Friday, October 1, 2010

Beef Steak, Chinese Style

Tester's father once told me that texture is more important in Chinese food than in Western food.  In my limited experience I tend to agree.  At the time we were having steak, which when done well in a Chinese restaurant is always tender in a very different way from a fillet at The Palm.  Thus I was looking forward to trying this dish to see what it was all about.

They certainly don't mess around when it comes to tenderness.  Start with 450g of tenderloin, cut into steaks.  Pound flat (tenderizing).  Finally, marinate "for a while" in a baking soda meat tenderizer mix with soy, cornstarch and water.

Yellow?  Why is the marinade yellow?
The sauce is wine, ketchup, Worcestershire, sugar, salt and cornstarch. Always a bit odd when finding out that something that is essentially 'of another culture' is in fact made up of stuff from your own. 

The cooking method is deep frying.  By now I've adapted a system that is non-wok based.  For these things I prefer a sauce pan so the oil is deeper and I can easily attach a thermometer and get the oil to 375.  I find that gives me a lot more precision.

Golden, brown and delicious
It still feels a little weird, but I'm slowly getting used to cooking things for only 30 seconds.

The sauce is boiled and the meat is mixed in.

This shot is better than the one in the cook book, so at least I have that, which is nice.
In the end, the meat was exactly that Chinese restaurant texture that I know, but I really thought the sauce was too sweet.  Too much of the ketchup came through.  The  ketchup I used is the Heinz Organic, which i think is a little sweeter than the normal Heinz, so that might be part of it, but I still think I'll reduce the ketchup next time.

More creamed cabbage

Missed a month in there, but i was still cooking, just didn't have time to post.  If you recall from the last creamed cabbage, the tester lamented that although the dish was good, it was not the dish she remembered from her childhood.  Flipping through Pei Mei, book 2, I stumbled upon a baked version that sounded  just like she described: Baked Chinese Cabbage with Crab Sauce.

The process starts the same, stir fry some cabbage...
I think we're gonna need a bigger wok...
Then mix a roux thickened stock with cream and crab meat (I used cheaper claw meat).  It also calls for crab roe.  The problem is that it's been illegal to commercially harvest crab roe in Maryland since the 80s.  I could import some from South Carolina, but that seemed like a hassle, and anyway, there's a reason why its illegal, so I went with more chopped Chinese ham, just like the earlier version of the dish.  

The recipe also calls for "chicken powder" which my research indicates (Hi Jaden!) that it's just bulion powder.  I don't normally keep that around and although I could use reduced broth, that seemed like a pain.  Instead I went with something that would add the same amount of salt and umami, Maggi sauce...
And then I baked it.  The result?  Even better than the last version, and the taster reported that it was reasonable faithful to her childhood version. 

Creamy, rich, crabby, with little bits of brown crunchy on the top.  Not exactly healthy vegetables, but the tester says it's one of her favorites.