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Try Beijing cuisine at home

Published August 5, 2008 at 3 p.m.

David Lee of Chopsticks couldn't tell us exactly how he makes his food except to indicate ingredients, such as flour, baking powder and water used in his buns for the crispy duck. We've re-created his menu for the home cook with recipes from a variety of Chinese experts, including Martin Yan, Nina Simonds and Helen Chen.

Chinese Pot Stickers

Makes 24

6 dried black mushrooms

1 cup sliced regular cabbage

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 pound ground pork

2 cups sliced napa cabbage

3 green onions, chopped

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1/3 cup chicken broth

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

24 pot-sticker or gyoza wrappers

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2/3 cup chicken broth

* Soak mushrooms in warm water to cover until softened, about 15 minutes; drain. Discard stems. Finely chop caps.

* Combine regular cabbage and salt in a bowl; let stand for 15 minutes. Squeeze to remove excess liquid. Mix mushrooms, cabbage and remaining filling ingredients.

* To fill, place a teaspoon of filling in center of wrapper. Brush edges with water and fold wrapper in half, crimping one side, to form a semicircle. Pinch edges to seal.

* Place a wide frying pan over medium heat until hot. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons cooking oil.

* Add pot stickers, half at a time, seam side up. Cook until bottoms are golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

* Add 1/3 cup broth; reduce heat to low, cover and cook until liquid is absorbed, 5 to 6 minutes.

- Culinary Journey Through China, Martin Yan

Nutritional information per serving: 60 cal., 4 g fat (1 g sat.), 7 mg chol., 4 g carb., 2 g pro., 0 fiber, 165 mg sodium

Cold Spicy Noodles

Serves 6

1 pound boneless center-cut pork loin

Marinade:

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon water

2 teaspoons rice wine or sake

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 square of firm tofu, about 1 pound

2 medium-size onions

1/2 cup peanut, safflower or corn oil

1/2 pound plain, thin noodles

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Sauce:

1/2 cup sweet bean sauce

5 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice wine or sake

2 tablespoons sugar

2 cups each shredded carrot, lettuce, peeled, shredded cucumber

* Remove fat from pork and cut meat into 1/2-inch dice.

* Place the pork in a bowl, add the marinade, toss lightly and let marinate for 20 minutes.

* Wrap the tofu in paper towels and place a heavy weight, such as a skillet, on top. This will compress the tofu and remove some water.

* Unwrap, drain and dice the tofu, and dice the onions.

* Heat 2 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon of the oil until boiling.

* Add the noodles and cook until just tender. Lightly rinse the noodles under cold running water to remove the starch, and toss in the tablespoon of sesame oil.

* Arrange the noodles on a large platter or in a serving bowl.

* Heat a wok, add 3 1/2 tablespoons of the remaining oil and heat until very hot. Add the diced pork and stir-fry until the color changes.

* Remove with a handled strainer or slotted spoon, and drain.

* Wipe out the wok and add 2 of the remaining tablespoons of oil. Heat the oil until very hot. Add the tofu and cook for about 1 minute, until light golden. Remove and drain.

* Wipe out the wok. Add remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil to the wok, and add garlic and onion. Stir-fry until onion is soft and transparent.

* Mix the sauce ingredients, add to the pan, cook for a few minutes over high heat, stirring constantly until the sauce has thickened. Add the cooked pork and tofu. Stir-fry to coat the ingredients with the sauce.

* Spoon mixture over a third of the noodles. Arrange shredded carrot, lettuce and cucumber over the remaining noodles next to the pork.

* Serve at room temperature or cold. Toss lightly before serving.

- Classic Chinese Cuisine, Nina Simonds

Nutritional information per serving: 614 cal., 31 g fat (6 g sat.), 37 mg chol., 55 g carb., 28 g pro., 4 g fiber, 1,671 mg sodium

Sweet and Sour Pork

Serves 4

3/4 pound pork tenderloin

Marinade:

2 teaspoons dark soy sauce

2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

1/4 teaspoon salt

Other ingredients:

2 tablespoons black rice vinegar

1/4 cup white rice vinegar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

3 to 4 cups oil for frying

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 small onion

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 green bell pepper, cut into cubes, and 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into cubes

* Cut pork into 3/4-inch cubes. Add marinade, making sure pork is well-coated. Let pork sit for 15 minutes.

* Combine rice vinegars and sugar in a pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.

* Bring to a boil again. Thicken with cornstarch-and-water mixture, stirring. Check sauce and add more salt or vinegar or both, if needed.

* Heat oil for deep-frying to 360 degrees. Dip marinated pork in lightly beaten egg and dredge in 1/4 cup cornstarch.

* Deep-fry pork in batches (don't overcrowd the pan) until brown and crispy (about 6 minutes).

* Remove and drain on paper towels. (For extra-crispy pork, deep-fry a second time.)

* Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan. Add onion; stir-fry until onion is softened; add carrots; stir-fry 2 minutes; repeat with peppers.

* Push vegetables to the sides. Add the sauce in the middle, then pork. Mix everything together to heat. Serve.

- Helen Chen

Nutritional information per serving: 758 cal., 60 g fat (8 g sat.), 99 mg chol., 31 g carb., 21 g pro., 2 g fiber, 395 mg sodium

Lotus Buns

Makes 20

1/2 recipe Basic Yeast Dough

1/4 cup sesame oil

* Prepare Basic Yeast Dough. On a lightly floured surface, form it into a long, snakelike roll about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Cut the roll into 20 pieces.

* Place each piece, cut-edge down, on the counter; using a small rolling pin, roll out to a 3-inch circle. Brush the surface of the circle with sesame oil, and fold over to form a half-moon shape.

* With a sharp knife, lightly score the surface of the shaped bun.

* Arrange the buns 1 inch apart on steamer trays or equivalent lined with wet cheesecloth. Cover the buns with a cloth and let rise for about 15 minutes, covered.

* Steam the buns, covered, over high heat, 10 to 15 minutes, until the buns are puffed and springy.

- Classic Chinese Cuisine, Nina Simonds

Nutritional information per serving: 63 cal., 4 g fat (0 sat.), 0 chol., 8 g carb., 2 g pro., 1 g fiber, 119 mg sodium

Basic Yeast Dough

Makes 40 balls

1/4 cup sugar

2 cups warm water

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

About 6 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons peanut oil

2 teaspoons baking powder

* Dissolve sugar in warm water and add yeast. Mix lightly; let mixture sit 10 minutes, until foamy.

* Place flour in a bowl; add yeast mixture and oil. With a wooden spoon, mix to form a rough dough.

* Turn out onto floured surface and knead 8 to 10 minutes, adding 1/4 cup more flour if needed.

* Add dough to greased bowl. Cover with damp cloth and let rise for 4 hours. Uncover, punch down; turn out onto floured surface.

* Flatten dough to make a well for the baking powder. Add powder; gather up the dough to enclose it, pinching edges to seal. Lightly knead dough to incorporate evenly. Use as directed.

- Classic Chinese Cuisine, Nina Simonds

Nutritional information per serving: 78 cal., 1 g fat (0 sat.), 0 chol., 15 g carb., 2 g pro., 1 g fiber, 238 mg sodium

Home-Style Peking Roast Duck

Serves 4

1 duckling (4 to 5 pounds), cleaned

Marinade:

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

3 slices ginger, lightly crushed

Glaze:

1 1/2 cups water

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup honey

16 to 18 Mandarin pancakes or flour tortillas

Hoisin sauce and slivered green onions

* Parboil duck in a large pot of boiling water for 3 minutes; drain and pat dry with paper towels. Let cool slightly.

* Combine marinade ingredients; rub inside duck cavity. Cover duck and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.

* Combine glaze ingredients in a saucepan. Cook, stirring, over medium heat, until heated through. Turn off heat.

* Holding duck over the pan, ladle glaze over duck 6 to 8 times to coat all skin areas.

* Let duck rest in a cool place until skin is taut and dry, about one hour.

* Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

* Place duck, breast-side up, on a rack in a foil-lined roasting pan.

* Roast, uncovered, for 40 minutes.

* Turn duck over; roast for 20 minutes, brushing occasionally with pan drippings.

* Turn duck breast-side up again and brush with pan drippings.

* Roast until skin is brown and crisp, about 10 minutes.

* Steam Mandarin pancakes.

* Carve duck, including the crispy skin, into thin slices; arrange on a serving plate. Spread hoisin sauce on a pancake, place 1 or 2 slices of duck on sauce, top with slivered green onions, roll up and eat.

- Culinary Journey Through China, Martin Yan

Nutritional information per serving: 2,355 cal., 136 g fat (48 g sat.), 377 mg chol., 182 g carb., 96 g pro., 10 g fiber, 2,240 mg sodium

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