Monday, December 20, 2010

Steamed beef with Spicy Rice Powder

This is a staple of dumpling and tea houses (at least that where I always seem to have it) and one i looked forward to making.  There are only two ingredient questions: what does she mean by rice powder and what does she mean by hot bean paste?  Wikipedia says that rice powder is rice flour, easy enough.  For hot bean paste we found a jar of Guizhou Black Bean Chili Sauce. It has a nice earthy beany smell to it, and I've taken to adding it to lots of other stuff.  I also will take the lid off and take a whiff sometimes  when I'm looking around the fridge.  I really like this stuff, but is it what Pei Mei wanted?

So anyway, the basic recipe is marinate the meat in the sauce with soy sauce and the usual girls in the band, toss with rice powder and steam.  As I put it in the steamer, the thought occurred to be that you don't normally steam flour batters.  Sure enough, the result was goopey and generally unpleasantly textured mess. But the flavor wasn't too off, so maybe it was just the "rice powder". 

Double checking wikipedia with the tester, I was informed that the Chinese actually read, "meat-steaming powder" which sure doesn't sound like rice flour.  There are actually instructions in the recipe for making our own, involving toasting dry rice with peppercorns and star anise, and then grinding.

toasting rice
Grinding proved a little tricky.  I started with the food processor...
No luck here...
...but after several minutes, the toasted rice was still just toasted rice.  I switched over to a coffee grinder I keep for spices, and that work fine.  The spices were reduced to a genuine powder, while the rice had a bit of a granular texture.
In the steamer, the texture seems familiar.  Note that instead of the sweet potatoes called for, the base layer is regular potato.  I recall the taster saying that she never really like the sweet potato in the dish, she recalls saying that the sweet potato is probably too much trouble.  I'm sure we're each right in some parallel universe.
Steam for 15 minutes, and voila.
I know, looks about the same, but it's cooked now, so that's nice.
This version had the granular coating (rather like bread crumbs said the tester) desired.  As for the sauce, I thought it was good, but maybe slightly different from what I remember.  Further research (wikipedia again) turns up dou ban jiang which is plausibly the right thing, but why should we believe wikipedia?  Will have to get my hands on some of it to be sure.  Meanwhile the black bean paste has worked its way into the house recipe for dumpling sauce.

1 comment:

  1. YES! dumpling sauce!

    I think this was very creative and looks tasty. Love your comment: "but why should we believe wikipedia."