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Chinese Ingredients - Just Like Blighty
Cauliflower or Choi Fa
Cauliflower is a very common vegetable in Canton, and it is exactly like the ones bought in UK. My Taishanese mother in law usually serves a cauliflower dish with every meal, although many of these preparations are not as westerners would expect them.

Cauliflower is a member of the Brassica family, and technically so similar to Broccoli that scientists have a difficult task to differentiate between the two. Fortunately we consumers find this very simple and even a child can do it without fuss. However, we suggest you remember this fact, as sometimes Cantonese cookery crosses lines and styles in unexpectedly pleasant ways.
Like in UK, cauliflower is available virtually all year round, and buying is exactly the same also. Look for ones that are free from blemishes and have a healthy white colour. Then choose ones with the tightest head clusters.

Preparation is also the same, with leaves and stalks being removed, before the florets are pared down to the required size for the dish. Cantonese chef's often slice the florets also before washing and setting aside for later cooking.
Image: Chinese Cauliflower - Click to Enlarge
Unusually, Cantonese chef's will sometimes also use the main stalk in cooking. This is prepared by peeling away the outside and pithy under skin, until you are left with solid and firm flesh. It would be safe to state that if you get rid of the outer quarter of an inch of main stalk, then the remainder is good for slicing and cooking - and very tasty!

Recipe 1 - Cauliflower with Celery and Long Beans

This recipe has no English name, but is one of the very best I have ever eaten. It is also simple to prepare and easy to cook.

1 cauliflower cut into florets 2 Tablespoon cooking oil  
4 Chinese long green beans or Dao Gok. Prepare as UK runner beans, slicing into 1" trapezoids. 1/2 wardrobe of garlic, peeled and whole  
1 baby celery bunch with heads and bulb removed. Chopped into strips if larger size used. 3 inches long by 1/4 inch wide. 2 oz peeled and chopped ginger leaving 1/8th thick triangles of about 1/3 inch per side.  
Salt and Pepper to taste 1 rice bowl of water
Into a hot wok with a little oil throw half a wardrobe (Bulb) of peeled and whole common garlic. Stir fry for about 1 minute before adding 1 ounce of coarsely diced ginger. Now add the celery, beans and cauliflower stirring quickly to coat the ingredients, before adding a pinch of salt and pepper, and a rice bowl of water. Return to the boil and adjust to a simmer.

Cover and checking occasionally, leave to simmer for 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower is cooked, but still a little crunchy. The ideal is once again to aim for a couple of tablespoons of water to be naturally left in the wok. Once cooked add to a serving dish and pour over a little of the juice/stock so as to coat the bottom of the serving plate - send to table.

To add a little verve, add one small, mean and finely diced chilli to the mix.

Recipe 2 - Cauliflower Cheese

This stalwart British dish is easy to make in China - once you pay a King's Ransom for some decent supermarket imported cheese! I use imported New Zealand Cheddar as it is about the best available in China. At home I would use Lancashire cheese

This simple dish requires par-boiled cauliflower, with floret size to your personal choosing. The main preparation is the sauce, which is a béchamel sauce, and you can find out how to make this here

To the béchamel sauce we are simply going to add about 4 oz of grated cheddar cheese, stirring well in until it is fully melted and mixed thoroughly into the sauce. Both salt and pepper are crucial to this dish, so start with one teaspoonful of each in the sauce, and perfect over time for your palate.

The quick way is to simply add the sauce to the cauliflower and serve, or add the cauliflower to the sauce and serve - it doesn't matter. However, this isn't it - simply a quick-fix.

What you should do, presuming you have an oven, is to add both sauce and cauliflower to an ovenware serving dish and mix together carefully, then sprinkle a little more freshly grated cheese on top. Cook in a preheated moderate oven (Probably as high as your Chinese ovenette will go) and cook for a further 20 minutes, or until the cheese on top is golden brown going on deep brown in places, but not burnt. Serve immediately.

Broccoli Cheese

This is a totally Chinese invention, and as mentioned at the head of this page - never presume anything in China - the land where tomatoes are only ever considered to be a fruit!

Broccoli cheese is made in exactly the same way as Cauliflower cheese, except the main ingredient is not cauliflower, but its botanical neighbour broccoli.

This dish is interesting to the point where I have ordered it several times in restaurants, but not yet bothered to cook it at home. The main difference is that for this dish you need to replace most of the salt and pepper with extra crushed and finely diced garlic - and that works.

The other main difference is that Cheddar doesn't really work with broccoli, so substitute a blend of Edam or Gruyere and equal parts Mozzarella. To get this right, add a little Boursin - and now your cooking!
This information is as supplied by ourselves, and ably supported by our friends and various internet portals.
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