Chinese Cold Cucumber Salad

This is a side dish to serve with any Chinese entree that doesn’t itself contain vinegar – the ideal pairing would be duck, Tungpo Pork, or other rich dish with a relatively high fat content.

1 large cucumber

1 1/2 T vinegar

1 1/2 T sugar

2 tsp. Chinese soy sauce

1 1/2 tsp sesame oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce

Peel the cucumber and cut in half lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the seeds, so that you have two boat-like halves. Slice the cucumber halves in 1/8″ slices. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve all the sugar. Just before serving, pour the dressing over the cucumber slices and mix well to coat each piece. Serve the cucumber in individual small bowls for each diner, with just a bit of the dressing spooned over.

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Cold Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce

This is a great way to use left-over Kaopuhn noodles – or, indeed, any left-over noodles.

1 serving of left-over, cold noodles

1 T peanut butter

1 T rice vinegar

2 T Chinese soy sauce

1/2 tsp sambal oelek

1 scallion, chopped

Put the noodles in a serving bowl. Combine in a small bowl, the peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce and sambal oelek. Mix to combine thoroughly. Pour over the noodles and top with the chopped scallion.

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Chinese Chicken Curry

3 1/2 lb. chicken, plus 2 pieces chicken breast


Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

4 cups plus 2 T peanut oil

4 tsp minced garlic

4 tsp minced ginger

1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper

2 cups chicken stock (made from the backs, etc. Augment with canned stock if necessary)

2 rounded T Vietnamese curry powder (the kind with bay leaves in it)

2 to 3 small bay leaves (from the curry powder bottle)

1 1/2 large onions, peeled and cut in chunks

1/2 lb mushrooms, quartered

2 T Chinese soy sauce

4 T cornstarch, combined in a small bowl with:

                  2 T Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

                  2 T chicken stock

salt, to taste

Cut the chicken into small pieces, bone and all. Put the ribs, back, wing tips, drumstick ends and giblets (but not the liver) in a pot with enough water to cover, and simmer to make stock. Wash the chicken and pat each peice dry with paper towels. Sprinkle each piece with cornstarch and mix well in a bowl with enough wine to moisten. Have the bowl ready near the stove.

Heat the 4 cups of peanut oil in a wok until it just begins to smoke. Fry the chicken 4 to 6 pieces at a time until golden brown. Drain in a srainer set over a paper towel. Let the oil return to high heat before adding more chicken after each batch. When done, pour off the oil and wipe out the wok. Set all the ingredients within reach of the stove.

Heat the 2 T of peanut oil in the wok and stir-fry the garlic and ginger afew seconds. Add the cayenne and stir-fry one or two seconds, the add the chicken and mix well, then transfer everything to a large, heavy stock pot or cassarole. Over medium heat, add the 2 cups chicken stock, stirring constantly. Add the curry powder and bay leaves, and stir to mix in thoroughly. Add the onions and mushrooms. Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Add the soy sauce, stir, and simmer one or two minutes. Remove from the heat ( you can fish out the bay leaves at this point, if you wish) and add the cornstarch mixture, stirring it in thoroughly. Taste and add salt, if necessary. Serve while hot with plenty of white rice.

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Stir-fried Fish with Pea Pods

Simple but delicious.

1 lb boneless, skinless fillet of sea bass (or other very firm fish)

2 tsp cornstarch

1 egg white, beaten

1 T Chinese rice wine or pale dry sherry

2 tsp salt

4 T peanut oil

1 tsp minced fresh ginger

2 scallions, sliced lenthwise on the bias (see note)

24 fresh Chinese snow pea pods

Toss the fish carefully with the cornstarch. Add the egg white, wine and salt and mix gently to combine. Have all the ingredients ready near the stove.

Heat a wok for a minute, then add the oil and heat a minute more. Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry a few seconds. Add the snow peas and scallions and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the coated fish and stir-fry (carefully, so as not to break up the pieces) until fish is opaque. Serve hot with white rice.

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Mapo Tofu (Pork and Tofu in a Hot Bean Sauce

2 tsp peanut oil

1/3 lb ground pork

2 T fresh minced ginger

2 T minced garlic

2 1/2 T bean sauce

2 tsp sambal oelek

4 scallions, trimmed and chopped

1 block (16 oz.) firm tofu, sliced into ½” cubes

1 ½ cups chicken stock

2 T cornstarch mixed a little water

1 1/2 T Hsiao Shing (Chinese rice wine), or dry sherry

1 T Chinese soy sauce

½ tsp ground Sichuan pepper

sesame oil for garnish (optional)

Have the ingredients ready near the stove. The ginger and garlic can be combined (in fact, you can wiz them together in a food processor if you wish). Combine the cornstarch, wine and soy sauce in a small bowl.

Heat the peanut oil in a heavy pot, then add the ground pork and stir until the pork is no longer pink. Add the ginger and garlic and stir until the garlic is golden brown. Add the bean sauce and sambal oelek, the scallions and stir for 30 seconds, then add the chicken stock and the tofu. Stir to combine everything, then add the bowl of cornstarch, wine and soy sauce. Cook, stirring, until the liquid has thickened (add more cornstarch mixed with water, if desired).

Serve in deep bowls, with a little Sichuan pepper sprinkled on top of each serving. Dribble on a little sesame oil (about 3/4 tsp), if desired. Serve while hot.

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Sliced Beef in Black Bean Sauce on “Two Sides Brown”

Two Sides Brown” refers to the crispy noodle cake which is the foundation of this delcious dish. If you can’t find fresh Chinese egg noodles, you can use fresh angel-hair pasta .

Serves 4 to 8 (depending on how many other dishes you serve). Preparation time is about 90 minutes.

Crispy noodle cakes:

8 oz fresh Chinese egg noodles

4 quarts water

2 teaspoons salt

1 T peanut oil

1 cup peanut oil for frying


10 oz flank steak, sliced across the grain into 1/8” x 1 ½” slices.

1 tsp. dark brown sugar

1 T Chinese black soy sauce (the sweetened kind)

1 T sesame oil

2 T cornstarch

Black Bean Sauce:

2 fresh green chilies, seeded and slivered finely

1 T minced fresh ginger

1 T minced fresh garlic

3 T Chinese salted black beans, rinsed in a strainer under hot tap water, then chopped finely.

2 small bell peppers, one green, one red, seeded and cut into ¼” wide strips

1 medium white onion, halved and sliced thinly

1/3rd lb. snow peas, with ends trimmed off

1 tsp sugar

2 ½ T Chinese soy sauce

2 T cornstarch

1 ½ cups chicken stock

Put the water in a large pot, add the salt, and bring to a boil. Have a colander in place over the sink.

When water boils, add the noodles and stir briefly to separate them. Remove from the heat after 15 seconds and pour into the colander. Run them under cold water to stop them from cooking. When they’re no longer hot, add the 1 T oil, and toss to coat all the noodles. Remove to a bowl until needed.

Put the beef, dark brown sugar, black soy, sesame oil and cornstarch in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Put aside until needed.

Place the slivered green chilies, minced ginger and garlic, and the chopped black beans in a small bowl. The bell peppers, onion and snow peas go into another bowl. Mix the 1 tsp sugar, 2 ½ T soy sauce, 2 T cornstarch and the chicken stock in yet another bowl. Have all three bowls ready near the stove.

Heat a 12” skillet over high heat for one minute, then add the oil. When hot, add half the noodles and pat them into a flat cake. Brown them on one side, then, using two wooden spatulas, carefully turn them over and cook the other side until brown. Remove to a cookie sheet lined with paper towels and keep them warm in a 300 degree oven while you cook the rest of the noodles and the beef topping.

Heat a wok on high heat for one minute, then transfer 1/3 cup of the remaining oil to it and heat it to 350 degrees. Add the beef  mixture and stir-fry quickly until just cooked through. Remove from heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer the beef to a bowl. There should be about 2 T of oil left in the wok. Heat it again and add the green chilies, minced ginger and garlic, and the chopped black beans. Stir-fry quickly until the garlic is light brown, then quickly add the bell peppers, onion and snow peas and stir-fry for about 3 minutes. Stir the sugar, soy sauce, cornstarch and chicken stock mixture and add it to the wok. Mix well and cook, stirring, until thickened. Add the beef and its juices back into the wok, stir well to mix, and remove from the heat.

Place the noodle cakes on a large serving platter (I use my turkey platter!) and pour the contents of the wok over the top. Serve at once while the noodles are still crisp.

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