Chinese food is a harmonious integration of colour, taste, shape and fine ingredients. The diversity of Chinese cuisine comes from its rich history and four major culinary regions: Northern plains which include Beijing; the fertile East watered by the Yangtse River; the South which is famous for Cantonese cooking in the Guangdong Province; and the fecund West of the Szechwan and Hunan Provinces.
Out of these, Canton is perhaps the most famous when it comes to food. Long, warm, wet days throughout the year create a perfect environment for cultivation. The coast provides ample seafood and the groves are filled with fruit.
Cooking methods and recipes are sophisticated and varied. Since local produce is so gorgeous, the cooking highlights its freshness, relying less on loud sauces and deep-frying.
Here, I am sharing a few simple and flavourful dishes from the Canton and Szechwan regions. Humble amounts of spices are used to bring out the flavour of the prime ingredient — fresh fish, tofu and meat. These can be had with fragrant Jasmine Rice or lovely Plain Bao, which is steamed Chinese bread that can be had with or without a stuffing.
(As told to Anjali.Shetty@timesgroup.com)
Cantonese Steamed Pomfret
For the Fish
Whole Pomfret (approx 200 gms)
Light Soya Sauce: 10 ml
Oyster Sauce: 5 gms
Salt: 5 gms
For the garnish
Ginger: 5 gms, shredded
Coriander leaves: 10 gms
Spring onion leaves: 5 gms, shredded
• Debone the pomfret with a sharp boning knife, with the fillet intact
• Place it on a plate and put inside a steamer for seven minutes
• In a wok, add the light soya sauce, oyster sauce, salt and little water and heat till it boils
• Do not overheat otherwise it will be bitter!
• Once the fish is steamed, take it out and place it on the plate
• Pour the sauce over the fish, sprinkle some garnish and serve
Dry yeast: 15 gms
Sugar: 15 gms
All purpose flour: 250 gms
Salt: 5 gms
Oil: 15 ml
Water: 80 ml
• Mix together yeast, sugar and water in a bowl
• In another bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well
• Add the yeast-sugar-water mixture into the bowl and start kneading into a dough
• Stop kneading once the surface is smooth and elastic
• Now let the dough rest for three hours
• After three hours, once the size of the dough is triple what it was earlier, knead the dough again for five minutes
• Now cut the dough in equal sizes and make them into even-sized balls
• Place the buns on a steamer basket (at least two cms away from each other) and steam for 15 minutes
Silken tofu: 120 gms, diced
Beef: 30 gms, minced
Garlic: 5 gms, chopped
Ginger: 5 gms, chopped
Black Bean: 15 gms
Chilly paste: 10 gms
Leeks: 5 gms, diced
Dark soya sauce: 10 ml
Cornflour: 10 gms
Vinegar: 5 ml
Chopped Spring Onions: 5 gms
Peanut oil: 10 ml
Salt: 5 gms
Sugar: 5 gms
Sichuan pepper: 5 gms, crushed
• Take oil in a wok and cook the beef mince
• Remove and in the same oil, add the black beans, leeks, chopped ginger and chopped garlic
• Cook for one minute and add the chilly paste
• After cooking for a minute, add some vegetabl stock in the wok. Add the cooked beef mince, dark soya sauce and season it with salt and sugar
• Add diced tofu and carefully (with a light hand) stir the tofu so that it does not break
• Slowly add the cornflour and water mixture to thicken the sauce and stir gently. Add the vinegar
• Garnish the dish by sprinkling chopped spring onions and crushed Sichuan peppercorns on and served with some steamed Jasmine Rice
► Chef Rahul Khosla a young, dynamic chef is currently a part of Panash — the pan-Asian restaurant at Four Points By Sheraton, Pune.
Hailing from New Delhi, he graduated from the Institute of Hotel Management – Aurangabad and started his career in 2008 as Management Trainee at the Taj.
Rahul specialised in Chinese cuisine (Sichuan and Cantonese) and worked with a few famous Chinese master chefs.
He was also a part of a Malaysian chefs team at the Commonwealth Games 2010. He is a perfectionist when it comes to food and likes it to be simple yet flavourful