Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesday Grace Notes – Yangzhou Fried Rice and Crispy Shrimp Balls

If you’re one of my in real life or social media friends, today’s grace note will be no surprise to you. I love to cook (I’ve said cooking for others is one of my love languages) and I love Chinese food. As in, if I were stranded on a desert island with only one cuisine, this is what I would pick (actually been asked that before).

My father was an amazing cook, and many of the dishes I grew up eating were either inspired by or handed down to him from his Chinese grandfather. Broccoli chicken, Chicken Tomato, and my favourite – oven baked Chow Mein Noodles. I have a go-to stir fry recipe that I make for my family, but for some reason, have not ventured much beyond that with Chinese cuisine.

Until now.

My sweet husband came home the library one day last week with a new cookbook in tow: Easy Chinese Recipes by Bee Yinn Low. She wasn’t someone I’d heard of before, but she’s got a great website called Rasa Malaysia and the cookbook was downright gorgeous. It was absolutely my kind of cookbook: filled with full-colour images, a little bit of personal history, a little bit of cooking technique, and lots of recipes I wanted to eat immediately.

The truth of the matter is, Bee’s recipes really are easy to make. And delicious? I can’t say enough. It helps that I’m pretty well stocked with the necessary ingredients, but that didn’t stop us from heading out to the
new Asian market to add to our staples.

Chinese food is comfort food for me. The sweet, salty, and umami flavours taste like home, memory, and childhood.

Two that we’ve tried so far that are huge make-again hits are the Yangzhou Fried Rice and the Crispy Shrimp Balls. Because they’re not my own recipes, I want to link you to Rasa Malaysia’s page to get them.

Yangzhou Fried Rice
Crispy Shrimp Balls

But the pictures? This is how the recipes turned out in our home.

I definitely recommend a few things as you consider these recipes:
  • Having a wok makes a huge difference. I’m honestly not sure how these dishes turn out in a skillet because I’ve always had a wok. Even before I was married, I had a small one-person wok from Crate and Barrel (12 in. diameter). It was indispensable. Now that I cook for three (or more), I have a full size one like my father had when I was growing up (20 in. diameter). You need some room for these things – truly. But it’s worth it. Having the space to move the ingredients around and allowing the ingredients to blend well is a must.
  • When you make the fried rice – try to use day old steamed rice. Maybe jasmine. Maybe something you have left over from Chinese takeout. But definitely something glutinous. A word to the wise – Minute Rice is a no-no. I’ve only had it one or two times with family from the south, and it’s a funny story to tell about the little girl from Hawaii who didn’t know why her rice kept falling off the fork.
  • Fried rice is a wonderful mix of whatever is handy. Don’t stick with just the ingredients that are listed. You can add other meats, bamboo shoots, or our family favourite – Lup Cheong (Chinese pork sausage). 
I hope you enjoy these recipes – and others that you’ll find on Rasa Malaysia. We’re adding this cookbook to our permanent collection and look forward to many more tasty, wonderful dishes.

Tuesday Grace Notes are an opportunity for me to share a small bit of harmony amidst the other things I
write about. Truly, they are meant to be shorter than my usual pieces (laugh with me here), and just a little something to add a touch of beauty to my life and yours. One week it might be a wonderful book I’ve read and can’t put down. Maybe it will be one of the movies I love (or its soundtrack). You might find a favourite recipe here. Or the new soap I’ve just discovered. You’ll find that many of them are inspired by my mother and the things she taught me about living a gentle, elegant life. I hope you’ll join me as more things are shared.

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

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