Chinese Archive

Friday, February 5, 2010

ginger fried rice

fried egg on ginger fried rice

According to my calendar — the one I believe I just looked at for the first time since last September, when someone made my life go all date- and timeless — the Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day fall on the same day this year. In New York at least, the Lunar New Year is an excuse to eat egregious amounts of fried rice, spare ribs and to make your way through Chinatown streets over piles of strewn red paper* from firecrackers. Valentine’s Day, however, is dominated by French food because what could be more romantic than copious amounts of wine, butter, cheese, steak and chocolate?

brown jasmine ricejasmine ricegarlic, ginger and leeksbrowning the ginger and garlicfried ginger and garlic, crunchy bitsfrying an egg

Or, you could stay in and have a little of both. That’s what this ginger fried recipe is to me, a classic Chinese dish, clearly reinterpreted by a French hand. For one, it has leeks, which although used in both Chinese and French cooking, I can’t say I’ve ever seen them caramelized for fried rice. Second, egg isn’t scrambled into the dish, but pulled out, fried whole and laid on top of the rice. There are other deconstructions too: the ginger and garlic are fried until crisp and scattered over the dish, like bacon bits from the Far East, rather than tucked within. And rather than cooking the rice in gobs of soy sauce and sesame oil, both are conservatively drizzled on top at the end like droplets of a pan sauce.

cooking the leeks

Continued after the jump »

Friday, April 18, 2008

peanut sesame noodles

peanut sesame noodles

The fact that today is a startling 78 degrees with low humidity and the sun is streaming in wide ribbons through every windowed wall is leaving me as torn as I have ever been between my simultaneous urges to Take Walk! Frolic Outside! Drinks Beers on a Terrace, Somewhere! And come home late tonight with my skin smelling like summer and my forehead re-freckled and fall into a deep sleep, my legs twitching like a puppy who dreams about catching frisbees… and, you know, bake some things for tomorrow’s Seder. Hrm, is it actually any question what will win?

japanese noodles

Nevertheless, I haven’t even told you about my Single Girl’s Dinner from Monday night. No, calm down, Alex did not finally tire of me, the dishes I create and my incessant complaining about the wrinkles on my forehead (and the IfYouLovedMeYou’dBuyMeBotox!), etc. He just had some clients taking him out to dinner and I was in no mood for take-out. Well, that’s not true, I was in the mood for takeout-like food, but I wanted it to be the way I like it which pretty much left me with the option of making it myself. Such is the life of the Too Picky For Their Own Good.


I had cold peanut sesame noodles for the first time when I was 13 and had recently decided to go vegetarian. A friend who was also eschewing meat wanted to go to a Chinese restaurant and I was certain there would be nothing for us eat, but she ordered them for us and I was instantly, head-over-heels in love. If this was vegetarian food, I was in it for the long haul (or about until the age of 28, you know, whichever came first). However, it was many more years before I found a formula for it that allowed me to make it at home, any time I pleased.

Continued after the jump »

Monday, February 19, 2007

vegetable dumplings

vegetable dumplings

In case I haven’t broadcasted this loudly enough in the 114 entries prior to today, I tend to get a little obsessive in the kitchen when trying to find “perfect” recipes. “Perfect” is always some approximation of an ideal that got etched in my tastebuds in some other time and place — there’s salted butter caramel (Paris), bretzel rolls (a Fresh Direct discovery), frisee with poached eggs (Balthazar, 2003) and one day soon, those truffles from La Maison du Chocolat, as my wee Valentine’s Day supply has rapidly diminished. I know better than to try to go back to such a place and expect the same experiences time after time, but it doesn’t mean I can’t have warming fits of nostalgia when I find a lost flavor on my dinner plate.

Case in point today is the steamed vegetable dumplings from Ollie’s, a small chain of large Chinese restaurants up the west side of Manhattan. Growing up, I was absorbed with them and it’s (of course) my mother’s fault, as she would bring an order of them home for us after spending a day in the city, and I’d have them cold directly from the refrigerator as soon as I woke up the next day. They were perfect: dense but not too heavy, brightly flavored and full of tiny but easily-recognized ingredients — no mystery blend here!

dumplings a-steaming

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