 for 红烧.

 

@abcdefgfor the real classic family dishes, i recommend you can reference this book wrote in 1966: https://book.douban.com/subject/3017522/

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abcdefg
1 hour ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

Yeah I've heard all that but I'm curious as to  the  exact definition of 红烧 ? Is it just anything with 老抽 as the main ingredient ?

 

Hongshao 红烧 can probably best be translated as "red cooked" -- in a stricter sense it means something braised with soy sauce 酱油, most often a mixture of light soy sauce 生抽 and dark soy sauce 老抽。Sugar is usually part of the mix, as  @Bibu said above. Sometimes it is melted in the pan, allowing it to caramelize (红烧肉 requires that.)

 

A good example is this recipe, posted yesterday. If you read through it I think you will see how 红烧 works currently and in real life. Please take a look:

 

https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/59126-red-cooked-eggplant-红烧茄子/?tab=comments#comment-459959 

 

 

Quote

 

Thanks for that link, @Bibu! It looks comprehensive. 

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DavyJonesLocker

thanks @Bibu @abcdefg

very informative. I noticed one or two recipes online just simple mention 红烧 in the procedural steps

 

1 hour ago, abcdefg said:

Sometimes it is melted in the pan, allowing it to caramelize (红烧肉 requires that.)

 

 yup thats what I do a lot with my dishes, nuke the meat in the pressure cooker, when tender caramelize with peanut oil and sugar, the start whacking in the soya combo and other ingredients

The turn out well actually, Took a lot of trial and error though

 

 

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suMMit

@abcdefg my mother in law made the 包子. She does spend a while on them(not in a dark back room😄). She uses the wok with a steamer tray. Those particular ones didnt puff up as much as hers normally do though. These were 猪肉  and  sanxian. I like them better tgan 饺子

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