It’s NOT Chinese, really!

I have always been amazed at the Jewish obsession with Chinese cooking. Even a Web Comic I read, Carry On, poked fun at this concept with a fun buffet. Now, I personally love the concept of this buffet, myself. In fact, it seems like a few of these dishes could even be made into Good… Wait! I’m not Alton Brown! Now, it’s not going to be a trademarked phrase! No, it’ll be better! It’s going to be KOSHER!!!

Now, urban legend says the start of the Jewish obsession with Chinese stems from two routes. The first is the simple fact that on Christmas, the only restaurants that used to be open were the Chinese restaurants. As such, it became a tradition to take over the town and eat out at Chinese restaurants on this day. Now, the second part comes from the Jewish obsession with pork. It’s forbidden, it’s not to be eaten, but that doesn’t stop us from eating it. Now, Chinese restaurant owners knew this, as the legend goes, and many would label pork dishes as ‘meat’ on the days Jews were most likely to dine there. Everyone knew it was pork, but due to the loophole of not ‘knowing’ it was pork… The passion was born.

Let’s start with the Rabbi Tsao’s Chicken, since we’re using a comic as a partial guide, this seems a good starting point. Now, General Tso’s Chicken is NOT from China. In fact, it was made in the good ‘ol USA in old New York. Peng’s Restaurant on East 44th Street, & New York’s Shun Lee Palaces East (155 E. 55th St.) and West (43 W. 65th St.) both claim to be the creators of this new culinary delight. But, whether you call it General Gau’s, General Tao’s, General George’s, General Zhou’s, or General Chicken, it all tastes very good. A staple in most Chinese restaurants, this is a surprisingly easy dish to make.

We want to start by stirring 1/2 Cup Cornstarch into Egg Substitute for 3 Eggs, or 3 Beaten Eggs. Next we’ll take 1 pd. boneless chicken thighs, cubed and toss in the cornstarch & egg mixture. If you want, you can use chicken breasts, but I just prefer dark meat, myself. Call it a quirk. Now, start warming about an inch of vegetable oil in a wok. If your chicken stuck together, add a few drizzles of oil onto the chicken to separate it.

As the oil warms, let’s make our sauce! In a small bowl, we want to mix 2 Teaspoons Cornstarch, 1 1/2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar, 2 Tablespoons Rice Wine, 3 Tablespoons Sugar, & 3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce. Set aside for now, and begin to fry the chicken in small batches until the chicken is cooked all the way thro. Taking the pieces out of the oil, set them on cooling racks over paper towels to drain off grease.

From here, we can toss it on the fridge until we want to cook, but let’s assume we’re going right onto the cooking stage. With just a little bit of oil left in the wok (Think 3-4 Tablespoons), toss all the chicken into the wok and let it cook by stir frying it to a golden brown. When golden, pour the sauce over the chicken and continue to cook the chicken until the sauce carmelizes. This could take only a minute, or up to 5 minutes! You just have to watch it and be patient. After cooking, serve over noodles or rice for an excellent dinner for you and your family!

Now, let’s take a side step to a dish that many eat, but is oh, so trayfe: Crab Rangoon. This appetizer, at its core, has crab, or shellfish. And, as we know, that’s bad juju for Kosher eating. But, it doesn’t have to be this way! In fact, with a little tweaking, we could even make Salmon Rangoon! Now, wouldn’t that be tasty? Now, before we begin, let me assure you all that this is another non-Chinese dish that everyone thinks is Chinese. In fact, the dish supposedly comes from the Trader Vic’s restaurants! None the less, the dish is ingrained into American Culture as Chinese, so here it’ll stay.

To start, we want to combine 8 Ounces Cream Cheese with 8 Ounces Canned Flaked Salmon, Drained in a food processor until blended. If the cream cheese is being stubborn, blend in 1-2 teaspoons of milk just to help it blend easier. To this we’re going to pour in each of the remaining ingredients in one at a time: 1/2 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce, 1/2 Teaspoon Soy Sauce, 1/8 Teaspoon Freshly Ground White Pepper, 1 1/2 Minced Green Onions, 1 Minced Garlic Clove, & 1 Teaspoon Chopped Red Onion.

We next want to prepare the wonton wrappers. You need 1 Package of Wonton Wrappers for these appetizers. You can either make these or buy them. However you get your wrappers, it’s food prep time! Lay the wontons all flat on a cookie sheet or cutting board, and wet the edges ever so gently. Next, using a teaspoon scoop, drop a dollop of the filling in the center of each wonton. Spread the filling slightly, then bring all the corners of each wonton together into a sort of pyramid shape and seal it tightly. If you need to, feel free to add a tiny bit more water to the edges to help them seal better.

Now, from here you want to heat up the wok again with another 1-2 inches of vegetable oil in the wok. Now, sliding about 5-10 Rangoons in at a time, Let them cook for about 3-5 minutes, or until the wontons reach a nice crispy golden brown color. You want to make sure to flip the rangoons over after the first two minutes, so they cook evenly all over. After cooking, once again drain on a cooking rack with paper towels underneath to drain the oil off these appetizers.

I’m going to pause here, in the tour of Chinese (Or what we THINK of as Chinese) cooking, for now. But, I do want to point out that any hard to find Kosher Asian ingredients I’ve mentioned can be ordered from IMO Kosher. An excellent source of Kosher Asian foods, I fully support calling them up for any and all Kosher needs. Until next time, Shalom and Good Cooking!

September 27, 2006. main courses, recipes, side dishes.

One Comment

  1. Chesch replied:

    can you modify the General’s chicken to not have Soy Sauce in it? (Allergies)

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