Bone Marrow Appetizer at the Juniper in Vancouver

Bone Marrow Appetizer at the Juniper in Vancouver

Bone Marrow Appetizer at the Juniper in Vancouver

The Juniper Kitchen and Bar closed it’s doors just before the advent of Covid-19, but it was a very pleasant little bistro on the edge of Vancouver’s Chinatown. I first stopped by for a beer on a hot afternoon and I ended up returning a couple of times during a visit to the City and I found everything to be very well done. The Bone Marrow appetizer you see above didn’t quite suit my taste, but it was skillfully executed nevertheless.

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An Octopus, or 八爪鱼, at the Fishmonger’s

An Octopus, or 八爪鱼, at the Fishmonger’s

How to Cook Octopus, or 八爪鱼

The above picture shows a large Octopus reposing on ice at my local fishmonger’s. For many, the prospects of preparing and cooking one of these beasts can be quite daunting but, really, there is no need to be hesitant. The larger ones take a little bit of work to tenderize before they can be used in dishes but, after that, the flesh is one of the sweetest and most tasty of seafoods.

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Hunan Style Smoked Ham Hock - 湖南香辣火腿

Hunan Style Smoked Ham Hock – 湖南香辣火腿

This recipe was inspired by a dish I read about in ‘Henry Chung’s Hunan-style Chinese Cookbook’, written way back in 1978. That recipe was created by Mr. Chung to replicate a dish from his ancestral home using a plain old smoked Ham Hock instead of the ‘celebrated’ Hunan Ham, which is largely unavailable in the West. Here, I have maintained the basic theme of Mr. Chung’s creation, and augmented the lovely smoky flavor of the Ham Hock with Green Bell Pepper, Chili, and Chinese Salted Black Beans.

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Chinese Superior Stock - 上湯

Chinese Superior Stock – 上湯

A good Basic Chicken Stock is essential in the Chinese kitchen, but for very special soups or other dishes suitable for the banquet table, a very rich broth known as ‘Superior Stock’, or 上湯  (pronounced shàng tāng), is required.

Basically, a traditional Chinese Superior Stock is prepared using chicken, pork and ham, the latter very often the prized Chinese ham known as ‘Jinhua Ham’. A select few other ingredients are used, ginger and scallion usually, but not much else in the way of vegetables are added. It is a very rich and complex preparation and a good stock can make all the difference between a mediocre dish and one that is truly special.

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