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TOPICS INCLUDE: Bamboo pith; Conpoy; Fat Boy; Stuffed Mushrooms with Chicken dish

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Letters to the Editor

Summer Volume: 2002 Issue: 9(2) page(s): 6 and 34

From PHYLLIS, via e-mail:
I was so grateful for your assistance about how to handle bamboo pith mushrooms. In appreciation, I sent off a check as a contribution to your wonderful magazine. However, here is what happened when I did: I forgot to bring the pastry tube the night we soaked then stuffed them. The corner cut off a plastic bag, which we squeezed, didn't work. Finally, my co-committee woman who lives nearby went home and returned with her pastry set. I tried that with the widest nozzle and it was frustrating. Even when the filling went in, it would often squirt out the side. She finally took over for me since she could not stand to see me so inept. Her luck (or skill) exceeded mine and she succeeded in stuffing fifty of those bamboo pith mushrooms. When the plate of appetizers was sent out, to our great surprise these mushrooms disappeared faster than any other item on our banquet menu. It was painful but worth it. I tell you all this so you will continue to include these unusual delicacies in your articles. Unless we occidentals know about them, we can never experience the delight of tasting the foods that graced the tables of emperors years ago that have trickled to and tickle the palates of gourmets today.
PHYLLIS Glad your banquet was a success and that you continue to appreciate the unusual. Our mail runs fifty-fifty. By that, I mean that half of those who write to us want more standard fare. The other half, yourself included, want to read about and learn to use and taste what they believe are newer and more exotic preparations. We thank you for your letter, and also for your donation. Most importantly, we are pleased that the help we offered electronically, and that given by your co-worker, was such a success.

From BOB, via the website:
Can you tell me what a conpoy is? And if it is a food item which I think it is, provide a recipe for it?
Bob: 'Conpoy' is one name used for dried scallops. They need to be soaked at least two hours, then steamed for another hour before using them. As to a recipe, look at the bottom of this article.

EDITOR, can you help me and my friends:
We had something called Fat Boy as a Chinese New Year dinner; they were small and black and delicious. Can you get us friends a recipe?
BOB and FRIENDS: What you probably ate was something called fa choi now more currently and correctly spelled fa cai. The former, however sounds to us like what you heard. This is a near-the-sea vegetable whose strands symbolize the way money used to be in Ancient China, as strips. There is a recipe for you near the end of this article.

Is there anyone there who can help a lady allergic to shrimp who wants to make stuffed mushrooms?
HELEN: The editor answers them all; and that is me! Suggest you try stuffing them with minced chicken and topping them with sesame seeds, this mixture can be used on bread when making Shrimp Toast, used to stuff mushrooms, etc. A recipe to do so is at the bottom of this set of letters.
Conpoy and Pea Shots
6 conpoy (dried scallops), soaked for at east two hours
1 slice fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rice wine
3 Tablespoons corn oil, separated into two batches 1 pound pea shoots
1/2 cup condensed stock
1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon thin soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch mixed into one tablespoon of cold water
1. Shred soaked conpoy into tiny strips. Simmer in two cups of water for two hours.
2. Boil three cups of water and add the ginger, salt, wine, two tablespoons of the oil, and the pea shoots. Remove them in one minute, and drain well. Then toss them with a fork or chopsticks to loosen them and put then into a serving bowl.
3. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil and add the conpoy and the cornstarch mixture and stir for one minute, then pour over the pea shoots and serve.
New Year Rolls
3 Tablespoons flour
1 Tablespoon corn oil
1/4 pound shrimp, minced
1 egg white
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 piece of fresh bean curd skin
1 ounce of fa choi, soaked in four cups of water for half an hour
1 scallion, tied in a knot
1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 cup condensed chicken broth
1 stalk Chinese celery cut into four-inch pieces
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 cup corn oil
1. Mix flour with one-third of a cup water. Then add the oil and stir this batter well before setting it aside for ten minutes. Stir it again when ready to use it.
2. Mix shrimp with egg white, salt, and sesame oil and set aside. And cut the bean curd skin into six inch by four-inch pieces, and set that aside.
3. Drain fa choi and put it into four cups of boiling water with the chicken broth, scallion, and the rice wine and simmer for twenty minutes, then drain well and squeeze out all the water.
4. Put one-third of the shrimp paste on a bean curd square. Put one-third of the fa choi on that and the celery on one edge, then roll the bean curd skin around this mixture , seal the edge with water putting it on a plate, seam down, while making the other two rolls. Cut each roll into three pieces, dip into batter and fry until golden brown, then serve.
Sesame Chicken Bites
1/2 pound medium size mushrooms
4 slices white bread, crusts removed
1/2 pound chicken breast, ground or minced very fine
1 slice onion, minced fine
1 egg white
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sesame oil
dash of ground white pepper
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 cup corn oil, for frying
1. Prepare the mushrooms and the bread by removing the stems from the mushrooms, and the crust from the bread. Minced the mushrooms and mix them with the chicken; discard the stems if you wish or mince them, too. Cut each bread slice in quarters.
2. Mix chicken breast, onion, egg white, salt, sesame oil, white pepper and half the cornstarch. Dust the rest of the cornstarch on the inside of each mushroom and one side of each slice of bread.
3. Stuff about a teaspoon of the chicken mixture into each mushroom cap and on to each piece of bread. Then dip each item into the sesame seeds to coat the top.
4. Heat oil and deep fry the bread squares first, until golden. Remove and put on paper towels to drain. Then fry the mushrooms until their tops are golden, drain and after they sat on the paper towel for a minute or two, serve.

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