Thursday, February 03, 2011

Funny It Doesn't Taste Chewish -- Kosher Chinese Recipes for the Lunar New Year

Jewish Grandmother's Tofu
 Two of my great interests are Asian and Jewish foods. So to celebrate the Lunar New Year and the arrival of the Year of the Rabbit, I thought I’d share a few recipes with Chinese taste and Jewish rabbinical authority.

All the processed ingredients in these recipes are certified kosher (meaning that they meet the demands of traditional Jewish dietary guidelines such as no pork, not mixing meat and milk, etc). Larger supermarkets and specialty stores (especially those with an organic or natural foods section) should have a selection of kosher-certified Chinese sauces and ingredients. You may need to try a few stores to get what you need. Be careful, some brands have versions both with and without a hechsher (the symbol of rabbinical certification). To learn more about kosher food, certification and the symbols to look for on food product labels, click here.

Jewish Grandmother’s Tofu is my version of the classic Mapo Dofu (Old Grandmother’s Tofu) which replaces the pork with ground turkey and a few traditional ingredients with others that can be found with kosher certification. Serve over rice and or along side stir-fried vegetables. The amount of chili paste makes it a mildly to moderately spiced dish depending on the brand of chili paste and your palate. Adjust the amount of chili paste to taste. (Oh, and just so we are clear on this, I am not a grandmother. The name is just my attempt at being clever. Those of you who know my sons, Seth and Noah, can stop worrying.)

Egg Drop Soup with Chicken Meatballs and Greens is my version of a dish I ate variations of throughout a trip to China a few years ago. As part of a multi-dish Chinese dinner the recipe would make six-to-eight servings. To make it a heartier one-bowl meal, add a cup of cooked rice to the bottom of each individual bowl before ladling in the hot soup.

Jewish Grandmother’s Tofu
Serves 4

1 lb. firm tofu, rinsed and cut into 3/4” cubes
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 lb. ground turkey (not breast)
2 Tbs. minced ginger
2 Tbs. minced garlic
2 Tbs. chopped green onion (white and light green parts) plus 2 Tbs. for garnish
2 Tbs. black bean garlic sauce
1-2 Tbs. fresh chili paste, such as sambal oelek
1 cup of water
2 Tbs. sugar
2 Tbs. unseasoned rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 tsp. cornstarch stirred into 2 tsp. of water
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper or brown Sichuan pepper

Put tofu into a bowl, cover with boiling water. Let sit 15 minutes. Drain and reserve. Have all ingredients ready. Heat wok or large fry pan (do not use non-stick). Add oil and swirl to coat pan. Stir fry ginger, garlic and green onion, being careful not to burn garlic. Add the turkey and stir fry for a minute, using the side of a spatula to break apart any clumps of meat. Add the black bean sauce and chili paste and stir fry for 30 seconds, then add the water and the tofu. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, being careful not to break apart the tofu. Add the sugar, vinegar and soy sauce. Stir to combine then gradually add in the cornstarch mixture while stirring until sauce has begun to thicken but is still a bit runny. (You may not need to use all the cornstarch mixture.) Put in a serving dish and sprinkle with the ground pepper and green onions.

To read about how I learned about this dish in a cooking class in Shanghai, and to see a more traditional version of this dish, click here.

Egg Drop Soup with Chicken Meatballs and Greens
Serves 4

For the meatballs
1 lb. ground chicken (not breast)
1 egg white
1 tsp. minced ginger
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. minced green onion (white and light green parts)
Vegetable Oil

For the soup
8 cups chicken stock
2 slices of ginger, 1/4” thick
10 oz. fresh spinach, chopped
4 oz. fresh shitake or brown mushroom caps, cut into ¼” slices
1 Tbs. tomato paste
1 tsp. fresh chili paste such as sambal oelek
1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 egg
1/4 tsp. plus 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
2 Tbs. chopped green onion for garnish

Mix chicken with egg white, ginger, garlic and green onion. Oil a plate and your hands. Form 8 meatballs (mixture will be loose) and place on oiled plate. Put chicken stock in a large pot, add ginger slices. Bring to a simmer. Add meatballs and mushrooms. When meatballs have floated to the top, add spinach, tomato and chili pastes, vinegar and soy sauce. Gently stir until combined. Simmer until meatballs and vegetables are cooked. Beat egg with 1/4 tsp. of sesame oil. Stir soup as you drizzle in egg. Stir in remaining sesame oil, remove ginger slices and serve garnished with green onions.

To see an alternative version of this dish, please see my original recipe here.

To see all my recipes/posts on Chinese food, click here.
A version of this post previously appeared in the j.


Shirley said...

oh wow, after visiting at least 20 food blogs, i finally found something i would follow for sure. i have been wanting to eat kosher dishes for ages and prepare them myself, the instructions are pretty clear, thanks!!! i

FJKramer said...

Dear Shirley,
Thanks for the kudos. Please note: While anything with the Jewish category lael follows basic conservative rules of kasruth not everything on the blog is kosher, but much is kosher adaptable.