- Posted November 28, 2013 by
Where Is The Turkey in a Chinese Restaurant?
Have you ever looked on a Chinese menu and sought turkey of some shape or form only soon to realize that it does not exist? Turkey is not an indiginous animal in China and consequently has never been a part of the menu cuisine. It was only after the migration to the Americas where throngs of Chinese people came to live did the notion of eating turkey even exist.
Additionally, cooking turkey does not fit into the normal method of Chinese cooking techniques in a kitchen. The traditional sauces along with steaming, baking or stir frying meats just does not fit well. However there are close similarities to the preparation of other fowl that can utilize their respective techniques.
Duck, for example can be used where the skin is a meal unto itself and the bone and carcass can then become its own dish. Stir frying the meat separately with vegetables is the way that many Chinese restaurants incorporate Peking Duck without wasting precious parts. Since the skin is the main attraction, the meat then becomes a side dish with the bones as a soup stock ingredient.
The carcass of the turkey actually throughout the years of Chinese American households has always served as an excellent soup-porridge that is prepared later after dessert and all the other eatings have taken place. It is made with rice that thickens up the soup mixed with green onions, sesame oil, soy sauce, and even fermented bean curd. This is called "jook" in Cantonese and posses a soothing, medicinal purpose in aiding in the digestive process after a full day of feasting.
Ironically, the preparation of the turkey itself can be done American style with the porride saved for later. There is a Chinese specialty called "Beggar's Chicken" that is a delightful delicacy prepared with meat stuffing and cloud ear, golden lillies, and turnips that are sauteed together and placed back inside the chicken to cook again with the meat offering savory flavors. A turkey can be done in a similar way and baked in an oven over a 3-4 hour time frame.
The moistness of the stuffing whether it be for chicken or turkey is an important part of the cooking process in order to preserve the flavor and essence of the meal. Creativity has encroached upon the Chinese kitchens throughout the world and turkey is no different. So lo and behold, turkey does exist as a Chinese food given a little imagination and preparation and planning.
So when you are eating Chinese food the next time, do not hesitate to ask about a more creative approach to different dishes that might not be on the menu. It might just be the next delicacy that is featured on "The Iron Chef".
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