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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Chinese Takeout Homemade (of the Golden Variety)

Mrs. Grace Tseng

I grew up in a small town in North Mississippi, called Ripley...yes, like "Ripley's believe it or not?".  Anyone who is worth their Ripley, MS salt, knows about Mrs. Grace Tseng and her amazing restaurant, Golden China.  I've tried a lot of Chinese takeout restaurants in different towns/cities.  Golden China has always remained my absolute favorite!  You can just taste the love that Mrs. Grace stirs into her authentic dishes!  Sadly, she has retired.  But she did train the new owners to cook somewhat like her.  The restaurant is still great...but it's not quite Grace-worthy!

Among many delicious menu offerings, there are a few favorites.  The main one I hear my Ripley friends talk about (and that I personally love) is Spicy Chicken and Potatoes.  I recently visited my parents in my hometown.  While I was there, I decided to create my own version this, as well as other Golden China dishes.  I had so much fun cooking them, that I lost track of the amounts of ingredients I put in things.  I kind of just threw flavors together that I thought would work and be somewhat similar to the real deals.  Writing out these recipes after the fact, was difficult.  I hope I captured them and I hope they translate well to your kitchen if you decide to try them.  Anyway, here goes nothing!

Spicy Chicken and Potatoes

6-8 New Potatoes (cut into small wedges)
2 large Chicken Breasts
1/2 Green Bell Pepper (chopped)
1 fresh Jalapeño (chopped finely)
2 minced cloves Garlic
Juice and Zest of 1 Lime
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon freshly cracked Pepper
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
(or a little less if you can't take the heat!)
1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
Big handful chopped Green Onions
Big handful Chopped fresh Cilantro
Instructions:  1.  In a large bowl, whisk together a marinade of the chopped Jalapeño, Garlic and the next 7 ingredients.  2.  Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and put them in a Ziploc bag.  Pour half the marinade into the bag.  Let the chicken marinate for at least 30 minutes.  3.  When you're ready to cook, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  While it is preheating, chop the potatoes and put them into the bowl with the remaining marinade mixture.  Stir to coat well.  4.  Spread the potatoes on a roasting pan and cook until softened...about 20-25 minutes.  *This is the only way i know to get the potatoes tender enough.  If you know a way to get them tender just by stir-frying, go ahead.  5.  When the potatoes are almost done roasting, you're ready to start the stir-fry.  Heat a large pan or wok over medium heat.  Pour some of the marinade from the chicken bag into the pan and let it heat a bit.  Add the chicken pieces.  6.  After cooking the chicken for 5-7 minutes on each side, add the Potatoes and the Green Onions into the pan. Cook stirring often, until there is no pinkness left in those chicken bits.  No Salmonella please!  It's also nice for the chicken and potatoes to get a lovely brownedness, so look for that too.  7.  When it's all done, transfer to a serving dish and add the fresh Cilantro.

Lo Mein with Veggies

Linguine Noodles
2 Zucchinis (chopped)
1 Red Bell Pepper (chopped)
1/4 head of Cabbage (chopped)
A small box of Mushrooms (sliced)
1/2 cup Soy Sauce
1teaspoon Ground Ginger
Zest and Juice of 1/2 a Lime
Handful of chopped Cilantro
2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 teaspoon Garlic Salt
Freshly cracked black Pepper to taste
Instructions:  1.  Cook the noodles by the package instructions.  (I used half the package because I don't like ending up with way more noodle than veggies)  2.  Heat the Oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.  Add the veggies, Ginger and 1/4 cup of Soy Sauce.  3.  Stir-fry the veggies until the cabbage is wilted and the zucchini starts to get tender. * I'm not a fan of overcooked mushy zucchini.  You kind of need to leave a little bit of firmness.  4.  When the noodles are al dente, drain them, of course.  Then add to the pan along with the veggies.  5.  Continue to stir-fry the whole mixture, adding in the rest of the Soy Sauce, Lime juice and zest, Garlic Salt, Pepper and Cilantro.  
6.  Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with more Cilantro.

Baked Veggie Egg Rolls

1 bag Cole Slaw Mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
handful chopped Green Onions
1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
1 clove minced Garlic
handful chopped fresh Cilantro
1 package Egg Roll Wrappers
1 Egg (beaten well-for an egg wash)
The Egg Roll Wrappers I used came in this package:
Instructions:  Heat the Vegetable Oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add all ingredients, except for the Egg Roll Wrappers and beaten Egg, into the pan.  Stir-fry until flavors are mixed well and cabbage mixture is tender.  Transfer to a bowl and let it cool slightly.  To create the Egg Rolls, place a wrapper on a flat, clean surface with a corner closest to you (so it looks like a diamond shape).  Spoon about 1/4 cup or a tiny bit more of the Cabbage mixture onto the middle of the wrapper.  Fold the two corner sides in.  Fold the top corner side down on top, wet your finger with water and rub the remaining corner to moisten.  Fold that remaining corner over to form a pouch.  *I really hope this makes sense!  I should have taken pictures of the process.  However, I'm pretty sure there are instructions, maybe including pictures, on the back of the Egg Roll Wrapper package.  
Do this one at a time until you have used up the cabbage mixture.  Place onto a greased cookie sheet, brush with the egg wash and bake for about 20 minutes on 375 degrees.  Flip about halfway through baking time.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

3/4 cup White Sugar
1/3 cup White Vinegar
2/3 cup Water
1/4 cup Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon Ketchup
2 tablespoons Cornstarch
1/4 cup Pineapple Chunks
Instructions: Put all ingredients into a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Stir constantly until mixture is thickened.  This process will not take long.  Transfer to a sauce bowl.

Basic Fried Rice

2 cups rice (cooked by package instructions)
3 large Carrots (chopped to the size of the peas)
1 cup Frozen Peas
1/2 White Onion (diced)
1/2 cup Soy Sauce
3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 Eggs

Instructions:  Heat 1 tablespoon Oil over medium high heat in a large pan or wok.  Add Carrots and Onions.  Cook, stirring constantly for about 4 minutes.  Add a splash of Soy Sauce.  Add the Frozen Peas.  Stir the mixture for another 4-5 minutes, or until the veggies start to get a little browned.  Remove the veggie mixture and put to the side.  Add remaining Veggie Oil to the pan.  Crack the eggs into the pan and let them fry.  Once they are done, chop them up and add the rice.  Add more Soy Sauce and stir constantly for about 5 minutes.  Add the Carrot and Pea mixture back into the pan.  Stir for a few minutes more until combined and cooked through.  Transfer to a serving bowl.

The finished a couple princess napkins.

My taste-tester for the night.
Meet my friend, Natalie.  She is one of my oldest and dearest hometown friends.  Something interesting about her is, she is very recently engaged and just completed filming an episode of TLC's Say Yes to the Dress in NYC.  Over dinner, she told us about her experiences during filming.  Very interesting!  I can't wait to watch the episode!
I'm assuming this is one of those reality show confessionals, where she just talks about the dresses she likes and such.
That super cool guy with the white hair, is also a good hometown friend of mine.  He lives in the NYC area now.
The site of "Say Yes to the Dress", Kleinfeld's.

Just so my Ripley friends know, all my ingredients came from this lovely store!
I realized that I used similar flavorings and ingredients in all my dishes.  I just have my garlic, lime zest and juice, cilantro, etc.  That's always a good thing though, because it means I'm really using the groceries I bought and will have minimal waste hopefully.  I could cry tears, when I'm cleaning out the fridge and find forgotten cilantro or something like it, that is beyond use.  We really enjoyed our Homemade Chinese Takeout night.  I hope I have inspired you to be a Mrs. Grace copycat like me!  Until next time, Happy Stir-frying!