Chopped Canada’s fourth season started on Food Network Canada on September 3. Mystery ingredients for various courses premiere included haggis, mountain yam root, gai lan (Chinese mustard greens) and fruit ring cereal (i.e. Froot Loops – YUCK!!!). For my meal idea, I’ve decided make a (fake/fantasy) main course out of the round 2 basket, consisting of gai lan, Du Puy lentils, beef cheeks and peanut butter powder.
Let me start by saying that I don’t eat peanuts due to a sensitivity issue, but I have no problems with it being around – my issues aren’t airborne. Anyway, let’s just ignore this and PRETEND. PRETEND I have no problems with ANY of the ingredients. Well, what would I make? Definitely some sort of casserole dish – inspired by Hong Kong diner (cha chaan teng) food. However, I’m going to make it more Jook Sing (hollow bamboo – a reference to westernized Chinese – those who are too Anglo to be culturally Chinese, but ethnically Chinese, and thus, not Anglo. Meant to be a slur, but many embrace it as an identity, including yours truly). The casserole I’m going to make will include both proteins (lentils and beef cheeks), crushed tomatoes and a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella cheese. It is then placed in the oven at 350 F for about 20 minutes. At the same time, I get the quinoa cooking.Fresh gai lan
While the casserole is in the oven, I’m going to get started with the gai lan and powdered peanut butter. There are two things that come to mind with gai lan – either stir-fried with beef (basically the “real” version of beef and broccoli) or as a side to wonton soup noodles at one of those hole-in-the-wall joints in Scarborough, Markham or Chinatown (where the REAL hole-in-the-wall joints are located. The ones in Scarborough and Markham just THINK they are (and make themselves LOOK like they are)). Before blanching the gai lan, I start on its sauce. Traditionally, either oyster sauce or soy sauce is used, but for this dish, it will be accompanied with a peanut butter-enhanced mushroom sauce.
To start the mushroom sauce, a cup of mushroom broth is added to a saucepan. Once it comes to a rolling boil, a little bit of corn flour and a tablespoon of powdered peanut butter are added to thicken it up. It is then set aside. In boiling water, the already-rinsed gai lan are placed in for blanching. Once done, the vegetables are taken out, plated and the peanut butter and mushroom gravy topped on it. The meat and lentil casserole is then served alongside the gai lan and the quinoa.
I often wonder what my relatives REALLY think of me eating more alternative “grains” (yes, I realize quinoa isn’t really a grain, but a seed. However, it’s treated like one, so we’ll just leave it at that) opposed to rice or even wheat. I know the older ones must think I’m crazy. However, my issues with older relatives and food are a whole other story – one which I’ve discussed in the past. Anyway, who cares what they think? As long as it’s something good. As for what Chopped (Canada) judges will think about a dish like that? Well, it’s up to them to decide!