This month’s cookbook is now 3 for 3. Again we had to substitute. This time, bean sprouts and bamboo shoots were replaced by cabbage in the spring rolls. Yes we could have found bean sprouts and bamboo shoots but cut us some slack. We were hungry. As it turns out, the substitution may have been a stroke of genius, prompting my wife to say, “This may be cabbage’s highest and best use.”
Several of the recipes in this book begin with the sentence, “Heat a wok over high heat until it starts to smoke and then add 1 tbsp of peanut oil.” Until what starts to smoke? There is nothing in the wok yet. We did our best and heated some oil and then added some grated ginger and sliced shiitake mushrooms along with a little light soy sauce and some five spice. When it looked all softened and flavorful we set it aside to cool for a bit. When it was cool we put some sliced cabbage and scallions and some juliened carrots in to a bowl with the mushrooms and ginger, added a little more soy sauce and a dash of salt and pepper. I questioned the salt along with soy sauce as redundant, but per the end results, I am an idiot. We next put two or so ounces of the vegetables into a double layer of spring roll wrappers and rolled them up, sealing them with a paste made from water and cornstarch. We fried them to golden brown and served them with an imporomptu pseudo-ponzu sauce made with soy sauce, sesame oil, green onions, a splash of rice wine vinegar and a dash of five spice powder. Ching recommends a chile sauce but leaves it up to the individaul cook to decide. Despite my idiot status (see above), I say go with pseudo-ponzu. It was perfect.
The chicken, all drumsticks, was marinated in rice wine, hoisin, light and dark soy sauces, brown sugar, peanut oil, and some grated ginger for twenty minutes and then simply baked. The marinade was reduced until nice and sticky and then poured over the finished chicken with some scallions. Easy as can be (pie is a pain in the ass).
Both of these recipes were a delight, but they really did well together. The chicken was sticky, mildly sweet, and slightly salty and the spring rolls were fairly delicate. As mentioned above, the cabbage was a star. We had this with a simple white wine, but I can see this taking off with a gruner veltliner or off dry riesling. Leitz Eins-Zwei-Dry comes to mind.