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Discussion Starter #1
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<p>So I've suddenly decided I want to learn how to cook Chinese food. We had Chinese takeout the other night for the first time in, like, fifteen years, and while it was fairly horrid and gave me a stomach-ache, it did remind me of a trashy chick-lit book I recently read in which the main character returned to her ancestral homeland and ate a lot of traditional Chinese food. ...Which isn't a great reason to learn Chinese cooking, but meh; I'm in a bit of a food rut, and it irks me to know there's food out there I haven't mastered. :p</p>
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<p>So, yeah. Unfortunately I know next to squat about any kind of Asian cooking. I can throw together a tasty if inauthentic sushi if the need arises, and I do a decent chicken curry and rather good chapatis, but that's about as far as it goes. DH is skitchy about going to non-Western restaurants on the rare occasions we eat out, so my Asian food education is sadly lacking. I've NEVER had Thai. I know of only one Korean dish (sol long tang, sounds delicious). Traditional Chinese food is only slightly less hazy.</p>
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<p>So, can anyone point me in the direction of some good "intro to Chinese cooking" blogs, tell me your favourite recipes, or whatever? I'd love to try dim sums - we had them as kids dipped in soy sauce and they were mighty nice. Does traditional food require any kind of special equipment? A steamer? I don't have one. :p</p>
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<p>Thanks!</p>
<p>.</p>
 

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<p>Two blogs I read: <a href="http://appetiteforchina.com" target="_blank">appetiteforchina.com</a> and <a href="http://rasamalaysia.com/" target="_blank">rasamalaysia.com</a> (neither are strictly limited to Chinese, both do Asian or Asianesque)</p>
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<p>I don't know anything about dim sum other than it's tasty and I seem to recall that the Australians (and maybe Kiwis) use the term "dim sum" slightly differently than we Americans. Dim sum in the US is when you go to a Chinese restaurant and order a variety of small dishes off the carts that wheel past you. In Australia it is one particular dish? Maybe a steamed dumpling?</p>
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<p>I'm not making any claims to authenticity, but we make various types of stir fry on a fairly regular basis. Those are easy, particularly if you have a wok. Here's my recipe: boneless meat (any kind) and veggies (just about any kind) chopped up into smallish bits, a little bit of high-smokepoint oil (seed or peanut oil) and some combination of flavoring elements including garlic, ginger, soy, hot pepper (flakes, oil, sauce), hoisin, rice vinegar and probably others I am forgetting. I cook the veggies and meat at very high heat in small batches. Then I put everything back in the wok and toss it around with the sauce that I made up from the flavoring elements. I'll also make a mu shu pork that is based on <a href="http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/mu-shu-pork-in-pancakes-recipe/index.html" target="_blank">this recipe</a> and pot stickers with the store-bought asian pasta wraps.</p>
 

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<p>This book - <a href="http://books.google.ca/books?id=Mdfacqx2UaQC&pg=PA190&dq=beef+rendang+charmaine+solomon&hl=en&ei=BS_gTInqNoiXnAep272xDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false" target="_blank">http://books.google.ca/books?id=Mdfacqx2UaQC&pg=PA190&dq=beef+rendang+charmaine+solomon&hl=en&ei=BS_gTInqNoiXnAep272xDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false</a></p>
<p>is the BEST asian food book there is.</p>
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<p>And now it is free on Google books. You can cook just about anything from anywhere. Some of our favorites from this book are - Country Captain (not he same as the US one), many of the indian dishes, thai curries, many of the malay dishes. The chinese section is good in here too.</p>
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<p>BTW, capretta - in Australia we use the term "yum cha" for the small dishes meal. A "dim sim" is a siu mai or pork and prawn dumpling.</p>
 

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Discussion Starter #4
<p>In New Zealand we use "yum cha" for the small dishes meal too - usually in a restaurant setting, where the dishes are brought round on a trolley and the waiter adds up the cost of what you're eating as you eat it. My father loves it, but last time I went was as an impressionable kid and they served chicken feet and shrimp, which rather put me off the whole concept! :p To be honest, I'm not sure what was in dim sum, but they had a kind of thin rice papery wrapping, were pale and steamed, and were served dipped in a wee bowl of soy sauce. Some kind of meat and veggie filling, but I don't think it was prawn.</p>
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If it looked like a little open topped pouch, thats what we call siu mai.<br><br>
The filling is easy enough to make, but theres a knack for forming them. Youtube is a good place to learn, but it takes practice.<br><br>
Here, dim sum is a generic term, what you're calling yum cha and encompasses hundreds of dishes. There are some great dim sum cookbooks, i just bought a few for nana for her bday in fact.<br><br>
If you can't find wonton, eggroll or gyoza skins in the store, then id probably start w something else... Making the skins from scratch is work. Steamed bun dough is an easier if less versatile place to start, but it only takes a few minutes to make.<br><br>
As for chinese dishes in general, im partial to Martin Yan for basic instruction.
 

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<p>Ha! I figured it out! I was thinking of dim SIMS. Dad always called them dim sims, and then I read "dim sum" all over the internet and assumed he was just pronouncing it wrong. It seems <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dim_sim" target="_blank">dim sims</a> are "Chinese-inspired" dishes that are popular in Australia (which is where we ate them, go figure). The picture at the top is what ours looked like - sort of like pale, pasty pillows. And they did have cabbage in them, although I don't recall the "strong gingery taste" that the article mentions - I wouldn't have liked that as a kid.</p>
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<p>Well, that explains a lot! So they're not really authentic, but I still want to learn how to make 'em... they were so good.</p>
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<p>We have a fair few Asian supermarkets in the area, so finding wrappers and things shouldn't be too hard.</p>
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<p>redvlagirl: That book looks great, but there are so many recipes I don't know where to start! What's your favourite? :p</p>
 

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<p>OK. I'm glad I remembered something for once... sort of. I think my Aussie friend - who told me we were silly for using the name of one dish to talk about the whole meal - must have confused dim sum and dim sim too.</p>
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<p>Also, I've always seen it spelled shu mai (Google confirms we are talking about the same thing - both spellings are used) and wonton or gyoza skins are what I meant when I said "store-bought asian pasta wraps."</p>
 

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<p>Here is a very simple dumpling recipe that my DD started making on her own when she was about 12 y.o. It's from a children's cookbooks, so it is a little (a lot!) bland. You can experiment to get the flavours you like (I'd start with some grated fresh ginger, garlic, lemongrass or ****** lime, chilis.....</p>
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<p>1/2 green onion (scallion to you!), finely chopped</p>
<p>175 g ground pork or chicken</p>
<p>1/2 tsp soy sauce</p>
<p>1/2 tsp vegetable oil</p>
<p>1 tsp garlic salt</p>
<p>pinch of pepper</p>
<p>1 large egg white</p>
<p>32 wonton wrappers</p>
<p>6 cups of water</p>
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<p>Soy sauce or dipping sauce to serve</p>
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<p>Mix green onion, ground pork, soy sauce, oil, garlic salt and pepper together. </p>
<p>In a small bowl, beat egg white lightly.</p>
<p>Lay a wonton wrapper flat. Place a rounded teaspoon of meat in the middle. Brush egg white on the wrapper around the meat and over the edges. Top with another wrapper and press around the meat, pushing out any air bubbles.</p>
<p>Simmer water and place 5 or 6 wrappers in pot at a time. Cook at a simmer for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally. Lift them out with a slotted spoon.</p>
<p>Serve with dipping sauce. </p>
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<p>Try out "Country Captain" in the singapore section, beed rendang, both egg recipes on p187,</p>
 

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Discussion Starter #10
<p>Ollyoxenfree: Hey, that sounds doable! How do you eat these - by themselves, or do they need several other dishes to make a meal? Could I do them with fried rice?</p>
 

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<p>OK, I ventured into an Asian supermarket in town and bought dumpling wrappers, or dumpling pastry as they were labelled. A hundred of them. :p (Cool place... they sold duck way cheaper than at the supermarket and I got all excited, but it turned out they have their heads and feet on and I just can't deal with that. A pity.)</p>
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<p>Will put at least one Chinese dish on the meal plan for this week. I'm very excited... it doesn't take much, these days. :)</p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Smokering</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1279232/edumicate-me-on-chinese-food#post_16047518"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>Ollyoxenfree: Hey, that sounds doable! How do you eat these - by themselves, or do they need several other dishes to make a meal? Could I do them with fried rice?</p>
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<br><br><p>Fried rice and maybe a vegetable stir fry would be nice. That recipe only makes 16 dumplings, so you definitely need something else for a meal. Even just some greens (bok choy or broccoli or string beans) steamed and tossed with a little sesame oil and soy sauce would work. </p>
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<p>I was noodling around for a dipping sauce for you (since the one we usually make wasn't with the dumpling recipe yesterday, so it's been misfiled somewhere) and found this from Donna Hay for dumplings. It looks similar to the recipe I posted, but with a lot more flavour. There's a dipping sauce recipe too: </p>
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<p><a href="http://www.donnahay.com.au/CatalogueRetrieve.aspx?ProductID=2561428&A=SearchResult&SearchID=875707&ObjectID=2561428&ObjectType=27" target="_blank">http://www.donnahay.com.au/CatalogueRetrieve.aspx?ProductID=2561428&A=SearchResult&SearchID=875707&ObjectID=2561428&ObjectType=27</a></p>
<p> </p>
<p>I hope you enjoy your meal! </p>
<p> </p>
 

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<p>my favorite and easiest home-made "chinese" dish ..... that even my picky children WILL eat is</p>
<p> </p>
<p>- bite size- cut up pieces of chicken or turckey (or pork even)</p>
<p>- that are cooked in a Tsp of oil (olive or other) in a wok (more surface/contact = cooks quicker)</p>
<p>- half a tsp of ground ginger</p>
<p>- half a tsp of granulated or powdered garlic</p>
<p>- when all the meat seems cooked, a few Tsps of soy sauce, maybe a bit of water if it looks too dry / not enough sauce</p>
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<p>served with plain boiled rice and steamed green peas (from the freezer)</p>
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<p>it's not as tasty as in a restaurant but it makes us feel that we are eating "exotic"</p>
 

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<p>allyoxenfree's recipe looks great - I would just add that it works well if you knead the mix by hand really well to expell any air bubbles which could make your dumplings a strange texture (but would still taste great</p>
 

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Discussion Starter #15
<p>OK, so I'm scheduling Chinese for tomorrow night. I'll do the dumplings (probably my own Frankenstein combination of both of those dumpling recipes - what on earth is kecap manis?), fried rice with baby corn and water chestnuts, and... not sure what else.</p>
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<p>A few questions: can I use brown rice for fried rice? I mean, back in the day everyone in China must have used brown rice, right? I know it's not commonly used these days, but...y'know... glycemic index... stuff.</p>
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<p>Also, does anyone have a recipe for something Chinese and yummy that uses shredded cooked chicken? I sent DH to buy chicken carcasses to make chicken stock, and he got chicken <em>portions</em>, ie. with meat on them. I'm roasting them anyway and will shred the meat from the bones, then use the bones for stock. I'd like to use up the cooked chicken though, obviously. I was thinking of just tossing a bit through the fried rice, but if anyone has any better ideas...?</p>
 

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<p>This link should have some great ideas for Chinese food, including some that you can use the chicken for.</p>
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<p><a href="http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/chinese-food-made-easy/index.html" target="_blank">http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/chinese-food-made-easy/index.html</a></p>
 

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<p>Kecap manis is a thick sweet soy sauce from Indonesia. ABC brand is pretty popular. The Asian market probably had it near the bottles of soy sauces, hoisin, and Thai sweet chili and sriracha sauces - at least, that's where I find it. The consistency is like ketchup (and kecap is the origin of the word for ketchup, even though there's no tomato in it). You can use soy sauce, a little brown sugar or molasses and a little garlic and star anise to create your own.</p>
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<p>For the chicken, adding it to the fried rice is a great idea. My dad (the Asian cook in our family) always tossed in a little meat into his fried rice, whatever was on hand. He often used bacon! He'd fry the bacon first, add some onion, and then some other chopped veg - carrots, celery, etc. It was a very westernized version of fried rice, but since it was my first and most frequent exposure, for me that's what fried rice should taste like. I think that's why I can't get bent out of shape about "authentic" ethnic cuisine. Unless you are actually in the homeland, with home grown ingredients, "authentic" is hard to come by and not always desirable anyway.  </p>
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<p>Another idea for the chicken is to add it to a stir fry or a noodle soup.  </p>
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<p>A very easy noodle soup: </p>
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<p>1 tbsp. vegetable oil</p>
<p>1 tsp. sesame oil</p>
<p>1 minced garlic clove</p>
<p>2 tsp. minced ginger</p>
<p>Pinch chili flakes</p>
<p>4 cups chicken or vegetable stock or dashi (Japanese fish stock - buy powdered packets and add to water)</p>
<p style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:0px;padding-left:0px;">1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce </p>
<p style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:0px;padding-left:0px;">1 Tbsp. mirin (cooking rice wine) - optional, if you don't have it, don't worry </p>
<p style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:0px;padding-left:0px;">approx. 300 g noodles (ramen - just use 2 packages and discard the flavouring sachets, or soba or udon or rice vermicelli - whatever) </p>
<p style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:0px;padding-left:0px;">1 cup sliced vegetables - carrot, celery, snow peas/mangetout, broccoli, green onion/scallion etc.  </p>
<p style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:0px;padding-left:0px;">toasted sesame seeds for garnish</p>
<p style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:0px;padding-left:0px;">chopped coriander for garnish</p>
<p style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:0px;padding-left:0px;"> </p>
<p style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:0px;padding-left:0px;">Saute garlic, ginger and chili flakes in vegetable and sesame oil. Add stock, soy sauce, mirin, bring to a boil. Add noodles and vegetables. Cook until tender (about 3 or 4 minutes). Garnish with coriander and sesame seeds. </p>
<p style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:0px;padding-left:0px;"> </p>
<p style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:0px;padding-left:0px;">This soup is infinitely variable. You can drop a beaten egg into at the end. You can change up the seasonings - try Thai chili sauce and fish sauce instead of the chili flakes at the beginning. You can saute a little sliced beef or minced pork at the beginning. You can increase or decrease the stock, depending on how soupy you like it. </p>
<p style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:0px;padding-left:0px;"> </p>
<p style="margin-top:0px;margin-right:0px;margin-bottom:0px;margin-left:0px;padding-top:0px;padding-right:0px;padding-bottom:0px;padding-left:0px;">I hope you enjoy your dinner! </p>
 

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Discussion Starter #18
<p>Thought I should update! I made the pork dumplings, sort of cobbling together the two recipes, and the dipping sauce from the link (only with lemon juice instead of lime, and a splash of soy). I did find the pork filling a little bland - I thought I'd zinged it up a bit, but clearly not enough. I'm not used to cooking pork! And the pastry was slightly more thick and noodly than I was expecting. What kind of wrappers/pastry should I buy for the dim sim-type covering? Kind of thin and white and pallid. :p Still, my aunt loved the dumplings, and the rice was nice - I used baby corn and water chestnuts and a bit of the shredded chicken, as well as a wee bit of crumbled bacon. I didn't really notice the brown rice tasting any different to white.</p>
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<p>So the whole concept needs some tweaking, but it was fun nevertheless!</p>
 

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<p>Thanks for the update. Sounds like it was pretty successful. I think you've inspired me to try something new this weekend. </p>
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<p>I'm not sure about the wrappers - maybe ask at the Asian grocer's? I use thin rice paper wrappers for spring rolls, but I'm not sure if that's what is used for dim sim. Rice paper wrappers are dry, flat round circles about 8 inches in diameter. They are usually near rice noodles in the Asian food section of the supermarket. To use them, soak them for about 30 seconds in a bowl of very hot water. I pour boiling water from my kettle into a 9 x 13 baking pan. </p>
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<p>Wonton wrappers are what you're after. That sounds like what you bought, though. It might just not be to your taste. I think that if you want the really thin har kau wrappers you need to make them yourself.</p>
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<p>You can also fry the wontons which you might like more.</p>
 
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