Friday, September 23, 2016

Ginger Scallion Sauce

I discovered this magical condiment at a little restaurant in San Francisco's Chinatown called Joy Hing BBQ Noodle House. I'm pretty sure the owners are from Hong Kong, but the restaurant is best known for its Pho Ga, the magical elixir that is Vietnamese chicken noodle soup. Yes, the broth is delicious. Yes, the poached chicken is tender and perfectly seasoned. But what makes people go crazy for the soup at this particular restaurant is the Ginger Scallion sauce. I always ask for extra when I go there, but now I'm making it myself. I might have to make a double or triple batch next time. 

The sauce is Cantonese and usually served with poached chicken, but you can put it on tofu, rice, scrambled eggs, or just about anything else. It takes just a few minutes to make and a few more to steep. 

  • about 1 oz ginger (a 3 in by 1.5 in knob is about right).
  • about 4 oz scallions, aka green onions, washed. The ones in this pic were pretty big, so I just needed 4. You'd usually need more like 5 or 6. 
  • 1/2 cup peanut oil (not the roasted peanut kind) or some other unflavored oil like avocado or grapeseed--peanut is more traditional, but avocado is probably better for you if current research is correct
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tsp fine salt--use less if you're sensitive to salt or don't like things salty, more if you love it like I do

For food processor:  
  1. Peel the ginger and cut into roughly 1/2 inch pieces. Forward this video of Martin Yan to about 0:45 to see how to do it with a spoon, and keep watching to see some mad knife skillz!
  2. Cut the scallions into 1 inch pieces, cutting off only any blackish bits. The rest can go in. 
  3. Toss the ginger into the food processor and blitz it until it's finely minced but not yet pureed. This won't take long, so don't walk away!
  4. Remove the ginger and do the same with the scallions. You don't have to wash out the food processor bowl in between since it's all going in the same bowl. Yay! 
  5. Put the ginger and scallions in a bowl that is heatproof and will hold at least four cups, maybe more. It's important to use a larger bowl than you think in case the oil bubbles up a lot when you pour it in. Please don't hurt yourself! 
  6. Stir the salt in with the scallions and ginger.
  7. Put the oil in a small pot and heat it just until a small piece of scallion sizzles when you put it in the oil. 
  8. Carefully pour the oil over the ginger scallion mix and stir well. Let sit for about 15 minutes to cool and blend the flavors together. 

By hand: 
  1. Peel and mince the ginger very finely.
  2. Keep showing off your amazing knife skills by mincing the scallions very finely. 
  3. Pat yourself on the back and see steps 5-8 above :)

Macaron Class at Bonbini SF

For a while, I've been interested in making macaron, those delightful little cookies made with almond flour and meringue, sandwiched with ganache or buttercream...yes, you can get some frozen at Trader Joe's that aren't so bad, or some refrigerated ones from Costco that are actually quite good, but you know, I like to try things out. They're rather technical, though, so I decided to look for a class one day and found that the lovely Thip of Bonbini SF offers them every Sunday in San Francisco! I've been practicing at home like a good student, much to the delight of my coworkers.
The class was capped at 8 people, cost $85 for three hours, and included hands-on participation as well as some demos. Chef Thip organized the time very well, starting right on time and leaving time for tasting at the end.
She had pre-measured amounts of almond flour, egg whites, confectioners' sugar and food color so that we could work in pairs to learn the proper folding technique after watching her demo. Had I not learned from her that it's OK to really smear it in this case, I would have struggled for much longer with it when trying at home and messed up a few extra batches.
We then learned how to make an Italian meringue, and I definitely benefited from the demo from a professional even though it was something I'd done before. She also explained why it was preferable to a French meringue for macarons, despite the macaron being a French cookie. The great pastry chef Francois Payard is also of this opinion, and now I understand why. Sign up for the class to learn! I still covet her powerful KitchenAid, much as I love my smaller one.
We got to work with our partners to fold in the meringue until achieving proper macaronage, pipe out the macarons and put them together with different flavors of ganache. My partner and I got the tastiest one, in my opinion, lemon poppyseed. These last few steps left my hands a little too sticky for taking photos, but Thip's instructions (and recipes for cookies and fillings) left me with the confidence to give it a try at home. Plus, a very generous snack on the way to my next stop for the day! If that wasn't enough, she was gracious enough to tell us to email her with questions and pictures, and I have taken her up on her offer as I work on my technique.
Pictured: Raspberry Rose, Chocolate Mint, Lemon Poppyseed, and Salted Caramel flavors.