With the lunar new year celebrations having come to a close and the Chinese calendar calling 4712 the year of the “small four-legged ruminant” animal (could be lamb, ram, goat, or even gazelle), we’re counting our blessings and tearing down the kitchen after a week’s cooking. For us, if the superstition comes to pass and the year is shaped by how we spent its first days, ours will be a year of dumplings and media appearances.
CBC Ottawa Morning:
First, we recorded a segment for the morning radio show we wake up to every day, CBC Radio 1’s Ottawa Morning with Hallie Cotnam. Reporter Jeanne Armstrong interviewed us as we shopped for groceries at big box Chinese grocery store, T&T (224 Hunt Club Road).
[Our friend Lenny Wu and his martial arts troup would bless the location with a traditional lion dance days later, chasing and consuming auspicious “greens.”]
CBC Our Ottawa
Then, we discussed our book, Ottawa Food: A Hungry Capital with Lucy van Oldenbarneveld, host of CBC Television’s Our Ottawa. For that segment, we talked about the local food scene and shared a few Chinese New Year tidbits to finish.
CTV Morning Live Ottawa
Hired by Thai Kitchen Canada, the public relations firm Branding and Buzzing (“A Social Marketing Agency”) sponsored the following CTV Morning Live Ottawa live segment with host Jeff Hopper. B&B asked us to create and showcase new year appropriate dishes with their ongoing campaign’s two “hero” ingredients: fish sauce and coconut milk. According to the campaign, called “TK Everyday,” these ingredients can be employed in “everyday” food. Unlike last year, B&B opted for “mommy bloggers” to compete in this year’s recipe contest. The winner (chosen by online votes) becomes “Brand Ambassador” for Thai Kitchen. Our segment contributed to the buzz.
We chose to serve dishes that employed fish sauce and coconut milk in their components, not “featuring” the ingredients. Instead, the fish sauce seasoned a clarified stock that would become a soup. It was also used to make a dipping sauce for pan-fried dumplings. The coconut milk was used in a poaching liquid, along with Thai red curry paste, for whole shrimp.
The menu follows:
- Chinese barbecue pork (char-siu) ribs (glazed in honey) with roasted savoy cabbage (dressed in maple mustard vinaigrette)
- E-fu soup noodles with lo sui marinated eggs, Thai red curry poached shrimp; and blanched bok choy [clarified peppercorn and pork trotter stock with shrimp shell red coconut curry taré]
- Pork and napa pot-sticker dumplings with Vietnamese nuoc cham dipping sauce
CTV News at Noon
Later that day, Jenn and my sister-in-law Jasmine did family-oriented segments with host Leanne Cusack on CTV News at Noon, discussing traditions and superstitions around Chinese New Year. Food-wise, Jenn and Jasmine brought along dumplings, turnip cake, candies, and fruit.
Click here to see the first clip.
Essentially, we were asked three-times to CTV’s studios in the ByWard Market. Three-times we ran out of time and could not demonstrate how to fold or cook potsticker dumplings. So, the following Saturday evening, I posted some step-by-step images on the Instagram account (@foodieprints).
#sundaySupper: Chinese Barbecued Pork (char-siu)
If you follow us on Instagram, you know our participating in the online #sundaySupper tradition is somewhat unorthodox. Instead of posting recipes to try beforehand, we document what we cook the day of. Though, most of the experiments are project-oriented, intended for posts. Last Sunday, I decided to reacquaint myself with tripe, not omasum, mind you.
Leading up to Chinese New Year, several #sundaySupper sessions had been dedicated to rib-ifying char-siu, Chinese barbecued pork. Ordinarily, home cooks marinate their boneless pork before roasting it over a tray of water; the marinade typically consisting of the following ingredients:
Char-siu Marinade (for every 1 lbs (0.45 kg) of boneless pork shoulder)
- 3 tbsp rice wine
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce (not the light or mushroom varieties)
- 1 tbsp 5-spice powder
- 1 tbsp brown bean sauce
- 1 tbsp raw sugar (brown sugar will do in a pinch)
- 1 tsp dehydrated garlic flake (2 tsp freshly chopped otherwise)
- 1 tsp finely ground coriander seed
And, the marinade works well with a spatchcocked (aka: butterflied) chicken. [Roast in an oven pre-heated to 400F: half hour skin-side down and half hour skin-side up. Broil on high to crisp.]
For the CTV Morning Live segment, we skipped the marinade and opted for an overnight 1.5% kosher salt and sugar “equilibrium” brine (and one hour purge in fresh water thereafter). For 5 kg of pork back ribs and water, this came out to 75 g each salt and raw sugar (palm sugar would work better…). Yes, you should have a scale in the kitchen.
Here’s the technique:
The ribs were then slow roasted on a rack set over a pan of water for 2 hours at 300F: 1 hour meat-side up; 30 minutes meat-side down; and final 30 more minutes meat-side up.
At the beginning of the roast, the ribs were base-glazed on both sides (meat-side and bone-side) first. Then, layers of boiling honey were painted on. The base-glaze follows:
Char-siu Base-Glaze (for every rack of ribs)
[based on the marinade and glaze employed at the Causeway Bay branch of Tsui Hang Village Restaurant]
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 4 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 2 tbsp brown bean sauce
- 2 tbsp rice wine
- 2 tbsp 5-spice powder
- 2 tbsp raw sugar (brown sugar will do in a pinch)
Finally, the ribs were blasted under the broiler to colour.
While not quite braising the ribs, the racks came out tender and seasoned rather strikingly like char-siu.
Now, to plan Saturday’s prep for this Sunday’s cooking; back to your regularly scheduled food content.
Tags: #ottawaFood, CBC, CBC Radio, char-siu, ChefSteps, Chinese New Year, CTV, CTV Ottawa Morning Live, featured, sponsored, Thai Kitchen Canada, TKLucky7