Red Dragon Recipes

By Mistress Gwyneth Banfhidhleir, OL

Copyrightę 2000, Ginny Claphan

Introduction

This feast was presented on October 14, 2000 in the March of Tirnewydd (Columbus, Ohio).

My sources included Michael Freeman, "Sung" in K.C. Chang (ed.), Food in Chinese Culture, Jacques Gernet, Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion, and E.N. Anderson, The Food of China. These books do not list recipes, but more extensive analysis and commentary regarding types of food during the dynastic eras, cultural anthropology, ingredients and cooking techniques. I also used Elizabeth Chong, The Heritage of Chinese Cooking. Her bibliography includes Chang, Gernet and Anderson, along with other sources. The Heritage Cookbook series came out in the early 90's with Spanish and French books as well. Other books I used were Ken Hom, Chinese Technique: An Illustrated Guide to the Fundamental Techniques of Chinese Cooking, and Gloria Bley Miller, The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook, which I used to base recipes and estimate measurements for some of the dishes.

The challenge with preparing a feast like this is that recipes I created are largely conjectural. Only recently have there been cooking treatises published in English. These treatises are not cookbooks, as we know them, but are more descriptions of dishes, with ingredients, cooking methods, and the health effect of eating the dish included with them. Specific measurements of ingredients are rarely mentioned. In my research, I found ingredients that existed in the period I studied and combined them in hopes of providing some unique and interesting dishes that strive to reflect the dishes that could have been available. Essentially, this feast was in part a leap of faith.

Ingredients and Flavorings

Confucianism and Taoism are the two dominant philosophies of the Chinese culture. With Confucianism, the enjoyment of food is one of the ways to bring about peace and harmony in society. The flavors of the ingredients must be blended with harmony. Taoism concerns itself with the nourishment of the body and the search for longevity. How these are evoked in Chinese cookery is the blending of flavors and textures and the medicinal properties associated each food item.

Five flavor types were generally known: sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty. These flavors were also linked in the cosmology based on five elements: earth, wood, fire, metal, and water. Flavors also had a character of hotness or coldness applied to them based on the principles of balancing yin and yang forces that are vital to the health and well being of the mind, body, and spirit. These opposite, but complimentary forces call for a variety of textures and tastes that are defined by their differences. For example, ginger, which has a heating nature makes a great tea following a dish of crabs, which have a cooling nature. This is quite similar to Medieval European concepts of balancing a person's humours, which is a subject for another article in the future.

Techniques

T'ang dynasty literature (in translation) mentioned a variety of cooking techniques, including, frying, dry frying (without oil), spit roasting, barbecuing, boiling, roasting, baking, steaming, and deep-frying.

Appetizers

The tradition of appetizers, or "Dim Sum" as we know it today, dates to the beginning of the Sung Dynasty. Food stalls were set up along roads to serve tea and light meals to the traveler. Teahouses in the cities supplied Dim Sum to vendors who traveled around the streets selling them to workers traveling to and from their homes. Buns and dumplings were easy to prepare and were usually steamed, as steaming used less fuel than baking.

Marbled Tea Eggs

Serving Size: 128

128 eggs -- boiled and cooled
1 quart soy sauce
1 cup Star anise, crushed
1 cup Lapsang Souchong tea leaves
1/2 cup 5-spice powder

Prep

Boil the eggs; rinse in cold water and cool.
Take the eggs and roll on table until the shell crackles.
Place the eggs in a pot and add the remaining ingredients.
Add water to cover eggs.
Remove the eggs.
Peel the shell. It should have a crackled, marbled effect

Comments:

5-spice powder is a spice blend that includes star anise, fennel, szechuan peppercorns, cloves and cinnamon.

I haven't seen a specific reference to this particular type of egg within period yet, but it has an interesting visual effect, and all ingredients were readily available within period.

Potsticker Dumplings

Serving Size: 128

256+ gyozu (round) wrappers

Filling:

2 large heads Chinese cabbage
6 pounds ground beef
12 oz. vegetable shortening
1 1/8 tablespoons black pepper
3 1/4 tablespoons salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sesame oil
1/2 cup rice wine

Cooking Liquid:

Oil
Chicken broth

Prep:

Shred cabbage to Cole slaw size.
Steam until soft, approximately 15-20 minutes.
Drain and squeeze out remaining water.
Mix remaining ingredients in large bowl.
Beat and knead until mixture is soft and clingy.
Chill in refrigerator.

To make dumpling:

Peel off wrapper
Place about 1/2 tsp. filling in center.
Fold wrapper over and seal the edge with water.
Pan-fry dumplings in skillet w/ hot oil until bottom is lightly browned, approximately 2-3 minutes.
Poach in chicken stock until liquid is absorbed, approximately 5 minutes.
Be careful when removing dumplings from the pan, as they may stick or fall apart.

Note: Cook dumplings in batches.

Comments:

Using a dumpling press can speed up this process a bit.

Steamed Pork Buns

Serving Size: 128

6 pounds Bisquick baking mix (and) water for biscuits
2 pounds flour

Filling:

1 cup oil
1 cup sugar
1 1/3 cups ginger -- chopped/shredded
1 quarts hoisin sauce
Water
10 pounds ground pork (ground fine)

Prep:

Make bowl of dough (Bisquick+water) in Hobart mixer. Add flour until mixture is more "crumbly."
Heat oil
Add ginger
Add 1 cup water, hoisin sauce, and sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Add ground pork and cook until done.
Set aside pork mixture and chill in refrigerator. If pork is too coarse, run it through a food processor to get a finer texture.
Roll dough into golf ball sizes.
Take 1 tablespoon filling and put in center.
Pull up dough to enclose in the filling then pinch to seal at the top.
Steam for 15 minutes. The dumplings should split open a little at the top.

Egg Flower Soup

5# chicken thighs
Salt
1 #10 can sliced water chestnuts
18 eggs

Prep:

Divide chicken thighs into 2 stockpots.
Add 3 gallons of water in each stockpot and add salt to taste.
Bring to a boil, skim off foam, and then simmer all day long.
Add water chestnuts prior to serving.
Beat eggs.
Stir soup and pour eggs into soup. The heat of the soup should form egg threads.

Comments:

I went with a lighter-bodied soup to balance out the richer dishes in this course. Chicken thighs were cheap (59 cents/pound), so I used them quite economically.

First Course

5-spice Roast Pork

Serving Size: 128

32 pounds boneless pork loin

Marinade:

1 gallon soy sauce
2 quarts wine, red
2 cups red wine vinegar
2 cups honey
2/3 cup garlic, chopped
1/3 cup Szechwan peppercorns, crushed
1/3 cup Five-spice powder

Prep:

Mix ingredients for marinade in a stockpot. Heat to simmer then turn off heat. This blends the ingredients better.
Cut roasts into 2-3 pound chunks.
Place roasts in gallon ziploc bags w/ 2 ladles of marinade.
Marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Cook at 350 degrees (F) for 20 minutes/pound. Or in convection oven, cook at 350 degrees for 1 hour, then turn down to 200 and cook for several hours. Baste often. Add water if necessary.

Let stand for 10 minutes and slice.

Comments:

The techniques of roasting and broiling meats date as far back as the Shang Dynasty. Pork lends itself to quick or slow cooking and adopts flavors easily. Pork was a major staple of the diet, as cattle were used for more draft animals. The seasonings were based on the blending of the 5 flavors of sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty.

Rice

1 cup salt
10 pounds medium-grain white rice
Water

Prep:

Bring rice, water, and salt to boil over medium heat until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Reduce heat to low and cover with lid.
Cook 20 minutes or until pockmarks form on the rice.

Comments:

Rice has been a staple in the Chinese diet for centuries.

Second Course

Ginger Chicken w/ Noodles and Vegetables

Serving Size: 128

1 #10 can straw mushrooms
5 pounds #3 noodles
20 pounds chicken pieces, sliced 1/2" thick
1 #10 can bamboo shoots
24 each green onion coarsely chopped
5 heads Bok choy cut in 1/2" strips
5 pounds bean sprouts

Marinade:

1 quart black bean sauce
1 quart Chinese cooking wine
1 quart oil
1 pound ginger, shredded

Prep:

Slice chicken into slivers - finger thickness or so
Marinate chicken in white wine and black bean sauce
Shred ginger
Shred cabbage and mix w/ sprouts
Mix bamboo shoots and mushrooms
Cook noodles (al dente) ahead of time.

Cooking:

Mix oil and ginger in large container.
Add a ladleful of oil/ginger in wok or frying pan on high heat.
Add chicken and cook in batches until done.
Turn heat down to medium
Add cabbage and; sprouts, cook until soft
Add mushrooms and; bamboo shoots
Add cooked noodles and cook until done

Comments:

Bamboo shoots were discovered as a food during the Han Dynasty.

Commercial cultivation of mushrooms began during the 7th century. The straw mushrooms that I used got their name from originally being cultivated in straw-based material.

Steamed Spinach with Sesame

18 pounds frozen leaf spinach
1 cup white sesame seeds
1 cup black sesame seeds
1 1/2 cup sesame oil.

Prep:

Mix ingredients. Steam for 15 minutes or until done.

Comments:

Elizabeth Chong indicates that spinach was recorded by the Chinese in 647 AD as the "herb of Persia." Sesame seeds were also a Persian import around the same time.

Dessert

Fruit Salad

Serving Size: 128

2 #10 cans mandarin oranges
1 bushel whole pears, peeled and sliced
10 pounds apples, cleaned and sliced
1 quart honey
1 quart lemon juice

Prep:

Prepare all fruit by slicing into bite-size pieces.
Combine all fruit. Pour honey and lemon juice over fruit, toss, and marinate.

Serve chilled.