A Surplus of Inspiration
What is Beijing’s cuisine? Well, we’re not sure, exactly. With a history dating back to the Ming Dynasty, the tapestry of Northern Chinese food is a bit muddled. Shaped by chefs and royalty from the 14th century through today, there is good reason why so many Chinese menus are as thick as phonebooks. But, here at Cooling Your Jets we feel that this kind of impressive history can only lead to one thing – a remarkable dinner party.
These airy cakes are a great way to start any meal and act as the perfect vehicle for soaking up tasty sauces.
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Sift flour into a dry, clean bowl. Slowly (and carefully) pour in the boiling water while mixing with a wooden spoon. Once the dough ball has formed, cover with a damp paper towel and allow it to rest for about 30 minutes.
On a floured surface, roll out dough into a thin rectangle. Brush on canola oil, sprinkle scallions on top, and season with salt and pepper. Roll up the dough into a log and cut it into 4 even pieces. Knead each piece to incorporate the scallions and oil. Carefully roll each piece into a log once more and then flatten into a 6-inch pancake.
Coat a nonstick pan with canola oil and sear the pancake on each side until golden brown. Cut into wedges and serve immediately with Ginger Dipping Sauce (recipe below)
Ginger Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 scallions, finely chopped
4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
Whisk all ingredients together until well-blended. Yields about 1 cup of dipping sauce.
Once you see how easy it is to make these Northern Chinese-inspired noodles at home, you’ll never pick up the take-out menu again. Justly deemed Beijing Bolognese, wide noodles are topped with a bean-pork sauce and served with shredded cucumber.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Cook noodles according to package. Drain and set aside.
Add canola oil to a deep skillet and cook pork over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Add the ginger and garlic; cook for 1 minute. Stir in sweet bean paste, soy, sugar, and hot water. Stir well to combine and simmer on low until sauce is thick, about 15 minutes.
Divide noodles into 4 bowls and top with sauce. Serve with shredded cucumber.
Setting up a Mongolian Hot Pot is a fun and interactive climax to any dinner party. A flavored broth is heated and transferred to a fondue pot where guests cook their own meat and vegetables, creating a personalized entrée.
Serves 8 to 10
Cook/prep Time: 30 minutes
Arrange the thinly sliced meat and seafood, vermicelli, cabbage and spinach on separate plates on the serving table. Also arrange the dipping sauces in small bowls.
For broth, bring stock and water to boil, add scallion and ginger. Transfer broth to a fondue pot and keep simmering over a low flame throughout the meal. Keep remaining broth warm and replenish as needed.
To serve, invite each guest to cook meat and vegetables in the broth using either chopsticks or a fondue fork. Meat and seafood will cook in about 2 minutes; vegetables will take about 3 to 5 minutes. Guests can do any variation to create a noodle dish using vermicelli, vegetables, meat, and dipping sauce. To create a soup, simply ladle the broth into a bowl and add any number of the ingredients. Note: the broth becomes more flavorful as more meat and vegetables are cooked in it.
In general, Chinese cuisine isn’t big on desserts and the ones they do have are a bit complicated to create. These coconut balls – filled with the ever-popular red bean paste – are quite simple, yet taste complex.
Yields 10 balls
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 6 minutes
Take a heaping teaspoon of red bean paste and roll into a ball until you have 10. Cover and set aside.
Place the rice flour in a large bowl and slowly pour in the condensed milk. Stir with a fork to combine. Slowly add the boiled water and stir to combine. Knead the dough for at least 3 minutes. Add more boiling water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it has the texture of Play-Doh. If the dough appears too dry, add more water; if it’s too wet add a bit more flour.
Roll into a 10-inch log. Cut off a 1-inch round, roll into a ball, then flatten into a 2-inch circle using your hand. Place 1 red bean paste ball in the center and fold the dough around it. Gently squeeze it into a ball. Repeat with remaining dough.
Place all 10 balls into a pot of boiling water, using a spoon to move around so they don’t stick to the bottom. Cook for about 6 minutes, or until the rise to the top.
Pour coconut onto a large baking sheet. Roll each ball in the flaked coconut and serve immediately.
Peking duck is probably the most popular recipe in Northern Chinese cuisine. It also takes 12 hours and a lot of patience to make. These tasty chicken wraps are a flavorful and easy substitute.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Add hoisin, soy, honey, ginger, vinegar, and garlic to a medium-sized saucepan and boil until thickened. Add plums and simmer for about 5 minutes. Place chicken in a large mixing bowl and add enough sauce (about 4 tablespoons) to coat thoroughly. Pour the remaining sauce into a bowl for dipping. To create wraps, place a heaping portion of chicken in the center of the tortilla, top with scallions and wrap up like a burrito.