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DUNLOP March Cookbooks of Month: Noodles, Dumplings and Rice

There are chapters in each book on Noodles and Dumplings and Rice. Land of Plenty adds "Other Street Treats" and those recipes should be part of this thread.

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  1. So, we tried a meal of Traditional Dan Dan Noodles (LOP, page 87), Dry-Fried Green Beans I (LOP, pg 289), and Cold Chicken with Fragrant Rice Wine (LOP, page 183), the former two because they are some of my favorite dishes from a Sichuan restaurant in town and the latter because we had some leftover cooked chicken to use up.

    Here's the most important thing for you to know about the dan dan noodles. YOU MUST REMEMBER TO RINSE THE TIANJIN (AND SQUEEZE IT DRY) BEFORE YOU USE IT otherwise your recipe will be way way too salty. Dunlop mentions this on page 27 of RC, but I haven't found a similar warning in LOP. We made a number of substitutions in the recipe so I could count it as "core" for Weight Watchers. We used whole wheat spaghetti (instead of Chinese noodles), we used lean ground beef (instead of pork, mostly because I had some I need to use up), and we used only a tsp (instead of a TBSP) of peanut oil. We thought the texture was pretty good--not as slippery as it should be, I don't know if that's because of the noodles we used or the reduced oil or both-- and it looked gorgeous, but, alas, because we did not rinse the tianjin, it was really hard to make a fair assessment of the dish because salty was the predominant flavor. Boo hoo. We are absolutely going to try this one again. I have high hopes. And, it wasn't that hard.

    The photo feature doesn't seem to be working right now, sorry. I'll discuss the chicken and the green beans in the appetizers http://www.chowhound.com/topics/494661 and vegetables http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49466... threads.


    23 Replies
      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        I've tried her traditional dan dan, too. I did rinse the preserved vegetable in a strainer under the faucet, but this seemed a hair shy of what I felt I wanted. I do plan to make it again, though. This time I will soak/submerge the stuff first. Also, I will chop it smaller than it comes out of the crock. We had a few overly large pieces in the dish. The preserved vegetable does taste good, just it is very salty.

        I've tried it with "fresh" linguine from the refrigerator case and with dried Chinese noodles. Both worked well.

        I felt that perhaps the dish could use a stronger chili oil than my homemade. With a stronger oil, you could use less to get a chili effect. But my homemade is from regular old dried whole red chili (cayenne?), and then about 6 months old. I would have liked to reduce the chili oil by a teaspoon or two, so the noodles would be less slippery. But I'd want a slightly stronger chili oil maybe to do that. Not super strong, though. I've only made chili oil a couple of times, so it could just be that I don't heat the oil enough.

        1. re: saltwater

          saltwater--funny that your dan dan noodles were too slippery and mine weren't slippery enough. It seems, perhaps, that the optimal quantity in oil would be somewhere between what I used and what you used/what the recipe calls for. I'm glad you've had good luck with linguine--it makes me think that using my whole wheat pasta won't be too problematic.

          I agree that the tianjin could be chopped smaller and I will try to SOAK it not just RINSE it next time...


          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Share how it goes if you get the chance. :-) I've found it difficult to place whole wheat pasta with things. Though, I've made fresh pasta from half white and half wheat and liked it well with piccata.

        2. re: The Dairy Queen

          Couldn't help noticing your bold lettered sentence: ...YOU MUST REMEMBER TO RINSE THE TIANJIN (AND SQUEEZE IT DRY) BEFORE YOU USE IT...

          I'm not sure how it's stated in the cookbook, but Tianjin is the name of a city in Northern China. Yes, the preserved vegetable is usually named Tianjin preserved vegetable, but...please don't squeeze the Tianjin! :) Squeeze the veggie. In general, if you see that there is particles of salt on those dried or semi-dried preserved veggies, or even on some of those dried pickled radishes, you'd be safer rinsing it first to wash out dirt or little rocks, chopping it into small bits, and then RINSE IT AGAIN, and then wring dry. I'm thinking of the Mei Gan veggies where some particular brands are really sandy, and you don't want those griddy stuff after all the hard work that went into, say, Mei2 Gan1 Kou4 Rou4 (braised pork belly with preserved vegetable)!

          1. re: HLing

            Ah, I wish I'd read your post before I tried the green bean dish again, which I will post about in the bean curd and vegetable thread. I did, indeed, rinse and wring dry the preserved vegetable (not the city) and chopped it into small bits. I did not, however, RINSE IT AGAIN.

            But, that's a good tip for next time, HLing, thank you!


          2. re: The Dairy Queen

            Ok , it's four years past this original post and I tried Dan Dan noodles for the first time. Searching for the necessary ingredients was a task in itself. Nearby Foster City has a large Asian population along with grocery stores. For the second time this month I approached clerks in Ranch 99 for help with ingredients. And a lady in line also helped. The clerks informed me that preserved vegetables are usually made at home - and usually consist of cucumbers, cabbage or carrots. The lady in front of me in line actually makes Dan Dan noodles for her family, on occasion. She advised me to just use fresh veggies - as these 'taste better'.
            So, I took her advice. Made these noodles according to the recipe, but subbed thinly sliced Persian cucumbers for the preserved veggies. End result was quite tasty - and probably would have been too salty if I had used preserved veggies ( had I ever found them!!).
            Anyhow, there are plenty of leftovers. And it was tasty. Next time, will try soy or turkey instead of pork. The lady in front of me recommended light brown tofu with a soft texture, but thus far, I lack the 'gumption' to go back and wade thru myriad products to find this.
            However, I suspect it was good advice, so will report back when I try this with tofu.
            I relied on the kindness of strangers and was rewarded... With such a tasty dish.

            1. re: Blythe spirit

              How strange. I'm from Hong Kong and we always have store-bought preserved vegetables. I think cucumbers and carrots are usually lightly pickled so it's easy to do at home. But I have no idea how to do the Tianjian that's called for, for example. The chinese supermarket here has a whole wall of preserved vegetable as well. I'm wondering if the asians at ranch 99 aren't chinese, or are they all Women's Institute type.

              But I'm glad you get good result from the noodle.

              1. re: lilham

                There seemed to be a brief description of how to do the Tianjin at the beginning of LOP, but the directions seemed vague to me. And since I'm not familiar with how the outcome should taste, am a bit reluctant to attempt. You are correct that our local Asian population is not mostly Chinese. The noodle section alone had Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese and Philipino choices. The good news is, each time I make another recipe, the ingredients become more familiar.

              2. re: Blythe spirit

                Glad you liked the results!

                Living on the east coast Ranch 99 is unfamiliar territory to me. But something that can help in the search for unfamiliar ingredients is having the name of the ingredient in Chinese characters. FD's appendices in both LOP & RCC are really helpful for this, and perhaps worth photo copying to take along with you on your forays into Chinese groceries.

                1. re: qianning

                  Thanks Lilham and Quianning :-)That's a great idea to bring the book.I came armed with the supposedly correct pronunciation (ya cai) ... and bless those poor clerks for listening patiently as I repeated it several times to blank stares. There was some recognition finally (despite my lack of familiarity with Chinese). They did know what I was asking about (after a while) but this store did not carry the product. And they informed me that these pickles are usually just made very simply at home.
                  There were many jars of (to me) mysterious and unfamiliar looking vegetables on the shelves but none looked quite right. I need to ask one of my Chinese friends to come with me next time to help me pick out the best tasting tofu and quality noodles. The ones I made for the Dan Dan noodles were already cooked and ready to stir fry - and slightly gummy to my taste. Perhaps I'll be brave enough to try making my own tofu one of these days.

                  1. re: Blythe spirit

                    Have you got the new Dunlop book, Every Grain of Rice? There are even pictures of what the items 'should' look like, in addition to the names. Some of the pictures are the items inside the jars and bottles, for example, chillies, black beans. The ones of bottles and jars will probably be less useful in the US. But she's using the same brands as me for almost everything! (I'm in the UK).

                    And Qianning is definitely right about bringing the book. The pronounciation might not be most helpful if they aren't mandarin speakers. A lot of overseas communities are cantonese, for example. And I struggle to place even romanised cantonese to the written characters because they just don't sound anything alike sometimes. But the written chinese names are almost the same across regions, and most shop keepers do know the alternative names too. (For example, soy sauce has a different name in Taiwan than in HK. Not sure what the mainland chinese call it).

                    1. re: lilham

                      Having a picture glossary sounds very helpful! I've just begun to explore LOP, but have been very close to buying Every Grain of Rice. It's always easier to justify yet another cookbook purchase if someone else tells me I *need* it :-).
                      Even with all the language differences, it sounds like this resource would be very useful. Off to Amazon....

                2. re: Blythe spirit

                  I'm in Southern California, but my local 99 Ranch definitely carries Tianjin preserved vegetables. In case it's helpful, here are a couple pics of the brand I bought there...I've also seen it in other, smaller Asian grocery stores, so seems pretty widely available once you figure out what you're looking for -- that was the hard part for me. I haven't used it a lot, but I have made the Dan Dan noodles and I think the effect would be significantly different with fresh vegetables.

                  1. re: mebby

                    Mebby, thank you so much for the photos. Without a picture , finding these ingredients seems a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack :-)
                    I will take a closer look at the Ranch 99 in Mountain View next time I'm there - they have a larger Chinese population and might carry it. Looking forward to tasting the flavor.

                    1. re: Blythe spirit

                      I'm pretty sure Mountain View carries it, though they don't seem to have a wide variety of preserved vegetables. Dunlop's newest book references about 4 kinds -- I did find a huge selection of them at Marina Food in Cupertino.

                      What I can't figure out is why every Chinese market I visit carries exactly one type (and one brand) of dried red chile... and no Facing Heaven Chiles.

                      1. re: emily

                        Thanks Emily. There is a Marina Foods in Foster City but I stopped going there because they never seemed to have what was needed - so have to go back and give them a second chance.
                        I know what you mean about the chilis... All the Asian markets near me just have Mexican chilis - suppose that's because they're local. I wonder if there is a significant enough taste difference between the Asian and Mexican varieties.I suspect that the Mexican chilis may be hotter because I had to cut the amount by about half when doing the Kung pao chicken.

                      2. re: Blythe spirit

                        Yeah, I stared at that shelf for an eternity before I found it way down on the bottom shelf...somehow wasn't envisioning that little brown crock. Good luck and look forward to hearing what you think about the difference in Dan Dan Mien with these vs. fresh.

                        1. re: mebby

                          I don't know about Mexican chillies as I have to mail order those here. But my local Chinese market has Thai red and facing heaven. Thai red is significantly hotter. Facing heaven is fairly mild and I can use the full amount specified in the recipes. I don't very hot myself.

                          1. re: lilham

                            Where are you getting the facing heaven chillies from, lilham? You're in London, right?

                            1. re: greedygirl

                              I'm in Hampshire. The chillies didn't say facing heaven on the bag. But they look exactly like the fat ones n the glossary in Every Grain of Rice, and also what I found on the web. I just assume they are facing heavens!

                    2. re: Blythe spirit

                      I'm sorry, blythe spirit, that I didn't see this of yours from so long ago, but I just came into this thread to see what substitutions people have used for the tianjin preserved vegetable and am thrilled by the persian cucumbers recommendation!

                      I notice there is also a pickled vegetables recipe on page 71 on LOP that I might try. I'm not sure if anyone has reported on that yet...not sure where to find it if they did.

                      F.D. says that the method used for the tian jin preserved vegetables is similar to that used for kim chee. Has anyone tried using rinsed and chopped kim chee in lieu of tianjin preserved vegetable in the dandan noodles or dry fried beans?


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        Hi Dairy Queen :)
                        It's been a while since I've had time to cook - and since I've cooked from Dunlop! But I remember that the cucumbers were a fresh, crisp (and unsalty!) complement to the Dan Dan noodles.

                  2. Noodles with Fresh Shrimp and Baby Greens (Hunan, p. 269)

                    This was my favorite of the three items I made today, and really is a meal unto itself. Several thoughts:

                    1. The shrimp - my shrimp stuck to my pan, and I think I'm going to get a wok next weekend. Some of them did end up with a little "coating", but once the shrimp were added to the broth, it kind of disappeared. So, for those who are being calorie conscious (sp?), I think you could either steam the shrimp, or saute them quickly in a little oil, rather than in the cup of peanut oil with the coating, without losing much flavor.

                    2. The bok choy - I bought baby bok choy, and decided to par boil it per the general noodle soup directions earlier on. She doesn't say anything about cutting them up, so I decided to quarter them.

                    3. The broth/stock for the shrimp and for the noodles - I'd not made any yet, but "scored" when I realized that I had lovely pork flavored water from steaming bacon for another recipe. Added some water to that, some chicken Better than Bouillion, scallions and sliced ginger - simmered for 45 minutes - it was a lovely broth.

                    The chinkiang vinegar added a wonderful depth for the dish, but if you can't get it, I'd suggested just the tiniest bit of sherry vinegar, or even a little white wine or sherry.

                    Looking forward to having this for lunch tomorrow.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: MMRuth

                      Ohhhh--another gorgeous dish, MMRuth! Shrimp is very weight watchers friendly, so, I always keep bags of them in our freezer for quick meals. It looks like we'll have to put this recipe into our rotation.


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        I just realized this morning, by the way, that I put in Chinese cooking wine at the end, not vinegar! No wonder I thought sherry would be a good substitute. Too many bottles of new things on my counter!

                      2. re: MMRuth

                        This looks luscious. The bok choy perfectly bright and the shrimp plump and juicy. Nice job! So craving this. Were there noodles?

                        1. re: chef chicklet

                          There were - you can't see them as much as in Dunlop's photos. I used a flat rice noodle that I found at the Chinese market in the fridge section - no idea if authentic or not - had stocked up on a couple of kinds of noodles from there, and those looked most like those in the photo!

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            I see you are and DQ are really enjoying this cookbook. I don't really know anything about this author. I have so many Asian Cookbooks, what about this particular one is it that you're enjoying?

                            You must get a wok, if space is a challenge, they make a small version in carbon steel and they really do a fine job.

                            I am really enjoying your photos!!! (as always!)

                            I'll need to check this book out...

                            1. re: chef chicklet

                              I've not cooked much from Asian cookbooks, other than HSSS, so a lot of it is the challenge of working with unfamiliar ingredients etc.

                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                Most of my Asian cooking experience is with Thai food, so I can't really compare to other similar cookbooks either, though, I would say the challenge of hunting down the ingredients for the Dunlop books is about the same as for when I need to hunt down Thai ingredients.

                                The fantastic thing, though, with cooking out of these two books for the entire month, is that once you make 1-2 of these recipes, you've pretty much got all of the essential "specialty" ingredients to make many of the other recipes. Your Dark Soy Sauce, Shiaxing (sorry, spelling from memory here...) Wine, peanut oil, fermented beans, etc. You've got 'em, might as well use 'em!

                                The primary driver for me is I've been on this diet (weight watchers core plan) for about four months now and I really, really miss my favorite Sichuan restaurant, so, this is giving me an opportunity to experience some of those flavors and foods in a setting where I can control the ingredients, mostly the fat content.

                                And the other thing is that I never do anything half-way, and this is my first COTM, so I have a lot of pent-up enthusiasm. I've been wanting to do COTM for awhile but for one reason or another, none of the cookbooks seemed right for me, particularly over the past four months (since starting my diet). Prior to that, I was really focused on cooking specifically with the overwhelming amount of produce that came with my CSA...which never seemed a good fit with any of the COTM choices at the time because I didn't need 1 or 2 recipes for dealing with cucumbers--I needed MANY such recipes... And for tomatoes... And for carrots... etc. ~TDQ

                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  Yes I know what you mean, not doing the core, but the points.
                                  I do okay with Asian, Thai, Filipino..... I know what you mean about learning one or two, and then taking off.

                                  You can certainly tell you're enjoying this month's cookbook!
                                  Keep up the good work!

                                2. re: chef chicklet

                                  chef chicklet, Dunlop is special for two reasons.

                                  She studied Chinese at college in the UK (Oxford and the London School of Oriental and African Studies) then went on for further study at Sichuan University in 1994. While there she discovered the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine and managed to talk her way into studying there. This resulted in her first cookbook, "Land of Plenty."

                                  The woman knows China: its people, the language, the culture and cuisine. Her 2nd cookbook, RCC is the direct result of her hanging around Hunan for a good spell.

                            2. re: MMRuth

                              I made this dish--Noodles with Fresh Shrimp and Baby Greens from pg 269 of Revolutionary Chinese, except that I used frozen shrimp (instead of fresh), stock from a box that I'd simmered with scallions and ginger (instead of every day stock), 1/2 tsp of sesame oil, (instead of 1 tsp), and 7.5 tsp of canola oil (instead of 1 cup of peanut oil for deep frying.) Dunlop gives you the option of using salted chiles or fresh--I opted for fresh, and I don't have any Chinkiang vinegar (optional for seasoning at the table), so we skipped that, though I did try a dash of black rice vinegar near the end of my bowl to see if I liked it (wasn't especially helpful, but I was awfully conservative in adding it.) I followed the "Soup noodles" instructions from pp 260-261 of RC--except that I did not add the dash of peanut oil, I used stock from a box that I'd simmered with scallions and ginger (instead of every day stock), and I used soba noodles.

                              My problem was that I ended up with quite a bit of eggs whites stirred in with my shrimp (I think you can see it in the photo), which was unappealing to look at but didn't seem to be a factor in taste, really. I don't know if it's because I used too little oil or didn't drain off enough of the egg mixture or what.

                              Anyway, this is pretty healthy dish, especially with the oil cut down, and would be glorious with homemade stock. Takes off the chill of a cold evening.


                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                TDQ, your noodles look glorious and very pro. I also made a noodle/soupish dish last night and wrote about it. I did a lot of cheating.

                            3. Steamed Pork and Pumpkin Dumplings (LOP p. 110)

                              I had some leftover kabocha squash so I decided to give these a shot. Bought the dumpling wrappers and a fatty ground pork in Chinatown and prepared the dumplings as directed. She doesn’t mention it in the recipe, but the only way I could get a seal on the dumpling wrappers was to wet the edges of the wrapper with water before filling and sealing them. Her description of how to seal them wasn’t exactly clear to me. She just says to seal with “a series of pinches.” I’m not sure just what that meant, and there’s no picture of these in the book, so I just went ahead and made tucks on one side of the wrapper—more or less as she describes for the Crescent Dumplings on page 100.

                              I didn’t realize until I was well into making the dumplings that she neither recommends nor gives a recipe for any kind of dipping sauce. I can’t imagine that the intention is to just eat them plain without anything. But the only sauce mentioned in the whole section on dumplings is a sweet sauce to accompany the Crescent Dumplings. I didn’t think that would work for these so I made a dipping sauce recipe from another Sichuan cookbook that I’ve made before for homemade spring rolls. That’s the sauce you’ll see in the photo. Bad decision. I ended up just dipping them in light soy sauce. But I wish she’d at least addressed the issue.

                              The filling was very, very tasty. Although I’m guessing the recipe was developed with our low-fat pork in mind, because with the fatty ground pork I was able to buy in Chinatown there was far more fat/oil in the dish than necessary. If I were to do it again I’d either use lean pork or cut way back on the amount of peanut oil in the recipe.

                              I really liked the filling. The pork with pumpkin was a surprisingly flavorful combination. But the dumpling wrappers weren’t the light, ethereal, almost not-there wrappers I’ve had in better Asian restaurants. They were a bit heavy and, particularly where the edge was pleated, rather unpleasantly chewy. Any dumplings makers here who can help me out? Was it the purchased wrappers? Did I not steam them long enough? I used to have Chinese steamer baskets but didn’t use them much so got rid of them for space reasons; I used one of those steamer inserts in an 8-quart pasta/stock pot; could it be they were too far from the steam?

                              The recipe says it makes 25 to 30 dumplings with a teaspoon of filling in each dumpling. I used a quite rounded teaspoon of filling in each and ended up with 31 dumplings. I steamed about 8 and froze the rest, so I’d appreciate any advice anyone can give me on how to cook these frozen dumplings (do I just steam them from frozen adding a bit more time?) and if there’s anything I can do, like steaming them longer than called for, to make the wrappings more tender.

                              32 Replies
                              1. re: JoanN

                                Wow, those turned out beautiful! I agree that a recommendation about a dipping sauce would have been helpful. Hopefully, someone else can recommend one! Sorry I can't help with any of your questions...


                                1. re: JoanN

                                  JoanN -- I'm so glad you shared your results on a dumpling recipe. One of the recipes I really want to try this month is for the Spicy Steamed Pork Buns from Revolutionary Chinese (p. 72). Interestingly, after reading the recipe, I had exactly the same concerns that you expressed -- i.e. I would really have liked to see a graphic of how to stuff and seal the dumplings, and I also wondered about a dipping sauce. There isn't one in the index, nor is there one listed under any of the dumpling/spring roll recipes in the book. I'd love to hear from others if they have an actual recipe for a dipping sauce for dumplings!

                                  My college roommate, who was from Taiwan, used to make a dipping sauce that involved soy sauce, rice vinegar (regular, not seasoned), chopped garlic, chopped ginger, and a few drops of sesame oil and/or hot pepper oil, which is what I do now when I want a dipping sauce. I don't have a recipe with exact proportions of soy sauce to vinegar, though, I just make it to taste.

                                  When I get around to trying the dumpling recipe, I think I'm going to use my Irene Kuo book (The Key to Chinese Cooking) as a reference on the dumpling making process, as her book has a visual aid :-)

                                  1. re: DanaB

                                    Actually, those are almost exactly the ingredients I used for the dipping sauce--all except the ginger. But it was a little too strong for these dumplings, which were rather subtle in flavor. Also, because I was in a big hurry, I dumped all of the ingredients into my mini-processor and just let 'er rip, so the texture of the sauce was thicker than it should have been.

                                    I'll be waiting to hear how yours turn out. I'm still not sure what to do with my frozen ones. There must be a bunch of dumpling makers on this board, but they may just not be following COTM. Maybe I'll post a separate message.

                                    1. re: JoanN

                                      My mom always just made a very very simple dipping sauce out of soy sauce and sesame oil. There weren't food processors back then .. she just floated a bit of oil on top of the small, shallow dish of soy sauce. My dad always liked to have some Chinese hot sauce (not as hot as sriracha -- it was a Hong Kong brand: Koon Yik Wah Kee) for dipping too.

                                    2. re: DanaB

                                      DanaB: You say you want to try the Spicy Steamed Pork Buns from Rev.Chinese but then talk about them as if they're dumplings. I thought that buns were spongy, bready things and not dumplings. Actually, I'm too lazy to go to the other end of the house to check out the recipe. ;+)

                                      Plz clarify for my small-capacity brain.

                                      1. re: oakjoan

                                        The ones I want to make are buns (i.e. bao), not "dumplings" per se, but I always thought of the latter as including the former. Maybe I should have stuck with Irene Kuo's more generic term, "Dough Stuffs," from her book The Key To Chinese Cooking, which includes both buns and dumplings :-)

                                    3. re: JoanN

                                      Re: the dipping sauce, I was reading through the book last night, and she does mention one for the crescent dumplings - "soy sauce, vinegar, and perhaps a little sesame oil or chili oil", and then a more traditional Sichuanese dipping sauce that she gives a recipe for on p. 102 using aromatic soy sauce (recipe on p. 76). Maybe this can be used for other dumplings?

                                      (Edited to add, as DanaB pointed out below, this is from Land of Plenty)

                                      1. re: Rubee

                                        Is this from Land of Plenty? Right now, I've only got Revolutionary Chinese -- am waiting on the other from the library. In any event, from my college roomate, I understand that the soy sauce/vinegar base is pretty common for dipping, and the other additions -- garlic, ginger, scallion, sesame oil, hot pepper oil, are all to taste.

                                        Re. JoanN's comment, I've never seen the dipping sauce pureed -- I would think the ginger and/or garlic might end up have a strong flavor if you did it that way. I usually just float the chopped garlic/ginger in the sauce and it imparts only a light flavor to it.

                                        I would have started cooking out of the books this weekend, but a friend with a baby decided to drop in from out of town and we are having an impromptu dinner party tonight where there are going to be 5 children under the age of two, one 9 year old and about 10 adults. I decided that experimenting with unfamiliar recipes for a crowd like that wouldn't be the best idea and so am making chili instead. Next weekend, though, I'm going to tackle those dumplings :-)

                                        1. re: DanaB

                                          Dumplings are great for kids because they can participate in the making. We like to have a new years party for dumpling making and we teach all the kids how to fold the dumplings. Some of them get very good at it.

                                        2. re: Rubee

                                          Yes, I had seen the one for crescent dumplings but thought it sounded too sweet. I had, however, completely forgotten about the one on page 76. I'll definitely make up a batch before attempting whatever it is I end up attempting with the dumplings now in the freezer. Thanks for the heads up. I only wish Dunlop had crossed referenced that somewhere in the recipe.

                                        3. re: JoanN

                                          Here are a few videos that show stuffing and folding -




                                          Lining the steamer tray with cheesecloth or cabbage leaves will keep the dumplings from sticking to the tray.

                                          There are a lot of types of commercial "skins". Try to find a thinner one for your next go round. The packages sometimes have both a weight and count on them. For a package with the same weight, a higher count indicates thinner skins.

                                          1. re: hannaone

                                            Fantastic, hannaone! Those videos are just outstanding. I keep forgetting that youtube is available for information such as this. And checking the weight of the package is a great idea as well. It would never have occurred to me. Now I'm ready to try again.

                                            1. re: hannaone

                                              hannaone, I just put a circle of baking parchment on the bottom of my bamboo steamer baskets, and nothing sticks! For steamed buns, I sometimes cut small squares of parchment and set each bun on one, then into the steamer. With buns, it's convenient to have the parchment when serving. The platter doesn't get as messy!

                                            2. re: JoanN

                                              JoanN, your pictures look great!
                                              I did notice the skin looked a little dry in the edges: It could be a number of things:
                                              1) try to get the Chinese wonton skin (white, not yellow) and not the Hong Kongese wonton skin. That is, if you want the "light, ethereal" kind. Actually, it's kind of hard to categorize them by country, but the yellow ones are a little tougher, more leathery in general. They're not as porous to soak up the moisture from the steam. If you get Chinese dumpling skin (round, white) be sure you don't accidentally get the thicker kind. Look for the thinner ones. Whatever you do, don't get frozen ones.

                                              2) with whichever kind of skin you get, you pretty much have to keep a moistened towel over the skin to be used, AND over the dumplings you've already wrapped and waiting for steaming. If it dries up in either stages you're going to get the hard edge.

                                              3) If you make the dumpling skin from scratch, you don't need to moisten the ends before sealing. It's a lot of work, but totally worth it to make fresh skin from scratch.

                                              As for dipping sauce, for me it's usually just good black fragrant vinegar (no soy sauce) or go the way of the chili oil as in the "Hong You Chao Shou", a picture here from another post on Chowhound. http://eatingchinese.org/galleries/si...

                                              As for the frozen ones that you have left over, I wonder if you might want to make dumpling soup? It might help in restoring a little moisture, but it's still going to be a little harden.

                                              Hope something in here helped....

                                              *This post reminds me, at least for those of us in NYC, that there's an All Clad wok for $80 at the Marshall's in Queen's on Northern Blvd, as of last Wednesday, still left over from the week before that...scratches, but perfectly fine.

                                              1. re: HLing

                                                Thank you so much, HLing. That's all very helpful. And I think I may finally have been encouraged to try to make my own wrappers. I figure if it's total loss, it won't be the first time.

                                                And I love the idea of black vinegar as a dipping sauce. I'm one of those who prefer my french fries with vinegar so I'll bet that would be perfect for me--and I wouldn't have thought of it.

                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                  You're welcome, JoanN! That was such a fast reply..I was going to add that in a pinch I'd still rather use a good balsamic vinegar then soy sauce. Ideally you can pick up a Chinese black vinegar for less money than the balsamic, but recently I've not been able to find my trusted brand of the Chinese kind. Or, I should say, there seems to be some imitation brands that don't taste as good as who they're trying to imitate. So i just reach for the San Giuliano 10 yr. old Balsamic.

                                                  Good luck on making the dumpling skin. It may be difficult at first, but it's a skill worth acquiring. Someone mentioned a Youtube video of a chef making the dumpling and cooking it at the same time, wrapping it with one hand, throwing it onto the wall that bounces off and into the boiling water...I've yet to find it. :)

                                                  1. re: HLing

                                                    With regard to making my own wrappers, I think I, rather than the dumpling, might be what's bouncing off the wall. ;-)

                                                    I have Gold Plum brand Chinkiang Vinegar. What is your trusted brand?

                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                      JoanN, Gold Plum is great, especially their Premium Grade, 3-Year Matured Chinkiang!

                                                    2. re: HLing

                                                      What an interesting substitute, HLing. Being of Italian heritage I can certainly appreciate the difference between good balsamic and good soy sauce. This is a substitute I'm going to consider ASAP. Many thanks!

                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                        JoanN and ScoopG, somehow my brain didn't see your replies..yes, I enjoyed the Gold Plum brand of Chinkiang Vinegar until the very last drop, and then when i bought what I thought was the same, it turned out to be an almost identical label, fonts and all, but is another company that's named Golden Mountain (in Chinese), it still says Chinkiang (by the way, that's the name of a place in China that produces good vinegar), but it didn't taste as good. Hate when that happens! I'll have to look carefully next time for Golden Plum brand.

                                                        Gio, as I thought about Marco Polo and China, and noodles and pasta...hmmm, good black vinegar and good balsamic don't seem that exclusive to nationalities any more.

                                                      2. re: HLing

                                                        I have Gold Plum Brand Chinkiang Vinegar which has a good flavor but found the Baoning Vinegar (locally in Southern California) recommended by Ms. Dunlop and it's wonderful!


                                                  2. re: JoanN

                                                    I don't often see Chinese people in Sichuan eating steamed dumplings with sauces. They are usually eaten with pao cai (pickles) or plain, and the fillings have enough flavour. That said, I do sometimes use mustard (plain ballpark style) or a mix of soy and black vinegar.

                                                    1. re: pepper_mil

                                                      Very interesting. Do they eat them with pickles at home, as street food, or both? Although my filling was certainly flavorful, it was rather subtle and I would have thought a pickle accompaniment would have overwhelmed it.

                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                        What I see is the street food, and from asking people. The pao cai is even eaten with all kinds of plain things, even plain steamed bread. I love it with vegetable dumplings, which have not much more than cabbage and mushrooms inside.

                                                    2. re: JoanN

                                                      Coming quite late to the discussion but anyway. Not sure what you mean by "better Asian restaurants." The thing about dumpling skin is that different parts of China use different thickness of skin. So Northern style dumplings have a thicker meatier skin than what you might find on a dumpling off a Guangzhou dim sum cart. And in many places, Chewy is a good thing, not a bad thing.

                                                      I have used both purchased skins and made them myself. For our family, purchased skins typically are a bit too thin and insubstantial. When I take the time to make them, the skins are more like what we get in dumpling restaurants in Beijing and the like. If you have access to an Asian grocery store, you should find multiple types of dumpling skins. Check labels---some brands actually have skins that are thicker or thinner--I can tell by looking at the side of the package.

                                                      I have limited experience in steaming frozen dumplings but LOTS of experience in boiling them. Bring pot with lots of water and space to a boil, like you would for any pasta. Add a bit of salt if you like. When water is boiling, drop requisite number of frozen dumplings in one at a time, stirring as you do it to make sure they don't stick to the bottom. Allow water to return to a boil. Add a cup of cool water. Return to a boil again. When water is on 2d boil and all dumplings are floating, check one dumpling to see if you like it. If needs more cooking, repeat with cool water and bring to a boil again. Drain.

                                                      I suspect that no dipping sauce was included because she is just so used to eatting Chinese, it would never cross her mind that someone would need a receipe. Most restaurants don't seem to give you a prepared sauce--you just od it yourself on the plate. So the standard dipping sauce in restaurants with dumplings is soy sauce, white vinegar, black vinegar, chili sauce and white pepper. Blend some or all to your own satisfaction. I like white vinegar with white pepper. My daughter favors soy with chili, my husband black vinegar with chili and our oldest pup just scarfs them down plain.

                                                      That said, I think I need to go and find a squash so I can make some of these dumplings. They sound very very yummy.

                                                      1. re: jenn

                                                        Truly an instance of better late than never. Thanks very much, jenn. Perhaps I'll look at my dumpling skins in a new way now.

                                                        I live in Manhattan and have been to at least 8 or 9 different shops, but they all seem to sell the same brands of dumpling skins. I've seen surprising little variety from shop to shop. It looks as though one manufacturer pretty much has the market sewed up. There was a time, many years ago, when I was doing a lot of Chinese cooking and I recall (at least I think I do) a much larger variety of skins being available. But I could be wrong about that.

                                                        I'm with your husband: black vinegar with chili. But what you say makes a great deal of sense. I wish the author had given us that information.

                                                        And do try the dumplings. (I still have a few left in the freezer and will definitely try your method of cooking them.) I thought they were terrific and I'll be eager to hear whether or not you agree.

                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                          My eldest pup is a dumpling fanatic. I'm betting I can get him to help me with the recipe. All I need is a bit of time.

                                                          We are on the west coast and our favorite source for asian ingrediants is Ranch 99 which is a big grocery chain. Their supply of dumpling skins seems to vary. Sometimes, they have lots of round ones but other times, the pickings are quite slim. I think the Dynasty brand has thick and thin skins and even marks them accordingly. But avoid those marked as "gyoza" skins---way way way too thin.

                                                      2. re: JoanN

                                                        In the event anyone who made these dumplings four years ago is around this afternoon...do you think I could make these with pumpkin puree instead of pumpkin chunks? I have some in my freezer that I roasted and pureed from last fall's crop. Or is the chunkiness important?

                                                        1. re: Aravisea

                                                          Yes, I think the pureed pumpkin would work. First, in the recipe the pumpkin is finely chopped so it's not as though there were big chunks in there anyway. Also, there's only about a teaspoon of filling in each dumpling and at least half a teaspoon of that filling is the ground pork. So, no, I don't think the chunkiness is important. You should be just fine with your pureed pumpkin.

                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                            Ok, great - I will plow ahead with puree and post a report afterwards. Much obliged JoanN!

                                                      3. I decided to try the Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Chicken Slivers (RC p 270), even though my chopped salted chiles won't be ready for 2 weeks. I used sambal oelek instead. Also, I used boneless thigh instead of breast on account of the preferences of the eaters. The directions have you soak ho fun noodles and drain them. This part was fine. Then it has you heat up several T of oil and fry them, then remove them to a plate to add back in later. Dunlop did not mention this, but when I added the noodles to the oil and stirred them up once, they rapidly began to congeal/fuse into a rubber mass. They were not going to come apart. I tried tongs and pulling them, etc. So, I moved on with the recipe. When I added the noodles back to the pan, there was a slight bit of liquid and soy sauce, and I could see that where the liquid was, the noodles immediately started to separate. But there wasn't enough liquid to go around. I grabbed some water and started adding it to the globbed up parts in the pan. I got most of it separated before I felt the chicken was done and I had to pull it off the heat.

                                                        Was this supposed to happen? The noodles that I managed to get unstuck did come out cooked with a nice chew to them. Some globs remained, though. I've made Pad Thai before, but in that you have plenty of sauce with the noodles, and you don't just dump them plain into a bit of oil. Pad Thai works out fine, but are the two comparable? This does not have much sauce in it. I could have used the mushroom soaking liquid or more wine perhaps, but I didn't think of those while frantically trying to deal with the globs of noodles. Maybe I could add liquid to the noodles while they are sitting out on the plate before I add them back into the food, or add liquid when I am doing the first stage of frying them?

                                                        I liked the flavors in the dish, but the darkness of the chicken I used seemed especially prominent. It told me to use white pepper to taste, which I found unenlightening. I just used a pinch per person, since I find white pepper to be a strong flavor. I wonder if white pepper and dark meat reinforce each other?

                                                        I didn't take a picture. I try to eat noodle dishes like this pronto, and I am slow with a camera.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: saltwater

                                                          I'm planning on making this dish tonight, and wonder if any one has suggestions for the noodle clumping problem that saltwater had?


                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                            MM - I wonder if the information on the site I reference below might help you.....
                                                            It is the preparation for a Penang recipe but Ho Fun noodles are used.


                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                              I've since made the dish many times, and it really does seem that when there is no liquid in the pan, then the noodles soon begin to clump. I take this as a good sign, that they are ready to be removed. :-) My husband and I like the texture best if I don't let them become fully clumped. It helps if I don't start the pan blazingly hot. Then they cook more evenly, since they cook a little slower. I've never tried using more oil. I find there is enough oil already, and it doesn't want more. Oh, perhaps it is the size noodle I use...my husband likes the "medium" kind.

                                                              I set them aside in a nice clump, and when I add them to the whole dish, I use some shitake soaking liquid to separate them, right after I add the soy sauce the Dunlop requests. They come apart well with some vigorous prodding, then.

                                                              For all my initial troubles with the noodles, this has ended up being the dish I've remade the most from Dunlop. I've found it easy to use as a base to change around to my liking. I often use finely julienned carrots (use mandoline) instead of bean sprouts. If very thin, they cook fine if thrown in near the end.

                                                              I've had so much fun with the dish. I've managed to completely transform it into a pork and cabbage dish with rice instead of noodles! It is the only Chinese dish I have ever so successfully taken over as mine.

                                                            2. re: saltwater

                                                              Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Chicken Slivers (RC p 270)

                                                              I'm trying to clean out the pantry in preparation for a move this week and this recipe won the EYB roulette. I'm so happy I found this recipe because it hits all the right notes with a bit of heat from the chiles and the flavor from the mushrooms. I didn't check reviews before making it, so I was a little concerned about the noodles clumping in the beginning, but they cooked perfectly after being re-added to the wok. This is a great weeknight meal as it comes together very quickly after the initial soaking period. I can see variations on this dish making it into a regular rotation.

                                                              1. re: saltwater

                                                                Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Chicken Slivers, p. 270

                                                                I chose this recipe based on an EYB search for rice noodles (perfect heat wave food -- barely any cooking required!). This recipe was perfect as I also had cooked chicken breasts and shiitake mushrooms and green onions to use up. I changed the recipe around quite a bit, using fresh instead of dried shiitakes and sliced red pepper instead of bean sprouts. Also, previously cooked chicken instead of raw and olive oil instead of peanut oil (I'd run out of the latter). I had the same noodle clumping problem as saltwater so I wish I had read these posts! Nevertheless, this was a good dish, easy to riff on and a good vehicle for leftovers. My second recipe out of RCC and it won't be the last.

                                                              2. Sour and Hot Noodles (RCC, p. 266)

                                                                This is my second Hunanese soup noodle dish. Hadn't plan to make it, but we were in Chinatown again this morning (making spring rolls and the shrimp with chinese chive dish tonight - and bought a wok!), and bought some lovely largish bowls, as we really don't have anyones that are good for this kind of dish. So, of course I wanted to use them right away. I'd found the bamboo shoots and preserved mustard greens on this trip, and also picked up some ground pork, so this seemed the perfect choice.

                                                                I slivered and blanched the shoots, along with enough for the spring rolls for tonight. Used my saute pan, as didn't have time to season the wok, to stir fry the pork, shoots and mustard greens etc. One thing that perplexed me a bit - after you stir fry, you add 2 cups of everyday stock, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Now, I just noticed that it says to simmer partially covered, and I covered completely, but I still don't think all the liquid would evaporate. So, when the dish was done, I had lots of liquid, plus the broth and noodles, and wasn't sure if I was supposed to use that liquid - if that was instead of the broth in the main recipe, etc. Went ahead and put the broth and noodles in the bowls, added the pork etc. with a slotted spoon, then spooned in some of the liquid from that pan. Lots left and for leftovers I just tossed it all together.

                                                                Perfect dish for a cold blustry day in NYC.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                  This weekend I made the version with bok choy and mushrooms. I had just enough dried shitakes left, and used chopped bok choy, since I couldn't find any baby ones. Delicious, but no leftovers!

                                                                  Served it with the Chicken & Ginger - I ended up just adding that to the bowl as well.

                                                                2. Dan Dan Noodles, Land of Plenty, pg. 87
                                                                  Had everything for this recipe except regular bok choy. The only BC at the Asian market the other day was a big bag of the most adorable baby bok choy I've ever seen. Never thought I would catagorize a vegetable as adorable..but these were. Tiny little things, with a tiny white bottom and just a few dark green leaves, so I used a large handful which expanded the dish but was nonetheless delicious. There's a lot left and I think I'll steam them for tonight's dinner. Back to the DDN: DH got slightly intimidated by all the steps with this recipe but managed to follow the recipe's various blanchings and stir-fryings quite well. We used wonderful Chinese noodles that I've never had before, and pickled Chinese cabbage that I had made the day before and the required ground pork. We found the finished dish while full of flavor, still needs a bit more seasoning. There's about half of the noodles left over so I'll use themt tonight for a crab scampi-style I'm making ramping up the seasoning, instead of regular pasta. The noodles were served with the Fisherman's Shrimp I reported on in the Fish thread. It turned out to be a compatable combination.

                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                    Tonight I made three dishes for dinner from Revolutionary Chinese: Yueyang Hot-Dry Noodles (p.67); Yueyang BBQ Lamb Chops, and Stir-Fried Peppers with Black Beans and Garlic (p. 201). I posted about the other two dishes on the appropriate threads. I'm posting this on the Noodles thread because it's Noodles, although it appears in the Appetizers and Street Food section. Will put this there as well.

                                                                    I started out with fresh Chinese noodles which I cooked for a short time and drained. I put them in the wok because it was the perfect size for tossing them with the ingredients. I then added chopped salted chilis (which I had made a month or so ago and take every opportunity to use.). The recipe calls for sesame paste but I hadn't planned for this dish (except for the noodle part) and didn't have any. So I used sesame oil instead. I then added garlic, light soy sauce, and chili oil with sediment. The recipe also called for Preserved Mustard Tuber. I didn't have that, having just skimmed the recipe and seen "mustard", but not "tuber". I ladled on a bit of Fragrant Chicken Stock (I had added 5 spice, ginger and peel, bay leaf, etc. to my homemade chicken stock..per her recipe which I don't have in front of me now).

                                                                    Since I had started the noodles too soon, they got cold and I heated them up in the wok for a few moments. Then I tossed with the scallions and sesame seeds. This was also a really good dish with the peppers and lamb. I love "doctored" noodles and plan to try a few other recipes. This one, along with Changsa Cold-Tossed Noodles is in the Apps. Section.

                                                                    The whole meal was extremely good, and I'll make all these dishes again. As others have pointed out, it was bit oily, but not enough to be a problem. I'll cut back on the oil next time.

                                                                    I'm posting the same photo of all the dishes on a plate, and here it is again!

                                                                    1. re: oakjoan

                                                                      I made the Yueyang Hot-Dry Noodles again tonight. Again, they were spectacular and are now almost all gone. I hear my husband padding into the kitchen to get another bowlful every 15 minutes or so. I had some chicken that I needed to use up and so cooked cubes in the wok and added to the noodles.

                                                                      I also made the sauteed peppers with sesame and garlic again. This time I had yellow, green and red peppers. Again, it was delicious. My attempts at Chinese stir-fry in the past have almost always turned out gooey and overly soy-saucy. These 2 books have been a revelation to me. Also, using the fragrant stock really adds to the flavor of the noodles.

                                                                      1. re: oakjoan

                                                                        I really love those noodles - made myself a small second batch for lunch one day and ate all of it!

                                                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                                                          Do you think the Yueyang Hot-Dry Noodles might possibly be the same or similar to Wuhan's Hot-Dry Noodles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Re_gan_mian)? I just purchased Ms. Dunlop's books online, so I can't check for myself. I'm particularly curious about this dish because those noodles are a specialty of my city, which I've craved and have wanted a recipe for since I moved here 18 years ago. Thanks!

                                                                        2. re: oakjoan

                                                                          YueYan Hot Dry Noodles (RCC, pg. 67)

                                                                          These were great and as stated above, incredibly addicting. I used the requisite amount of fresh noodles but I thought it was too much. It immediately soaked up the sauce so it was drier than I would have liked. But, the flavor. Wow. Those salted chilis mixed in with the sesame paste and chili oil was just so flavorful. The mustard tubers tied it all together with a nice crunch. I’ll be making these again this week.

                                                                          1. re: beetlebug

                                                                            Here is a pic of the fresh noodles.

                                                                      2. Xie Laoban's Dan Dan Noodles, (LOP, p. 89)

                                                                        These were unique and quite addictive. The sauce is made with ground roasted Sichuan pepper (p. 74), salt, sesame paste, light and dark soy, and chili oil. The ground beef is stir-fried with dried chiles, whole Sichuan peppercorns, light soy sauce, and preserved vegetables. I still haven't found the Sichuan vegetables so I used pickled cabbage and shredded bamboo (ingredients were water, salt and sugar). Thanks to the CHs, I'm glad I knew to rinse these a couple of times. I haven't made the chili oil yet (can't find any of my glass jars!), but always have a bottle of oil in the pantry that I like, so used that. It's Lian How Superior Chili Oil and has only two ingredients, soy bean oil and chili.

                                                                        This ended up being a project. First, just as I had finally finished stirring the oil and sesame paste in the jar to combine, the glass broke. Oozing sesame paste all over the counters. What a mess. Then in my haste, I knocked over the ramekin of toasted Sichuan pepper I had just ground. My husband decided to have a hamburger while I started all over again. I don't blame him!

                                                                        I really liked this dish, it was so different from dan dan noodle dishes I've had before. Since I was now cooking for one, I only used 6 oz of dried noodles instead of 12, and tried to eyeball dividing the meat and the sauce -- I made the full recipe - in half also. To serve, I tossed the noodles with the sauce and meat. I've enjoyed many Sichuan dishes at Sichuan restaurants in Boston, so I don't know if it's because I may have put too much Sichuan pepper in (I put half a tsp in at first but then decided to add a few more pinches), or because the quality of Penzey's spices is so high, but wow - after just one bite I could feel the "ma la" numbing and tingling really kicking in. This was good stuff. I'd take a few bites, wait for the novocaine-tongue feeling to wear off a bit, and then dive back in. This dish was really addictive. E didn't agree though. He's not a big fan of Sichuan anyways, but at least he tried it. I believe his response was "my wife is trying to kill me". ; )

                                                                        17 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Rubee

                                                                          I've been avoiding the noodle dishes for dietary reasons (Yeah; I know; then I go ahead and make fried pork belly. What can I say?), but that photo of yours is calling to me. One more on the list.

                                                                          1. re: Rubee

                                                                            I made another trip to the store and found a sesame sauce/paste. I did so I could try this dan dan instead of the other one. Yours looks so good with the nuggets of meat. I had completely broken mine up for the regular dan dan. Thanks for the picture!

                                                                            1. re: saltwater

                                                                              Thanks so much for your comment. That's what's so fun about this, and interesting. When I posted the pic, I thought it didn't look good and I should have broken the meat up instead of leaving it in chunks. ; )

                                                                              Can't wait to see what you think of this. It's really different and the flavors are distinctive; I kept going back for more. My husband, on the other hand, said tonight that that shouldn't have been the first dish I made him try from this book (he only had two bites!). Ha - he said he's 'scared' of what I'm going to do next. I told him it will be more familiar dishes like dumplings, sweet and sour pork, or the kung pao chicken...hmmm... hope he likes Dunlop's versions!

                                                                              1. re: Rubee

                                                                                LOL, that's just how life goes with you disliking your picture and me liking it.

                                                                                I found Xie Laoban's Dan Dan to be very easy to prepare, and yet I overcooked the noodles. I just wasn't sure for these noodles when to pull them out. Next time, I'll pull them out quicker. While making the sauce, I manged to brown the preserved vegetable, and I'm glad I did. That tasted fine in the dish. Maybe I managed it because I did a good job of squeezing it after I rinsed/submerged it. Both of us thought the dish was too salty, and I think it is because I didn't monitor the salt well throughout the recipe. I should have not salted the meat to taste when it was in the wok (actually a 9" cast iron fry pan). I didn't taste it, silly me, and just assumed I'd want a certain amount of salt. Also, I should have salted the pasta water less. I am so accustomed to Italian pasta which has no salt in the dough.

                                                                                The meal was good. We both liked the level of heat. My husband felt it was missing something from the traditional dan dan, and said he like the traditional one better. I wonder if it is that I used lard for that and just oil for this. Oh, I used pork for this dan dan, even though it called for beef. I found out I only had pork on hand and so I went ahead to finish the meal using that. Myself, I rather liked the flavor of this meal, and I might prefer it over the traditional dan dan if I got the noodles right and the salt right. Maybe it was a richness that I liked, but that could be the lovely browning that I got this time.

                                                                                Those whole peppercorns are pretty mean customers. I bit down on one during the meal and took out one side of my mouth. Maybe I could pull them out once they have been cooked in the oil? Do you think that would work, or would it remove the flavor?

                                                                                1. re: saltwater

                                                                                  Great report and great pics - In fact, your pic looks so good, it made me hungry and now I have to go see how the leftovers heat up!

                                                                                  Hmm..interesting on the salt. Now that I think of it, the only salt I added was the 1/4 tsp in the sauce. I didn't salt the water or the meat. My noodles actually didn't have any directions so I wasn't quite sure how long to cook them. I ended up tasting them and took them out when they were just al dente. I was fortunate enough not to bite down on a peppercorn, ouch! I see no reason why you couldn't remove them after they've flavored the oil, especially since ground Sichuan peppercorns are an ingredient in the sauce.

                                                                                  Ah, you hit the nail on the head - it was the richness of the dish that I liked; but I still plan on making the regular dan dan noodles to compare. Tonight I think I'm going to make the Pork Slivers with Yellow Chives, and Fish-Fragrant Bean Curd.

                                                                              2. re: saltwater

                                                                                A question regarding the sesame sauce/paste:
                                                                                DH could not find this at the Asian market yesterday. We have tahini in the fridge. Could that be substituted?

                                                                                BTW: All the photos look wonderful!! Gotta try the Xie Laoban's Dan Dan next.

                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                  Tahini is much lighter in color than the Chinese sesame paste, but both taste like sesame. I just went and tasted the two, and to me, tahini comes through with a strong, clean *roasted* flavor. The other paste is more muddled, but perhaps stronger in specifically sesame flavor and less strong/clear with the roasted aspect, but maybe that is because I only had an oily sample available for the tahini, and my Chinese jar has not developed a layer of oil on top yet.

                                                                                  I think tahini would work for the other in a dish with several flavors in it. I'd definitely be willing to try it in the Dan Dan, which has plenty of other flavors in it. I've seen tahini suggested as a substitute for Chinese sesame before.

                                                                                  1. re: saltwater

                                                                                    On p. 73 of LOP, Dunlop agrees that tahini can be a substitute for sesame paste, but "preferably dark tahini".

                                                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                                                      Thanks to both saltwater and you, Rubee. I've just been reading an interesting comment from the Perfect Pantry blog, "Don't confuse tahini with Asian sesame paste. Tahini is made from sesame seeds that have been hulled and toasted; Asian sesame paste is made with unhulled seeds and has a more bitter flavor. You can use tahini (or peanut butter) in place of Asian sesame paste, but not vice versa." Here's the site link...

                                                                                      The bit about tahini is about mid-page.... I just found this blog and I'm liking it!! V. good pantry descriptions, etc.

                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                        Ah! Bitter, yes! I find it interesting to read how other people describe tastes. I have little skill at it. No wonder I am not a wine person (besides the obvious, that I am not allowed to drink it (medical)).

                                                                                        1. re: saltwater

                                                                                          Well, this person, Lydia, has been a food writer for a few years, and is well versed in quite a number of cuisines. I recommend her blog. She cooks and has classes from her log home in northwest RI, along with a cooking group called Nine Cooks. Veddy Interesting.

                                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                                            I was checking it out today. She has nice tidbits. I enjoyed her most recent entry on cardamom. She even suggests a substitute for this newly popular aleppo pepper. She suggests ancho and cayenne, both of which I do have.

                                                                              3. re: Rubee

                                                                                Xie Lao Ban’s Dun Dun Noodles (LOP, pg. 89)

                                                                                This was an excellent recipe. I finally bought Sichuan peppercorns from Penzeys and what a difference it made. The ma la flavor came through immediately.

                                                                                Nothing to add to the above reports. My one minor complaint is that it wasn’t saucy enough. When I put the noodles in the bowl, the sauce was soaked in immediately. Next time, I would make more sauce so that they are a bit wetter.

                                                                                I ate this with the Stir Fried Amaranth Leaves (LOP, pg. 294).

                                                                                1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                  BTW, I also didn't salt the meat or the noodle water. I didn't have chili oil so I left it out. Lastly, I used preserved mustard tuber instead of preserved vegetable. Next time, I would throw in more than the 2T.

                                                                                  1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                    What brand noodles do you use? We made this last night and didn't love it, but the noodles had an odd flavor. And the peppercorns had no zip, but that's another story - I guess I do have to break down and order from Penzeys. There were other user errors, but the noodles' flavor was the most bothersome.

                                                                                    1. re: mirage

                                                                                      I bought fresh noodles from Super 88. They were on a styrofoam tray, with 4-5 individual balls. I don't remember the brand but they were from Canada. I'll take a pic next time.

                                                                                2. re: Rubee

                                                                                  Xie Laoban's Dan Dan Noodles (nie rou dan dan mian) - LOP, p. 89

                                                                                  I made this today for lunch. I've been making the regular dan dan mian in the book lately, so haven't made this in a while. Wow. I forgot how good it is. As I was on my second helping, I mentioned to E that Dunlop's recipes are such winners, I wonder if I'll ever be happy with a restaurant's version of this again ; )

                                                                                  I used fresh Chinese noodles that cook in about 30 seconds, ground beef, and homemade Chili Oil (p. 55).

                                                                                  Noodles, some ingredients, serving the way Dunlop mentions, tossed together:

                                                                                3. Yueyang Hot-Dry Noodles, p. 67, RCC - made these last night, but techinically they belong in the appetizer thread:


                                                                                  1. Spicy Cold Noodles with Chicken Slivers, (LOP p. 95)

                                                                                    This was an excellent version of cold sesame noodles with chicken. I used fresh Chinese noodles (wheat flour and water) "Shanghai-style, a little thicker than spaghetti". They're cooked, tossed with peanut oil, and cooled. The sauce is made from sesame paste, dark and light soy, black vinegar, sugar, garlic, ground Sichuan pepper, chili oil, and sesame oil. I didn't have bean sprouts so left them out, and followed the directions to mix the noodles with the sauce, and then top with shredded cooked chicken, and scallions. All this is then mixed together. I'm glad I have leftovers - it wil make a nice lunch.

                                                                                    1. Pot-Sticker Dumplings with Chicken Stock (LOP, p. 113)

                                                                                      We loved these; I'll definitely keep a batch of these frozen in the freezer. Next time I'll cook these fresh, but this time I had made these over the weekend and froze them. I'm sure they'd be so much better fresh and made with homemade wrappers and authentic hot-water dough, but this was my first time making dumplings (using store-bought shu mai/potsticker wrappers), and we thought it was a success. The filling was flavorful and juicy from the addition of chicken stock. Other ingredients were ginger and scallion-infused water, pork, rice wine (I used sherry), sugar, pepper, and sesame oil. To save time, I cheated and used one of those plastic dumpling presses, and making them went pretty quick. I used tips from JoanN's dumpling thread such as buying the thinnest wrappers I could find and using water to seal. I didn't thaw them and put them in the pan frozen, so increased the steamig time. They were delicious, crispy on the bottom but with a juicy filling. I served with a dipping sauce of soy sauce, black vinegar, and chili oil.

                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Rubee

                                                                                        Oooh! Fun. I'm not familiar with the plastic dumpling press--can you describe that a little more, please?


                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                          Hi TDQ! It comes in very handy. It's what I use to make fried wontons or crab rangoon at home. I have two different kinds - some orange plastic ones that don't have a handle and just fold in half and one that looks like the link below, which works the best. I bought one at an Asian market and one at an Asian cooking supply store.


                                                                                          1. re: Rubee

                                                                                            Hey, I've seen those--and didn't know what they were for. Neat! Thank you.


                                                                                        2. re: Rubee

                                                                                          Pot Sticker Dumplings with Chicken Stock (LOP, pg. 112)

                                                                                          These were great and really easy with ready made wrappers. The pork filling was much more flavorful than the zhong crescent dumplings. This pork filling had chicken stock and sesame oil that made the raw meat smell delicious. Although the recipe called for 1 teaspoon of filling but my dumplings had closer to 2 teaspoons. I made a double batch of filling and ended up with about 30 dumplings.

                                                                                          I did have some slight difficulty in the steaming/frying process. I didn’t put enough oil in the skillet and than crammed too many dumplings into the skillet. I was too impatient and just wanted to eat them. The problem was that the bottoms stuck to the pan so I ended up ripping many of them when I tried to remove them from the pan. But, it was still tasty. I still have a serving in the freezer. I can’t wait to eat them.

                                                                                          For the dipping sauce, I used the soy, vinegar, chili oil and garlic.

                                                                                          1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                            Ooh, those look good BB. I'm going to have to make another batch.

                                                                                        3. "Zhong" Crescent Dumplings (LOP, p. 100)

                                                                                          Dunlop describes these as "dainty, with a very plain ground pork filling" and served with a "heavenly sauce". Since they are so simple, the dipping sauce made with Aromatic Soy Sauce (p. 76) was an important component as it contributes so much flavor. The filling is made with ground pork, ginger-infused water, an egg, rice wine, and salt and pepper. I used store-bought dumpling skins and a dumpling press to form half-moon dumplings. Her technique of boiling them cooked them perfectly (bring water to vigorous boil, add dumplings, return to a boil and add a cup of cold water, repeat, and the dumplings were done the third time they returned to a boil). Be sure to have a large enough pot to hold the water as you add more while cooking multiple batches; the addition of cold water is to prevent the water from boiling too briskly and breaking the dumplings. The sauce is made with Aromatic Soy Sauce, chili oil, sesame oil, water, and crushed garlic. I served them as she suggests - in a bowl "with a generous slosh of spicy sauce".

                                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Rubee

                                                                                            Zhong Crescent Dumplings (LOP, pg. 100)

                                                                                            These were easy and great. Using ready made dumpling wrappers made these a snap to make and eat. The meat was much more watery than I was used to and I’m not used to just having plain pork within a dumpling. Initially, I made little folds in the dumplings, but the juice kept leaking out. So, I just sealed them shut. I made a total about about 60 dumplings. The accompanying sauce was also delicious. That fragrant soy sauce added something different to the chili oil sauce. Not much to add to Rubee’s report, other than I can’t wait to eat my frozen ones.

                                                                                            1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                              You've been cooking up a storm! I've not tried dumplings yet, but am going to give it a try!

                                                                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                I can't seem to leave this month. As interesting as Roast Chicken looks, I'm still in Dunlop.

                                                                                                1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                  I'll probably return a bit to Dunlop in May - still have loads of ingredients to work my way through! I need to pace my husband on the Dunlop recipes - so, actually, maybe I'll dig out the book and make something one night this week.

                                                                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                    C's reaction was more, this is the best month ever. When he saw me looking at Hopkinson's book, he had such a look of panic on his face.

                                                                                              2. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                I made these again. But this time, I used the filling from the pot sticker dumplings with chicken stock. I tripled the recipe (that recipe was only for 1/3 lb of meat and I wanted to make a lb of meat). Even with my slight mess up (I spaced and soaked the ginger and scallion in 1 cup of water v. 3/4 cup), the filling was still very workable. I'm sure I lost some ginger/scallion essence but it still tasted great. So essentially, I made those chicken stock dumplings but used the boiling method to cook.


                                                                                                I think this is a great combo. The meat filling from the chicken stock dumplings have more flavor AND the filling is less watery. This way, I could add a bit more meat to the dumpling and I can make the little folds to make the dumpling more aesthetically pleasing.

                                                                                                Unfortunately, I bought a different kind of wrapper (only one kind was available at the Allston Super 88) and there were less wrappers. I made about 40 some dumplings and still have about 3/4 cup of filling. It's a bummer because I was definitely in a groove and it took less than half an hour to stuff these puppies.

                                                                                                I really encourage other hounds to try making these dumplings. The wrappers in the stores make dumpling making a snap. The filling is also quick and easy to put together. Lastly, while wrapping dumplings may seem intimidating, it really isn't. If you don't want to make folds, you don't have to. You can just seal them shut and they still taste perfectly delicious.

                                                                                                No photo attached because I forgot. Also, the uncooked dumplings look pretty much exactly like the pic from the chicken stock dumplings and the cooked ones look very similar to the zhong crescent dumplings (sans folds of course).

                                                                                                1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                  Zhong Crescent Dumplings.

                                                                                                  I just cooked the last of these that I had frozen - they were just as tasty as the first time around. This time, though, I pan-fried them (the technique given for the potstickers on p. 112 ). I also used chicken stock instead of water, which gave the dumplings are more caramelized/crispy bottom which I loved. I made a dipping sauce once again with the Sweet Aromatic Soy Sauce (p. 76), Chili Oil (p. 55), and sesame oil. I just love that Aromatic Soy Sauce, something I keep in the fridge now. I'ved used it in marinades, as a dressing for cooked chicken, and added to fried rice. It adds such a delicious flavor. Highly recommend it.

                                                                                                  Like BB, I prefer the more flavorful filling for the potstickers, so that's my favorite dumpling recipe so far from this book, but these are very good (dipping sauce is key).

                                                                                                  Aromatic Soy Sauce:

                                                                                                  1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                    I made these last night for a Chinese-themed dinner party. I had a few issues with them, but it was totally my fault. Basically I left them out at room temperature for too long, so they were very sticky and difficult to handle. Some of them tore a little when I lifted them up to put them in the boiling water. They still tasted great though, especially the dipping sauce. My Chinese-Malaysian friend (boy was I nervous cooking Chinese for an Asian person) said I should sell the sauce! I also found that the filling leaked out if I tried the folding method, so just ended up sealing them shut.

                                                                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                      To prevent sticking, I found that I had to add extra flour to the cookie sheet where I placed the sealed dumplings. When I placed them in plastic bags, I laid them down individually and then added more flour. When I placed them in the freezer, I made sure that the dumplings weren't touching each other.

                                                                                                      I also found that the second or third time I made these, I used the meat recipe from the fried dumplings but used this technique for cooking. The fried dumpling recipe's meat had more flavor and it was a tad less watery.

                                                                                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                        Thanks for the tips. I've fallen in love with this book all over again!

                                                                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                          A tip for freezing dumplings -
                                                                                                          place them individually on a cookie sheet or something similar, then place the sheet in the freezer. Once they are frozen you can transfer to a plastic bag for easier storage.

                                                                                                  2. Traditional Dan Dan Noodles (LOP page 85)

                                                                                                    Okay. That settles it. I’m buying the book. If nothing else, I need a place to keep my now-extensive collection of notes.

                                                                                                    I used fresh noodles I bought in Chinatown. I’ve never *seen* noodles that long! Each one must have been at least a yard. I used only 8 ounces (wanted to save the other half of the package for another dish) and thought that was plenty. The noodles were so long I had difficulty tossing them. And they sort of clumped a bit and weren’t the least slippery. Rather chewy, in fact, although not what you’d call al dente. I think I’ll just go with spaghetti or linguini from here on in.

                                                                                                    Again, I used my preserved artichokes instead of the Tianjin preserved vegetable and loved it. Didn’t rinse, didn’t add salt to the recipe, and it was just right.

                                                                                                    I’m a bit confused by Gio’s post above. She says she couldn’t find regular bok choy, but the recipe in my book doesn’t contain bok choy. Are there different versions of “Land of Plenty”?

                                                                                                    I thought this was perfectly spiced as written. Perhaps my chili oil has a bit more zing than others.’ I wouldn’t change a thing. Really easy to make once the ingredients are on hand and, like so many recipes from these two books, wonderfully satisfying comfort food. Heading immediately to amazon.com. No room left on the shelves, but like Cindarella’s ugly stepsisters, “I’ll make it fit.”

                                                                                                    33 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                      Traditional Dan Dan Noodles (LOP, pg. 87)

                                                                                                      These were good, but I liked the Xie LaoBan’s Dan Dan Noodles (LOP, pg. 89) better. This recipe lacked the complexity that the other noodles had. I think it’s because it only relied on the chinkiang black vinegar, soy sauce and Sichuan peppercorn while the other one had the addition of sesame paste. Instead of preserved vegetables, I used the stir fried cabbage in the book (look under the potato slivers)

                                                                                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                        Next on the list, and what I'm saving the other half of the noodles for, but I had some ground pork to use up first. Great idea to use the stir-fried cabbage for the preserved vegetables. I've enjoyed it as a stand-alone dish, especially when I need a break from the oil and carbs in so many of the others, but it's always good to have purpose-driven leftovers.

                                                                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                          Xie LaoBan’s Dan Dan Noodles (LOP page 89)

                                                                                                          Boy, beetlebug, tough call. I'm really not sure I liked these better than the Traditional Dan Dan Noodles. I'd have to try them side-by-side to be sure. For these I tried using the leftover stir-fried cabbage, but I liked my preserved artichokes in the Traditional Noodles better. I think I also prefer the pork to the beef. Don't get me wrong; I thought these were terrific. But on a calorie for calorie basis, I'm just as happy with the other recipe. Just for kicks, I plugged both recipes into a Weight Watcher's recipe builder. Assuming each recipe makes 2 servings and using only 1 teaspoon of oil instead of 1 tablespoon for each, the Traditional Noodles came in at 11 points per serving and the Xie Laoban's Noodles came in at 15. And that definitely tilts it for me.

                                                                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                            Ooh. Side by side taste test. That's a hardship and sacrifice I'm willing to make. It's funny, I liked the noodles I used for the regular dan dan noodles better. I used fresh for both, but two different brands and styles. More calories in XLB DDN doesn't surprise me because of the addition of the sesame paste.

                                                                                                            Next time I try the regular dan dan noodles, I'm going to use a better chili oil. I found some great chili oil in my own fridge the other day and used it for the ants on a tree. I've also going to look for those preserved artichokes as well.

                                                                                                            1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                              So, I took one for the team and did a literal side by side taste test. And, to my surprise, I liked the traditional one better. It wasn't just the ground pork (because I would swap that in the XLB DDN in a heart beat), it was how much lighter the sauce was and more flavorful with more chili oil v. the sesame paste in the XLB DDN. But, in the XLB DDN version, I did like how the meat was spiced (stir fried with sichuan peppercorn and dried chili pepper) better than the traditional one.

                                                                                                              I think next time, I'll make a combo method of noodles.

                                                                                                              BTW, here are pic of the fresh noodles I used. Sorry for the blurriness.

                                                                                                              1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                Your noodles look very similar to the ones I used. Did you cut them? Did you have any clumping problems?

                                                                                                                Good idea to combine the spicing of one reicpe with the sauce of the other. I may give that a try myself.

                                                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                  I haven't had clumping problems for either version of the DDN. I also didn't cut them. I think it's because there are four or five individual balls to a package and when you put them in the water, they are not as tangled. Also, these had plenty of sauce to coat the noodles.

                                                                                                                  I did have clumping problems with the yueyan dry hot noodles. That package of noodles was the same brand, but the noodles were thicker and in one big clump. Also, there was less sauce to coat them. When I make those again, I'm going to try it with the individual balls, thinner noodles to see if it will make a difference.

                                                                                                                  Pic of the other, more clumpy noodles.

                                                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                    For the noodles this time, I used the same canadian brand as above. But, these were thicker and they had cooking instructions. Add noodles to boiling water. Keep stirring the noodles until the water reboils. Then, turn the flame off and cover for 8 minutes.

                                                                                                                    No clumping with these thick noodles, which I'm sure I used for those yue nan dry hot noodles. I think it's from the constant stirring while the water is about to boil again. And, then, they stayed in place because the stove was off.

                                                                                                                  2. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                    I combined the two methods and ingredients for a whole new DDN dish.

                                                                                                                    I used ground pork but stir fried it with the sichuan pepper and dried chiles. I also stir fryed rinsed preserved veggies in with the meat and spices. (XLB DDN method). For good measure, I also added shaoxing wine and soy sauce when I cooked the ground pork.

                                                                                                                    I used the sauce from the traditional DDN. And, what I never threw in before for the sauce was the melted pork fat or peanut oil. This time I did because I had left over pork belly fat from the Momofuku Ssam pork belly recipe.

                                                                                                                    And, the end result was great. That melted pork fat totally sent the DDN over the top.

                                                                                                                    So, if you have extra pork fat, it's a great time to re-visit DDN.

                                                                                                                    1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                      Darn you, beetlebug. I *do* have some extra pork fat. You are a very, very bad influence.

                                                                                                                      I just love that you keep cooking from this book and refining your results. An inspiration to us all--and an encouragement to return to it again soon.

                                                                                                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                        I love the "DDN". It's like we're in a secret society!

                                                                                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                          Well, I took your advice and made Beetlebug's DDN for lunch last week, although I used ground beef instead of pork. Otherwise, I followed your directions to the T. I always have small containers of ground beef cooked with Sichuan peppercorns and dried chilis in the freezer for lunches (to make DDN and Ants on a Tree). I stir-fried preserved vegs, added the thawed beef and cooked till crispy, seasoned with shaoxing wine and light soy, and made sure to use a TB of melted pork fat in the sauce. Oh my. So good. I'll have to try it with ground pork next.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                            Ruby, did you use egg noodles or are they yellow just because of the sauce? I've made Yueang Hot Dry Noodles so many times since Dunlop was COTM that I can't count them. Knowing the basics of that dish has allowed me to branch out and experiment as well. The other night I made these noodles with some chicken breasts and thighs cut into chunks. I also added a bit of the "Universal Condiment" to the dish. It was great.

                                                                                                                            1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                                              They may have been egg noodles, I'm not sure what I grabbed this time. They were very thin, light yellow, and packed in long skeins.

                                                                                                                              I just looked up the YHD noodles. I can't believe I haven't made them yet. I'm looking at the recipe now; I'm going to make them tomorrow for lunch. The recipe just says fresh or dried Chinese noodles. What do you usually use?

                                                                                                                2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                  "I’m a bit confused by Gio’s post above. She says she couldn’t find regular bok choy, but the recipe in my book doesn’t contain bok choy. Are there different versions of “Land of Plenty”?"

                                                                                                                  JoanN: The Dan Dan recipe I cooked is on page 87. LOP. The books have been returned to the library so I cannot look myself. But the reference is in my post. I have printed out all the Dunlop recipes I've found online.... I too am going to buy the book.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                    I have to add something funny. My husband cooked dinner last night, and bought and cooked some baby bok choy. When it came time to serve it, he asked me how much "Chips Ahoy" I wanted. This was akin to his referring to Satanic Verses as "that book, Poetry from Hell".

                                                                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                      That's funny!! I love the really tiny baby bok choy. Occasionally our Asian market sells bags of them and they seem to last forever. When we finally did find them there I think I used them for 4 different meals.

                                                                                                                      Did You Know:
                                                                                                                      One half cup of raw bok choy, which is approximately 56 grams, contains only 10 calories. Additionally, bok choy contains no fat or cholesterol and is a good source of calcium. It is also low in sodium and high in vitamins C and A.

                                                                                                                    2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                      Okay. I think that explains it. The online recipe, at least the one that was linked to on the main thread, does indeed have bok choy in it. But that recipe, called Dan Dan Mian, isn't the same as the one that's in LOP. Almost, but not exactly.

                                                                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                        Hmmmm.... Well I'm getting the book from Jessica's and am dying to make any and all renditions because we really liked it. I too used fresh noodles and was thinking they could be used instead of dry pasta in many Italian recipes. Do you think so?

                                                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                          I haven't particularly cared for the fresh noodles I bought in Chinatown. As I mentioned above, they were extremely long. But even cutting them in half, using more water in the pot, and boiling them a bit longer, they were still sort of gummy and sticking together. I'm sure it all depends on the noodles we're buying and I'm sure each is different. If you like the ones you get, go for it. Definitely. I'm thinking of going in the other direction and buying Italian noodles for the Chinese dishes. Isn't all this fun!

                                                                                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                            It's terrific! Only, I have never in my life thought so much about food, planing the menu, ingredients, discerning the taste elements, etc. Luckily, I can still get into my clothes. LOL

                                                                                                                            BTW: My noodles (that sounds funny) were not as long as yours....

                                                                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                              I bought some incredibly long ones as well - called Shanghai noodles, I think - but I really liked them. Kept a close eye on cooking time and made my husband taste every 30 seconds.

                                                                                                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                Could you toss them? I couldn't. They just sort of clumped together and never really got evenly coated with sauce.

                                                                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                  They were a bit clumpy - I kept adding sesame oil ... I used them for the Yueyang Hot-Dry Noodles.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                    Just typed out that recipe. I'm eager to try it, but gotta cool it on the carbs for a while. And the sesame oil. And the peanut oil. And the chili oil. I think I need at least a week of yogurt marinated chicken breasts and salad.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                      Forgive me if this was too obvious, but with the fresh Chinese noodles, did you plunge them in ice cold water right after boiling and then drain them BEFORE tossing with sesame oil?
                                                                                                                                      Fresh noodles take very little time to cook, needs a lot of water, and will benefit from the cold shower treatment. They will behave nicely after that.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: HLing

                                                                                                                                        No, I did not. Evidently it wasn't too obvious at all! LOL. The package did not so instruct, and since I don't do it with my own homemade noodles it didn't occur to me. The little time to cook and lots of water I had down, but not the ice water bath. Thanks for that. Will try it next time.

                                                                                                                                        Also, the recipe for Dan Dan noodles didn't suggest tossing the noodles in oil first. It has you dumping the drained noodles on top of the sauce in the serving bowl then adding the meat mixture on top of the noodles. She says once the bowl is served, "give the noodles a good stir until the sauce and meat are evenly distrubuted." Well, no way "a good stir" was going to do it. I had to pour the noodles and sauce into a large bowl and toss with pasta forks. Do you think tossing with sesame oil first would help? For that matter, since there is no sesame oil in this particular recipe, do you think I could toss the noodles in chili oil?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                          There are a couple of things in the pre-cook stage that might matter. The Chinese fresh noodles they sell usually have a lot of flour to prevent sticking while packaged. Be sure you shake the loose flour off before throwing it into the water. Also, i sometimes take a kitchen scissors and cut them to size if they are too long. This will also help with the tossing stage, later.

                                                                                                                                          As for draining noodles, you can also turn off the heat as soon as the noodles start to boil after you drop them in.
                                                                                                                                          If there are no excess flour to begin with, and you've put plenty of water to cook the noodles, after a minute you can pour off the excess water, put a few drops of oil (if you want to use your chili oil here)in the noodle/water mixture, stir, then drain. I used to do this when I don't want to do the ice or cold water bit, I tend to prefer Dan dan noodles served slightly warm, instead of cold. So if it's just tossing, then this way if more convenient. The ice water treatment I use when I want to make pan fried noodles, or (cold noodles) and I don't want them to be starchy and sticky.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: HLing

                                                                                                                                          I did not either! Thank you for that information. I did cook them for a very short time, but had no idea bout the water bath - makes perfect sense. Thank you, as this was clearly not obvious to me!

                                                                                                                                      2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                        The fresh noodles I've had the most success with were from Canada. Next time, I'll take a picture of the package. Also, tongs or long chopsticks worked best for me for tossing.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                      The fresh noodles that I use regularly (in the open cooler case at the back of Kam Man) are a skinny egg noodle labeled Pan Fried Noodle (Hong Kong Style) They come in a clear bag, a tangled nest of skinny noodles.
                                                                                                                                      You soak them in warm water, drain them in a sieve and pan-fry one or both sides, then add whatever sauce vegetable goodness you are serving them with...

                                                                                                                                      They go moldy in a couple of days in the fridge, but freeze well. I take a handful out of the freezer when I don't take the 20 minutes to cook rice...just a brief soak, more like cooking bean threads, even straight from the freezer.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                        I've also used fresh "chow mein" noodles for my mult-prep of Yueyang Hot-Dry Noodles. I had trouble with them the first time, as I just dumped them into the stir-fried other ingredients. They clumped together and I had to pull them out (picking out the other ingreds - a really irritating chore) and dump them into boiling water for a few minutes. They came out fine, even tho I was sure they were going to be a gooey mess.

                                                                                                                                        Next time I started out by boiling them in a separate pot ala any fresh pasta, and they've come out fine every time.

                                                                                                                                        Even when mine stuck together stickily, they turned out find when I mixed them with the other ingredients and stir fried them for a short time.

                                                                                                                                2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                  Traditional Dan Dan Noodles.

                                                                                                                                  I made these last night and they were GREAT. I used Tianjin preserved vegetable and didn't rinse it because it doesn't mention doing that anywhere in the book. I thought the finished dish was ever so slightly too salty, but the OH didn't agree. I bought Sichuan peppercorns from my local Asian supermarket, even though Dunlop advises against it because the online source she recommends no longer sells them. They were fine - definitely felt the ma la. I did slightly increase the amount of ground pork, and I will be eating the leftovers for lunch. Can't wait!

                                                                                                                                3. "Long" Wonton Dumplings - long chao shou (LOP, p. 104)

                                                                                                                                  I had such success making the potstickers in advance and freezing them, that I did the same with these. Unfortunately, it didn't work out so well. The filling is so loose and wet, that even dusted with cornstarch, it oozed a bit and made everything sticky. Along with other ingredients (egg, sesame oil, salt and pepper), there's a lot of liquid added to the pound of ground pork - 1/2 cup of ginger-soaked water, 2 tsp rice wine, and 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Another mistake was that I overstuffed the wontons. Next time I'd use less stuffing as I used a too-generous teaspoon. When I took them out of the freezer, they were stuck to each other and the wax paper I had layered them on, so next time I won't do that. Either way, although they didn't look pretty after trying to separate them, they were tasty. For E I served them in the savory stock - hot "everyday stock", peanut oil, and freshly ground pepper. He had two bowls. I wanted spicy and LOVED the chili oil variation (p. 106) - chili oil, light soy, sugar, and stock.

                                                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                    Yet another great report, Rubee1

                                                                                                                                    I'm planning to post a thread for iscussion of both books as a sticky subject after the March COTM post is transformed into a regular message at the beginning of next month.

                                                                                                                                    I think this has been one of the most exciting and informative COTMs ever and I'd love to hear everybody's take on them after it's all over.

                                                                                                                                    Best, Oakjoan

                                                                                                                                    1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                                                      Maybe the mods can embed the wrap up thread with the main thread. This way, new viewers can all the links in one post.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                                        We can certainly edit the main thread with a link to the wrap up thread.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: beetlebug


                                                                                                                                          Regarding the post-thread comments, I've asked the moderators to make it a sticky topic after March is over and the COTM March message is relegated to the regular post area.

                                                                                                                                          If they agree to that, we'll be able to have the post-mortem handy at the top of the Board.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                        Now I have the urge to make some sort of dumplings. I wonder if the filling was wet to help the dumpling stay extra juicy? Kind of like a soup dumpling variation? I've resisted because of childhood memories of being forced to sit there to wrap endless dumplings or wontons. It's not fun if it's a chore.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                                          "..I wonder if the filling was wet to help the dumpling stay extra juicy? Kind of like a soup dumpling variation? ..

                                                                                                                                          The soup dumpling isn't made with any liquid inside, which is what makes it ingenius.
                                                                                                                                          With any dumplings you want to keep out the excess liquid otherwise the wrapper will be soaked and break apart. In the time it takes to freeze the wet dumpling skins will start to melt into the neighboring dumplings.

                                                                                                                                          It will help to use a good size spoon to do the filling, and keep your fingers free of oil, too, so that it doesn't eat away at the dumplings.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                                            My favorite so far have been the pot-stickers. I'll be making a batch of those often. They also had water and everday stock in them which made them nice and juicy, but I had no problems and they froze well. Also, I love the contrast of the steamed dumplings with the crispy bottoms.

                                                                                                                                            For the wontons, as HLing points out, that's exacty what happened - "in the time it takes to freeze the wet dumpling skins will start to melt into the neighboring dumplings". I didn't put any excess liquid in and followed the recipe exactly, so if I was doing them again, I won't make them ahead, and would use less filling (a scant tsp).

                                                                                                                                            Anyways, since I have wontons left, I made another tasty variation for lunch yesterday:

                                                                                                                                            Wontons in Hot-and-Sour Soup - suan la chao shou (LOP, p. 107). The wontons are boiled and served in a broth of soy sauce, black vinegar, peanut oil, sesame oil, stock, black and white pepper, and chopped scallions. It made a great lunch. I really like that she gives so many variations for this one recipe.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                              Oh, this sounds great. Two of my favorite things combined! Glad I renewed both books. I'm having heart palpitations about letting go of these books and their recipes. This month's discussions were absolutely wonderful.

                                                                                                                                        2. Spiced Pork Noodles RCC p265

                                                                                                                                          I had wanted to try a traditional breakfast of fen, though I was intending to eat such a thing for lunch. I made the topping in advance, and then reheated it when it came time to prep the soup/meal. I thought this would make it a more feasible lunch item. It worked very nicely that way, a quick way to make a meal. I used western style stock, and not Chinese stock, because that is what I had, but after eating, I felt I would prefer to try it with the right flavor base in the stock next time.

                                                                                                                                          Making the topping: That rock sugar seemed impossible to crush until I went in the basement and drug out a hammer. Then a few blows crumbled it. I put it under a towel before I did, to contain the crumbs. Also, she gave instructions to cook the pork briefly, then strain the liquid and start again. Right after straining, the liquid was much clearer, but as I suspected, once I placed the pork back in it, some clouding came back. I had tried lightly rinsing the pork off before I plopped it back in, because I had suspected that particles were clinging to the pork, but perhaps I rinsed insufficiently or perhaps that just doesn't help (she hadn't told me to rinse it). I liked the topping right after I cooked it, but as discussed below, I felt it didn't quite mesh in the final dish.

                                                                                                                                          Making the final dish: I quickly boiled some water and made the noodles. During that time I seasoned two bowls with soy sauce, scallions, pepper, etc. I also heated up the stock and the lard together, followed by the topping. I gathered the salted chiles. Once the noodles were done I divided them between the bowls, ladled in the stock/lard, and topped with the topping and chiles. Very easy. Then we sat down and slurped away. It was a nice treat to eat some noodles and then let myself slurp the stock directly out of the bowl. A napkin was in order with this meal! The colors in the dish were perfect, but my camera work doesn't reflect just how good it looked in reality, even though the photo is nice. The broth was delicious with the splash of soy and lard. I felt my choice of topping was too sweet. Either that was because of the Western stock, or maybe I just should try a different topping next time. I definitely want to try this style of meal again. It was light and easy.

                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: saltwater

                                                                                                                                            I've been a bit out of touch and missed your report when you first posted it. Where did you find the rock sugar? I'd been looking for it--I forget now for which recipe--and couldn't find it.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                              I found it in a Chinese type Asian market. In fact, they had several brands to pick from, but I chose the one that said "yellow lump" on the box. It was near the convenience items like soups and such.

                                                                                                                                              I have been in South Asian style markets, and they do not have a number of things for Dunlop. I had to try several types of "Asian" markets until I found one that catered to Chinese clientèle.

                                                                                                                                          2. I made a few recipes in the last week:

                                                                                                                                            Traditional Dan Dan Noodles (p. 87, LOP)

                                                                                                                                            Since I loved Xie Laoban's dan dan noodles so much (p 89), I didn't think I would like this, but really, I liked both versions. Since the XL used sesame paste, this was lighter with a sauce made of preserved vegetables (mine had gone moldy so I used chopped pickled mustard greens), scallions, light soy, dark soy, chili oil, black vinegar, and ground Sichuan pepper. I thought it was really delicious. I used fresh wheat-flour noodles and increased the amount of ground pork (6 oz), and used 3 tb of chili oil and 1 tsp ground Sichuan pepper for heat. The leftovers were good for lunch too. Hmmm. I could go for some now.

                                                                                                                                            Steamed Pork and Cabbage Dumplings (p. 111, LOP)

                                                                                                                                            These were really good too, and froze well. I used store-bought wrappers so had to steam them longer than the recipe says - from the pic you'll see the first batch that I steamed for about 8 minutes weren't quite done (the edges). I ended up steaming them for about 10-11 minutes and they were perfect. The filling is simple but tasty. I used blanched and chopped baby bok choy, peanut oil, cooked ground pork, rice wine, light and dark soy, salt and pepper, and sesame oil. I served them with a dipping sauce of soy sauce with a bit of black vinegar and chili oil.

                                                                                                                                            Spicy Noodles with Soft Bean Curd (p. 93, LOP)

                                                                                                                                            This isn't one of my favorites from the book, but I did like the spicy sauce and the texture of the noodles with the soft tofu and crunchy peanuts. It's also one of those vague recipes - she gives the ingredients for the sauce but then doesn't mention it in the recipe itself. I ended up drizzling it over the dish. The sauce is made with sesame paste, chili oil, light and dark soy, and sesame oil. Cooked noodles are topped with soft bean curd (I used silken tofu), and then sprinkled with preserved vegetables (I substituted with the pickled mustard greens again), chopped scallion, and roasted peanuts.

                                                                                                                                            I uploaded pics, but it doesn't seem to be working. I'll try again later......

                                                                                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                                I made the Dan Dan Noodles last night. Thank goodness I exchanged my Szechuan peppercorns for Penzy's. What a big difference that made! We really enjoyed them.

                                                                                                                                                A couple of nights ago I made the Steamed Pork and Cabbage Dumplings, also using store-bought wrappers. They took a good 11 minutes to steam. Although we liked these, we didn't love them. Which didn't stop the two of us from eating the entire batch in one sitting. I'll have to take your word that they freeze well.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                                  Steamed Pork and Cabbage Dumplings

                                                                                                                                                  I finished the last of these dumplings for lunch. I love having homemade dumplings in the freezer, and will have to make another batch soon. This time I pan-fried them as potstickers instead of steaming them, and I liked them even more. I served then with the aromatic soy sauce (p. 76) mixed with rice vinegar and chili oil.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                                    Spicy Noodles (Meng Bean Jelly) w/ (w/o) Soft Bean Curd, pg 93

                                                                                                                                                    I made the sauce and the "scattering" to use on top of some meng bean jelly strips that i had made. We actually liked this very well, it totally reminded me of the sort of street food dish that is common in western and northwestern China in the summer. That said, it was a bit salty, and I've made a note in my book to reduce the amount of soy. But since I wasn't using the dou hua, and since my peanuts were lightly salted, not sure if that's good advice for others who might try this dish.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                      qianning elegant and peaceful one, make with the mung bean jelly recipe already, would you?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                        Sure! Not sure if you want the recipe for the jelly itself or for the sauces? Anyway, here are the sources I based mine on with my amendments/adaptations noted below:

                                                                                                                                                        The Jelly
                                                                                                                                                        This is from a very good Korean cooking blog, but the text is English language:
                                                                                                                                                        I pretty much followed Maangchi method, but also looked at areyoueye, a very good Chinese cooking blog, but the text is in Chinese.
                                                                                                                                                        Anyway, the methods on the two sites are pretty similar, just slight differences in proportions and no salt in the Chinese recipe. I split the difference and use 1/2 C mung bean starch to 3&1/4C water, no salt, and mold the results in an 8X8" Pyrex baking dish. The results were great.

                                                                                                                                                        One other note, many times in the past I had tried making this using the directions, both English and Chinese language, that came on packages of mung bean starch--total fail. Granted different brands might have better directions, but spare yourself some pain, and use either of the recipes above, they work!

                                                                                                                                                        The Sauces

                                                                                                                                                        I tried a bunch of different sauces/mixes over the summer. I haven't hit on one that is my keeper for all times, but all of the following were good. I've listed them in my order of preference:

                                                                                                                                                        1) http://www.areyoueye.com/a/index.php?...
                                                                                                                                                        This link goes to a page (Chinese language) which shows four different sauces, the one I made was the second one down 伤心凉粉 (relaxing? liangfen). We liked it a lot.

                                                                                                                                                        2)The Dunlop recipe above, pg. 93 LOP. I just used the sauce and the scatterings on top of strips of mung bean jelly, no noodles or dou hua.

                                                                                                                                                        3)http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/853601 If you scroll down on the thread I've linked to you'll find a recipe that I translated from a Dongbei cookbook. I used it to top liangfen rather than lapi. Pretty good but a little bit heavy. I only made the dressing, plus some shredded cuke and cilantro, not the whole salad.

                                                                                                                                                        By the way, I just cut my mung bean jelly with a knife, which came out fine. No real need to use a grater or fancy implements unless you want to. And for the two of us the 8x8 Pyrex yielded enough for four different meals/salads. Every time I made a dish I'd cut 1/4 bloc off, and leave the remainder solid and covered. It does give off a bit of moisture as it sits, but it kept for a couple of weeks in the fridge, no problem.
                                                                                                                                                        Hope this helps.

                                                                                                                                                  2. Noodles with Shiitake Mushroom and Baby Greens (RCC, pg. 267)

                                                                                                                                                    I made the greens with shiitake mushrooms as a side dish. Tasty overall but I think baby bok choy and shanghai bok choy are my least favorite veggies. I’ll eat them, but they don’t do much for me. This recipe (as well as a couple from HSSS redeems these veggies in my eyes).

                                                                                                                                                    This is a good recipe for me when I get these veggies in my CSA box.

                                                                                                                                                    1. Steamed Flower Rolls LOP p 122
                                                                                                                                                      These did NOT turn out well. They were heavy and gluey and tasted of yeast to the point where they almost tasted like alcohol.

                                                                                                                                                      Traditional Dan Dan Noodles LOP p. 87
                                                                                                                                                      These turned out well in spite of the fact that I had forgotten to buy pickled vegs when I went to the market so used Japanese pickles instead.

                                                                                                                                                      Fish Fragrant Egglpant p. 285
                                                                                                                                                      What a gorgeous dish. Creamy soft texture with interesting spices.

                                                                                                                                                      Wish I had thought to take pictures but I just came on CH to do a search for better bao recipes.

                                                                                                                                                      1. Stir-Fried Rice with Egg and Preserved Mustard Greens (RCC, page 259)

                                                                                                                                                        Surprised to see no one else had reported on this. Or any other fried rice dish, for that matter. Am I posting this in the wrong place? And if so, would some kind moderator please move it to the right place for me.

                                                                                                                                                        I chose this recipe for two reasons. First, a couple of weeks ago I came home from Chinatown with a crock of mustard greens only to discover I had an unopened crock of mustard greens on the shelf. Time to start using up some mustard greens. And after two weeks of company and three-course meals both dining in and at restaurants, I craved something simple, straightforward.

                                                                                                                                                        Stir-fry the rinsed mustard greens, add beaten eggs and scramble all together, add chopped scallion greens and stir-fry for a few seconds, and finally stir in sesame oil off heat. What could be easier? I had a bit less rice than called for and 3 instead of 4 eggs. Don’t believe it made a hoot of a difference. Oh. And I used one tablespoon of oil instead of three. Worked for me.

                                                                                                                                                        Maybe I was just in the mood for this, but I loved it. Absolutely loved it. Dunlop says that in Hunan it would be served with a small bowlful of soup. Perhaps. For me, it was the perfect dinner. Just what I wanted. And something I’m quite sure I will make often.

                                                                                                                                                        1. Yibin "Kindling" Noodles ( Land of Plenty) p.91

                                                                                                                                                          Another winner! These noodles made for an excellent, fast meal with minimal prep and lovely results.
                                                                                                                                                          Into a bowl: blanched pea shoots, cooked noodles, sauce (chili oil, sesame oil, dark & light soy sauce). Top with green onion slices, fried ya cai, toasted sesame seeds, chopped roasted peanut/walnut blend, all artfully arranged, of course.
                                                                                                                                                          I probably doubled the amount of pea shoots, if for nothing else than to make myself feel better about eating a bowl of oil-slicked noodles for dinner. This was a little greasy, but despite the amount of chile oil, not too spicy--though I didn't dig up the chile dregs as much as I could have. Next time (and there will be a next time!).