It’s been my family’s turkey for vacation since we moved back from Taiwan in the mid 80’s. I took a hint from the many recipes of China’s “Eight Duck Treasures” and very quickly started relying on a Shanghai-style bite and a sticky Cantonese rice filling to make this regular American bird something my extended Chinese family (and frankly, each) of my relatives) admires.
This basta is quite simple because it is nothing more than a good Chinese soy sauce, shoxing rice wine, fresh ginger and toasted sesame oil. But a strange alchemy then takes over in the oven, as the sugars in the soy sauce are bound together with the turkey juices themselves to soothe the bird. You end up with a glossy mahogany lacquer that tastes as good as it looks. You will also notice that the skin has a wonderfully lumpy pattern thanks to all the whole garlic cloves stuck under it, both seasoning the flesh and also drying the skin for a delightful crunch. (See this recipe for a chicken recipe that uses the same technique.) The aroma while the turkey is cooking will make you weaken your knees – and draw each of your guests to the kitchen.
Although a bread filling is not recognized in China, poultry filled with highly seasoned rice have been a favorite feast in many areas of the country for centuries. So I did nothing particularly clever here other than follow in the footsteps of those great Chinese cooks who think – like me – that too much of the good thing is just the right amount. That’s why we have Cantonese charcuterie here that spices the rice, as well as dried mushrooms and chestnuts.
When it comes to ingredients, note that I am especially calling for a Chinese soy sauce, which is darker, richer and thicker than its Japanese equivalent or dates, and definitely worth a look. While you are shopping, look for some wine for Shaoxing rice cooking, as it is becoming more and more available in the United States. (These two ingredients can be found in a well-stocked Chinese grocery store, as well as online. Be sure to scroll to the end for a suggested list of substitutes for many of the Chinese ingredients in these two dishes.)
Fill your bird with as much of the spicy rice it will willingly accept, then steam the rest with large, dried lotus leaves. This not only makes the dish visually impressive, but its delicate aroma permeates the rice as well, adding another layer of flavor and aroma. (Truth be told, no matter what you do with this lotus rice, the most divine part will inevitably be found inside the turkey, where the bird juices and bird fats had a few hours to seep into every little starchy ball but again, the same rule for wine applies here for stuffing: Serve First the good things and then bring the rest when the appetite of the people is satisfied.)
Unless your table is infested with teenage boys, you should have a lot of leftovers, which means you’re still guaranteed a lot of turkey and sandwich carcasses. However, my favorite dish is simple Taiwanese street food: a bowl of steamed rice topped with a handful of grated turkey, some bird juice or even spicy soup, and slices of yellow Japanese radish pickle known as tacos. Simplicity itself, but also a very good reason to squirm away a good chunk of India.
Sticky rice filling
Serves 8 to 12
6 large (or 12 small) dried Chinese Chinese mushrooms or shiitake
6 ounces of dried chestnuts (you can also use vacuum-packed chestnuts)
5 cups of round and sticky rice (called sticky or sweet).
2 large dried lotus leaves
1 teaspoon mushroom seasoning or chicken stock
4 sweet Cantonese sausages (usually labeled “Lep Chong”)
4 Cantonese duck liver sausages
¼ A cup of good quality plain Chinese soy sauce
¼ A glass of Shaoxing rice wine
¼ A cup of oyster sauce, and more as needed
Lots of freshly ground black pepper (at least 1 teaspoon)
3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
Around 8 ounces of shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh peeled, ground ginger
The oil-free pan is dripping from India
Level 1: First, prepare the sticky rice filling. This dish and its ingredients can be prepared or cooked a few days ahead of time and refrigerated. At least overnight before cooking the rice, place the dried mushrooms and chestnuts in two separate bowls. Cover the mushrooms with ½ cool water cups and the chestnuts with ½ extra water cups. Place the rice in a large work bowl and cover it with about 3 inches | 8 cm of cold water. Choose 2 beautiful lotus leaves (not broken and green); wash them carefully and place them in a large bowl. Cover with cool water and soak overnight.
level2: The next day, filter the dry chestnuts and remove any red peels or damaged areas; Break or chop the chestnuts to a size more or less ½ inches | 1 cm cubes. Place the chestnuts in a small pot and add the mushroom or chicken stock seasoning, add enough water to cover, then cook them over medium heat until most of the liquid evaporates, about 35 minutes. Rinse the soaked rice in a large colander under tap water Flow before letting it drip into the sink. Filter the mushrooms over a bowl to keep the soaking liquid. Drain the liquid and set aside. Remove the stalks from the mushrooms and slice the caps into thin slices. Rinse the lotus leaves again and cover them with a damp towel. If they are loose, then chop the sausages sideways into של inch pieces.
Step 3: Combine the soy sauce, rice wine, oyster sauce and pepper in a small bowl. Heat the oil in a large wok over medium-high heat until it begins to sparkle. Toss in the shallots, ginger and sausages and fry while stirring until the fat in the meat becomes translucent. Add the mushrooms and chestnuts, and continue to sauté them for a few minutes so that the mushrooms barely brown. Add the squeezing raw rice to the wok and continue to sauté the rice with all the salty pieces for a few more minutes so that all the rice grains are coated in oil and some will even become slightly toasted. Pour the soy sauce mixture over the rice, stir for a few seconds, then add the filtered mushroom soaking liquid as well as about 1 cup of boiling water. Continue to toss the rice while cooking, adding more boiling water if necessary until the rice is barely al dente – that is, slightly chewy but completely cooked. (Note: The rice and chestnuts will no longer swell while the stuffing is evaporating, so make sure they are completely cooked at this point.) Taste and adjust the seasoning as you wish, add more oyster sauce, if desired. Remove the wok from the heat. If you are preparing it a day ahead, just cover the cooled rice with cling film and store it in the fridge. You will have about 16 cups of rice stuffing, and you will use about 5 to 7 cups for the turkey filling.
Step 4: Place the two lotus leaves with the green side down in a large, shallow, heat-resistant bowl; Center the ends of the stem at the bottom of the bowl, then gently mash the leaves so that they lie relatively flat in the bowl. Hang all the rice that has not been brought into India on the leaves, then fold the edges of the leaves over the rice to cover it completely. Place the rice in a steamer and sauté it over low heat while you roast the turkey, refilling the steamer with water as needed. If you do not have a steaming pot, any large frying pan or wok with triota can be used for steaming rice, and a wide steaming pot with insert will also work.
Step 5: Just before serving, remove the bowl from the evaporator and turn it over on a round serving plate. Cut a large hole in the top of the leaves and keep the most beautiful that will serve as a hat. Bring the allowed drops to a boil and pour it over the rice. Serve with the hat comfortably placed on the edge of the hole so guests can serve themselves.
Roasted turkey with lots of garlic
Serves 8 to 12
1 (12 to 15 pounds) Humanly grown turkey, completely thawed if frozen
¼ A cup of roasted sesame oil
¼ A cup of plain Chinese soy sauce, divided
¼ A glass of Shaoxing rice wine or dry cherries, divided
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 whole head
1 stick of salt without salt, dissolved
Level 1: Start the turkey about 4½ to 5 hours before you want to serve it. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and spray a roasting pan and grid with oil. (The bird should sit comfortably inside the pan so that it does not dry out.) Remove the borders and extra fat from the turkey, then dry the bird inside and out with absorbent paper. Release the skin on both sides of the breast and the top of the thighs by carefully moving the fingers under their skin. Bend the wings under the body so that they lie flat.
level2: Mix together the sesame oil, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons rice wine and grated ginger. Rub about half of this marinade under the skin on the chest and top of the thighs, as well as inside the front and back cavities of India. Peel the garlic (see sidebar for a great suggestion on how to do this), and stick the whole tooth under the skin wherever possible. Fill the front and back spaces with as much of the sticky rice mixture as possible (about 6 to 7 cups) – the rice will swell as it absorbs the turkey juices, so do not squeeze it too hard. Close the skin over the cavities with toothpicks, or thread with a thick needle. Place the turkey on the shelf in the pan with the brisket side up (which will give you a browner and nicer bird) or upside down (which will provide you with moist brisket), and tuck the borders close to the turkey. That they will not burn (can be served with turkey, or folded into rice). Put the turkey in the oven and roast without settling for about 30 minutes.
Step 3: Mix the melted butter with the rest of the marinade and the rest of the soy sauce and rice wine. Occasionally beat the bird in both the marinade and the juices of the pan, paying special attention to the breast if the turkey is right side up. If the pan juices start to burn, just add a little water to the bottom of the pan. The skin will eventually get a lovely nutty shine. If the turkey is greased faster than you like, place a foil tent over the bird. Roast the bird for about 15 minutes per pound, but check it occasionally just to make sure. This is done when the thigh meat is around 165 degrees on a meat thermometer for immediate reading and the stuffing is 165 degrees. Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest for about 30 minutes; If you have to wait longer than that, tent the turkey in foil.
Step 4: Strain all the pan juices into a measuring cup and remove the fat from the top. (The fat can be saved for something else, and roasted potatoes in it are quite tasty.) Just before serving, place the juices in a small pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Pour over the extra rice stuffing wrapped in lotus leaves.
Carolyn Phillips Is an artist and food researcher, and the author of At the Chinese table: a book of memoirs with recipes, Everything is under heaven, And Dim Sum Field Guide.
Dina Avila He is a photographer in Portland, Oregon.
A recipe tested and designed by Ivy Manning