Friday, November 4, 2016

A Dash Of China

One of the best aspects of cooking is getting creative. It could be adding a never tasted before veggie or trying out exotic spices. Chinese influenced dishes are always a crowd pleaser and fun to make, It's easy to add a touch of the Far East to everyday dishes.

Soy sauce is usually used just for splashing on lo mein or as a dip for egg rolls and spring rolls. Did you know that it could give the humble hamburger some oomph? Ground meat can be marinated in a mix of  one-half cup of soy  and one half cup of Worcester sauce. it's just molding the patties , laying them down in a glass baking dish and pouring the marinade over them.Let sit an hour before cooking. Unlike regular burgers, do not flip.They're too moist and may break apart. The patties can also have a dash of grated ginger and chopped scallions too for some heat.Soy sauce and Szechuan peppercorns can also be added to meat loaf as well as hoisin sauce. Many home chefs may have some qualms cooking with  it but once tried is a kitchen staple. It's great in  giving meat loaf a nice dark glaze along with a rich unami flavor.  Try it for a tastier barbecued and roasted chicken. It'can be mixed with soy but also works well with such everyday ingredients as brown sugar, ketchup and  honey.  Hoisin sauce can even be made at home. It's a no-cook recipe that calls for soy sauce, peanut butter, and molasses mixed with rice vinegar and sesame seed oil. Minced garlic and black pepper are added for zing along with Chinese hot sauce. This last can also be made at home, using anaheim peppers and garlic in  a mix of vegetable oil and rice wine vinegar.

Many home chefs are intrigued by the Chinese five spice blend.It's  actually a blend of rather unusual herbs such as star anise, cinnamon, Szechuan pepper, fennel seeds and cloves. You don,t have to to go to an Asian supermarket for it. McCormicks' make their version of it. (keep in mind it is expensive at $17 for 2.75 ounces). The blend can be made at home. The recipe is easy. Mix cinnamon with anise seeds, and black peppercorns, if you can't find the Chinese kind,. Fennel seeds are easy to come by, Just check out the local grocery's spice section. All the spices are then ground in a coffee grinder and can be stored for up to two months. Any meat from pork to chicken can benefit from this amazing marriage  of hot and earthy. There is a famed pork dish called Five Flower pork that has the mix  livening up a simple cut.  Vegans will love the fact that it complements tofu . Add Five Spice to stir fries grilled meats or even to sautes. Veggies can be spiked with them giving them a spark of the exotic.Combine cauliflower, squash  and corn with snow peas and mushrooms.Add the Five Spices along with soy sauce  and saute in canola oil.  Two teaspoons of flour is also used to thicken the sauce.It can even be used in a vinaigrette , perfect for a grilled chicken or   beef salad.

Chinese sauces and spices are great in livening up everyday recipes.  Try hoisin sauce for jazzing up meat loaf or Five Spices for livening up veggies. It  makes for fun cooking and fun eating!

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