If you listened to our podcast. . . .
But if you did, you know we started off our celebration of this month's Chinese New Year with two condiments for stir-fries, dumpling dips, and other fabulous creations.
First up, Ginger Achar (that is, "ginger pickle"), using a recipe adapted from FAT RICE: RECIPES FROM THE CHICAGO RESTAURANT INSPIRED BY MACAU (click the title to check it out). This sweet and gorgeously aromatic condiment is a hybrid from the East Indian, Chinese, and Portuguese cultures on the island. You'll want this spooned onto all sorts of stir-fries! Or stir a little of the drained, pickled ginger into tomato or even chicken soup for a great hit of flavor.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups drained ginger pickle
- 8 ounces fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 8 ounces red beets, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/4 cups granulated white sugar
1. Mix the ginger with 1 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
2. Put the beet pieces in a large blender. Also set aside.
3. Combine the water, vinegar, sugar, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
4. Set the boiling vinegar water aside for 5 minutes, then pour over the beets. Cover, set the knob in the blender lid askew, and blend until smooth.
5. Strain back into the saucepan. Bring back to a boil over high heat.
6. Pat the ginger dry (in batches), then place in a 1-quart mason jar.
7. Boil the liquid until it's been reduced to half its original volume. Pour over the julienned ginger strips, then cool uncovered to room temperature, about 2 hours.
8. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 month, maybe 6 weeks.
Then there's this flavorful oil, made with an array of Chinese spices. Ours is a recipe adapted from Carolyn Phillips' ALL UNDER HEAVEN: RECIPES FROM THE 35 CUISINES OF CHINA, an amazing resource that will take your Asian cooking to new heights (click the title to get it). As to the condiment, use a little of the ridiculous aromatic sludge and its surrounding oil as the final flavoring agent in simple, protein-vegetable stir-fries to take them over the top. Or just drizzle a little of it over fried or scrambled eggs.
CITRUS CHILE OIL OIL WITH BLACK BEANS
Makes about 2 cups
- 3 medium, thin-skinned oranges, such as Valencia oranges
- 1 medium lemon
- 8 garlic cloves, smashed and hulled
- 1/4 cup douchi (豆豉, Chinese fermented and salted black soy beans)
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup coarsely ground, stemmed dried red chiles (seeded or not)
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 1/2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1. Wash the citrus and rub off any exterior food-safe preservative wax. Zest the citrus, creating long strips of the colorful zest (with very little white pith) using a vegetable peeler. Mince these strips.
2. Finely chop the garlic and douchi on a cutting board.
3. Stir the garlic, douchi, minced zest, and everything else in a small saucepan. Bring to a bubble over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
4. Reduce the heat to low and simmer slowly, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is soft, about 20 minutes.
5. Cool in the pan to room temperature, about 2 hours. Pour into a 1-quart glass mason jar, cover, and store in the fridge for up to 1 month. The oil may solidify and need to be brought back to room temperature before using.