I have to come clean about a major deficiency in my culinary skills. Actually, there are several, but the one I’d like to mention today is my complete inability to prepare Chinese food of any kind. This disability is made clear by the look of horror and queasiness on Kurt’s face when I mention a plan to cook something Chinese. Sure, recipes fail sometimes. It could be the ingredients, the cooking time, or even the weather. I’m not talking about minor failures here though. The ugly fact is that I have turned out some truly horrible and inedible Chinese dishes. And, really, it’s not just Chinese food. I’m blocked when it comes to cooking any Asian cuisine including Indian.
I decided it’s high time to do something about this. I need to try a little harder, read something authoritative for inspiration, and acquire some Asian cooking self esteem. I turned to The Key to Chinese Cooking by Irene Kuo which was published in 1977. I’ve just started reading this informative and valuable reference, and I attempted two dishes from the book on Sunday. I’m happy to report both were successfully prepared and quite edible. I could be making progress.
To complete the dish, ginger slices and smashed garlic are stir fried in oil in a hot wok. Blanched broccoli flowerets are added and cooked while being quickly turned about the wok and then receive a sprinkling of water and dry sherry. The velveted shrimp are tossed into the mix. A simple sauce of soy sauce, dry sherry, sesame oil, and sugar is stirred together, poured on top, and incorporated. Amazingly, I completed all these steps without ruining the dish.
In fact, I’m proud of what I accomplished here. The broccoli flowerets absorbed the sauce to nice effect, and the overall mild flavors kept the focus on the shrimp. The tender shrimp had a smooth surface texture unlike any I had prepared before. I’m looking forward to velveting chicken and learning more as I continue through this book. This was a good first step on the path to my Chinese cooking being eagerly anticipated. Or, at least tolerated.