Roasting and double-cooking

Roasting and double-cooking

By
Jeremy Pang
Contains
10 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
978 184949 5745
Photographer
Martin Poole

While roasting and double-cooking play big parts in Chinese cuisine, because of their time-consuming nature these techniques can feel overwhelming or intimidating to some. This chapter is my ultimate tribute to the slow-cooking process – the recipes it contains are not necessarily difficult, but require a certain amount of loving patience that doesn’t always align well with the day-to-day bustle of modern life. These are recipes to be tackled on a quiet weekend, and the results are worth waiting for.

While traditional Chinese roasting ovens are hard to come by these days, in the old days a restaurant would have a large walk-in clay oven. This would have a huge chimney in the middle of its roof and small wind tunnels built into the walls to allow air to circulate through the oven itself – the thick clay walls would hold in the heat while the meat would be hung along the inside walls, with coal pits underneath creating the heat for the slow-cooked, ‘wind-dried’ style of cooking. This inventive way of cooking allowed the outside skin of the meat to char away while the meat would slowly roast until succulent and tender, creating a crispy skin and melt-in-the-mouth meat. These days restaurants use commercial stainless-steel ovens that do a very similar job and, though it can be difficult to replicate such a unique cooking environment at home, there are ways and means of creating similar outcomes with a domestic oven.

Double-cooking is precisely what it describes: when two or more of any of the basic techniques learnt here in the book are combined to cook one dish. As a balance of textures is so important in Chinese food, the Chinese love to use double-cooking processes to give different textures to meat, seafood and even certain vegetable dishes. There are no specific rules with double-cooking, though there are some general guidelines as to how to order the cooking techniques to ensure a successful outcome (blanching, poaching, deep-frying or braising tend to come first, while the second or third processes are more likely to be roasting, stir-frying, or steaming). Sometimes a dish may use up to four or five different cooking techniques; the typical dim sum dish of chickens’ feet is a good example, where, in order to give the skin its signature melt-in-the-mouth feel, the feet are blanched, then dried, then deep-fried, then braised, then marinated and finally steamed to finish. This may seem a little excessive, but it’s an amazing way to make something so seemingly tasteless take in so much flavour. There is indeed method in the madness!

Recipes in this Chapter

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