The Chinese Vegan Kitchen (4 page)

BOOK: The Chinese Vegan Kitchen
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Occasionally, very thin, soft rice-flour wrappers, which require no soaking, are used to make a vegetable roll known as si wa wa, or silk dolls.

RICE VINEGAR
Milder and less acidic than regular vinegar, there are three basic types of Chinese rice vinegar—black, red, and white. Black rice vinegar is
an aged product made from rice, wheat, millet, and/or sorghum with an inky black color and a complex, malty flavor similar to balsamic vinegar; Zhenjiang is the most popular variety (for a gluten-free option, substitute with balsamic vinegar). Red vinegar has a sweet-and-sour taste, and white vinegar is the closest in acidity and flavor to regular vinegar. Also known as rice wine vinegar.

RICE WINE
A rich-flavored liquid made from fermented glutinous rice that typically contains wheat, millet, or yeast. Shaoxing rice wine, an amber-colored, aromatic, and pleasantly nutty-tasting variety, similar to dry sherry, is the most famous. Also known as yellow wine.

SEITAN
A chewy, protein-rich meat substitute made from either whole wheat flour or vital wheat gluten; also known as wheat gluten, wheat meat, or gluten.

SICHUAN PEPPERCORN
A mildly hot spice from the prickly ash tree that is not related to the peppercorn, Sichuan berries resemble black peppercorns but contain a tiny seed. They have a fragrant aroma and distinctive flavor, and produce a numbing sensation around the mouth. Also known as Szechuan peppercorn, Sichuan/Szechuan pepper, anise pepper, Chinese pepper, or flower pepper.

SNOW FUNGUS
A yellowish-white mushroom that is almost transparent, with a crispy, jellylike texture similar to black fungus; it is most commonly used in dessert recipes. Also known as white fungus, white tree ear fungus, white wood ear, silver fungus, silver ear, or snow ear.

SNOW PEAS
A member of the legume family, the snow pea is a sweet, crisp variety of pea eaten whole in its pod while still unripe. Also known as Chinese sugar peas or mangetout.

SOYBEAN
Cultivated for thousands of years in China, the soybean is considered one of the five sacred grains along with rice, wheat, barley, and millet. Soybean pods range from tan to black; the bean itself can be green, brown, yellow, red, brown, or black; is bland in taste; and is high in protein and nutrition. The beans are used to make a variety of products, including tofu and soy sauce. Also known as soya bean, soy pea, soja, or soi.

SOYBEAN PASTE
A salty, fermented paste made from ground soybeans. There are a number of varieties, including brown bean paste, yellow bean paste,
and soybean condiment. Also known as soybean sauce, brown bean sauce, or yellow bean sauce.

SOY SAUCE
Made from fermented soybeans, wheat flour, water, and salt, there are two main types of soy sauce—light and dark. Light soy sauce is lighter in color, thinner, and saltier and adds a distinct flavor to dishes; it is the main soy sauce used for seasoning. Aged for a longer period, dark soy sauce is thicker, blacker, and sweeter due to the addition of molasses, and is less salty; it is used in recipes to add color and flavor. Another type, thick soy sauce, is a dark soy sauce that has been thickened with starch and sugar or additional molasses; it is often used as a dipping sauce or poured on food after cooking for additional flavor. Also known as soya sauce.

SPRING ROLL WRAPPER
(
see
Rice Paper Wrapper) Though the labels
rice paper wrapper
and
spring roll wrapper
are often used interchangeably, a spring roll wrapper in China is typically made from a mixture of wheat flour and water; in this instance, it is sold in soft form, similar to a wonton wrapper, and requires no soaking.

STAR ANISE
A star-shaped, dark brown rust-colored spice with a strong licorice taste; also known as Chinese anise.

STRAW MUSHROOM
A long, grayish-brown mushroom with a conical cap over a bulbous stem with a mild flavor, it is cultivated on straw that has been used on a rice paddy; also known as paddy-straw mushrooms or grass mushrooms.

TAPIOCA
A starch extracted from the root of the cassava, tapioca comes in several forms, including granules and flour, as well as pellets that are called tapioca pearls. In Chinese cooking, the pearls are used in puddings and bubble tea, while the flour is often used to thicken sauces and soups. Also known as cassava or yucca.

TARO
A potatolike root vegetable with a white or pale pink and sometimes purple-tinged flesh; peel with a vegetable peeler under running water to avoid any skin sensitivity to its sticky juices. Toxic in its raw state, taro contains calcium oxalate crystals, so the root (as well as the leaves) must always be boiled to remove the crystals before other preparation. Also known as Chinese taro, elephant ear, Buddha’s hand, or kalo.

TOASTED SESAME OIL
An Asian variety of sesame oil made from roasted/toasted sesame seeds, with a dark color and an intense, nutty flavor and aroma. Valued as a condiment, it is used sparingly in cooking. Toasted, or dark, sesame oil can be found in the international aisle or condiment and salad dressing section of many large supermarkets. For best results, select those brands consisting only of pure 100 percent sesame oil. Also known as dark sesame oil.

TOFU
A bean curd made from soybeans, tofu is high in protein and a popular meat substitute. Although bland in flavor, tofu absorbs other flavors well and is used in both savory and sweet Chinese dishes. There are two types of tofu—regular and silken. Regular tofu comes in a variety of textures, from soft to extra-firm. Silken tofu has a creamy, custardlike texture, and also comes in varying degrees of firmness. Also known as Doufu, Do Fu, soybean curd, or bean curd.

VEGETARIAN OYSTER SAUCE
A dark brown condiment made from soy sauce, mushroom extract (often from oyster or shiitake mushrooms), sugar, salt, and usually glucose syrup.

WATER CHESTNUT
An aquatic vegetable resembling a chestnut that grows in marshes, the water chestnut has a sweet flavor and crisp texture. Also known as Chinese water chestnut or water caltrop.

WINTER MELON
Resembling a large watermelon with dark green, waxy skin, the winter melon has a very mild, sweet taste, and is used in savory dishes such as soups and stir-fries. Also known as Dong Gua, Dong Gwa, or wax gourd.

WONTON WRAPPER
A paper-thin square piece of dough primarily made of wheat flour and water (sometimes containing eggs) that is used to make wontons; also known as wonton skin.

WOOD EAR MUSHROOM
Similar to cloud ear mushrooms (
see
Black Fungus), wood ears have a firm, thick skin and a jellylike, springy texture when fresh that becomes slightly crunchy when cooked. Also known as tree ear, silver ear, or mook yee.

About the Nutritional Numbers

All of the nutritional analyses in this book were compiled using MasterCook Deluxe 4.06 Software, from SierraHome. As certain ingredients (celtuce, fern root noodles) were unknown to the software at the time of compilation, however, substitutes of equivalent caloric and nutritional value were used in their place. All of the recipes using broth have been analyzed using low-sodium canned vegetable broth. All of the recipes using rinsed and drained canned beans have been analyzed using freshly cooked dried beans. Unless salt is listed as a measured ingredient (versus to taste, with no preceding suggested measurement) in the recipe, or unless otherwise indicated, no salt has been included in the analysis; this applies to other seasonings (black pepper, cayenne, etc.) as well. None of the recipes’ optional ingredients, unless otherwise indicated, have been included in the nutritional analyses. If there is a choice of two or more ingredients in a recipe (for example, chopped peanuts or slivered almonds), the first ingredient has been used in the analysis. Likewise, if there is a choice in the amounts of a particular ingredient in a recipe (for example, 2 to 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce, plus additional, to serve), the first amount has been used in the analysis. If there is a range in the number of servings a recipe yields (for example, 4 to 6 servings), the analysis has been based on the first amount.

• CHAPTER ONE •

Appetizers and Snacks

Delicate dumplings, crispy spring rolls, chewy pot stickers, fluffy buns, crunchy wontons, tender pancakes—what’s not to love about Chinese appetizers? Not surprisingly, the literal meaning of dim sum, China’s beloved assortment of small eats and snacks, translated from the Cantonese, is “to dot, or touch, the heart.” While dim sum is traditionally served any time between morning and mid-afternoon, these tasty morsels can hit that spot on our hearts anytime and make great dinner party starters and hors d’oeuvres for company. In addition to the customary dumplings and spring rolls, treat your guests to the unexpected delights of Hunan-Style “Smacked” Cucumbers, Pickled Daikon Radish, Sichuan-Style Marinated Green Bell Peppers, Five-Spice Peanuts, or Baked Tofu Nuggets. Your guests will depart with very happy hearts!

Preserved Apple Rings, Shandong-Style

The Chinese adore apples—the best are said to come from Shandong, famous for its superb apple orchards. While there is nothing better than a fresh apple eaten out of hand, sometimes the next best thing is a preserved apple eaten out of the oven. In fact, a recent study indicated that women who ate dried apples every day for 12 months lowered their total cholesterol by 14 percent and their levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol by 23 percent—not bad for a year’s worth of delicious work. This totally good-for-you recipe draws its inspiration from my student whose Chinese name in part— the “
”—creates the Mandarin character for apple,
. This one is for you, Victor, the apple of my eye—really!

MAKES 4 TO 6 SERVINGS

2 large apples (Fuji, Gala, Honeycrisp, or other sweet-crisp variety), about 8 ounces each, peeled, if desired, left whole, and cored

Preheat oven to 150F (65C). Set a cake rack on a large baking sheet. Alternatively, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Slice each apple into rings about
1

8
inch in thickness. Arrange slices in a single layer on the cake rack or parchment. Bake 8 to 10 hours in the center of the oven, turning over halfway through cooking time if using parchment (turning is not necessary with a cake rack), or until apple slices are leathery and flexible, but not brittle. Let cool completely before placing in a resealable plastic bag and storing at room temperature for several weeks. Alternatively, store in the refrigerator or freezer for several months.

{PER SERVING} Calories 62 • Protein 0g • Total Fat 0g • Sat Fat 0g • Cholesterol 0mg • Carbohydrate 16g • Dietary Fiber 3g • Sodium 0mg

Pickled Chilies

Serve these tangy hot chilies as part of a relish tray, tossed with salads, vegetables, noodles, or rice, or stirred into soups. For a milder taste, omit the seeds.

MAKES ABOUT 1 CUP

1 cup distilled white vinegar

8 small green and/or red chilies, thinly sliced

BOOK: The Chinese Vegan Kitchen
6.71Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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