Homemade Xiaolongbao - 小笼包
Homemade Xiaolongbao – 小笼包

 The Chinese Soup Dumpling Secret

If you have ever tried any of the Chinese delicacies generally known as ‘soup-dumplings’ or their (often) larger, and well-known cousins, Xiaolongbao, you have probably enjoyed the way that the steaming, liquid content squirts in your mouth when you bite into them. Quite possibly, it also occurred to you to wonder how on earth the cook gets the delicious broth into the dumplings in the first place…

Not long ago, when I featured the technique for making a Basic Chinese Pork Stock, I hinted at this ancient Chinese secret. If you haven’t guessed the answer yet, read on…

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Thai-Style Pork with Pineapple
Thai-Style Pork with Pineapple

Thai-Style Pork with Pineapple

A while ago, I reviewed the commercially prepared Jack Hua Brand Sour Shrimp Paste from Thailand. The culinary paste is primarily intended for making the perennial Thai restaurant favorite Tom Yum Soup, but I rarely use it that way and instead find it useful as a base for curries, or stir-fried dishes. Here, I have used the paste along with Pork and Pineapple in order to make a dish that is both sweet, sour, and pungent with the flavorings associated with a Thai Yellow Curry.


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Pork Rendang Thai-Style
Pork Rendang Thai-Style

Pork Rendang Thai-Style

A ‘Rendang’ is an Indonesian dish in which the main ingredient, usually a meat, is cooked slowly in spiced Coconut Milk until the milk has almost disappeared and the meat is supremely tender and infused with the flavors of the braising liquid.

Indonesian cuisine has its own range of preferred spices and my Rendang here departs from the traditional to give the dish a very Thai character. I have actually employed a spice blend that is typically used for the Thai specialty Tom Yum Soup, and, more particularly, I tried out a commercial product, the previously reviewed Jack Hua Brand Sour Shrimp Paste.


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Mushroom Fettucine with Truffle Oil
Mushroom Fettucine with Truffle Oil

Mushroom Fettucine with Truffle Oil

I always have a few cans of sliced or whole button mushrooms in my pantry. They are handy for adding to the sort of dish you throw together in a hurry at the last minute but, in all honesty, they do not have the depth or richness of flavor of fresh mushrooms. They are, it must be said, pretty much an ingredient of last resort rather than a first choice in most cases.

Truffle Oil is also one of those ingredients that pales in comparison to the ‘real deal’. It does have the advantage of convenience, and is SO much cheaper than fresh truffle, but it needs to be employed prudently. One use where it is very effective is in boosting the limited flavor of canned mushrooms in order to make a cheap, but special tasting pasta dish.


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