From My Wok to Yours - Taking the Mystery Out of Everyday Dining and Meals!!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Mandarin - Duck, Orange, Cuisine...

It has been cold at home lately, and I have been craving a REALLY good soup that I can whip together quickly.  Sadly, what I have been craving I have not had the ingredients for: A REAL Hot and Sour soup.  My favorite part of Hot and Sour Soup is its treasure chest of tastes.  There is always so much in it that invariably, I either want another bowl, or I end up having to rummage through the pantry to find something else to satisfy my  tastebuds.  Hot and Sour Soup is a true respresentation of Mandarin Cuisine, as, like the region in China, it incorporates many different flavors and visual perspectives. Garnish a bowl of soup that you are served with sesame oil, green onions and a dash of white pepper and you will have added a whole new realm of depth to the flavor.  

Mandarin style cuisine, when cooked well, presents a stunning visual offering, as well as a delectable dining experience. In Mandarin style cooking, presentation is everything. Whether making a crispy Peking Duck or simply a bit of Mu Shu Pork, it has to be done with style.

Mandarin style cuisine links style and flavor together, pairing mild spices together with the colorful array of vegetables.  They also blend sweet with sour, and crispy with refined and smooth.  The plate that is used as the palette will normally have a mixture of colors and aromas that will wow the crowd.

The Mandarin style cuisine is a combination of influences from all the provinces of China, as it is nestled in the center of all of the action. At the same time, it brings with it an individuality of its own. The finest chefs in the land doing their utmost to create the finest dishes have come from the region, as they are accustomed to having to cook for royalty, as was their responisibility generations ago. The benefit that we reap as a result of this style of cooking is a delightful array of the finest Chinese dishes.

Even smaller dishes often receive elaborate treatment. 'Snack food' such as scallions coated with dark soy paste might well be presented in a range of colors. The colors could be created by using boiled egg yolk, sliced just so in order to represent a flower. Or, they might be formed from multi-colored vegetable dishes combining carrot, beet and green onions.

Breakfast dishes as stir-fried tomatoes paired with scrambled eggs make for a healthy breakfast that is at the same time highly colorful. The goal is to delight all the senses, not just taste.

Surprisingly, wheat, not rice, is the staple starch option.   But far from being a mundane structural element, Mandarin dishes with wheat products are a work of art. Whether in the form of Mandarin pancakes or used as a Mung Bean wrap for pork, it is always done with flair.

Ever thought you had a taste of Mandarin Cuisine?  Want a truly royal Mandarin dish, but don't have time for something complicated? Try some of the traditional hot and sour soup that is a classic of the genre. Filled with bamboo shoots, chopped chicken, mushrooms and chili oil, you'll find it a feast for the eyes and tongue. Seasoned with red peppers to make it hot and vinegar to make it sour, even a simple Mandarin dish is a kaleidoscope for the senses.

Thinking fondue? Go Mandarin style with a Hot Pot. A simmering bowl of thinly sliced beef or chicken, combined with leafy green vegetables, egg dumplings and mushrooms, this stew is both healthy and delicious. Throw in an ox bone and call yourself a native-style chef.  Something simpler?  Rice soup, with strips of raw marinated white fish, or lightly sauteed chicken strips, or duck, tossed into boiling hot rice soup at serving will create a savory meal perfect for a cold day.

After you taste a bit of Mandarin cuisine you will discover the true meaning of 'Chinese Food' and in its finest representation of the cultural collaboration. You'll never be the same again.

Have a Safe and Happy New Year, and for now, Good Eating, Friends...

Colin's Hot and Sour Soup

Serves Plenty


  • 3 Eggs, whisked

  • 1 cup Cornstarch Slurry

  • 1 packaged Firm Tofu, diced into tiny cubes

  • 1 cup rehydrated Dried Mushrooms

  • 1 cup bamboo shoots, finely julienned

  • 1 cup cooked chicken ,diced finely

  • 1 cup green onions

  • 4 ounces soy sauce

  • 4 ounces vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons tabasco

  • 1 gallon Chicken stock

 Bring chicken stock to a boil.  As it is boiling, whisk in cornstarch slurry to create a slightly thicker base.  Once you have your thickened base,  while stirring slowly, pour scrambled egg into broth in a thin ribbon.  This will result in a cooked ribbon of egg in your broth. 

Add all other ingredients, bring back to a boil, and enjoy.

For added flavor, a splash of sesame oil, a teaspoon of green onions and a dash of white pepper over the top will serve quite nicely.

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