HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >



MARCH COOKBOOK OF THE MONTH (Trumpets sound) Both Fuchsia Dunlop Books

Start hoarding black vinegar and salted chilis....Cookbooks of the Month for March are REVOLUTIONARY CHINESE and LAND OF PLENTY by Fuchsia Dunlop.

I hope that MMRuth or anyone else who's got the time and interest, will post some internet threads. I know there are several recipes if you search for "UKFood and Dunlop". She also works for the BBC and they probably have recipes.

I've decided that, rather than have a huge number of separate threads, and since both books have almost identical chapter names, I'm only going to post a combo thread for each chapter The title will just be (for example) Fuchsia Dunlop - March Cookbook of the Month Appetizers. So folks will post for either book in the chapter threads.

Noodles, Dumplings and Other Street Treats





Vegetables and Bean Curd

Stocks and Soup

Sweet Dishes

Hot Pot

Revolutionary Chinese has an extra chapter, Preserves and Stocks, and I'm making a separate thread for that.

Let's get going!!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Thank you, oakjoan, I think this is going to be so fun. Here are the links to the chapter threads oakjoan has set up:

    Noodles, Dumplings and Other Street Treats http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49466...

    Appetizers http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49466...

    Meat http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49466...

    Poultry (and eggs) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49466...

    Fish http://www.chowhound.com/topics/494665

    Vegetables and Bean Curd http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49466...

    Stocks and Soup

    Sweet Dishes http://www.chowhound.com/topics/494668

    Hot Pot - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/494846

    Preserves and Stocks (Revolutionary Chinese only) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49466...

    Post-mortem discussion


    1 Reply
    1. re: The Dairy Queen

      We've added a link to The Dairy Queen's post to include the Post-Mortem Discussion thread , which you can find here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/50388...

      Thank you!

    2. Here are the links Gio sent me yesterday:

      "Following is the list of Fuchsia Dunlop's recipes I have garnered from various web sites. On a few of the pages you will have to scroll down a bit to find what you want. There are multiple recipes on some pages, however all the recipes I found are listed here. I have included an online conversion chart since many measurements are in metric."

      Spring Rolls
      Spring Rolls with Three Silken Threads (San Si Chun Juan)

      Bean Curd
      Pock-marked Mother Chen's Bean Curd
      Peng's Home-Style Bean Curd

      Sichuanese Dan Dan Noodles (Dan Dan Mian

      Eight Treasure Black Rice Porridge

      Slow-Braised Pork (Babi Pongtay
      Chairman Mao's Red-Braised Pork (Mao Shi Hong Shao Rou
      Mind Blowing Fish-Fragrant Pork Slivers (Yu Xiang Rou Si
      Flowering Chives with Smoky Bacon
      Stir-fried Bacon with Bamboo Shoot

      Beef with Cumin
      Fried Beef Slivers

      Lamb Pilaf (Polo

      Kung Pao Chicken
      General Tso's Chicken (Dunlop'sTaiwanese version
      Dong'an Chicken (Dong An Zi Ji

      Fragrant and Hot Tiger Prawns
      Kung Pao Shrimp
      Fisherman's Shrimp with Chinese Chives (Yu Jia Chao Xia Qiu

      Dry-Fried Green Beans (Gan Bian Si Ji Dou)
      Fried Cucumber with Purple Perilla (zi su jian huang gua

      Eight Treasure Wok Pudding - Ba Bao Guo Zheng

      On Line Conversion Chart:

      1 Reply
      1. re: MMRuth

        The following Conversion Chart may be better than one above:

      2. I think I have most, if not all of the links available from the net. I hope people will feel free to add others if found. Thank you MM for posting the list!

        3 Replies
        1. re: Gio

          FYI - I substituted the two tinyurls for the actual ones - since I'd read somewhere that those don't work after awhile?

          1. re: MMRuth

            Thanks MM.. I didn't know that.

          2. re: Gio

            And to add even more thanks: Thanks for Gio and MMR for the links.

            As I have previously posted, the link for Lamb Polo (pilaf) contains an actual video of Fuchsia withstanding the bland stupidity of the host of the program on which she is a guest. And I cannot praise the Polo dish enough - fab.

          3. Hunan Beef With Cumin (US) - http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/14/din...

            Red Cooked Beef with Turnips - http://www.tigersandstrawberries.com/...

            Tofu and Eggs - http://www.recipezaar.com/279586

            Home Made Hunan Salted Chilis - http://www.recipezaar.com/282754

            Velveted Fish - http://www.recipezaar.com/280874

            Smacked Cucumbers - http://www.recipezaar.com/260377

            Sounding Radish Slivers (Xiang Luo Bu Si) - http://www.recipezaar.com/260317

            Pan Fried Cucumbers - http://www.recipezaar.com/260314

            Authentic Black Bean Chicken - http://www.recipezaar.com/260313

            Xiao Sun Zi Chao Rou Mo (Slender Bamboo Shoots With Ground Pork) - http://www.recipezaar.com/260315

            1 Reply
            1. I picked up my "Land of Plenty" from the library yesterdy and have to say I am a bit overwhelmed. There is a ton of background material, but I am still a bit confused about ingredients.

              First - dark soy sauce. Anyone know how this compares to Thai dark soy sauce (very sweet molasses flavor). I am allergic to wheat, so can't use the Pearl River brand.

              Peppers - I think I figured this one out, but when she refers to whole sichuan pepper that means whole peppercorns, but when it is Sichuan chilis than it is a hot chili. I have a bunch of arbol chilis and Indian hot red chilis - OK to sub?

              That is all for now. I am excited to try the recipes, since I can never eat Chinese out.

              22 Replies
              1. re: jsaimd

                jsaimd, Chinese typically use the dark soy sauce for color, and the light soy sauce for flavor. It is no big whoop to substitute regular soy sauce (or Kikkoman or Kikkoman Light etc) if you can't find the Chinese light/dark ones.

                OK to substitute one chili for another in my book.

                Think of her wonderful recipes as a general guide - if you like it more sweet, then add more sugar. If you don't like to use too much salt, then add less of it. I cooked in an authentic Chinese restaurant for 4 years and the first thing I learned from Lao Li was, "there are no recipes." Everything is done to taste, smell and sight.

                1. re: scoopG

                  scoopG, thank you for that insight.

                  Another question: When she doesn't specify "dark" or "light" soy sauce, and just says "soy sauce" (I think I noticed a recipe in there where she didn't specify, though, I'm not now sure which one) what is the default?

                  Also, I've noticed in some of the BBC recipes she refers to "groundnut oil"--I think that's peanut oil, right?

                  Finally, is it okay to use cornstarch instead of potato flour?

                  Thank you!


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Ah, I've answered part of my own question--on pg 64 of LOP, Dunlop says that you can use cornstarch instead of potato flour, but that you need about 50% more cornstarch.


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      TDQ, Just regular old soy sauce or you can experiment with a variation of the light and regular if you like! Potato flour is also called potato starch. Is it available there in one those Chinese markets around 28th and Nicollet? Of course there are more around the TC metro area I'm sure. I find it is better than cornstarch - lighter. (Or maybe I've been using too much cornstarch all these years!)

                      Not sure what she means by groundnut flour. I always use peanut oil anyways.

                      1. re: scoopG

                        Okay, yes, I went back to Shuang Hur today and got the potato starch. Oddly enough, I wasn't able to find any mushrooms there except fresh oyster mushrooms. We asked three different people where they were and they just referred us to someone else. I think it helps if you call it fungus, but, still, in the end, I concluded they just don't have a lot of mushrooms. Perhaps Southeast Asian cuisine (which forms the base of the Twin Cities Asian Community) doesn't use a lot of mushrooms? We ended up buying Wood Ear mushrooms (at Lunds, a local high-end grocer) instead of "Cloud Ear" mushrooms, but now I see the warning on page 58 of LOP that you should avoid buying these mushrooms as they don't have a lot of flavor. :(. So, I'm still on the search for "cloud ear."

                        Anyway, thank you and Caitlin for the additional insights on the soy sauce and "groundnut oil" aka peanut oil.


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          Your'e welcome TDQ. Lunds! What a store. Love their potato salad BTW. :) Cloud Ear is black - bought dry and when re-constituted in water it softens up. Very light, almost rubbery in texture. I would not worry about the mushrooms myself. I made her "Steamed Bacon with Mushrooms" from her Hunan book and found that the use of 4-5 exotic mushrooms was a bit too much - remade it with regular white and cremini mushrooms and it was more tasty. Oyster mushrooms almost look like bean sprouts - thin with a a bit of a head on their tip.

                          I am gone for the next week with no access (I think) so I hope I don't miss much!

                          1. re: scoopG

                            I bought Chinese mushrooms in Chinatown today - couldn't figure it out myself, ended up with the following, with the help of an employee:

                            Cloud Ears - Auricula - I bought "compressed auricula" (Yu Yee Brand)

                            Silver Ear Fungus - "White Jello" - dried (no brand name in English, packed for Golden Gate Supply company)

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              I wonder if this might help:

                              "Cloud Ears (Auricularia Polytricha) are ruffle-edged, thin, Black Mushrooms. Cloud Ears are similar in appearance to Wood Ear except Wood Ear are black with a brownish - tan inner color, whereas Cloud Ear Mushrooms are black with a slightly lighter shade of black as their inner color. Cloud Ears have a more delicate, mild flavor and are much smaller in size than Wood Ear. Cloud Ear Mushrooms reconstitute to a puffy like, soft, firm, smooth texture and delicate flavor."

                              ETA: I think scoopG is right in saying not to worry too much about the difference between cloud ears and wood ears. My copies of Dunlop are still in transit, but I have a couple of Szechuan cookbooks that say they can be used interchangeably. I'd never even heard of cloud ear mushrooms before and always used wood ear. Perhaps I didn't know what I was missing, but recipes using wood ears always seemed just fine to me.

                              1. re: JoanN

                                Thanks - wasn't worried about it - just wanted to pass on what they were called at the store! Learning more everyday here. Now, if I could figure out what to substitute for Chinese Chives - for the shrimp dish I want to make tonight!!...

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  I know this is very late for your dinner tonight, but Chinese chives are similar, if not exactly like, garlic chives. I've had them growing in my garden for years. They have a flat leaf rather than round like the chives most people are familiar with.... and bloom with a white flower head in August. They are milder in flavor than garlic and regular chives. Gosh I wish I could send you some....But they're dormant now here in the northeast.

                                  1. re: Gio

                                    Thanks - I ended up making a noodle recipe with the shrimp, which called for bok choy, which I had. I'll save the other recipe for when I find some of the garlic chives.

                                  2. re: MMRuth

                                    Yesterday I saw bundles of Chinese flat chives *and* garlic chives (with the buds) at most of those green grocer carts around Canal St. Everybody with bok choy had them, and they are at every Asian grocery store I went to that had fresh greens.
                                    It must be the season somewhere! I'd never noticed them before, but since I was looking at the Dunlop book . . .

                                    1. re: pitu

                                      Thanks - will check it out next weekend then. I didn't do any exploring beyond stocking up on the pantry items.

                                  3. re: JoanN

                                    Clouds ear is rubbery, sort of. Nice crunch to them. You'd recognize them in Hot and Sour soup if done the way I was taught...and yes earthy flavor, but wonderful not overpowering at all.

                                    1. re: chef chicklet

                                      Yes, I have a couple of recipes in regular rotation that use this fungus and have been buying it for years. I've just never seen it sold as "cloud ears" before, only as wood ears. Maybe I just wasn't paying careful enough attention to the package.

                                      1. re: JoanN

                                        OMG so easy to confuse the two! Really not enough of a difference in them to search one out over the other, IMO. I would miss it though (either one) if it were not in my Hot and Sour soup!

                              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                Those wood ears provide a nice textural element in Vietnamese Spring Rolls...you reconstitute them and slice up before use

                            2. re: The Dairy Queen

                              Groundnut oil=peanut oil. Groundnut is the British tem, hence the usage on the BBC site.

                            3. re: scoopG

                              Really helpful info about the soy sauce (and the rest). And thanks to everyone for all the links. You're all so helpful and kind!

                            4. re: jsaimd

                              I posted a topic on the General Chowhounding Topics board requesting recommendations for online sources for Chinese spices and ingredients since I, and probably others, do not live in a major city.
                              In the Sichuan book, Fuchsia offers 4 online sources, two of which are inactive, one she says has limited selection of Chinese, and the other is http://adrianascaravan.com/

                              1. re: NYchowcook

                                I have no experience with any of the online sellers, but googling one of the very specific ingredients led to a few places that look promising
                                and the Asia Society's http://www.asiafood.org/

                                even amazon.com has some chinese ingredients

                                1. re: pitu

                                  MM Ruth, I posted on general chowhound topics for sources as you suggested and there are NO responses.

                            5. Thanks for the links - here's a few more all from the same page
                              Gong Bao chicken with peanuts - gong bao ji ding
                              Chicken with chillies - la zi ji
                              Mapo Tofu, aka Pock-marked Mother Chen's beancurd - ma po dou fu
                              'Glassy' steamed dumplings - bo li shao mai

                              also came across a year old thread here - beetlebug doing a report on Land Of Plenty
                              good discussion on ingredients, and fish and mapo tofu

                              1. I'm wondering if the links should have their separate Thread....
                                let me know, pls. TIA

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Gio

                                  Well, since they are here...
                                  : )
                                  I like them here with the links to the indiv threads so I can just bookmark one for longterm reference

                                  1. re: pitu

                                    OK - thank you for the reply!!

                                    1. re: pitu

                                      I agree - I know in the past we've had a separate links/picks & pans etc. thread, but I'm fine with using this main for for general discussions, especially since it is "stickied" at the top of the board for the month. I did some perusing of the book this morning and feel a bit overwhelmed with ingredients I'm not so familiar with. May try to do an trip to Chinatown tomorrow to stock up a bit!

                                      1. re: pitu

                                        I agree! This topic will remain sticky for the whole month and will, therefore, be easily accessed.

                                        Re: ingredients....I bought black vinegar for the Lamb Polo and have only used it twice - both time for Lamb Polo. It was pretty cheap, so I didn't mind, and I figure it'll last for a long time. Otherwise, I would certainly try the dish with regular (unflavored with tarragon, etc.) vinegar and would imagine it'd still be great.

                                        I count myself lucky to be living in Oakland, with a thriving Chinatown within a mile of my house and SF just across the Bay.

                                        I also figure that so many Chinese folks live in the US that there's a huge number of ingredients available now that weren't around 10 or even 5 years ago.

                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                          Then you would know Sam Yick's in Chinatown-they got to have it all!
                                          Terrific market!

                                    2. I have two questions, please. Are dried chili flakes the same as the pepper flakes you might find on the table at a pizza parlor? If not, please educate me.

                                      Also, are salted black beans the same as fermented? I went to an Asian grocery and they didn't know what I was talking about when I asked for fermented but led me to a package labeled "salted black beans".

                                      Thanks very much.

                                      29 Replies
                                      1. re: fern

                                        Hi Fern, I hope so, because that's what they led me to when I asked for "fermented black beans, too." On page 54 of LOP Dunlop says that "salt, wine, and ginger are added, with, perhaps a little chile and other spices." However, what I bought lists "black beans and salt" as the only ingredients. Oh dear, I hope I didn't get the wrong thing.


                                        1. re: fern

                                          "Salted black beans" and "fermented black beans" are just two different names for the same product. You both did good!

                                          1. re: JoanN

                                            Oh, hooray! Thanks, TDQ and Joan. I am really looking forward to putting these ingredients to use.

                                            1. re: fern

                                              the shopping really is the hardest part here...

                                              I just got back from the Hong Kong Market in Sunset Park Brooklyn, and I had such a hard time locating the black beans that I neglected to look for szchuan peppercorns...
                                              I think I was at the wrong regional market. They have a ton of Indonesian and SE Asian products at the HK Market. I didn't see any of the bags of salted beans.

                                              Anyway, I now have a jar of Fermented Black Bean (fermented black beans, soysauce, sugar) Made in Taiwan
                                              and Broad Bean Sauce (broad bean, wheat flour, water, sugar, salt, msg)
                                              Made in China

                                              No luck with the Pixian Chili Bean Paste. I have some Korean chilli-soybean paste that I might sub if I don't find something else. I just started a thread about the topic http://www.chowhound.com/topics/494828
                                              I'm trying Kam Man on Canal St next week...shopping suggestions welcome.

                                              1. re: pitu

                                                I've posted this on Manhattan - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/494830

                                                I've been to Chinatown many times on my DiPalo's expeditions, but other than poking around Chinese stores and noting the many unfamiliar to me ingredients, have never shopped there.

                                                1. re: pitu

                                                  The link below shows the Pixian Chili Bean Paste that I have been using for the last couple of years. Lately I have not been able to find it though and have had to use a different brand.


                                              2. re: JoanN

                                                Terrific, thank you for the reassurance!


                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                  Great news, because thats what I found too. Does it matter (or do I need to adjust seasoning) that they're called Salted Black Beans (spiced)?

                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                    I'm not sure what "spiced" means. I don't think the ones I buy are and the package I have on hand is vacuum packed so tightly I can't read the small amount of English on it. What I can tell you is that shrimp and/or clams in black bean sauce is one of my comfort foods and I make them both quite a bit. My favorite recipe calls for soaking the beans in warm water for a few minutes and then chopping them. I just picked up my copy of LOP from the library about an hour ago and am just reading the intro material. But I took a very quick look at some recipes that called for fermented black beans and see that she uses them straight, without soaking or chopping. I would try them straight first; if they seem too strong or overpowering for you, you might try soaking them for a minute or two first.

                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                      The ones I bought say "Salted Black Bean" (Lee Kum Lee brand), also in a vacuum packed bag (though, not terribly vacuumed from what I can tell). Ingredients are Black Bean, water, salt, ferrous sulfate (which I'm sure is some kind of nasty preservative!). Haven't used them yet.

                                                      JoanN - so glad you got the book.

                                                      Another thought generally - when I made the dishes on Sunday, I erred on the side of adding just a little less chilis, in whatever form, to make sure the end product wasn't too spicy for me. I figured that I could just add more of my many chili products at table if needed. So, if yours are labeled spicy, you might want to taste one, and adjust the chilis.

                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                        I might just add, all of my ingredients, until I started posting on them, were covered in light soy sauce, as the bottle (firmly closed) leaked entirely into the bag in which I was storing them!

                                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                                          Thanks ladies! Mine bag (also very lightly "vacuum packed") has this in the ingredients list: black bean, water, salt, ginger, orange peel and spice (hmmm).

                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                            Ferrous sulfate is just going to a a little iron to your diet! Usually not a bad thing.

                                                            1. re: sel

                                                              Thanks - "ferrous" - should have figured out the iron part. Wasn't worried about it though.

                                                    2. re: fern

                                                      fern, yes! I buy these small bags in Chinatown here and they are called "Crushed Chili Peppers" but there are the same as what you find in pizza joints.

                                                      1. re: fern

                                                        I just started reading LOP last night - wow, what a lof information!. She actually is very specific about some ingredients and how you can substitute. On p. 54, there is a section on chilis:

                                                        She says the most common Sichuanese chili is the "facing-heaven chili" (chao tian Jiao) - picture on p. 129 - with a similar variety called "seven-star" (qi xing chiao). Other dried chilis can be substituted, but avoid the inch-long Thai chilis (I think the ones they call Thai bird?) as they are too spicy. For ground Sichuan chili, it's usually the facing-heaven type, but paprika can be substituted in recipes using it as a dip or ingredient, while any ground or flaked chili can be used for making chili oil.

                                                        1. re: Rubee

                                                          The bit thing I'm wondering about are the salted chilis that she has the recipe for - and are used in a lot of recipes - but she says it takes a couple of weeks before they are ready. Does anyone know if this is something one can purchase?

                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                              Excellent -- thanks! I'm going to post a request on Manhattan for good places to shop in Chinatown.


                                                            2. re: MMRuth

                                                              MMR: I'm sure you can purchase salted chilis (It does take at least a week and a half before they're ready), but you really must make them. Even if they take almost the whole month to ripen, you can use them for so many other dishes. They're great in chicken marinades, sprinkled on hamburgers, on scrambled eggs...

                                                              1. re: oakjoan

                                                                Is this the same thing as pickled chillies (I just got my book) I can't find a recipe for them in my edition of LOP (the British one, called Sichuan Cooking) and she says they're not currently available in the UK.

                                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                                  No greedygirl. The salted chili recipe from RHC does not have vinegar in them, so they are not pickled. Essential Dunlop's recipe calls for one one-quarter cup of salt and one lb of fresh red chili peppers, washed and dried completely; then chopped up coarsely without the stems and "bottoms." The seeds are used in this as well. Then add three and one half tsp. of salt and mix. Put it all in a glass jar and then cover with remaining salt. Cover with a tight lid. (I've placed cling film or saran wrap over the chillies in my jars as I used a larger jar so there was still plenty of room in the jar.) Leave in a cool place for a couple of weeks, then place in fridge once opened. Oh be sure to use rubber gloves when chopping the chilies! She says they will keep for four months.

                                                                  1. re: scoopG

                                                                    Thanks for that. I'd managed to figure it out (with the help of Chowhound) and I've actually got a jar of the salted chillies in my kitchen at the moment.

                                                              2. re: MMRuth

                                                                MM Ruth, I haven't seen them. Her recipe for the salted chillies is a great one. (I bought my fresh hot red peppers at a vegie stall on Bayard, near Mott. Have to go inside. They were the small ones.) In fact, I froze half the mixture after 3 weeks, the other half went into the fridge. You could substitute Lan Chi Brand "Chili with Garlic Paste" using a minute amount until your batch is ready! Lan Chi products are at Kam Man.

                                                                BTW I've found I had to cut down the amount of the salted chilies in two of her dishes (Spicy Coriander Salad and Steamed Chicken with Salted Chilies) as it was a bit too hot!

                                                                1. re: scoopG

                                                                  Thanks - I think I'll buy some and make some - since I don't want to go three weeks w/o cooking w/ dishes that call for them!

                                                                2. re: MMRuth

                                                                  This might be a brainless question, but I can't find anything in the book as to whether regular "table" salt or "kosher" salt would be preferable, especially in the salted chilies recipe... What do y'all think?

                                                                  1. re: RWCFoodie

                                                                    She actually says sea salt is closest to the salt used in Sichuan. I can't remember the page in LOP; I'll go look it up.....

                                                                    Found it (the index in this book is terrible!). On p. 72 under the heading "Salt (chuan yan)" she talks about the distinctive well salt used in Sichuan but that "the difference between Sichuan salt and a good sea salt is...subtle", so it's not worth trying to find Sichuanese salt.

                                                                    I think I'm going to make those salted chilis tonight too.

                                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                                      Rubee, thanks so much for finding that - I went over it several times and I guess I was just skimming too much...

                                                              3. re: fern

                                                                Fern, probably a different pepper, but close. They would work.

                                                              4. An aside - but just found this Asian ingredient glossary that might come in handy:


                                                                1. Wow, I've been offline for about 5 days and I come back to a Dunlop EXPLOSION! You guys have been cooking up a storm. Unfortunately, due to my schedule I won't be able to delve into the book for another 2 weeks or so, but fingers crossed for a slower latter half of the month. Until then, I'll just eat vicariously through your postings.

                                                                  PS. be sure to try the Whole Fish Braised in Chili Bean Sauce and use the leftover sauce for the tofu. It's in the LOP on page 259.

                                                                  1. Perhaps someone might explain what's with the rampant substituting of ingredients going on during "Dunlop Month." How can one possibly understand the nature of her recipes if they *start by* swapping out components and methods? Make it her way the first go round, then do whatever...

                                                                    87 Replies
                                                                    1. re: aelph

                                                                      I don't think there's rampant substituting of ingredients going on--there's one person substituting systematically and that's me, and for the reasons described and discussed here. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49271... And, for the most part, with the exception of sugar (which I have a very specific health reason for doing) and noodles, I haven't substituted as much as I've simply reduced the fat. (Oh, I did use ground beef in two recipes one night instead of ground pork, but that was mostly a result of a misunderstanding in my household about what I asked to have defrosted.) And, yes, I serve my meals with wild rice instead of white rice, again, mostly for health reasons.) On at least two occasions, I made an accidental substitution because I didn't learn until after the fact that I'd used the wrong item and, when I retraced my tracks because I thought the dish was "off" I discoved why. But, I felt I could still attempt the techniques to see how they worked and learn from my experiences and, maybe, prevent others from making the same mistakes. It's been valuable for me personally and this is what chowhound is about: sharing our experiences. I am very much a beginner cook and this process with the feedback and encouragement has been helpful for me. I've never made a substitution without disclosing that I've done so. That way, people reading the posts can make their own assessment of what's right for them in making the recipes.

                                                                      No one participating in the voting raised an objection and in fact, several people encouraged me to post about my experiences. I understand it's cookbook of the month, but people still have to live their lives and look after their health.

                                                                      As far as I know, substitutions being made by people other than me seem to do with availability of ingredients.

                                                                      I encourage you to follow the recipes to the letter, though, and post about your experiences. I know I'd love to read about that!


                                                                      1. re: aelph

                                                                        Actually, I find that reading about alternatives and modifications makes me think about the roles played by different ingredients thereby increasing my kitchen knowledge.
                                                                        I am anxious to read about the experiences of all participants, those going completely by the book as well as those who modify. Something to be learned through the comparisons for a beginner like me. Learning about healthier (for me, anyway) options here is very helpful. I don't see that the integrity of the project is compromised. Rather, it keeps things relevant and inclusive.
                                                                        Perhaps the project means different things to different people and there's nothing wrong with that. Speaking for myself, I find the posts already written to be interesting and informative and look forward to more.

                                                                        1. re: fern

                                                                          Also, part of the challenge for me (and even more so, I'm guessing, for posters who live in areas with less access to them) is the ingredients: figuring out what they are, have I bought the right thing, etc. I accidentally used the Chinese cooking wine in one recipe instead of vinegar, but that wasn't deliberate - just grabbed the wrong bottle of the 6 or so new bottles in my pantry. And, from my perspective, better to have cooked and substituted, than never to have cooked at all!

                                                                          I do plan to buy a wok because I now see how useful it is for this kind of cooking, but wanted to try cooking w/o one first, so that I wasn't adding yet another piece of equipment to my small kitchen. And even though I couldn't properly smack the cucumbers even with my heaviest knife, I don't think I'm going to buy a cleaver.

                                                                          I generally do try to follow a recipe to the "T" the first time, and then adapt - but for the reasons stated above, that's not possible for everyone here. I think it's great, for example, that TDQ is participating in COTM for the first time inspite of her current dietary restrictions.

                                                                          Aelph - I gather you've cooked from Dunlop's books in the past - perhaps you would share with us some of your favorites?

                                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                                            FWIW, I've never owned a wok and haven't felt like there was a void in my life. I generally cook chinese food in different size skillets or this almost wok like shaped pot. My mother, who is also Chinese, hates cooking with a wok and hasn't owned one in years (or it's been buried in the basement). Part of her issue with it, is the perceived inconvenience of cooking, cleaning and storing an odd shaped device. She does all her stir frying and sauteeing in skillets as well.

                                                                            1. re: beetlebug

                                                                              The reason I thought of getting one was b/c of the huge amount of splattering when I was cooking the shrimp in a cup of oil. Since I needed to be stirring them, I couldn't use the splatter guard. But that is good to know!

                                                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                Sometimes, for a dish like that, I'll use a dutch oven or a sauce pan. It keeps it a little cleaner since the sides are higher.

                                                                                1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                  That's clever - I'd not thought of that - will try the dutch oven next time!

                                                                                2. re: MMRuth

                                                                                  Me too....I was frying (fish-fragrant eggplant) in a shallow iron skillet, and thought I'd better switch to a deeper one in the future...or a get a wok.

                                                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                    The nice thing about the carbon steel wok (yes it will rust if not cared for properly) is that they heat up so well, distributing the heat evenly. And as you cook rather than use a lot of pans, you use one pan. You can push and adjust the food up the wall of the wok, much like a bbq where you have less heat. They come in all sizes now, I couldn't cook Chinese without mine now, I need that HOT HOT heat for quick or barely cooking the food so it doesn't overcook.

                                                                                    The other nice thing is you can braise and what I use it often is to deep fry, egg rolls, chicken wings for Oyster Wings, and fish, etc. It has many uses.
                                                                                    Oh almost forgot, and to stack the bamboo steamer-they were meant for each other!

                                                                                  2. re: beetlebug

                                                                                    I really like using a wok. In fact, when my last one lost it’s handle, I replaced it almost immediately. I don’t know about Dunlop’s recipes, but I have a number of Chinese cookbooks that call for pushing some foods up the sides of the wok while you reduce a sauce or cook other ingredients on the bottom where the heat is highest before pushing the ingredients on the side back down into the sauce. That’s something you just can’t do with a skillet. I also find the wok great for steaming—especially whole fish. I put chopsticks in the wok to hold a plate above steaming liquid, put the fish and seasonings on the plate, cover the wok and—voila! A fish steamer. I don’t have another pot or pan that would serve as well.

                                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                                      Yes - some of them do call for pushing the food up the side of the wok.

                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                        Yeah, I improvise by either scooping out the stuff or dumping it into a bowl. I also have a small kitchen so if my modifications work, I can't buy another piece of equipment. And, since the food turns out fine, I can't justify it.

                                                                                        I do find it kind of funny though, I have absolutely no memory of my mother every cooking with a wok and she has plenty of space in the kitchen. Her food (I only ate chinese growing up)was always delicous and she never really followed strict recipes. It was always ad libbed depending on what she had on hand.

                                                                                      2. re: JoanN

                                                                                        Joan N:

                                                                                        You beat me to it! I was just going to post about the ability to move ingredients away from the heat in a wok. A stellar attribute! It is also true, however, that a wok on a normal kitchen stove will never get hot like the one in a Chinese restaurant when the stove has a depression specifically for holding a wok and exposing more of it to intense heat. I still use mine all the time, though.

                                                                                        Regarding "wok hai" discussed by aelph and beetlebug below, I've read that we'll never really be able to achieve it on a home stove due to the above-discussed insufficient heat.

                                                                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                          I do like how you can move the food to a cooler spot in a wok, though on a stupid enough gas burner, the cooler spot is the center of the wok and the hot spots are in a circle around the wok part way up the sides. I also like how the wok smells. A non-stick skillet doesn't smell that way. Do people feel that cast iron skillets ever smell that way? Or does it have to be a skillet that doesn't have bacon and the like cooked in it?

                                                                                        2. re: JoanN

                                                                                          I bought a wok! And a lid, and a steamer insert thing, a strainer, a wok scoop (I think - recommended by the person at the store) ..... I bought a ring - though I do think it might rest ok directly on the gas burner.

                                                                                          And, yes, that IS the refrigerator to the right of the stove - only place for it!

                                                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                            Oh, boy! Let the fun begin!

                                                                                            BTW, that strainer thing is called a spider. And you may be surprised at how much you use it. I find it comes in handy for getting anything out of liquid or oil like dumplings and fried chicken.

                                                                                            I'm particularly interested to see your steamer insert. I didn't even realize something like that existed. I was thinking of the steamer baskets. Something like yours would be a lot more practical for me. I'll have to take another look next time I'm at Kam Man.

                                                                                            Oh, and btw2, I have a ring also but it's in dead storage. The bottom of my wok has a bit of a flat section so it seats perfectly well directly on the gas burner. I never had a problem with instability. You'll find out soon enough whether or not you need it.

                                                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                              Do try the wok without the ring, as I see you have a gas stove. Mine will sit on the grates just fine, but it depends on the grate style, I believe. I'd keep the ring, though, if you think you'll use the wok to velvet chicken or deep-fry. You might want the stability then. You have the same style wok as I have, with the little metal handles on each side. That brass strainer works well to fish things out of oil when frying, but it can gum up fiercely.

                                                                                              Enjoy your wok!

                                                                                              1. re: saltwater

                                                                                                Help! I've seasoned it per Dunlop, but now I have these brown "scorch" marks/blogs on some of the parts closer to the heat!! My sense is that this is going to burn food. I want to start making my spring roll filling .....!

                                                                                                P.S. - JoanN - the steamer thing was right along where the woks were.

                                                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                  You may just be seeing the beginning of the development of seasoning, which is good. Seasoning will not burn your food. My only worry is that you might not have done the initial seasoning steps for use of a wok.

                                                                                                  Which instructions? I see the instructions to "season" a wok each time before you use it in LOP, but that is not the same as seasoning a wok the very first time you use one, as far as I know. Hmmm. I did something different from her instructions the first time, anyway. Does she give instructions somewhere for the first time use of a wok?

                                                                                                  My wok is completely black. You do want it to end up black, kind of like cast iron. It will blacken nearest to the heat first. I'm enclosing a picture of the underside of my wok, where you can see the edge of the seasoning breaking down by the burner grate, which might help you visualize how the seasoning builds up. You can see the thinner seasoning that is only brownish and the thicker stuff which is slick black. (Note, you don't want the inside of your wok to have the seasoning peeling like this.)

                                                                                                  1. re: saltwater

                                                                                                    The instructions for the initial seasoning are to heat up the wok on high, wipe w/ a paper towel dipped in oil, let cool, repeat twice. I think it's fine - I went ahead and stir fried in the ingredients for my spring rolls and then did the first deep fry, and nothing amiss so far. Thanks for the photo!!

                                                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                      Here is a link on how to season a wok from this store in SF chinatown.


                                                                                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                        Weird. There's a "Walk Shop" in Berkeley. I guess you buy shoes there and then use them to walk over to SF to the Wok Shop, eh?

                                                                                                        Thanks for the info beetlebug!

                                                                                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                          I've walked by the Wok Shop a number of times during my visits to SF. It's a neat store but I've never bought anything there. Probably because I'm too focused in getting pastries from Golden Gate Bakery, which is a few blocks up.

                                                                                                          So the question becomes, do we Wok this way on the HC board or do we just walk the wok.

                                                                                                          Ok, back to drinking my coffee.

                                                                                                      2. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                        The paper towel thing works well. Everything sounds fine!

                                                                                                        1. re: saltwater

                                                                                                          Some springrolls and a couple of stir fries later and it's on its way to acquiring patina! Thanks all!

                                                                                                2. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                  Hey--congrats. I would love to hear how it works for you and if, by the time we're done with March COTM you think it was worth the purchase (and space)--what's the silver looking scrubby-looking thing to the left?


                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                    It's a stainless steel scrubber - so not actually the right thing for scrubbing the wok - I had to dig up the steel wool. The wok was $9.95, and I guess will fit on top of my kitchen cupboards along with the fish poacher and various other items!

                                                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                      Ah, so it IS a scrubbie! Woks always seem like an incredible bargain to me. So question for MMRuth or anyone else who knows, would buying a wok help me in my efforts to cut back on the amount of oil that I'm using in my cooking or will it require that I stick more closely to the recommended quantities of oil in the recipes? Or will it be "oil neutral"?


                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                        My first reaction is that it would help you, since the oil will be concentrated in the bottom of the wok, rather than spread across the flat surface of a skillet or sauce pan.

                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                          TDQ, the whole principle behind using a wok is to be able to cook very quickly under very high heat. Most residential gas stoves are in the 8,000 to 10,000 BTU range. Higher end ranges like Viking, Garland etc make 15,000 BTU models or higher. And of course the BTU level in Chinese restaurants will be much much higher - as they have specially designed wok burners, with one or two rings of fire.

                                                                                                          A large flat frying pan works just as well - giving you a large surface area. Using a non-stick pan will also enable you to reduce the oil levels.

                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                            Compared to a stainless steel sauté pan, the wok is superior for oil usage. At least, that is my experience. Compared to a heavy nonstick sauté pan, the sauté pan might do better. Is one allowed to heat up nonstick till the oil smokes? That might ruin the coating.

                                                                                                            Interestingly, I saw a picture of someone with an oval sauté pan, so that he could hang the end of it off the heat and use that area to push the food into, just like you can push food up the side of a wok.

                                                                                                3. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                  Thank you for the different perspectives on what was something of a headscratcher for me. Yes, I've been cooking from Land of Plenty since it was published in the American edition a few years ago. I received Revolutionary Chinese as a Christmas gift and it's still in my pile of cookery books to plow through. Of course, I long since skimmed it! But, I haven't cooked from it yet and am just as eagerly as others following these threads. I, too, don't use a wok, instead I make do with a variety of pans. Maybe I'm missing the wok hai, but I've been pleased with my results regardless.

                                                                                                  1. re: aelph

                                                                                                    I may be missing the wok hai as well. But, I also think you can only get really great wok hai with a really old, long used wok AND a really hot/high flame which would be difficult, if not dangerous, to recreate at home.

                                                                                                    1. re: aelph

                                                                                                      aelph, I hope you'll be joining in this month. It would be fantastic to have continued input from someone who is very familiar with LOP!


                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                        Definitely :)

                                                                                                        I'll follow along and if I can add anything constructive I'll be sure to.

                                                                                                        The awful thing is that the s/o is not a huge fan of any Chinese cuisine(on the other hand...my grandfather made a point of sussing out mom n pop Chinese restaurants in Houston in the 70's/80's and taking the family to his favorites...so I grew up counting Hunan and Sichuan as some of my favorites, period)

                                                                                                        The s/o gamely puts up with my Chinese dinners, but when I really want to explore I tend to cook and experiment just for myself.

                                                                                                        So, I'm especially enthused to read how others react to Dunlop's erudition. I've had great results.

                                                                                                4. re: aelph

                                                                                                  I think it would be a shame if people chose not to post about their experiences with COTM simply because they forgot to buy shallots and substituted garlic or onion or can’t find one kind of chili and substituted another. Back when Julia Child was COTM, it was almost shocking to me to be reminded of how cavalierly we used butter a couple of decades ago. It was helpful to know that someone could make an excellent sole meunière with a nonstick pan and a tablespoon of butter rather than the ½ cup of butter called for. Sure substituting low-fat yogurt for full-fat heavy cream will change a dish somewhat, but it’s great to find out that it’s still an excellent dish nonetheless. And sometimes we discover the opposite. I don’t recall now which recipe it was, but I chose to eliminate the heavy cream in one and discovered, in the ensuing discussion, that for that recipe it was probably a mistake. We try. We share. We learn. That’s what COTM is all about.

                                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                    JoanN--it's funny how cookbooks really do reflect the attitudes of era in which they were written. I love the cookbooks that get handed down to me for that very reason.

                                                                                                    Thank you, everyone, for sharing your thoughts on the substitution subject. I'm learning a lot and having fun and I hope you are all, too. Ideally, I would make the recipes the way they were written, but, don't always have that option. I did actually flip through the both books first to see which recipes would require no modification to work for me and am delighted when I find those!

                                                                                                    Ingredient question: salted chiles. I see a recipe (one of the shrimp ones) I want to make because it calls for red bell peppers and I have a ton of them I want to use up right now. But, I see that it also calles for the salted chiles, which, according to Dunlop's recipe, take 2 weeks to make.

                                                                                                    Does anyone know if they sell already-salted chiles in Asian markets or is it something that truly must be made from scratch?

                                                                                                    Thank you!


                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                      There's a discussion of the salted chiles above - I asked the same question. I *think* I bought some!


                                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                        Whoops--how did I forget that discussion already? Terrific. I'll see if I can't purchase some for the "short run."


                                                                                                      2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                        I also enjoy reading the substitutions and modifications that people make. Sometimes you just want to make the dish and there just isn't time to run to the store, so you make do. Other times, it's for health/dietary reasons.

                                                                                                        I do like to follow the recipes, if I can, the first time around. But sometimes, general spaciness occurs and I buy the wrong thing, forget to buy it, forget to use it, or any of the above. While I want to arrive at the author's dish, I'm happy if it tastes good for dinner and I don't have to run and grab a pizza as a substitute.

                                                                                                        I think chinese food is versatile enough that substitutions can easily be made to suit the person's taste. And, if we really think about it, it makes sense. The nature of chinese food is to use the ingredients at hand, whether it's leeks or scallions may change the flavor, but it still gets the job done.

                                                                                                        Lastly, I hold TDQ in the highest regard, tackling COTM for the first time AND having dietary restrictions AND then sharing all of the info to those of us watching at home. I know I don't have that level of discipline.

                                                                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                          beetlebug, I find that the more I share on these boards, esp about my mistakes, the more people are able to help me and the more I learn!


                                                                                                          1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                            "The nature of Chinese food is to use the ingredients at hand, whether it's leeks or scallions may change the flavor, but it still gets the job done."

                                                                                                            This statement says it all for me. It seems to me that no matter what cuisine we're making, being the serious home cooks we are, we can make informed decisions regarding substitutions. It's true with Italian cooking where you want the best of all possible ingredients but are free to substitute as market availability or other concerns demand, and I'm glad to hear we can apply the same principle to Chinese cooking as well. This is to say that all cuisines want the very best available ingredients....

                                                                                                            Usually, I make a "first time" recipe to the letter, thinking it's good to get a sense of what the finished product should taste like. However, having prepared family meals for more years than I care to remember, I generally have a pretty good idea what the dish will taste like after reading the list of ingredients. One thing that has helped me enormously has been mis en place. Bringing all the ingredients together plus whatever bowls, whisks,knives, etc. I'm going to need assures me of not omitting anything.

                                                                                                            Tomorrow I'll be at our local Asian market to buy the Chinese ingredients not presently in my pantry, then I'll be able to start the COTM in earnest. So far I've just been reading.
                                                                                                            Many thanks to all for your helpful comments!!!

                                                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                                                              I've just been reading too, so far, and am amazed by the information everyone is sharing. So helpful. But a trip out today - to two different stores - proved useless on the ingredient front. But I've got another lead, and hope to get there tomorrow. Hoping to be able to start cooking along soon.

                                                                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                  Chapel Hill, NC (although it seems we used to have the same stomping grounds - I lived in Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle for years).

                                                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                    Funny! My mother lives in Eastern NC, which is why I asked, and there's a great Asian market near her, but that is too far for you! Any luck querying on the South board?

                                                                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                      Do you have a Whole Foods - they may have some things...

                                                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                        I had a bit of luck at the Asian store today, although I'd like someone to confirm that the things I got are going to be ok. Instead of the salted chilis, which they were out of, the man steered me to something that is labeled "hunan chili paste." He said this was the closest thing they had, but that it will be spicier. Its in a jar, which somehow isn't how I expected the salted chilis to come. And for the sichuan chile bean paste, he's also given me something in a jar (which he led me to immediately when I asked for the SCBP) which just says Black Beans on it. Did I do ok? A little nervous about this...

                                                                                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                          You know, when I asked the clerk at the store in Chinatown about the "salted chilis" he didn't know what I was talking about (although he was helpful). I bought something that says "chili paste" in English, but isn't a paste, more like chopped up chilis, and the ingredients are chilis and salt, so that's what I'm using.

                                                                                                                          I also bought:

                                                                                                                          "Hao Pin Wei Food Co. - hot chili bean sauce w/garlic"
                                                                                                                          "Lian How brand - hot broad bean paste"
                                                                                                                          "Xian La Ban - chili sauce" (ingredients chili, canola oil, salt, msg ...)
                                                                                                                          "Oriental Mascot - Chili Sauce with Bean Paste" - darker and earthier tasting
                                                                                                                          Chili oil

                                                                                                                          So who knows what I have!!

                                                                                                                          Glad you had some luck. I'll have to do a taste test of all of these.

                                                                                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                            Your chili paste product sounds right to me. As I said above, I just got the book out of the library and am reading the intro, but I see she says you can use Sambal Olek instead of pickled chiles. She says the chiles are pickled in a solution of salt, sugar, wine and spices. But my bottle of Sambal Olek (which I'll probably use since I have it) is just ground (but looking more like very finely chopped) chilis and salt. Sounds like just what you got and I'm sure it will be fine.

                                                                                                                          2. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                            Hi LulusMom,

                                                                                                                            I haven't started my pantry-stocking shopping yet, but I just looked up how she describes Chili Bean Paste (p. 57 in LOP) - she says it's a fermented paste made from chiles and fava beans, "the freshest is bright red and the most mature a dark purple". I'm not sure re: black beans, but she does mention specifically "make sure they are made with the authentic fava beans rather than soybeans". Hope that helps.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                              That sounds like my "Hot Broad Bean Paste" - which is a dark earthy red - sort of like my CH background!

                                                                                                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                heh heh.

                                                                                                                                I'll have to see if I can find that Lian How brand.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                  Again, thanks to all of you. I've managed to find my reading glasses (the print on these things is teeeeeeeny tiny). The one called Chili paste(which I was going to sub for the salted chilies) actually has some fermented beans in it and the one that is supposed to be chili bean paste does have both chilies and beans. Makes me worry that I'm really missing out on the salted chili bit, and going to just be doubling up on the same thing (if they're both in the same recipe).

                                                                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                    Really confusing, isn't it? I think that's why it could be helpful to take the book with you, but, unfortunately, the Asian markets we have locally are Southeast Asian--I don't know fit they would recognize any of the names or characters. Still, a helpful salesperson is worth a lot right now!


                                                                                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                      It might be easier for you to find Sambal Olek and to use that for the pickled chiles. I've forgotten now where I bought mine, but I'm almost certain my local supermarket has it in the Asian section. Perhaps yours does as well?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                        I got most of what I went to buy today except the pickled cabbage/vegetables. But I was thinking it sounds like Kimchi. Does anyone else think so? The Black Beans were in a jar not a package, but I think it's what's called for.

                                                                                                                                        So this weekend will be the first of two meals I'll be cooking from the online Dunlop recipes. DH is just a leeeetle bit leery of this new obsession of mine. We shall see how it all turns out. I will definitely let y'all know.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                          "DH is just a leeeetle bit leery of this new obsession of mine." Ha! My husband now knows that he can eat when he hears the camera click! Just cooked three more dishes - will post in a bit. Good luck.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                            Oh dear - I can hardly wait. I am humbled just by looking at your pictures.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                            I think your Kimchi analagoy is excellent. I'm guessing the difference between them is in the brine. In her recipe in LOP, the spices are Sichuan pepper, star anise, and cinnamon along with brown sugar. I've only eaten, not made, Kimchi. But I'll bet if those ingredients were added to a Kimchi brine you wouldn't be far off.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                              A Million thanks for that JoanN!!! Going back for the Kimchi.

                                                                                                                                              Star anise, cinnamon and brown sugar are no problem. The thing that's stymied me in several markets is the Sichuan peppercorns, but DH promised he'd hunt them down. Fingers crossed.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                I got my peppercorn from Penzeys

                                                                                                                                                1. re: jsaimd

                                                                                                                                                  I buy from Penzey's online but I fear the shipping will take too long.. There's a Penzey's store a few towns over from where we live and DH said he'd try to go there before the weekend.
                                                                                                                                                  You see my problem is that I'm in a wheelchair so I have to rely on others for some things. We'll get it done though.....

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                    What a good guy....good luck, and I'm looking forward to cooking along once I get my shopping done (hopefully this weekend too).

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                  I don't know if this helps, but I buy my Sichuan peppercorns from Penzeys (mail-order) as I know they're good quality and fresh.

                                                                                                                                                  Actually, now that I'm reminded, I j ust ordered some more more ingredients for the cookbook - fennel seeds, tien sin chili peppers, ground white pepper, black and white sesame seeds, and more Sichuan pepper.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                Have you tried the Super 88 in Allston? I think I've seen sichuan peppercorn there. It's in the aisle with the dried unsweeetened coconut and the bulk herbs (tumeric, etc.). Further down, in the same row, as the soy sauces and oils.

                                                                                                                                                As for the pickled cabbages, I think it's green, not the reddish color of kimchee. I've also seen these in sealed bags and/or cans at the same Super 88, I'm just blanking on the row.

                                                                                                                                                My black beans were also from a jar. They work fine. Here are pics of some condiments.


                                                                                                                                                1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                                                  Thanks to both of you Beetlebug and Rubee. We were at the Super 88 in Malden today but alas no pickled cabbage. However not all the Kimchi was red. I should have bought it. The only item I'm missing other than that is the dang Sichuan peppercorns. My friend in Vermont sent me a huge bag of fennel seeds from the plants in her garden so I have enough for a lifetime I think.

                                                                                                                                                  I've never been to the Alston Super 88. Perhaps a Saturday road trip is in order..

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                    I think Penzey's may be a better bet. I find that the stock in the Allston Super 88 can be inconsistent. I would hate to have you go down and not find it.

                                                                                                                                                    OTOH, you can hit the food court, or Ken's ramen (to the side of entrance) or Gitlo's down the street, while you're in the neighborhood.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                      I have found the sichuan peppercorns from Penzys to be far superior to any I have gotten in the Super 88's or local asian markets. There's a Penzys in Arlington if mail order isn't a good option for you.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Food4Thought


                                                                                                                                                        Thanks for this info. The last package of Sichuan peppercorns I bought was very blah....seemed as if they'd been in their cellophane wrapper for way too long. Will try Penzy's. I usually us Herbie's Spices in Australia, which used to be really cheap when the dollar was worth more and it was a great deal even after paying the shipping. They also have a great selection. Now it's time to try Penzy's.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                  Great thought - I'm headed to the local grocery store today and will look for the sambll olek (I normally make my own sambal paste ... do you think that is basically the same thing? If so, I could do that if everything else fails). Thanks for the info.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                    When I got to the store, I quickly realized I already had sambal olek at home (just called chile-garlic sauce or something like that). But it was worth the trip because I finally found some black vinegar. Yay! Thanks for all the help/advice.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                      There is no garlic in sambal oelek. Furthermore, sambal oelek is a Malaysian product.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                          If you're talking what I think you are then you have to make them: salted chiles. You don't buy them. I would not use chile paste or, godforbid, sambal oelek, as a substitute.

                                                                                                                                          I don't mean to be a party pooper :)

                                                                                                                                          However, Dunlop is very clear as to what products to look for in your Asian market or online. You simply cannot substitute other Asian cuisine's products and expect *anywhere near* the proper flavor in the finished dish. It starts to beg the question of why bother?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: aelph

                                                                                                                                            Unfortunately, some people are in areas where they can't find all the ingredients. But I thought we'd already had that discussion (grin).

                                                                                                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                              We will have to agree to disagree. I appreciate that people are enthused about Sichuan and Hunan cuisine. However(and this goes for any cuisine)...if you can't find the correct or correctish ingredients then I don't see the point. You won't get the desired result. You have to go to a Chinese market(or online). You cannot necessarily substitute SE Asian or Malaysian ingredients for those used in China. The same holds vice versus. I'm not addressing cross-pollination of cuisines here, merely that with the advent of das internets it's pretty easy to procure the right ingredients regardless of where one lives. It's all well and good that people wanna "get cooking," still, if you have the book in front of you...follow it. You are guaranteed a great result.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: aelph

                                                                                                                                              In LOP, Dunlop specifically states that sambal oelek can be substituted for pickled chiles. It's in the ingredients section of the book.

                                                                                                                                              Edited to add: this is from memory, I looked at the list the other day. But, I know that SO can be substituted for some sort of chile product.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                                                "Sambal Oelek" isn't indexed in LOP and the closest my(admittedly perfunctory scan) can find is listed in the glossary under Pickled Chiles where Dunlop writes, "any suitable substitute will list water and salt rather than vinegar as the main pickling ingredient."

                                                                                                                                                1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                                                  Yes, you're absolutely right BB.

                                                                                                                                                  Aelph, now you're arguing against Dunlop's own substitution recommendations. ; ) - "I would not use chile paste or, godforbid, sambal oelek, as a substitute"

                                                                                                                                                  On page 56 of LOP under the heading "Pickled Chiles", she specifically says "The hot Indonesian pickled chili paste, Sambal Oelek, is a fine substitution for this puree as it has a beautiful color and a suitable degree of hotness".


                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                                    And she also seems generally amenable to substitutions, I thought - when I read parts of RCC, she seems to encourage people to give it a go, regardless of some shortfalls in ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                    But - back to the Chow!!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                                      Eek - sorry to have caused a stir. I'm going to go ahead with the SA. Damn the torpedos - full speed ahead.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                                        Like I said...I merely skimmed that paragraph. She does indeed offer sambal oelek as a substitute...then contradicts herself by specifying chile mash w/o vinegar; SO contains vinegar.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: aelph

                                                                                                                                                          "SO contains vinegar"

                                                                                                                                                          Mine doesn't. It contains lactic acid, not acetic acid.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: aelph

                                                                                                                                                            I understand you skimmed the paragraph and missed that Dunlop specifically suggests sambal oelek - I think it's one of the reasons I don't understand the criticism directed at those who read the book and are planning to use this, since you yourself are not quite sure what Dunlop's suggested substitutes are.

                                                                                                                                                            I am one of those purists who like exploring a new cuisine by using the exact ingredients mentioned, and do enjoy the process of hunting them down (which is what I plan to do with Dunlop). However, the main purport of this whole COM since its inception is to vote on a book to encourage everyone to join a community of food-loving cooks who want to comment and cook along. I for one love the enthusiasm shown and find it inspiring that all these wonderful people are delving into the books, making the effort to hunt down hard-to-find ingredients, and taking the time (which is NOT easy) to try to adapt these recipes to their own particular situation. I know you've said "why bother", but I don't agree.

                                                                                                                                                            I appreciate your thoughts and agree to some extent, but feel that in this situation, it's contrary to the spirit of this fun, enthusiastic, "cook-along". I would hate to think that there may be those who decide not to join in because of the insistence that it's 'wrong' to make substitutions, when the cookbook author herself (for example) offers an Indonesian ingredient to substitute for a Sichuan one, which I understand you disagree with.

                                                                                                                                                            I have to add that I really do appreciate your enthusiasm and obvious love for this cuisine and Dunlop's books, so would love to see your reports and comments as you cook some of your favorite recipes this month!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                                              You are so right Rubee! Even amongst brands, you are going to have a slight difference perhaps in flavor, but not enough that the dish is going to not be any good.

                                                                                                                                                              I for one would bother, you might like your rendition better.
                                                                                                                                                              Keep cooking!!!

                                                                                                                                                              I have been following the search for the salty black beans, I chuckled because even a trip to Chinatown-Oakland (years ago) I came back scratching my head. It can like going on a scavenger hunt! But oh so fun!

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: aelph

                                                                                                                                                        the salted chiles are pretty easy to find in large chinese or vietnamese groceries - just small pieces of bright red chile in brine, maybe with a little sugar. The thread on this topic has a good pic of what is available. Having used them, I wouldnt say that sambal oelek which is salted fresh chiles isnt that far off. The chiles add a nice bright color to the dish as well as flavor.Id say if there was sufficient chile heat already in the dish you could sub chopped up roasted pimentos as well, but fresh red bell peppers would be a totally different texture.

                                                                                                                                  2. OK - I am cursed to start this. My trip on Saturday, I missed a few things, so I dragged my kids out the door much to their dismay to hit the Asian store again. But every brand of chili bean paste had wheat in it, which I am allergic to... Then we got a flat tire, but that is another story.

                                                                                                                                    So my question is - is there anything I can sub to approximate the flavor of bean paste. I have fermented black beans, but the clerk at the store said they were different flavors.

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: jsaimd

                                                                                                                                      I hope someone else can chime in about the substitution - I'm still figuring all of this out myself, but it seems as if we are all having odd "disaster" stories that go along with this month's COTM - I accidentally spat out a sip of red wine due to a cough last night and now have a "special paint technique" on part of my living room wall, and my bottle of soy sauce mysteriously emptied itself into my bag of ingredients!

                                                                                                                                      FWIW - my chili bean paste doesn't have wheat listed as an ingredient, though I realize that doesn't help you unless you decide to drag your kids to another Asian store yet again.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                        Yes, there's nothing that livens up an evening like being chased around your own garage by your own driverless vehicle, which shall be henceforth known as Christine. Although, I can't actually blame it on the Dunlop books or the car being haunted as much as I can on the fact that I forgot to put the car in park before I hopped out to move something out of the way. Seriously, though, I might be able to blame it on distraction and excitement--I had so many plans for what I was going to do and cook on Saturday. But, yes, rounding up the Dunlop ingredients has been quite daunting, if not haunting--and I'm not even sure I'm done yet!

                                                                                                                                        Sorry, jsaimd about your flat tire and MMRuth about your inadvertant redecorating. And the soy sauce with the mind of its own!


                                                                                                                                    2. We've been talking so much about our ingredients, I thought I'd share a photograph of the "box o' ingredients" I cart up and down the stairs between the spare fridge in the basement and the kitchen. Then, there's the random non-fridge items like white pepper, peppercorns, etc. I didn't realize how much I'd amassed until I put it all together.


                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                        Wow, DQ! This is truly impressive.

                                                                                                                                        I feel totally guilty (NOT) about my ease in procuring all the ingredients within a 5 mile radius of my house, in places that all have easy parking!

                                                                                                                                        Oakjoan ducks as pots and pans come flying her way.

                                                                                                                                        However, this good luck is offset by my quest for kamut flour for a cake from Pure Dessert. Of course this needs to be made today and so there's no time in which to order from online sources.

                                                                                                                                        I was told that spelt flour is similar and am going with that. We'll see.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                          I am impressed! Nice collection, and these condiments will last a while, some really even years!

                                                                                                                                        2. Regarding the Pickled Chinese Cabbage: I have found several recipes for it on-line...
                                                                                                                                          Easy peasy to make from scratch as far as I can tell. Cabbage, salt, fish sauce and chili peppers. Some let the combo rest & meld for 3 days, some say it's an instant use.
                                                                                                                                          Does anyone know if that's all there is to it?


                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                            I guess I've just been plowed under, so I'll file my report under the appropriate thread......

                                                                                                                                          2. In a side note, would just like to steer Dunlop junkies to my post on Food Media and News yesterday - now that's a book to look forward to!

                                                                                                                                            1. Sorry about the tone of part of my last comment. As per the moderators, I'm re-posting it sans the last divisive paragraph as I think the bulk offers insight.

                                                                                                                                              ---She(FD) might be amenable to substitutions, but in that case one should use the substitutions she suggests...not misapprehended condiments of other origin. An analogy: I need dijon mustard for a recipe. All I can find is dijon mustard made with white wine and/or worcestershire sauce. Do I expect the recipe to turn out right using worcestershire dijon? No. That holds true for buying a chile paste that contains black beans or using black bean paste instead of salted/fermented black beans, or using Japanese soy sauce instead of the varieties of Chinese.

                                                                                                                                              I love LOP and I took pleasure in researching and finding proper ingredients. I'm
                                                                                                                                              not intimidated by Asian markets, but that doesn't mean I didn't have to
                                                                                                                                              do crossreferencing and trips to different stores to find what I needed. This holds
                                                                                                                                              true for Chicago(where I first started cooking from LOP)and, in the past 6 months,
                                                                                                                                              Indianapolis. Indy's proven slightly more challenging, but perseverence has
                                                                                                                                              paid off. I figure if I can do it here...anyone can.

                                                                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: aelph

                                                                                                                                                aelph, I admire your passion for being true to the recipes and for the Dunlop books in general and very much look forward to seeing your posts on how the recipes are working out for you should you decide to dive in and cook with us this month.

                                                                                                                                                As indicated by the multiple queries in this (and other) thread(s), I honestly believe people are doing the best they can to find the "right" ingredients. That having been said, people having varying capabilities to hunt down these ingredients, depending on where they live and what their circumstances are. I started shopping for ingredients before the Dunlop books were even declared the winners, (I was pretty sure they would be chosen, and, even if they weren't, I'd decided I would eventually try the recipes, anyway). I have visited Asian markets 3 different times and am planning another visit this afternoon. I'm fortunate to have numerous Asian markets within 5-10 minute of where I live and work. Yet, I still have not succeeded in finding all of the ingredients. And I think I've spent a lot of time shopping. Not every one has the time to make 4 visits to an Asian market (not to mention other markets for the meats, etc.) in a 1-2 week span of time (frankly, I don't really have that kind of time, either, and have neglected a few other things that need tending in my life in order to fit the shopping in...), and do the cooking and reading on top of that. After all, we have other things going on in our lives, and still have to put three meals on the table for our families every day.

                                                                                                                                                When I was standing over a sizzling pan of chicken last night and discovered I didn't have the right kind of vinegar, I wasn't going to stop cooking and tell my family that we were going to have to have spaghetti for dinner instead and that would be another half hour because I neglected to buy the right kind of vinegar. I just did the best I could. Sometimes these things are planned; sometimes they are unplanned, but, either way you just adapt and see what happens.

                                                                                                                                                I suppose we could all wait to start cooking until we'd attained 100% of the perfect ingredients, but that could be weeks, and this is the COTM, the COTnext3Months...

                                                                                                                                                And, I think there is value in forging ahead anyway. Many of the issues/questions/problems I'm having with the recipes have nothing to do with ingredient substitution--they have to do with, what does "fry until fragrant" mean? What happens when it seems you've come up short on egg whites? How small, exactly, do you slice a "sliver" of beef? I'm learning plenty about the ingredients I DO have, even the familiar ones.

                                                                                                                                                I am learning, even though I'm not working with absolutely 100% perfect ingredients. And I'm having fun. And I'm enjoying reading about what other people are doing and learning from them, too. I don't want them to stop posting just because they are substituting mushroom type B for mushroom type A, because, frankly, I see value in finding out what happens when, in fact, you use mushroom type B. Maybe it won't be faithful to the recipe, but it might be delicious, and that's okay, too, in my book. Or, it might be disasterous and then we all know, you must absolutely seek out mushroom type A, no matter what.

                                                                                                                                                This is just supposed to be fun and delicious and interactive. I'm sure as heck not perfect and don't expect that anyone else is, either.

                                                                                                                                                I do really hope you'll join us in cooking, and keep sharing your insights (as well as your shopping tips--esp the online ones for those hard-to-find ingredients) with us.


                                                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen


                                                                                                                                                  I can't remember if it was you who asked about "slivers" or not. In LOP she says this is 3 inches long and one eighth of an inch thick, I assume all round. So I envision a 3 inch long fat-ish matchstick. It is on page 38.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: saltwater

                                                                                                                                                    Awesome! Thank you, I'll bet that's in the chopping section or whatever that's called!


                                                                                                                                                2. re: aelph

                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for your insights and your apology. I think you mentioned elsewhere about online resources - do you have any particular recommendations? NYchowcook (who I gather is not in NYC) was looking for suggestions here:


                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                                    I let my enthusiasm get the better of me. ;)

                                                                                                                                                    This isn't an online source, but let me "shill" for Bruce Cost's book, Asian Ingredients, again: his work makes Asian ingredient shopping approachable and accessible(for non-Asians). Especially here in Indianapolis, I've been made to feel like the first white guy to set foot in the store...followed around..."are you sure you're in the right store?"
                                                                                                                                                    ...offered in friendly, querulous fashion. And, I hate to say it...but perhaps I *am* the first white guy to set foot in the store :) Indianapolis is funny that way. But, I ask questions and sometimes get answers. I offer my enthusiasm and willingness to learn and sometimes make friends...decide, because of the hospitality, that *this* is the store I'll spend my money at and special order from, rather than the store where they just can't be bothered.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: aelph

                                                                                                                                                      And, once again, I second the Bruce Cost recco. A great source.

                                                                                                                                                      I ate several times at his Big Bowl Restaurant in Chicago and it was very good. Don't know if this exists anymore as it was about 8 years ago.

                                                                                                                                                      We used to have him in SF.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: aelph

                                                                                                                                                        When I looked at Bruce Cost's book about ingredients, he mentions what seems to be sweet bean paste, which is mentioned by Dunlop. Cost says it is not a real ingredient, and that one can simulate it by using (regular) bean paste and a little sugar. Dunlop, OTOH, might be saying that she uses sweet bean paste because she cannot procure what she really wants, which is a sweet wheaten paste of some sort.

                                                                                                                                                        I don't have sweet bean paste, nor have I seen it yet, but I do have bean paste. So, when Dunlop calls for it, ought I use Cost's recommendation, or should I try and buy sweet bean paste, or ought I try and buy sweet wheaten paste? Does anyone have a jar of these? How do they compare in taste? Any thoughts?

                                                                                                                                                  2. I'm really excited about this thread, I'm ashamed to admit that this will be my first time participating in a COM.

                                                                                                                                                    I'm a Sichuan freak and I am very fortunate to have several phenomenal Sichuan restaurants nearby in the Boston area as well as a good variety of Asian markets.

                                                                                                                                                    I first tried tackling this cookbook about 8 months ago and did find it daunting to say the least. One of my greatest challenges was finding the proper ingredients, they are very specific. Being a bald white guy with glasses, not speaking any asian languages doesn't help.

                                                                                                                                                    One of the things that I found to be a great resource was to use Google Images search. I made a lot of mistakes before using this method, I think the english ingredient lists especially on a lot of sauces and pastes don't translate quite right all the time. Being armed with a picture of the label and often the brand that FD suggests, made life a lot easier. On the positive side, many of the ingredients are quite inexpensive so it didn't hurt as much tossing out my error and replacing them with the correct product.

                                                                                                                                                    Another thing I found myself falling victim to ( which I seem to be in good company here) is missing a step or going in improper order etc with the recipe. There's a a lot of artistry in this cuisine and the devil is in the details. Many times steps require a rapid fire succession which can also lend to losing your place in the recipe.

                                                                                                                                                    I have also tried cutting down on the amounts of oils in these recipes, out of health concerns, but that does have an impact in some dishes more than others; Mother Chen's tofu and Steamed beef for instance seem to lack without the (what I consider) high oil levels.

                                                                                                                                                    I like reading this book as much as a fine novel, the history and anecdotes really make it a pleasurable adventure. I think FD does a great job of presenting the recipes to the home cook, but I find one of the greatest barriers to overcome (in many Asian cuisines) is the inability to achieve those Mega BTU commercial cooking temps available in restaurants, a subtle, but I feel, very important detail.

                                                                                                                                                    As mentioned above I have access to some great sichuan restaurants which I have really come to enjoy, and I found myself getting frustrated that my favorite restaurant dishes, when attempted at home, were just "not quite it" but those differences are very subtle and tough to put my finger on. I have to think that this has more to due with the fact that I have become accustomed to being served by very talented chefs who have been most likely honing their recipes (and skills) for years.

                                                                                                                                                    I want to once again thank everyone participating in this thread, it has encouraged he to have another go at LOP. Hopefully some of my past experiences will be useful to some.

                                                                                                                                                    12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Food4Thought

                                                                                                                                                      Glad you're joining in!

                                                                                                                                                      "Another thing I found myself falling victim to ( which I seem to be in good company here) is missing a step or going in improper order etc with the recipe." - I've been making sure to prep everything ahead of time and double check all of my little bowls against the ingredient list before I get started, Then I line them up in the order in which they go into the pan. And, it helps if my husband reads out the instructions to me so that I get it right!

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Food4Thought

                                                                                                                                                        So glad you're going to be cooking right along with us. This is only my third month of the COTM and I'm liking this adventure better than the last two.
                                                                                                                                                        I think there's no way we could possibly achieve the level of skill as those Chinese chefs you refered to, for many reasons. I say, dive in, have fun and learn as you go. Tonight for us, it's Velveted Fish and Dan Dan Noodles. We'll see how it goes.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Food4Thought

                                                                                                                                                          Great post, and glad to have you join in the fun this month!

                                                                                                                                                          I know we have similar favorite Sichuan restaurants, so I'm looking forward to your reports and comparisons between dishes you're cooking and your favorites around town.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Food4Thought

                                                                                                                                                            This site has some visual references to some of the ingredients used in FD's books.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Food4Thought

                                                                                                                                                              Great link, very helpful!

                                                                                                                                                              Also, after spending two hours yesterday dragging my husband around an Asian store trying to gather things for the book (including reading the ingredient label on every jar, can, or bottle that said bean sauce or paste), I couldn't find any bean paste that had only broad/fava beans and bought the Lee Kum Kee's Chili Bean Sauce with both broad bean and soy bean (pictured in the link). Anyways, in case anyone missed it - like I did - on page 376 of LOP Dunlop states this is the brand that she uses. It would have saved me a lot of time if I had read that before I left the house!

                                                                                                                                                              It's Lee Kum Kee's Chili Bean Sauce (Toban Djan) with the first main ingredients listed as salted chili pepper, water, fermented soybean paste, fermented broad bean paste, sugar, and garlic.


                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                                                Oh, now that's certainly going to help me this Wednesday when I venture back to the Malden Super 88. A million thanks, Rubee !!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                  Glad I could help!

                                                                                                                                                                  I hadn't read that section where she mentions brands until last night, but here are some other ones she suggests:

                                                                                                                                                                  Black fermented beans - Pearl River Bridge "Yang Jiang Preserved Beans with Ginger" in a cylindrical carton.

                                                                                                                                                                  Sweet bean paste - Mong Lee Shang brand from Taiwan.

                                                                                                                                                                  Chinkiang vinegar - Gold Plum brand

                                                                                                                                                                  Dark and light soy sauces - Pearl River Bridge

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                                                    I found a pic of the PRB black beans


                                                                                                                                                                    (These are the ones I ended up buying yesterday:)

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                                                      That's what mine look like, though a different brand. I really like the Pearl River soy sauces.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                                                        Yes - I've saved a number of Pearl River products references. Apparently that's the brand name of choice for discriminating chefs.... thanx again!

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                                                    Another helpful hint is to print the images of the items you are looking for onto a single page, large enough so the Chinese is legible and bring it with you to the market. If you get stumped you can show the clerks, and they will most likely hone in on it in a few seconds, where it would have taken me an hour of searching.

                                                                                                                                                              2. So...I had a bad weigh-in at weight watchers, which tells me that in spite of my modifications, I'm still not quite achieving what I need to achieve with the Dunlop recipes from a "diet" perspective. So, for the next week, I'm going to make some even more drastic changes and see how that goes. I'm going to discontinue using the peanut and sesame oils and, instead, use canola oil (which is a "core" food per Weight Watchers) and see how it goes. Also sambal oelek has a surprising number of calories (45/tsp) so I'm going to avoid recipes that call for it (use use dried chile flakes or fresh chiles instead?). Here is what I looked up, for those who are interested.

                                                                                                                                                                Peanut oil: 120 calories/TBSP
                                                                                                                                                                Dark soy sauce: 33 calories/TBSP (0 points)
                                                                                                                                                                Black vinegar 2 calories/TBSP (0 points)
                                                                                                                                                                Shao Xing wine 54 calories/cup (1 point/cup; 0 points per TBSP)
                                                                                                                                                                Soy sauce 15 calories/TBSP (0 points)
                                                                                                                                                                Sesame oil 15 calories/TBSP
                                                                                                                                                                Sambal oelek 45 calories/tsp (1 point/tsp--maybe higher because I forgot to look up the fat grams. If it has fat grams, it will be more points)
                                                                                                                                                                potato flour 0 points/TBSP
                                                                                                                                                                Tianjin preserved vegetables 11 calories/TBSP

                                                                                                                                                                Also, I'm going to limit myself to one Dunlop recipe per night--just for increased simplicity in tracking everything in case the rushing around doing multiple recipes was causing me to lose track of my "points" and therefore, sabotaging myself.

                                                                                                                                                                The "approved" oils for weight watchers are olive, canola, safflower, sunflower, or flaxseed. Of those, I'm assuming canola would be the most neutral substitution for pan frying at high temps. Does anyone think one of the other oils would be a better substitution in terms of neutrality?

                                                                                                                                                                (Edited to add in points values)

                                                                                                                                                                Thank you,


                                                                                                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                  I've been cutting back on the amount of oil we use too. Actually, I've never had so much fried food in my life, stir-fried or other wise. Ming Tsai uses canola oil almost exclusively, so I imagine that would be a good substitute although there's 124 calories in 1 Tbsp which is more than in peanut oil. However, canola oil is high in fat but lower in saturated fat than any other veggie oil. DH and I have been discussing this and probably will do what you have decided - only one Dunlop recipe instead of two or three. Tonight I was going to make the General Gao's chicken. If I do, I'm definitely not going to deep fry it but simply sautee it.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                    I like to use grapeseed oil generally for a neutral tasting oil - has a pretty high smoking point. But I don't think it's on TDQ's list.


                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                                                      Gio, I'll be very interested in your General Tao's chicken experiment--I've wanted to try that recipe very badly! And thanks for the input on canola oil.

                                                                                                                                                                      MMRuth, yeah, I don't know about grapeseed oil, so for the purposes of my one-week experiment, I'm going to stick the oils on the "approved" WW list. Last week I was saying calories equal calories and it shouldn't really matter which oil I use in the recipes from a weight loss perspective, but that was probably ignoring the importance of the different properties of the various oils in metabolizing nutrients in your food etc. Every time I take my "box o'ingredients" out of the fridge I notice that the peanut oil has solidified, so, it's hard for me to ignore that it doesn't have some different properties than other oils.

                                                                                                                                                                      Before I started the Dunlop cooking, I'd occasionally been substituting 25% of the "approved" oils in my stir fries for sesame/chile oil without a problem. So, if my experiment of switching completely to WW "approved oils" works this week, I might try the 25% thing next week.

                                                                                                                                                                      As a bit of an aside I notice Dunlop uses sesame oil almost more as a seasoning than something to cook with.


                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks for the WW info TDQ! That is in the true spirit of Chinese cuisine! Adapt and adopt. And yes, sesame oil is really used as a flavoring agent more than anything else. Sometimes just a few drops can be added to the top of the dish or soup at the very end for fragrance.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                          We did the no-deep fry General Gao's chicken tonight and I'll post the report on the appropriate thread - but I'll just say here, that there's nothing left - and it was Mahvelous Dahling.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                            Sigh, I love Chinese food and if I'm not careful, I'll gain too and it's not always about the oil. You can really cut down with the oil and use chicken broth to sautee. But what I see in most of the recipes, its about all the salt. So if you didn't loose, its probably water weight, all of those condiments are loaded with salt, darn it!
                                                                                                                                                                            Load up on zucchini or asparagus for a few days, you'll shed the water!

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                        I think canola oil would be an adequate substitute. For as long as I remember, it's the only oil my mom used when she cooked dinner for us. Recently, she tried using olive oil for cooking but the results weren't the same. (BTW, she only cooks chinese food).

                                                                                                                                                                        TDQ - please don't get discouraged by your weigh in. Just from reading you on the Dunlop threads, it looks like you've been disciplined in your eating and cooking. I'm a firm believer that one will gain a little weight before losing more. Keep up the great work and looking forward to reading about your modifications.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                          Canola works fine for pan frying. It's burn temp is high enough. It is very neutral in flavor. I keep it around always.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: saltwater

                                                                                                                                                                            I agree about canola oil being fine for frying...the only problem is that, IMHO, it really smells awful when heated.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                                                                                              I agree it doesn't smell actively yummy, but I don't smell it as awful either. I can tell when it is heated to temp, though. Maybe my perpetual allergies are saving me here. The unexpected blessing in disguise.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. Hi all,

                                                                                                                                                                          Just wanted to check in and report on my shopping expedition this past weekend for ingredients. First of all, I have to say that I'm fortunate to live in Southern California where we have access to a lot of authentic ingredients. I did my shopping at 99 Ranch Market in Monterey Park, which is a super-sized supermarket devoted almost entirely to Chinese and other Asian ingredients. They had a whole aisle devoted to ramen, for one thing. I meant to run in and grab a few things, and ended up wandering around in awe for about an hour. I ended up finding almost everything I needed, with exception to salted chiles, so I bought some red chiles and decided to make my own. Last night I made the General Tso's chicken with the sweeter sauce (good), and a sauteed vegetable (very good), which I will post about later tonight from home where I can hopefully post pictures, etc. I also got ingredients for bao, so we'll see if I can tackle that recipe as well :-)

                                                                                                                                                                          This has been a really fun and inspirational cookbood of the month. I got my wok out for perhaps the first time in almost 10 years, and was loving cooking with it!

                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks for everyone's feedback and for sharing your stories. So glad I was finally able to get to the market for ingredients while there's still a couple of weeks left :-)

                                                                                                                                                                          1. My "Secret Weapon"

                                                                                                                                                                            When I first attempted cooking from LOP quite a few months ago, somewhere along the way I was pointed towards this product. The only English on the label is "Hot&Spicy Sauce" the ingredients are Chili, Canola Oil, MSG, Onion, Prickly Ash (Sichuan peppercorn), Soybean.

                                                                                                                                                                            I do like my Sichuan dishes spicy, and a little of this to any dish I'm cooking adds not only heat, but a depth that one would not expect.

                                                                                                                                                                            Somewhat related, the inclusion of MSG, but a bit of a tangent; I found FD's views on MSG somewhat refreshing. It seems to me at least, that by and large, Americans have been trained to view MSG as evil. I'm sure that's due in part, as FD points out, that many Americanized Chinese Restaurants use high amounts of MSG to compensate for low quality ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                            There are a few pictures of this product which I hope will help. I refer to it as "the Jar With The Guy On It" but look for Hot & Spicy Sauce because there are quite a few products by this brand.

                                                                                                                                                                            Saving the best for last, it costs $1.69 at my local Asian market and a little bit goes a long way.

                                                                                                                                                                            Some Photos:

                                                                                                                                                                            9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Food4Thought

                                                                                                                                                                              Oh yes, I love that stuff! 9Lives actually tipped me off to it one day when we were in Chinatown. I never actually read through the ingredients so didn't realize that Sichuan peppercorn was in it. Unfortunately, my brand new jar was a casualty of the move (good thing I had it in a ziploc); I'll have to try to find it here in AZ. Great tip!

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Food4Thought

                                                                                                                                                                                I had an interesting experience in one of my favorite Chinese groceries in downtown Oakland today. I was looking for several things: Winter-Sacrefice Beans and preserved or pickled mustard greens. Dunlop has a description of the beans and a tip that "Sichuan Spicy Black Beans" are actually not black, but yellow and are really winter-sacrifice. Of course, as many of you have found out, there are loads of jars and packages and bags of products on the shelves. There are loads of shelves, too. Anyway, I finally gave up on the beans figuring that the name "winter-sacrifice" and the description of the black beans that are really yellow was asking for trouble, as I was having a hard time understanding it myself.

                                                                                                                                                                                So I actually found sesame paste on my own and started looking for the mustard greens. No luck. So I asked the clerk at the check out stand. She said "Mustard greens! Yes, right over there." and pointed to the fresh mustard greens in the produce display. "No, no" I say, I want preserved. Blank look. "Pickled?" She says "No, sorry." I suddenly realize that I'd written down the Chinese words for the greens and, like the idiot I am, pointed to them and tried to pronounce them. She gave me her sweetest "Who is this moron?" look and shook her head. So she starts ringing up my purchases. "Oooh! Wait!" She runs out from behind the counter and over to a shelf where she grabs a package and holds it up. It says "Sour Mustard Greens" and below that "Moutarde Marine (accent on e)" - marinated mustard. "Yes! That's it!" I say this but do not actually know if it's it or not. I buy it and will try it in the chicken soup and/or fish soup with pickled mustard greens in the Land of Plenty book. I figure that it'll be good in the soup even if it's not exactly the right preserved greens. I attach a photo because I, too, have a little guy on top of the package. Don't know if he'll be discernible, but he looks like a combo of Buddha and a Sumo wrestler.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Food4Thought

                                                                                                                                                                                  Same brand as my fermented beans ... I look for this stuff at the same market. Thanks for the tip.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                    Has anybody found, or attempted to find, winter sacrifice beans (yellow)? I wanted to try the eggplant recipe using them (Bowl-Steamed Eggplant With Winter Sacrifice Beans And Salted Greens (p. 223, LOP). The recipe says that one may substitute Salted Black Beans for the Winter Sac Beans. I'm also putting this message on the Veg. thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I think I'm going to end up making it with 2 bogus ingredients....er, I mean, 2 substitute ingredients: black beans and marinated mustard greens.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                                                                                                      Better late than never...

                                                                                                                                                                                      I found this one here in Cleveland: http://www.linkshop.com.cn/upload/pro...

                                                                                                                                                                                      Here's the trick to find this stuff on Google. In the book, it named them "la ba dou", but often you'll have better luck removing the spaces. Googling "labadou" and bean is a good start. To get the Chinese characters she gives in the book, use Google translate to translate "labadou" from English to Chinese. Don't worry if the results: 腊八豆. Next copy/paste those to Google, and you'll hit the motherlode. This will even work if you can't actually see the Chinese characters and just see the generic Unicode placeholders (the first one looks like 81 4A in a box, for example).

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Food4Thought

                                                                                                                                                                                    Totally weird. Just last night I was cooking with this stuff. I discovered it on my own and have, indeed, frequently purchased other products with the guy on them. Right now I have Chili Oil as well, also good (It has peanuts in it). I was going to post on here today. Wish I knew the brand name. Everything with the guy on it is very good.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Food4Thought

                                                                                                                                                                                      I just tossed a bottle(the one with peanuts in it)! Should've kept the jar(great label). There was just something about the product...it seemed way over the top umami-wise...and, seeing as how I could get the flavors I sought from broadbean pastes and the like...I just never used it. It was a casualty to this year's corned beef brining(gotta make room in the fridge).

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Food4Thought

                                                                                                                                                                                        I can't live without that stuff!
                                                                                                                                                                                        I call it Grandma Mao's Hot Sauce.....

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: galleygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                          I've been kicking myself. ...coulda simply fried up a tablespoon with some long beans...ad infinitum...durrr...

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. This week I met Fuchsia Dunlop at a reading for her new book, Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper. I asked which are her own favorite dishes from her cookbooks, and she said:

                                                                                                                                                                                        fish-fragrant aubergine
                                                                                                                                                                                        kung pao chicken
                                                                                                                                                                                        beef with cumin
                                                                                                                                                                                        general tso's chicken

                                                                                                                                                                                        I also asked if she knew that her recipes were being tried and discussed here, and she did! She said she had followed some of the Chowhound COTM discussion and enjoyed reading all the responses and new ideas.

                                                                                                                                                                                        In person she comes across as very smart and delightful.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: david kaplan

                                                                                                                                                                                          Many thanks for your post David! Interesting to note her favorites. With the exception of the beef, those are our faves too. I continue to cook from LOP at least twice a week either for a side dish or an entire menu.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: david kaplan

                                                                                                                                                                                            We both work for the BBC (which I didn't know until recently), and randomly I got an e-mail from her a few weeks ago. She told me the same thing about her favourite dishes and offered to sign my book! I also pointed her in the direction of the COTM discussion.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. All the different types of pickled vegetables in RCC and LOP were confusing to me, so I found this website helpful (with pics):


                                                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks for the link. I've been using the pickled mustard tuber, or the sichuan cabbage as subs. I think JoanN has been using pickled artichokes, which I now have a jar to use (I just have to find it).

                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm really curious as to how the dan dan noodles will taste with the tianjin preserved veggies.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                                                                                What a good link to have - many thanks Rubee. Interesting to note the many "anti" qualities of leeks. Note to self: Buy leeks weekly.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                I was so frustrated with the various pickled vegetables that I searched and found several pseudo recipes on line which I used. Dan Dan Noodles was one of the dishes I made with one of those recipes. I must say, It was delicious, even tho not terribly authentic. Nice spicy flavor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Actually, your version of noodles probably were authentic. You're just doing what chinese people have been doing for millenia. Finding substitutions given whatever condition and resources you have. The recipe is Dunlop's version of the dish or what she found in that region/city/province.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Did anyone ever end up trying the Hot Pot? I was unable to find any postings regarding this one. I'm very intrigued by the author's description of the dish that she gives in her memoir, 'Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper'. The heat of the broth combined with the numbing effect of the sichuan pepper sounds absolutely beguiling. I would love to know if it is worth obtaining (or making, I suppose) beef drippings for this one. Yum!

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Quick weeknight recipes*

                                                                                                                                                                                                  *Some of these recipes are quick because of prior prep. For example, the chicken breasts will have been poached earlier in the week. Also, Rubee stir fries a large batch of ground pork and freezes it. Then, she just re-heats it for the dish. I haven't done this, mostly because 1/4 lb of ground pork cooks so quickly. Plus, I'm freezer space challenged.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  For the poached chicken, I take 2 chicken breast halves and simmer for 6 minutes in boiling water, scallions, ginger and shao xing wine. Then, it rests in the covered pot for 15 minutes. I've frozen the poached breasts in the past although it isn't my preference.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Most of the time I used box stock, unless I think ahead to save the chicken poaching liquid.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  For dinner, I usually make 2 dishes and then a vegetable stir fry and rice. Sometimes, I'll combine the dishes, cabbage stir fry that I'll toss into the dan dan noodles. I also have most of the stuff in my pantry and summer CSA share box, so I only need to pick up the 3/4 lb of meat from the store.


                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dan Dan Noodles, pg. 87 and 89
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Spicy cold noodles with chicken slivers, pg. 95
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Zhong Crescent Dumplings, pg. 100 (pulled from freezer and the fragrant soy is also pre-made)
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chicken Chunks in red-oil sauce, pg. 140
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hot and numbing chicken slices, pg. 141
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chicken slices in sichuan pepper and sesame oil sauce, pg. 143
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Steamed eggplants with chile sauce, pg. 155
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Spicy cucumber salad, pg. 185 (I only salt it for about 30 minutes)
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Salt Fried Pork, pg. 212
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pork Slivers with Preserved Mustard Tuber, pg. 213
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pork Slivers with Yellow Chives, pg. 216
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ants Climbing a Tree, pg. 219
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dry Fried Beef Slivers, pg. 228
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Red Braised Beef with White Radish pg. 232 (I'll make the braise over the weekend and freeze it in containers. When I'm ready to eat it, that's when I add the radish and sometimes napa cabbage/greens This tastes really good over noodles turning this into a complete dinner)
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Gong Bao Chicken with peanuts, pg. 237
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dry Fried Chicken, pg. 243
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Fish Soup with Pickled Greens, pg. 262 (I use cut up fillets instead of a whole fish. To get the boxed stock more flavorful, I simmer the stock with the aromatics for a longer period of time since I don't have the fish head and bones. I also turn this into a noodle soup mostly with rice vermicelli).
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dry Fried Green Beans, pg. 289 and 290 (I've roasted or steamed the green beans ahead of time)
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Stir fried cabbage, pg. 298 (variation from potatoes)
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sweet corn kernels with green peppers, pg. 299
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Zucchini slivers with garlic, pg. 303
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Fried eggs with tomato, pg. 305
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pock marked bean curd, pg. 313

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Spicy Coriander Salad, pg. 59
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Farmhouse stir fried pork with green peppers, pg. 85
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Beef with cumin, pg. 102
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Beef slivers with coriander, pg. 104
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Steamed eggs, pg. 149 (love this for breakfast as well)
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Fisherman's shrimp with chinese chives (pg. 177)
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Stir Fried green peppers with ground pork and preserved greens, pg. 200

                                                                                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                                                                                                    What a fantastic resourse, beetlebug. Printing it out the minute I finish typing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    You've reminded me of a few dishes I'd forgotten about and, perhaps even more importantly, you've reminded me that some dishes I had loved are quicker and easier to prepare than I had remembered them to be. No idea why, but for some reason I had it my head that the pock-marked bean curd was either complicated or time consuming. Not in the least, is it? Haven't made that in a long time, but it will definitely be on the menu within the next few days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I continue to be so touched by the incredible kindness and support of COTMers, especially with this "quick weeknight request. I think I'm going to put a print out of this (and JoanN's list) in the inside cover of my books so I have it handy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thank you SO much.


                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Many thanks, BB. Copied and saved...

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Chinese New Year is 23 Jan BTW. Time to return to Madam Dunlop.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Is there a thread for "soups" from these books?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Q, I can't believe it, but I guess not. Maybe it exists but it's not linked to the master thread? Oh, I think it must be this one "preserves and stocks" based on oakjoan's description http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/494667


                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Two questions,

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1) Has anyone tried the pickled vegetables on page 71 of LOP?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2) And does anyone think I could use them in the dry-fried green beans I on page 289 of LOP in lieu of the tianjin preserved vegetable?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thank you!


                                                                                                                                                                                                            15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Haven't tried the pickled vegetables, but just reading the ingredients it's not only a different vegetable but a very different flavor profile. Tianjin preserved vegetable lists as its ingredients only cabbage, garlic, and salt. I wonder if you could find online a recipe for preserved cabbage that would be closer to the ingredient called for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Totally agree with Joan N, the pickled veg on pg. 71 of LOP is a totally different flavor than Tianjin preserved veg. If I was substituting, I'd actually use salted dried fermented black beans (can't remember what they are usually called in English...豆豉, douchi in Mandarin).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh, good idea on the fermented/salted/preserved black beans.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I asked this in another thread, but F.D. says that the process for preparing the tianjin preserved vegetables is very similar to how kimchi is prepared. Do you think rinsed kimchee would be a reasonable substitute?


                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Well, you've already got lots of great ideas, so this is a little late to the party, but, anything with that salted/fermented flavor is good, just avoid anything too vinegary, and for that bit of crunchiness, cabbage, rinsed fresh kraut/kimchi would work, also the preserved turnip/radish ( 甜菜脯) which a lot of people acquired during grace young month, chopped fine is an almost perfect sub for tianjin veg.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It's never too late for good ideas! You never know who else might be reading along and what their particular needs might be... Thank you!


                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                To give myself a bit of variety, instead of using the preserved vegetables, I stir fry cabbage and finish it with the Chinese vinegar. I then add it to the dan dan noodles. It's an easy sub. The great thing about the Dunlop recipes you can sub fast and free and it will still taste great. Don't worry about exact substitutions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Like beetlebug I sub cabbage for the preserve vegetables sometimes, only I use organic fermented sauerkraut from a farm in Maine. No vinegar, just sea salt and a few herbs. Works a treat. I've used this in the past for both Dunlop's and Grace Young's recipes. In fact we've had a discussion about the kraut only I don't remember which thread it's in... So it can be done!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sounds like you're thinking along the same lines I am, Gio. At first I was thinking I might try to substitute sauerkraut (organic, locally produced) and then I re-read Dunlop's description of the preserved vegetables in LOP where she describes the process for producing tianjin preserved vegetable as very similar to that for making kimchi. We have a wonderful local producer of organic kimchi in the Twin Cities. I think I might try using rinsed kimchi...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I wish I could find a local producer of the salted/fermented/preserved black beans, or make those myself. But, I haven't had any luck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If you remember where that sauerkraut discussion is, please do link it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thank you!


                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        What do you know... I was searching for another recipe and just happened upon the preserved vegetable discussion! in the "Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge" thread. Here it is:


                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          HA! Simultaneous posting, I think! You've given me the courage to try kimchi as a substitute. If that doesn't yield good results, I think I'll try sauerkraut.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I think rinsed kimchi is a good substitute. It has the right crunch. I suspect my preference would be to chop it into smaller pieces though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Good idea, beetlebug. I will try it and report back, probably in the March EGOR thread...


                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My other two cents: the EGOR version of the dan dan noodles are my least favorite out of the other Dunlop's versions. I think it's because the sauce is a little too watery. If memory serves me, it's because there is extra broth added to the sauce. I would add the broth gradually to make sure the sauce isn't watered down too much.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Gio, I'm thinking this is the sauerkraut discussion you are thinking of (from Grace Young month), funny I didn't recall it as I was very impressed by it at the time.