From Guangdong to Gowanus

In the last post I alluded to a Korean feast, which took place last Saturday, but I just had a few people over for dinner, and I have to blog about it ASAP.

I made a dish that I’d been intending to serve at the Korean feast, but didn’t. It was from the Mind Body and Seoul feature in the March ’09 issue of Gourmet: Warm Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce.


Tofu that tempts the staunchest of carnivores.

Tofu that tempts the staunchest of carnivores.

You can get the recipe from the link (above) to, but I will give you the shorthand here. This dish is super-easy to preapre. I made the sauce in advance, but if you’re doing it all at once, you start with simmering the tofu. You just put the tofu in a pot, cover it with water, and bring to a boil. Once boiling you turn the heat down very low, and it can just sit there until you’re ready to serve. Perfect for company—talk about low maintenance! Meanwhile, you make a sauce of some usual suspects: sesame oil, garlic, soy sauce, sesame seeds, scallions… The recipe calls for special “Korean” red pepper flakes, but I just used some plain old crushed red pepper, and it was delightful. I never thought I’d see my guests work up so much enthusiasm for tofu! It was so tender. Even though the tofu is just covered in sauce and doesn’t marinade, it is very flavorful.

The other main dish was Guangdong-style steamed fish. On a recent trip to China, my friends and I had steamed fish almost everywhere we went. It’s something I’d never made for myself, but it is a lovely preparation for fish. I don’t have a bamboo steamer at home, and I thought this was something I’d need to get, but then I saw this AMAZING video on hulu. 


Chef Cheng makes it look so easy. I thought, hey, I can do that! I loved how she made a makeshift steamer. I bought some Tilapia filets at Park Slope Seafood and gave it a try. I have to say, it really was as easy as she makes it look. I mean, it takes some time and a little skill, but it’s really not too complicated. I had a hard time finding Shao Hsing rice wine, but the man at the Prospect Wine Shop said a dry sherry would be as good, if not better. It took me about 10 minutes to prep, and 15 minutes to steam two batches of fish. I think this tickled me more than my guests, but I love the big finish where you pour hot oil over the raw scallions on the fish and hear them sizzle. The finished product was light and delicious—truly reminiscent of the steamed fish I had in China.

ChinaKorea 1 (1)

Extra bonus: my mother, who is a fantastic (fantastic!) chef rarely cooks fish, because she hates the way it tends to stink up the apartment. Steaming left absolutely no fish smell whatsoever in my apartment. The fish itself had no fishy smell, for that matter. Of course, I started with fresh fish, which helps, but the rice wine or sherry ensures that your fish will have a clean taste and no fish smell.

To round out the meal, I made some white rice and served leftovers from the Korean feast: kimchi and pickled apples and cucumbers. Among the guests was my friend Ted, who is a wine writer and always has something fabulous to drink. He brought with him a dessert wine that is worthy of its own blog post, but for now, let’s just say it was the perfect way to end an already successful meal.


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One Response to “From Guangdong to Gowanus”

  1. gurl Says:

    ting jing long lay! my sister’s favorite dish–the steamed flounder. mmmmm

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