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Hi, I just came across your website when I was searching for cookie recipes. I must say you did a wonderful job and I can't wait to try all the recipes you provided. My question is not related to rou mo jiang dou but rather to cookies. When the recipe asks to cream the butter with sugar, does it make any difference if you just melt the butter and mix it with sugar? I don't have a food processor or an electric mixer, or enough muscle to cream the butter to a fluffy consistency. Thank you!

Thank you. I'm glad you like my blog. Yes, it makes a big difference in cookie texture whether you use melted butter or cream your butter. Butter creamed with sugar has small air bubbles locked within the butter that expand during cooking. If you melt the butter, there will be no such air bubbles in the dough, generally resulting in a chewier, denser, and less tender cookie.

I know I get impatient waiting for butter to warm up enough to cream, so I take it out of the fridge first and chop it into smaller bits, which will speed up the warming and make it easier to cream. Then, I get the rest of the ingredients and ready to go. Butter is ready to cream when it has reach about 65 degrees F. It will still hold its shape unless pressed.

When you cream butter, do you always use an electric mixer? I mean, if you cream it by hand, how long do you have to do it? What's the consistency supposed to look like? Thank you! --Miranda

I do both, depending on the size of the cookie batch. As it happens I am making cookies tonight, so I will pay close attention to what the creamed butter looks like. I do know that it should not look "curdled." That is a sign that the butter was too soft (starting melt) at the time it was creamed.

This dish looks wonderful, and the home made pickle recipe is awesome. I will definitely try this myself, and not just with green beans. This sounds like it would work with okra, carrots, cucumbers, lots of veggies. Thanks for the post.

Brooklynguy: I agree. This method is very short-term, so the vegetables aren't super "pickle-y", but it's very nice for adding slightly pickled vegis to stir-fries.

Miranda: Creamed butter and sugar looks smooth and a bit "fluffy." I sometimes use a wooden rice paddle and a fork to mash the butter and sugar against the paddle until it is soft enough to switch over to a fork or heavy-duty whisk. If you don't have an electric mixer and mixing by hand is just too hard, let the butter soften until it is soft enough for you to work with. Perhaps it will be softer than "ideal" by baking standards, but you'll still have tasty cookies.

Hi Kitchen Chick! Great recipe--Chun King, huh? Next time you're in San Gabriel, which is literally down the street and around the corner from where I am typing, go to Luscious Dumpling on the corner of Mission and Las Tunas for their Szechuan Pickle and Shredded Pork with Noodles Soup. If you like this recipe, you will love that. Drop me a line, too. I'll meet you there!

Thanks for the recommendation! We do go to LA on occasion, and stopping for good Asian food is always on our list of things to do. (And enjoying food with other food & wine bloggers is even better!) We'll let you know next time we're out there.

Hey, everything is more delicious without the cruelty! Thanks for acknowledging. :)

Cherie: if you try this as a vegetarian dish, be careful with the soy sauce. The beans alone don't need the additional salt. (I discovered this when I made a vegetarian version, and it was too salty with the soy sauce.)

Thank you so much for posting this. I've been looking for a recipe for ground pork with sour long beans ever since I moved from NYC, where I ate it just about every week, and I've been craving it like mad for years and been unable to replicate my favorite restaurant dish at home. I have one question you might be able to help with: In the pickling solution no vinegar is listed, but the directions mention vinegar—did you use any, and if so what kind?

Liana: Good catch. I wrote that the beans would be "in a brine with vinegar", but actually there is no vinegar in the recipe. I've fixed that.

I'll definitely try this soon. It sounds awesome! It was great to meet both of you.

Hi Maggie. Great to meet you, too.

I'm thinking about the salt in these beans and Joe's recommendation to rinse before using. I don't remember rinsing the, and now I have a hypothesis. The first time I pickled the beans, I just trimmed the tips and pickled them whole, and then chopped before cooking. The next few times I tried to get clever and chopped them first and then pickled them. I'm wondering if that let them absorb more salt. I will have to test this out.

Hey, I would like to first say thanks a lot for posting the information on making rou mo jiang dou. My GF loves that dish. She is a huge fan of a restaurant here in Vancouver that makes it very well. It is so good.

So we tried it at home. It came out so so. A few things:
1) The 1/4C of salt for the brine. That's ALOT of SALT! Using the exact quantities of water and salt mentioned in the ingredients above, the pickle beans came out way to SALTY. (We left them for only three days as your recommendation.) I can't see how you managed to put 1/4C salt in the brine solution, leave the beans for a week and they came out fine. Not to mention you added more salt to the PORK. I'm going to either cut back on the salt or the pickling time. I think I'll try reducing the salt first, leave it for longer to get the ginger, chilly and Cinnamon to bring some more flavors into the beans/
2) Unfortunately, the beans did not come out vinegary. I used 2 tsp of strong rice wine and while I can taste it, there is no vinegary taste to the beans. I think vinegar is an important flavor in this dish. You can definitely taste a vinegar crunch to the restaurant’s version. I don't understand how come vinegar is NOT in the ingredients.

3) In the restaurant’s version, they have this rich, smokey, BBQ flavor in the dish. It's really good. I wonder how they fused it into the food. I hope it's not MSG and some SMOKE flavor sauce. I tried cooking the chilies in the oil for a while, to bring out some their flavors, but the smokie bbq taste was definitely not there... Any thoughts?

4) The restaurant chops up slivers of garlic in the dish probably cooked before adding the beans. I think garlic is good thing to have in there.

Anyways, I do appreciate the recipe. Thanks again, I really don’t want to be negative in my comments… I just want to share the outcome of my dish and see how to improve it. Will try again at some point with a few modifications and see how it goes.

...a few years later...

Echoing the above, the salt-brine pickling directions in this recipe simply cannot be correct. Salt-cure pickles (such as barrel dills and kimchi) are made by encouraging lactic-acid-producing bacteria to grow while using a high-salt solution to inhibit the growth of other (more harmful and less tasty) critters. Exact methods very, but they all have one thing in common: they take weeks, not days.

"Refrigerator" pickling recipes use a vinegar solution to emulate the tang of lactic acid (and other pickling by-products) and usually take 3-7 days.

I suspect that the restaurant dish uses brine pickled beans (maybe available pre-pickled in chinese markets?), but that Dunlop's recipe was meant to use a vinegar cure. Searching the net for 'refrigerator pickle' yields several dozen recipes; I'll try adapting on with the spice mix mentioned here and will report back.

@D.Maj: that is the salt in the brining recipe. You could rinse the beans before chopping to remove some for salt. Also, you can serve this dish with other less-salty dishes to achieve a balance. Come to think of it, I never eat this as the sole dish in a meal.

@Blahg: the directions are what's given in Dunlop's book. "Pickle", which is her choice of word, could be an inexact translation of what the Chinese means. Perhaps these are not "true" pickles, but the result is a crispy, sour bean that has a pickle-like flavor for this recipe. And as this recipe is very tasty, I don't see any reason to obsess about whether or not these beans are actually pickled.

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