Sunday, March 6, 2016

Chinese Cooking Lessons

My friend Anita, who you may remember was one of my first Chicago friends and gave me my first introduction into shopping for and making Chinese food, invited us over this weekend to make scallion pancakes and hot pot. The girls were super excited, although Kate was less excited about the scallions. I'm happy to report that the adage is true: when a child is involved with making her food, she is much more likely to eat it and enjoy it. Both girls loved the scallion pancakes!

Anita told me about this online Taiwanese cooking group that likes to take traditional foods and use foods from Trader Joes as shortcuts. This recipe was one of those. Instead of spending hours making the dough from scratch, we bought pizza dough from TJs. Technically it should have been white dough but our local store was out so I ended up with the whole wheat version. Anita was a bit skeptical but it turns out it was pretty good.

First you chop all your scallions into tiny pieces. Then you cut the dough ball into manageable shapes about the size of your palm. Take one piece, pour a bit of sunflower oil into the center and rub it around.

Then add the scallions and fold in up like a package, mashing the scallions into the dough.
Then roll it out into a round shape.
The girls took turns making pancakes.
Anita spoke to the girls pretty much only in Mandarin with the girls answering her the same. This is the first time we had heard Lucy speak consistently in Mandarin on her own without looking to Kate first. They have both come a long way!

Chinese cooking lessons part 1 from Lisa on Vimeo.

Chinese cooking lessons part 2 from Lisa on Vimeo.

With a little soy sauce dribbled over the top, they were delicious!
The girls were a big help prepping the veggies for hot pot.
Anita had made the broth in advance so it would be rich in flavor before we started eating. Since Anita doesn't eat meat, the broth was veggie broth, carrots, onions, wood ear mushrooms and lotus root but really, you can make it anything you like.

Then you prep all your veggies and protein and put them in bowls on the table. Everyone can then put in the food that they would like and it cooks in the hot pot pretty quickly. You then scoop it out and into your bowl (where you have either rice or noodles).
Our hot pot had the following options: Chinese cabbage, snow peas, bok choy, onions, several types of tofu, wood ear and baby portobello mushrooms, shrimp, fish, lotus root, corn, green beans, and fish balls. The plates held a slurry of condiments that you could then dip your hot cooked food into before taking a bite. The slurry consisted of, depending on your taste: soy sauce, Chinese bbq sauce, chili oil, cilantro and scallions.
So, so good!

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