The mopeder’s DIY guide to great eats
Danimal here folks. I've thought about sharing my DIY cooking guide with you all for some time. My whole reasoning for doing so is to help others save money like I have by cooking 90% of my own meals at home. This ultimately saves me hundreds of dollars to spend on my favorite thing in the world, mopeds. I've scoured the web, read cook books, and asked chefs at my favorite spots what exactly the secret is to making great Chinese food. I have decided to start my guide with exactly that. What makes Chinese Cuisine so tasty? I will also be adding several great recipes that are from other cultures as well. IE; Italian, Indian, German, etc etc. But I digress, so I shall start compiling some helpful tips for Meat Lovers, Veg Heads, and Vegans everywhere.
I will start with what in my mind is the most important aspect to Chinese, Thai, and Japanese foods.
What makes the meat so tender?
This has boggled my mind for some time. I have tried everything from marinating, tenderizing, cutting tiny pieces of meat, to cooking it as fast as I can. Yet every time the meat ends up tougher than take out. So I started asking around and I eventually came across a technique called, "Velveting." No not the color but texture. It is a process of creating a layer on the outside of the meat or tofu thus creating a seal on all the yummy juices inside. This process combined with cutting smaller pieces AGAINST the grain of the meat creates tender and succulent meat. I will describe the process below.
The first thing you want to do before cooking any dish is velvet the meat/tofu. Cut against the grain of the meat. Cutting against the grain will allow you to get the most out of your meat. The grain is easy to spot because it’s the direction of the string-like fibers of the muscle. If you cut along the grain, your meat will be fibrous or stringy.
Velveting chicken, is a Chinese cooking technique used in stir-frying. The chicken breast is coated in a mixture of egg white and cornstarch (rice wine or dry sherry and salt are frequently added), marinated for up to 30 minutes, and then cooked very briefly in hot oil until the color turns to white. After velveting, the chicken is added to the stir-fry, to finish cooking with the other ingredients.
Velveting chicken in the egg white and cornstarch mixture prevents it from overcooking and becoming dry. As the name implies, it also gives the chicken a smooth, velvety texture. The oil from the velveting can be saved and used to stir-fry other chicken dishes.
When you velvet the meat this gives it that super soft Chinese like tenderness. The outside layer you create gives the meat a taste and texture that cannot be beat.
Simple Steps to Velvet Chicken
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 large egg white
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 cups vegetable or peanut oil
1. Chop the chicken into 3/4 – 1-inch cubes. In a bowl, stir together the the egg white and cornstarch. Add the egg white mixture to the chicken cubes, tossing or using your fingers to coat the chicken in the mixture. Marinate the chicken in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
2. Lay out paper towels or get a colander ready to drain the chicken after cooking. Heat 2 cups oil in a preheated wok until the oil reaches 275 degrees Fahrenheit. (Test the heat by placing a piece of chicken in the wok – it should float immediately).If the chicken or meat bubbles turn the heat down. It should not bubble at all. Remember we just want to create a layer around the meat to ensure the inside stays tender. Add the chicken cubes, and let cook until they just turn white (about 30 seconds), using a wooden spoon or chopsticks to gently separate them. Quickly remove the chicken cubes from the wok as soon as they turn white, and drain in a colander or on paper towels.
3. Finish cooking the velveted chicken by stir-frying with the vegetables, tossing and stirring to make sure the chicken is cooked through.
The chicken after velveting should look like this:
You then want to follow whatever recipe you enjoy, whether it is Chicken & Broccoli, Beef and Broccoli (works on beef too), Tofu, whatever your fancy. The process of velveting should be done before most recipes are carried out.
The chicken after stir frying should look like this: File:Http://www.ctmenusonline.com/images/rp 1 sliced chicken with broccoli 28.jpg
Crispy Bean Curd
I've also decided to follow up my first post with my favorite Vegan Dish.
Crispy Bean Curd
- 1 block (200g) tofu (momen/firm/cotton style)
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- oil for deep frying
- 1/2 cup orange juice (or juice of 3 mandarin oranges)
- 1 Tbsp onion paste (or 1 tsp minced ginger + 2 tsp minced garlic)
- 2 fresh red chili peppers, minced
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/3 cup vinegar
- pomegranate seeds
- minced green onion
Press the tofu under a weight for 20-30 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Cut the tofu into bite sized cubes. Set aside. Saute the onion paste & chili in a little bit of oil. When lightly brown, add the juice. In a separate bowl, mix 2 Tbsp cornstarch with 1/2 cup of water. Add cornstarch mixture to pan and stir to thicken the sauce, adding more water to thin as it cooks. Season with vinegar, salt and sugar - adjust to taste. Remove from heat. Lightly coat the tofu cubes in cornstarch and deep fry at 190-200 degrees until the tofu is light brown all over. Pour sauce over tofu and top with pomegranate seeds and onions.
If sweet sauces aren't your thing, substitute sauce mixture for a typical Spicy Szechwan style sauce. (Scratch orange juice and pomegranate seeds).
- 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Rice Wine or Sherry
- 1 Tablespoon Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Hoisin (or spicy Szechwan sauce)
- 8 Red Chili Peppers (replaces pomegranate seeds)