Have you ever participated in celebrating the annual Mid-Autumn Festival? It’s the second most important holiday in the Chinese calendar second to the Chinese New Year. Families reunite to celebrate and give thanks for the harvest. I was one of the group of bloggers invited by Kian Lam Kho, the author of Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees cookbook, to participate in the Mid-Autumn Festival Blog Feast. Each one of us was to create a festive dish from one of the suggested recipes in the cookbook and share it with our family and readers. I chose to share the Stir-Fried Beef with Black Pepper Recipe. Cooking a recipe from this cookbook was really out of my comfort zone. Although I have eaten Chinese food before, I never tasted authentic Chinese food, let alone cook it.
Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees cookbook
I was excited when I received my copy of Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees. The name intrigued me, and then while reading the cookbook, I discovered that “Phoenix Claws” is a synonym for chicken feet and “Jade Trees” is used for gailan, or Chinese Broccoli. It’s quite an impressive cookbook featuring the essential techniques to cooking classic Chinese cuisine. The Regional Chinese Cuisine section is all about regional flavours and other sections include dining customs, pantry ingredients and kitchen tools. The recipes are well written and explained with step-by-step colour photos. The colour photos throughout the cookbook are stunning.
Of course, I didn’t have any of the ingredients listed in the recipe in my pantry, so I headed off to the supermarket with list in hand. How naïve was I to think I would find all these ingredients at the supermarket? After touring a few supermarkets, I went home with only the beef tenderloin and soya sauce. I finally located an Asian food store where I bought the rest of the ingredients, oyster sauce, Shaoxing cooking wine, dark soya sauce and tapioca starch. When I walked into the food store, I was amazed at the shelves of different sauces and ingredients foreign to me. I explored every aisle while looking for the items on my list. The aisles posted Chinese signs and if not with the help of a store clerk, I would have been wandering around the store all day long and left empty handed. It was quite the shopping experience.
Stir-Fried Beef with Black Pepper Recipe
When I arrived home, I was excited to start cooking! I don’t have a wok so I improvised with my stainless steel frying pan. When all the ingredients were sliced, measured, and the sauces prepared, I began to stir-fry the beef. I followed the recipe exactly as written and the dish came together quite quickly. The whole kitchen was filled with the wonderful smell of the stir-fried beef mixed with garlic, ginger and fragrant sauces.
It was challenging to photograph this dish, so this photo doesn’t give the recipe the credit it deserves. My youngest daughter came over for supper that night, and we all sat together to enjoy the meal I made to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival. I served it with rice and steamed book choy. We all loved the flavours and texture of the dish. It was so good that my daughter asked me if I really made it. I see a wok in my future.
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing cooking wine
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon tapioca starch
- 12 ounces beef tenderloin, cut against the grain into ⅛-inch-thick slices
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing cooking wine
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ⅓ cup beef stock (see page 89) or water
- 1 teaspoons starch
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 6 thin slices fresh ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 medium onion, cut into ⅛-in-thick slices
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely cracked
- Cilantro sprigs
- In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the velveting mixture and mix well. Add the beef and mix well. Let marinate for 20 minutes
- Mix the sauce ingredients in another bowl.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over high heat until it begins to shimmer, about 350 degrees F. Add the beef to the work and quickly fry it for about 1 minute, until the meet is about three-quarters done of the exterior has turned brown. Remove the beef from the wok and place it in a skimmer over a bowl to drain off the excess oil.
- Pour the oil out of the work, reserving 2 tablespoons, and quick rinse the bottom of the wok with water, scraping off any residue that's stuck there.
- Dry the wok and return it to the heat Return the reserved 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to the wok. Add the ginger, garlic, and onion to the work Stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Return the beef to the wok and add the black peppercorns. Stir-fry for about 15 seconds, then add the sauce mixture. Cook until the sauce thicken, about 2 minutes. Serve with cilantro sprigs.
Mooncake is the traditional pastry served at the end of the Mid-Autumn Festival meal. They’re made in a special mooncake mold and are filled with a sweet filling such as lotus seed paste or red bean paste. You can find the Midnight Moon in a Cake at Kian Cho Kho’s website, Red Cook.
The Gardens of Light Festival
The Gardens of Light lantern exhibition is held in Montreal at the Botanical Gardens every year to coincide with Mid-Autumn Festival. Multi-coloured lanterns, in animal shapes and figures adorn the gardens. It’s such a beautiful site to see the bright glittering lights while strolling through the gardens. I went a few years ago for the first time, and am planning to go back this year.
Many thanks to Kian Lam Kho and Clarkson Potter for giving me the opportunity to participate in the Mid-Autumn Festival Blog Feast. It introduced me to cooking authentic Chinese cuisine, discover a Chinese market, and ingredients which are now in my pantry.
Give-away is now closed.
You too can celebrate the Mid-Autumn Harvest Festival by cooking authentic Chinese recipes from the Phoenix Claws and Jade Tree cookbook. Clarkson Potter is offering a copy of the cookbook for a give-away.
To be eligible for the give-away:
- Leave a comment below on which is your favourite Chinese dish
- Like My Cookbook Addiction Facebook page
Comments close on October 2nd, 2016.
Give-away is open to Canadian residents only, 18 years or older.
Cookbook will be shipped by Clarkson Potter.
Recipe was printed with permission by Kian Lam Kho and Clarkson Potter.
Mooncake photo by Doan Tran Duy.
I received a copy of he Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees from Clarkson Potter for review. As always, the opnions are my own.