2018 Chinese GP: Chicken Wings, Noodles, and Cabbage a la All Under Heaven

Hoorah for a proper exciting race! The first half seemed to be a repeat of 2017, Mercedes, Ferrari, blah blah blah, until bam! A safety car and the Red Bull boys with excellent timing and guts to spare come up the field and mix it up!

I love seeing Ricciardo on top of the podium, that grin just makes my day. We kept an eye on Alonso throughout the race as well, as per usual he was driving that car beyond its abilities, even passing Championship leader Vettel in the final laps. Hopefully this race is a sign of things to come. I was literally on the edge of my seat wondering who Verstappen was going pass at the last second into a corner never made for passing... despite all the controversy, and possibly losing himself a podium, I still say 'Go Max!' because god its so much fun to watch! 

Chinese meal

I hope you enjoyed the race as much as we did. It was made even better with the meal of authentic Chinese dishes from All Under Heaven, a fantastic tome of traditional Chinese cooking. It was so hard to choose which dishes to make, but these turned out to be just challenging enough to learn a little but not get overwhelmed, and they were properly delicious. 

A few new techniques were added to my repertoire with these dishes and new ingredients too! Dry-frying chicken, just coated in corn starch, was a revelation. It turned out so crispy and soaked the sweet and spicy sauce up perfectly. This was also my first introduction to Sichuan peppercorns which are a total kick, they are floral and pungent and have a numbing quality that make them really unique (we even made a cocktail with them!). Honestly, that might be my favorite part of cooking for the races, trying completely new things, both in cooking and eating. Hope you try out a few too!

Dry fried chicken wings

DRY-FRIED CHICKEN WINGS
GĀNPĒNG JĪCHÌ 乾烹雞翅 _

Adapted from All Under Heaven: Recipes from the 35 Cuisines of China by Carolyn Phillips

Serves 4 as an appetizer or part of a meal

12 chicken wing pieces (wings and drummetes)
¼ cup cornstarch
2 cups (or so) peanut or vegetable oil for frying
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 green onions, trimmed and finely chopped
10 dried Thai chilies, or to taste, broken in half and seeds discarded, and/or smoked paprika
¾ cup pale rice vinegar
6 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
1 teaspoon toasted Sichuan peppercorn salt, or to taste (recipe below)
2 teaspoons regular soy sauce

1. Start this recipe at least 6 hours before you want to serve it. Place wing pieces in a work bowl and sprinkle the cornstarch over them. Toss the wings in the bowl until thoroughly coated. 

2. Place a cooling rack on a baking sheet, arrange corn starch covered wings, not touching, on the rack. Refrigerate uncovered so the cool air slightly dries out the wings. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 1 day.

3. Pour the oil into a wok or heavy bottomed pan (I use my dutch oven for most frying),  heat over high heat until it reaches 350F. Use a splatter screen to prevent oil splashes. Carefully add 4-6 wing pieces to the hot oil.  As soon as the wings are golden on one side, approximately 3-5 minutes depending on the size of the wings, flip to brown other side. (If you have an instant read thermometer, chicken should reach 165F.) Remove the wings to a large work bowl once they are nicely browned and cooked through. Repeat with remaining wings in batches.

4. Put 1 tablespoon of the oil in a separate saucepan, place it over medium-high heat, and add the garlic, ginger, onions, and chilies, toss in the hot oil to release their fragrance, and then add the rest of the ingredients. Turn the heat to high and quickly boil down the sauce. Boil until it reaches the consistency of syrup, remove from the heat. Toss the wings in the sauce to coat them completely. Arrange the wings on a serving platter and eat while hot. 

To make peppercorn salt:  combine 1/2 cup whole Sichuan peppercorns and 1/2 cup salt in a dry wok, cook over medium heat until salt browns and peppercorns start to pop, let mixture cool. Pulverize in a spice grinder, shake through a fine mesh sieve, and store in a tightly sealed jar.

 

green onion noodles

 

FRIED GREEN ONION NOODLES
CONG YOU BAN MIAN, 葱油拌面

Barely adapted from: All Under Heaven by Carolyn Phillips

Serves 4-6

Fried Onions
12 green onions
1 ½ cups peanut or vegetable oil

Sauce
1/2 cup light soy sauce
1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock

Noodles
4 quarts  water
2 tablespoons sea salt
12 ounces thin dried noodles of any kind

1.  Clean and trim green onions, pat them dry (to avoid oil splatter), slice them on an angle into long, thin ovals.

2. Line a plate with a paper towel and place it next to the stove along with a slotted spoon. Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat. When the oil just begins to shimmer, add a few pieces of onion. What you want is for the onions to gently bubble, so adjust the heat as needed and then add the rest of the onions. Stir the onions every minute or so and let them slowly cook, giving them a chance to release their fragrance and gradually dry out, approximately 5-7 minutes. Keep an eye on the onions (don't walk away!), as soon as they start to smell toasty and a few begin to brown, stir them almost constantly so they toast evenly.

Once almost all of them are brown, remove them from the oil with the slotted spoon and place them on the paper towel lined plate.  Set the wok with the hot oil aside. If you’re going to continue the recipe immediately simply allow to cool as you continue. Otherwise, let the seasoned oil cool, then pour it into a clean glass jar and store in the refrigerator. 

4. Pour ¼ cup of the soy sauce and ¼ cup of the stock into a large work bowl and stir in about ¼ cup of the flavored oil. After adding the noodles, add each of more as needed. I used all of it as my noodles absorbed a lot of liquid. 

5. Put the water in a large pot, add the salt, and bring to a boil. About 5 to 10 minutes before you want to serve this dish, stir the noodles into the water and gently swish them often so they don’t stick together. As soon as the water starts to boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cook the noodles until they are barely done (check package for time). Place a colander in the sink and drain the pasta into it, but don’t rinse it, as the starch on the noodles will help to thicken the sauce and allow it to evenly coat each strand.

6. Put the cooked noodles into your work bowl with the sauce and toss them well. You want the noodles slightly soupy since they’ll absorb some of the sauce, so add more stock if needed. Taste and add a bit of soy sauce or green onion oil, if you want.

7. Serve noodles garnished with all of the fried onions.

 

GOLDEN-EDGED CABBAGE
JĪNBIĀN BÁICÀI 金邊白菜

From: All Under Heaven by Carolyn Phillips (also on her blog!)

Serves 4

1½ pounds napa cabbage (about ½ large head or 1 small head)
5 dried Thai chilies
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1½ teaspoons regular soy sauce
½ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1. Rinse the cabbage carefully, removing any damaged leaves. Shake the cabbage dry and then cut out the core. Separate the leaves into stacks of 3 or 4 and place them curved-side down on a cutting board. Use the side of a cleaver, or the bottom of a small pan, to lightly whack the stems; this will serve to gently break them open, and then cut them into pieces approximately 2 x 1 inches in size.

2. Break the chilies open and discard both the seeds and the stem ends. Cut them into smallish pieces. Heat a wok over high heat and then pour in the oil. Immediately add the chilies and fry them quickly until they have crisped up. Toss in the ginger and the cabbage and stir-fry the cabbage over high heat. As soon as the cabbage has wilted, add the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil. Taste and adjust seasoning. Continue to toss the cabbage until all of the edges are a golden brown. Serve hot.