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Have you ever been to China?
It’s always been on my adventure list as it’s home to some of the most amazing places on Earth, including The Great Wall. And the food? Don’t get me started.
Yu choy, nappa and bok choy — my favourite Chinese vegetables — are abundant here in Markham and are relatively cheap to buy at my nearest supermarket. Chances are, if you did a little digging online, you could find them somewhere relatively near to you as well.
My Getting Grilled Guest this month is a shy yet awesome stay-at-home mother from Markham, Ont., who claims roots in Beijing, China as well as Halifax – Jayne Lin.
Food Dude: Welcome to Getting Grilled, Jayne. What recipe have you brought us today?
Jayne Lin: It’s my family recipe for hùnhé shūcà, báimǐ, táng cù zhūròu, jiāng jī and tiánmì de, which is a very long Chinese way of saying sweet pho noodles, ginger chicken, sweet and sour pork, mixed vegetables and plain rice. I just like to call it my Powercombo! It’s been in my family for a long time. Basically, it’s a comfort food and very peasant in a way. It’s flavourful, yet simple and inexpensive.
FD: I tried it out myself and had great results. Why is this “Powercombo” worthy of such a powerful name and what makes it special to you?
JL: I spent some time in China as a child before we permanently settled in Canada. I had a lot of family there and we were very close. My grandmother used to do pretty much all the cooking and whenever I was around she always made this combo for me to eat because I was a picky eater. In China that’s kind of a big deal so I felt very special. She always made sure everyone was fed and I guess it was her special way of showing her love. I haven’t seen my grandmother in years, so this meal always makes me think of her.
FD: Well now, I’m even more excited to get it out to the masses! It’s got a powerful story behind it! Some of my favourite recipes come from my family back home in Newfoundland so I totally get how special that can be. Do you have much trouble finding the ingredients? Are they relatively abundant in Nova Scotia as well?
JL: Here, it’s easy; there are Chinese markets all over the place in Markham. There are some places in Halifax where they can be found easily enough, if I remember. A couple in St. John’s, too, I think, in case you were wondering. That’s for the veggies and stuff I mean. Most of the other ingredients are commonplace just about everywhere, I’d imagine.
FD: How would you rate this dish in terms of difficulty? Is it hard to make?
JL: (swears) No, not at all! It’s probably a two or three on the scale of difficult Chinese food. It makes a few dishes dirty though, that’s for sure. You definitely don’t need to be a pro chef to make it. I know a lot of other people can be intimidated by cooking foreign foods, but I swear, it’s much easier than you might think. I always encourage people of other cultures to try it out!
FD: Does any of this stuff freeze well for leftovers?
JL: I’ve never not eaten all of it in one sitting so I have no idea. (laughs)
For Mixed Vegetables
- 1/2 head nappa, thinly sliced
- 1 head bok choi, diced
- 15 sprigs yu choi, whole
- 3 cups white mushrooms, sliced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 4 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
- 4 tbsp oyster sauce
- 2 tbsp real butter or peanut oil
Directions: In a large wok or deep frying pan, heat peanut oil/butter on medium high heat. Add all vegetables at once and stir with tongs while cooking for 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, cover and reduce heat by half. Let cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- 3 cups of instant white rice
- 3 cups of water
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- Soy sauce to taste
Directions: In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add rice and oil. Remove from heat and cover for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork or chopsticks. Serve with soy sauce.
For Sweet Pho
- 1/2 package of vermicelli rice noodles
- 1/2 cup sweet and sour sauce
- 1 tbsp flaked chilies
- 1 tsp turmeric
Directions: In a large saucepan, bring rice noodles in water to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Let cook for no more than five minutes and drain water. In a medium pan, heat a very small amount of oil on medium high and add noodles along with remaining ingredients. Stir frequently to avoid sticking and cook for about five minutes.
For Sweet and Sour Pork
- 4 cup of pork, cubed
- 2 cups sweet and sour sauce
- 2 tbsp real butter, softened
- lemon, squeezed
- Salt and pepper to taste
Directions: In a large wok or deep frying pan, heat a small amount of vegetable oil on medium high heat. Add cubed pork and stir frequently as it cooks for about seven minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients and cook, covered, for about 10 minutes or until pork is tender and juicy.
For Ginger Chicken
- 1 lb boneless white meat chicken, large cubes
- 1 tbsp powdered ginger
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- 1 tbsp corn starch
Directions: In a large pan, heat a small amount of vegetable oil on high heat. Add chicken cubes and stir fry for seven minutes. Add all remaining ingredients, combine until smooth and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and let cook for another seven to eight minutes. Serve hot.
Terry Bursey, otherwise known as the Food Dude, is a Newfoundland chef transplanted to Ontario who enjoys putting his mark on traditional recipes and inventing new tasty treats with unexpected ingredients. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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