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Easy Cooking the Chinese Way

by Irving Beilin Chang

Equipment and Techniques

Spring Volume: 2001 Issue: 8(2) page(s): 9

In today’s busy life-style, where both spouses often work, it is difficult to cook those Chinese foods that require long preparation and long cooking times. We think we have found one very good solution.

For health reasons, many people avoid deep frying. Therefore, healthy and easy to digest foods such as soups, rice congees, beef stews, beef sinew dishes, those long-cooked with pork hock, beef tongue, or pig’s feet are often not prepared because of the special attention required of the cook. We know many cooks who avoid recipes using a pressure cooker either because they do not own or are concerned about using one and the nuisance of cleaning it up.

Recently we were introduced to a cooking utensil, a pot valuable for low simmering, that can remedy this situation. We found it answers our desire to prepare many complicated and long cooked recipes the easy way. All that is required is a little planning, then all those delicious dishes can be made. This equipment is easy to take care of; and it is very safe to use.

The items we mean are special pots made of stainless steel. They generally come in a variety of reasonable sizes. We like them because they are usually five quarts or larger. Their tight-fitting lids cover these wonderful cookery items and they fit snugly into an insulated container. Simmering Master by Lasting Green is the one that I use and delight in so doing. Dishes that require long cooking times, Wonona or I prepare the previous evening. They can also be made before someone goes to work in the morning.

To get started, all ingredients are added then brought to the boil for a short period of time. They are immediately placed in the insulated container when taken from the stove so that they continue to cook without further time on the stove. Ingredients that are easiest to prepare are items such as rice congee or chicken soup. These are prepared and then brought to the boil for fifteen or twenty minutes. They are then placed in the insulated container for six to eight hours before they are ready to eat. For meats that require longer cooking times, such as beef sinew or pigs feet, they might require double the heat treatment before being placed in the insulated container for their “final cooking in their own heat treatment.”

There are other advantages of this type of slow cooking. For instance, chicken soup cooked this way is often sweeter and more fragrant. Congee does not scorch easily. And, all items prepared this way get well-cooked while the tedious watching them and other required preparation usually is done while at work or play.

Wonona and I have found this makes for easier cooking. We can go out and when we return, the food is awaiting our enjoying it instead of our need to start preparing it. We recommend that you investigate this new Easy Cooking the Chinese Way using a pot and its snug insulated container.
Irving Beilin Chang, co-author with his wife Wonona and others of several Chinese cookbooks including the Encyclopedia of Chinese Food and Cooking and the Northern Chinese Cookbook, is on the Board of ISACC, the Institute for the Advancement of the Science and Art of Chinese Cuisine.
Chicken Soup, the Easy Way
1 three to four pound whole chicken
3 scallions
2 pieces of fresh ginger, each about the size of your thumb
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Clean the chicken removing any fat and soft tissue inside it, then put it with the neck bone, gizzard, and liver into this easy cook pot. Fill it with water until it covers the chicken.
2. Rinse the ginger, then using a cleaver, smash the ginger so that the skin is broken and its flavor can leach out.
3. Add the ginger, and scallions and bring the contents to the boil. Skim off any fat or other materials and reduce the heat to simmer partially covering the pot.
4. After twenty minutes, tightly cover the pot and put it in the insulated container for four to eight hours.
5. Remove the pot from the insulated container, bring the contents to the boil, add salt and pepper, to taste.
Note: We like have added a dipping sauce of sesame oil, soy sauce, and a minced uncooked scallion to go along with the pieces of chicken. You can try that and others that you enjoy, or not use any sauce with this soup.
Spare Ribs and Cucumber Soup
10 dried shrimp
3 black mushrooms
1 pound spare ribs
1 cucumber
3 slices fresh ginger
2 scallions, minced
1. Soak the dried shrimp in warm water for twenty minutes or overnight, and in another bowl, soak the mushrooms in one cup of hot water for twenty minutes or overnight.
2. Cut ribs into two-inch pieces, peel the cucumber and slice it into one-eighth inch thick pieces.
3. Place ribs, ginger, drained dry shrimp, and mushrooms and their water, but not the sand at the bottom of the bowl they are in into the pot. Add five cups additional water and bring this to the boil then simmer for twenty minutes with the lid only half on.
4. Cover tightly and immediately place the pot into the insulated container for at least four hours.
5. Remove from the insulated container, add the cucumber and bring to the boil. Sprinkle the scallions on top and serve.

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