Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chinese food alludes me

Without realizing it, I made Chinese food at a perfectly appropriate time seeing as tomorrow is Chinese New Year. Maybe you can use this information to help you celebrate a wonderful culture!

For all of you who think that College Station is not an incredibly rich and diverse metroplex, I would have to tend to disagree with you. I assure you that diversity and culture can be found if you only know where to look for it. One place that this diversity can be found is in off-campus housing that is ran by the TAMU campus. This complex of housing allows the multitude of international students who have chosen TAMU as their place of study to live comfortably and affordably near campus. One only has to walk by the off-campus housing to smell the cooking that seeps through the always open windows and doors. If you have the opportunity to make friends with an international at TAMU, do so. Your stomach will be very thankful. Matt and his family had a wonderful Chinese family that befriended them in College Station. This family was so  appreciative of Matt's parents and the whole family's friendship that they would often make Chinese food for the whole gang. Family stories also have been told that Li Xin felt so sorry for Martin (who is very thin) while Deb was in her Masters and Ph.D. program that she wanted to cook for the family as often as possible so Martin could grow big and strong. I was first introduced to Li Xin food (we cannot call it Chinese because you would automatically assume that it is like the food that is delivered to your door...I assure is not) when Matt and I were dating my freshman year. The day after he and his family were invited over for dinner, Mattie brought home a huge tupperware full of delectable treats for us to share for our own meal that night. I had never tasted "Chinese" food that was so fresh. The fried rice gave an appropriate lingering of mouth feel (which either the Chinese or Japanese consider to be a sixth sense) with a very light oil texture. It should not be confused with the lingering oil taste available at your own mall food court. It was fresher and not overpowering to the rice and vegetables that were in your bite of food. Her homemade California rolls left nothing to be desired and really were the perfect amount of vegetables and sticky rice rolled together. The dumplings were plump and usually filled with a flavorful ground pork. All of this would be accompanied by some sort of stir fry that seemed to endlessly fill everyone's plates (including mine when I was "becoming" part of the family). Her hospitality could be matched by no other and it was sad for us all when we watched her and her family leave for a wonderful work opportunity in North Carolina. Although Deb is in contact with her and we enjoy hearing the stories of Li Xin and her family, none of us can hide the fact that we would love to have her near serving us some of her wonderful food.

This being said, I have tried many times to attempt making any type of Chinese food that resembled even what you can get in foil and tin containers. Partial success was mine this evening when I tried Guy Fieri's recipe for BBQ Pork Fried Rice. I altered the recipe a bit, mainly by using frozen stir fry vegetables instead of fresh.
 If you choose this route (which I recommend for economic and time allowances), microwave your vegetables a bit and let them drain some of their water before tossing them in a pan. Also, I do not own a wok (we bought one once, used it once, had the pan ru
st on us, and we took it back) so I used my "short" stock pot instead. Lastly, if you wanted to do the same concept with chicken (yum...) or shrimp (oh, baby...) I am sure it would be just as tasty and much quicker as well!

In addition to the rice and pork I made an "a
sian" slaw. 
Thinly slice about 1 1/2 cups of red cabbage (or green), one stalk of celery (on a bias or angle), shred two carrots, and chop some green onions into a bowl.
Sprinkle with salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste.
Thrown in a bit of low-sodium soy sauce, red wine vinegar, a "squeeze" of honey, and a splash of orange juice.
Mix to combine, taste, and adjust ingredients as needed.
Toss with a tablespoon or so of sesame seeds.
Refrigerate or serve immediately.
I hope you try it or consider trying it and if anyone wants to chip in for a plane ticket to get Li Xin to come visit...let me know :O)


martha said...

I love Chinese! There used to be a decent Thai place on University back in the day, but I think it has since been replaced by a generic sandwich shop. I have a good Asian cookbook that you'll have to thumb through when you get here, it's got a lot of good recipes, that turn out well unless you misread how much salt to use. Have I told you that story??

Ashley Howard said...

No, do or through email...:O)

McKay said...

I miss Li Xin and her yummy Chinese dumplings! I found some in a grocery store a while ago, but of course they were no where near what my tastebuds remembered. Sadly.

Also, I made your stuffed peppers last week! The farmer's market had some - 4 for $3 (and certainly yummier than normal) and we enjoyed the meal thoroughly! Thanks for the inspiration!