Poaching and braising

Poaching and braising

By
Jeremy Pang
Contains
10 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
978 184949 5745
Photographer
Martin Poole

The vast majority of Chinese cooking methods, like those that we have already touched on, tend to be incredibly quick ways of cooking. While these may be the most commonly used methods of cooking in restaurants and takeaways, prized for their quick-turnover nature, Chinese home cooking also allows for slower processes like poaching and braising. These techniques are great for getting different textures and flavours into your dish – with both relying on hot, bubbling liquids surrounding the ingredients inside the cooking vessel as their main source of heat for cooking.

Poaching is used commonly when trying to preserve an ingredient’s natural flavour and texture, while braising is a slower cooking method, often used to infuse additional and intense flavours into the ingredient, as well as its surrounding cooking liquid, over a long period of time.

Poaching: A step-by-step guide

Poaching or ‘soft boiling’ is a very time-sensitive cooking method – think about the difference between hard-boiling or soft-boiling an egg, for instance. If you know what texture you are aiming to produce from your main ingredient, it will directly reflect how long you poach it for. The most common way to poach something, whether in a wok or a saucepan, is to:

Fill a pan with water, either with added ingredients to flavour the water (such as ginger, spring onion, garlic or star anise) or without, depending on your recipe.

Add your ingredient to the water and apply heat to the pan to seal in the flavour. (Note: some ingredients seal better by placing them directly into boiling water whereas other ingredients turn out better poaching from cold water).

Continue to poach your ingredient until it is cooked through, following the specific recipes to begin with in order to understand cooking times.

Braising: A step-by-step guide

Braising is essentially a simple form of double-cooking, where the main ingredients are often sealed in a light coating of oil before liquid is added to the pan. This initial searing process will help the ingredients retain their natural moisture and flavour. Over time, while braising, these flavours will begin to infuse into the liquid they are being cooked in, and vice-versa, resulting in a flavoursome dish. Generally, braising methods follow these simple principles:

Heat 1–2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy-based saucepan or clay pot to medium heat.

Add your spices or marinated meats.

Add a sauce, braising liquid or stock to the pan.

Bring to the boil and simmer for as long as the ingredients will stay together.

Recipes in this Chapter

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