Little Plates

Little Plates cover that whole gamut of light fare from the culinary traditions of Antipasto, through Dim Sum, and all the way to Tapas and Zakuski

Beef Xian Bing - 牛肉餡餅
Beef Xian Bing – 牛肉餡餅

Beef Xian Bing – 牛肉餡餅

These little delicacies are a northern Chinese specialty. The word ‘Bing’ refers to a wide range of flat, usually unleavened, wheat ‘cakes’ and the word ‘Xian’ specifically indicates that this cake is ‘stuffed’ or ‘filled’. Mostly, the filling is some sort of meat or other, so you can basically think of these treats as ‘Chinese Meat Pies’. Here, I am using Beef, along with a little Leek, to fill my ‘pies’, hence the – 牛肉 (niu rou) prefix to the Chinese characters for Xian Bing (餡餅).


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Black Bean Steamed Clams
Black Bean Steamed Clams

Black Bean Steamed Clams

Clams and Chinese Salted Black Beans are quite often paired together, but most commonly this happens in stir-fried dishes. Here, they are steamed together with chili, garlic and scallion to make a terrific appetizer or Dim Sum style dish.


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Sweet Sesame Shrimp
Sweet Sesame Shrimp

Sweet Sesame Shrimp

Worcestershire Sauce and Tomato Ketchup may sound like unusual ingredients in a Chinese or Asian recipe but, in fact, in the past several decades, both have become quite commonly used in those parts. Indeed, I would even hazard a guess that Worcestershire Sauce is now used more frequently in Asia than it is in the West. In this recipe, both of these ingredients are used to add a second level of flavor to a straightforward sweet and sour glaze, and the whole is rounded out by the rich nuttiness of Sesame.


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Chicken Wings Steamed with Sichuan Pickle
Chicken Wings Steamed with Sichuan Pickle

Chicken Wings Steamed with Sichuan Pickle

Chicken wings are wonderful when steamed so that their own juices blend with added flavorings to produce a rich and savory sauce. In this recipe, the ‘drumette’ section of chicken wings are steamed over a bed of celery, which adds its own aromatic contribution, and pickled zhà cài, or Sichuan Preserved Vegetable to provide a nice, sharp, tangy note against the spicy backdrop of chili oil.


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Sesame Cucumber Salad
Sesame Cucumber Salad

Sesame Cucumber Salad

There are many cold dishes in Asian cuisine featuring cucumbers which are first salted and then later served in a dressing of some sort. Sometimes, the cucumber is allowed to ferment slightly in order to produce a nice lactic acid pickle and, at other times, as here, the salting time is just brief enough to soften the flesh and make it receptive to flavorings. Today’s dish definitely falls within the latter category. It doesn’t hail from any particular cuisine but would be equally at home on a Chinese, Japanese, or Korean table.


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Red-Cooked Pig Trotters - 紅燒豬手
Red-Cooked Pig Trotters – 紅燒豬手

Red-Cooked Pig Trotters – 紅燒豬手

Red-Cooking, as I have explained elsewhere, is the Chinese cookery method (紅燒), in which the primary ingredients are simmered in a braising medium containing Soy Sauce and various aromatics. Pig Trotters, as the feet are sometimes known, are not widely consumed in North America, but thy are wonderful for making stock, and provide a hearty richness in braised dishes like this.


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Spicy Dried Squid Banchan
Spicy Dried Squid Banchan

Spicy Dried Squid Banchan is my interpretation of a Korean favorite known as Ojingeo-chae-bokkeum. It is a dish, commonly served cold, featuring strips of squid cooked in a thick, sweet sauce containing chili and it is a popular stand-alone snack, as well as a side dish for a rice-based meal. Because it can me made well ahead of service, and keeps for extended periods in the fridge, it is a popular addition to packed lunches in Korea.


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Snow Peas with Chinese Sausage
Snow Peas with Chinese Sausage

Snow Peas with Chinese Sausage

The sweet, apple-like quality of preserved Chinese Sausage is often paired with more robust green vegetables such as Gai-Lan, or green-beans, but it also works very nicely with the more delicate crispness of fresh snow-pea pods.

The recipe given below has been designed as a small appetizer dish, or a Dim Sum type offering, but it could easily be made in a larger quantity and served as a main dish in a Chinese meal, or even as a side-dish on a western table.


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