Thursday, October 27, 2011

Drunken Cones

Chinese saying & song: The drink doesn't take a person; the person takes the drink"

                     Aspic of chicken in Shao Xin Hua Tiao wine on a bed of jellyfish salad and oyster-sauce mushroom roses.

                      Aspic of pork belly in Shao Xin Hua Tiao wine.

Have you noticed that height is important in food presentation? Noodles are twisted mile-high, salads piled as high as they can hold and tall cakes always look better than short ones. On a buffet table, dishes are of varying heights, not level and low, and even I have been unconsciously taking a lot of vertical photos of the food for this blog. So yes, my point is, the Jellyriffic!Challenge moulds can give your food that the lift, like those new platforms you just bought. Only 3 more days to go for you to buy a mould and contribute to the Breast Cancer Welfare Association Of Malaysia. I forgot to mention in my previous post that besides contributing to the Association and getting a chance to vote for your fave blogger, you get a good chance of winning the new Olympus PEN Lite E-PL3 camera, which is what I'm coveting too. Also, it's time to drop me a comment (need more comments) to keep my spirit up and also to get that Olympus VG-100 camera!

While cold appetizers are very common in Shanghainese cusine, the Cantonese are not big on cold dishes except for the huge cold appetizer platter that is served at the start of a banquet dinner. The Cantonese appetizer platter is the most expensive item in a banquet meal because a lot of skills are put into preparing the varied items which must be pleasing in taste, color and texture and also because expensive ingredients, such as abalone, sharks' fins, prawns, dried oysters, corn-fed chicken and the best Jinhua ham are used.  I've not had a really good cold platter in a long time because restaurants are scrimping on ingredients and making appetizer platters of cold and hot items which downgrade the platters because the hot items, which used to be dainty hors d'oeuvres, are now stir-fried stuff, like top shells with dried chilies or deep-fried processed meat made into different shapes.

The first week of the Challenge, I made beef in aspic. Both kids said "Yuks!" at the jelly with slices of meat suspended within and refused to eat it. That recipe was not posted. Today I thought I'll try again, making the aspic Shanghainese with the addition of Shao Xin Hua Tiao wine. The aspics do look kind of weird, almost like preserved specimens in the lab. I must say I prefer not to serve drunken chicken this way.

 If I were making this platter for CNY, I'd include cold cuts of abalone, pork tongue and Shanghainese red-braised beef shin. A Sichuan peppercorn and chili dip goes best with the aspic meat. I can almost hear the 'dong dong chang' and smell the fire crackers.


Chinese, like the Koreans, generally love gaudy bright colors and over-the-top decoration which they feel bring cheer, especially on festive and special ocassions such as birthdays and weddings. The most welcome color is red because they believe it's the color that brings happiness, prosperity and life. This cold platter would be considered very auspicious on CNY

Drunken Cones
Aspic Chicken:
1 whole chicken leg, skin on
one small slice of ginger
1 small stalk of spring onion, tied into a bundle
1 cup of water
1 tsp gelatine (3/4 tsp in cold weather)
1/4 tsp salt + 1/4 tsp salt (extra)
white pepper
1/2 tsp chicken stock
1/3 cup Shao xin hua tiao wine
--Simmer the chicken with everything for 10 minutes except the gelatine, extra salt, pepper and wine.
--Remove from fire, put 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, the 1/4 tsp salt, white pepper and wine into a bowl and  soak the chicken leg in it until cool. Taste and season the liquid if necessary. Cover and put into the fridge to chill.
--When chicken is fully chilled and firm, debone it and cut into small slices.
--Put 80 ml of the soaking liquid and  the gelatine powder into a small pot, cooking over a low heat until gelatine is dissolved. Put in 2 ice cubes to cool.
--Rinse a Nick Munro mould, scoop in 1/2 tbsp of the gelatine liquid and arrange the chicken slices in the mould, spooning more gelatine liquid in as you go. Chill until set.

Aspic Pork Belly
200 gm* piece of pork belly, skin on
a thin slice of ginger
1/2 tsp salt
enough water or stock to cover the pork
1 tsp gelatine powder (3/4 tsp in cold weather)
salt & white pepper to taste
1/3 cup Shao xin hua tiao wine
* there will be leftover
--Simmer the pork with the ginger, salt and stock for 20 minutes. Check by putting a skewer or chopstick through. The chopstick should pass through easily but for a good, bite, don't cook the pork too soft. Remember though that the pork will firm up when chilled. Remove and cool, then chill in the fridge to set the pork to make slicing easier.
--Cut pork into very thin slices.
--Do the same as for the chicken, making a gelatine with 80 ml of the cooking stock.

Aspic Prawns
6 to 8 small prawns
enough water to cover the prawns
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup Shao xin hua tiao wine
1/2 tsp gelatine powder
--Trim the prawns & remove the dirt vein.
--Boil the prawns until just cooked. Drain, remove shells and put into a bowl with the wine (no cooking liquid). Cool and chill. Make gelatine as per the aspic chicken.

Mushroom roses
3 to 5 black Chinese mushrooms (remove stems), soaked in warm water until soft
2 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
--Put the mushrooms in a small pot with the above ingredients with just enough cooking liquid from simmering the chicken or pork to just cover, simmering about 20 minutes. When cool, slice the mushrooms thinly, slanting your cut to get a larger slice. Arrange into roses, using black thread to hold the 'petals' together.

To serve, arrange the aspic meat on a large platter with other cold cuts if like and serve with:

Sichuan garlic dip:
1 tsp chili oil
 1/4 tsp toasted and grounded Sichuan peppercorns
3 pips garlic, minced
2 tsp grated ginger
2 to 3 tsp light soy sauce
1/3 tsp caster sugar (to taste)
a dash of msg (optional)
--Mix everything together. You can add a tsp of black vinegar too.


Zurin said...

Nice! Like the cantonese I prefer hot food :) But the platter looks really luxurious esp with the cones to add interest. Only 3 more days!

Greg Wee said...

Love these!!!! Learn a new thing too. Aspic...Nee

Terri said...

Terri, I have enjoyed these posts so much. So creative!

Anonymous said...

Phew! It’s tough even for me to catch up with what you’ve created; obviously out of passion, care & love. I salute you for enduring this wonderful craziness. Love your pictures and the creative use of the mold; your patience in fussing over the lighting really shows.

Mike C.


Hhmm... savoury sounds good after a host of sweet desserts.

Yolly said...

Terri, After reading other changelle bloggers. My salute to you as a mother that you always use home grown,hardly store food which this world is heading.Dishes must be made with passion and love. They have no idea the difference. Something, we would like to cook/make for our loved ones.

Anonymous said...

Very creative....Wondering how does it taste.

Clement said...

Interesting.... Transforming Chinese cuisine dish into 'jellies'.....Awesome...Great idea for party food. Cheers :)

tina said...

The last time I made aspic was during Home Econs in school. haha, but you have brought them to a completely different level, these look really good!

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

nowadays hardly see this cold dish serve in a wedding dinner,,maybe i should make this for the coming CNY, Thanks for the inspiration!

Lite Home Bake said...

This would really look good on the reunion dinner table, something different but with all the auspicious elements, looking tall and elegant.

Sharn said...

A lot of Westerners are scared off by aspic (or savoury food in jelly) and I don't understand why. Some of my favourite childhood memories are of Friday night Sabbath eating Gefilte Fish in jelly with hot, hot horseradish! This looks wonderful and such a lot of work. So well done!

xlpharmacy said...

sorry for my ignorance, but I have to confess that I had never seen those drunken cones, but they look so delicious!

pay per head said...
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