Corn Starch

July 29, 2013

Always wondered why the texture for my Chinese cooking had been a bit off. Turns out a lot of Chinese dishes uses corn starch to thicken the sauce or soup. So I tried adding it to a couple simple dishes:

IMAG0010Vegetable and Tofu Stir-Fry

IMAG0014Spinach Egg Drop Soup

IMAG0018Dinner!

Doesn’t look too bad. Who would’ve guessed.

I keep meaning to take pictures for these, but I always forget whenever I make them, and by the time I remember it is usually eaten, or just doesn’t look very appetizing. I guess that is the unfortunate curse of perishables. I’ll try and remember for the next one.

Anyways.

I’ve met a lot of Chinese people in my life. It is one of the perks of being Chinese. There are a lot of us and we tend to gravitate towards the same places and do the same kind of things. One of these things is apparently the ability to make a Chinese dishes called “Tomatoes and Eggs.” I don’t know if there’s a formal name for it, but that’s what I’ve called it my whole life (in Chinese of course).

The recipe for the dish is pretty simple:

4 Tomatoes
4 Eggs(scrambled)
Soy Sauce

Mix together and cook for 10-20 minutes.

Really nothing remarkable. But literally every Chinese person I have ever met knows how to make some variation of this dish. What’s really interesting though is that despite its popularity, I have never seen this dish for sale in a restaurant of any sort, nor have I seen anyone make it when we’re invited over for dinner. I think it’s just so common and simple that people are embarrassed to make it for other people.

As a result, I think it ends up being one of those dishes that just gets passed on from generation to generation within the family. This in turn produces some interesting variations in the recipe between families. I’ve known some people who like to add sugar or scallions or MSG. The amount of soy sauce is super variable. Sometimes it’s made super dark, or very light. It could be a dry dish, or cooked until it’s almost a sauce.

Things like this is why I find family recipes really fascinating. It’s almost like it has got its own genetics that mutate and propagate as it gets passed from generation to generation. I think the modern age has kind of killed a bit of that. With widespread books and the internet, a lot of recipes are becoming pretty homogeneous. So sad.

Dumplings are like the best food ever! It’s too bad some of the ingredients are a bit hard to find, and I’m so lazy. Otherwise, I’d be eating it like every other week.

Here’s a recipe my mom taught me for how to make the pork filling. I’ve made it twice, once with the shrimp, and once without. It was way, WAY better with the shrimp:

1 pound of ground pork
1 napa cabbage, boil first and then sliced into thin strips
2 TbSp of Corn Starch
3 TbSp of  Soy Sauce
2 TbSp of  Sugar
1/2 TbSp  of Salt
1 TbSp of Seasame oil
1/4 TbSp of Black Pepper
5 TbSp of Water
1 TbSp of Chinese Cooking (Rice) Wine
1 bundle of Scallions(diced)
1/2 pound of shrimp (preferably fresh, non-frozen), remove shell/tail first.

-Mix together, and keep thick. Add corn starch if it’s too watery.
-Wrap in the dumpling skin(I generally use store bought, but you can make them with 4 cups flour and 1 cup water)

There’s a vegetarian version where instead of the pork you use Garlic Chives or Zucchini. I’ve tasted the garlic chives version before and it was amazing, but it’s like impossible to find. The lady that made it actually grew the plants herself. I’ve tried making the zucchini version once, but it didn’t taste great. Maybe I just did it wrong.