Szechwan Meatballs

DSCF7482 (640x492)Meatballs are probably the most abused ground meat I’ve ever worked with. They can be rolled into enormous Italian size balls fresh with pasta or for industrial kitchen operations, be bought frozen, sauced (also in packages) and served by themselves. Ground meat, more often than not, are also turned into meatloaves.  I deal with all of them almost on a weekly basis; turning leftovers into patties served with a different sauce or some other dish with a twist before finally killing it to a Bolognese with all the other leftovers. I love working with ground meat given its versatility and affordability, and for whatever final dish it will mutate into after Bolognese, it is never thrown away.  That’s part of my goal. Drive the overall food cost down to the ‘ground.’

Anyway, I became seemingly curious when I saw this recipe.  It’s made with ground pork as most Asian dishes are and it’s infused with the holy trinity of Chinese cooking: Green Onions, Ginger and Garlic. I had foregone making meatballs seeing them everyday, but this recipe was a true classic masterpiece. I enjoyed every bite and the preparation is very different from what is common specially to Filipino style meatballs.  Moreover, the unique blend of spices woke my senses up, and if it does, I know firsthand I was onto something extraordinary.  It was as powerful and as stinging the way I wanted it to be and interestingly delicious and simple to prepare after a long, long day at work (with prep work done ahead of time).


  • Ground Pork
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Green Onion
  • Light Soy Sauce
  • Shaoxing Cooking Wine
  • Spicy Sesame Oil
  • Brown Sugar
  • Cornstarch

Mince the ginger, garlic and green onion and add them to the ground pork. Drizzle with Shaoxing cooking wine and sprinkle with cornstarch, a pinch of salt and pepper and a dash of light soy sauce.  Knead the meat thoroughly and form into desired meatballs.

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In a small bowl, combine  some cornstarch, light soy sauce and spicy sesame oil to make a thick slurry.  Adjust the consistency by adding more or less of each and roll the ball into the paste-like mixture. Fry each meatball in hot oil, preventing each one from sticking into the pan (I placed them in a 375’C oven for an easier and less fuzzy approach).

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Wipe the wok clean (if pan-frying) and drizzle some oil into the pan or discard some oil (if deep frying). Add some brown sugar, light soy sauce, and Shaoxing cooking wine. Season to taste.

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This is should be the last episode on Szechwan food as it was on Tapas. Thanksgiving is forthcoming and the start of celebrations is about to begin in a couple of weeks.  That means trouble in the kitchen, and of course  an entirely new set of holiday dishes to ponder upon and enjoy.  I will, once in a while, revisit this episode if and when there’s an urge or if I bump into something suited to my liking.

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Cold Chicken with Szechwan Pepper

DSCF7455 (640x480)Luca won Master Chef this season, and it was no surprise. He works in the industry. He’s Italian and he’s food depicts his background and character and they were all evident in all his dishes.  I believe that was the main ingredient that brought him the crown. His opponent, although technically more capable, just didn’t have that inner so-called ‘inspirational passion and soul’  so needed and required to be in a real, professional kitchen. I guess that’s just my personal opinion. The other home cook challengers should probably keep their day jobs and stay where they belong.  I was thinking while watching how they’d survive the heat of a fast-pace, brutally hot, and extremely impersonal approach in the line.  Again, this is just my personal opinion. It’s a TV show meant to be entertaining, and it’s ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ reborn.  Honestly, I was hooked and I was extremely entertained by the play-by-play drama orchestrated by the three host.

Anyway, I was able to pick-up some dishes from watching the weekly series. Many were just glamourized home-cooked dishes and nothing else. I’d enjoyed the classics as usual and hated the fancy plates they presented (Luca’s wasn’t). I enjoy doing simple, smooth ‘comforting’ dishes with bold and lingering flavours to the palate. I discovered this by biting my nails into Szechuan Food, and this has been continuing for three weeks now. It’s an entirely new horizon for me and the taste just wakes up my senses.  Moreover, Szechwan cooking serves cold dishes that can be eaten anytime of the day. That’s just so appetizing and this dish is with no exception. It’s so easy to prepare, but the varied dipping sauces are phenomenal.


  • Chicken Breast or Leg
  • Green Beans as garnish

Dipping Sauce:

  • Szechwan Pepper
  • Sea Salt
  • Green onion, minced
  • Garlic, mined to a paste
  • Soy Sauce
  • Shaoxing cooking wine
  • Chinese Vinegar
  • Spicy Sesame oil
  • Brown Sugar

Boil the chicken until tender. Set aside at room temperature and shred or slice into small pieces. Keep it in the fridge to cool.

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In the meantime, roast the Szechuan Pepper and Sea salt in a pan.  When the spice starts to become aromatic, transfer into a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder and grind into a fine or coarsely grounded seasoning.

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Blanch the green beans in boiling water, and let it run in cold to stop the cooking process. Lightly sauté in oil, garlic, and Shaoxing Cooking wine.

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Set the green beans on the plate followed by the shredded chicken. Sprinkle with the Szechwan & Salt Seasoning and minced garlic. Serve with the Chinese Dipping Sauce on the side.

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Shredded Pork with Egg and Wood Ear

DSCF7436 (640x480)If there’s something about Chinese cuisine I love is its flexibility to switch using the same cut into another dish and its ability to use all parts of the animal into something substantial. Bones are turned into stock necessary for stir-fry and hearty noodle soup for snacks or as a second appetizer prior to lunch or dinner.  Expensive cuts are cut thinly and stir-fried with several other kinds of vegetable or dried delicacies available in the region or province, thus feeding a table of ten or twelve.  Rice is also a staple and rice is served alongside fiery dishes.

This dish was lifted from a Szechwan Cookbook I kept for so many years, but really couldn’t seem to comprehend the ingredients. After finally eating in an authentic Szechwan restaurant, I was able to mix and match items sold in oriental stores, digging over endless spices and preserved vegetables. There are a lot more information one can imagine and Chinese cooking techniques to absorb and learn, and this is a very good start. All dishes can be described as sweet, nutty to ultimately spicy.  I bought about three sauces to begin with, a pack of dried chili and mushroom and have tried more to that effect each night. I’ve fallen in love with Szechwan stir-fry as much as Spanish Tapas.  It’s one way of saving the stock and making use of pork and beef neck bones besides turning them into a very plain,  familiar and common Filipino dish.

Stir-fry is very, very filling, easy to assemble, simple, and new to my palate (Szechwan, that is).  Moreover, I also discovered how to tenderize meat the Chinese way, and that in itself was major headway to storing meat longer in the fridge without spoiling and stretching  a particular cut into another equally spectacular dish.  The procedure readily available online, but I still wrote  down the step-by-step procedure as I have perceived and learned from watching it. There were still some tricks to achieve that silky and extremely tender meat to the bite.


  • Lean Pork, cut into shreds
  • Canola Oil or Peanut Oil
  • Green Onion
  • Ginger, sliced as thinly as possible
  • Dried Wood Ear, soaked in warm water and cut into shreds
  • Bamboo Shoots
  • Egg (s), scrambled
  • Egg Whites
  • Shaoxing Cooking Wine
  • Light Soy Sauce
  • Spicy Sesame Oil or Regular Sesame Oil
  • Brown Sugar
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Cornstarch

Cut the lean pork into fine shreds. Meanwhile, separate the yolk from the egg white. Beat the whites, add the cornstarch and Shaoxing Cooking Wine. Add the pork shreds and marinade for about an hour.

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Start a pot of boiling water and blanch the pork shreds until tender. Strain, but don’t rinse. Blanch one more time until the texture become soft and silky.

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Heat a wok until smoking. Scramble the egg yolk and set aside. Wipe the wok clean, add more oil and stir-fry the ginger and green onion, Add the pork, cooking wine,  soy sauce and sugar followed by the wood ear and bamboo shoots.  Season to taste, and drizzle with sesame oil before serving.

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