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Posts tagged ‘Appetizer’

Leek Stuffed Chicken Roll

Leek Stuffed Chicken Roll B

I start lots of culinary projects with a view to publishing them on my blog at some point but, sometimes, the odd one gets put on the back burner and languishes forgotten in a directory on my computer. I have been going back though some of these recently and have found a couple I thought my readers might like to see. This first one was for a nice little appetizer I tried one day and, though I never got around to recording all the steps, or writing up a proper recipe, I am able to reproduce my original notes:

Halved Leek sections seasoned with garlic salt, pepper and butter, wrapped in Prosciutto. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until Leek softened. Place inside a boned chicken thigh, add chopped fresh sage and roll up. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Bake until golden. Drizzle with melted red-currant jelly.

And… for the verdict I recorded?

Nice but the prosciutto was a little leathery. Bacon or Pancetta next time?  Hot Pepper Jelly might be nice here too.

Sweet Pepper Parsnips

sweet-pepper-parsnips-1

I had been planning to use some parsnips along with my Red Bell Pepper Sauce as a side for a roast one day when it struck me that the preparation might make a very nice Spanish Tapas sort of dish, rather along the lines of Patatas Bravas. The difference here, of course, is that I am substituting the sweetness of red peppers  for the usual tomato based sauce, and adding just enough chili to make it ‘sparkle’ rather than being very spicy … Read more

Shrimp and Pork Stuffed Mushrooms

shrimp-and-pork-stuffed-mushrooms-1

Combining shrimp with pork is quite common in Chinese cookery and a well seasoned blend of ground pork and chopped shrimp is one of may favorite dumpling fillings. That being said, I wanted to experiment with the typical filling for dishes that don’t include the carb load of a dumpling wrapper and today’s post shows you the first of a few little ideas I tried… Read more

Scallop Clusters

scallop-clusters-1

The technique used in the preparation of these little appetizers is very much like the Japanese ‘Kakiage’ style of Tempura. However, I have departed from the Japanese roots a little by combining chopped scallop meat, not only with shredded Wakame seaweed, but also some finely diced Chinese Preserved Sausage. I still want to play around with the basic theme in variations to come, I think, but the result here was very good indeed … Read more

Chinese Cold Spiced Beef

cold-spiced-beef-1

Today’s (very simple) post illustrates just one of the many variations on a common theme in Chinese cookery. Cold plates frequently commence a Chinese banquet and combinations may include dressed jelly-fish shreds, cold roast pork with crackling, or marbled tea-eggs (to name just a few). One perennial favorite is thinly sliced braised beef shank, especially where the meat has been prepared as in my ‘Red-Cooked Beef Shank ‘  recipe posted not long ago… Read more

Sweet Sesame Shrimp

Sweet Sesame Shrimp 1

I had a small amount of shrimp leftover in my freezer that needed to be used and so I put together this little Cantonese-style appetizer for a light snack. If you peruse the ingredient list below, it may strike you that Worcestershire Sauce and Ketchup are not particularly Chinese, but, in fact, they are both quite commonly used. Indeed, I would hazard to say that, these days, Worcestershire sauce is probably used more commonly in the far east than it is in the west. In any event, this little dish is dead easy to make and can be put together in very short order… Read more

Dressed Cucumbers

Dressed Cucumbers 1

This dish was inspired by a cucumber salad I had in a Japanese restaurant not long ago. I haven’t tried to reproduce the exact dish (it was quite a spicy affair), but I did borrow the idea of using very thick slices rather than the much thinner ones you commonly see in Japanese cucumber appetizers… Read more

Dim Sum – Steamed Pork and Peanut Dumplings

Steamed Pork and Peanut Dumpling 1

潮洲蒸粉粿

I had these dumplings at Urban China in the City of Edmonton some while ago. The English name given on the menu describes the content well enough but the Chinese Character name more particularly identifies them as a specialty of the Cantonese town of Chaozhou commonly known as ‘Fun Gor’. You should be aware, though, that the town and the dumplings both have a host of different spellings and can appear together on a menu (to list just a few possibilities) as:

  • Teochew Fun Gor;
  • Chiu Chow Dumpling; or,
  • Chaozhou Fen Guo

This type of dumpling has a starch based wrapper that is translucent when steamed. It is typically made with wheat or tapioca starch (or a combination thereof) and flour is sometimes added, with rice flour being the most common. Pork and peanuts are invariable components of the filling but shrimp, both dried and fresh, are often included, as are white radish, black mushrooms, and cilantro.

The version you see pictured above has the standard starch-based wrapper and is of a fairly common shape (although you can often find them formed as a flat, half-moon, with the pleat on the side). These ones were quite large and a little unwieldy when trying to manipulate them with chopsticks, but they held together well and didn’t fall apart. The pork presence in the filling was a bit bland, while the coarsely chopped peanuts added some texture but little taste. Most of the flavor actually came from dried black mushroom, with a little cilantro in the back ground. The dumplings were not bad, overall, but definitely not the best ‘fun gor’ I have ever had…

By the way (and for those interested), the first two characters in the Chinese menu name indicate Chaozhou (or Chiu Chow, etc.) while the middle character (pronounced zhēng, in Mandarin) means ‘steamed’. The last two characters identify the dumpling type and yield the ‘Fun Gor’ pronunciation but they are actually non-standard deviations from the typical menu listing . Usually, the characters 粉果 are used for this sort of dumpling (and the pronunciation is the same) but, here, the restaurant has employed 粉粿, instead. This makes a bit of linguistic sense in that the final character translates as ‘cooked rice for making cake’, but. In usual renditions, the standard character (果) means fruit. Anyone have any information on this point?

 

Dim Sum: Grilled Abalone and Meat Buns

Grilled Abalone and Meat Bun

鮑魚生煎飽

This delicacy, which I was served at Urban China in Edmonton this past July, was very interesting from both a culinary and linguistic standpoint. The buns of stuffed, leavened dough, were described as being ‘grilled’ on the English menu but the penultimate character in the Chinese name means to ‘pan-fry’, which was clearly the case here. However, each bun was nearly the width of my palm so I rather suspect that they must have been steamed first.

The filling contained both abalone and pork and was very tasty. The abalone was diced very small, and there wasn’t a great deal of it (abalone is very expensive) but it did add a nice, sweetish marine flavor to the umami of the meat. There was, unfortunately, some cilantro added, which I dislike, but it was in small enough amount that it didn’t diminish my pleasure.

For those interested, the Chinese name has a bit of a poetic quality as the first and last characters are both pronounced ‘bao’, albeit with a fractional difference in tone. The first two characters specify Abalone, but can be read as ‘abalone fish’, indicating how the Chinese categorize this animal. Interestingly, the first character does not contain the ‘insect/bug radical’ as do most of the characters for various types of shell-fish.

I was a bit confused by the middle character (生, pronounced ‘shēng’). This usually indicates an item that is fresh or raw, and I first thought it indicated that fresh rather than dried abalone had been used except that the placement of the character was wrong. I have since learned that it forms a compound with the next character and that a生煎 bun is a particular specialty of Shanghai.

The very last character is curious and I could use some help… Many bread and dumpling delicacies are specified by the generic包character in their name. Here, the final character includes, you will note, 包as its right half, and the pronunciation of both is just about the same. The meaning of the 飽character, however, is ‘eat until full’ so I am not sure if the person who drafted the menu used the wrong character, or whether they were employing a well-known Chines pun. Can anybody shed some light on this?

Notable Nosh: Braised Pork Belly

Braised Pork Belly

I had this little appetizer at Sabor in Edmonton. A few days earlier I enjoyed a terrific meal there but this particular item was not nearly as good and I feature it here because it illustrates the pairing of two foodstuffs that have become ‘fads’ in recent years.

Pork Belly, until 5 or, perhaps, 10 years ago, was a very under-appreciated and underused cut but  which has since blossomed as a ‘foodie favorite’ such that any restaurant that aspires to fine dining is essentially required to include it in at least one dish. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it should mean that the cut should be prepared in such a way as to let its special qualities shine.

In a similar way, Balsamic Vinegar exploded onto the culinary scene about a decade or so ago, and went from relative obscurity to overhyped and undeserved culinary stardom. I love the scene in one of ‘The Sopranos’ episodes when Carmela entertains her parents for dinner and the mother asks what is in the escarole. Carmela replies that it is Balsamic and her father interjects:

‘Balsamic, Balsamic, Balsamic … my mother never heard of Balsamic’

Thirty years ago, I used to see Balsamic Vinegar mentioned in the odd Italian cookbook, but it was years before I ever saw a bottle in a store here in Canada. True Balsamic Vinegar is originally a specialty of Modena in Italy, and the properly aged article can sell for hundreds of dollars for just a few ounces. Nowadays, however, you see it everywhere and the truth is that most of the stuff available in stores, or used by restaurants, could easily be substituted with a plain Apple Cider vinegar colored with a little caramel. As in the little appetizer featured here, you can stick the name Balsamic into a name and it lends a cachet to a dish that is out of proportion to the actual quality.

The menu at Sabor described this dish is being ‘Braised Pork Belly in a Quince-Balsamic reduction. I cannot attest to the use of quince here as I couldn’t detect much on the way of fruity sweetness, but it was pretty clear that the drizzled dressing did contain one of the products that pass as Balsamic Vinegar. The effect was not bad, I suppose, but really nothing special.

As for the pork belly itself… it may have been braised briefly, but it appeared to have been finished quickly on a grill or griddle. The latter process was not long enough to lend it any nice charring or caramelization, and the ultimate result was pretty much the same as plain pan-frying, without the unctiously tender qualities you get when the cut is well prepared. The entire production, in short, was really just a glaring example of exploiting the cachet of certain foodstuffs and failing to deliver anything special at all.

Anyway… here endeth the rant…

 

 

 

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