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Yunnan (South of the Clouds) Province is the most southwest region of China bordering the countries of Vietnam, Laos, and Burma. Yunnan Province borders Guizhou Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to the east, Chongqing and Sichuan to the north, and Tibet Autonomous Region to the northwest. Yunnan encompasses 394,000 square kilometres (152,084 square miles) and has a population of more than 42 million people.

I would like to thank Mrs Chan at http://www.wokshop.com in San Francisco for allowing me to use this picture.

Steam-pot chicken is a local speciality of Yunnan and I have adapted this recipe for a thermal cooker.  The steam pot that is normally used has a hollow tube fixed in the centre, up to the height of the pot.
Food is put around the tube and the pot is placed on a stand surrounded by boiling water.

Steam comes up from the small hole in the middle of the pot to heat the food. If cooking this recipe it would be ready in about three or four hours.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 medium dried Chinese mushrooms, soaked in boiling water
  • 8 ounces (225 grams) ham
  • 1.5 kg chicken
  • 2 tbs of light soy sauce
  • ½tsp of white pepper
  • 6 thickish slices fresh ginger
  • 2 scallions, quartered and crushed
  • 2 tbs Shaohsing wine or medium-dry sherry
  • 3 pak choi

METHOD

  1. Drain and squeeze out excess water from the mushrooms but leave damp. Reserve the soaking liquid.
  2. Slice the ham into large pieces.
  3. Chop the chicken through the bones into serving pieces. Do not use the back; save it for the stockpot.
  4. ½ fill the inner pot with water and bring to the boil.
  5. Carefully put the chicken pieces in the water and bring back to the boil.
  6. Continue to boil for about 2 minutes, so that the scum rises.
  7. Pour into a colander and rinse the chicken to get rid of any remaining scum.
  8. Rinse out the inner pot and then layer it with the mushrooms, ham and chicken.
  9. Add the soy sauce, pepper, ginger, scallions and wine or sherry.
  10. Pour in the mushroom water and top up with chicken stock until everything is covered.
  11. Bring to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes with the lid on.
  12. Turn off the heat and put the inner pot into the insulated outer container.
  13. Shut the lid and leave it to thermal cook for a minimum of 2 hours.
  14. To serve slice some pak choi and place it in a bowl.
  15. Put some chicken, ham and mushrooms on top of the pak choi.
  16. Pour over some stock until all the pak choi is covered.
  17. Serve with boiled rice in a separate bowl.
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In the harsh climate of central-western China food like this is common. The thermal cooking allows cheaper cuts of meat that are often used in this part of China to be transformed into tasty tender meals.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 kg flank or shin beef
  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • 12 slices of ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 heaped tsp of orange peel
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 2 tbs of vegetable oil
  • 7 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
  • 2 tsp cracked black peppercorns
  • ¼ (60ml) cup rice wine
  • ¾ cup (185ml) dark soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp of Hoisin Sauce

METHOD

  1. Place the beef in the inner pot.
  2. Cover the beef with cold water.
  3. Add the onions, ginger, 3 cloves of garlic, orange peel and the star anise.
  4. Put on the lid and bring to the boil.
  5. Once boiling skim off any impurities from the surface and then simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Put on the lid, turn off the heat and put the inner pot into the outer insulated container.
  7. Close the lid and leave to thermal cook for 2 – 3 hours.
  8. After 2-3 hours remove the inner pot and bring it to the boil.
  9. Put the vegetable oil into a frying pan. Add the the chopped garlic, Szechuan peppercorns and the cracked black peppercorns.
  10. Fry for 1 minute.
  11. Add to the fried garlic and peppercorns to the contents of the inner pot.
  12. Add the rice wine, dark soy sauce and Hoisin Sauce. Stir and bring back to the boil skimming off any scum that forms.
  13. Simmer for 5 minutes with the lid on.
  14. Put the inner pot back into the outer container and shut the lid.
  15. Thermal cook for a further 1-2 hours.
  16. Serve with rice and stir fry vegetables.

 

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Master stock* refers to an aromatic, reusable stock used a lot in Cantonese cooking. Once the base stock has been prepared it is then used as a poaching or braising liquid for meat. Chicken is the most common meat cooked in master stock, although duck and pork are also often used.
In theory, a master stock could be sustained indefinitely if due care is taken to ensure it does not spoil. There are claims of master stocks in China that are hundreds of years old, passed down through generations of cooks in this way.

 INGREDIENTS

  • 1½kg chicken
  • 2 litres of water
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 4 cm piece of ginger, sliced
  • 6 spring onions, chopped in half
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 star anise
  • 3 pieces of dried orange peel. You can buy this at an Asian supermarkets or peel an orange (without the white pitch as this is bitter) and dry it slowly in the oven on a very low heat.
  • 250ml dark soy sauce
  • 250ml Shoaxing wine (Chinese cooking wine)
  • 75g Chinese yellow rock sugar (granulated sugar can be used )

 

Method

  1. Wash the chicken well.
  2. Remove the parson’s nose.
  3. Remove any fat from the inside of the bird.
  4. Place the chicken in the inner pot of the thermal cooker.
  5. Add all the other ingredients, topping up with soy sauce if the bird is not covered.
  6. Bring to the boil and boil for 2 minutes.
  7. Turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on.
  8. Turn off the heat and transfer the inner pot into the vacuum-insulated outer container.
  9. Close the lid and leave to cook for 2 hours.  If you leave it a little longer it will not matter.
  10. Serve hot with rice and stir-fry vegetables, or leave to get cold and eat the chicken with salad or in sandwiches.

* Master stock, once cooled, strained and refrigerated can be used again and again.
Replenish the stock with fresh garlic, ginger, shallots and aromatics each time you use it and the flavour will continue to intensify in strength and flavour.
This stock can also be frozen.

SAFETY NOTE: After use, if the master stock is not be immediately reused it should be boiled, skimmed, strained and cooled quickly to minimise the potential for bacterial growth. The stock should then be refrigerated or frozen until required. Refrigerated stocks may be kept for up to three days, while frozen stocks may be kept for up to a month. If the stock is to be kept longer it must be boiled before being reused.

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Lion’s head is a dish from the Huaiyang cuisine of Eastern China, consisting of large pork meatballs stewed with vegetables.

The name derives from the shape of the meatball which is supposed to resemble the head of the lion and the cabbage (or other vegetables), which is supposed to resemble the lion’s mane.

The dish originated in the region of Yangzhou and Zhenjiang in Jiangsu province, with the plain variety more common in Yangzhou and the red variety more common in Zhenjiang. The dish became a part of Shanghai cuisine with the influx of migrants in the 19th and early 20th century.

(source of information Wikipedia)

INGREDIENTS

Meatballs

  • 500g pound ground pork
  • 2 tbsp dried shrimp
  • 1 tbsp sliced ginger, minced
  • 1 (8 oz) can water chestnuts, minced
  • 1 scallions, finely sliced (including top) on the diagonal
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp date palm sugar
  • 1 tbsp Shao Hsing wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fresh minced garlic
  • 2 ounces minced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1½ tbsp cornstarch
  • White pepper or Szechuan pepper to taste

Casserole

  • 3 – 4 tbsp peanut oil for cooking
  • 2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 oz sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 500g bok choy, cut into bite-sized pieces

METHOD

  1. Soak shrimps in warm water for 30 minutes then drain and mince.
  2. Mince the shrimps with the remaining meatball ingredients. Set aside for 30 minutes in the fridge.
  3. Form the pork mixture into 4 large meatballs and roll in cornstarch and flatten them slightly.
  4. Heat the oil in the inner pot and when hot add the meatballs.
  5. Brown each side of the meatballs.
  6. Once brown remove the meatballs with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  7. Pour off any oil left in the inner pot and then add the chicken stock, ginger, garlic, sugar, soy sauce, shitake mushrooms and oyster sauce.
  8. Bring to the boil
  9. Add the meatballs and bring back to the boil.
  10. Simmer for 5 minutes before putting on the lid, turn off the heat and place the inner pot into the insulated outer container.
  11. Shut the lid and leave to cook for 2 hours. Slightly longer will not hurt.
  12. Before serving remove the inner pot from the outer container.
  13. Carefully take out the meatballs and put them somewhere to keep warm.
  14. Bring the inner pot to the boil The turn off the heat.
  15. Arrange the bok choy in bowls and place a meatball on top.
  16. Pour over the stock and serve with a separate bowl of steamed rice which could be cooked in a top pot for the Thermal Cooker.
  17. Place a meatball on top of the meatballs on top. Add the stock mixture. Simmer until cooked (1 to 1-1/2  hours).

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This is my first of five recipes to celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Tiger.

This dish is a famous Hunan dish and due to Chairman Mao’s love for it many restaurants call it “The Mao Family’s red-braised pork” or “Chairman Mao’s Red-Braised Pork”.

Chairman Mao’s nephew told Fuchsia Dunlop the author of  the Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook that the people of Mao’s home village, Shaoshan, recommend red-braised pork as a health food: “Men eat it to build their brains and ladies to make themselves more beautiful”.

This is my version of the recipe cooked in a thermal cooker.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg pork belly cut into bite sized chunks
  • 2 tbsp. peanut oil
  • 2 tbsp. white sugar
  • 1 tbsp. Shaoxing wine
  • ¾ in. piece ginger, skin left on and sliced
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • a small piece cassia bark or cinnamon stick
  • 2 cups light soy sauce
  • 3½ cups of water
  • 2 scallions cut in half
  • salt, and sugar
  • a few pieces scallion greens sliced thinly on the diagonal for garnish.

Method

  1. To remove impurities put the meat into the inner pot, cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, then drain, discarding the water. Rinse the pork under cold running water and drain well.
  2. Dry the inner pot and heat the oil and white sugar in it over a gentle flame until the sugar melts.
  3. Raise the heat and stir until the melted sugar turns a rich caramel brown.
  4. Carefully add the pork, splash in the Shaoxing wine and stir until the pork colours.
  5. Add the soy, water, ginger, 2 scallions (cut in half), star anise, chiles, and cassia.
  6. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes.
  7. Turn off the heat and put the lid on the inner pot.
  8. Put the inner pot into the outer insulated outer pot.
  9. Shut the lid and leave to cook for 3-4 hours.
  10. Before serving put the inner pot back on the heat  and turn up the heat to reduce the sauce a little.
  11. Serve with rice and some of the sauce drizzled over the pork.
  12. Garnish with the sliced scallions.
  13. I also stir fried some vegetables with a little oyster sauce as a side dish.

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Rice fields in Indonesia

Probably like you, many of the meals I cook, involve serving them with rice. If you own a thermal cooker there are two way to deal with this.
If your thermal cooker has only one inner pot (some thermal cooker have two) I can either put a trivet in the bottom (its legs in the food) and put something like my cake tin containing part boiled rice on the trivet or cook your rice about 30 minutes before I want to eat in a separate saucepan. If you on the other hand have a Mr D’s top pot you can follow the recipe and then put the top pot in the inner pot before placing the inner pot into the outer container.
In the past I have tried many methods of cooking rice. These include Jamie Oliver’s rice cooking method from his book “Ministry of Food” and Madhur Jaffrey’s methods from her book “Illustrated Indian Cookery”. All of these work but take far more time than my method and do not seem to be any better.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of rice per person. I always use Basmati rice except for when I am cooking Thai food. With Thai I prefer Jasmine rice.
  • 1 cup of water for each 1/2 cup of rice.
  • Salt to taste.

Method:

  1. Add the water to a saucepan.
  2. Add salt tasting the water until you can taste the salt. Vary the amount to your taste but remember if you can’t taste the salt in the water your rice will tend to be bland.
  3. Bring the water to the boil.
  4. Pour the rice into the boiling water and bring it back to the boil.
  5. Boil it gently (a rolling boil) for 5 minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat and put a lid on the pan.
  7. Leave for about 30 minutes and you then will have perfectly cooked rice.
  8. Before serving fluff up with a fork.

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Qian Zhou Hot & Pot Restaurant - Abu Dhabi

 I am at present in Abu Dhabi and when I am here I always like to make at least one visit to a small restaurant in the town centre called Qian Zhou Hot & Pot Restaurant. This restaurant is a favourite haunt of Chinese who work and live in Abu Dhabi. The surroundings are spotlessly clean and it is one of those places where you can while away lunchtime with your friends sharing good conversation and food that you have freshly cooked and not realise that it is already 3 o’clock.

Individual hot pots as served at the Qian Zhou

Some of you may be wandering at this stage as to what a hot pot is well  it is sometimes referred to as a steamboat and is a metal pot in which you have a basic stock on a burner usually charcoal. You choose different ingredients and like a fondue cook them in the stock eating them when they are cooked.

Meat is sliced very thin by freezing it first then using a very sharp knife to cut it. Meats used include lamb, beef, chicken, and others.

Sometimes in countries such as Korea the propane fuelled cooking pot is sunk into the table. 

Meat or vegetables are placed into the hot cooking broth with chopsticks, and the cooking time is can be as quick as 15 to 30 seconds.

Some people like to place items into the hot pot individually, while others prefer to throw everything in at once and wait for the hotpot to return to a boil.

You normally eat the food you have cooked with a dipping sauce and is the Qian Zhou you make your own from a vast array of ingredients.

Beef, shrimp balls and Chinese cabbage

At the end of the meal you drink the stock which is now is rich in flavour.
The traditions of hot pots is believed to originated in Mongolia but others claim it originated near the Sichuan province of China. But since those days it has spread to other areas of Asia and can be found in countries such as Thailand.

Whatever the history is, the Hot Pot is a great way encourage social eating as you have plenty of time to chat as you wait for your food to cook.

Ingredients to make your own dipping sauces

Some of the items on the menu from Qian Zhou Hot Pot Restaurant. You choose your base soup and then what ever meat, seafood and vegetables you would like to cook in it.

THE HOT POT BASE STOCK

  • Seafood Soup Base
  • Special Plain Soup
  • Nourishing Plain Soup
  • Special Beef Soup Base
  • Hot and Spicy Soup Base
  • Little Sheep Soup Base
  • Ginseng Mushroom Nourishing Soup Base

 MEAT

  • Chuck Rolls
  • Fat Beef
  • Little Sheep Mutton
  • Unique Lamb
  • Select Lamb
  • Select Beef
  • Select Chicken
  • Beef Ball
  • Mutton Ball

SEAFOOD

  • Fresh Crab
  • Fresh Shrimps
  • Fresh Groupe
  • Squid
  • Crab Meat Stick
  • Fish Head
  • Shrimp Ball
  • Fish Ball

VEGETABLES

  • Chinese White Cabbage
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Coriander
  • Water Convolvulus
  • White Gourd
  • Potato
  • Sweet Potato
  • Carrot

SOYBEAN PRODUCTS & MUSHROOM

  • Mushrooms
  • Winter Mushrooms
  • Fresh Mushrooms
  • Fresh Bean Curd
  • Bean-curd Knots
  • Kelp Knots
  • Winter Bamboo Shoots
  • Lotus Root
  • Black Fungus
  • Vermicelli

STAPLE FOOD

  • Rice
  • Hot-pot Noodles
  • Instant Noodles

For more information on the history of the hot pot check out Wikipedia.

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