Lesson 67: Chinese Stir Frying

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

We are rapidly making our way around Asia as we learned the basic techniques of Chinese Stir Frying in today's class. I love stir frying because it is quick, flavorful, and usually involves a wide variety of ingredients.

Each student was required to stir fry green beans to present to Chef Erica. We used woks that we had to properly clean and season before beginning the stir-fry. I immediately began cooking my green beans, hoping to replicate Chef Erica's demonstration on the correct technique. I pre-heated my wok and poured [cold] oil around the sides to completely coat the surface. I added the aromatics (ginger, garlic, and scallion) and let it infuse in the oil and removed it. Next, I added the green beans and let them sear, while coating them in the infused oil. I added a bit of chicken stock and covered the wok to let the beans steam. I tossed them in a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil before serving:

The first time I made the green beans, I forget to have a plate nearby so I cooked the soy sauce too long (it reduced and caused the beans to be too dark in color). The second try was a bit better.

Also, during the first try at stir-frying, the oil splattered all over my left arm as I threw in the beans. That was not a very pleasant feeling. My arm was burning and was extremely red the rest of class.. Thankfully, Asli and Kim took care of me and got me some burn medicine :)
My arm looks a lot better now, even though there are still some nasty burn marks. This was bound to happen at some point in culinary school!

We made some other very interesting dishes today. In our group, Al worked on cleaning and scoring this large sea bass for deep-frying:

We coated it in cornstarch right before deep-frying it in the wok. Pretty cool, huh?

Okay, this fish just looks sad :(
Emily and I agreed that it looked so cool all plated up, but we weren't quite sure we wanted to eat it.

I ate it anyway and tried to ignore the fact that it was staring at me with those sad eyes.

Kim and I worked on the Velvet Chicken with Walnuts and Shitake. This was a very interesting recipe to work on. I've never heard of "velveting" proteins. We marinated bite-sized peices of chicken breast in cornstarch, egg white, salt, and Chinese rice wine. An hour or so later, we cooked the chicken by submerging it in a quart of boiling water with 1 tablespoon of oil. In the meantime, we made our sauce in a separate wok with some garlic, ginger, scallions, shitakes, soy sauce, Chinese wine, cornstarch, chicken stock, and toasted sesame oil. We added the chicken and toasted walnuts in the wok at the end and continued to cook until the chicken was done.

Another group made this same exact recipe with shrimp. They also "salt-whisked" the shrimp before "velveting" it (basically like curing it with salt to get the excess liquid out).

Other recipes included Red-Cooked Chicken:

Southeast Asian Braised Tofu and Chicken with Ginger:

Stir-Fried Clams in Black Bean Sauce:

Red-cooked Tofu:

We all ate our Chinese feast with little Asian bowls and chopsticks. So fun!

At the end of class Chef Erica discussed the details of our final practical exam with us. The day of the practical was changed to Monday and we'll end out the module with sushi-making on Tuesday. I was hoping she would save talking about the exam until the last minute so I can enjoy this week without stressing about it (in my world, the stress doesn't begin until I get all of the details so that I can start planning). Now that I know the details and what is expected of me, the nightmares and anxiety can begin! I spent the entire train ride home thinking about different recipes and plating designs for the exam. Ugh, I have to try and not drive myself crazy with this.


Maria said...

hi allison this is your cousin Maria i enjoy reading your blogs. You can make me tofu anytime i love it but dont enjoy making it. your experiences are amazing and you sound like you are enjoying it tremendously. I know that you will ace the final. and I hope to taste one of you special dishes one day.

La Bella Cucina said...

Thank you, Maria! Thanks so much for reading my blog.. it means a lot to me! Hope to see you soon!

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