June 4, 2013 by Kai Chan
It’s been a while since I’ve posted any Chinese recipes. This particular recipe is a bit esoteric relative to standard Chinese food fare in the United States. Kudos to those who are familiar with the secret main ingredient for this recipe.
Ang chow is the fermented rice residue of Fuzhou red rice wine, which the resourceful Fuzhou people would use in cooking. I’ve seen my mom make red rice wine in the past, however, this seems to be a dying tradition that is rarely passed down to younger Fuzhou generations since it requires time and patience in order to ferment the wine. The main ingredients to make the rice wine is glutinous rice, red yeast rice and a starter (something called wine cake). After the fermentation is done, the ang chow is strained from the red rice wine. There are a few specialty Chinese stores that sell them but it is typically not sold in the average Chinese market.
The color of ang chow can be off-putting as it is bright red with black speckles. However, the flavor is complex with sweet, savory and pungent undertones. Ang chow can be used for meats and vegetables. It pairs very well with subtle ingredients, such as radishes and chicken, so that its robust flavor can be showcased without any adulteration or distraction.
On a side note, there is an old Fuzhou tradition to use ang chow when stewing chicken for women who had just given birth. The living conditions were different then in China and mortality rates were higher for new borns. As a result, new moms were fed plentiful of stewed chicken so both new mom and baby would not be malnourished. My mom did that for my sister when she had her two kids even though my sister lives in New York, the center of food world and full of food delivery. It’s amazing how stubborn Asian moms can be…
1 medium white radish (daikon), sliced into 3/4″ sticks
2 tablespoons canola oil (other light oils can be substituted)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1-1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water and 2 tablespoons water (for cornstarch slurry)
Yields 2-4 servings.
Wash and peel the radish. Slice the radish into 3/4″ sticks.
Heat up the canola oil in a saute pan over medium to high heat. Add the ang chow and radish and mix well.Cook the radish in ang chow for a couple of minutes until the liquid from the radish starts to release and the ang chow sauce starts to bubble.
Mix the cornstarch with the 2 tablespoons of water to make a cornstarch slurry and add it to the pan, stirring rapidly to avoid lumps. The sauce will thicken up within the minute and the dish is now ready to eat! The flavors may seem weird to you when you first try it, but it will become addictive.