I do not cook very much Chinese food although it is my favorite cuisine. I never feel I am fully up to the task of China’s ancient recipes. If recipes are too “Americanized” it means they aren’t good. If they are perfectly authentic it means ingredients may be scarce. Sometimes I lack proper utensils like clay pots and cleavers and bamboo steamers that threaten my culinary success.
Although most Chinese food is cooked quickly in a wok, there is much prep work before you start. Slicing and dicing is a major component to this cuisine. And if I had more time I could wander through the Chinese Markets to find ingredients necessary to many of these dishes. My regular grocery store does not have squab or pigeon. Can I substitute a Cornish hen? The problem is I know what it “should” taste like and I don’t want to compromise. Where do you buy a hairy melon or sea slugs or fresh lotus root? There is no way I could duplicate the crispy golden skin of Peking Duck. And I would not think to try and concoct the delectable pork buns I consumed in a Beijing park for just pennies. Could I reproduce the drama of Sizzling Rice Soup when the liquid is poured over brittle rice bars and a sizzle and snap escapes from the bowl? Probably not.
These are my dilemmas and why I choose not to cook Chinese food too often. I simply cannot replicate the intricate tastes of their cuisine or present it in their exquisite style. Living in China many years ago was a food wonderland. I will never experience such meals again so I like to keep the memory of these delectable dishes locked away in my culinary vault.
I think it is time for a challenge though, so I have dusted off an old Chinese Cookbook that was given to me years ago. I will attempt to share a few recipes and keep them as authentic as possible. The following recipe was enjoyed by all at my table. Easy to assemble, no hard to find ingredients, it gave me a bit of confidence. I won’t be preparing Steamed Pork Wrapped in Lotus Leaves, Bird’s Nest Soup or Tea Smoked Duck any time soon, but I might be serving Stir-Fried Shredded Beef with Ginger any day now. Stay tuned!
Place cleaned prawns in bowl and toss with oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
Start cooking rice.
Saute onions in oil.
Add in bacon.
Toss in prawns
Sprinkle in sugar
Add tamari sauce
Stir in sherry
Add the mushrooms, cook 2 more minutes
Dish up and serve with rice.
Prawns with Bacon and Mushrooms
1 Lb. shelled and deveined prawns
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup canola oil
1 tsp salt
1 onion, chopped
4 slices of bacon
3 zucchini, diced
8 oz shitake mushrooms
1 tsp sugar
1 ½ Tbsp tamari sauce
2 Tbsp dry pale sherry
3 cups cooked Basmati Rice
Start cooking rice, I like Basmati but feel free to substitute.
Place uncooked and cleaned prawns in a bowl and combine with the minced garlic and 1 tablespoon of oil, salt and pepper, set aside.
When rice is nearly cooked, heat oil and sauté chopped onion for 2 minutes. Add bacon and cook for a few minutes more, breaking it up with a fork.
Add the shrimp, zucchini, and mushrooms and cook for a minute
Sprinkle in the sugar and tamari
Stir in sherry and cook for 2 more minutes
Plate with a side of rice
About 4 servings