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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Spiced Eggs with Shrimp
Spiced Eggs with Shrimp

Spiced Eggs with Shrimp

Scrambled eggs with shrimp is one of those fairly common combinations in Chinese cuisine that can easily be served as a light repast, or as one of several dishes in a more substantial meal. The recipe here, builds on the basic theme by drawing from different Asian cuisines and enhancing the main ingredients with garlic, and the fiery and umami-rich flavors of Sambal Oelek and Fish Sauce.


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Chicken with Sichuan Preserved Vegetable
Chicken with Sichuan Preserved Vegetable

Chicken with Sichuan Preserved Vegetable

This simple little dish is very easy to prepare, but it packs a pretty potent flavor wallop from the addition of the spicy and sour Sichuan Preserved Vegetable, known as Zhà Cài (榨菜). I have augmented the usual heat and tanginess of the pickle with a little chili paste and vinegar, and then rounded out the flavors with just a dash of sugar. Cashews add a nice flavor and textural contrast to both the chicken and vegetable.


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Black Pepper Beef
Black Pepper Beef

Black Pepper Beef

The Chinese tend to prefer White Pepper for many preparations but Black Pepper does appear in some dishes, most notably Hot and Sour Soup, and it is not infrequently used in recipes that include beef. Here, I am doing a quick stir-fried dish using these two ingredients and I am also adding both zucchini and button mushrooms. You can, of course, easily replace these vegetables with any number of other combinations you like.


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Zha Cai - Sichuan Preserved Vegetable
Zha Cai – Sichuan Preserved Vegetable

Zha Cai, or Sichuan Preserved Vegetable, is a spicy Sichuanese specialty featuring a type of mustard stem pickled by packing it with salt, garlic and chili.  It is a very versatile pantry ingredient that packs a powerful flavor punch and can be added to soups and stews, as well as steamed or stir-fried dishes.


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Spicy Dragon Balls
Spicy Dragon Balls

Spicy Dragon Balls

I would first assure anyone reading this that absolutely NO dragons were harmed, or even painlessly neutered, in order to make this dish. The balls are actually made with ground pork, mixed with Conpoy and minced green chili, and then served with sweet bell peppers in a slightly sweet sauce containing red chili paste.

Also, although this dish may sound like one of those classic Chinese dishes with a hopelessly romantic and poetic story behind the name, it is a creation of my own kitchen and I came up with the name for the simple reason that I couldn’t think of anything better other than a clunky, cumbersome one identifying the ingredients. The fresh green chili in the balls, and the red-paste in the sauce, do, I suppose, suggest the sort of fiery-heat associated with dragons, so… there’s that, at least, I guess….


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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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Tatoyaki at Wasabi in Ottawa
Tatoyaki at Wasabi in Ottawa

Tatoyaki at Wasabi

Wasabi, a Japanese restaurant down in Ottawa’s Byward Market, was a terrific restaurant back in its day and I was saddened when it finally closed its doors. The chefs there could be very inventive and produced some uniquely interesting and delightful dishes over the years.

Sometimes, though, the culinary attempts at creativity that came out of the kitchen were just a teensy bit misguided and the results ended up being flops of monumental proportions. The Tatoyaki dish you see pictured above was, I regret to tell you, very much one of their more epic fails…


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