Katya Knyazeva (guodao) wrote,
Katya Knyazeva

Day Thirteen: Lychee-Flavored Pork and Fish-Flavored Chicken

When our professor Long Qingrong takes charge of the class we somehow always cook milder, more homey dishes. It has to be a coincidence: the schedule was finalized and published long before the semester started.

Pork Slices with Rice Crusts 锅巴肉片 fall into the 'lychee flavor' category. There are no lychees in the recipe, but the combination of sugar and vinegar in the sauce create a distinct sweet and sour flavor known as lychee 荔枝味.

Lychee sauce is delicately pale: there is only a little soy sauce in it. There are also slices of bamboo shoots 玉兰片 and a leafy vegetable known as 'caixin' 菜心. From province to province this name is used for different vegetables, but here it is probably flowering cabbage. The teacher pointed out that 'caixin' is expensive and wasteful: you pay by weight but only use the tender leaves, discarding the stalks.

Today's dish #2 is Fish-Fragrant Chicken Chunks 鱼香鸡块. Cubes of chicken thigh are first battered in egg and starch (quite like tempura), then deep-fried and doused in sauce.

We've made fish-fragrant sauce quite a few times already, but I find it a useful exercise. 'Fish-fragrance' 鱼香 is as iconic as 'mala' 麻辣, so a good Sichuan cook should be able to make it with his eyes closed. The perfect balance of sweetness, sourness, saltiness and hotness can be quite elusive.

To nail it this time I memorized the proportions used by our teacher. However, I cannot describe it any more precisely than 'a little' and 'some': in Chinese cooking, you eyeball everything. Fry minced pickled chilies in a little oil, add minced garlic and ginger, add some water, a spoon of soy sauce, three spoons of sugar, three spoons black vinegar, less than a spoonful of salt, a little more soy sauce, sprinkle chopped green onion. Increase the heat, thicken with starched water, stir in a little oil, pour over chicken chunks.  

After the fish-fragrant chicken, we set off to make lychee-flavored pork slices with rice crusts 锅巴肉片. Ideally, the dish is put together at the dinner table in front of the guests. When hot sauce is poured over the freshly fried rice crusts they crackle and sizzle.

I've always liked dishes with rice crusts ('gouba') 锅巴: their weightless crunchiness favorably offsets just about anything. Here is fried chicken with guoba we ate at the famous Chen Mapo Tofu restaurant 陈麻婆豆腐.
Tags: sichuan higher institute of cuisine, 四川烹饪高等专科学校

  • Day Eighteen: Dry-Pot Chicken

    At last! We are cooking Dry-Pot Chicken 干锅鸡. Dry-pot dishes are always so colorful and fun to eat that when I see them on the menu I find it hard…

  • Day Seventeen: Home-Style Tofu and Super-Fast Pork

    Attention! Home-Style Tofu 家常豆腐 is being made. Deep-frying the tofu turns it from pale and brittle to golden and toasty. But somehow in the…

  • Day Sixteen: Duck with Konjac

    For most of us this is the first breakfast. Our class of about thirty students sometimes expands to thirty-seven, on days when everyone suddenly…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

  • 1 comment