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Spicy Hare stir-fry regional SiChuan style – Recipe

Spicy Hare Sichuan style

Spicy Hare Sichuan style

Hunting season has begun with an abundance of local Wild Game choice; Hare, Pheasant, Goose, Deer and Wild boar to name a few. Since I returned home I haven’t had the chance to try on Wild Game cooking. The occasion did not present itself till recently, to buy Wild Game and fowl directly from a hunter-gatherers group. Almost two weeks ago I picked up a Wild Rabbit or Hare, already butchered in parts; front legs, back legs and saddle at my request. Otherwise, I would have to skin, gut, debone and butchering it myself well that is just too much 麻烦 ’mafan’ or trouble since I only could prepare it the next day.

For this dish, you can use the whole Rabbit or Hare saddle rack by chopping it up in pieces or cut out the loins and then cut at an angle in fine slices. After I had posted my photos I received questions how I deboned the Hare. Instead of writing out that process I found a good instructional video to watch. Newbies to deboning might find this to be helpful improving their technique and make this dish as a next meal.

Sichuan is one of the popular cuisines in China and has set ground in Europe with a growing group of gourmets aficionados, its famously know because of their hot spicy taste and the flavour of numbing Sichuan pepper (aka Mala Wei 麻辣未). However it is actually a variety of flavours combined together; spicy, salty, sour, sweet, bitter, smokey and flowery (Sichuan peppercorns). It is not rare that you will find all of these flavours in one dish.

Flavors of Chuan Cuisine — hot and spicy

A variety of seasonings are used in Chuan Cuisine, and each dish can be cooked differently. Therefore Chuan Cuisine enjoys a reputation for variety. As the saying goes it’s ‘one dish with one flavor and one hundred dishes with one hundred flavors‘.

The most common flavors of Chuan Cuisine are hot and spicy, “the five fragrances” (Fennel, pepper, aniseed, cinnamon, and clove), other mixed spices, chili and Sichuan pepper (made with prickly ash), and sweet and sour. Source: Chinahighlights

Ma Po Doufu, Kung Pao Chicken, Yu Xiang Rou, are favourites in and outside of China, next to the common and exotic ingredients are wild game dishes, in all Chinese cuisines and all over south-east Asia. This realisation came to me after the huge response I had on my post with the request to share my recipe.

Now you might have an idea what you are preparing to taste, eating spicy and hot will never be the same. Since it was a trial cooking with Hare meat I have not taken any photo shots during preparation or cooking, these will be added later. For more information on some of the ingredients with images, you can read this here.

Last Sunday I’ve picked up a frozen goose and another Wild Rabbit, the Goose to try a roast and the Rabbit in three different dishes. Coming up!

Spicy Hare Sichuan style

Spicy Hare Sichuan style, dinner tonight

Enjoy!

Spicy Hare or Rabbit Sichuan style

Spicy Hare Sichuan style

Spicy Hare Sichuan style

Who would have guessed at a food swap, having a great coffee talk I would end up joining wild game groups on the net and near the woods (no I don’t hunt). My curiosity has introduced me to otherwise unknown wild game gourmets of cooks and hunters.

It didn’t take too long to buy a fresh wild rabbit/hare directly from a hunter and before I arrived home I decided to prepare Sichuan style version. With the infamous dried peppers ‘Hua jiao‘ 花椒粒 and ‘La jiao’ 辣椒乾 (literal translation is flower pepper kernels and dried Sichuan chilli).

Both are very distinctive spices not easily replaced if you want to add a particular heat and aroma.

Hua jiao & La Jiao

Hua Jiao Flowerpepper and La Jiao Sichuan whole pepper

 

These ingredients are not common in supermarkets or deli stores. I have added the images for recognition. So you know what to search for at the Chinese supermarkets or Asian Toko’s.

Homemade Sichuan hot chilli oil is an infused aromatic oil, made of grounded Sichuan chilli peppers (la jiao) and flower pepper (Hua jiao) to flavour the oil together with other spices. Used as a finish in many stir-fries, swirled on top of noodle soups and an integral part in marinades for spicy appetisers.

A part of my last batch ended up as food gifts so I need to refill and stock up my own pantry soon. Making the oil is not for the fainthearted because using and stir-frying peppers will release a very pungent sensation and can irritate the skin and eyes.

Conveniently store bought works as well, you can find these at the supermarkets/Toko’s. Shop for the standard Chilli oil look for an aromatic Sichuan version on the shelf.

Aromatic oils; Homemade SiChuan hot pepper chilli oil and Sesame oil

Aromatic oils; Homemade Sichuan hot chilli oil and Sesame oil

 

Aromatic oils; Homemade Sichuan hot chilli oil and Sesame oil 

As with buying sesame oil, for advanced gourmet sleuths, they enjoy cooking with various oils for blending or cooking purposes. Buy small bottles once open use it quickly or it can turn rancid. Note of caution, sesame oil is not intended for frying, but only quick sauté for example to fragrance a dressing or sauce at the end of cooking.

Spicy Hare or Rabbit in Chinese Food Therapy

In my childhood rabbit meat was a staple ingredient and prepared by my parents in many dishes; stir-fries, stews, and herbal soups often paired with traditional Chinese medicine. The latter to make a tonic with the purpose of strengthening and nourishing the body. Cooking with Chinese herbs is about recuperating the body and rabbit meat is well known for its high protein content.

In Chinese dietic therapy; “According to TCM food, like medicine can be divided into the characteristics cold-hot-cool-warm. When applied correctly nutritional ingredients can help the patient to overcome an inclination to or even a manifested disease. Food used to aid and act as preventive part of a nourishing diet can achieve the same goal to strengthen recovery process”.

For more information on the use of tonics and food therapy, click on the links. Browse the internet for more in-depth TCM information and/or elaborate search on practices and belief system.

Rabbit or Hare meat is considered foods with warming qualities, high protein level and the temperature was cold. The more reason altogether to add spice in this wild game stir-fry dish bringing it all in balance.

A few days later I posted food pics of my Sichuan style cooked spicy hare dish just for fun between all other social media posts. The food pics picked up attention with a request to share the recipe and preparation method. Instead of a wild rabbit, hare, you can make this dish with other meats as well, for e.g. lamb would be very nice with the peppers, capsicum, and daikon (rettich/white carrot or aka daikon).

Here is the recipe link Spicy Hare stir-fry regional Sichuan style – Recipe.

Aubergine stuffed with minced lamb and spices

Greek/Turkish Stuffed Aubergine with minced Lamb and spices
Greek/Turkish Stuffed Aubergine with minced Lamb and spices

Had plans for MaPo DouFu, but the minced meat was Lamb mince, slight adjustment and a dive into the cupboard and fridge to see what else was available. On the left two shiny aubergines, a jar with tiny dried bird’s eye chilli peppers, a quick look in the cupboard with jingling spice bottles. Two bell peppers from the vegetable drawer, asked hubby to snip a big hand of fresh parsley from our potted garden outside. Love Greek and Turkish cuisines and thought it would be a nice surprise after a few days of Asian dishes, with most of the ingredients at home it is easy to fuse flavours and mix with spices. Creating a new dish or cooking a flavour is most of the time not ingenuity but missing an ingredient which forces you to substitute in the hope it fuses and blends all well together. If it does happy faces at the table, if not it will be voted out not to be repeated. Luckily this dish is a keeper, easy to prepare and adapts with all most all vegetables even a spinach version turned out tasty, so go figure.

Aubergine vegetarian version

If you want an aubergine vegetarian version just omit the meat and cook the vegetables or you may add one can of chickpeas instead. After cooking and filling the eggplant shells, you will have more than enough stuffing left over to enjoy the next day either for lunch or dinner.

Variations we like for the next meal as lunch or dinner ideas are:

  • Wrap in a tortilla as a burrito with extra lettuce or with rice.
  • Grill Turkish/Moroccan bread/Ciabatta layer with lettuce and top with eggplant stuffing
  • If you don’t have time to wait and bake the potato, zapp the spud in the microwave on full, cut a cross and pull it open top the eggplant stuffing on top with a dollop of yoghurt.
  • or if you happen to have some hummus, lavash and other dips you can have it as a snack too.

Share the food! Enjoy and send me a photo of your dish 🙂

Huat Kueh 发糕 or Prosperity Cake by Louisiana van Menxel

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A Guest recipe contribution from my Indonesian-Chinese friend and fantastic home Chef Lousiana van Menxel. Both our family moved around the same time to India and she has single-handedly rocked New Delhi with her famous Sate’s and left a lingering Indonesian food impression behind. They were sad to see her leave and I am very happy to enjoy her up close again, a more than welcome opportunity to sample even more of her dishes.

Louisiana shared her recipe of making Huat Kueh 发糕 (Fa Gao aka Fa kueh) or Prosperity Cake. Kue’s are a popular snack in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, (even Vietnamese and Thai dessert versions) as a former colony it is also popular in The Netherlands. What makes it so special is that besides local native specialities you can distinguish many different cultural influences as Chinese and European pastry making methods.

Another indication is language in Chinese-Indonesian culinary culture, mainly through loanwords derived from the Hokkien, Hakka and Cantonese dialects for many snacks and dishes. For example kue is derived from the Hokkien pronunciation ‘kueh’.

Huat Kueh or easier pronounced Prosperity cake, the name originates due to leavening process when the cake produces a bloom that bursts, opening up the top like a flower symbolizing a burst of prosperity.  The prosperity cakes were often used as props in many Lion dances during Chinese New Year’s celebrations or business openings to bring prosperity and good luck.

If not by friends or family food talk, a simple search on the internet will provide an impressive overload on recipes and making methods for Huat Kueh, which also proves how popular this scrumptious little cake is in south-east Asia and in Chinese diaspora’s across the globe.

'Huat Kueh' 发糕  Prosperity Cake

‘Huat Kueh’ 发糕 Prosperity Cake

 

The earliest method of making these cakes comes from the tradition of making Chinese rice wine as was customary in the old days in many farm households, a sustainable life was a survival necessity. Nothing was spoiled and everything has it purpose or re-used, so were the wine lees (sediment after wine is filtered). Wine lees* as well as soy pulp (okara) were fed to the pigs on the farm or the lees were used to be mixed with rice flour into fermentation in making these prosperity cakes, hence the wait for a couple days but it is absolutely worth it.

Fermented rice has many purposes and I have seen the product in plastic containers at the Oriental Supermarket in The Hague on display directly in front when you pass through the entry gates. Worth to note is that in south-east Asia you will often notice the use of Eno* as a substitute for baking powder.

Can’t wait to try my hand with Louisiana’s Huat Kueh, have devoured these on many occasions and now they hopefully will burst as prosperous out of my steam pan soon and yours too 🙂 However if you rather like to just east them, she is happy to make them for you, send me an e-mail request to connect with Louisiana HomeChef.

Terima kasih banyak, Lousiana! ♥ 非常感谢!

Huat Kueh 发糕

Louisiana’s resep asli in Indonesian for English recipe box below;

Bahan:
Mix A:
250 beras
2 sendok air
2 sendok teh ragi/ tape
2 sendok teh gula
Campur semua diamkan 2 hari

Mix B:
300 gr gula
4 gelas air
Di masak dan diamkan dingin

Menggabungkan:
A+ B di mixer di halusin semua baru campur 600 gr tepung beras dan diamkan 9 jam dan baking powder 2 sendok teh.

sebagai langkah terakhir:
Panaskan royang 20 menit
Taruhkan mangkok ke dlm kukus
Taruh ENO 2 sendok
Baru tuangkan kedalam mangkok kukus 20 menit.

Dingin dan Selamat makan

 

Prosperous tray of Huat Kueh

Prosperous tray of Huat Kueh

Note:

  • The Japanese sake rice lees makes a perfect marinade base for meat, vegetable or fish, read this food & wine article by Makiko Itoh. Digesting of brown lees is also good for health especially lowering the risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease according to a PubMed (US National Center for Biotechnology Information) article click to read for more information.
  • Eno (a fast-acting effervescent fruit salts, used as an antacid for upset stomach and reliever of bloating) contains; sodium bicarbonate, citric acid with anhydrous sodium bicarbonate, when it gets mixed with water the bubbles of CO₂ gets produced which relieves gases. The soda neutralizes the acids in the stomach. Hence their tag-line; “Gets to work in 6 seconds”. Available in little 150 gr. jars or 5 gr. sachets  at most Asian shops and supermarkets in The Netherlands and other European countries, however since 2013 it is withdrawn from the UK market. While Eno can be taken  by diabetics, their competitors with alternative fruit salts use sucrose making it unsuitable for diabetics.

Chicken Broccoli easy stir-fry recipe

A request from TinYee for “What’s for dinner?”, how about a quick stir-fry tender chicken with broccoli florets flashing out of the wok onto a plate. Let’s not forget to write down the Chicken Broccoli easy stir-fry recipe and post it please :-).

If you’re cooking for a family or friends this is a healthy and tasty dish to serve on the table. Chinese stir-frying and Asian cooking is all about setting up for flash cooking.

Chicken Broccoli stir-fry recipe is an easy budget-friendly dish and a crowd pleaser. All the ingredients can be easily substituted with other meat cuts and greens in season. Pork, lamb, beef (even fish, see note) with vegetables like cauliflower, green beans, Pak Soi or Chinese cabbage. Versatile and ideal to mix vegetables of what is left in the refrigerator and needs to be finished

 

Quick, easy and economic no leftovers of ingredients, whether you cook Chicken Broccoli easy stir-fry for 4 persons or make 4 meals ahead for your weekly meal plan. Start with the preparation, cutting up the ingredients in bite-size pieces. Season the thinly sliced meat quickly set aside. blanch the vegetables and quickly into an ice-bath. Have all other seasoning bottles and jars ready to grab and heat up the wok.

Cut up broccoli florets or other vegetables in equal bite-size pieces. Blanch the vegetables, short and quickly into an ice-bath. This will stop the cooking process. Have all other seasoning bottles and jars ready to grab and heat up the wok.

Chicken broccoli easy stir-fry recipe

Tip:

Check the fridge if other ingrediënts can be chopped into the dish too. This help clearing and finishing into a colourful and healthy cooked meal. When stir-frying always add the hardest/toughest ingredients first and soft ingredients last into the wok.

Another Chinese stir-fry recipe is Flat beans with ground pork and bean sauce or try seafood suggestion Thai Red Curry Mussels Recipe.

Cooking notes:

  • This recipe is suitable to adapt for Keto, Paleo and diabetes diet.
  • For soy sauce gluten free options:
    • soy sauce choose tamari sauce (wheat free) as the closest substitution
    • Bragg liquid amino (purist would say nay because it’s not made with a natural fermentation but chemical process instead)
    • Coconut amino (a healthy soy substitute, made from coconut sap. It has a salty, slightly sweet flavour and is rich and dark in colour)
    • fish sauce (made from fermented fish/seafood although it is different it tastes as good). If there are none dietary restriction I often use both in cooking.
    • home-cook experiment, make your own instead. Will follow up soon with a discovery post.
  • Cooking oil
    • Olive oil use light, extra virgin is too heavy and will carry an after taste.
    • Sesame oil is only used for flavouring at the end, not intended for stir-frying, it burns too quickly and becomes bitter.
    • Coconut oil is mostly used in Keto and Paleo cooking.
  • Chicken seasoning powder in principle should be gluten free or use a vegetable powder as substitute
  • For vegan diet:
    • use fresh tofu
    • dried compressed soy flavour tofu
    • Tempeh (fermented soybeans)
    • Okara, when I make fresh soy milk the leftover soybean pulp is called Okara. Very nutritious and versatile to make pancakes or burgers.
    • Quorn
    • You can also buy a large variety mock soy meat packages at Chinese supermarkets.
  • Instead of meat, you can also substitute with fish fillets too. Coat the pieces in corn flour and fry them first, take out, continue with the recipe and add when almost done.
  • Cornstarch is what I standard use, next tapioca starch and tapioca flour or arrowroot.
  • Mushroom sauce (vegetarian) and oyster sauce are both used as extra flavour seasonings or omit.

 


Teatime stories: Gunpowder & Moroccan tea ceremony

It’s amazing how far tea has travelled from its origin China in the Far-East to the North-West of Africa to Morocco. The MingDynasty voyages of Chinese admiral ZhengHe, he commanded the treasure fleet for the expeditions and during his fourth voyage, he reached Hormuz in the Persian Gulf and from there on to the Arabian Peninsula and East Africa.

Although little is known about ancient relations, there is evidence of early trade connections and written record of the journeys of Moroccan scholar and traveller Ibn Battuta to parts of China. Who most likely has heard the first news about the fleet of Chinese Treasure Ships visiting Arabian peninsula or later on when he arrived in Somalia.

At the time Admiral ZhengHe was on his sixth or perhaps seventh voyage exploring Africa and Ibn Battuta’s travels are equally fascinating stories. He is most likely the greatest traveller who originally set out to complete Islam’s traditional “haji” pilgrimage to Mecca and wandered for nearly three decades travelling extensively before returning home to Morocco.

He recorded voluminous observations, notes, insights and lessons learned. Ultimately compiling his travel journal in the ‘Rihla’ which literally means journey, a very interesting and highly entertaining recommendable book to put on your must read list. Click here for a free download link copy.

Chinese tea has become ingrained in Moroccan culture with its own tea art form. With respect to the timely process of making the tea, Moroccans adhere to the saying “Insha Allah”, which means with God willing, all good things will come with time. Touareg tea, also called Tuareg tea, Mint tea or Moroccan mint tea is a flavoured tea prepared in Arabian countries, France, Islamic Africa and Spain. Mint tea is central to social life in Maghreb countries.

The serving of mint tea can take a ceremonial form, especially when prepared for a guest. As a rule, whereas cooking is women’s business, the tea is a male affair: the head of the family prepares it and serves to the guest, usually, at least three glasses of tea. The amount of time the tea has been steeping gives each of the three glasses of tea a unique flavour, as described in this famous Algerian proverb:

Algerian Proverb Tea

Tuareg comes from the word Targa, the Tuareg people of the North African Sahara, whose camel trains historically ran the Saharan trading routes. Ancient tax records show that Arabs were trading with tea as early as the 9th century, but in Europe, the trend did not take on until much later.  According to the Moroccan trade ministry, Morocco imported more than $56 million worth of Chinese tea during the first half of 2006. Morocco is considered the first importer of Chinese green tea worldwide and China its main provider.

With a preference for gunpowder tea (珠茶  zhū chá), a form of green Chinese tea produced in Zhejiang Province of China in which each leaf has been rolled into a small round pellet and derived its English name due to its resemblance of black gunpowder grains.

Maghrebi Mint tea Morocco Source: Wikipedia

Maghreb Mint Tea Wikipedia:  The method of preparation of atai is relatively complex and varies from region to region. It is normally sweeter in the north of Morocco than in the south, and in some places, pine nuts are added. In the winter, if mint is rare, sometimes leaves of wormwood (Chiba or Sheeba in dialectal Arabic) are substituted for (or used to complement) the mint, giving the tea a distinctly bitter flavour. Lemon Verbena (louiza in dialectal Arabic) is also used to give it a lemony flavour. An authentic recipe follows here below, for a variation on Moroccan Mint tea my style, click here.