Friday, February 4, 2011

Chinese Feast, Plus How to Cook Perfect Rice

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):
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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