Saturday, August 10, 2013

Stir-Fried On Choy with Beef and Fermented Bean Curd

Print Friendly and PDF

I was at the grocery store recently and came across On Choy (空心菜, 通菜) that was on sale for a great price, so I decided to make On Choy with Beef for dinner.  Having homemade meals certainly is much more healthy than eating out all the time, and it also helps save money when especially seasonal ingredients are used.  There are several variations of On Choy that I have on this site, but this is the first recipe that will be combining a meat and wet bean curd as the sauce.  To those who are new to some of the ingredients in this recipe, here is a picture of the major ingredients used.

There are two types of On Choy that can be found at the local Chinese grocer.  There is a white variety and a green variety.  I personally prefer the green variety because it's more crispy, while the white one tends to release a lot of water during the cooking process.  On Choy translates to hollow vegetable, because the stalks are hollow along its length.

The following ingredients will be needed to make On Choy with Beef:
  • Wet fermented Bean curd (jar pictured earlier)
  • Sirloin steak (or other cut of beef that can be thinly sliced)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced (divided in 1/3 equal portions)
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 large bundle of Green On Choy
  • 1 tsp. Sugar
  • Cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. Soy sauce

Before we cook the On Choy, we will need to do some preparation:
  1. Take a serving portion of beef and slice thinly.  Be sure to trim off excess fat beforehand and always slice perpendicular (90 degrees) to the grain of the muscle fibres.  If the blade of the knife follows the muscle fibres, be prepared for some chewy meat.
  2. Add the soy sauce, 1 tsp of cornstarch, 1/3 of the garlic to the beef.  Mix the ingredients around evenly using your hand, and let it sit for an hour in the refrigerator to marinate.
  3. Cut each stalk of the On Choy so that long stems are trimmed to manageable biting portions (roughly 5 inches long).  Also remove the non-leafy stems at the bottom of each stalk.
  4. Rinse the On Choy using water after trimming them and place to one side.
  5. Spoon out 3 small cubes of the wet bean curd to a small  bowl, and add 1 tsp of sugar.  Mash up the bean curd with a dessert spoon and mix well with the sugar to form a paste.  Wet bean curd will give off a lot of water as it sits in the sugar, so there should be no rush to add water to form the paste.
To cook the On Choy with Beef:
  1. Heat up a wok on medium high heat
  2. Toss in the 1/3 of the garlic, wait 10 seconds, then toss in the On Choy.  Stir the On Choy around a little, then cover the wok with the lid.
  3. Every 2-3 minutes check on the On Choy, it will shrink considerably as it cooks.  Once cooked, remove from the wok.
  4. Empty the wok of all excess water, and add oil again to the wok.
  5. Toss in the bean curd mixture, and let it simmer for 1-2 minutes in the wok.  It will bubble quite a bit, but we are in effect concentrating the flavours.
  6. Carefully toss in the On Choy, but DO NOT pour in the excess water that has collected on the plate that held the On Choy.  Save this water in a small bowl and keep to one side.
  7. Stir around the On Choy in the bean curd sauce and then remove from the wok onto the serving plate.
  8. Again, empty the wok, and add some oil again.  Toss in the remainder of the garlic and add the beef to wok and stir fry.
  9. Make a thickened sauce for the beef by adding the On Choy water from earlier, 1 tsp of cornstarch and pouring it with the beef.
  10. Once the sauce has thickened, remove the beef from the wok and place over top the On Choy.
  11. Serve hot.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Stir Fried White Radish Cake with XO Sauce

Print Friendly and PDF

Stir fried white radish cake is a recipe that has different regional variations.  Sometimes it's made using plain white radish, other times it uses a flavourful and savoury white radish cake.  When stir frying, a plethora of accompanying ingredients can be added such as bean sprouts, chives, green onion, eggs, and the list goes on.  Leading to even greater variation is the use of sauces such as XO sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, or whatever other sauce is needed to adjust the flavour to taste.

My personal favourite is to use a savoury white radish cake.  You can find the recipe for that here: Savoury Turnip Cake (Daikon), or just purchase it at the Chinese grocer.  We will also be using a teaspoon of XO Sauce.   You can buy it in the grocery store, but if you prefer, make your own ahead of time using this recipe: XO Sauce Recipe

The great part about this recipe is that it is a quick meal on a weekend!  You'll find that it pairs extremely well with Congee!

To make Stir Fried White Radish Cake you will need:
  • Serving portion size of white radish cake, chopped into half inch cubes
  • XO Sauce
  • 1 Egg
  • Vegetable oil

Cooking the Stir Fried White Radish Cake:

  1. Lightly oil the wok on medium high heat. 
  2. Pour in the cubes of white radish cake (Daikon cake)
  3. Stir fry the cubes until lightly browned on most sides.  Be careful not to be overly zealous with the stir-frying, the cubes may break apart!

  4. Crack a whole egg into the wok and stir-fry some more so that the egg becomes scrambled up in between the cubes of radish cake
  5. Toss in a teaspoon of XO Sauce, stir fry to mix evenly, then remove from heat.
  6. Plate and serve hot.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Homemade XO Sauce

Print Friendly and PDF

XO Sauce is considered the emperor of all sauces.  Many professional chefs have their own versions of this sauce and the recipe is usually guarded in secrecy.  A small teaspoon of this sauce can take any stir-fry dish and transform it!  This is a sauce that is not very well known of in the supermarket.  I think that this is because XO sauce is typically very expensive.  It is not uncommon for a small jar to sell for upwards of $30.

This recipe of mine will allow you to make our own for a fraction of the cost!  Note that traditionally XO sauce is typically also made with dried chili peppers to provide a spicy kick.  However, my family prefers a non-spicy version which we have affectionally called OX sauce.  Feel free to add dried chili peppers to the recipe if desired.

To make my XO Sauce you will need:
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 4-5 small onions (or 1 large onion), finely diced
  • 90g medium-sized dried prawns
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 6 pieces of dried scallops, shredded
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce

The steps to prepare Homemade XO Sauce:

  1. In a food processor separately process the dried scallops, dried prawns, and diced onions.  The goal isn't to turn the ingredients to a fine powder, it's just to make them a little finer.
  2. Heat up small pot on high heat and put in the shredded scallops.  We are bringing out the flavour of the scallops.  Do so for about another 3 minutes and then add in the shredded prawns.
  3. Keep stirring the dry mixture around to prevent burning.  Once you can start to smell the full flavour of the scallops and the prawns, you may add in the 2 cups of oil to the pot.  You may need to add a little more oil because the goal is to just have enough oil to reach the top of the mixture.  Gently stir and bring to a boil.
  4. Continue stirring and now add in the garlic and onions (If using dried chili now is the time to add them).  Lower the temperature to medium and continue to cook for about 15 minutes.  The mixture should be constantly bubbling but NOT burning.  Add in the dark soy now as well as a pinch of salt towards the end of the 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat after the 15 minutes and transfer the contents to a glass bowl.  Allow it to cool to room temperature, then transfer to a mason jar.