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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Fried Chicken Roll (Gi Jien)

This is a famous dish at our family Thanksgivings. A Taiwanese favorite, this is a hearty dish commonly wrapped in tofu skin instead of seaweed. But, I learned it from my wife's family and they do it with seaweed. I've done it both ways and will tell you about it.

From a taste perspective, I don't have a preference - they're both really good. From a prep perspective, the seaweed is much easier to work with, and your margin for error is much higher. Seaweed needs a simple bit of moisture to be pliable, and it can be overcooked, undercooked or perfectly cooked without any problems. Tofu skins, on the other hand, require a much longer moisture transfer (usually by a wet towel), and if they're not cooked long enough or on a high heat, the skins are tough and chewy.

My advice is to try both, and see what you like. If you use tofu skins, you might prefer a partial deep-fry (i.e., 1/2 deep of oil in a pan), instead of a slightly-oiled pan fry that can work with the seaweed quite easily, but doesn't provide ample oil coverage for a good, rounded cook of the tofu skin.

Also, if you want to prepare this dish, you're going to need to get into an Asian grocery store. Granted, I don't think Koreans or Japanese have this dish, but you can still find all you'll need in any variation of Asian markets.

You'll need:

1 lb Fish cake
1 lb Ground pork
1 large or 2 small Carrot
1 Onion
4 Tbs cornstarch
3 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs sesame oil
salt & pepper
seaweed and/or tofu skins

First thing you want to do is chop up the fish cake into tiny little pieces. Some people make this dish with fish paste (purchased from an Asian market) instead of chopped fish cake. I prefer chopped fish cake, but again, try both and see what you like. Put the fish cake into a large bowl, add the ground pork. Finely shred and chop a carrot and onion, and add that into the bowl. In a small bowl, mix the cooking wine, sugar, cornstarch, sesame oil, salt and pepper. Pour that into the largest bowl. Mix all of this really well.

Get a large cutting board and lay a damp paper towel on top. Have an extra damp paper towel nearby. Lay a sheet of seaweed down on the towel, then lay the other paper towel on top. Moisten the seaweed until pliable.

Scoop a portion of the fishcake mixture onto the seaweed and roll it. For you people out there aware of how to roll a burrito, now's your chance to use the skill on a Chinese dish. Roll it, set it aside, and do it again.

Once you've rolled all your rolls, you'll want to heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, and put a few in, side-by-side. Roll them ever minute or so, and you'll take about 7-10 minutes to cook them through.

Once cooked, remove them to a cutting board, and slice into thick rounds. These are really good with catsup for dipping.


~ Brock

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