OCN C26 A Habit Difficult to Shake

While the fight between the people that had been lured over by Misses Youya’s and the ninjas of the Si clan continued to be waged in the comment section of the channel of ‘Bright Yellow Water’, the person whose skills everyone was debating still had no idea what was going on and just continued with the live stream.

He had put the two bowls with the things he had prepared for this dish in front of him and smiled at the camera. “We will begin with the gluttonous rice dumplings. These bowls contain both the filling and the dough so we only need to shape them and then we can start with processing them.” Saying so, he took a bit of the dough, placed some of the fillings on top with a teaspoon, and then started to fold it.

“While I’m doing this, let’s already talk about the method of processing I want to demonstrate with this dish. You’ve certainly all had gluttonous rice dumplings before so you will know that they are crisp on the outside. That is something that is typical for fried foods so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that we’ll fry these dumplings afterward. To be more precise, we will be deep-frying them.”

He had already shaped the first few dumplings and put them to the side. He didn’t pause to explain anything and just focused on his introduction to the technique he wanted to use. “You probably all know that there are different methods of frying food but maybe not everyone knows which techniques there are and how exactly they differ.

“Well, let’s get the first question out of the way first: In terms of the most important frying techniques, you should know about stir-frying, pan-frying, sauteing, shallow-frying, and deep-frying. Sometimes, there are different ways of doing one of these techniques. For example, you might have heard that there are a chao and a bao technique for stir-frying.

“These kinds of sub-types will only differ in details while the general methods stay the same. To keep with the example of the stir-frying: When using the chao technique, you will slowly add different types of ingredients after each other, giving them time to develop their own fragrance. On the other hand, when using the bao technique, you will add the ingredients in a more rapid fashion and toss them together. Both techniques are done by using a wok, some cooking oil, and a high temperature though.”

He looked up at the camera and then glanced at Qian Huang to gauge how he was doing. He still seemed a little pale even though it wasn’t as bad as before. Xiao Ming looked at the dumplings he had already shaped and decided that he needed to speed up more.

Originally, he had planned to do things differently but he wasn’t willing to compromise on the health of either of his friends. He knew Qian Huang cared about the success of their channel the most but he was sure that after five years of following their streams, their viewers would understand if they had to cut one stream a little short to make sure Qian Huang could go and rest.

Ah, if he had known about this before, he would have cooked something else. It would have been nice to have something nourishing for him. Well, he could make him something else after the stream was over.

Having settled on that, Xiao Ming returned to focusing on his current task. “Well, with that, I have already mentioned the three things that make the difference between the major techniques: the cooking vessel, the amount of the oil, and the temperature.

“I’ve already mentioned what you will do for stir-frying so let’s talk about the other methods. You might be able to think of some requirements right off the bat. For example, of course, pan-frying will be done in a pan. On the other hand, deep-frying as a name already suggests that there will be a higher vessel and maybe you can even guess that there will be more oil involved compared to the other techniques. But let’s look at them one after the other and see how they are similar in some aspects while they differ in others.”

Xiao Ming finished up shaping the last dumpling and then motioned over to the stove. “I’ve finished preparing the dumplings, so let’s talk about the deep-frying first and start right away. For this technique, the most important is that the food should be completely submerged in the cooking oil. If you have, you can use a deep-fryer for that. Unfortunately, we don’t, so we’ll have to use a simple pot instead.” He took out a pot and then poured the oil in, turning on the stove.

This was something he had done many times in the past and he had long stopped missing appliances like a deep-fryer. In the beginning, when they had just started with the stream, there had been hardly enough money to pay their rent and get enough food for the whole month. There had been no way to invest in anything in the kitchen that they didn’t absolutely need.

They had needed to make do without a lot of things and find ways to work around these limitations. Things he didn’t have needed to be substituted, some recipes had to be changed a bit, and all the ingredients that they could leave out would be left out. For somebody like him who loved to cook, especially the last part of heartbreaking. He would’ve loved to experiment with all those ingredients but they were just too expensive. So he could only start with simple things.

Well, things were better by now. Buying a deep-fryer wouldn’t be impossible anymore and he had all the ingredients that he needed and could wish for. If he wanted to, he could cook three different dishes with completely different ingredients several days a week while he wouldn’t have to worry. But, well, habits tried hard.

After such a long time of being broke, he couldn’t help but use the most cost-effective way. He didn’t need a deep-fryer, he didn’t need to use the most complicated recipes with that many ingredients if he could make do with less. It had just been ingrained by now and maybe he would never get rid of that habit. After all, he had experienced how fast things could change in the past. He wasn’t willing to leave things up to fate if he could do his part to secure their future a little better.

Xiao Ming smiled nostalgically at that and then pulled the dumplings a little closer before looking up at the camera again. “Now, if you have finished preparing your dumplings, don’t just put them in. It is best to use a strainer or a similar tool to place them in and then use that to lower the dumplings into the oil. Make sure that the oil is only at about medium heat instead of high heat. If you don’t, it’s likely that the dumplings will start to burn which isn’t what we want. They’re just supposed to become crisp on the outside.”

He picked up a thermometer that was lying at the site and held it up for the viewers to see. “If you are unsure about the temperature, then it might be worthwhile to get yourself one of these. That way, you will know without a doubt whether you’ve gotten it right. It should be at about 177 to 191 degrees Celsius for deep-frying. If you don’t have a thermometer that isn’t the end of the world though. There are other ways to figure out what to do.” He put the thermometer to the side again and gave a cheeky smile before picking up a wooden spoon. “There’s a small trick you can use to gauge whether the temperature is right even without one. All you need is a spoon like this.”

Li Shui used the opportunity to zoom in slightly, feeling that Xiao Ming was likely going to demonstrate what he meant in just a minute.

He was indeed right about that. Xiao Ming motioned at the pot with the oil in front of him that was slowly warming up. “Now, you just hold the spoon into the oil. If you see little bubbles floating up, then it’s hot enough to put in the strainer.”

He gave it a try but when Li Shui zoomed in, there weren’t any bubbles yet. Xiao Ming just nodded though as if he had expected this.

“Depending on the pot you use, it’ll take a different amount of time for the oil to become hot. Just be a bit patient here. The actual deep-frying afterward will be fast and you can even reuse the oil for several batches afterward.

“Now, while we’re waiting, let me get back to talking about the other frying methods. We’ve already talked about two so there are only three left: the sauteing, the pan-frying, and the shallow-frying.

“Sauteing is actually pretty similar to stir-frying. In fact, some people might call it a western form of stir-frying. The main commonality of these two techniques is that the ingredients are usually being tossed while using high heat. Also, both methods are mainly used for ingredients that have been chopped finely.

“There are many differences as well though: While with our eastern stir-frying, we use a wok, a pan is used for sauteing. There are even special saute pans although any pan with a wide bottom and a low rim can be used. This is because for sauteing, the ingredients are supposed to all be spread in one single layer instead of like with the wok where they will be heaped up because of the smaller bottom.”

Xiao Ming stopped at that and motioned at the pot in front of him again, inserting the wooden spoon again. “Have a look at this! By now, you can see the bubbles coming up so our oil is hot enough now to deep-fry the glutinous rice dumplings.” He picked up the strainer and inserted it into the oil. “Now, deep-frying is a rather quick method so it won’t take long. In the meantime, let me finish telling you about the other two techniques.”

He smiled but couldn’t help but take a quick glance at Qian Huang again. In fact, his friend looked quite a bit better. Maybe he didn’t need to worry that much after all. Being a little reassured, he dived back into his explanation.

“The last two methods are also a bit similar to sauteing in that they are done with a pan as well. There is a difference in what type of pan to use though. I just said that for sauteing, there are special saute pans but that a ‘normal’ pan can also be used as long as it fulfills a few requirements. Now, the requirements are different when you want to pan-fry ingredients. For this method, the pan should have high sides so that the oil can’t splash as easily.

“Speaking of the oil: You need about the same amount as for sauteing which is only enough to cover the ground of the pan. The temperature you’d use is lower though. For sauteing, the heat should be just below the so-called smoking point which — unfortunately — varies from oil to oil so you might have to look it up for the one you are using.” He gave the camera an apologetic look. “It could be as low as 160 degrees Celsius but also as high as 270 degrees. There are tables with the smoking points of various well-known oils though. So maybe you could just print one out to consult when in question.

“In any case, for pan-frying, the temperature should be below 200 degrees. One major difference between pan-frying and sauteing is that when sauteing, you will first cut your ingredients while for pan-frying, you will usually take the whole ingredient. That is why this technique is usually used for meat like steaks or chicken breasts or maybe fish. If you have smaller pieces, then you should either saute them or use the shallow-frying method.

“This one is pretty similar to the pan-frying in that it also utilizes a pan and should be used with a temperature below 200 degrees, preferably somewhere between 160 to 190 degrees depending on what exactly you want to fry. The important distinction between these two techniques is that for shallow-frying, while you wouldn’t use as much oil as for deep-frying, the ingredients should still be partly submerged. Maybe up until the one-third mark.”

He turned to look at the pot in front of him and took out the strained, holding the first batch of glutinous rice dumplings that he had made into the camera. “Look at this! The first batch has finished frying. I’ll already let Li Shui and Qian Huang have a bite before this turns cold. As for the others, I’ll save them for later since we can’t eat all of them right now anyway.

“So, with this, we can already start on our second dish: the char siu buns.”

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