Saturday, November 28, 2009

A post-Thanksgiving tradition: save the carcass!

Many people over the years have asked me what my family eats on Thanksgiving.  Okay, I know we’re Chinese and all, but we’re not aliens.  We eat turkey, just like everyone else! 

We have all the traditional American side dishes and desserts as well, even though my mom likes to remind us:  “Chinese people don’t like pumpkin pie.”  But that’s okay.  Caucasian people don’t like steamed chicken's feet, so let’s just say we’re even. 

One Chinese tradition that mom has blended with our American Thanksgiving traditions is a delicious soup she makes with the leftover roasted turkey carcass.  (I admit, the word “carcass” is not a good visual, but trust me, this is a good one.)  The Chinese


After you’ve enjoyed a delicious roasted turkey dinner, you can still make a hearty soup with the leftover carcass and bones.  Even if you think you’ve carved off every bit of turkey from round one, you will still get enough meat from the simmering process to make this soup.  You can also substitute 2 large roasted chicken carcasses instead of a turkey carcass.  Another note:  depending on how you seasoned your turkey, the saltiness of your broth will vary, so you will need to salt your broth to taste.

Serves 8-10
1 roasted turkey carcass, (original whole turkey ranging 18-22 lbs.)
5 1/2 quarts cold water (22 cups)
2-15 ½ ounce cans of chicken broth (if needed)
1 ¾ cups white rice (such as Niko Niko Calrose, in Asian food section of most supermarkets)
3 cups shredded turkey meat (most, if not all of this, will fall off the carcass when simmering)
6 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons white wine (optional)
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon white pepper
2 eggs
Salt and white pepper, to taste

In a large stock pot, combine the turkey carcass and water.  Include all the other bones that may have been detached when carving, such as drumsticks, wings and neck.  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat (about 25 minutes).  Reduce heat, simmer, until the bones have started to fall apart, and all the bits of turkey meat have fallen off the bones, about 2 hours.

Remove from heat.  Discard all the bones from the pot, and save all the bits of turkey meat in

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Years ago, I verbally recited this Stir-Fry Beef and Broccoli recipe over the phone to my friend, Wendy P.  I never gave her precise measurements (because mom never game me any), so she would call me every couple months to verify a step.  No need for anymore phone calls, Wendy! 

This easy stir-fry is a refreshing change from your weekday meat ‘n potatoes or pasta routines.  It’s tasty, healthy and quick --- ready in less than 30 minutes (20, if you prep and refrigerate the meat and broccoli in the morning). 

Serves 4-6
1 lb. flank steak
¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 teaspoon white cooking wine (optional)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/2 small yellow onion, cut in quarters and thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
1 lb. broccoli crowns, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup water
3 tablespoons oyster sauce (found in the Asian section of most supermarkets)

Steamed white rice or brown rice
Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce (optional)

Cut flank steak into four equal sections by slicing in half lengthwise, and then slice each of those pieces in half crosswise.  Take each quarter section and cut against the grain, into 1/4 inch slices.  Put the slices of flank steak into a shallow dish. Whisk together soy sauce, cornstarch and white cooking wine; add to flank steak and turn pieces to coat evenly; set aside.  (Flank steak can be prepared up to this point, covered and refrigerated several hours. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.)

Heat vegetable oil in a large wok (or deep sauté pan that has a lid) over high heat.  Add garlic clove and yellow onions; stir-fry until onions are soft, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the flank steak to the wok and stir-fry until the meat is cooked halfway (the meat will look half brown-half red), about 3 minutes; remove meat and onions from wok.

Add broccoli and water to the wok; cover and allow broccoli to steam about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Return the flank steak and all its juices back to the wok along with the oyster sauce; stir-fry, uncovered, for 4-5 minutes.  Serve with steamed white rice or brown rice.  Like it spicy?  Add a dollop of Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce on top!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Meet "Banana Foster"

My name is Mary Foster.  But don’t let the name fool you.  I’m a banana.  You know, yellow on the outside, white on the inside.  Further translation:  first generation, 100% Chinese offspring, born and raised in Seattle in a predominantly Caucasian/non-Asian world.  Growing up in our house, my traditional parents spoke fluent Mandarin Chinese, but I answered back in English.  For eight years, I attended a Catholic grade school where the only other Chinese students were my two older sisters and brother.  In my college sorority, there were 120 girls in the house.  How many Asians?  Seven.  And that included Jane, the cleaning lady.  So I guess that really makes six (but they were all bananas, too).  My traditional Chinese parents would consider the self-acclaimed banana statement to be downright disgraceful…shameful…embarrassing!  They always taught my siblings and me to take pride in our culture.  To preserve the traditions.  To marry a nice, smart Chinese husband or wife to further strengthen our undiluted Chinese lineage.  Oops, I guess the last name “Foster” tells you that didn’t happen.

Circa 1968, my parents surrounded by a bunch of bananas.  That's me in the middle.

But where I let my parents down in the family lineage department, I’m hoping to make up for in the kitchen.  Despite how it may sound, I am very proud of my heritage and ethnicity.  It was just challenging to fully immerse myself in Chinese culture while growing up in such non-Chinese environments outside of our home.  However, a great deal of cultural pride and tradition was instilled in us inside our home.  More specifically, around our big, round dinner table with the spinning Lazy Susan, just like in the Chinese restaurants.  Here,