Flowering Cabbage With Oyster Sauce

This member of the flowering cabbage family has small yellow flowers and medium-green leaves and stems. Simple to prepare, and a typical end to a dim sum meal, but the key is freshness of the greens.

Ingredients:

1 bunch choy sum
salt
sugar
sesame oil
oyster sauce (optional)

Directions:

Wash and chop the choy sum into sections about 7 inches long. Steam, stir-fry or boil. Season with salt, a pinch of sugar, and a few drops of sesame oil. Serve as a side dish topped with oyster sauce that has been mixed with a pinch of sugar.

Servings: Serving size varies

—Adapted from Charmaine Solomon's Encyclopedia of Asian Food (1998); published by Periplus Editions (HK) Ltd.

Clams and Black Bean Sauce

Ingredients:

24 clams, about 3 pounds
3 tablespoons peanut or corn oil
4 or 5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
1/2-inch fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped fine
4 or 5 scallions, cut into 1-inch sections, white and green parts separated
1-1/2 tablespoons fermented black beans, rinsed, mashed with 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons Shaohsing wine or medium-dry sherry
1 tablespoon thick soy sauce
3 tablespoons clear stock or water
1 teaspoon potato flour, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
sesame oil to taste (optional)

Directions:

Leave the clams in water with a little salt until ready to use. Scrub the shells thoroughly.
Heat a wok over high heat until smoke rises. Add the oil and swirl it around. Add the garlic, ginger and white scallions. Stir and let them sizzle for a few moments to release their aroma. Add the mashed black beans and stir to mix. Tip in the clams. Sliding the wok scoop or metal spatula to the bottom of the wok, turn and toss for 30 to 45 seconds. Splash in the wine or sherry around the side of the wok, continuing to turn and stir. When the sizzling dies down, add the soy sauce and stock or water. Bring to a boil, cover, lower the heat to medium and cook for about 8 minutes.

Transfer the opened clams with a pair of chopsticks or tongs to a warm serving platter and keep warm. Stir and turn the remainder a few times and cook, covered, for another 4 to 5 minutes, so that they will open. Transfer the rest to the serving platter, leaving the sauce in the wok. Discard any clams that do not open.

Lower the heat, add the well-stirred potato flour to the sauce, stirring as it thickens. Tip in the green scallions.

Scoop the sauce over the clams and serve immediately. Sesame oil may be sprinkled on if desired.

Servings: Serves four to six

From Yan-Kit's Classic Chinese Cookbook (1998); published by Dorling Kindersley

Steamed Whole Fish With Ginger and Spring Onion

Ingredients:

1 medium-size white-fleshed whole fish (such as sea bass or red snapper)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon salad oil
3 or 4 slices ginger
2 stalks spring onion
Few sprigs coriander leaves

Directions:

Rinse and drain fish. Score the skin from one side of the fish to the other, at 1-inch intervals, on both sides.

Place the fish on a large plate. Sprinkle with salt inside and out, and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut the spring onions into 2 or 3 sections. Then slice them lengthways into thin strips (purely decorative, the green parts will curl).

Place the fish in a steamer. (Use a bamboo steamer in a wok if available. Otherwise, use a shallow bowl placed in a deep skillet and pour about half an inch of water around the bowl) Place the ginger slices on the fish. Cover and steam the fish on medium heat for about 10 minutes.

Mix soy sauce and vinegar. Place the fish on a serving plate. Pour sauce over fish. Toss out any water from the wok. Add the oil to wok, bring to a boil. Pour sizzling oil over fish. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve.

Servings: Serves two to four

—Adapted from the Eating China website, www.eatingchina.com.

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