Some of the best and most lasting lessons learned overseas are usually about food. Recipes, techniques, and new ideas about what food means and how it interacts with your life can become your favorite “souvenirs” of your time in another place. And sharing this new knowledge can feel like a way of connecting your two loves, your two homes.
So with that in mind, I am pleased to share these secrets and techniques I learned from our dear Ayi — nanny, cleaner and cook extraordinaire. Make your Chinese cooking (and even your “regular” cooking) better with these tips.
- When cooking in oil, salt the oil before you turn up the heat–it will keep it from spattering.
- When stir frying meat, soak the sliced meat in egg whites for 5 minutes first. (This is why real Chinese stir fry is never dried out–the egg seals in the juices. Ayi was STUNNED to learn that Americans didn’t do this.) *
- When chopping onions, first get your knife wet and sprinkle salt on the surface. Your onions won’t make you “cry.”
- Never, ever, ever, ever cook beef and broccoli together. Cook each separately, then combine, or your beef will be undercooked or the broccoli overcooked. Dumb Americans.
- Got burned-on food stuck to the bottom of a pot? Add 1/2 c water and 1/2 c baking soda, and bring to a fast boil for 15 seconds. Let it cool and then scrub — the burned on gunk will come right out. Miraculous!
But of course, the most important cooking tip we learned from Ayi was how to make perfect jiaozi.
* When serving egg-soaked meats to guests, please let them know about the egg. Food allergy sufferers will thank you.