23 January 2012

Deep-fried Lunar New Year treats: Crispy Sesame Flower aka Dragon Cloaca

It's that time of year again, where old and young Asian kinfolk bring together their bickering over a family supper table. Yes, it is Chinese New Year today.

Aside from the traditional gut-busting home-cooked Chinese gastronomy the eve, there is also no shortage of Chinese tradi-superstitions, to which I don't really adhere; here's a shortlist of some CNY buffoonery:
  • Cleaning your house on the new year (that's what domestic helpers are for).
  • Avoiding the use of scissors or knives (so all haircuts happen before CNY mean barbers and salons gouge clients for 10x the normal fee).
  • Eating as many sweets as you can stomach before your teeth fall out.
  • Giving money in the form of red pockets is auspicious, especially if they're for me. 
However, stupidstitions aside, here's one deep-fried tradition I did honour for year 4710, or the Year of the Dragon: crispy sesame flowers (花, cheoi mah fah). They resemble nothing less than the anus of a dragon (mostly because my handywork is sub-par... sue me). 

[Crispy sesame flowers; definitely not flower-shaped, rather, they're like three-dimensional Möbius strips.]

The recipe is the same as the one used for Smiley Face Nuggets with a slight variation: a smidgen less sugar and the addition of one cube of red fermented bean curd (乳, "southern fermented bean curd"for each cup of flour used.
[Red fermented bean curd. Again, the Western translations here are stupid; ridicule liberally.]

[Before the magic red fermented bean curd is mixed in the dough.]

Once mixed in (you might need a bit more flour), roll it out, cut into 2-inch strips and like a plastic surgeon, make an incision in the middle parallel to the long edge, and then thread one end through the incision. Deep fry the flipped dragon anuses doughthings until golden, and drain on paper towels.

[Rolled out and ready to go.]

A recipe using (1) one cup of flour will yield about 2.5 cups of deep-fried biscuits and raise your LDL cholesterol by 20 points.

Gung hei fat choi 恭喜發財! 
(P.S. My resolution this year is to clean my potty mouth. So far, it is not happening.)

17 January 2012

Tourtière abberation by Chow

Whatever I'm going to write now about tourtière will probably receive some eyebrow-raising and some harsh poo-pooing from any bonne dame de région* but maybe not...!

This is a tale of the birth of a French-Canadian meat pie that was born out of wedlock and raised with love; this is the Chow tourtière made from pork, potatoes and chicken hearts.

[Diminutive version of the meat pie designed for loggers.]

Chicken hearts, though they might be the ugly duckling of the meat world, are (as Subordinate Chow put it) "the most tasty meat in the world until someone told you it was chicken hearts."

Traditionally served as a sleep-inducing meal (réveillon) on Xmas and New Year's eves, it is a perfect sedative for holiday church masses (if the actual mass doesn't put you to sleep first). Les québécois were pretty resourceful folk back in the day, and used whatever meats were local and available to them to make tourtière. (Perhaps I might not be off the beaten track after all.)
This aberration tourtière involves stuffing a double pie crust with a mix of ground chicken hearts and ground pork, with diced potatoes, onions, salt and pepper, herbs (thyme, bay leaf, oregano) baked in a deep dish pie plate (or double the recipe and bake in a cast iron Dutch oven for that extra authenticity no one really cares about unless it means more food).

[Keep the meat and meat grinder cold and your work will be cut out for you.]

The fact that there are not only one but two types of tasty animals in this dish means it's twice as tasty; my math is good.

(Take heed, vegetarians and vegematarians: skip the dead animals and use ground hazelnuts, seitan, ground chickpeas, lentils, TVP (textured vegetable protein), chopped mushrooms, and/or caramelized onions, or combination of all of them.)

May 2012 bring you new tidings of glee in the form of good food and drink! Now for the REAL new year celebrations...

* old bat from Quebec boonies.