Shrimp and chive dumpling (虾韭菜饺子)

I lived seven years in Asia: one and a half in (基隆) Keelung, Taiwan and five and a half in (新加坡) Singapore. If the reader wondered if I crave Asian food, I do. Chinese food is my favorite cuisine of all and dumplings have become comfort food for me.

It’s not Don Tai Fung, but it’s four blocks from my apartment and it’s relatively cheap. IXLB is my local dumpling house and I just realized the acronym means something like “i love xiaolongbao.”

I didn’t order the xiaolongbao, but i ordered cucumber slices in garlic and sesame oil. This version also had Sichuan peppercorns and chilies and I liked it.

The steamed pork bun was likewise delicious and comforting.

It’s no-frills, but the food is authentic and reasonably priced.

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Fried Cumin Lamb (孜然炒羊肉)

I went down to San Diego a few weeks ago to hang out with my youngest brother. The Asian ghetto, as it were, is located on and around Convoy Street, so we stopped at Chef Chin’s restaurant which looked promising.


The cubes of lamb were salty, fatty and crispy and aromatic with lots of cumin. The dish was garnished with fried cilantro and scallions. I loved it. While it wasn’t as good as the similar dish cooked by Lao Chengdu in Singapore, it pleased me.

Beef cooked in chili oil was good too.


It wasn’t as fiery as I would have liked.

They even had almond soup for dessert!

The Chairman’s Bao (毛泽东的包子)

My craving for Chinese food was sated by my trip to Baohaus, a Taiwanese steamed bun restaurant by way of New York.


I’ve had this very same dish in both Singapore and Taiwan. Berkshire pork belly said the menu, served in a steamed bun with crushed peanuts, cilantro and a sweet sauce.

好吃!

The taro fries were served with a peanut-based garlicky hot sauce that wasn’t very spicy. 

I also ordered lemonade mixed with green tea that was unusually good. 


I like this place, located in a mall in Chinatown, Los Angeles.


Luckily for ne there was a firecracker festival going on.

Twice Cooked Pork (两次熟猪肉)

One of my favorite Chinese dishes, this attempt did not measure up to my standards, but my parents liked it.

However, I know what I did wrong, so next time, the attempt will be successful. 


For the broth in which to boil the pork I places a chopped up scallion and a small handful of Sichuan peppercorns.


Instead of using pork belly (which I should have used) I used pork loin which was way too lean. This recipe needs fatty pork. So I cooked the pork in the pot for twenty minutes. 


Meanwhile, I had chopped up scallions, garlic, ginger and dried birds eye chilies.


I took the cooked pork from the pot.


Then I sauté the ginger and garlic in the wok. When the ginger began to turn golden brown I added the pork.


I then added chopped leeks, chilies and scallions. 


At this point I should have cooked this down a bit. Instead I added bell peppers. I also added a mix of soy sauce and sugar. 


It added too much sweetness to the dish. Twice cooked pork should be about spice and fat. It might have tasted fine, but I was disappointed. Next time I know what to do. 

Broccoli and Scallops (西兰花扇贝)

Cooking for my parents, I wanted to show them a classic Chinese vegetable dish. I also wanted to explain how the Chinese incorporate meat and fish to flavor vegetables. 

After I cut the florets into smaller pieces, I blanched the broccoli, just until the broccoli turned bright green. 



I made an ice bath and put the blanched broccoli into it to stop the cooking.


I followed a recipe which recommended braising the scallops in chicken broth for a few minutes to eliminate the fishy flavor which develops in frozen scallops.


The fishy scent is probably decomposition, but I could be wrong.


I then removed them. 

 Chopped ginger and scallions went into the hot pan. I was using the wok to cook twice-cooked pork. 



I used tongs to flip the tender scallops as I didn’t want to break them apart. 


When the scallops were seared, I added soy sauce, dry sherry and a tablespoon of oyster sauce. 

This dish turned out well. 

Sichuan Green Beans (四川青豆)

By far, this is my favorite Chinese vegetable dish. Not only is fried in oil and pork fat, but chilies and Sichuan peppercorns make it savory and spicy.


The end result, ready to be enjoyed at my sister’s place for Thanksgiving. 

Over two pounds of green beans took awhile to clean and cut off the stems. 



Ready to be cooked. 

I chopped up a thumb-sized chunk of ginger, three cloves of garlic, about 12 Sichuan peppercorns and about eight dried chilies. 


Ordered from Amazon.


I added enough oil to fry the beans. I cooked them until they began to wilt and soften. 


I then removed them from the wok and drained some of the oil. 


Then I added the garlic, ginger and chilies to the wok. When the garlic had turned golden brown I added the 200g of minced pork and 100g of bacon fat, which were marinating in 1/4 cup soy sauce, corn starch (1tbsp) and 1/4 cup sherry. 

I cooked that until the pork was browned. 


To this delicious mix I returned the beans to the wok to coat thoroughly. I then added about 1/3 a cup of soy sauce. 

It was a good Thanksgiving dinner. In the last photo one can see the hors d’oeuvres I made. Toast with anchovy butter and radish slices and poached prunes stuffed with chicken liver pâté.