The Kosher Gastronome

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Garlic Scallion Chicken Stir Fry – December Kosher Link Up

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This month’s Kosher Connection Linkup’s theme is Chinese Food, and pretty much any dish you get in a chinese restaurant is a stir fry. A stir fry, is my go to for a really quick weeknight supper. It comes together really quick, and can literally be on the table in like 10 minutes, provided you do some preparation work, and have everything ready to go (ie – mise en place). Now don’t get me wrong, I am the most unprepared cook in the history of preparedness, however, when it comes to throwing down a stir fry, you need to have it all ready, because it comes together quick.

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Here’s what makes a stir fry a stir fry. First thing first, like we said, everything comes together really quickly, which is why it’s crucial you have a good pan. Whether you use a wok (which might not be the best option, depending on what type of wok you have, and whether it’s suitable for your stove), or you have a heavy bottomed cast iron skillet (which is what I use), or a tri-ply type of skillet (a “metal” type of pan, that has a layer of copper sandwiched between 2 layers of aluminum, to ensure even cooking; these pans are usually very expensive [eg – all-clad]), you need to heat the bejessus out of it, to make sure it’s super duper hot. This will ensure everything cooks quickly. Second, you want uniform sized pieces, so whatever you decide to put into the stir fry, should all be about the same size.

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Now onto the food. There’s really three components. The protein, the vegetables, and the sauce. As for the protein, whether it’s chicken, beef, tofu, or whatever, the principles are the same. You want to cook them, really quickly, and with high heat, so you can develop maximum browning, but without overcooking. So you have to wait for the pan/oil to be really hot, and not overcrowd the pan (or you’ll end up steaming the meat, and not sautéing it). I usually cook the protein first, and when it’s ready I take it out of the pan, and let it sit on the side, and then add it back at the last second to mix together with everything else. (This is when a spider (that mesh looking device below) is really helpful)

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For the vegetables, I like to keep it simple, and not overwhelm the dish with too many different vegetables. 1 or 2 different vegetables would be the maximum. Now in regards to cooking the vegetable, it has be done with order also. First rule – garlic and ginger always gets added at the last second, and is only sautéed for like 20 seconds. This prevents the garlic and ginger from burning, which they can do pretty easily. Other wise, the other vegetables, will cook much the same way the chicken is cooked, fast, over high heat (again, to maximize browning, while retaining their crispy-ness).

For the garlic, there are those who are against garlic presses, saying garlic presses mush the garlic too fine, and can cause the flavor of the final product to be too harsh, and instead they make a garlic paste on their cutting board. Now, I’m not one of those people, but sometimes I’m too lazy to clean the garlic press, so I make the paste instead. It’s not that hard once you get the hang of it. You take your knife and using the sides, you just keep on smushing it, until a paste forms. Some people will add salt, saying it will help (the salt abrades against the garlic), but I never do that.

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For the sauce, this is really where you can just make anything up. Usually, the sauce will have soy sauce, and a vinegar in it, and a spicy component, but that’s not a hard fast rule. And you add the sauce once the vegetables is done. Since your pan is super hot, the sauce will immediately start to sizzle. You let it cook for 20 seconds or so, and then another classical addition is corn starch, to thicken the sauce.

Starch thickens sauces by absorbing water, but they only do that at a certain temperature, so typically, you take 1-2 teaspoons of cornstarch and dissolve it in 1-2 teaspoons of water, and then add that to the sauce as the finishing touch. The reason you can’t just add corn starch straight to the sauce (without dissolving it first), is because the second the starch hits the hot sauce it starts absorbing water, and if you add it straight it would clump up.

So for our dish, we went with chicken (deboned thighs) as our protein, which we “marinated” in egg whites and corn starch (it’s not really a marinade, in that it doesn’t effect the chicken’s tenderness, but we did let it soak in it for a little while…the egg whites and corn starch coat the chicken, and form somewhat of a barrier, and are a kind of insurance to prevent over cooking), quick cooking scallions and garlic, and for the sauce, it was composed of – ketchup, white vinegar, white wine, sugar, and soy sauce, served over rice.

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Obviously the ingredients are listed below, but feel free to tinker around.

Don’t forget to check out the other blogs that participated, by clicking on the funny looking frog thingy below.



Garlic Scallion Chicken Stiry Fry

adapted from Joy of cooking (pg 594)

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1.5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1-2 boneless, skinless thighs, cut into roughly 1/2” cubes
  • 3 scallions, cut into 1/4” pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 4 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch, dissolved in 2 teaspoons water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Mix egg whites, cornstarch, salt, and chicken pieces, and let sit 20-30 minutes
  2. Cut scallions and garlic, and set aside. Mix together sauce, and set aside, and mix together cornstarch and water and also set aside (the cornstarch will settle, and will need one last stir right before adding)
  3. Heat your skillet/wok over high heat for at least 5-10 minutes, so that it’s really pre-heated. You can test this, by taking a drop of water, and it should sizzle the second it hits the pan.
  4. Add 3 tablespoons of your oil, and once it’s shimmering, add chicken, ensuring not to overcrowd your pan, you might have to do it in batches if your pan isn’t big enough.
  5. Once the chicken is ready, remove it from the pan, and set it aside.
  6. Allow the pan to heat up again, and when hot again (don’t do the “water test” since there’s oil in the pan, and it will just spurt hot oil all over the place…not fun) add the garlic and scallions, and allow to cook for literally 20 seconds (once you start to smell it, it’s done)
  7. Working quickly, add the sauce, it should start to sizzle, and allow to cook for 15-20 seconds, and then slowly add the cornstarch mixture (don’t forget to stir the cornstarch before adding to make sure it’s dissolved), and it should start to thicken right away.
  8. Add your chicken back (along with any liquid that is with it) and mix around to incorporate everything, and you’re done

Scallion Pancake

You know what’s awesome? Scallion pancakes.

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So you know how I’m always saying how I’m such a procrastinator? Well, my daughter’s 5 months now, and…oh you want a picture of her? That’s very kind of you…here

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Isn’t she awesome?

So where was I? Oh yeah, me being a procrastinator…so I made these scallion pancakes, before she was born! And that wasn’t the first time I’ve made them, and I’ve been meaning to post about it since then. It’s not that I didn’t have time, and it’s not that I didn’t want to, it’s just I wanted to do nothing that much more. I think that’s the exact definition of procrastination.

Anyway, enough about me. Let’s get down to some pancakes.

Of course, because I delayed, Hindy of Confident-Cook beat me to it. Harumph-a-doo.

The original recipe comes from the Food Lab on Seriouseats, which if you’re new to the show, is one of my favorite sites. Let’s dive in shall we?

Ok, so to be honest I hadn’t heard of scallion pancakes until I moved down to Baltimore, and had some from the local kosher chinese place (David Chu’s), and everyone raved about their scallion pancakes. So not wanting to offend any food item, I ordered some, and I’m not going to lie, they weren’t that great. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I proceeded to stuff my face, but there was something not awesome about it, you know what I mean? It was only after I made it myself could I put my finger on what was wrong with it.

Scallion pancakes is supposed to be shatteringly crisp, with many tiny layers of thin crisp dough, studded with scallion. You don’t want it to be chewy. Now we’ve been down the whole water + flour = gluten shpiel right? And normally that’s what you want…but not here. You see, gluten is great and all, if you’re looking for some chewy bread, but here we’re looking for crispy. So we have our first problem. We know that if you just add water and flour together in a bowl, with out even kneading them, they will form gluten on their own (ala no-knead breads), so how can we combine the two and not make gluten? Well since gluten is a protein, we can denature them, by mixing the flour with hot water. Gravysauce!

We are rolling now, we’ve figured out how to avoid making gluten, and decrease chew, but to move on to perfect-scallion-pancake-dom, we must also make them beautifully crispy, and to get to that, we must realize that this here pancake is part of a family known as laminated doughs, and it all has to do with how a dough rises. Lemmesplain.

Whenever we talk about dough that can rise, we usually refer to yeasted dough, and the dough will get it’s lift from the carbon dioxide spewed forth from the yeast, which gets trapped in the matrix of gluten. Then there’s another type of rise, which is more chemical in nature, where the lift will also come from carbon dioxide, but will come from the chemical reaction between an acid and a base, which produces carbon dioxide (namely stuff with baking powder or baking soda). And that leads us to our third type of dough, one that gets its lift from tiny layers of fat, which separate tiny layers of dough. Other examples include, puff pastry, or phylo dough. Puff pastry is made by taking a dough, putting a nice amount of butter (gasp! butter?!) and folding it over on itself. Each fold is known as a “turn,” and with the way that it’s done, after 9 turns, there are an amazing 6,561 different layers of dough, each separated by a layer of fat. That’s pretty awesome, but making puff pastry at home can be quite the pain in the behonkus. Which brings me to scallion pancakes.

These are really easy to do, and can literally come together in 10 minutes.

First we make the dough, which like I said before, requires some water boiling. Just combine the water and flour, and mix until a ball forms, and set aside. When it’s cool enough to handle, divide it into 4 portions, and working one at a time, roll it out into a thin circle-ish blob.

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And paint on a layer of toasted sesame oil

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Now for the laminating part. Roll it up like you’re making a jelly roll (which by the way, does anyone really make jelly rolls anymore? I say we change that to “roll it up like you’re making cinnamon buns” because everyone makes cinnamon buns, right? which by the way, that will hopefully be my next post, so stay tuned…), and after it’s rolled, roll the roll into a roll…I’m not even apologizing for that sentence, because it was awesome…anyway, here’s a visual aid.

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So you see? First you roll it like a cinnamon bun (which I forgot to take a picture of), and then roll it like that. Cool? Then roll that out flat like it was beforehand, and we’re going to repeat this whole process again (once it’s flat, paint some toasted sesame oil, then roll like cinnamon bun, and then roll the roll…). Once you’re finished the second roll, we’re going to do the whole thing again for the a third time, but this time after you flatten it, and added the toasted sesame oil, we’re going to add the scallions before we roll it all up, and flatten it out. Confused?? Great!

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Then once, you’re finished all four pancakes, it’s time to fry it up in some vegetable oil, until it’s nice and crisp, and sprinkle on salt.

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That’s it. If you want, you can make a dipping sauce, which I’ll put the recipe on the bottom.

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Look at all of those layers! I know right?

Anyway, here’s to hoping Daniella isn’t 10 months the next time I post

Scallion Pancakes

from Serious Eats

Ingredients:

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup boiling water
    • Up to 1/4 cup toasted sesame seed oil
    • 2 cups thinly sliced scallion greens
    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
    • Salt

For the Dipping Sauce:

    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon finely sliced scallion greens
    • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
    • 2 teaspoons sugar

Directions:

  1. Combine flour and hot water. You can do this in a food processor if you’re lazy, or you can just combine in a bowl, and mix with a wooden spoon until it forms into a cohesive ball. Transfer to a bowl, cover with a damp towel, and set aside for 30 minutes (or if you want, you can make this ahead, and transfer to the fridge now)
  2. Divide the dough into 4 pieces, and roll each piece into a ball.
  3. Working one at a time, roll the ball flat into about an 8 inch diameter circle. Paint a thin layer of toasted sesame oil, and then roll it up like a cinnamon bun, and then roll it on itself (see pictures above since I can’t really speak English).
  4. Flatten it gently, and roll it out repeating the previous step.
  5. Flatten it out, roll it out, and paint the oil on once again (for the 3rd time), and this time sprinkle 1/4 of the scallions over the disk; Roll it up like the cinnamon roll, and then roll it on itself again, and then flatten, and roll into pancake.
  6. Fry pancake in vegetable oil until crisp, and transfer to a cooling rack, and sprinkle on the salt.
  7. To make the dipping sauce: Combine all of the ingredients and set aside.

Leek Fritters

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I was trying to figure out a way to incorporate some of simanim into our meal for Rosh Hashanah, and got this idea from Pragmatic Attack, another kosher blog, and also a Jets fan, although I don’t know if that’s something we want to bring up nowadays…sigh…All right, back to food…at least food doesn’t lose to the Ravens, while I’m constantly surrounded by these annoying Ravens fans…but I digress.

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I really wanted to call this post “allium fritters” because I basically had an allium family reunion in the pot with this one, but I didn’t…good story huh? You see, when I saw the idea for leek fritters, I thought to myself, why stop at leeks? Let’s go with total allium domination. Alliums are a family of plants that include: onions, shallots, leeks, scallions, and garlic among other stuff, so I figured let’s combine it all together, and make the craziest fritter ever…and you know what I did? Just that.

First a word from out sponsor – Mr Leek. Leeks have that oniony taste, but a little more mild, but did you ever notice every recipe that you ever see with leeks calls for them to be rinsed clean? Well the reason is, as leeks grow, the farmer continuously kicks dirt over it to cover more of it (called “hilling”), so the dirt gets in between the layers.

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That’s also why the top half or so is greener than the bottom half, because sun produces chlorophyll, which is green and bitter for that matter, and why we discard that half of the leek, and, full circle, why mr farmer kicks dirt on the leek to cover it. Huray for science!

Anyway, start by cutting up your alliums (are you sick of that word yet? because I am), and sautee the leeks, onion, and shallots in the oil until they’re translucent and tender, about 5 minutes.

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Then add the minced garlic, and cook for another minute. Remove the whole shebang from the heat, and allow to cool. At the last minute, I decided the scallions would be better off raw, and not sauteed, so I combined it with the cooked onions.

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Then added flour, salt, black and white pepper, to taste, and added the eggs, and mixed it all together.

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I then heated up some oil in a skillet, and dropped in spoon fulls of the batter to cook them…kind of like latkes. I fried them for about 2 minutes per side, and allowed them to drain on a paper towel lined plate.

Until next time.

Leek (Allium) Fritters

adapted from Pragmatic Attack

Ingredients:

  • About 1 pound of mixed alliums (geez! enough) – leeks, onions, shallots, scallions, garlic
  • Vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 3 eggs, beaten

Directions:

  1. Chop up your veggies, and heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat, and sautee the leeks, onions, and shallots, until they become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic, and sautee for another minute.
  2. Remove from fire, and add them all to a bowl, and allow to cool, and add the chopped scallions.
  3. When cool, combine flour, salt, and white and black pepper adjusting seasoning to taste, and add eggs, and mix to combine.
  4. Heat up about 1/3-2/3 cups of oil in a skillet over medium-low heat, and drop in the batter by the spoon full and fry for about 2 minutes per side.
  5. Drain on a paper towel lined plate.
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