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TOPICS INCLUDE: Buckthorn fruit; Rice use: More on Martin Yan; Bean curd sheets

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Letters to the Editor

Fall Volume: 2002 Issue: 9(3) page(s): 6 and 26


From STEVE F. via e-mail:
Have you any information about buckthorn fruit? Can you or anyone tell us where to buy them, and do you or they have a Chinese or even any other recipe for them?
STEVE: We are no expert on Sea buckthorn fruit, and as a matter of fact, though we read about it, we have nothing more than simpleton knowledge. We do know that it has silver leaves and orangish-red edible berries. Even though it grows in Europe and Asia, we do not recall tasting it. We also know that occasionally it is used by Tibetans and Mongolians as an herbal medication to relieve coughs and promote expectoration. They believe it also promotes digestion and blood circulation. As to a recipe, sorry, perhaps a reader can help.

From HELENA by fax:
Is it true that the Chinese use of rice has doubled in the past twenty years? And, is this because there are more people or are the Chinese eating more rice?
HELENA: That is a tough question, and the folks we spoke to could only advise that one and one-tenth tons of rice were available per acre in 1950 and thirty years later, or two years ago, two and two-tenth tons were available. What is not known is what amount of rice the Chinese are eating now or what they ate then. Nutrition experts believe that the amount of rice consumed per person has decreased. And we know that the population has certainly increased. To get back to what we know, the reason for more available rice per acre is an increase in use of pesticides. A small amount of additional credit may need to go to improved farming techniques, perhaps a smaller amount to varieties used that have better yield per acre.

From STEVE W. via e-mail:
In the Martin Yan profile, you omitted that before coming to the United States, Martin Yan moved to Canada from Asia. He still has Canadian citizenship. His mother and younger brother live there. You also omitted that he started his TV career in Calgary, and after he moved to Toronto he did more than five hundred TV shows. Later, he moved to the United States. This year, Martin Yan returned to Canada to do a TV series on many Chinatown communities for 'Food Network Canada.' It will probably air in the US sometime later this year. There are other Canadian connections and more that could be added to your profile on Martin Yan.
STEVE: Thanks for the added information, which we were aware of. You sound like a Chinese fan of his! There is much that was and will always be omitted for those we spotlight. The title of the series says it all, they are 'Terrific and Prolific Authors.' We suggest, as a loyal Yan fan, you write a book about him.

From JON in NEW YORK:
I see both fresh and dry sheets, huge ones, of bean curd. Can you advise how to use either or both? In restaurants, I have eaten some bean curd sheet stuffed with chicken and mushrooms, is that made from the fresh or the dried variety?
JON: In answer to your restaurant question, if the bean curd skin was sort of crinkled in appearance, the odds are it was made from the dried skin, the fresh one rarely has this appearance. A grandchild once commented that the surface of the fresh one looks like fabric. That was a correct observation because they steam fresh bean curd sheet pouring the liquid onto a fabric base on the steamer. Then after it is steamed, they cool it, and either dry it in an oven where the white milk color tints to tan, or in the sun. You can purchase dried bean curd as a sheet or as a stick. The only difference is in looks. As to your first question, here are two recipes, the first with fresh skin is selected to answer the growing number of requests for vegetarian recipes, the second one uses bean curd sticks.
Mock Chicken Rolls
Ingredients:
1 large bean curd sheet cut into eight squares (each about 8 by 8 inches)
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
8 large shiitake mushrooms, soaked until very soft
2 Tablespoons mushroom soy sauce
2 scallions, green part only, cut in half
1/2 teaspoon corn oil
Make a sauce with one tablespoon soy sauce mixed with a teaspoon chili oil and two tablespoons of sesame oil
Preparation:
1. Brush one side of each bean curd sheet with sesame oil, dust with white pepper and sugar and set aside for fifteen minutes.
2. Discard the stems of the mushrooms (or set aside for another use such as in soup), then sliver the mushroom caps and mix them with the mushroom soy sauce.
3. On one bean curd sheet, put an eighth of the mushroom soy mixture and spread this evenly over the surface. Put a scallion on one end and roll this up putting it on a piece of plastic wrap and rolling it up. Repeat until done; then refrigerate them for two hours or overnight.
4. Brush oil on a plate, unwrap the bean curd rolls and put them seam-side down on the oiled plate. Steam for twenty minutes, then remove the plate and allow them to cool.
5. Slice rolls in quarters, on an angle, and serve drizzled with or serve the sauce mixture on the side.
Bean Curd Sticks with String Beans
Ingredients:
1/4 pound pork loin, cut into thin strips
1 Tablespoon corn starch
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
10 dried bean curd sticks or two sheets of dried bean curd prepared as indicated below
1 chili pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
1 teaspoon dried garlic slices
2 Tablespoons dried fried shallots
1 Tablespoon corn oil
1/2 pound green beans, ends removed
Preparation:
1. Mix pork with cornstarch, sesame oil, and dark soy and set aside for ten or fifteen minutes, no longer, then drain and reserve the liquid.
2. Soak bean curd sticks in warm mater for fifteen minutes, then cut away and discard thickened bent part and cut the rest into three-inch lengths. If using dried bean curd sheets, place them between wet and wrung out towels for fifteen minutes, then cut them into one-inch by three-inch pieces.
3. Mix garlic and shallots (chili pepper, if used). Heat oil and put this mixture in for half a minute, then add pork and fry just until it loses its pink color. Add the bean curd sheets or sticks and fry another minute before adding the marinating liquid and the string beans. Continue to stir-fry until all the liquid evaporates, but no longer than two minutes, then serve.

                                                                                                                                                       
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