Chef Brandon Jew Makes It Even Easier to Stock a Chinese Pantry
Spicy Szechuan peppercorns, umami-rich oyster sauce, and fragrant sesame and peanut oil are just a few essential ingredients that make Chinese-American food so dang addictive, but these items can be elusive to some home cooks. Chef Brandon Jew of Mister Jiu’s in San Francisco is hoping to change that and make Chinese food more accessible. The Michelin-starred chef is partnering with Williams-Sonoma to create a line of spices and sauces under the Mister Jiu brand name. “I really want people to cook more Chinese food at home. When I look at what I was offered on grocery store shelves, I was always wondering why there wasn’t more variety for the Chinese pantry,” he told Brit + Co at the soft opening of Moongate Lounge, the slick bar-restaurant located upstairs from Mister Jiu’s.
The line of wok sauces and seasonings are intended to be splashed and sprinkled on whatever fresh produce, protein, and starch you’re working with, which is why the back of the products don’t provide much specific use. “I wanted something that would automatically taste good on almost anything,” he elaborates, adding “These products make simple food very flavorful.” We had to know how chef Jew prefers to incorporate these products for the beginner cook. Here’s his advice for some of the products in the line of eight items.
- Peanut Butter Hoisin Sauce ($15): Chef Jew says the team spreads a sauce like this on the pancakes that are paired with peking duck. However, this base of peanuts, brown sugar, soy, and fermented black beans would like taste good slathered on steak and chicken alike.
- Black Garlic Black Bean Sauce ($17): Called “robust” and “powerful” by chef Jew, this sauce is best used in small doses on dumplings or even stir-fried chicken with diced bell pepper and onion.
- Signature Spice Seasoning ($13): Have you ever had Chinese-Middle-Eastern cuisine? Chef Jew hopes to capture that fusion in this spice. Cumin, coriander, Szechuan peppercorns, and ginger combine for a blend that goes best on lamb or other grilled meats, according to chef Jew.
- Sweet and Sour Wok Sauce ($15): Think of orange chicken for this citrusy, sweet sauce. Chef Jew tells us it makes an excellent glaze for chicken.
- Everyday Seasoning ($13): Four different peppercorns (green, white, black, and Szechuan) are roasted and combined with smoked salt. Chef Jew says this is essential for making any Chinese-American dishes at home taste as good as restaurant versions. Salt and pepper squid or fried tofu are two recommended starting places.
- Ginger Scallion Wok Sauce ($15): The blend of sesame oil, ginger, scallions, and soy sauce can be used as a finishing sauce for steamed fish, the chef advises.
That last application really excited us, so we asked chef Jew to tell us more. “Steaming is a really healthy, underutilized way to experience fish,” chef Jew tells us. Though he claims “a bamboo steamer is the best way,” you can hack a steamer by placing a rack inside a pan with a lid. Alternatively, you can pressure-cook the fish on a trivet in the Instant Pot, like we’ve done in the recipe below. Whatever you do, don’t toss out the leftover liquid. The fish drops a flavor-rich broth that chef Jew says is the “beginning of a sauce I’d want to put on rice.” At Mister Jiu’s, they pour hot peanut oil, ginger, and scallions to finish steamed trout. We took those ideas and applied it to this basic recipe below utilizing his Ginger Scallion Wok Sauce.
Steamed Cod With Ginger Scallion Sauce
(Makes 1 fillet)
Recipe Notes: A pressure cooker will fit two fish fillets. If you don’t want to pressure-cook the fish, follow the directions over the stove-top, steaming the fish over medium-high heat for 8 minutes (if thawed) or roughly 20 minutes (if frozen).
- 1/3 cup water
- frozen white fish fillet (we used wild cod from Trader Joe’s)
- rice, for serving (optional)
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 1-inch knob of ginger, peeled with a spoon then chopped into matchsticks
- 1 handful scallion, cut in 2-inch pieces then chopped in half length-wise
- splash of Mister Jiu’s Ginger Scallion Wok Sauce
- splash of soy sauce
1. Place water inside the metal bowl insert of the Instant Pot. Add the trivet, and place fish in the center. Sprinkle a little bit of salt on top of the fish.
2. Close and seal the lid of the Instant Pot, and set to pressure cook for 3 minutes on high pressure. Make sure your vent is sealed.
3. Once the cooking time is complete, quickly release the steam from the vent, then carefully open the lid and lift the trivet out of the Instant Pot. Transfer fish onto a plate using a spatula. Pour the residual fish broth in the bottom of the metal bowl into a liquid measuring cup and reserve it.
4. Return the bowl to the Instant Pot, and turn on the sauté function. Add peanut oil followed by ginger. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, then add scallion. Cook until it has wilted, about 1 to 2 minutes. If at any point, the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the pot, use a splash of the reserved fish broth. We ended up using all of our liquid.
5. Turn off the Instant Pot, and remove the bowl from the Instant Pot. Add a splash of the Mister Jiu’s Ginger Scallion Wok Sauce and a splash or two of soy sauce. You want to do this off the heat so the soy sauce doesn’t burn and turn bitter.
6. Spoon the scallions and ginger over the fish, and drizzle the sauce on top.
7. Serve immediately.
(Recipe by Anna Monette Roberts / Brit + Co; photos via Brittany Griffin / Brit + Co)