Learning How to Cook with TC (The Preparation)

So who the heck is “TC” anyway? Good question.

You may remember when I was explaining a little somethin’ somethin’ about salt in a previous post? Well, it was “TC” (or Tony) who told me about it. Please excuse the secrecy surrounding his identity but he’s currently in the process of putting together a very hush-hush operation: he’s opening a restaurant, which specializes in classical Italian cuisine … with a twist 🙂 … and while I’m dying to be the first to blog about his restaurant’s soft opening, I can’t be the one to let the cat out the bag. Not until later.

Anyway … so we have these gatherings every now and we alternate between BBQ and Tony’s cooking. This was his night. But with less than 3 hours of sleep that previous night (from partying too hard), he had not given much thought about what to cook. It was when he was on his way to the supermarket, that he thought he’d preparing the following dishes (with no fancy names to disguise what they really are):

  1. Braised Pork Cheek
  2. Linguine with Clams and Sea Urchin
  3. Shaoxing Pork with Sweet Potato and Glutinous Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaf (which was an experimental dish)

Unfortunately, the braised pork cheek was prepared hours before I had set foot into the kitchen so I did not document the making of that dish.

But without further ado, let’s get started on the preparation for the other 2 dishes. You’ll need:

A couple sweet potatos, some celery, some nice tomatoes, a few pieces of [large] lotus leaves, some glutinous rice, linguine (or spaghetti … whatever tickles your fancy), fresh clams (small ones and big), anchovies, lemon, pork, shaoxing wine (for marinate), copious amount of olive oil, parsley, garlic, white wine, salt, sugar, pepper … the usual condiments, et cetera, et cetera.

The Ingredients ...

The Ingredients ...

The first dish we’re going to prepare … is the experiment dish I was talking about earlier: the Shaoxing Pork with Sweet Potato and Glutonous Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaf.

Get a grater and start shaving the skin off of the sweet potato and place them in water. Start boiling a pot of water to put the sweet potato in later.

Shaving the Sweet Potatos ...

Shaving the Sweet Potatos ...

You want to cook them slightly (but not too much) because they’re going into the steamer later. So, what is that Tony? Boil them for 3-5 minutes at high heat? I’m lost already.

Boil'em ...

Boil'em ...

Then, throw the lotus leaves into cold water to make them wet. They’re no good in the steamer if they’re dry … or you wouldn’t be able to get the lotus leaf scent to transpire into the food inside.

Dip the Lotus Leaf in Water ...

Dip the Lotus Leaf in Water ...

A couple hours ago (omg, my cooking instructions are so not in order!), Tony had already marinated these fatty pork with Shaoxing wine and … umm, something else (I will find out for you).

)

Pork Marinated in Shaoxing Wine, Baby 🙂

Take those sweet potato out when they’re half cooked and start chopping them into thin slices.

Thinly Slice the Sweet Potato after Boil ...

Thinly Slice the Sweet Potato after Boil ...

Then, cut the lotus leaves into smaller pieces and place a layer of glutinous rice on the leaf. By the way, the rice should’ve been placed inside cold water for a good half hour so that its easier to cook inside the steamer. Then gently place the fatty pork on the rice, followed by a few slices of the sweet potato.

Time to Wrap it ...

Time to Wrap it ...

Roll them up tightly …

Pack it Tight!

Pack it Tight!

And tie them like so.

Then Put Them in the Steamer!

Then Put Them in the Steamer!

Place in steamer for 45 minutes (?). That was easy wasn’t it?

Next up!

Fresh Clams ... Small Ones ...

Fresh Clams ... Small Ones ...

Fresh clams … these are the small ones. You want the big ones too …

Tomato Concassé

Tomato Concassé

Make tomato concasse on the side for use later.

Put Them Clams on High Heat and Fry a Bit Before Adding White Wine ...

Put Them Clams on High Heat and Fry a Bit Before Adding White Wine ...

Heat frying pan up and place generous amount of olive oil in. When ready (i.e. when the oil is hot enough), throw in the clams and tomato concasse and let it cook for a bit. Remember to stir a bit and let it sit for a minute or so before pouring in the white wine. Put a lid on it and let it cook for about 5 minutes.

) The Essence of the Pasta Dish ...

Clam Broth 🙂 The Essence of the Pasta Dish ...

After 5 minutes, pour the clam broth into a bowl for use later – don’t pour this away! This stuff is the essence of the pasta dish! Take the clam out and separate clam from shell.

Cook the Linguine ... You Know the Drill ...

Cook the Linguine ... You Know the Drill ...

Meanwhile, start cooking the linguine in boiling water (just water) … I used to have a habit of putting a bit of olive oil in the boiling water so that the pasta doesn’t stick to the pot. Apparently, if you do that, then the linguine forms a layer of olive oil around it and it’d be harder for the pasta to absorb the juice / sauce.

Chop Up the Parsley ...

Chop Up the Parsley ...

Anyway, start chopping the parsley …

The BIG Clams ...

The BIG Clams ...

Here, we’re seen cooking the bigger clam … the same process we used cooking the smaller ones.

Start Preparing The Linguine Dish ...

Start Preparing The Linguine Dish ...

Now place the big clams on the plate and add some of the smaller clams that we separated from the shell …

Take Out the Half-cooked Linguine

Take Out the Half-cooked Linguine

Take the half-cooked linguine from the pot and place them into a frying pan with heated olive oil (and garlic cloves if you wish) and stir …

Throw in the Rest of the Concasse ...

Throw in the Rest of the Concasse ...

Then pour in the clam broth and add a handful of tomato concasse … and cook until al dente 🙂

Mix'em Up!

Mix'em Up!

Mix some more …

And Serve ...

And Serve ...

And place the linguine on the clams that has already been prepared. Add fresh sea urchin on the pasta and serve.

So how did these dishes turn out? Stay tuned for more …

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3 Responses

  1. Hi! I just found your site and love all your great pics and food adventures! I lived in HK for 18 years, but now I’m in the US and I CONSTANTLY wish I were home to eat all the awesome foods there. 😦 Your blog lets me live vicariously through you to get to some authentic eats. THANKS!!! I’ll be back again!

  2. […] Remember a month or two ago, I kept referring to my friend as “TC”? I referred to him here, here and here. Well, his full name is Tony Cheng and I’m extremely proud to present to you, […]

  3. This is very up-to-date information. I’ll share it on Digg.

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