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Why Chinese Cooking Wine makes everything Better



Everything you need to know about Chinese cooking wine.

I have always enjoyed using alcohol in my cooking. It has a way of bringing out the loveliest aromas and flavors.  Plus there is something so satisfying about pouring wine from a bottle. 

Some cooking wines are also nice to drink. And there is nothing wrong with a little fun in the kitchen.

French and Japanese cuisines are well known for their generous use of wine. Japanese sake and mirin are a central part of Japanese cooking. But it is not just the Japanese and the French who have a rich tradition of cooking with wine. 

Some of the most underrated cooking wines are Chinese. If you have never added Chinese cooking wines to your pantry, you have no idea what you are missing. After reading this you will be ordering some Chinese wine to enrich your cooking. 

An Introduction to Chinese Cooking Wine

The Chinese use rice, wheat, barley, or a mixture of sticky rice and millet to make wine. They ferment the grain using yeasts and molds as starters. 

Mijiu wine is light and clear. It looks and tastes close to Japanese sake. Xiang Xue jiu is a dark and sweet wine called fragrant snow wine. 

Chinese cooking wine is usually the liaojiu which is amber colored and nicknamed yellow wine. If you are looking at liaojiu from Shaoxing city, it is probably good. 

Shaoxing has carved huadiao wine, called carved flower. Huadiao tastes rich and a little nutty. It is good for braising or cooking stir-fries. You will not mind sipping it as you cook. 

The best cooking wine is labeled huadiao and it tastes best when it is unsalted. The unsalted wine is hard to find because most of the Shaoxing wine is added salt and spice to avoid the extra import fees and taxes that drinkable wines attract. 

Salted cooking wines won’t taste as good as unsalted ones. 

Why Chinese Cooking Wine is good for you

It feels wrong to waste good wine on a stew or braise. If it is the salty type, you probably won’t feel so bad about cooking with it instead of sipping it. 

But there are good reasons why you would want to cook with wine instead of drinking it. For one, all the good flavors of the wine will go into the food. 

Think about the sweetness, the astringency, the sourness, the opulent and nuanced aroma, and the notes of umami. Think of all that goodness in your food. The alcohol gives your dish a slightly sharp flavor.

Besides all that yummy flavor, alcohol is a good solvent that brings out all the aromatic elements inside the food. Some of the aromatic compounds won’t dissolve in oil or water, but they will dissolve in alcohol.

Food expert and author Harold McGee opines that a little alcohol makes a dish smells better because it lets out some aromatic compounds in the food and makes the final meal smell a lot better. 

Chinese cooking wine is also really good for making food less funky, gamy, or fishy. This makes it a favorite for lamb dishes, marinades, fermented foods, and overpowering fish. 

How to Shop for Chinese Cooking Wine

The best places to find Chinese cooking wine are Chinese markets and groceries where East Asian communities and South East Asian communities shop for their food. You are more likely to find the unsalted varieties here. 

Salted Chinese cooking wine is easy to find on the internet. If you can find unsalted Shaoxing wine branded huadiao, you are in luck. 

Pick the ones packaged in a ceramic jug and not glass bottles. 

What are the Best Substitutes for Chinese Cooking Wine?

Maybe you just can’t find any or you unintentionally drank it all. You can still work with alternatives. One of the drinks that can give you almost the same effect as Chinese cooking wine is dry sherry. You can also try white wine or Japanese sake which will still make your food better. This works best when the wine is not the main ingredient in the meal 

If you don’t use alcohol at all, you want to try something like a stock that is rich in umami which will enhance all the flavors in your meal. 

How to Use Chinese Cooking Wine

You only need to flip through a Chinese cookbook to see how ubiquitous cooking wine is in Chinese cuisine. 

Consider splashing the wine into your wok when you are preparing a stir-fry. The wine will help to control the temperature. You can also use the wine to marinate the pork or fish and give it a better flavor. Add the Chinese cooking wine to soup stock to make it last longer. 

If you find a nice bottler of Chinese cooking wine, you want to use it in any of the wine-rich Chinese dishes. Foods that require wine baths and that are served cold. Here are some of the best things you can use with the wine – hoping you don’t drink it all.


How to eat more Lobster




Lobster is huge this spring. We are into everything about lobster. We are looking at recipes, cracking equipment, napkins, and plates. So to indulge our near fanatical love for lobster, we decided to delve deep into everything lobster. 

Here is everything you need to do for a lobster-full season:

The Equipment

There is nothing worse than cracking a lobster with a rock and scattering the shell all over the kitchen. It is disrespectful. You want to have a pick to pry tasty meat from the lobster legs. Curved seafood scissors will help you to remove the meat in one piece because of its curved blades. 

Here is where you can find the best equipment for your lobster dinner. 

The Tableware

Lobsters are not exactly simple dining fare. Lobster meat is a treat. When you are having a lobster dinner, you are allowed to go all out and invest in a lobster platter, special dinner plates, and even these lovely appetizer plates. This is a set of simple yet refined tableware that is just right for lobster.

The Lobster Dinner Preparation and Dining

Once you have your lobster pot, your well-chosen lobster, some melted butter, and lemon, it is time to get to cooking and eating. 

It takes some courage to do this. You have to choose a nice and meaty one. You could give the lobster a few minutes in the freezer before putting it to a boil. But don’t get to 10 minutes because after that the meat will be frozen. Or you could use a sharp knife to stupefy it before cooking. Boiling a lobster is not that hard once you get used to it. 

Learn the proper way to boil it, halve it, carve it, crack it, serve it, and eat it. With some tips and practice, you will be able to properly fold its claws down and remove the whole tail at once. 

The Cooking Instructions

If you are nervous about preparing your first lobster, you don’t have to be. We have a range of fool-proof recipes to choose from. Everything is covered – the rolls, salad, chowder, sliders, paella, and risotto. You can go for the recipe that seems best and which features the ingredients you prefer.Lobster does not have to be boiled. Grilled lobster is oh so yummy. You can start planning your ideal lobster dinner with your favorite wine. 

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Why your Dessert Badly Needs Preserved Lemons




Sweet things often taste even better with a little zing from fresh lemon. Preserved lemon is even better because in addition to the zing, it has a salty flavor that rounds off the sweetness. 

Whether you love cheesecake, custard pie, pound cake, or ice cream for dessert, adding some preserved lemon to it will take it to another level. 

Once you start using preserved lemon in your dishes, it is impossible to go back to life without it. Preserved lemon makes desserts better and works well even in savory dishes like roasts, salads, chicken, and pastas.

Folding chunks of preserved lemon into your cake batter makes it ultimately better. 

What is Preserved Lemon

Preserved lemon is made by fermenting whole lemons until they are soft, and salting them. Preserved lemons are incredibly popular in Morocco, Tunisia, Iran, North African, Israeli, and Turkish menus.

Preserved lemon is called lemon pickle in India, where they season it with chili powder, turmeric, as well as cumin, etc.

They chop the lemons whole and seed them before fermenting and seasoning them. You can stir the condiment into most dishes that require fresh lemon. 

They offer a more complex flavor than the usual fresh lemon. Even after you are done making preserved lemons, you can use the remaining brine to cook. It is heavily seasoned and still carries a mild taste of lemon. 

Baked goods like sugar cookies and cakes often have a whiff of lemon. You can safely assume that any cake recipe can do well with some lemon zest. But it is not advisable to do that. 

Lemon gives sweet things a tangy flavor. Preserved lemon is just like fresh lemon but with more punch. 

Desserts with savory ingredients inside them are a delight. Tahini was a trend for a while. The sesame paste tastes something close to peanut butter without salt. And it appears quite frequently in baked goods. 

Pound cakes and cookies taste rather pleasant when cooked with some miso paste. Ice cream does well with the salty flavor of fish sauce caramel, and brownie cookies are amazing with tangy sumac baked in. 

You may have noticed chili powder in some sweet treats of late and even cardamom is giving cinnamon a run for its money by flavoring cookies, buns, and cakes all over the United States. 

Preserved lemon is quite possibly the next big thing in savory seasonings flavoring sweet treats. You can try out different ways of incorporating lemon into a baked good. But a good way to start is to work with recipes that contain fresh lemon and substitute the fresh lemon with preserved lemon. 

You can even preserve other citrus juices with preserved lemon. 

Chopped preserved lemon will give you a different texture from lemon juice, but it won’t make a significant difference otherwise. Your cake or custard will still come out delicious. 

You can use lemon juice in addition to preserved lemon. And you definitely want to reduce the amount of salt you add into the batter because preserved lemon already has salt. 

You have the option of preparing preserved lemon yourself, or buying some ready-made from the store. Most stores sell preserved lemon whole. Mina is one of my favorite brands, as is Tara Kitchen. Preserved lemon paste is also a thing. You can go for that as well. Some cooks prefer preserved Meyer lemon paste, but that is a little harder to find in the store than regular preserved lemon. Tart is a vinegar company that produces it in small batches. It works beautifully in baking.  

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Fool Proof Brown Butter Recipe




Everything tastes better with brown butter. Everyone knows that. It doesn’t matter whether you are talking about sweet dishes like sugar cookies, or a more savory dish, like pasta. Brown butter just makes it all better. 

It adds a richness and fullness to the flavor that beats melted butter, because it has a toasted, nutty quality to it.

To be clear, most people who taste brown butter in a dish don’t pick it out immediately. But they will notice that something is definitely working.

Brown butter leaves everyone satisfied ad pleased, but not quite sure why. 

It is simple to make brown butter on your stove top, but the process is not exactly easy. First of all, you need the butter cut into uniform cubes because it absolutely has to brown evenly. 

You have to get the burner to the right temperature so that the butter melts and browns fast enough not to hold you hostage to your stove and slow enough not to overcook.

Perhaps the most demanding aspect of it is that you have to stand there and watch, stir, and swirl the pan from time to time and to take it off the fire when it develops just the right color and smell. You see, it takes but a heartbeat for brown butter to go from perfect to burnt, and you have to be there to keep that from happening. 

If you could make brown butter in the microwave, you could avoid all the mess and the fuss, and free up space on your stove top as well as free up your kitchen counter.

Make Brown Butter using the Microwave

Cut your butter roughly and place it in a microwave-safe bowl. If you are working with a cup of butter, cover the bowl and microwave on high for 10 minutes.

If you are working with less than a cup of butter, you can do this for less than 10 minutes. When your brown butter is ready, it should smell nutty and have some brown bits inside it, as well as a nice amber color. 

If you don’t see this, just pop it back in for one more minute or two. The microwave is much less likely to burn your brown butter in my experience. 

You don’t have to use your hands to mix and turn the butter. It is completely hands-off. 

You can recycle the bowl for something else. You can even bake in the same bowl!Browning butter on the microwave is a lot easier and less messy than on the stove top. Try this recipe, and maybe use the brown butter to make some blondies. They will taste so much more amazing and you will be the only one who will know the secret reason. 

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