Thursday, August 20, 2009

Costco Wontons

My co-worker introduced me to these frozen wonton soups a couple of weeks ago. She gave me a bowl to try and I've been hooked ever since. Costco sells these for $9.99 for a 6-pack. Each bowl contains frozen broth and 5 individually frozen shrimp wontons. The flavorful broth is seasoned with scallions, ginger and garlic. The wonton wrappers withstood being cooked, frozen and reheated. They did not fall apart, yet were silky soft. There is simply a whole shrimp inside each wonton. I got a wonderfully firm and toothful feeling when I bit into the shrimp. No mushy frozen shrimp for me! The portion size is just perfect for a light breakfast, but when you also want to feel like having something substantial at the same time. Add some ramen noodles for a nice slurpy lunch?
Oh, where were these when I was in college? I really think I could live on these and never get tired of them.
Ghetto Fab Tip: One of my other co-workers whom we've lured into our Wonton Soup Cult has discovered that these containers are the perfect size to be reused as parfait containers. Just make sure to wash it out really well. I like to reuse the containers for freezing individual servings of homemade stock.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dong Po Rou

Dong Po Rou is on the top of my Guilty Pleasures List. I mean, I'm basically eating chunks of braised un-salted bacon here. As Su Dong Po (real name Su Shi) says, "With gentle heat and a bit of water, the dish would surely taste good when it is done in its turn."
Removing the tiny little hairs with tweezers were tedious and straining on my eyes, but soooo worth it in the end. I started to tie up each cube of pork with green onion stalks, but ran out of green onions half way through the process. The green onions held the layers of pork together, keeping them from falling apart. However, the "loose" cubes didn't fall apart too badly. As you can see, they held together pretty well. Just had to be extra careful when transferring the pieces.
I stir-fried some ong choy in garlic and olive oil. I usually add shrimp paste or fermented bean curd when stir-frying ong choy, but I didn't want the flavors to compete with my oh-so-decadent-melt-in-your-mouth-cubes-of-braised-pork-belly. The last step, steaming, is really the secret to eliminating the greasiness. Yum, simple white rice soaked up the consumè-like sauce just perfectly.

Dong Po Rou
1 lb pork belly, tweezed and cut into 1-inch cubes (cutting is easier if the pork belly is slightly frozen)
2 hands ginger, slightly charred 
2 bundles of green onions
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup Shaoxing wine
2 tbsp rock sugar or brown sugar
3 tbsp black tea leaves

Tie each piece of pork belly with a piece of green onion, like tying ribbon onto a present.  It helps to pour boiling water over the green onions first and then let them cool enough to touch.  It makes them more pliable.
Brew the tea leaves in a pot of water, enough to cover all of the pork belly.  Meanwhile, sear all sides of each piece of pork belly.
Discard leaves and save tea.  Dissolve sugar in the tea.  Chop the ginger into 1-inch chunks.  Add ginger, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, any leftover green onions, and pork belly pieces to the tea mixture.  Simmer for about 2 hours.
Remove the pork belly pieces and set aside.  Strain the sauce and skim away any fat (and there will be a thick layer of fat).  Set sauce aside. Steam the pork belly pieces, with enough sauce poured over it to coat each piece.  The pork should be steamed for about 45 minutes.  I like to save the rest of the sauce for pouring over rice with this dish.
If there are any leftovers, store the pork belly separately  from the sauce.  Reheat by steaming with sauce poured over it.