Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Cooking With RaoLaoshi

I don't know if I mentioned this before, but "laoshi" is Chinese for teacher. So "RaoLaoshi" means "Teacher Rao".

Teacher Rao is my Chinese teacher. She came to an improv lab a couple weeks ago and on the subway ride back we talked about cooking. I said I really wanted to learn to cook more Chinese food, so we made a deal. She would teach me to cook some Chinese food and I would teach her to bake some cookies.

We finally ended up getting together this weekend. We cooked and ate lunch together. We ended up making three dishes.

Cola Chicken Wings: The first and most interesting (and in my opinion tastiest) thing we cooked was "cola chicken". Apparently this isn't as novel an idea as I thought it was since when I told a co-worker about it she shared her recipe for "Coke Roast". The way we made it was to boil some chicken wings in water. Then we put some small slices in both sides of the wings (according to Teacher Rao it makes it taste better). Then we fried up some garlic, ginger, scallions, and mildly spicy green peppers in some oil with the wings. After browning the chicken a little on both sides, she poured in about half a can of Pepsi. She brought it to a boil and then reduced it to a simmer until the sauce got thick. Spicy, sweet and delicious!

Pork and Beans: This dish was an interesting mix of savory and fresh. The beans that we used are apparently called "four season beans" in Chinese since they are in season all year round. To me they just looked like giant green beans. I chopped the beans into slices while Teacher Rao mixed some ground pork with flour and egg whites. Then it was all fried up together. Teacher Rao commented on how most Chinese dishes mix together meat and a vegetable while most American dishes have the two separate. I had to agree with her, since I've noticed the same thing since the first time I came to China.

I Have No Idea But It Was Purple and That's Cool: I can't remember at all what the last vegetable was called in Chinese and Teacher Rao didn't know the English name. It looked a little like lettuce to me, but that's about as helpful as I can be. She cooked it up in a little oil, water and salt. Eating it was fun since it turned our plates purple. There is an old Chinese belief that eating uncooked vegetables is always unhealthy and I think it's still affecting the food culture. I'm not sure what the vegetable was we were eating but my guess is if it was used in the US it would probably be eaten raw or steamed, not fried up.

All together it was a lot of fun. We spoke about half and half Chinese and English, which was cool. I was a little worried that since we weren't officially in class she would just switch 100% to English. After we made and ate lunch, I taught her to make cookies. We made oatmeal butterscotch cookies, using the butterscotch chips my mom sent me about a million years ago. They were quite yummy. I have done a lot of baking since I got my toaster oven, but these were the first cookies I made from scratch instead of cutting corners with a mix. It was a lot of hard work without a mixer! But I have to use up my baking supplies before I leave so I forsee more on the horizon!

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