Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Recipe: Cantonese Seven Jewels

There are three marks of a superior man: being virtuous, he is free from anxiety; being wise, he is free from perplexity; being brave, he is free from fear. – Confucius

Fresh and delicious. The way food should be.
This is not “real” Cantonese cuisine. By that I mean it's not a real Cantonese recipe. I want to state that outright. But it has enough Cantonese flavours to be able to at least partially fit into the category.

A market in Guangdong Province. Photo: dcmaster, Flickr ccl
Cantonese cuisine comes from Guangdong Province in southern China and is one of eight Chinese regional cuisines. Cantonese food is the best known Chinese food in the West. When people speak of Chinese food they usually mean Cantonese food.

Cantonese cuisine has a number of signature ingredients such as spring onions, sugar, soy sauce, rice wine, rice vinegar and sesame oil. These ingredients paired with the best quality vegetables and meat are used as the stars of the dishes and carry the flavour. Only the freshest and best are used.

Garlic, ginger, chili peppers, five-spice powder, powdered white pepper, star anise and a few other spices are used, but in small quantity so as not to overwhelm the flavours of the main ingredients.

Photo Vanessa Pike-Russell,
Flickr ccl
Preserved ingredients are also common in Cantonese cuisine. Some notable ones include black beans, dried scallops and shrimp, fermented tofu, Century eggs, and Chinese sausage. Mmmmm... Chinese sausage....

We recognize the names of many traditional Cantonese dishes because they are offered on in the West on Chinese restaurant menus. Sweet and sour pork and fried rice are but two.

Cantonese-style food is great for people who don’t like strongly spiced dishes. When dining out they allow you and your friends to order from both the Szechuan (hot) and Cantonese parts of the menu and share. That way there’s a little something for everybody!

As with all Chinese dishes, most of the work is in the preparation. Cooking takes very little time at all.

This recipe was quite delicious. You should try it. The seven jewels? Look in the recipe and see if you can find them!

Cantonese Seven Jewels
Prep: 45 min  |  Cook: 15 min  |  Serves 4
2 eggs
1/2 tsp five spice powder
2 tsp water
1 tbsp black beans
1 tbsp sugar
3 garlic cloves, mashed
1” ginger, peeled and chopped
10 dried shiitake mushrooms
3/4 cup mushroom soaking water
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine
1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp water
1 lb shrimp
1/2 lb pork loin, sliced thin
handful of sugar snap peas
1 bunch green onions
2 cups bean sprouts
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Prepare the pancake and mushrooms ahead of cooking the meal.

Soak the mushrooms with enough hot water to cover for 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid.

Beat the eggs with the five spice powder and water until a little fluffy. Fry over medium heat in a non-stick pan until cooked through. Do not stir and do not flip. When cooked roll up and slice into 1/4” to 1/2” thick pieces.

Next mash the black beans with the sugar using a fork. Then add the chopped ginger and garlic and mix well. In another bowl mix together the mushroom water, soy and rice wine and set aside.

Mix the cornstarch with the water in a small bowl. Now you're ready.

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a wok. Fry the pork and shiitakes until slightly browned. Remove to a dish.

Add the remaining 1 tbsp of oil. Sauté the black bean mixture for about 1 minute. Add the shrimp and cook until nearly done, about 4 minutes. Do not overcook. They still need to be a little raw.

Then add the pork and mushrooms back to the wok and stir. Then add the sugar snap peas and cook for 1 minute.

Pour in the mushroom liquid and bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch mixed with water and stir until thickened. 

Add the green onions, bean sprouts and sliced egg pancake. Toss well and serve with steamed rice.


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