I've had the book Authentic Chinese Cuisine for the Contemporary Kitchen on my shelf for a few months now, and leafing through it makes me drool, but I was holding off on making any of the recipes because they require a lot of strange and obscure ingredients, like fermented black beans, vegetarian mushroom-based "oyster" sauce, and this wacky canned mock duck:
After scouring the aisles of my local Asian supermarket, I finally assembled this little Chinese feast. I made up my own recipe for spring rolls (which were a bit of a fiasco, so I'll be changing my recipe and writing about that in a future post), and made the Velvet Corn Soup and Stir-fried Vegetarian "Duck" from the book. The corn soup was gross; it looked like vomit and tasted like can (which I guess I should have expected from a dish that uses canned creamed corn as the main ingredient). The mock duck stir-fry was surprisingly good, though. The fermented black beans added a unique pickled flavor, and I'm a sucker for anything that includes lots of sauteed bell peppers. The "duck" had a neutral flavor, but I wasn't wild about the texture; if I make this again I'll just use tofu. I served it up over white basmati rice, and since I've been told I make perfect rice, here are my rice-making tips (for long-grain rice):
- For white rice, use 2 cups water for every one cup rice. For brown rice, use 1.5-1.75 cups water for every one cup rice.
- Boil the water before adding the rice. Add the rice, cover, and bring to a boil. Give it a quick stir to unstick rice from the bottom of the pan, then re-cover and turn down the heat until it's barely simmering. Now don't lift the lid for the remainder of the cooking time.
- Don't overcook it! Start timing when you turn the heat down. I cook white rice for 17 minutes, brown rice for 45-47 minutes.
- If your rice is done before the rest of your meal, remove it from the heat, take off the lid, and cover with a damp dish-towel.