Posts tagged chinese food
Hoisin Chicken
Hoisin Chicken - Eat Cho Food

How is it that the last few days before you go vacation are always absolutely crazy? I thought that was only something that happened when you worked a normal job, but nope! It definitely still has a way of happening when your job title is a hybrid of a million things. We’re heading back to Cleveland in a few days for a wedding and I’ll be staying an extra week to hang out with my family and learn a few more recipes from my mom! But before we get on that red eye flight to Cleveland I have a bajillion things I need to cook and cross off my to-do list!

I’m still coming down from a high after my Sur La Table dumpling class this Sunday. It was such a dream. The team at Sur La Table Los Gatos made my life so easy. They prepped and cleaned EVERYTHING for me. Normally, I’m prepping for a solid day and Reuben is covered in water from doing dishes afterwards. I just had to show up, remember how to make dumplings, and hang out with a bunch of people who love dumplings too! What a life it must be to always have people that help prep and access to 249,383 sets of bowls, mixing spoons, and dumpling steamers?! I have to get back to reality and clean my kitchen for the next few days of cooking. I have an exciting video shoot I’m styling for tomorrow! I’m super excited because it’s going to be on Food Network and Travel Channel, I think! I have 8 dishes I need to make by tomorrow afternoon, so I’ll probably spend of the rest of today standing in my kitchen prepping things and bopping to the Jonas Brothers. Not a bad day of work : )

Hoisin Chicken - Eat Cho Food
Hoisin Chicken - Eat Cho Food

In honor of going home for a few days, I wanted to share a meal that I grew up eating almost on a weekly basis. Hoisin Chicken! My mom makes this using chicken drumsticks, but you can use any cut of chicken you like! It’s sweet, salty, a little spicy, and soooooooo quick and easy to make. Whenever I tell people that I grew up in a Chinese restaurant, I feel like they assume I lived on chow mein and orange chicken. Chinese people don’t eat egg rolls, orange chicken, or scallion pancakes as a regular home cooked meal. Most of the dinners that my mom made consisted of 3 parts: Rice, Protein, and Vegetables. Sometimes the rice part would be replaced with noodles, but it was more or less a plate comprised of those components. Honestly, it’s not too different than what other cultures have for dinner. Mashed potatoes, steak, and broccoli is pretty much it!

Hoisin Chicken was part of a rotation of delicious meals coming out of my mom’s kitchen. Chinese BBQ ribs, chicken and broccoli, steak with oyster sauce, and shrimp with black bean sauce served over fluffy white rice and a side of stir-fried zucchini, green beans, or Chinese broccoli were some of my favorites! Other than the fact they all tasted amazing, they were also affordable and incredibly easy to make! I’m all about spending the extra time to slow cook things and making every component from scratch, but sometimes the days are crazy and you just gotta eat! That’s when meals like this come in handy!

Hoisin Chicken - Eat Cho Food

How to Make Hoisin Chicken

This dish comes together in about 30 minutes if you work quickly!

Start by marinating the chicken in oil, cornstarch salt, pepper, and hoisin. The cornstarch is key because it tenderizes your meat and helps make a thick and shiny sauce when you cook it! After about 15 minutes of chilling in your fridge, heat up some oil in a pan and throw your chicken in the pan. Make sure the chicken is in a single layer so all the pieces have a chance to get crispy on the edges. Leave the chicken alone for a few minutes and then stir it around so the other side of the chicken has a chance to cook.

Whisk together all the sauce ingredients and pour it over the chicken. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for a few minutes until the sauce is thick and shiny and your chicken is cooked through!

Serve immediately with warm jasmine rice and your favorite vegetable! I included a bonus step at the end of the recipe for how to quickly cook your vegetables in the same pan too!

Hoisin Chicken - Eat Cho Food

Hoisin Chicken

serves 2

chicken materials:

1 lb skinless chicken thighs
3 tbsp olive oil + 1 tbsp for cooking
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp hoisin

sauce materials:
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup hoisin
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp Sriracha

steps:

  1. Cut chicken thighs into 1/2” pieces and place in a mixing bowl. Add 3 tbsp olive oil, cornstarch, salt, white pepper, and 1 tbsp hoisin to the chicken. Mix to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes

  2. While the chicken is chilling, whisk together all your sauce materials in a small bowl. Mix until cornstarch has dissolved and set aside.

  3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken to the pan so that it is in a single layer. Allow the chicken to sear on one side for 3 minutes. Use tongs or a spatula and stir the chicken so that the other side cooks for another 2-3 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until chicken is cooked through.

  4. Lower heat to a medium and pour the sauce mixture into the pan. Stir the pan so that the chicken is evenly coated. Continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes until the sauce is thick and shiny.

  5. Serve immediately with warm white rice and vegetables!

bonus step:

  1. Once you remove the chicken from the pan, increase the heat back up to medium high and add a little bit of oil in the pan. Add in your zucchini or vegetable of choice and stir fry for a few minutes until vegetables are at your preferred doneness. Season with a bit more salt and pepper or as you wish!

Cumin Lamb Skewers
Cumin Lamb Skewers - Eat Cho Food

I’ve been working from home for a little over 2 months now and haven’t had too many complaints so far. My coworkers are quite and respectful (I glance over at the plants in my living room), there’s always free food around, I can wear soft pants everyday, and my commute time is so quick! The only downside is that we don’t have any outdoor space, which is super unfortunate. We have the landing of our fire escape, that has our growing pepper plants and our neighbor’s grill, which has left some questionable char marks on our wooden railing. When I used to work in SOMA, our office had a nice outdoor space with picnic tables. It was our oasis in a sea of stinky SOMA smells and colorful people. So many smells. I loved taking a coffee break outside there and feeling the warmth of the sun. That’s probably the ONLY THING I miss about working down there.

I’m jealous of people’s backyards. Even if it’s just a small patch of grass, at least it’s your patch of grass! I’d love just a little space to grow a few vegetables and herbs, with a table and some chairs for al fresco dining, and a grill! I guess I could knock on our neighbor’s door and ask if we could use their grill, but I’m weary of the idea of grilling on a wooden fire escape. For now, we have a newly acquired cast iron grill pan that does the trick! However, our apartment is so old that we don’t have an exhaust fan in our kitchen, so whenever we use the grill pan this is what you see: Reuben tending to the meat on the grill pan with the door open to our fire escape and me with a kitchen towel fanning the smoke away from our smoke detector like a maniac. It’s a good arm workout. Grilling ain’t easy around here, but it’s worth it!

Cumin Lamb Skewers - Eat Cho Food
Cumin Lamb Skewers - Eat Cho Food
Cumin Lamb Skewers - Eat Cho Food
Cumin Lamb Skewers - Eat Cho Food
Cumin Lamb Skewers - Eat Cho Food

Cumin Lamb Skewers in Northern China

These cumin lamb skewers have been a favorite of mine for a few years now! I interned in Beijing 6 years ago and spent all my free time exploring the city and eating all the food! I remember thinking that living in China wouldn’t be such a culture shock to me. I was wrong. Everything was so different. The food was so different compared to the Cantonese food I was used to eating. Food was spicy and funky in Beijing. Some of it even made your mouth go numb - hello, Sichuan peppercorns! It was so fun and exciting to discover and learn about all these other types of Chinese food.

It was summer time when I was there, and one of my favorite meals was bbq lamb skewers! These spicy and cumin-y meat skewers are a popular street snack in Northern China. The dish was originated by the ethnically Uighur people, who are religiously muslim. Once you taste one for the first time you’ll pick up on the similarities to Mediterranean kabobs. You either grabbed a few skewers to go or grabbed a little table on the street with mopeds whizzing by in every direction. Typically, the skewers are relatively small and you would order 6-8 skewers per person. The meat is always tender and perfectly crispy on the edges. The lamb is encrusted with chili flakes and whole cumin seeds. If you only have ground cumin, that’s totally fine. BUT the whole cumin seeds have a fresher and more well rounded flavor that lends itself to the meat. It’s the perfect summer time meal to enjoy with a super cold beer!

Cumin Lamb Skewers - Eat Cho Food
Cumin Lamb Skewers - Eat Cho Food
Cumin Lamb Skewers - Eat Cho Food
Cumin Lamb Skewers - Eat Cho Food

How To Make Cumin Lamb Skewers At Home

Making these skewers at home is actually quite easy. I admit that I’m not making them super traditionally. The street stalls would cut up the lamb into much smaller pieces so they would cook and char quicker. I’ve cut the lamb into slightly larger 1” cubes because I like my lamb to still be juicy and medium rare inside. But you do you.

First step is to locate your lamb! I like to purchase lamb shoulder for these skewers. Look for a cut that has some nice fat, because fat equals flavor and extra juiciness. You can either ask your butcher to cut the lamb into small pieces for you or take it home to cut up yourself. I like to take it home to cut myself. Make sure to trim off any tough sinewy pieces. You’re not going to be able to chew through those! I like to save any lamb scraps and stick them in the freezer for future lamb broth.

Next you season the meat! I’ve kept the seasoning pretty simple. Chili flakes, whole cumin seeds, salt and pepper. That’s all you really need! i also used La Tourangelle Garlic and Walnut oils in the marinade. I’m not just saying this, but their oils make everything taste good. The garlic oil is full of beautiful garlic flavor. The walnut oil might be pure magic though. I like to just toss veggies in the walnut oil to roast with salt and pepper and it comes out tasting so nutty and much more complex for the lack of ingredients. It adds a wonderful savory flavor to the lamb. If you don’t have walnut oil or garlic oil, just use olive oil and a 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder to the marinade. I highly recommend you get some La Tourangelle in your pantry though!

When cooking the skewers you’ll want your grill or grill pan to be relatively hot. If you have a charcoal grill that’s even better because all the street side grills in Beijing were powered by charcoal. Place the skewers directly on the grill and rotate every few minutes so that every edge has the chance to sear and char. It should take take 5-6 minutes for medium rare doneness, but cook longer if you prefer it more well done. Allow the skewers to cool slightly so you don’t burn your tongue. Then crack a few beers (or sparkling fruity water) and dig in!


Cumin Lamb Skewers

makes 4 skewers - easily scalable

materials:

1lb lamb shoulder
1 tbsp La Tourangelle Garlic Oil
2 tbsp La Tourangelle Walnut Oil
2 tsp chili flakes
1 tbsp whole cumin seeds
1 tsp salt
1/2 white pepper
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 scallion stalks - cut into 1- 1.5” pieces

Metal skewers or bamboo skewers soaked in water

Steps:

  1. Cut lamb into 1” cubes and place in a bowl.

  2. Add garlic oil, walnut oil, chili flakes, cumin seeds, salt, white pepper, and cornstarch to the lamb. Mix until lamb is evenly coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to marinate for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator. 

  3. Preheat your grill to medium high heat.

  4. Assemble skewers by placing 2 pieces of lamb on a skewer, then 1 piece of scallion stalk, and continue until the skewer is complete.

  5. Grill skewers for a few minutes on each side until medium rare or desired doneness.

thanks, La Tourangelle for sponsoring this post!

Scallion Pesto Pancakes
Scallion Pesto Pancakes - Eat Cho Food
Scallion Pesto Pancakes - Eat Cho Food
Scallion Pesto Pancakes - Eat Cho Food
Scallion Pesto Pancakes - Eat Cho Food
Scallion Pesto Pancakes - Eat Cho Food
Scallion Pesto Pancakes - Eat Cho Food
Scallion Pesto Pancakes - Eat Cho Food
Scallion Pesto Pancakes - Eat Cho Food
Scallion Pesto Pancakes - Eat Cho Food
Scallion Pesto Pancakes - Eat Cho Food
Scallion Pesto Pancakes - Eat Cho Food
Scallion Pesto Pancakes - Eat Cho Food
Scallion Pesto Pancakes - Eat Cho Food
Scallion Pesto Pancakes - Eat Cho Food
Scallion Pesto Pancakes - Eat Cho Food

After this long weekend I think I am officially part girl, part dumpling, part hot dog, and part cheeseburger. Isn’t that the point of 3 days weekends that encourage you to frolic outside with all the grilled meats and mayo-y salads within arms reach?

How was your Memorial Day Weekend? Did you eat enough hot dogs or buy a new home appliance? Reuben and I spent the week like the hermits that we are. We ate a lot of good food, watched Season 7 of SVU, and went to the gym so the transition into part cheeseburger was a little less awkward. We did have a friend over for dinner and I practiced my dumpling teaching skills on her! I still have a few kinks to work out, but I have a couple more days until it’s showtime. The dumplings we made were excellent though and that’s all that really matters! Oh, oh, oh! The most exciting upgrade just happened to our apartment… no we don’t have a dishwasher or in-unit laundry… BUT we started a window planter with some wee bundles of thyme, oregano, and rosemary! They are SO CUTE. Plus we planted some really hot pepper plants, which I probably won’t be able to consume without a gallon of vanilla ice cream on standby. I’m so excited to be able to snip my own fresh herbs without even leaving the kitchen : )

Working on our micro urban garden, grilling all the edible things, and the super long days (it’s still light out at 8pm!) are making me so excited for Summer and all the foods that come with it. One of my favorite things to make during the summer is fresh pesto because the basil is so delicious and bountiful! The smell of fresh basil just makes me so happy. Unfortunately we didn’t get any basil to plant because the lighting options in our apartment wouldn’t be great for it. One day we will have a yard and it will be full of basil. Hopefully some Thai basil too!

The Magic of Scallion Pesto

These Scallion Pesto Pancakes are a great way to use up some of this season’s best aromatics! I think if you put basil, garlic, and scallions on anything it would taste good. A typical scallion pancake consists of a similar dough to dumpling wrappers, rolled out extra thin, brushed with sesame oil, and sprinkled with chopped scallions and a bit of five spice. It’s rolled up, twisted, and flattened into a disc and then cooked to flakey, crispy, and slightly doughy perfection. Instead of the classic filling, I added a swirl of scallion pesto. You’ll notice that I use pistachios in my pesto. You can use pinenuts, almonds, or even walnuts if you prefer. Pistachio is just our house nut, we always have some in the house so snacks or to add crunchiness to our salads. The recipe below will make a bit more pesto than you need for the pancakes, but extra pesto is not a bad problem to have. You can add the extra pesto to some pasta, chicken, vegetables, or a piece of toast. It’s so good! I do have to warm you though that the pesto is pretty garlicky and oniony so maybe don’t eat one of these before going on a first day.

Let’s talk about the anatomy of these pancakes for minutes. Different people have different scallion pancake preferences. Some really like them really thin and crunchy, some people like them thick and doughy, and some people like them light and flakey. In my world, the ideal scallion pancake is light and flakey on the outer rings and then get progressively doughier and chewier towards the center. It’s the best of all worlds! It’s hard to pick a favorite part, but if I had to choose it might be the very center nub. So chewy! Dipping the center of pancake into some chili oil is literally one of the best flavor combos ever! I highly encourage you just eat these with your hands and pull apart all the flakey layers in search of your part! Another way I like to eat these pancakes is with a fried egg and some hot sauce, sort of like a breakfast taco situation. Lots of tasty options!


Scallion Pesto Pancakes

makes 6 pancakes

scallion pesto materials:

4 scallion stalks - cut into 1” pieces
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup toasted pistachios or pinenuts
1/2 cup fresh basil
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup olive oil

dough material:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour + more for dusting
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 warm water

olive oil for greasing and cooking

to make scallion pesto:

  1. Add scallions, garlic cloves, pistachios, basil, fresh basil, and sesame oil in a food processor. Pulse for 20 seconds until mixture is crumbly and the basil has broken down. While the food processor is still running, slowly pour in olive oil. Blend until pesto is mostly smooth but with a few chunks. Store pesto in a jar and top with a bit of oil and store in the fridge until ready to use. This recipe makes a bit more pesto than you need for the pancakes. Add the extra pesto to pasta, vegetables, or toast!

to make pancakes:

  1. Whisk flour and salt in a medium bowl. Slowly pour in the warm water and mix everything together with a spoon until the water has been absorbed. Dump the shaggy dough onto a clean work surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth. Dough may be a bit sticky. Dust with a bit more flour if too sticky. Lightly grease a bowl with olive oil and add the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

  2. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Lightly brush a clean work surface with olive oil so the dough doesn’t stick. Roll out one piece of dough into a thin roughly 6”x12” rectangle. Scoop 2 tbsp of pesto and spread a thin layer of pesto over the dough, leaving about 1.5” clear around the edges. Starting along the long edge of the dough, gently roll up the dough into a rope. Take the rope and roll into a coil. Take a small rolling pin and roll out the coil into a 4” diameter disc. A few of the layers will break and some pesto will squirt out, that’s okay! If its difficult to roll out the pancake on a stone work surface, try rolling out on a greased wooden cutting board. Place rolled out pancake on parchment lined baking tray dusted with a bit of flour. Repeat with remaining pancakes.

  3. To cook pancakes, heat up up 1 tsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium to medium high heat. Once hot, add a pancake to the pan and flatten the dough a bit with a spatula. Cook on one side for 2-3 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Flip and cook the other side for another 2-3 minutes. Place cooked pancake on a wire rack. Repeat with remaining pancakes.

  4. Eat immediately with soy sauce or chili oil.