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All About Meat

by: Angela Cheng

Hong Kong China: Wan Li Book Company 2003, Paperback
ISBN: 962-14-2701-0

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Spring Volume: 2006 Issue: 13(1) page(s): 23

Angela Cheng is Pei Mei Fu's daughter; and the apple did not fall far from the tree. She advises she has some forty-plus books to her credit, the early ones co-authored with her mother, whose passing was reported in Volume 12(3) on pages 31 and 35. To date, this magazine has reviewed Chang's Chinese Home Entertaining in Volume 7(3) on page 20 and The Intriguing World of Home Cooking in Volume 9(4) on page 22.

This particular bi-lingual volume begins with a single-page preface by Dr. Lee Chia Hsiung touting the need for meat and that Taiwanese eat more pork than beef. He advises lamb was used by ancient peoples as a sacrificial gift to the Gods, and as a medicinal for pain, colds, sexual dysfunction, and for anemia. The author uses it and many other meats in her recipes. The preface speaks of the author’s daughter at MIT, and her advice for improving her 'brain energy' and she tells her: "Eat more meat."

After these beginnings, the Table of Contents lists eighty-eight pork, beef, and mutton recipes, in page order. There are two meats sub-divided by cut, pork and beef, then a section about lamb. Each begins with a couple of written pages about the particular meat category, and pictures of it.

Not all recipes are Chinese, perhaps half are, but most can be considered terrific. A few may be made by Chinese folk today, but serious Chinaphiles will not make the Stewed Pigs Feet with three cups of Coke, nor the Lamb Chop with a stalk of rosemary, or even the Beef Steak with two tablespoons of A-1 Sauce.

We did not try any of the above but did particularly like the up-to-date rendition of Steamed Meatballs with Pearls. These Chinese items sit on a torn sheet of soybean, are then rolled in glutinous rice, and finally steamed unattended in an electric rice cooker. The Steamed Spareribs with Black Beans are easy; clever, too. After a quick-fry, they simply steam for twenty minutes. Longer cooked is the Braised Pork with Brown Sauce, and it won our hearts. Made with belly pork, it is best simmered, though the author says to boil it for an hour, then steam for two or three more.

Every recipe has a full-page color photograph of its completed dish, some have a sentence underneath with an interesting hint. None have unfamiliar ingredients, but a few do use them in less than familiar ways. Several are soups, and we enjoyed the Rib Soup with Winter Melon. It needs long cooking and little attention. We particularly like using dried bamboo shoots, and did add the recommended vinegar in the hint below to increase its calcium content.

The Jellied Mutton is a great crowd pleaser. We served it with the sauce, and with white and red horseradish and a diluted green wasabi paste. All were very good. A small sectioned plate with them, or a tablespoon of each on everyone's plate can be an eye-pleaser. This recipe can be made in advance and it is useful for large party planners.
Jellied Mutton
1 and 1/2 pounds mutton, with skin left on, cut into six pieces
1/2 carrot
1/2 large white radish also known as daikon
1 star anise
4 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 Tablespoon gelatin
1 Tablespoon sweet soy bean sauce
2 Tablespoons slivered garlic shoots or green part of scallions
1 Tablespoon thin soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1/2 Tablespoon sugar
1. In a large pot, boil mutton pieces in four cups of water for one minute, then discard only the water. Replace it with five cups of cool water, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for ninety minutes. Remove meat from the pot, cut away the skin but do not discard it, and cut the meat into half inch pieces, and place them in a square glass or ceramic pan about eight inches square.
2 Return skin to the pot with the liquid and add carrot, radish, star anise, garlic cloves, dark soy sauce, and single tablespoon of rice wine and at a low boil, cook until the liquid is reduced to one cup.
3. Dissolve the gelatin in one-quarter cup cold water and let stand for ten minutes, then stir it into the cup of remaining liquid, and stir well. Until completely dissolved before pouring it over the pieces of meat. They should be completely covered. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for three hours or more.
4. When ready to serve, cut into half-inch by four inch slices and put on a serving plate. Decor at one end with the garlic or scallion slivers.
4. Make a sauce with the thin soy, Chinese rice wine and sugar, and refrigerate for an hour before serving it on the side or in a serving dish. Can also be served with white or red horseradish, thinned wasabi paste, or all three sauce dips.

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