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Chinese fish and shellfish info Cooking Tips

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Chinese fish and shellfish info Tips and Information

Chinese fish and shellfish info and tips will help you in your cooking and food preparation.These are very useful and quite interesting information that you learn once and then apply at any time you need it.


chinese fish and shellfish info

Of the many remarkable and fortunate food experiences I had growing up as a young Chinese I count the extensive consumption of fresh fish and seafood as among the most pleasurable. In my family fish and seafood were regarded with special affection whether as part of a simple family dinner or a large banquet. The first question always asked about fish however was: How fresh is it?. From this early childhood experience I learned as do all Chinese to value good fresh fish and seafood.
Fish and seafood are a major feature of Chinese cookery. Chinas long coastline gives it access to numerous saltwater varieties and its many rivers lakes streams and canals teem with freshwater fish and seafood all year round. It is estimated that there are several hundred species of fish and seafood which are used in Chinese cookery. Most are caught wild but a few species such as carp are raised on special fish farms. We Chinese prefer that no more than a few hours elapse between the catching and cooking of fish. Indeed in many markets in Hong Kong fish is sold live. You can select the fish of your choice while it swims around in special glass tanks and then take it straight home or to a restaurant to be cooked. The accent is always on freshness.
There are many cooking techniques which the Chinese use to ensure that the flesh of the fish or shellfish retains its natural juices and flavour. Steaming is a favourite method. Many Chinese chefs consider this to be the ideal way of cooking fish. It allows the fragrance and natural flavours of the fish to develop while at the same time preserving the delicate texture moistness and shape of the fish. Quickbraising is another popular method and deepfrying and shallowfrying are also often used.
The Chinese prefer to cook fish whole although fish fillets and steaks can be satisfactorily used instead. We believe that the flesh remains moist and the flavour is best when the whole fish is used head and tail included. To serve a fish whole is also a symbol of prosperity. The head of the fish should always point in the direction of the guest of honour a courtesy that assures him or her good fortune.
Seafood is especially important in Chinese cuisine. Prawns oysters scallops crab lobster squid and abalone are just some of .the most popular varieties. Because seafood is so delicate it requires a minimum amount of handling and the simplest preparation. The most common techniques used are Stir frying steaming deepfrying and braising. Recipes for seafood are usually interchangeable; what works for prawns will work just as well for crab lobster or scallops.
When fresh seafood is not available Chinese cooks make imaginative use of dried seafood as the main ingredient or as a flavouring in soups stirfried dishes braised dishes and stuffings. Drying concentrates the flavours of the seafood as well as preserving it.
The Chinese try to complement the delicate flavour texture and colour of fish and seafood with contrasting flavourings and textures. For example in the dish Sweet and Sour Prawns the subtle taste and crisp texture of the prawns contrast nicely with the tasty spiciness of the sauce. Most Chinese recipes call for fresh uncooked prawns. This will prove difficult for British cooks since most prawns are sold cooked and are often frozen as well. If you are forced to use cooked prawns look for the best and largest variety you can find and just heat them through instead of cooking them for the full length of time called for in the recipe. Crabs can sometimes still be bought live or at least freshly cooked. Instructions for dealing with live crab and crab cooked in the shell are given on page 181.
Fortunately the fish situation is much brighter. Cod and haddock are available everywhere and are perfect for deepfrying Stir frying or braising. Plaice Dover sole lemon sole and flounder are perfect for steaming. Oily fish such as red mullet carp and eel are best braised and trout should be shallowfried. Get to know your fishmonger and be assertive in asking for the freshest fish and seafood. Fresh fish should be firm have clear eyes bright gills and a shiny sheen to the skin. Seafood should be firm and not smell fishy. Learn to be as finicky about selecting fish and seafood as the Chinese are. It will open up a whole new world of flavour for you.
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