Beggar’s Chicken

Beggar's Chicken

In Hangzhou, I visited Qinghefang Ancient Street food market a few times. I saw Beggar’s chicken during the first visit and decided it’s a must to try! The next day, four of us brave enough to eat street food came there for lunch. We enjoyed every bite! The funniest part of that experience was that the same day, after a few hours of walking around the West Lake when it was time to join the rest of the group for dinner, all four of us unanimously decided to come back and eat Beggar’s chicken instead!

I suppose only people who tasted Beggar’s chicken at least once and crave for it since then, would cook it at home. This recipe is for those who would like to recreate their experience without traveling to China.

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Ramen: Pork Belly for Ramen | Chāshū | チャーシュー

Rolled Pork Belly Chashu

Chāshū is my favorite meat ingredient for ramen. Just like ramen, it came to Japanese cuisine from China and transformed into a very different dish. Originally, char siu 叉燒 is a kind of barbecued pork in Cantonese cuisine. In Japan, it is meaty pork belly slowly cooked in a flavorful broth. At the end of cooking, pork belly loses a lot of fat and becomes very tender and soft. Every bite of chashu melts in the mouth. For ramen, chashu os served thinly sliced. A very similar Japanese recipe for cooking pork belly to serve it with cooked rice, hot mustard sauce, and pickled vegetables is called Buta no Kakuni (豚の角煮, “pork cut square and simmered”). For both recipes, pork belly can be skinless or with pigskin, based on personal preferences and availability.

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Ramen: Eggs for Ramen | Ajitsuke Tamago | 味付け玉子

Ajitsuke Tamago

Every time I invite people to experience ramen for the first time and they pick the toppings, I suggest to include eggs. In the menu, they read “pickled” or “marinated” next to the eggs and say “No.” I smile and order extra eggs for my bowl of ramen, because I know what’s going to happen next — they will see them, ask for a bite, and I’ll have to share. Why didn’t you order them? — I ask. They are simply expected to be similar to American vinegary pickled eggs, which do not have a lot of fans these days. Ajitsuke tamago are completely different. They are soft with runny yolk and seasoned in a savory broth based on soy sauce. They are delicious!

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Basting Sauce for Japanese Grill

Pseudo Tare for Yakitori

Tare (垂れ?, “tar-eh”) is a general term in Japanese cuisine for basting sauces used for grilling. Mannen Tare (10,000 year old sauce) is and old school tare created by continuous use in traditional yakitori joints, where skewers are partially grilled, dipped into the tare, and then grilled to doneness. Every dipped skewer brings some drippings of dissolved proteins and fats into the sauce, which makes its flavor more complex and concentrated. At home, we can make a pseudo version of tare adjusted to our taste.

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Halloween Recipes: Eggplant Witches

Eggplants are magical. There are eggplant recipes in almost every cuisine in the world. Eggplants can be transformed into a delicacy by applying almost any cooking method: simmering, steaming, frying, deep-frying, stir-frying, baking, roasting, charring, drying, marinating, fermenting… They can be cooked savory and sweet. Their flavor is very meaty and full of umami. Eggplants ARE magical. Serve them shaped as witches this Halloween!

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The Most Popular Thai Soups: Tom Yam

Vegetarian Tom Yam

Tom Yam Kung (prawns or seafood combo) and Tom Yam Gai (chicken) are the most popular variations of Tom Yam outside of Thailand. They are made with fresh readily-available ingredients, they are easy to make, and they are beautiful, low-calorie soups. Vegans can use recipes where the shrimp paste and fish sauce are substituted with plant-based ingredients. The best way to substitute is to make your own Thai chili and curry pastes, stir-fry sauces, and salad dressings. Once you make your own vegetarian Nam Prik Pao, it’s only a matter of minutes to cook a vegetarian Tom Yam.

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