Editor’s Note: The virtues of cooking are well documented: It’s good self-care; it’s cheaper than eating out or ordering in; it’s healthy; it’s therapeutic; and it’s a productive way of passing time — which is more important now than ever, as people find themselves self-quarantined at home with time to spare.
With this in mind, we’ve partnered with The Hutong, a Beijing-based project and event company founded 11 years ago, to launch a food column. Before COVID-19 forced The Hutong to take a hiatus, it hosted cooking classes and culinary tours in its charming Beijing location, and we can’t think of a better partner for this series.
The concept is simple: Every Thursday, we’ll introduce a recipe for a popular home-style Chinese dish. Some of these — like this first recipe — first appeared on The Hutong’s website, but we’ll venture into new territory in the weeks to come. At the very least, we hope this gives you inspiration.
Recipe No. 1
Braised Spring Bamboo Shoots
油焖春笋 yóu mèn chūnsǔn
This braised bamboo dish is one of the traditional dishes from Zhejiang Province.
The main ingredient: bamboo (duh).
The bamboo shoot is a common vegetable in Asia, particularly in China. Although available all year round, the best bamboo shoots are always found in the springtime. (That’s now!) These spring bamboo shoots are especially crisp and juicy.
When bought fresh, bamboo shoots are more than 90 percent water and are rich in vegetable protein and fiber, which can help with digestion (and prevent constipation). Fresh bamboo shoots can be eaten boiled, stir-fried, or braised. When you’re shopping for fresh bamboo shoots, look for the ones which are solid and heavy for their size.
- 1 kilogram fresh spring bamboo shoots
- 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 2 tsp sugar, or sugar for tastes
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp corn starch mixed in 1 tbsp water
- 1 stalk of spring onion (optional)
1. Peel the bamboo and trim the tough bottoms away. Cut the bamboo into thin slices, 4 cm in length.
2. Boil the bamboo shoots for about 5 minutes to get rid of its acidic, bitter, and astringent taste. Drain the water but keep it — you’ll use it later!
3. Heat a wok with 3 tbsp of vegetable oil on medium heat. Add the bamboo and fry for about 2 to 3 minutes.
At the same time, mix some water, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar to form a sauce.
4. Pour the sauce into the pan bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium and place a lid on the pan, leaving a gap to allow the steam to escape. Wait 10 minutes, shaking the pan periodically and checking to make sure the bamboo shoots are not dry. Add more water and seasoning as needed.
5. Add the cornstarch/water and bring the sauce back to a bubble. Add chopped spring onions if you’d like.
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