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Chinese Thanksgiving


BBQ Peking Turkey  

Joe Ng
Executive chef, Chinatown Brasserie

Hong Kong–born chef Joe Ng has fond memories of Thanksgivings past, eating Chinese barbecue made in his outdoor garden in San Diego. But this year he’ll be too busy running the kitchen at Chinatown Brasserie to celebrate the holiday with his family. “Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year for Chinatown Brasserie—many Chinese families like to go out for dim sum on the holiday, and we stay open for that,” he says. No Ng menu would be complete without his signature dim sum. For this meal, he nods to the occasion with lemongrass turkey rolls. Ng’s main course is a play on Peking duck. Ng stuffs his Peking turkey with Asian spices and roasts it until the skin is crispy. In a nod to mu-shu pork, he suggests wrapping the skin, meat, and scallions in a pancake smeared with hoisin sauce. Ng’s vegetable dishes—crisp-fried ginger string beans and smooth coconut yams—are a study in yin and yang. “I wanted each one to present a different texture in the mouth, which is an important part of Chinese cuisine,” says Ng. Instead of a traditional pie, Ng serves a Thanksgiving version of the Chinese bao: little buns of soft dough, which he fills, here, with a sweet pumpkin custard.


Lemongrass Turkey Rolls
BBQ Peking Turkey
Coconut Fried Yams
Wok-Fried Ginger String Beans
Pumpkin Bao

Lemongrass Turkey Rolls
6 tablespoons potato starch
2 pounds turkey, dark meat from the leg, cut lengthwise into strips, about 2 inches long by 1/2-inch wide
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon spicy ginger powder (available at Dynasty Supermarket)
5 lemongrass leaves, green parts only, minced
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus additional oil for deep-frying
1 packet Chinese spring-roll skins (20–25 per pack)

In a bowl, mix 3 tablespoons potato starch with 1 cup water, add the turkey, and soak for 1 hour. Place the meat in a colander and wash off the starch under cold water, stirring with your hand. Set aside to dry.

Transfer the turkey to a bowl and add the garlic, curry powder, ginger, lemongrass, 1 egg, 3 tablespoons potato starch, pepper, salt, and sugar, and stir until combined, adding 1/2 cup oil at the end. Mix thoroughly and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Place 1-inch-diameter log of turkey mixture down the center of a spring-roll skin, roll tightly, and brush the end flap with the remaining beaten egg to seal. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Heat 2 inches oil to 275 degrees in a large shallow pan, add the rolls in batches, and deep-fry for 7 minutes. Increase the temperature to 350 degrees, and fry until the skins are crisp and golden. Drain on paper towels, trim off the ends, and cut the rolls into 1-inch pieces. Serve with citrus sauce or hoisin sauce.

BBQ Peking Turkey
2 tablespoons kosher salt
cup spicy ginger powder (available at Dynasty)
1/2 cup chicken bouillon powder (available at Dynasty)
cup chopped cilantro stems
1/4 cup five-spice powder
1/2 cup ground-bean sauce
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup minced garlic
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped shallots

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.

1/4 cup maltose syrup (available at Dynasty)
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup red Chinese vinegar

Combine the ingredients with 3 cups water in a medium-size saucepan and heat gently, taking care not to burn the maltose.

1 10–12 pound organic turkey
2 cups coarsely chopped scallions
1 cup coarsely chopped carrots
1 cup coarsely chopped onions
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup corn syrup or honey
32 Chinese pancakes (available in Chinese markets)
1 English cucumber, julienned
1 bunch red radishes, thinly sliced
2 bunches scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces and tops frayed

Rub the spice paste inside the cavity of the turkey and close both ends with toothpicks.

Bring a large pot filled with water to a boil and remove from heat. Submerge the turkey in the water, dipping it a few times over a 2-minute period; make sure the water does not enter the cavity of the bird. Ladle water over parts of the bird that cannot be submerged.

Place the turkey on a rack set over a sheet pan and brush the entire bird, including under the wings, with the warm maltose syrup. Allow to dry for 5–10 minutes, and then repeat with the syrup. Set the turkey, on the rack, in the refrigerator to let the skin dry, for 12–24 hours.

Remove turkey from refrigerator 30 minutes prior to cooking, and place on platter. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Combine the scallions, carrots, onions, cilantro, and celery and scatter over the rack set on the sheet pan. Place the turkey on top of the vegetables, backbone facing down, and roast the bird for 1 hour. Increase the oven temperature to 450, turn the turkey breast side down, and cook for 1 hour.

Mix the corn syrup with 1/4 cup water, and when the turkey is removed from the oven, lightly brush the skin with the mixture.

Separate the skin from the turkey and place crispy slices alongside carved meat, with the cucumber, radishes, and scallions on a platter.

Take a pancake, spread with hoisin sauce, and arrange a little skin, turkey meat, and vegetable garnish on top. Roll the pancake tightly, tucking in the ends.

1 1/2 cups regular hoisin
12 garlic cloves, minced
4 medium shallots, minced
4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Add all of the ingredients to a saucepan with 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Serve at room temperature.

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