Chinese ingredientsRecently, I took the “Dumpling Tour of Sunset Park” (thanks Ellen!) and couldn’t help coming home with some fantastic Chinese ingredients of my own. With that arsenal, I made the “Sticky Rice with Chinese Sausage” and “Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce,” from The Woks of Life. It’s time to use our chopsticks!

First, allow me to show off some of these ingredients.

raw Chinese broccoliGlutinous rice is indeed nice and sticky (but not clumpy) and cooks quickly. Mine cooked in less than 10 minutes.

Oyster sauce is a bit sweet, a bit salty.

Dried shrimp smells like fish food.

Dried shiitake mushrooms are like gold currency in your pantry. Once rehydrated, they will give up their rich umami properties to your dish.

Chinese sausage is dried pork-liver sausage that tastes like greasy salami.

Shaoxing wine smells boozy.

Chinese broccoli is leafy and green, with no real “florets” to speak of.

Sticky Rice w/Chinese SausageThe “Sticky Rice with Chinese Sausage” is straightforward and easy to assemble -- nevermind if you don’t have a wok.

As I said, my rice cooked in less than 10 minutes. Easy.

The dried shrimp and the dried mushrooms get rehydrated separately.

I added another 1/2 salt to my final mix. I did indeed shape my rice in a round bowl rinsed with warm water, and garnished with cilantro. Perfect texture, perfect taste.

Chinese Broccoli with Oyster SauceIntimidated by all the odd green vegetables in the Chinese market, my child agreed to the “Chinese broccoli” (thanks to its familiar name!). Its Chinese name is gai lan. I bought one fat bunch, to make the “Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce.” Use the recipe as a guideline; use your intuition for your cooking. I boiled my big bunch in two batches, and boiled my batches for a long time, long enough for the fat stems to tenderize. Keep checking.

After dousing my boiled vegetables with oyster sauce, the greens were a bit sweet, a bit salty, and not-at-all fibrous. In fact, I enjoyed the texture of these greens more than regular broccoli. I won with this.

PREP TIMES: rice cooks in 10 minutes, prep and assemble in less than an hour; let greens cook until they are soft
TASTES: sweet/salty/fish/greasy rice; non-fibrous greens

Next time, I will delve into the January/February 2016 issue of Cook’s Illustrated to make both the “Boston Brown Bread” and the “New England Baked Beans” (recipes below). Both recipes ask for a lot of time … and for molasses. Come back to my site next week, to share these with me.

Boston Brown Bread
Cook’s Illustrated, January/February 2017
Makes 2 small loaves, serves 6 to 8
This recipe requires two empty 28-oz. cans. Use cans that are labeled “BPA-free.” Any style of molasses will work except for blackstrap. This recipe requires a 10-qt. or larger stockpot that is at least 7 inches deep. Brown bread is traditionally served with baked beans, but is also good toasted and buttered.

3/4 cup rye flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup fine white cornmeal
1 3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 2/3 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup molasses
3 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled slightly
3/4 cup raisins

Bring enough water to simmer in a large stockpot that will reach halfway up the sides of the 28oz. cans. Fold two 16x12-inch pieces of aluminum foil in half to yield two rectangles that measure 8x12 inches. Spray 4-inch circle in center of each rectangle with vegetable oil spray. Spray insides of two clean 28oz. cans with vegetable oil spray.

Whisk rye flour, whole-wheat flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk buttermilk, molasses, and melted butter together in second bowl. Stir raisins into buttermilk mixture. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and stir until combined and no dry flour remains. Evenly divide batter between cans. Wrap tops of cans tightly with prepared foil, positioning sprayed side of foil over can openings.

Place cans in stockpot (water should come about halfway up sides of cans). Cover pot and cook, maintaining gentle simmer, until skewer inserted in center of loaves comes out clean, about 2 hours. Check pot occasionally and add hot water as needed to maintain water level.

Using jar lifter, carefully transfer cans to wire rack wet in rimmed baking sheet and let cool for 20 minutes. Slide loaves from cans onto rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Slice and serve. (Bread can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 weeks.)

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New England Baked Beans
Cook’s Illustrated, January/February 2017
Serves 4 to 6
Soak the beans overnight, for fewer “blowouts.”

1 lb. (2 1/2 cups) dried navy beans, picked over and rinsed
6 oz. salt pork, rinsed; cut into 3 pieces
1 onion, halved
1/2 cup molasses
2 Tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 bay leaf

Dissolve 1 1/2 Tbsp. salt in 2 quarts cold water in large container. Add beans and let soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well.

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees F. Combine beans, salt pork, onion, molasses, sugar, soy sauce, mustard, pepper, bay leaf, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 4 cups water in large Dutch oven. (Liquid should cover beans by about 1/2 inch. Add more water if necessary.) Bring to boil over high heat. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook until beans are softened and bean skins curl up and split when you blow on them, about 2 hours. (After 1 hour, stir beans and check amount of liquid. Liquid should just cover beans. Add water if necessary.)

Remove lid and continue to cook until beans are fully tender, browned, and slightly crusty on top, about 1 hour longer. (Liquid will reduce slightly below top layer of beans.)

Remove pot from oven, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes. Using wooden spoon or rubber spatula, scrape any browned bits from sides of pot and stir into beans. Discard onion and bay leaf. (Salt pork can be eaten, if desired.) Let beans stand, uncovered, until liquid has thickened slightly and clings to beans, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve. (Beans can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.)