Chinese Cooking - Mandarin Style

Welcome to Beijing, home of the Forbidden City where the Mandarin style of Chinese cooking was created almost 600 years ago. Sometimes called the food of the emperors, Mandarin cooking strives to achieve harmony through contrast, a sort of yin and yang approach to cooking that involves pairing crispy textures with smooth ones, sweet with sour, and contrasting colors and aromas. Typical dishes include Peking duck and hot and sour soup.

Honey Glazed Citrus Chicken

Lots of flavor and color contrasts here: sweet-sour sauce of lemon juice and honey, a crunchy coating of panko bread crumbs, and a bright garnish of oranges and melon.

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Marinade

2 tablespoons oyster flavored sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Sauce

1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons chicken broth
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel or orange peel
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Cooking oil for deep-frying
Cornstarch for dry-coating
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
2 oranges, segmented
1/2 cup diced honeydew melon
1/2 cup diced cantaloupe

Method

  1. Place chicken pieces between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and pound lightly with flat side of a mallet until about l/4 inch thick. Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl. Add chicken and stir to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes. Combine sauce ingredients in a saucepan; set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a wok to 350° F. Dredge chicken in cornstarch; shake to remove excess. Dip into egg, drain briefly, then coat with panko. Deep-fry chicken, turning once, and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove and drain on paper towels.
  3. Heat sauce over medium heat and cook, stirring, until sauce boils and thickens. Add orange segements, honeydew melon and cantaloupe; cook until heated through.
  4. To serve, cut chicken into bite-size pieces, arrange on a plate, and pour sauce over the top.

Adapted from Martin Yan's Culinary Journey Through China (KQED Books) by Martin Yan

Brazed Orange Duck

A simpler spin on the Peking classic, this tender duckling has a rich brown skin and is served with a citrusy braising sauce.

Makes: 6 to 8 servings

Cooking time: 2 hours

Ingredients

1 duckling (4 to 5 pounds), cleaned
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon each dark soy sauce and honey

Braising Sauce

2-1/2 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 cups fresh orange juice
3 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 tablespoons each lemon juice, soy sauce, and packed brown sugar
1 piece dried tangerine peel

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 shallots, sliced
2 tablespoons each brandy and Triple Sec
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 teaspoon water

Preparation

  1. Cut off and discard excess neck skin from duck. Remove and discard fat from around body cavity; cut off tail. Prick duck all over with a bamboo skewer.
  2. Place duck in a large pot with enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Carefully lift out duck and place in a colander; rinse under cold running water. Drain and pat dry, inside and out. Sprinkle duck inside and out with salt and pepper.
  3. Combine vinegar, soy sauce and honey; mix well. Brush mixture on duck to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 6 hours.
  4. Combine braising sauce ingredients in a bowl; mix well and set aside.

Cooking

  1. Place duck, breast side up, on a rack over a foil-lined baking pan. Roast in a 435° F oven for 30 minutes or until skin is lightly browned.
  2. Place a heavy pot (large enough to hold duck) over high heat until hot. Add oil, swirling to coat sides. Add shallots; cook, stirring, until limp and translucent. Stir in brandy and then braising sauce. Lower duck into pot. Ladle some of the sauce into duck body cavity and over duck. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Cover and simmer, turning occasionally, for 1-1/4 hours or until duck is tender and skin is a rich brown.
  3. Lift out duck, drain and place on a serving platter.
  4. Slowly bring remaining sauce to a boil. Stir in Triple Sec and cornstarch solution. Cook, stirring, until sauce boils and thickens slightly. Pour sauce over duck and serve.

From The Chinese Chef by Martin Yan (Doubleday) Copyright Yan Can Cook Inc., 1985