Because of China’s vast size and age old culinary heritage it boasts a cuisine unmatched in its breadth and scope. Each small region of China has its own speciality dishes based on deep rooted traditions and availability of ingredients.
Cantonese food, cuisine of southern China has been long known and enjoyed in the West. Chefs draw upon the widest range of ingredients from all over China and her neighbours yet the food still remains distinctly Cantonese.
You can even find currys that have been transformed into Cantonese dishes using a modest touch of curry spices, making them unrecognisable to anyone from India.
Rice forms a part of nearly every meal in China and it is often served in a large bowl in the centre of the table.
- 1 kg chicken thighs, deboned and cut into bite sized pieces
- 2 tbsp Chinese wine or sherry
- 2 tbsp corn flour
- 2 tbsp of light soy sauce
- 1tbsp ghee (clarrified butter) or vegetable oil
- 2 large onions, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp ginger, grated
- 1 garlic clove, crushed and ground into a paste
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- 1 tbsp Madras curry powder
- 400 ml coconut milk
- 300 ml water
- 450g smal potatoes, washed and unpeeled
- 1 lemongrass stem, tough outer leaves removed and then cut into thin slices
- 2 tsp shrimp paste
- 1 tbsp sugar
- Marinade the chicken pieces in the Chinese wine, cornflour and soy sauce. Leave in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour.
- Heat the oil or ghee in the inner pot over a medium heat. Add the onion and stir-fry for 3 minutes, or until starting to soften but not let them brown.
- Add the garlic and ginger and continue stir-frying for 30 seconds.
- Reduced the heat to very low and leave to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened but not brown.
- Stir in the coriander, turmeric, cumin, chilli and curry powder. Continue cooking over a very low heat for a further 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken and marinade. Turn up the heat to medium and stir to coat it with the contents of the inner pot.
- Add the coconut milk, water, potatoes, lemongrass and shrimp paste. Mix well and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on.
- Turn off the heat and place the inner pot into the insulated outer container.
- Leave to thermal cook without heat for a minimum of 1 hour.
- Serve with boiled rice.
This is my third recipe from the post wedding celebrations held on Easter Sunday. As you can see Ethan my sous chef was there in his suit.
Everyone seemed to enjoy the meals cooked in the thermal cookers. The meals kept hot until they were eaten. I did also serve some sausages and lavender lamb (one of everyones favourites) cooked by me on a BBQ.
All the food was serves with a thermal cooker of rice.
- 1.5kg pork shoulder, boned and cut into cubes
- 1 orange, zest
- 2 whole star anise
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 3 dried red chillies
- 600ml Shaoxing rice wine
- 1.5 litres chicken stock
- 250ml dark soy sauce
- 100ml light soy sauce
- 175g Chinese rock sugar or granulated sugar
- 6 slices fresh root ginger
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed
- 8 whole spring onions
- ½ tbsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- In the inner pot boil all the pieces of pork in water for 5 minutes skimming any scum that forms from the surface.
- Pour away the water leaving the pork in the inner pot.
- Remove 10 strips of zest from the orange with a potato peeler.
- Add the star anise, cinnamon sticks, cumin seeds, dried chillies and orange zest in a piece of muslin and tie together tightly.
- Add the Shaoxing rice wine, chicken stock, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, sugar, ginger garlic cloves and spring onions.
- Add the bag of spices.
- If the meat is not completely covered add a little water.
- Bring the inner pot to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and put on the lid. Simmer for 5 minutes. Skim off any scum that forms.
- Turn off the heat and place the inner pot into the insulated outer container.
- Close the lid and thermal cook without power for a minimum of 2 hours.
- Check the seasoning before serving with rice.
Yunnan (South of the Clouds) Province is the most southwest region of China bordering the countries of Vietnam, Laos, and Burma. Yunnan Province borders Guizhou Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region to the east, Chongqing and Sichuan to the north, and Tibet Autonomous Region to the northwest. Yunnan encompasses 394,000 square kilometres (152,084 square miles) and has a population of more than 42 million people.
Steam-pot chicken is a local speciality of Yunnan and I have adapted this recipe for a thermal cooker. The steam pot that is normally used has a hollow tube fixed in the centre, up to the height of the pot.
Food is put around the tube and the pot is placed on a stand surrounded by boiling water.
Steam comes up from the small hole in the middle of the pot to heat the food. If cooking this recipe it would be ready in about three or four hours.
- 12 medium dried Chinese mushrooms, soaked in boiling water
- 8 ounces (225 grams) ham
- 1.5 kg chicken
- 2 tbs of light soy sauce
- ½tsp of white pepper
- 6 thickish slices fresh ginger
- 2 scallions, quartered and crushed
- 2 tbs Shaohsing wine or medium-dry sherry
- 3 pak choi
- Drain and squeeze out excess water from the mushrooms but leave damp. Reserve the soaking liquid.
- Slice the ham into large pieces.
- Chop the chicken through the bones into serving pieces. Do not use the back; save it for the stockpot.
- ½ fill the inner pot with water and bring to the boil.
- Carefully put the chicken pieces in the water and bring back to the boil.
- Continue to boil for about 2 minutes, so that the scum rises.
- Pour into a colander and rinse the chicken to get rid of any remaining scum.
- Rinse out the inner pot and then layer it with the mushrooms, ham and chicken.
- Add the soy sauce, pepper, ginger, scallions and wine or sherry.
- Pour in the mushroom water and top up with chicken stock until everything is covered.
- Bring to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes with the lid on.
- Turn off the heat and put the inner pot into the insulated outer container.
- Shut the lid and leave it to thermal cook for a minimum of 2 hours.
- To serve slice some pak choi and place it in a bowl.
- Put some chicken, ham and mushrooms on top of the pak choi.
- Pour over some stock until all the pak choi is covered.
- Serve with boiled rice in a separate bowl.
In the harsh climate of central-western China food like this is common. The thermal cooking allows cheaper cuts of meat that are often used in this part of China to be transformed into tasty tender meals.
- 1 kg flank or shin beef
- 2 medium onions, quartered
- 12 slices of ginger
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 heaped tsp of orange peel
- 3 whole star anise
- 2 tbs of vegetable oil
- 7 cloves of garlic chopped
- 2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
- 2 tsp cracked black peppercorns
- ¼ (60ml) cup rice wine
- ¾ cup (185ml) dark soy sauce
- 3 tbsp of Hoisin Sauce
- Place the beef in the inner pot.
- Cover the beef with cold water.
- Add the onions, ginger, 3 cloves of garlic, orange peel and the star anise.
- Put on the lid and bring to the boil.
- Once boiling skim off any impurities from the surface and then simmer for 5 minutes.
- Put on the lid, turn off the heat and put the inner pot into the outer insulated container.
- Close the lid and leave to thermal cook for 2 – 3 hours.
- After 2-3 hours remove the inner pot and bring it to the boil.
- Put the vegetable oil into a frying pan. Add the the chopped garlic, Szechuan peppercorns and the cracked black peppercorns.
- Fry for 1 minute.
- Add to the fried garlic and peppercorns to the contents of the inner pot.
- Add the rice wine, dark soy sauce and Hoisin Sauce. Stir and bring back to the boil skimming off any scum that forms.
- Simmer for 5 minutes with the lid on.
- Put the inner pot back into the outer container and shut the lid.
- Thermal cook for a further 1-2 hours.
- Serve with rice and stir fry vegetables.