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DUNLOP March Cookbooks of Month: Vegetables and Bean Curd

oakjoan Feb 29, 2008 10:45 PM

Land of Plenty has a chapter combining Vegetables and Bean Curd. Revolutionary Chinese just has Bean Curd. All discussion of both should be here.

  1. The Dairy Queen Mar 1, 2008 06:06 PM

    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 dry-fried green beans. YOU MUST REMEMBER TO RINSE THE TIANJIN (AND SQUEEZE IT DRY) BEFORE YOU USE IT otherwise your dish 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 lean ground beef (instead of pork, mostly because I had some I need to use up), only a tsp (instead of a TBSP) of peanut oil, and only a half tsp (instead of 1 tsp) of sesame oil. We thought the texture was perfect 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 definitely going to try this one again--even too salty, I liked it. It was pretty easy, too.

    The photo feature doesn't seem to be working right now, sorry. I'll discuss the chicken and the dan dan noodles in the appetizers http://www.chowhound.com/topics/494661 and noodles http://www.chowhound.com/topics/494662 threads.

    ~TDQ

    40 Replies
    1. re: The Dairy Queen
      The Dairy Queen Mar 10, 2008 08:18 PM

      Dry-fried green beans I (LOP, pp 289-290) 2nd attempt

      So, last time I really blew it by not rinsing the preserved vegetables (leaving the dish too salty). It has since been suggested by HLing (in one of the Dunlop threads) that you rinse and squeeze the preserved veggies, chop them small, then rinse and squeeze them again. I didn't do the post-chopping rinse because I didn't see HLing's suggestion until too late.

      Also, Dunlop suggests in the prelude to this recipe that you can steam the green beans instead of frying them as per step 2 if you want to reduce the amount of oil... So, I did that. In addition, I used 3 oz of Canadian bacon instead of ground pork and 1 1/2 tsp of peanut oil (instead of 2 TBSP). Since the Canadian bacon is a little salty, I decided we were going to forgo "adding salt to taste." And then we made 2 accidental adjustments--in the middle of frying, my husband asked, "What's going to give this recipe heat?" and I grabbed the book and (thought) I saw that it was supposed to have dried chiles in it (which is not true, by the way, that's the "version 2" of this dish on page 290) , so, in my panic, I decide to add a tsp of chile paste, which, sadly, is itself a little salty. And, in the rush of all of this, we forgot to add the tsp of sesame oil at the end as per step 5.

      This dish turned out to be too salty, but I don't know if that's because I didn't rinse the preserved vegetables after I chopped them, because of the Canadian bacon substitution, because I reduced the oil, or because I added the chile paste. Could have been any or all of those things. I'm not ready to give up on this dish yet--I am going to make it once a week for the rest of my life until I get it right. HA!

      Also, I'm not sure I loved the steaming of the green beans. The texture isn't as pleasing as when you fry it and it gets wrinkly--I think I'd rather have wrinkly, even when using just a small amount of oil.
      I served it with "fish fragrant pork slivers" (which I talked about in the meat thread) and over wild rice.

      ~TDQ

       
      1. re: The Dairy Queen
        JoanN Mar 20, 2008 05:38 PM

        Seems as though I’m the last one on the block to try the Dry-Fried Green Beans. And I concur; very good and so very, very easy. I only have this to add: I stir-fried the beans in 1 teaspoon of peanut oil and just used what was left in the pan for the pork. It was plenty. And for the preserved vegetable I used something labeled “Pickled vegetables, Chinese Artichoke.” It just appealed to me so I bought it. These “artichokes” are the size and shape of a small chili pepper with bumps on them. No idea what the hell it is. But although salty, it was only slighly so. I didn’t need to rinse them; just chopped them up and put them in. I really liked the taste of them right out of the jar, too, and look forward to using them in more dishes. This whole pickled vegetable thing confuses me. In the intro to LOP Dunlop seems to say that in actuality people use whatever is at hand, but then calls for something specific in the recipes. I chose to take this as freedom to use whatever struck my fancy and was very glad I did. These pickled artichokes are a delightful condiment, whether or not they are meant to be used in this dish.

         
        1. re: JoanN
          oakjoan Mar 20, 2008 10:30 PM

          Gorgeous photo. I seem to be stuck in the Stir Fried Peppers With Black Beans and Garlic room. Is the quality of the beans you got good at this time of year? They certainly look fab.

          1. re: JoanN
            Gio Mar 25, 2008 01:01 PM

            We loved that bean dish, JoanN. We couldn't find the pickled vegetables in our Asian Market, so I made my own with Chinese cabbage. Found a recipe on line. It was delicious. Thanks for the tip about the artichokes! I'll look for that the next time we go. We have decided to continue cooking from the Chinese books as an alternative.

            The Dry-Fried Bean dish is staying in my regular rotation. I think it could accompany anything.

            1. re: Gio
              JoanN Mar 25, 2008 02:01 PM

              I'm loving the artichokes. Used them again last night in the Traditional Dan Dan Noodles. I noticed that you had made your own pickled cabbage and gave it passing thought. But once I discovered these, I figured it could wait until I used them up.

              Here's a couple of photos, one of the jar and one of the artichokes. The chokes look black in the photo, but are actually a dark, dark green.

               
              1. re: JoanN
                Gio Mar 25, 2008 02:17 PM

                Oh wow - those don't look anything like the Italian artichokes I'm used to. Many thanks for posting a foto. Now I know what to look for.

                Let me know if you'd like the recipe for the pickled cabbage... actually there's two of them.

                1. re: Gio
                  Rubee Mar 25, 2008 02:25 PM

                  Oh, those are crosnes! I've had them fresh in salads.

                  What a great find JoanN. I'll be on the lookout for those pickled Chinese artichokes now.

                  1. re: Rubee
                    JoanN Mar 25, 2008 03:16 PM

                    Bless you, Rubee. I'd never heard of crosnes before. Just looked them up and was flabbergasted at what can be done with them. Very, very dangerous. I found out the pickled ones can be used as a garnish in martinis. That little jar might not last as long as I thought it would!

                  2. re: Gio
                    JoanN Mar 25, 2008 03:17 PM

                    Yes, indeed. Please. I'd love a recipe for the pickled cabbage. Especially now (see response to Rubee) that my "artichokes" probably won't last very long.

                  3. re: JoanN
                    beetlebug Mar 25, 2008 02:47 PM

                    I've been subbing in the stir fried cabbage in place of the pickled vegetable.

                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/494666

                    When the dish is cold, it's slightly vinegary from the chiang king vinegar.

                    But, I have chinese pickled cukes in the fridge (I eat this with rice porridge). I should toss that in as well next time.

                    1. re: beetlebug
                      JoanN Mar 25, 2008 03:18 PM

                      Great idea. I really liked that stir-fried cabbage and was just nibbling on the leftovers. Now I know what to do with them.

                      1. re: JoanN
                        beetlebug Mar 25, 2008 04:23 PM

                        I've made it three times so far and just realized I haven't been following the recipe. I've been using ground sichuan peppercorn v. whole. I'll have to try it the "correct" way next time.

                        1. re: beetlebug
                          JoanN Mar 25, 2008 04:33 PM

                          Funny, isn't it, that so many of our "substitutions" have worked out so well. I'll be curious to hear if you think it makes a difference.

                          1. re: JoanN
                            beetlebug Mar 26, 2008 07:11 AM

                            I realized I made the same mistake with the dry fried chicken. So, I made the chicken again with whole peppercorns. It was better with the ground peppercorns. A more intense flavor without the crunchy pepper bits.

                            1. re: beetlebug
                              JoanN Mar 26, 2008 07:19 AM

                              Good to know. I made a fairly small batch of the ground roasted peppercorns and am running low. I'll have to make up a new batch. I still have sooo many recipes bookmarked.

                              As for Dunlop leftovers, I'm sitting here saying to myself, "No, Joan. Do NOT eat the cold Dan Dan noodles for breakfast! No! No!"

                              1. re: JoanN
                                beetlebug Mar 26, 2008 07:23 AM

                                I usually give into the noodles. But for both kinds of dan dan noodles, I pop them into the microwave to slightly heat them up. Tastes better to me when they are warm.

                                I could go for some of my leftover ants climbing the tree right now.

                        2. re: JoanN
                          beetlebug Mar 26, 2008 07:10 AM

                          I had to restrain myself from eating them cold. I kept repeating, you need this for other recipes...

                          1. re: beetlebug
                            oakjoan Mar 26, 2008 03:05 PM

                            I LOVE the noodles cold and so does my husband. Yueyang Hot Dry Noodles in Rev. Chinese , mmmmm.

                  4. re: JoanN
                    beetlebug Jul 20, 2008 06:06 PM

                    I made these green beans with meat tonight. I've made them before but have used a variety of pickled vegetables. I've liked the dish in the past but was curious to see how it would taste with different preserved/pickled veggies. Well, tonight, I used farm fresh green beans and the recipe recommended preserved vegetables. And wow, this was fabulous.

                    I carefully rinsed the preserved veggies, numerous times. I didn't rinse post chop because I didn't see that rec until posting on this thread. However, the dish didn't come out overly salty.

                    This is a great way to use up CSA green beans and I could taste the difference.

                     
                    1. re: beetlebug
                      Rubee Jul 20, 2008 07:08 PM

                      Darn it. Sounds great! I was going to make green beans with walnut sauce from the current COTM tonight. However, I just stocked up at the Asian market where I found Tianjin preserved vegetables, so maybe I'll make this instead. Decisions, decisions.

                      1. re: Rubee
                        beetlebug Jul 21, 2008 02:53 AM

                        This is a sure thing. I really liked those Tianjin preserved veggies. Rinse really well because they are incredibly gritty.

                      2. re: beetlebug
                        JoanN Mar 9, 2009 12:47 PM

                        I had a craving for the Dry-Fried Green Beans #1 from LOP, but when I got to the market the green beans looked pretty tired. The snow peas, however, looked great. So. I stir-fried the snow peas in hot oil, but probably for not much more than a minute. I had some tianjin but it wasn't opened, so used preserved mustard tuber instead. I'm beginning to think you just can't screw up either of these recipes. Substitute this for that and that for this and it's still great.

                         
                        1. re: beetlebug
                          beetlebug Jul 20, 2010 11:36 AM

                          Dry-fried green beans I (LOP, pp 289-290)

                          Just bumping this up. This dish has become a summer staple for me. It's especially tasty with fresh summer green beans. And, I love that I always have everything in the pantry or freezer which makes this especially easy to make.

                          1. re: beetlebug
                            The Dairy Queen Jul 20, 2010 11:39 AM

                            Love this recipe! Thanks for the reminder. I can't wait for my CSA green beans!

                            ~TDQ

                      3. re: The Dairy Queen
                        greedygirl Sep 15, 2010 02:04 AM

                        Finally tried the dry-fried green beans the other night and we loved it. I used tianjin preserved vegetables, and I didn't rinse them because it didn't say to do so in the recipe. I also note that she says to be careful adding extra salt because of the saltiness of the preserved vegetable, so I assume she doesn't rinse hers either. Anyway, I didn't find the dish too salty at all - it was perfect.

                        1. re: greedygirl
                          The Dairy Queen Sep 15, 2010 04:25 AM

                          Oh, yes, this continues to be one of my favorite dishes.

                          She doesn't say to rinse in the recipe, but she does say to in the ingredient glossaries in one of the books, I think. The dish will still be salty even after rinsing. If I recall, when I made this dish the first time, it was from a newly-opened container of Tian Jin preserved vegetables, which meant I was using whatever was immediately under that top layer of salt. Really extraordinarily salty.

                          ~TDQ

                          1. re: The Dairy Queen
                            buttertart Sep 15, 2010 06:34 AM

                            There's a newish product you might look for - preserved veg (zhai cai) in small pouches that are the right amount for a couple of goes of this. You can freeze what you don't use. Doesn't come in the cute jar but the condiment is actually more appropriate to the dish than the Tianjin veg. I'll take a photo of the ones I got this weekend if you'd like to see (3 pouches for $1.39 or something).

                            1. re: buttertart
                              The Dairy Queen Sep 15, 2010 06:50 AM

                              Oh that sounds fantastic, thank you! I've had the zhai cai with the green beans in restaurants, but was never able to find it in my Asian grocery! I'm planning on going to the Asian market today or tomorrow anyway...

                              ~TDQ

                              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                buttertart Sep 15, 2010 06:57 AM

                                Tonight, I promise.

                                1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                  beetlebug Sep 15, 2010 07:01 AM

                                  I love zhai cai and always have packets in my cupboard. It also tastes great stir fried with ground pork and green peppers. There is a recipe in the RCC cookbook that I've modified over the years.

                                  Unfortunately, I used the last packet last week and haven't replenished yet, so no picture. But, it's about the size of a pop rocks container, just full of preserved vegetable goodness.

                                  1. re: beetlebug
                                    beetlebug Sep 15, 2010 07:06 AM

                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4946...

                                  2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                    buttertart Sep 16, 2010 06:54 AM

                                    Darn BlackBerry photos don't want to be emailed to my computer so I can upload here - the package is green and white with black lettering, says "Sliced Mustard Tuber" in English along with beaucoup info in Chinese, 3 of them are in a cellophane overwrap and they are about 3" x 6". There are other versions that are smaller and in thinner printed foilish packages. (I could have memorized several more Emily Dickinson poems with the brainpower I expend on thinking about this stuff...)

                                    1. re: buttertart
                                      The Dairy Queen Sep 16, 2010 06:56 AM

                                      Is it shelf stable or is it in the fridge section?

                                      ~TDQ

                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                        beetlebug Sep 16, 2010 06:59 AM

                                        Shelf stable.

                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                          buttertart Sep 16, 2010 07:40 AM

                                          Was in a box at the end of the toploading open freezers in my market, but it's definitely shelf-stable.

                                           
                                          1. re: buttertart
                                            The Dairy Queen Sep 16, 2010 07:47 AM

                                            Hmmmm...I might have to ask when I get there. They have "dried marinated mustard"--think that could be the same thing?

                                            http://www.unitednoodles.com/catalog2...

                                            ~TDQ

                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                              buttertart Sep 16, 2010 08:49 AM

                                              Don't think so, that's a mustard green. This is a sort of kohlrabi lumpy thing pickled.

                              2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                s
                                sarahcooks Mar 29, 2011 09:42 AM

                                Dry-fried Green Beans

                                I've actually made this a bunch of times, following recipes online or trying to do it without a recipe. Last time I screwed up big time (how?? Can't remember, but it was inedible) and since I now have the book *and* a pickled vegetable, I thought I'd try following this recipe! It wasn't even on my list for the week, but my grocery store had yard long beans! This was a miraculous occurrence as they don't even always have bok choi. I love long beans and think they work well in this dish. For the pickled vegetable, I wasn't able to find what she was calling for, so I bought whatever it is that is in the picture I attached. All I know is it's Thai and it's cabbage. It's been lurking in my cupboard for a while, and I've been really afraid to use it. The jar just looks so old and nasty, and there is the sketchy picture on the front. But I bravely opened it and even tasted it before putting it in and it was fine. Crunchy, slightly sweet and sour. Loved it as usual, and I didn't have to make my kids a separate meal - 13 month old DS ate the meat and 3 year old DD ate the beans (with the meat and "stuff" carefully removed. Served it with japanese short grain rice as I usually do, I just like the combo. Makes a tiny bit of meat go a loooong way.

                                 
                                 
                                 
                                1. re: sarahcooks
                                  Breadcrumbs Jun 22, 2011 08:17 AM

                                  What a great review sarah, I loved your walk-through on the pickled veg you had!! Great pictures too, I guess those are supposed to be the "double apricots" on the label!! Love the absent expiry date on the lid!! I could totally relate. I too have a number of jars and cans lurking in my pantry that I pull out from time to time, dust off and then carefully tuck away again!! Thanks for the inspiration!

                              3. re: The Dairy Queen
                                s
                                smtucker Mar 23, 2014 04:58 PM

                                Dry-Fried Green Beans, version 2
                                LOP, page 290

                                I have a HUGE bag of haricot verts purchased at Costco and have been missing the dry-fried beans from my favorite restaurant. In the past, I have used Martin Yan's recipe to some success, but have always felt that blanching the beans made them soggy. So, tonight I gave this recipe a chance.

                                Yea!!! These are wonderful! I probably didn't sautée the beans quite long enough on the first fry, but I always prefer my beans under vs over-cooked. I used Tien-Tien peppers, the Sichuan peppers, and both the garlic and ginger.

                                Much prefer this version to Yan's and the amount of oil isn't actually any more.

                                EDIT: I may have put this in the wrong place. This is the vegetarian version with no preserved vegetables or pork.

                              4. The Dairy Queen Mar 3, 2008 01:37 AM

                                Pock-Marked Mother Chen's Bean Curd (Ma Po Tofu) pp 313-314, LOP

                                We loved this dish. I did, however, make several modifications to make it Weight Watchers Core friendly, yet, I don't think they affected the overall outcome of the meal in a negative way, at least in my opinion. I've read that this dish is supposed to be oily and have a slick of oil sitting on top, so, if you're a traditionalist, you might say that our dish didn't come out right because it was missing the essential oil slick. Ours obviously was not oily, but it was still delicious. My favorite Dunlop recipe yet.

                                ~We used scallions instead of baby leeks (for availability reasons)
                                ~We used 1 tsp of peanut oil instead of 1/2 cup.
                                ~We used 2 fresh chiles instead of the 2 tsp ground chiles (I'd read somewhere in one of the links I found said that the fresh chiles are tamer than the 2 tsp of ground Sichuanese chiles "only for chile fiends" the recipe calls for so we used those because I'm too chicken to use the ground stuff!)
                                ~We used regular chicken stock instead of everyday stock (haven't made the everyday stock yet)
                                ~We used 1/2 tsp of agave nectar instead of 1 tsp white sugar

                                Loved loved loved this dish and will definitely make it again!

                                Photo attached (the dish in the foreground is the Beef with Cumin I posted about in the meat thread. I'm sorry I don't have a good head-on photo of the ma po tofu--they were all very overexposed.)

                                EDIT: I meant to also mention that we had the ma po tofu, the beef cumin, wild rice, and a side of steamed broccoil--this was a meal for four with generous servings, I thought, or a meal for two, twice. Also, the reason for the strange red bowl is that she said something like, serve it in a deep bowl and those red plastic bowls (which are my "on the patio" bowls for summer) are the only ones I had that fit that description. It would have been fine, I thought, in a regular soup bowl, though, maybe only because we reduced the amount of oil. If you had more oil, maybe the deeper bowl is necessary to keep from having a big mess.

                                ~TDQ

                                 
                                60 Replies
                                1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                  oakjoan Mar 3, 2008 04:21 PM

                                  DQ:

                                  I'm glad you like the Ma Po Do Fu. I've made it twice and also love it. The tanginess/heat of the flavoring with the meat and the creamy do fu is a marvelous combo.

                                  1. re: oakjoan
                                    beetlebug Mar 3, 2008 05:42 PM

                                    Ditto. And, it's helpful to know that less oil can be used. This dish, with a bowl of rice, is pure comfort food for me.

                                    1. re: oakjoan
                                      NYchowcook Mar 3, 2008 07:19 PM

                                      do you think I could substitute ground pork for the beef? How much presence did the meat have?
                                      I'm not much of a ground meat person and think I could tolerate pork more than ground beef.

                                      1. re: NYchowcook
                                        a
                                        aelph Mar 3, 2008 07:41 PM

                                        Ground pork is the traditional garnish(tho' my favorite Sichuan restaurant's vegetarian version is so good you don't miss it).

                                        Also, I can't imagine reducing the oil quantity. Ma po dou fu is supposed to be a rich, unctuous, comforting dish and the slick of vibrant, crimson oil is an important part of the experience.

                                        Dunlop's recipe is pretty dead on...I wouldn't go about substituting willy-nilly.

                                        1. re: NYchowcook
                                          saltwater Mar 3, 2008 07:58 PM

                                          NYchowcook, I think that might work. Dunlop mentions that the meat can be omitted entirely for vegetarians and the dish will still be enjoyable. I assume that means the meat is not completely central.

                                          I used smaller tofu cubes than Dunlop describes and will do so again. Traitor that I am, though, I also added some vegetables in before the pork, so that is perhaps why I liked the smaller cubes. I, too, found that half a cup of oil was unnecessary. I used 4T. But I noted to myself that I might like to try it with more.

                                          1. re: NYchowcook
                                            The Dairy Queen Mar 4, 2008 02:14 AM

                                            NYchowcook, actually, I've tried ground beef in this dish and didn't especially love it. It's too earthy or something--can't quite put my finger on it. That having been said, the meat is a very small presence in this dish and I agree with saltwater that you might just leave it out--I think that would be better than subbing ground beef.

                                            And, yes, reducing the quantity of oil is just fine if you don't want the oil slick on top, which I did not. I'm a fan of this dish and have eaten and enjoyed it at many Sichuan restaurants and I understand it's supposed to come with an oil slick, but I think it tastes great--and has a glorious texture with the tender tofu-- without the oil slick, too.

                                            We're not training to be classical cooks here; we're home cooks looking to put meals on the tables for our families within their various needs and desires and limitations. We do the best we can with what we have.

                                            ~TDQ

                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                              t
                                              torty Mar 24, 2008 05:08 PM

                                              In our area Farmer John has a very low fat course ground pork that I use in lots of Asian dishes calling for fattier cuts.

                                            2. re: NYchowcook
                                              beetlebug Mar 4, 2008 06:42 AM

                                              I also have a vague memory of a thread that referenced subbing in ground turkey as well. As TDQ stated, there is minimal meat and it's just used to add a bit more flavor and texture to the dish. The bit more flavor is relative since the dish has a complex taste with the various components.

                                          2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                            pitu Mar 9, 2008 05:32 PM

                                            made and loved the mapo tofu this weekend . . . used ground pork instead of beef, and slightly less oil, not missed at all. Thx to whoever suggested simmering ginger in plain chicken broth to get an approx correct stock.

                                            opening the salted black beans for the first time I was struck by how strongly they smelled like tamari/soy sauce. I can store these in a tight jar in a dark closet, right?

                                            szechuan pepper is totally addictive
                                            I put it in a quickie rice dish of leftovers -- the remaining ground pork, sliced shitakes, 1/8t cinnamon, one star anise, 1t sugar, some chili flakes, tingly sichuan peppers
                                            Nice! That's a variation on something in the Seductions of Rice book.

                                            Anyone know why the fresh shitakes sold in chinatown are so much plumper than the ones I get in organic markets/greenmarkets? They seem like a totally different mushroom.

                                            1. re: pitu
                                              JoanN Mar 9, 2008 06:15 PM

                                              You're supposed to be able to store the beans in a tightly sealed jar in a cool, dark place, but I put mine in double baggies in the fridge. I was never sure my apartment cupboards were cool enough.

                                            2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                              NYchowcook Mar 12, 2008 05:37 AM

                                              I made the ma po dou fu the other night and was frankly underwhelmed. It was spicy (which I like) but the flavors did not seem balanced. And it took much longer to make than reading the recipe had me thinking. I pretty much followed the directions, though used long green garlic stems (looked like leeks) from Asian grocery, omitted meat, used about 4 T peanut oil, and served over short grain brown rice.

                                              Soaking the beans, roasting and grinding the peppers (I tried a mortar and pestle but then realized it would be midnight before I ate, so I tossed into mini food processor), simmering my homemade chicken stock in ginger (good idea MMRuth!), and oops! need to get the rice cooking. And hey! I wanted to use the potato flour I procured, but Fuchsia called for cornstarch, so that's what I used.

                                              I'll try again but I would prefer a tofu and vegetable dish. Maybe next time I'll add bok choi.

                                              1. re: NYchowcook
                                                The Dairy Queen Mar 12, 2008 07:05 AM

                                                Oh, I'm so sorry you were disappointed, but fortunately, there are many other dishes to try in the Dunlop books--I'm sure you'll find one that suits your tastes better. Personally, I love this dish both out at restaurants and at home. Too bad about not getting to use your potato flour. On page 64 of Land of Plenty Dunlop says she used potato flour to test all the recipes in the book (she then proceeds to seemingly contradict herself by calling for cornstarch in some of the recipes...) and mentions that cornstarch is an acceptable substitute, but that you need 50% more cornstarch than potato flour. Since you've got the potato flour, if I were you, next time, I'd convert the recipe in order to do so.

                                                Forgive me for asking, but where are people getting the idea that the fermented black beans must be rinsed? I looked at pg 54 pantry section of LOP and Dunlop doesn't say anything about that. I checked the pantry section of RC, too, as well as the recipe for ma po tofu in LOP. What am I missing? I know the Tianjin preserved vegetables need to be rinsed, but I haven't been rinsing my black beans...

                                                By the way, once again I see the benefits of reading carefully her prelude--she mentions that as little as 3 TBSP of oil will work if you want to reduce the amount of oil in the recipe. I hadn't noticed that before.

                                                Finally, NYchowcook, I find, too, that if you skim the recipe and the ingredient list, these often look so much simpler and faster than they turn out to be. I've been stung by that a couple of times. I'm learning it's really important to read both the prelude to the recipe and the recipe itself very carefully, as well as the blurb in the pantry section about any ingredients that may be new to you.

                                                ~TDQ

                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                  JoanN Mar 12, 2008 07:28 AM

                                                  Regarding rinsing the black beans: I love both shrimp and clams in black bean sauce and both have been in regular dinner rotation for quite some time. Every recipe I've tried calls for either soaking or rinsing the black beans and then chopping them. Although Dunlop calls for neither, I had presumed prior to my experience with the COTM books that this was fairly standard practice. Evidently others have as well. I've only made one Dunlop recipe so far that called for unrinsed, whole black beans and thought the dish a bit too salty. No idea whether or not the beans were the culprit in that instance or not. But if anyone does find a dish that uses the fernented beans too salty, I would recommend that if they give it another go they try rinsing the beans first to see if that helps.

                                                  1. re: JoanN
                                                    MMRuth Mar 12, 2008 07:31 AM

                                                    I can't remember which dishes off hand, but I've made two from RCC with the fermented beans, and both called for rinsing them.

                                                    1. re: MMRuth
                                                      JoanN Mar 12, 2008 07:38 AM

                                                      Ah! And mine with beans was from LOP. Wonder if it could be a Sichuan/Hunan thing?

                                                      1. re: MMRuth
                                                        The Dairy Queen Mar 12, 2008 07:38 AM

                                                        Oh dear--well, it sounds like I should be rinsing my fermented beans, then. Thank you for that, everyone.

                                                        ~TDQ

                                                      2. re: JoanN
                                                        Gio Mar 12, 2008 07:50 AM

                                                        Well, I've been rinsing the black beans in all the dishes I've made. And even at that the salty taste is quite pronounced. Previously to cooking the Dunlop recipes our diet was mainly low fat & low sodium so I suppose all the flavors are more pronounced now....

                                                        To quote Ming Tsai regarding the rinsing the beans, "This pungent ingredient is an ancient Chinese cooking staple. Always rinse the beans well before using to remove the excess salt. Store the beans away from light in a cool place and they will keep indefinitely." From his web site.

                                                      3. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                        pitu Mar 26, 2008 04:00 PM

                                                        on the fermented black bean issue...
                                                        Bittman in today's NYT focuses on *A Secret Staple Begging to Be Used*
                                                        He does a stir fry, adding black beans at the very end
                                                        http://video.on.nytimes.com/?fr_story...
                                                        he soaks the beans (in water or sherry) and then uses the soaking liquid in the dish.
                                                        which is surprising, with all the salt.

                                                        it's a fun article, comparing the extra something you get with the beans to truffles.
                                                        : )

                                                      4. re: NYchowcook
                                                        scoopG Mar 12, 2008 07:35 AM

                                                        NYChowcook - so you omitted the meat? That does remove a great textural part of the dish. Try adding a drained can of whole kernal corn next time. I'll do that sometimes to my ground pork version of ma po do fu as well.

                                                        1. re: scoopG
                                                          NYchowcook Mar 12, 2008 04:12 PM

                                                          I don't particularly care for the mouthfeel of ground meat, truth be told. The pork might balance it out, yes, but ground beef borders on repulsive to me (I don't eat hamburgers but did recently make a fab meatloaf a la Marcella which I liked alot)
                                                          I think I made a mistake -- I toasted chiles, not peppercorns, and ground them up.
                                                          I'm heading to Phila this weekend w/ a Penzey's store nearby so I think I'll buy some Sichuan peppercorns!

                                                        2. re: NYchowcook
                                                          LulusMom Mar 12, 2008 09:59 AM

                                                          NYchowcook, your report has me a little nervous. I'm planning to make the ma po dou fu meatless myself tomorrow night, along with the veg. green beans (and rice). I thought having read through both recipes that I could handle it all (especially having found the previous recipe I'd tried very easy to make) - keep in mind that I have a toddler underfoot - but now I'm worrying. I'm doing the MMRuth stock idea right now to save time tomorrow.

                                                          1. re: LulusMom
                                                            The Dairy Queen Mar 12, 2008 10:12 AM

                                                            Honestly, I didn't find the ma po tofu recipe that time consuming (only one recipe has been easier and that's the steamed egg dish I tried)--maybe a half hour max? but there are a lot of steps.

                                                            Anything you can do on any of these recipes in advance is a good idea. I agree that prepping your stock with added ginger and scallions in advance is a great idea. Actually, I'l confess, I threw my stock+slice of ginger and some scallions in the microwave for about a minute and a half the other day because I was short on time. Not a perfect solution, but not a terrible solution in a pinch.

                                                            It also sounds like you can do the ground beef ahead of time (but you're going meatless, right?) I hope you try scoopG's corn recommendation and report on that.

                                                            Also, if you prep all your ingredients first and line them up in the order you toss them in, that helps. I don't really have little bowls for doing that, but I do have a set of small juice glasses (maybe a little bigger than shot glasses) I use for that.

                                                            As far as grinding the peppercorn, I have a coffee bean grinder I use specifically to grind spices that worked fine for this recipe.

                                                            EDIT If you can, I'd pencil in a note (or put a post-it note in there) in your recipe RIGHT NOW reminding yourself to rinse the beans--since it doesn't say to do so in the recipe... If you think you need to, you can also pencil in a note at the beginning of the recipe to start the rice or whatever you plan to serve it with. Make sure to read through (as tempting as it is, try not to skim the recipe--I've made so many mistakes that way on these Dunlop recipes) the entire recipe, even the "prelude" part that doesn't seem like part of the recipe because sometimes she puts cooking or serving tips in there, too. It can't hurt to read the "pantry" section on any ingredients you're unfamiliar with, too, because sometimes she mentions some helpful tips in there, too.

                                                            Good luck, I'm sure it will be great.

                                                            ~TDQ

                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                              LulusMom Mar 12, 2008 11:18 AM

                                                              Thanks so much for the calming cyber pat on the back. I'm feeling much better! I do always do as much prep work as I can before, and am pretty organized as a rule (you really have to be if you're going to do this kind of cooking with a kid and a wonderful but semi-clueless husband). It makes me feel much better that you think that will help. By the way, like you I hadn't noticed in most of the recipes about rinsing the beans, but did in one or two. Kind of odd. Anyway, thanks again.

                                                              1. re: LulusMom
                                                                oakjoan Mar 12, 2008 03:01 PM

                                                                LulusMom: In her Hunanese Pantry section of Rev.Chinese, Dunlop says that "Many people rinse them before use, which is what I tend to do." Even that statement is a bit vague re the word "tend".

                                                                It's great that folks are reporting back about black fermented beans' over-saltiness and being guinea pigs for the rest of us.

                                                                A grateful COM group thanks you all!

                                                          2. re: NYchowcook
                                                            pitu Mar 12, 2008 01:19 PM

                                                            NYchowcook, but I think at some point you have to adjust to taste - esp when you are removing the meat and the dish is tasting unbalanced. I added a little extra sichuan peppercorn, soy sauce and scallions to my mapo tofu, because that's what I like. Ingredients vary.

                                                            On that note, anyone wondering about the relative punch of their Kam Man acquired sichuan peppercorns v Penzy's? Mine tingle, but I bet they are old.
                                                            I ground mine with a marble mortar/pestle - the plastic one would have been useless and frustrating. It didn't take long.

                                                            The mapo tofu reheats well for lunch the next day, btw.

                                                            On fermented bean rinsing, I too took rinse and soak as standard practice based on salt packed capers and anchovies (and recalling someone writing about an oversalted bean experience)

                                                            1. re: pitu
                                                              The Dairy Queen Mar 12, 2008 01:25 PM

                                                              pitu--I really want to get some Penzey's peppercorns. I can't recalll the brand I got from the Aisian market, but they seem really old and tired--not even enough to give my "hot and numbing" chicken any kick whatsoever...

                                                              ~TDQ

                                                              1. re: pitu
                                                                Rubee Mar 12, 2008 01:49 PM

                                                                The Penzey's peppercorns I used for the Dan Dan noodle variation were of fantastic quality and very fresh. With just one bite, I really felt the "ma la" numbing and tingling effect (I toasted on the stove and ground mine in a coffee/spice grinder), much more than when I've used Sichuan peppercorns I bought in Boston in Chinatown or Super 88. Highly recommend.

                                                                1. re: pitu
                                                                  beetlebug Mar 12, 2008 02:27 PM

                                                                  The peppercorns I bought from the chinese market weren't great. They also had a lot of the tasteless black seeds, twigs and some leaves. I did try and pick those out as I was toasting the peppercorns. But, because of the predominance of seeds, after I used the mortar and pestle, I put them through the strainer. The pepper adds some flavor, but it lacks the intense ma la sensation that I seek.

                                                                  Are the Penzey peppercorns seedless (only husks)?

                                                                  1. re: beetlebug
                                                                    The Dairy Queen Mar 12, 2008 02:29 PM

                                                                    Mine had a lot of little stems and twigs, too...

                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                    1. re: beetlebug
                                                                      Rubee Mar 12, 2008 03:12 PM

                                                                      The Penzey's are definitely intense. They do have a few tiny stems and twigs, which I didn't remove. When I ground them, I just measured it out, toasted in a pan, put them through a grinder, and then through a small sieve.

                                                                      I just took a pic of what they look like straight out of the jar, if that helps:

                                                                       
                                                                      1. re: Rubee
                                                                        Rubee Mar 12, 2008 03:16 PM

                                                                        Ground:

                                                                         
                                                                        1. re: Rubee
                                                                          beetlebug Mar 12, 2008 03:21 PM

                                                                          Thanks. Those look much better. Mine are full of the flavorless black seeds.

                                                                          1. re: beetlebug
                                                                            Rubee Mar 12, 2008 03:32 PM

                                                                            I just looked closer and there are a few tiny seeds, but it's mainly husks. I read somewhere that it's just the husks that are to be used because the seed is flavorless, as you mention, and can add a gritty texture. I have the one-ounce jar for about $2.69, but for Dunlop ordered the 4 oz bag for $5.19.

                                                                            http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzey...

                                                                      2. re: pitu
                                                                        beetlebug Mar 14, 2008 05:04 AM

                                                                        After a dish to dish comparison, it's not even a contest. The Penzey's peppercorns were infinitely superior to the ones from the Asian market. This is on all counts, looks, smell and taste.

                                                                        Looks - the Asian market bag was full of black seeds. These were visible to the eye. The peppercorn husks were brown and not as copious in amounts as the seeds. Seeds seemed to predominate the bag. OTOH, the Penzey's bags were predominately husks. Also the husks were bigger (to my eye) than the other ones. Moreover, the husks had a slightly pinkish tinge to them.

                                                                        Smell - Bag from Asian market only had a slight peppercorn bag. Penzeys was more potent.

                                                                        Taste - Asian bag gave the dish a little extra addictive taste but it lacked the ma la tingling sensation. Even adding almost twice as much as the recipe called for, there was only a slight peppercorn flavor to it. Penzey's was replete with flavor and ma la sensation. I actually stayed to the recipe's recommendation on the dish to test out the flavor. It's still slightly under to my taste buds but only a hair so.

                                                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                      beetlebug Mar 19, 2008 07:05 AM

                                                                      Pock Marked Mother Chen’s Bean Curd (LOP, pg. 313)

                                                                      This is a staple in my house. And, for whatever reason, I always add way too much corn starch add the end. I get impatient and it takes the cornstarch longer to thicken than I think it does. It’s still tasty though.

                                                                      This time, instead of ground beef, I tried using corn kernels instead. I don’t think I added enough because I didn’t notice them at all in the dish. But, I do love how the tofu soaks in all the wonderful flavors of the sauce.

                                                                       
                                                                      1. re: beetlebug
                                                                        LulusMom Mar 19, 2008 09:50 AM

                                                                        So I'm not the only one with the corn starch problem. I'll try to learn from my mistake to be a bit more patient next time.

                                                                        1. re: LulusMom
                                                                          beetlebug Mar 19, 2008 11:00 AM

                                                                          The sad thing is, I just haven't learned since I do it every time.

                                                                          1. re: beetlebug
                                                                            pitu Mar 19, 2008 02:14 PM

                                                                            fwiw, I used about 3/4 of what she has you mix up -- the recipe specifies adding gradually what you need
                                                                            I am skeeved by over-corn-starched so I naturally held back

                                                                            1. re: pitu
                                                                              The Dairy Queen Mar 19, 2008 04:43 PM

                                                                              pitu, have you tried potato flour instead of corn starch? It's much lighter, I think. You do have to adjust the proportions (per the instructions in the "pantry section"--I can't recall whether it was in LOP or RC, maybe both)--but you might be happier with the texture.

                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                pitu Mar 19, 2008 07:40 PM

                                                                                YES, i noticed that part of this discussion with great interest
                                                                                and I'll get potato flour some other time

                                                                                and use a moderate hand in the meantime!
                                                                                I *like* the silky cornstarch feel -- I just associate OVER-corn-starched with bad Chinese food I've had in restaurants, and icky processed food

                                                                                1. re: pitu
                                                                                  oakjoan Mar 19, 2008 09:56 PM

                                                                                  Corn starch always makes me think of the awful clam chowder served in many restaurants...the one you can stand a spoon in.

                                                                        2. re: beetlebug
                                                                          Rubee Mar 24, 2008 03:05 PM

                                                                          Pock-Marked Mother Chen's Bean Curd (LOP)

                                                                          Well, my first time making this classic Sichuan dish, and add me to the fan club - I loved this. E doesn't like tofu so I have the whole batch to myself. BB, I can see why this is comfort food for you. It's so delicious. I actually had thirds last night. In fact, loading the pics, I got hungry and am eating a big bowlful over rice right now - as Pitu mentions, it heats up great for lunch or a snack. I used all the tips from those who made this previously, including rinsing the black beans and watching the amount of cornstarch. I really enjoyed the savoriness of the ground beef in it. I used the optional 2 tsp of ground dried chiles (used a spice grinder), and substituted Chinese chives for the leeks. I'll be making this again and again. I've really grown to absolutely love tofu with the recipes in this book.

                                                                           
                                                                          1. re: Rubee
                                                                            oakjoan Mar 24, 2008 09:45 PM

                                                                            Beautiful photo, Rubee! We ate all of our dinner last night before I thought of pix. Duh.

                                                                            1. re: Rubee
                                                                              mirage Mar 25, 2008 05:11 AM

                                                                              Ooh - I'm going to do that (sub the chives for the leeks) - I bought one bag of chives and so far have made three recipes with them and still have lots more! How many did you use?

                                                                              1. re: mirage
                                                                                Rubee Mar 25, 2008 12:53 PM

                                                                                Hi Mirage! Yes, I really liked the Chinese chives in it - I need to use this vegetable more. I think I used about 3/4 of a cup of sliced chives.

                                                                                1. re: Rubee
                                                                                  mirage Mar 26, 2008 05:14 AM

                                                                                  Thanks!

                                                                                  1. re: Rubee
                                                                                    mirage May 17, 2008 07:49 AM

                                                                                    Well, I FINALLY got around to making the Ma Po Dou Fu using leeks, all of the oil, Penzy's peppercorns, and about 2/3 of the cornstarch mixture. Loved, loved, loved this!! Long ago Galleygirl noted that this dish was "Company Perfect the first time." I completely agree.

                                                                                    Served with rice and the boiled dumplings from Beyond the Great Wall for a terrific Friday night dinner.

                                                                                2. re: Rubee
                                                                                  Rubee May 29, 2009 03:07 PM

                                                                                  One of my favorites from this book, and I make it a couple of times a month for lunches since I work at home. Just wanted to note that I've never used the full amount of cornstarch mixture. In fact, now I use 2 Tb cornstarch to 3 Tb of water, and only use about half of that.

                                                                                  Latest batch this week (I also increase the chili paste to 3-4 spoonfuls):

                                                                                   
                                                                                  1. re: Rubee
                                                                                    Rubee Apr 10, 2014 09:35 PM

                                                                                    Pock-Marked Mother Chen's Bean Curd (LOP)

                                                                                    Well, 5 years later and this is still part of my regular rotation. So good. Tonight I used ground pork and I'itoi onions from the garden.

                                                                                     
                                                                                    1. re: Rubee
                                                                                      emily Apr 11, 2014 07:41 AM

                                                                                      Made this recently as well after a hiatus (why?) and loved it.

                                                                                       
                                                                                3. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                  Emmmily Oct 4, 2009 09:12 AM

                                                                                  I just made this for the second time. The only changes I made were to use ground pork instead of beef and chopped scallions instead of leeks. It's just sooooo good, and once you have all the ingredients fairly easy to make. Right now I'm eating the leftovers, mixed over some noodles (there wasn't enough left for a full serving on its own), and it's delicious. Perfect hangover food. Mapo tofu is one of those things I just crave occasionally, and since there's no restaurants I know of around here that serve it I'm thrilled to be able to make it myself. Thank you Fucshia Dunlop for yet another excellent meal.

                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                    buttertart Jul 28, 2010 08:32 AM

                                                                                    I made this last night - it's a great rendition of the dish, we loved it. Used ground pork instead of beef because that was what I had (and have had it with pork many times). Used the leeks that Peapod sent me a while back (in the very odd grocery calculus that is Peapod pricing, they're much cheaper than in the city). Used more broth to compensate for only using 2tb of the 1/2 c oil it calls for. M, whose favorite doufu dish this isn't, couldn't stop eating it.

                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                      BigSal Nov 6, 2011 06:14 PM

                                                                                      Ma Po Tofu p 313-314, Land Of Plenty

                                                                                      Inspired to finally make this version after trying another version in The Gourmet Cookbook that was good, but not great. I made this with 1.5 T oil (half recipe) and ground pork- everything else was as written including the facing heaven dried peppers for chile fiends. This recipe lived up to my expectations and more. The perfect way to beat the cooler weather.

                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                        Breadcrumbs Apr 21, 2012 06:39 PM

                                                                                        Pock-Marked Mother Chen’s Bean Curd (Ma Po Dou Fu) – p. 313 Land of Plenty

                                                                                        First time I’m reporting on this dish but I’ve made it using this recipe on several occasions now. Since the prep for this dish has been well covered above, I thought I’d just weigh in with some random thoughts on my preferences and, some steps I’ve adapted to simplify prep.

                                                                                        OBSERVATIONS:

                                                                                        I believe this dish is at its best when made with ground pork and I find 4 oz to be the perfect amount. I’d rather have no meat than use ground beef, which in my opinion, completely overpowers the dish.

                                                                                        I prefer freshly made, organic, firm tofu for this recipe. FD doesn’t specify a firmness for her tofu but from trial and error I feel firm is best. I always drain it and give it a good squeeze in paper towel before cutting it to remove the excess moisture. I used to “press it” by placing it in a sieve under a heavy can but ultimately found that step to be unnecessary. (more about tofu in my Prep Notes)

                                                                                        I’ve tried a variety of oils for this dish and I’ve varied the quantities. I do believe the best results are achieved by using peanut oil but I only use 3tbsp. and I still feel the finished dish has the requisite and expected richness. (NB: I tend to prefer sesame oil for Asian dishes but peanut is far superior here).

                                                                                        IMHO, 4 tbsp of cornstarch is completely unnecessary. I use 1 slightly heaped TBSP of cornstarch dissolved in 3 TBSP of the stock (the same stock I use in the dish).

                                                                                        I’ve made my own stock and I’ve used canned for this dish. I can honestly say I do not notice any difference so Swanson’s canned broth is now my go-to for this dish. (more about the broth in my Prep Notes)

                                                                                        IMHO: The dish tastes better if you rinse your black beans.

                                                                                        Since I cannot always find Sichuanese chiles, I find that 2 TBSP of Chili Bean Paste is a good substitute. I’ve been known to add more after tasting since I find the paste does seem to lose its potency in the fridge (or maybe I lose taste buds with age!)

                                                                                        Having used baby leeks, ramps, the white part only of mature leeks and green onions, I totally prefer the flavour of green onions, which I add just before my cornstarch slurry. I also keep a handful on hand to use as garnish to give the dish a fresh kick and, a nice crunch.

                                                                                        Soy Sauce: I’ve used light soy sauce and regular and have never noticed a discernable difference. I measure my soy into a small dish and stir in the sugar since these ingredients are added at the same time.

                                                                                        PREP NOTES:

                                                                                        I love recipes that organize ingredients in the order they’re used in a recipe so I have a sticky note in this book that sorts things out in that order to make my life easier.

                                                                                        Tofu: I like my tofu in ¾” cubes for this dish, 1” just seems too big. Instead of keeping my tofu warm in water and draining it prior to adding it to my wok, I’ve found I can make my life much easier by just dumping all my (firm …see above) tofu in a small pan as I cube it and then I simply pour in the 1 cup of broth and place the pan on the stove at a med-low heat. Then I just dump the pan into my wok when FD says to add the broth (since she has you add the tofu immediately thereafter anyway).

                                                                                        Broth: As I mentioned above, I use Swanson’s Chicken broth. The flavours of this dish seem more authentic to me when garlic and ginger are used. The best way I’ve found to incorporate them is by stirring them right into my broth. I put 2 cloves of garlic and about a TSP sized piece of ginger in my mini-Cuisinart and give them a good mince before adding them to the broth that I pour over my tofu.

                                                                                        Sichuan "Peppercorns": I love these and have found that they are at their best when roasted prior to grinding. This can be a pain because it takes time. So now, when I purchase Sichuan pepper I toast off approx 1/4 cup then I dump it into a pepper grinder (that I only use for Sichuan pepper). That way I have toasted Sichuan pepper on hand to be ground as needed. I purchased my grinder at The Spice House in Chicago.

                                                                                        ETA: buttertart, if by chance you should read this post, I'd love to hear from you whether (or what) meat is traditional in this dish.

                                                                                         
                                                                                         
                                                                                         
                                                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs
                                                                                          JoanN Apr 21, 2012 07:40 PM

                                                                                          Wow! Thanks, BC, for reminding us what COTM is all about. Brilliant report. Will never again make Ma Po Dou Fu without first checking this now bookmarked post.

                                                                                          1. re: JoanN
                                                                                            Breadcrumbs Apr 21, 2012 08:15 PM

                                                                                            Joan, thank-you and how kind of you. Your posts on COTM threads and those of Rubee drew me to Chowhound in 2010 and I sincerely appreciate your thoughtful feedback.

                                                                                          2. re: Breadcrumbs
                                                                                            buttertart Apr 25, 2012 06:18 PM

                                                                                            Beef is used a bit more in Sichuan cooking than in a lot of the cuisines, but plenty of mapo doufu has ground pork in it -- I usually use pork.
                                                                                            By the way, in case anyone's been wondering why food from the New World (peppers, etc) got such a foothold in Sichuan, it's understood to be because just prior to their introduction the population of Sichuan (and to some extent Hunan) was practically wiped out by homicidal despots and the area was much more receptive to new foodstuffs as it was resettled and replanted.

                                                                                          3. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                            Gio Feb 7, 2013 04:37 AM

                                                                                            Pock-Marked Mother Chen's Bean Curd (Ma Po Dou Fu) Pg. 313, Land of Plenty

                                                                                            It only took me 5 years to get around to making this super delicious dish and like everyone else we loved it. I played it pretty straight but did adjust a few of the measurements and ingredients: 2 T peanut oil, omitted the meat, 2 T chili bean paste, 1 t ground chili, vegetable stock. 1 T cornstarch to 3 T water...everything else as written. In spite of that the finished dish was spicy and saucy which melded perfectly into the tofu. Frankly I had my doubts about the leeks being cooked thoroughly but had no reason to fear.

                                                                                            These tofu dishes are absolutely wonderful... in all her books. Jasmine rice, and Sweet Corn Kernels with [everything but] Green Peppers on page 299 were served as well.

                                                                                            1. re: Gio
                                                                                              JoanN Feb 7, 2013 05:15 AM

                                                                                              Thanks for reminding me that it's way past time to make this again. Love that dish, and love the LOP version best.

                                                                                              1. re: Gio
                                                                                                Breadcrumbs Feb 14, 2013 04:42 PM

                                                                                                So glad you loved this Gio. It's my favourite comfort food and I'm craving it as a result of your post...and I'm guessing Joan is too!! ; )

                                                                                            2. pitu Mar 4, 2008 08:47 AM

                                                                                              This is for vegetables AND bean curd, right?
                                                                                              I made the Fish-Fragrant Eggplant on p.285

                                                                                              Overall, I'd say nice but not spectacular, but I think that's just a matter of taste on my end. I think I strongly favor SEAsian flavors over traditional Chinese.
                                                                                              Anyway, nice hits of fresh ginger, and my first use of the chili-bean paste. AND another venue for the Chinese Black Vinegar I have hanging around for dipping sauce. The Chinese Vinegar contributes to a really nice complexity.

                                                                                              I'll be trying different kinds of chili-bean paste because that's the foundation, and using less oil in the sauce. The recipe said 2-3 T. I used peanut oil. Since there's broth and other liquids involved, and the bean paste is oily, I'd use more like 1T in the future.

                                                                                              That mapo tofu is really high on my list - it's one of my favorite dishes.
                                                                                              Could people say which brands of specialty ingredients they are using? Decoding the various combinations of chili-fermented beans-etc is the biggest challenge for me here...

                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: pitu
                                                                                                The Dairy Queen Mar 4, 2008 09:26 AM

                                                                                                Yes, this thread's for vegetables AND bean curd...

                                                                                                I posted a photo of the ingredients I used for the ma po tofu (and the cumin beef) here http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49466... except for the fermented beans. I can look that up later for you, but, I had two choices at the store I was at and the gal told me one was "too dried out" and encouraged me to get the one I got.

                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                1. re: pitu
                                                                                                  a
                                                                                                  aelph Mar 4, 2008 09:51 AM

                                                                                                  I use Ming Teh Industries Broad Bean w/ Chili(sic) and Garlicky Pepper. I have yet to find any Pixian pastes.

                                                                                                  1. re: pitu
                                                                                                    saltwater Mar 4, 2008 12:30 PM

                                                                                                    I used Lan Chi brand, which appears to only have broad beans, and no soy. It is a dark red paste. Dunlop mentioned that the darker ones are "mature", though I'm not sure what that means. I tried to secure a shot and attach it. I don't know the brand of the fermented black beans I used. I took them out of the original packaging. I used Kimlan soy sauce, but I'm not sure that is the best style of it (they have many to chose from).

                                                                                                     
                                                                                                    1. re: saltwater
                                                                                                      d
                                                                                                      DGresh Mar 4, 2008 12:34 PM

                                                                                                      were your fermented black beans dry or wet? In the Hunan book (haven't looked at the other one yet) she specifically said not to get the dry ones (without a reason). I was so proud several months ago when I found some dry ones after much much searching that I would be rather disappointed to have to go on yet another expedition.....

                                                                                                      (edited to add) now I see, I can't read; she said DO buy the dry ones NOT the wet ones

                                                                                                      1. re: DGresh
                                                                                                        saltwater Mar 4, 2008 01:20 PM

                                                                                                        Yes, mine were dry, but still not like little rocks. They have give to them. I also have an old jar of pre-made black bean with garlic sauce, but I don't like that nearly as well as mixing my own from the basics.

                                                                                                        I'm glad you found them. The first time I tried, I ended up with regular black (turtle, mexican, etc.) beans in a can, and not soy beans. I just love how people can post a picture on this site of the actual food product, so others will know what to aim for. I'm glad I found chowhound.

                                                                                                        1. re: saltwater
                                                                                                          MMRuth Mar 4, 2008 02:38 PM

                                                                                                          Hmm - mine are in a bag, but seem kind of moist.

                                                                                                          1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                            d
                                                                                                            DGresh Mar 4, 2008 03:34 PM

                                                                                                            the "dry" ones I got in a bag are kind of moist (tender); not like dried 'whatever" beans; so I think it's the right thing

                                                                                                            1. re: DGresh
                                                                                                              saltwater Mar 4, 2008 04:27 PM

                                                                                                              It sounds to me like you have the right item. They have a soy fragrance and can be squished and have slightly wrinkled appearance. See the photo.

                                                                                                               
                                                                                                              1. re: saltwater
                                                                                                                Gio Mar 6, 2008 04:18 AM

                                                                                                                Oh Oh - mine are in a jar. :-( Brand: Comrade Food. Salted Black Beans. This what happens when one pulls recipes from the net - usually no notes.
                                                                                                                Back to the store we go.....

                                                                                                  2. The Dairy Queen Mar 4, 2008 06:10 PM

                                                                                                    LOP, page 157, Red Bell Pepper with Sesame Oil--this is one of the variations of the "Bitter Melon with Sesame Oil" recipe Dunlop cites at the bottom of page 157. Super simple, quick, very refreshing. We used four red bell peppers. I didn't even need to modify the recipe (oh, wait, I still am using just plain old chicken stock rather than Dunlop's stock...)

                                                                                                    We had this as a side dish for "beef slivers with water bamboo" pg 105 of RC, which I'll post about in the meat thread.

                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                     
                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                      MMRuth Mar 5, 2008 03:16 AM

                                                                                                      If you have time the next time you need stock, I'd simmer the chicken stock with some ginger and scallions - gives it a wonderful flavor.

                                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                        The Dairy Queen Mar 5, 2008 04:01 AM

                                                                                                        I think that's a terrific suggestion, thank you. I've been worrying that I've been missing the hint of ginger that goes into Dunlop's "everyday" stock every time I use just regular chicken stock, so, I think your idea is a good one.

                                                                                                        In response to pitu, the brand of fermented beans I'm using is MeeChun-- and it's labeled "salted black beans".

                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                    2. MMRuth Mar 6, 2008 03:05 AM

                                                                                                      Home-Style Bean Curd (Hunan, p. 186)

                                                                                                      This is our second tofu dish this week - a record for us! I think having some pork in the dish makes my husband enjoy it more. This was another instance where I should have used my dutch oven instead of a skillet to cook the toful - I didn't think 3 T of peanut oil could cause so much splatter. Even though I did dry the pieces a lot, there must still have been residual water. I don't think her cutting instructions are so clear - I had one large block of tofu, so I sliced it into 1/2 inch thick slices, cut each into four squares, and then into triangles. Because I was making two stir fry dishes, I prepared this one up to the point where I included the tofu back in the pan, with the dark soy sauce, and then turned off the heat. When the other one was almost done, I heated it up again and added the potato flour and scallions. Delicious dish, a bit spicy.

                                                                                                       
                                                                                                      16 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                        pitu Mar 6, 2008 03:41 AM

                                                                                                        Good morning MMRuth. How would you compare the Hunan homestyle tofu to the Sichuan homestyle tofu (assuming you made mapo tofu..?)

                                                                                                        1. re: pitu
                                                                                                          MMRuth Mar 6, 2008 03:45 AM

                                                                                                          I've not made mapo tofu - cooking (and pretty much eating) tofu is new to me!

                                                                                                        2. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                          beetlebug Mar 6, 2008 03:54 AM

                                                                                                          I think tofu cutting preference is like sandwich cutting preferences. I'm a triangle sandwich eater and a rectangle/square block tofu cutter. I have a hard time switching if a recipe has me cutting the other shape.

                                                                                                          1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                            Gio Jan 9, 2013 06:00 AM

                                                                                                            Homestyle Bean Curd, Bear Claw Variation, Pg. 315, Land of Plenty

                                                                                                            In my attempt to eat less meat I've been cooking tofu for one meal each week. Last night it was this sweet/salty/mildly spicy dish. We both liked it very much. Well, we love Dunlop's recipes as a whole and this one was especially delicious. The bear claw designation comes from the fact that when the little pillows of bean curd are stir-fried they look like frizzled claws. Also, in this preparation the bean curd is not deep fried but simply sauteed in the wok with just a little peanut oil. There are two options here: one may include 1/4 pound of lean bacon, and buy deep fried tofu at the market. Obviously, I didn't take advantage of either option.

                                                                                                            So... heat the oil in a wok or very wide fry pan, add sliced bean curd (I cut about 1 1/2 inch cubes), fry till puffy and just golden. Remove the bean curd from the wok and set aside. Chili bean paste is now added and stir fried for a bit, then chopped garlic and ginger are fried till fragrant. Add chicken stock and bean curd, bring to boil, reduce heat, season with sugar and soy sauce, cook for a few more minutes. Sliced scallions are now added and cooked for another few minutes. Stir in a cornstarch slurry, thicken sauce then serve. Wonderful aromas emanated from the mixture!

                                                                                                            This is such a simple and homey tofu dish. It hit all the flavor notes one expects from Sichuanese cooking. Definitely deserves several repeat performances.

                                                                                                            1. re: Gio
                                                                                                              q
                                                                                                              qianning Jan 9, 2013 06:44 AM

                                                                                                              This "bear claw" variation, is very nice, isn't it? We've had good results not only in this recipe, but also applying the same frying technique to the "peng's homestyle bean curd" from RCC among others. Overall, I think I like the texture better than deep fried tofu.

                                                                                                              1. re: qianning
                                                                                                                buttertart Jan 9, 2013 10:03 AM

                                                                                                                Must try, my least favorite tofu style is deepfried.

                                                                                                                AGAIN with the misplacing of answers..this is to Gio and qianning above...

                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart
                                                                                                                  Gio Jan 9, 2013 10:23 AM

                                                                                                                  Buttertart, just wanted you to know that your reply Did come in under Qianning's post.

                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart
                                                                                                                    Breadcrumbs Jan 9, 2013 05:51 PM

                                                                                                                    buttertart have you ever tried the prepared fried tofu from Ying Ying at the St Lawrence Mkt when you visit Toronto? I love their tofu in general but I do think they've had the best fried tofu I've ever tasted.

                                                                                                                2. re: Gio
                                                                                                                  LulusMom Jan 10, 2013 05:09 AM

                                                                                                                  Thank you so much for pointing this one out, Gio. Husband finally actually pro-tofu, plus doctor just asked him to cut back on the meat so this will be a perfect meal to serve.

                                                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                    Gio Jan 10, 2013 05:28 AM

                                                                                                                    Oh good, LLM. I actually served it with the kohlrabi salad from "Jerusalem" and they went together very well...

                                                                                                                  2. re: Gio
                                                                                                                    Allegra_K Jan 10, 2013 05:20 AM

                                                                                                                    If I understand correctly, when you refer to 'bear claw', this is soft tofu, sliced, that is wok-fried in just a touch of oil vs. deep fried? I've always wondered but have never been certain...

                                                                                                                    1. re: Allegra_K
                                                                                                                      Gio Jan 10, 2013 05:39 AM

                                                                                                                      Allegra, the bean curd used is firm tofu sliced in cubes and stir-fried in just a tablespoon or two of peanut oil.

                                                                                                                      It is not soft tofu and is not deep fried.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                        Allegra_K Jan 10, 2013 06:30 AM

                                                                                                                        Super, thanks for clearing that up for me!

                                                                                                                    2. re: Gio
                                                                                                                      c oliver Feb 14, 2013 12:40 PM

                                                                                                                      Joe, this sounds so good. Both the aroma and the taste :) Thanks.

                                                                                                                    3. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                                      Gio Jan 31, 2013 05:46 AM

                                                                                                                      Home-Style Bean Curd, Pg. 186 - 187, Variation Version, Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook

                                                                                                                      Having made the Bear Claw version of home-style bean curd I thought it a good idea to cook the what I take to be the original recipe. This has a few more ingredients than the bear claw but the procedure is the same: a couple of shiitakes, a small amount of lean pork slivers - which I omitted per the variation instructions - Shaoxing wine, chili bean paste, salted chilies - omitted - red pepper flakes, stock, potato flour slurry, scallions, sesame & peanut oils.

                                                                                                                      Mushrooms are hydrated; tofu is sliced into triangles then fried in a little peanut oil till golden, removed from wok to drain. Wipe out wok, add a little more oil, and fry chili bean paste, garlic, sliced mushrooms, and pepper flakes.. Add stock, return tofu to wok, and simmer for a few minutes. Pour in the slurry, stir to thicken, sprinkle sliced scallions over, take off heat and drizzle with sesame oil.

                                                                                                                      Once again large flavors here all contributing to the end result of a mildly spicy unctuous bean curd dish. Surprisingly filling too. Perfect for a braised bok choy and bean sprout side along with steamed basmati brown rice. There's nothing left except a little rice... we both enjoyed the meal very much.

                                                                                                                      P. S.: I note that when MMRuth made this she spoke of how much the tofu splattered when the pieces hit the wok for the first fry. Well, be aware that this will happen no matter how much the tofu it pressed and drained... Just "stay calm and carry on."

                                                                                                                      1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                        Breadcrumbs Feb 14, 2013 04:43 PM

                                                                                                                        Appreciate the P.S. Gio, I've made a note in my book.

                                                                                                                    4. j
                                                                                                                      jsaimd Mar 6, 2008 11:26 AM

                                                                                                                      I tried my hand at the Ma Po tofu and the cabbage variation of the potato side dish. Land of Plenty.

                                                                                                                      Of course for the ma po tofu, I made so many substitutions and modifications, but it did turn out nicely. First, I didn't have leeks, so I used finely chopped white onion, blanched and rinced. Loses the texture, but OK with flavor. Alos, the chili bean paste had wheat in it, so I couldn't use it, so I used extra fermented black beans and some chili garlic sauce. Along the same lines, I used wheat free soy sauce. I also used regular chicken stock with a touch of ginger in it. And I used a ton less oil - probably less than a tablespoon. But even with all those changes, it did taste very good, which is reassuring. I can't eat out at Chinese restaurants easily because so many things contain wheat, but it is nice to be able to make something at home. Our family are more Mexican food and Indian food people, but this may change things. The tofu was too spicey for our kids, so I reserved some tofu that I simmered in a splash of tamari, sugar, sesame oil, ginger, and chicken stock. They liked it.

                                                                                                                      The cabbage is work (or skillet) fried with peppers, sichuan peppercorns, and finished iwth semame oil and black vinegar. I added a bit of sweetener to it and midway through the cooking added some bean sprouts. I liked it, but I would remove the peppercorns (perhaps I missed that instruction in the hurry to get dinner on the table). I don't think anyone liked the rush of peppercorn flavor and mouth numbing that ensued. OK my 6 year old thought it was cool that food could do that, but then he wouldn't eat it.

                                                                                                                      Made enough for 4 adult meals and 2 kids pick at it and pronounce themselves full meals. Sichuan and kids hasn't been panning out - maybe I ought to try some of the less spicey Hunan??

                                                                                                                      I served it with a tastey short grain brown rice.

                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: jsaimd
                                                                                                                        The Dairy Queen Mar 6, 2008 11:44 AM

                                                                                                                        Hey, great report. You know what is very mild (and I don't recall containing any of wheat) is the steamed egg dish I posted about in the poultry thread. Very mild and custardy...

                                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                          j
                                                                                                                          jsaimd Mar 6, 2008 12:13 PM

                                                                                                                          I should try that - maybe if I call it custard instead of egg.

                                                                                                                          Unfortunately my son is on an egg strike right now. It is so funny because everyone tells them they are so lucky to have parents who love to cook, but I don't think my kids feel so lucky!

                                                                                                                          1. re: jsaimd
                                                                                                                            oakjoan Mar 6, 2008 08:47 PM

                                                                                                                            They'll be glad when they get older. I remember how I longed for bologna and Miracle Whip on Wonder Bread in my school lunches instead of the homemade bread and meatloaf sandwiches.

                                                                                                                            Now I know that I got my love for cooking from my mother.

                                                                                                                        2. re: jsaimd
                                                                                                                          oakjoan Mar 6, 2008 08:45 PM

                                                                                                                          Isaimd: It's funny, when I made the Dry Fried Beef Slivers, I had no celery and substituted leeks of which I had many.

                                                                                                                        3. The Dairy Queen Mar 7, 2008 03:18 AM

                                                                                                                          Noodles with Shiitake Mushrooms and Baby Greens pg 267, LOP, the variation suggested at the bottom of the recipe, using "fresh mushrooms of your choice"--in our case, fresh oyster mushrooms.

                                                                                                                          In addition to preparing this recipe with fresh oyster mushrooms instead of dried shiitake, we used fresh pok choy instead of baby bok choy. We are deep into winter here in Minnesota and there just aren't a lot of lovely, fresh looking vegetables in the markets this time of year, but the oyster mushrooms, as well as the pok choy, both looked appealing (I wonder where they were from, actually). And there was no baby bok choy in sight anywhere. The only other adaptation I made to the recipe was that we only used 1 1/2 tsp of peanut oil instead of the 3-4 TBSP the recipe called for (again, for reasons of needing to stick to my diet which only allows me 2 tsp of oils per day).

                                                                                                                          It was really good--we loved the sauce--and will definitely make it again. Pretty quick as recipes go.

                                                                                                                          I am sometimes mystified by her instructions that go along the lines of "stir fried briefly until...wonderfully fragrant," or "until they smell wonderful" but it seems to work out okay in the end.

                                                                                                                          We served it with whole wheat penne and "Numbing and Hot Chicken," which I will talk about in the "poultry" thread.

                                                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                            MMRuth Mar 7, 2008 03:30 AM

                                                                                                                            "I am sometimes mystified by her instructions that go along the lines of "stir fried briefly until...wonderfully fragrant," or "until they smell wonderful" but it seems to work out okay in the end."

                                                                                                                            I think that the heat and oil from stir frying are supposed to release the "scent" of the ingredients, and that is when you know to add the next ingredients in the recipe.

                                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                              LulusMom Mar 9, 2008 09:49 AM

                                                                                                                              I had overlooked this recipe somehow, but it sounds really nice. Thanks for the report, which will likely nudge me into adding this to my list.

                                                                                                                            2. Gio Mar 9, 2008 06:22 AM

                                                                                                                              Dry-Fried Green Beans, Land of Plenty, pg. 289

                                                                                                                              We Loved this dish!! It was a side dish to the Velveted Fish I reported on in the Fish thread. We used green beans instead of haricot verts because there were none in the market this week. We used the 2/3 cup of pork called for and home made Tianjin preserved vegetables which was easy because it only calls for shredded Chinese cabbage, garlic and salt. I can't get over how easy these dishes are to make. And, the aroma is wonderful. I'll definitely be making this again, and again!!

                                                                                                                              The thrid component to last night's meal was a bean sprout, cucumber and shredded carrot salad from an old Constance Chang cookbook I've had for years. Having all the genuine ingredients at hand makes all the difference.

                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                d
                                                                                                                                DGresh Mar 10, 2008 04:11 AM

                                                                                                                                you say you used "home made Tianjin preserved vegetables"; was this a recipe in one of the books? I couldn't find it.

                                                                                                                                1. re: DGresh
                                                                                                                                  Gio Mar 10, 2008 05:39 AM

                                                                                                                                  Not in one of FD's books, I found it on-line and it's incredibly easy and Very tasty. It's called Pickled Chinese Cabbage 2. I'll try to find the link again, since I stupidly forgot to make a note ot it. If I can't find the link I'll paraphrase the recipe here. We used some of it for the Green Beans and the some for the Dan Dan Noodles we made last night. There's still about half left.

                                                                                                                                2. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                  Rubee Mar 18, 2008 11:04 PM

                                                                                                                                  My turn to make the Dry-Fried Green Beans (p. 289, LOP), and like Gio, we loved this side dish too. I made version 1 with ground pork, green beans, and sherry for the rice wine, and finally seasoned my wok (what was I waiting for - this cooked up so quick and easy with a wok). I've made a few dishes from this book, and tonight's green beans (and pot-stickers) were the first time my husband had seconds.

                                                                                                                                  Dry-fried green beans and pot-stickers:

                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                    beetlebug Apr 13, 2008 06:15 PM

                                                                                                                                    Dry Fried Green Beans I (LOP, pg. 289)

                                                                                                                                    These were also tasty. I like the meat version better than the non meat ones (next page). I didn’t have any preserved vegetable and it was still tasty. The beans do take longer to cook than I remembered and they never quite puckered as much as I wanted.

                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                  2. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                    mirage Mar 28, 2008 06:04 AM

                                                                                                                                    We loved this too - though I neglected to do the second rinsing of the preserved veggies and it was a bit salty. The string beans took longer than six minutes to cook up initially. More like 9 or 10. Not a problem, just a note.

                                                                                                                                  3. MMRuth Mar 9, 2008 11:03 AM

                                                                                                                                    Stir-fried Mixed Mushrooms, RC, p. 211

                                                                                                                                    Loved, loved, loved these! I steamed the bacon, and kept the steaming liquid for my makeshift everyday broth (add chicken broth, ginger, scallions, simmer). Then, I used a combination of about 1/3 reconstituted mushrooms - shitake, cloud ear and silver ear fungus - and 2/3 fresh ones - oyster, shitake and enoki. Another quick, easy, and rewarding dish.

                                                                                                                                    Served it with the beef with cumin and white rice.

                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                                                      JoanN Mar 9, 2008 11:42 AM

                                                                                                                                      Two more recipes to add to the list. They both look positvely scrumptious!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                                                        scoopG Mar 9, 2008 01:57 PM

                                                                                                                                        MMRuth - glad to hear this. My SO loved the various mushroom mixtures on the first go but I preferred using just cremini and white mushrooms on a second attempt. I love this steamed bacon idea! I even added a bit of the fat/water mixture from it.

                                                                                                                                        I found in her Beef with Cumin that I could add more cumin. All of these recipes need approximation since the sirloin from the shop might be 10 ounces or one pound.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: scoopG
                                                                                                                                          MMRuth Mar 9, 2008 02:43 PM

                                                                                                                                          I agree about the cumin. I did weigh out the meat - and have a nice big chunk in the freezer for something else. That fat/water was the base for my hunan noodle dish broth that I made today - with other things added!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: scoopG
                                                                                                                                            mirage Mar 15, 2008 11:10 AM

                                                                                                                                            I, too, loved the Stir Fried Mixed Mushrooms. Even my husband, who is not usually thrilled with mushrooms, loved it. Of course, it does include bacon ;-)
                                                                                                                                            I used a mixture of button and portobello.

                                                                                                                                        2. MMRuth Mar 10, 2008 04:34 AM

                                                                                                                                          Stir-fried Peppers with Black Beans and Garlic, RCC p. 201

                                                                                                                                          I used one green bell pepper and one red - pretty easy to cut into squares - lopped off the top and bottom, made a cut so that I had one very long strip of pepper, cut out the seeds and then cut into slices, then squares. I cooked the peppers and removed from heat, then finished up the spring rolls, put on the rice, ate the spring rolls, then finished up this and the Fisherman's shrimp just before the rice was ready. As with the shrimp - and several other dishes, I thought this was a bit greasy, and would use less oil next time.

                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                          31 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                                                            Gio Mar 10, 2008 05:43 AM

                                                                                                                                            I'm making that pepper dish on Friday night. I'm glad to read your assessment of the amount of oil. I'll keep that in mind. Once again, MM, Great photo!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                              oakjoan Mar 10, 2008 10:00 PM

                                                                                                                                              I made a full meal tonight - All from Revolutionary Chinese: Yueyang BBQ Lamb Chops (p. 108), Stir-Fried Peppers with Black Beans and Garlic (ala MMRuth, I think) (p.200), and a greatly modified Yueyang Hot-Dry Noodles (p. 67). Photos attached here since all the dishes are on one plate. This is the photo of the Stir-Fried Peppers - please pretend that the meat and noodles aren't there. ;+)

                                                                                                                                              We really loved this dish. It was sort of a combo of roasted peppers and stir fry. As several others have mentioned, I'm going to try to use less oil next time. The flavors of the rice vinegar, fermented black beans, and sesame oil were marvelous together (as they always are).

                                                                                                                                              Will post the other dishes on appropriate threads.

                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                              1. re: oakjoan
                                                                                                                                                Rubee Mar 24, 2008 03:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                Hi Oakjoan! I don't have the RC book, but if it's not too complicated, I'd love to have the paraphrased recipe for the peppers with black beans.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                  JoanN Mar 24, 2008 03:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                  Haven't done it, but have the book in front of me with time to kill:

                                                                                                                                                  1 red and 1 green bell pepper
                                                                                                                                                  3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
                                                                                                                                                  1 tablespoon black fermented beans, rinsed
                                                                                                                                                  ½ teaspoon clear rice vinegar
                                                                                                                                                  salt
                                                                                                                                                  2 tablespoons everyday stock or water
                                                                                                                                                  1 teaspoon sesame oil
                                                                                                                                                  1 tablespoon peanut oil for cooking

                                                                                                                                                  Cut seeded peppers into large squares. Heat oil over medium flame and stir-fry peppers for 5-6 minutes. Remove peppers. Turn flame to high and add garlic and beans and stir-fry until fragrant. Add peppers, vinegar, and salt to taste. When sizzling, add stock. Turn off heat and add sesame oil.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                                    Rubee Mar 24, 2008 04:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                    Thanks SO much! I'm going to make it this week.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                    Rubee Mar 27, 2008 10:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                    I made the Stir-Fried Peppers with Black Beans and Garlic (RCC) last night as a side dish to Pork with Preserved Mustard Tuber (LOP), and really liked it. I did use different peppers though - two Poblano peppers and half of a green pepper. Simple dish, but flavorful from the black beans - a nice vegetable dish. I should have re-read through all the previous posts, because I agree with others that I should have reduced the oil a bit.

                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                              2. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                                                                pitu Mar 10, 2008 10:57 AM

                                                                                                                                                All the oil adjustments has made me think that our western diet is so abundant that we really don't need or appreciate the extra layer of oil that comes with authenticity.

                                                                                                                                                In a similar vein, most of us are not doing the kind of physical labor that burns up a farmer's breakfast with multiple pork products.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: pitu
                                                                                                                                                  The Dairy Queen Mar 10, 2008 11:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                  Excellent point, pitu. Those of us with sedentary jobs definitely do not work off all those calories and, I in particular, am currently following a weight loss program, so I'm cutting back the fat even more.

                                                                                                                                                  Also, I wonder how many of these dishes we're cooking from the Dunlop books are "every day" dishes. Some of them, I know are special occasion dishes or banquet dishes. It's as if someone from another culture got ahold of an American cookbook and someone said, "Gravy and stuffing and pumpkin pie every day? Fantastic, but I couldn't eat like that every day..." The dishes can be authentic and traditional, but still not represent what people eat in their homes every day...

                                                                                                                                                  ~YDQ

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pitu
                                                                                                                                                    JoanN Mar 10, 2008 12:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                    I was browsing Asian food blogs this morning (yes, more ingredient research) and came across a recipe on a Malaysian blog for twice-cooked pork. The blogger had asked a Chinese visitor to make this dish one last time before the visitor returned home. In the headnote the blogger writes, "The resulting dish is very fragrant and perfect with plain rice washed down with beer, but remember, it is a Sichuan dish and can be a little too oily for the uninitiated."

                                                                                                                                                    I think you're right, pitu, that the oiliness of some of these dishes is simply represtative of the cuisine. And I don't think it's just banquet dishes, either. Twice-cooked pork, according to Dunlop, is "the most famous and profoundly loved of all the dishes of Sichuan."

                                                                                                                                                    I've already started my preparations for this dish for tonight. I'll be curious to see how it turns out.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                                      The Dairy Queen Mar 10, 2008 01:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                      I absolutely agree that some of these recipes are what people eat every day (and good to hear that twice-cooked pork is profoundly loved, it's one of those I profoundly love, too. MMM) , but clearly not all of them. For instance, according to Dunlop, the famous General Tso's chicken wasn't even a traditional Hunanese dish until it became the "most famous" Hunanese dish, then it was sort of adopted. But it's not commonly served in people's homes or even in restaurants. She describes yolkless eggs as something a home cook would not attempt. One could even say that Thanksgiving turkey is a famous and profoundly loved American dish--but that doesn't mean we eat it in our homes every day. Could you say it's representative of our cuisine? Perhaps. But, it might be more accurate to say that it's representative of how our cuisine used to be, but not so much any more.

                                                                                                                                                      But, that was really a secondary point I was making. Really, what I really wanted to say is that I caution people against making assumptions about Western diets and our apparent inability as Westerners to appreciate authentically prepared dishes based on the fact that a few people (of which I am one) are reporting in this thread that they are making adjustments to the recipes. I can't speak for anyone else, but I am very familiar with the dishes I've reported on in this thread, and mostly definitely do appreciate them when authentically prepared, but have made a deliberate choice at this time to systematically reduce the oil when preparing these recipes. I don't think anyone should draw any conclusions about Western diets or what Westerners appreciate based on my desire to adapt a few recipes any more than they should draw conclusions that Westerners are lousy cooks based on the measuring and other mistakes I've reported on in these Dunlop threads.

                                                                                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                                        pitu Mar 10, 2008 02:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                        I don't think any conclusions are being made because you're making ww adjustments, TDQ. I wish you didn't need to feel defensive about that over one now-withdrawn critic!

                                                                                                                                                        I think we can use *all our* experiences with the oiliness to think about how people eat and why, as I suggested above.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: pitu
                                                                                                                                                          The Dairy Queen Mar 10, 2008 02:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                          :) Gotcha, thank you, pitu.

                                                                                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                                          JoanN Mar 10, 2008 02:21 PM

                                                                                                                                                          Sorry for any criticism you think I might have been implying. That certainly wasn't my intention. I was just pointing out, because a number of us have mentioned it including myself, that some of the dishes seem to have more fat/oil than what we Westerners are used to and that it seems as though it's inherent in the cuisine.

                                                                                                                                                          Frankly, I don't give a damn whether something is "authentic" or not as long as it tastes good. And if I like a dish in all other respects except for the oiliness, you bet I'll cut back the next time I make it.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                                            The Dairy Queen Mar 10, 2008 02:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                            Oh, no worry, I don't think I was being criticized (though, I am perhaps a bit defensive--so, I'll try to knock that off)--in fact, as a newcomer to COTM I have felt incredibly welcomed and encouraged (and was thinking of writing a post thanking everyone for just that on Site Talk) I just didn't want anyone to draw any conclusions about the group of Home Cooking 'hounds as a whole based on my posts, since mine are a bit oddball.

                                                                                                                                                            But, if I re-read what pitu was saying without being defensive, in a way, it's similar in a way to the point you made in the main Dunlop thread earlier about how, when you said that when Julia Child was COTM you were surprised to be reminded how much butter we used to cook with. It's not really the norm to cook with that much butter any more, neither is it the norm to, as pitu says, eat a farmer's breakfast every morning.

                                                                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                                              MMRuth Mar 10, 2008 02:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                              And I've posted about a number of recipes now that they are "too greasy" for my taste - not to worry!!!

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                                                                                The Dairy Queen Mar 10, 2008 02:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                                Funny! It seems pita and JoanN are definitely onto something, then. I honestly think I'm not using enough oil in these recipes, except for ma po tofu. I was pretty happy how that came out. With the other recipes, I'm getting by, but I think it's not quite enough for the "ideal" preparation.

                                                                                                                                                                I re-read the green beans recipes this morning and ONCE AGAIN was reminded how important it is to read her entire blurb. Dunlop specifically mentions a steaming method you can employ to lower the fat in the recipe, instead of winging it like I did. I'm going to try that tonight! And pork slivers, too. With wild rice.

                                                                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: pitu
                                                                                                                                                        saltwater Mar 10, 2008 02:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                        I have found the dishes oily, too. Perhaps it makes them more filling for people who labor. Oil is calorie dense and available year round. I also assume it is cheap, relatively.

                                                                                                                                                        Although I do like authentic dishes as an idea, what will take precedence for me is something I can feed people with over the long haul. I modify accordingly. It may depend on fat levels, ingredient availability or localness, deliciousness, the need to add in more fiber or leave out peanuts, tediousness of preparation, the need to "extend" the food to make it go for more people, and the availability of cooking apparatus.

                                                                                                                                                        Some dishes I just make rarely, and don't modify, but I regularly make stir-fry and the like, so the dishes from Dunlop are the type that could go in my regular rotation, and hence, I may need to modify them.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: saltwater
                                                                                                                                                          oakjoan Mar 11, 2008 12:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                          All the photos of dishes (including my own) have a sheen to them from the oil.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: oakjoan
                                                                                                                                                            The Dairy Queen Mar 11, 2008 12:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                            I know--amazing, isn't it? Although, I wonder if some of the sheen is from the potato flour and/or cornstarch. Does that add a sheen as well, or do you think it's all from the oil?

                                                                                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                                              MMRuth Mar 11, 2008 01:17 PM

                                                                                                                                                              I think that is some of it, but I think it's mostly the oil. I'm inclined to continue to use the potato flour, but cut back on the oil, generally.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                                                                                The Dairy Queen Mar 11, 2008 01:21 PM

                                                                                                                                                                Have you found that the potato flour doesn't thicken things up as much as you might expect cornstarch would? I've been meaning to mention it--I'm not sure if it's something I'm imagining or something that's affected by the substitutions I'm making...

                                                                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                                                  MMRuth Mar 11, 2008 01:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  Hmm - I think it thickens pretty well - haven't used corn starch for quite a while though.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                                                    scoopG Mar 11, 2008 02:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    TDQ, I like the fact that potato starch doesn't thicken up the dishes as much as cornstarch - of course it all depends on how much you use of either. But I think the potato flour gives these dishes a lighter taste.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: scoopG
                                                                                                                                                                      The Dairy Queen Mar 11, 2008 03:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                                      I think the "sauces" have all been lovely and I agree that the potato flour seems lighter. I wasn't sure if that was something I was just imagining or something that I was doing wrong...but, it sounds like it's supposed to work that way! Neat! Thank you!

                                                                                                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                                                        JoanN Mar 11, 2008 05:21 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        Yes, I've been surprised at how the sauces with the potato flour almost seem more delicate than those I've made in the past with cornstarch. And it seems to me as though the thickening power is quite similar. I've been very happy with the way the potato flour has worked out and was planning on trying it with some non-Dunlop recipes that call for cornstarch.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                                                      Rubee Mar 11, 2008 09:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                      If I could, I'd add to every post like on this COM thread "thank you, that's so informative", but then would be responding to every single one!

                                                                                                                                                                      This tangent on potato starch is great. I first used it when we were doing the "Hot Sour Salty Sweet" book, but didn't do enough recipes to see how it differs. Thanks for asking the question TDQ, and thanks to you brilliant 'Hounds for your answers!

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                                                    oakjoan Mar 11, 2008 10:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    DQ: None of the dishes I've made so far have had potato flour/cornstarch in them.....so, being the brilliant detective I am, I have deduced that the sheen does NOT come from the starch.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: oakjoan
                                                                                                                                                                      The Dairy Queen Mar 12, 2008 12:09 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      HA! Well, that really does solve the mystery then, doesn't it? The sheen can't be from the potato flour if you're not using any!

                                                                                                                                                                      Rubee, I'm learning so much from everyone's questions and observations!

                                                                                                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                                                                              beetlebug Mar 26, 2008 07:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                              Stir Fried Peppers with Black Beans and Garlic (RCC, pg. 201)

                                                                                                                                                              This was only ok. But, in the recipe’s defense, I did change it a bit. I added a block of tofu so I doubled the sauce. I’m also not the biggest fan of non spicy peppers. But, I thought the tofu and black beans would have

                                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: beetlebug
                                                                                                                                                                oakjoan Mar 26, 2008 03:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                Wow, how tastes vary. I have made the Peppers with Black Beans and Garlic 3 times to great acclaim. I guess I must love the taste of the fried peppers.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: oakjoan
                                                                                                                                                                  beetlebug Mar 26, 2008 03:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  As silly as this sounds, it was too peppery for me. I bet if I used tofu and another vegetable, I would like it better. I chose this recipe because you liked it and I was hoping that it would change my feelings on peppers. But, it didn't. I did like the sauce though.

                                                                                                                                                            3. scoopG Mar 10, 2008 03:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                              I've enjoyed making Potato Slivers with Vinegar on page 205 of RCC:

                                                                                                                                                              Simple and easy; only five ingredients! A very different take on spuds.

                                                                                                                                                              I suggest very quickly blanching the red bell pepper after you have cut it up as I've found that the liquid released by them can color the dish a bit red. Guess there is nothing really wrong about that. I used a mandoline for both the potatoes and peppers.

                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: scoopG
                                                                                                                                                                oakjoan Mar 10, 2008 04:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                                Just read the recipe. Wow! I've got to make this. Thanks for the tip.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: scoopG
                                                                                                                                                                  JoanN Mar 10, 2008 04:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  I completely missed that recipe. Sounds terrific. Thanks for pointing it out and for the tip. Another one to add to the list.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: scoopG
                                                                                                                                                                    saltwater Jul 26, 2008 06:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    This recipe was enjoyable, as you say. I used one red jalapeño instead of a quarter of a bell pepper, which she said I could do. I didn't get the staining you mention. Since the red ones are hotter than the green ones, the one red jalapeño was enough heat! My spouse doesn't like vinegar much, so I used 2T instead of the three that it called for. The dish came together quite easily, and tasted light and looked festive. I forgot to take a picture until it was on the plate, so I tried to crop it to remove the other stuff in the picture.

                                                                                                                                                                    I recommend trying this, if you have a mandoline to handle the potatoes. I'm going to make it again.

                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                  2. Food4Thought Mar 10, 2008 08:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    Pock-Marked Mother Chen's Bean Curd (Ma Po Tofu) pp 313-314, LOP
                                                                                                                                                                    I've made this dish a number of times, pretty much following the recipe to the letter with the exception of cutting way back on the oil. And using straight chicken stock, not the, every day stock. It was always missing something that I could never quite put my finger on.
                                                                                                                                                                    I tried it again this weekend. Somewhere in this thread someone suggested adding ginger and scallions (which I pull out after some simmering) to the chicken stock for faux Every Day Stock. I think is a brilliant idea (sorry I can't remember whom to credit), this time I used the faux EDS and the recommended amount of oil, and Bam, there it was, just about as good as I have had in some great local restaurants. The missing element? It was the oil. It helped nail the ever elusive "mouth feel" of the dish. Next time I'm going to try to raise the heat quotient a bit by replacing some of the peanut oil with an equal amount of chili oil.

                                                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Food4Thought
                                                                                                                                                                      The Dairy Queen Mar 10, 2008 08:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                      I think it was MMRuth who first suggested adding ginger and scallions to chicken stock to emulate the EDS...

                                                                                                                                                                      I'm glad you liked the ma po tofu. It's my favorite so far, too, though I enjoy it with the reduced amount of oil, without feeling very deprived (thankfully!). I've had it at local restaurants swimming in a glistening, ruby-red bath and thought that was nice, too, of course.

                                                                                                                                                                      I am curious to see how you like the dish when you increase the heat!

                                                                                                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                                                        MMRuth Mar 11, 2008 04:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        I'm now also adding some odds and ends of bacon to the stock, or, if I have it, the water from steaming bacon for certain dishes. I seem to have a "mother stock" going, and just keep adding to it! I'm wishing I had LOP as well as the other book.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                                                          oakjoan Mar 12, 2008 03:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          Dunlop, on pp. 54-55 of Rev. Chinese has a recipe for Aromatic Broth, which I've been using to doctor up my broth since I started making stuff from the books. Hers has ginger (with peel on), scallions, spices tied up in cheescloth: dried chiles, sichuan pepper, fennel seeds, cau guo, cassia bark, bay leaves, star anise, cloves and cardamom pods). Also shaoxing wine, soy sauce and salt are added.

                                                                                                                                                                          My additions have been much less numerous, but I've been using the unpeeled ginger, scallions, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, Sichuan pepper, and soy sauce with good results.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: oakjoan
                                                                                                                                                                            MMRuth Mar 12, 2008 03:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                            I saw that recipe, and had my cheese cloth bundle all ready to make that, but then realize that that is different from the stock she calls for in most recipes. That recipe - don't have the book in front of me - is in the back of the book and, I think, just calls for chicken, pork, ginger, and scallions, which is where I got my "short cut" idea.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. Food4Thought Mar 10, 2008 09:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        Dry-fried green beans I (LOP, pp 289-290)
                                                                                                                                                                        Even though this dish seems to be a Sichuan staple, I've never had it before, so I gave it a go.
                                                                                                                                                                        I think it turned out OK. I have a smaller than standard sized wok which contributed to overcrowding and not letting the green beans achieve proper surface contact in order to get more uniform "blistering". Next time I'll cut the beans to a smaller size and perhaps add a little more Shaoxing rice wine, it seems to cook off quickly. Thankfully I did see HLing's suggestions about rinsing/drying the preserved vegetables, or I probably would have been in for quite a surprise.
                                                                                                                                                                        Photo Here:
                                                                                                                                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/food4tho...

                                                                                                                                                                        1. Rubee Mar 11, 2008 01:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          Tiger-Skin Green Peppers (LOP, p. 288)

                                                                                                                                                                          I'm a huge fan of the classic Spanish tapas - pimiento de padron peppers blistered in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt - so thought this Sichuanese version would be just as good. I used some peppers I found at a Korean market, and it was a great choice. I was afraid they might be incendiary chilis, but they were really quite mild, with just a couple having a bit of heat.

                                                                                                                                                                          Peanut oil is heated in a wok (I used a pan - haven't got around to seasoning my new wok yet!), and the peppers are fried until they're blistered and soft and tender. Simply sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with black vinegar. These were simple but tasty. I had planned on serving them before dinner, but instead snacked on the whole batch as I cooked the dan dan noodles.

                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                            Food4Thought Mar 11, 2008 04:39 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            Those look fantastic, I can see why they didn't make it to the dinner table. The first thing that popped into my head when I saw the pic (in line with your tapas thought) was a little Mediterranean fusion-stuffing them with a good quality anchovy.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                              The Dairy Queen Mar 11, 2008 05:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              Hey, those might be the perfect snack for us as we're waiting for dinner. Maybe I'll try to find those peppers in my grocery store.

                                                                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                beetlebug Apr 13, 2008 06:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                Tiger Skin Peppers (LOP, pg. 288)

                                                                                                                                                                                These were great. Like the Spanish ones, I liked the unknown of, will this pepper be spicy or not. The long green peppers that I found in the asian grocery store were definitely a mix. The recipe called for 1 cup oil but I used half. It still fried fine, although it probably took a bit longer. I used the leftover oil for other recipes with no discernable spice to it. I added more salt and less black vinegar than called for.

                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                              2. Rubee Mar 13, 2008 09:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                Fish-Fragrant Bean Curd (Land of Plenty, p. 317)

                                                                                                                                                                                I really liked this one - the flavors, spice level, and the texture. I'm sure it would have been better with freshly-fried bean curd, but I used a package of fried bean curd as she suggests. Just looking at the recipe again, I see that she says you can cut the chunks in half to absorb more of the sauce, which I would do next time since the sauce was so good. Ginger, garlic, scallion, and pickled chili paste are stir-fried in peanut oil. Add bean curd and stock, bring to a boil, and then add light soy, sugar, and salt. Simmer gently until the sauce is absorbed. Also, I used "everyday stock" (p. 317), and it was really thick and gelatinous so that contributed to the flavorful glaze. I ate it room temp as a side dish to the pork with yellow chives, and it was delicious. I loved the chewy/spongy texture of the curd soaked up with this sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                  Rubee Mar 13, 2008 09:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                  Pictures:

                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                    oakjoan Mar 13, 2008 10:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                    Rubee: That bean curd dish looks glorious. It's good to know that the packaged fried bean curd worked out. I was a bit skeptical when I saw the recipe. I'm sure it'd be amazing with freshly fried bean curd, but I'd certainly need to practice doing the frying before venturing it in the recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                    beetlebug Mar 26, 2008 07:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                    Fish Flavored Bean Curd (LOP, pg. 316)

                                                                                                                                                                                    This was ok. I don’t know why I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. The sauce was delicious and it was great paired with white rice. I wasn’t that keen on the fried tofu puffs. I bought ready made fried tofu so maybe I didn’t buy a good brand? The tofu itself was slightly bland and the sauce sat on top. Because of the harder exterior, the sauce never really infused the tofu. Essentially, the tofu puff became a sauce vehicle. I think this recipe would work better with fresh firm tofu. The way the flavors be inside as well as I top.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Like Rubee, I used pickled thai chilis for the pickled chili paste. Tasting and smelling the chilies though, it’s very similar to jarred chili pastes that I’ve tasted. The kind that restaurants generally give you when you ask for hot sauce. I know the makers of sriacha has a paste very similar to this homemade one.

                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                      JoanN Apr 6, 2009 12:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                      Picked up a package of fried tofu and decided to give this a try. The package I bought had four large triangles of tofu each weighing an ounce-and-a-half. I cut each triangle into four pieces so lots of cut edges were exposed to the sauce. The tofu was tasty, but it was neither tender nor juicy as Dunlop implies it ought to be. I also had a gelatinous everyday stock; I used sambal olek for the pickled chili paste and only 1 tablespoon of oil instead of three and that seemed to be plenty. I liked this a lot (but only when it was hot; tried a piece at room temp before I put the leftovers away and didn’t care for it) and will try it again if I can find different fried tofu. Does anyone know if it comes in a soft or silken variety? Or is fried always from firm bean curd? Just don’t feel like making it myself if I don’t have to.

                                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                                                                        beetlebug Apr 6, 2009 12:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                        The fried tofu package I used (way back when) were definitely fried cubes. They were softer than yours, I think.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Isn't there another recipe with fish flavored xxx? I think it's eggplant and if the sauce is the same, I bet it would be great with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. beetlebug Mar 13, 2008 10:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                      Stir Fried Potato Slivers with Chiles and Sichuan Pepper (LOP, pg. 297)

                                                                                                                                                                                      I made the variation (bottom of pg. 298) with cabbage. I used standard cabbage because I’m saving my Chinese cabbage to pickle.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I really liked this dish and it also tasted good the next day (both cold and hot). Fairly easy in preparation and this would be even better if my Sichuan peppercorns dried were potent.

                                                                                                                                                                                      BTW, the recipe called for 2T of oil. I used the amount because I had a lot of cabbage. But, I think if I had decreased it, the cabbage would have been even crispier.

                                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: beetlebug
                                                                                                                                                                                        JoanN Mar 13, 2008 11:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        So glad you posted about this. I'd read the recipe, but not the variations. I have some leftover cabbage in the fridge and was looking in the books for something I could make without going shopping. Perfect. Trying it tonight.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: beetlebug
                                                                                                                                                                                          JoanN Mar 13, 2008 04:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                          I was glued to my computer for 11 hours today. No time to shop; no time to cook. This was just what I needed. Super fast, tasty, and ingredients on hand (regular, not Chinese, cabbage). I took your advice and used only 1 tablespoon of oil. It was more than enough. Your photo indicates you cubed the cabbage; I just left mine in slices and the cabbage was somewhat crispy--certainly not soft. This isn't going to replace World's Best Cabbage from "All About Braising," but for a dish that takes minutes as opposed to hours it was just what I needed tonight. Thanks for heads up.

                                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                                                                            beetlebug Mar 13, 2008 05:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                            Glad you liked it. I had a very sad cabbage and had to cut a lot of it away. Hence, the awkwardly shaped pieces. I had some slivers and some chunks. I liked how it remained crispy and I snacked on it cold today as I prepped dinner. The vinegar had soaked in and it almost tasted like pickled cabbage.

                                                                                                                                                                                            The reason why the cabbage was in such sad shape was because I was going to make the World's Best Cabbage but I couldn't fit it into the schedule.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: beetlebug
                                                                                                                                                                                            Gio Mar 13, 2008 05:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                            Echoing JoanN I'm also "so glad you posted about this."

                                                                                                                                                                                            Tonight, I made an Italo-Sino fusion meal.
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Stir Fried Potato Slivers with Chiles and Sichuan Pepper (LOP, pg. 297) American Cabbage variation
                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Italian hot & spicy organic chicken sausages
                                                                                                                                                                                            3. Warm bliss potato salad with homemade aioli dressing.

                                                                                                                                                                                            It was a marriage made in .... my kitchen.
                                                                                                                                                                                            I'll only comment on the cabbage - it was absolutely fabulous. I had a half head of regular cabbage that needed to be cooked, and after much trimming I sliced said cabbage in extremely thin strips. (I've become pretty good at this over the years.)...probably had about 4-ish cups maybe more. To this I added about 10 sliced Chinese chives. I also used 10 of the dried chilis, and the teaspoon of peppercorns. We used less peanut oil but other wise followed the recipe. The combination, when served was marvelous.

                                                                                                                                                                                            DH & I have been discussing how, for Sichuanese cooking, the heat is really minimal so we decided to amp up all the amounts of certain ingredients to have more heat, while reducing the oil as we've been doing. I think we're finally on the track we want to be.

                                                                                                                                                                                            How do you say Buon Appetito in Mandarin....?

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                                                                              scoopG Mar 14, 2008 10:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                              Gio, when the Chinese begin a meal, the host usually (or somebody!) will say in Mandarin, "Qing Yong!"

                                                                                                                                                                                              Qing means "please" and "yong" means "use."

                                                                                                                                                                                              It literally means: Please begin using your chopsticks!"

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: scoopG
                                                                                                                                                                                                MMRuth Mar 14, 2008 11:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Hi scoopG - if you have a chance - would you mind emailing me - email in my profile ....

                                                                                                                                                                                                And thanks for that information. Unfortunately my husband is suffering from all the chilis, and I'm going to have to cut back on my Dunlop cooking!

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: scoopG
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Gio Mar 14, 2008 11:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thank you for that, scoopG! Qing Yong. I'll remember!!

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: beetlebug
                                                                                                                                                                                                Rubee Dec 12, 2010 07:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Stir Fried Potato Slivers with Chiles and Sichuan Pepper (LOP, p.297)

                                                                                                                                                                                                Using a mandoline to cut up the potatoes made this easy. Soak and drain potatoes. Heat peanut oil, season with dried chiles and whole Sichuan peppercorns, then add potatoes, stir-fry briefly, and toss with sesame oil when done. Simple, but with lots of ma la. She says to use waxy potatoes but I used russets. I served with Dry-Fried Beef Slivers (p. 228).

                                                                                                                                                                                                Recipe link:
                                                                                                                                                                                                http://www.kitchenchick.com/2008/06/s...

                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                              3. beetlebug Mar 13, 2008 10:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Sweet Corn Kernels with Green Peppers (LOP, pg. 299)

                                                                                                                                                                                                Another winner and would be even better when the corn season starts. I had CSA corn frozen so I defrosted it and used one small green pepper (recipe called for 2-3 green peppers).

                                                                                                                                                                                                The recipe couldn’t be easier, stir fry the veggies in oil for about 5 minutes. Add a generous amount of salt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Recipe called for 3T but I used less than 2 and it was fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. beetlebug Mar 13, 2008 05:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Stir Fried Amaranth Leaves (LOP, pg. 294)

                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is great, nothing special though. Or, I should just say, it’s a standard stir fry veggie recipe that can be used on just about any leafy vegetable (pea pod stems, empty heart greens, spinach, etc). It’s how I cook my veggies and I thought it was funny that someone wrote it all down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I used amaranth (sheer coincidence) and I love the red color that leaks out of the green leaves. I wish I had some rice with it because I love how the rice turns a bit red.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I served this with the Xie Lao Ban’s Dun Dun Noodles (LOP, pg. 89).

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. saltwater Mar 13, 2008 05:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Cauliflower with Smoky Bacon LOP p 304

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I made this with sliced bacon, and not from a whole slab, contrary to her directions. Also, I did not take the option to blanch the cauliflower first. Rather, I simmered it in the chicken stock. Also, I used the lard that she suggested. Otherwise, I followed directions. Oh, I used my own chicken stock doctored up by simmering with some ginger.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    The dish is aptly named. The cauliflower is nice, with a touch of smoky flavor. We both found it a pleasant side dish, although not low in fat. I wasn't sure how much sauce I was supposed to end up with. She just asked that I reduce it slightly, so I left it fairly saucy. BTW, that isn't a wok, it is a skillet in the picture, so perhaps it appears deceptively saucy in my picture. The sauce coated the veggies on the plate and pooled at their base, but didn't overly flow to the other parts of the plate. The sauce glistened, I assume on account of the cornstarch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I needed to use up some cauliflower. That is why I picked it. I'd make it again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: saltwater
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Rubee Sep 3, 2009 02:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Cauliflower with Smoky Bacon (LOP, p. 304)

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I would make this again too. I originally decided to make it to use up some cauliflower, but liked it much more than I thought I would - the sauce had such nice flavor. She says to use slab bacon or pancetta, but since it's supposed to be cut in thin strips anyways, I think you could use sliced. I used a piece of pancetta (Fra' Mani) which I had in the freezer, and lard. Great flavor with the pancetta, garlic, chicken stock, salt and white pepper, though as saltwater mentions, not the healthiest vegetable dish!

                                                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. MMRuth Mar 14, 2008 05:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Steamed Peas with Ginger, p. 224, RCC

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I actually used snap peas, as I had some to use up. I rigged up my vegetable steamer in my dutch oven, put the ingredients in a bowl, and steamed them. It took longer than I expected for them to cook, even though I like them crunchy. Nice flavors though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. LulusMom Mar 14, 2008 02:25 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Two things to report on from dinner last night. We had a very nice meal - thanks to everyone for the encouragement and tips.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Dry-fried green beans, veg. version (p. 290 LOP). I LOVED these. My only comment would be that they took a lot longer than 6 minutes to get even slightly cooked, but this may be because I was using a frying pan instead of a wok. But they are so fragrant, and so good, and very simple.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ma po dou fu - finally got around to this. Thanks to TDQ, I did all my chopping and measuring beforehand, and then it was very simple to throw together. Very well received. My only thought is that I think I put a little too much of the corn flour mixture in ... it was a little tiny bit thicker than I'd have liked, which seemed to happen all the sudden in the pot. But it was met with big compliments. Oh, made it without the meat (which is how I order it in restaurants) and thought it was just great that way (this may be because it is the way I'm used to it).

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                                                                                                          LulusMom Mar 15, 2008 09:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          D'oh, I meant corn starch ...

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. JoanN Mar 16, 2008 11:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Pock-Marked Woman’s Bean Curd (RCC page 193)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I was quite surprised when I came to check this thread after making the dish that everyone so far has made the Ma Po Dou Fu from “Land of Plenty.” The one I made, from “Revolutionary Chinese,” is really quite different. The RCC version (which Dunlop says migrated from Sichuan where it originated so uses Hunanese ingredients) calls for 3 ounces of ground pork instead of 6 ounces of ground beef, contains an additional quarter pound of bean curd, adds chopped salted chiles and chopped shitake mushrooms, uses somewhat less stock, calls for scallion greens but no other vegetable, uses potato flour instead of cornstarch—and much less of it, and does not contain fermented black beans, sugar, or light soy sauce (although it does contain dark). It also calls for much less peanut oil, only 3 tablespoons instead of half a cup. (And I only used 1 tablespoon and that was plenty.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I used my usual substitutions of sherry for Shaoxing and sambal oelek for salted chilies, but other than that, and the lesser amount of peanut oil, followed the recipe as written.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I adored this. It was only by extraordinary force of will that I was able to put the leftovers in the fridge. It wasn’t the least bit oily or greasy, had a wonderful melding of flavors, was very hearty but not rich, and was really spicy—but not too much so for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          This recipe isn’t online, so I’m typing it out immediately before my library book is due. I know I’m going to want to make this many times—especially when it’s cold and nasty out. This is real comfort food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          ETA: The photo looks a little weird because of the ground roasted Sichuan pepper sprinkled on top. Take my word for it; it didn't taste weird at all. Tasted just great.

                                                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                                                          9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                                                                                            pitu Mar 16, 2008 01:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            interesting, thx JoanN!
                                                                                                                                                                                                            I feel like that's almost the adaptation I made (pork, less oil), except I used black beans, and I really liked having a couple of leeks in the mix. I don't think the LoP version uses Shaoxing in it, but I'm into trying it that way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I wish the Brooklyn Public Library had RC . . . I just know I'm going to end up buying one or both of these and I just.dont.need.them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: pitu
                                                                                                                                                                                                              JoanN Mar 16, 2008 02:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              A bit OT, but my local library has practically nothing. I reserve all the books online, the branches that have them send them to my branch, and I pick them up and return them locally. Go to nypl.org and register and you can have books sent to wherever it's most convenient for you. Sometimes, with a new book, there can be a lot holds before yours and it may take a while or, with a very expensive book there might be very few copies in the NYC system. But I get most books about two weeks after I put them on reserve. (Which is why I start reserving while the suggestion process is still ongoing. As soon as I detect which way the wind is blowing, I start putting titles on reserve. Damn. Now I'm going to have competition. But for you, pitu . . . .)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                                                                                                pitu Mar 17, 2008 09:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                No worries - I use the Brooklyn Public Library, which is an entirely different system.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                : )
                                                                                                                                                                                                                I've just started using it again since the online order thing works so well.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                It's nice to know in advance when the great books have gone missing. On that note, if anyone wants to donate their copy of Hot Sour Salty Sweet or Mangoes & Curry Leaves, all copies of those have disappeared in Brooklyn.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                But I do have a NYPL card . . . and I guess you're telling me they have the Hunan book and you are about to return it . . .
                                                                                                                                                                                                                : )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: pitu
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  JoanN Mar 17, 2008 09:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sorry, didn't realize Brooklyn wasn't in NYC :-) I'm hoping to be able to renew mine when it comes due (sorry!), but I'm seeing 13 reservable copies with no holds in NYC, so that might work for you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Just fyi, I was on the list for the single copy of HSSS for nearly a year before the listing indicated it had gone "missing." Yeah. Right. Is paying the fine for a "lost" book cheaper than buying it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  JoanN Mar 28, 2008 03:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pock-Marked Mother Chen’s Bean Curd (LOP page 313)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Having so many people cooking from these two books has been an extraordinary experience. More often than not, throughout COTM, people make a dish, one person’s is pretty much the same as another’s, and people agree on whether or not they like it. With these books, perhaps because we don’t all have access to exactly the same ingredients or because of necessity we’re making more substitutions than we might with other cookbooks, many of our results both look—and from our descriptions—taste quite different from one another.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Today, because I had some chopped beef and Chinese leeks I wanted to use up, I made the LOP Ma Po Dou Fu. Except for using a bit less bean curd (because it came in a 12.3-ounce package) and using 1 teaspoon instead of ½ cup of oil, I followed the recipe as written. I didn’t rinse the fermented beans and I didn’t find the dish too salty. I used the full amount of (purchased) chopped chiles and thought the dish very spicy (not too much for me, but probably for most people I know). And I didn’t think the dish needed any more oil. (But then, I’ve never had this dish before so I have no yardstick against which to judge it.) Just looking at the photos, mine seems a bit more stew-like and less saucy than some others. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. And I took everyone’s advice and added the cornstarch mixture slowly—and not all of it. Not sure how that may have impacted the consistency.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Even though this is the more authentic version, and I loved it, I think I like the one in RCC somewhat better. I liked the pork instead of beef, the addition of garlic, and the texture of the shiitake mushrooms. But it’ll still be tough call when it comes time to make it again. I’m going to have to try one of the places the Manhattan hounds recommend for this dish and see what it’s supposed to taste like. On the other hand, maybe I shouldn’t.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                                                                                                e
                                                                                                                                                                                                                equinoise Feb 10, 2009 01:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                This Hunan/RCC ma po is a regular rotation in our house. We use salted chiles that we make, and stick to the recipe. I've noticed in this recipe (and others calling for it) you have to be very careful to premix the potato flour and use the right amount to avoid glop. This recipe is always great, and superior to most verions I've had in Sichuan restaurants. I am curious to try the Sichuan verion from LOP.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                We also love the steamed eggplant with black beans, the pounded eggplant, the sounding radish slivers, and the stri-fried cucumber (which I've also tried in a Sichuan restaurant and Dunlop's verions was miles better).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  beetlebug Nov 16, 2012 08:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pock-Marked Woman’s Bean Curd (RCC page 193)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I decided to re-visit this version of Ma Po Tofu after the discussion on the EGOR thread. I made this dish back in 2008 but preferred the LOP version. Then EGOR came out and I liked that version the most. But, I wanted to try JoanN's suggestion of the RCC version with no meat. And, it was a hit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I left out the pork but I doubled the amount of shiitake mushrooms to make up the umami flavor. Also, instead of chicken broth or water, I used the mushroom soaking broth. I also used firm tofu per recipe instead of my preferred soft tofu. My preference is still for soft tofu but I can really see the benefits of the firm. It's nice to have whole blocks of tofu v. flavorful mushy pieces.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This dish, after 4+ years, may be back in the rotation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: beetlebug
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    JoanN Nov 16, 2012 11:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So glad you tried it and that it worked well. Great idea to double the mushrooms. Making a note in the book right now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Another of my favorite dishes from RCC is Beef with Cumin. Since I've eliminated red meat, at least temporarily, for health reasons, I'm thinking of trying that dish with tofu instead of beef. It will have to wait until after Thanksgiving though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      beetlebug Nov 16, 2012 12:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      How about lamb instead? hahaha. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. mirage Mar 16, 2008 03:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Stir-Fried Bitter Melon w/Chinese Chives, p. 208 - Revolutionary Chinese:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have never cooked with bitter melon, and I have never eaten it prepared this way. In fact, I've only had it steamed with a pork filling, or with black beans and ground beef. And I don't get it very often because my husband does not like it. But it was only me for dinner, so I thought it was a great opportunity to try this recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It was really good. My melon was not overly bitter - because it was salted and rested? The recipe calls for the slices to be salted and rested for 20 minutes, then rinse and dry. Stir fry w/minced hot red chiles, then Chinese chives are added, finished with a bit of sesame oil. Couldn't be easier or quicker. And it looked beautiful on my white rice. I loved the nutty touch from the oil. A tasty preparation I will definitely do again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mirage
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Dairy Queen Mar 16, 2008 05:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sounds delicious! Thank you for the report. I'm inspired to pick up some bitter melon next time I see some at the market.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mirage
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      JoanN Mar 27, 2008 12:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I’d never tasted bitter melon. Soon after reading your report, mirage, I was in Chinatown and saw bitter melons sitting next to some flowering chives (at least, I think that’s what they were) and it was too serendipitous to pass up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I didn’t care for this. It wasn’t that the melon was too bitter, necessarily. It just didn’t seem to have any flavor other than the bitterness. And although I thought I rinsed the melon well after letting them sit in the salt a bit, the dish was still way to salty for my taste. I had high hopes, because the chives smelled glorious as they were cooking. I won’t be revisiting this one. I'd be eager to try the melon again in another preparation--but only if someone else ordered it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        mirage Mar 28, 2008 05:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm sorry you didn't like it! I think Bitter Melon is one of those things one either likes or really dislikes. They're cool looking, aren't they?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mirage
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          JoanN Mar 28, 2008 06:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, they really are. I'd seen them before, but had no idea what they were so I was happy to have the opportunity to try this even if I didn't like it much. I wonder if perhaps I didn't get rid of "all" the pith? I got rid of most, but perhaps not all. Do you have to be scrupulous about getting rid of every last bit of it? I'm also sure I would have liked it better if it hadn't been so salty. Clearly my error.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Rubee Mar 28, 2008 12:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I think it's one of those things you either like or you don't. I've tried a couple of bitter melon dishes when I've been out with the Hounds, but I'm not a fan either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. LulusMom Mar 17, 2008 06:09 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Fish Fragrant Eggplants (LOP p. 285, method 1)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This was fantastic, but really oily (and I drained a lot of what was sitting on top). You fry up some cut, salted eggplant in oil, and drain while you prep the sauce. She says to be careful not to burn the garlic, ginger and chili bean paste, and she's not kidding - the pan was so hot that it was sputtering away, even off the flame. From then on the recipe is fairly straigtforward and easy. But the result is wonderful - just very very oily.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      21 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        oakjoan Mar 17, 2008 11:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        LM:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Do you see any way the eggplant dish could be less oily? I mean by maybe cooking them first in the oven or something? That's the way I usually start eggplant recipes, by slicing, brushing with a bit of oil and baking until soft.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm thinking of making this tonight and would like some feedback.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: oakjoan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          LulusMom Mar 17, 2008 11:31 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That is a fantastic idea. I wish I'd thought of it. I used very little oil with the actual sauce, and, as I said, drained off tons of it from the eggplant, both before adding to the sauce and after cooking in it. Please do try it and let me know. I'd love to make this again without having to deal with both the bother of frying and the overdose of oil. It is really good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            MMRuth Mar 17, 2008 11:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I've baked eggplant in the oven w/o olive oil, and it still comes out w/ a nice consistency (this is for other recipes).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              LulusMom Mar 18, 2008 04:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I love it baked (there is an Arabesque recipe for tomato, onion and baked eggplant salad that I have made over and over since it was cookbook of the month), but it just never occured to me to do it for this recipe. That is one of the reasons I love this so much - you all open my mind up to trying things a different way. I can't wait to hear how it turned out for oakjoan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                jsaimd Mar 18, 2008 07:22 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I also have baked eggplant before making the Sichuan eggplant from World Vegetarian. Jaffrey suggests steaming to reduce fat, but I like the texture and flavor of roasting. I roll cut it and roast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It also works for the green bean recipe - roast the green beans instead of steaming, and you don't get all that extra water - the beans still get wrinkly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jsaimd
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  LulusMom Mar 18, 2008 07:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Great to hear. I loved the eggplant, but likely wouldn't have made it again between the fat content and the pain of frying.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: oakjoan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            pitu Mar 18, 2008 09:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I thought about baking the eggplant for splatter reasons, although in the end I fried and didn't feel like *that* was the stage where I got too much oil. Standard practices about hot enough oil etc for good frying apply.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I would strictly reduce the oil in the sauce next time -- say, *less* than 1T where it says 2-3T. I might even try it without oil (there's broth involved -- esp if you have a little fat on the top of your broth) with oil-brushed/ovenbacked or fried eggplants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What I liked best about Fish-Fragrant Eggplant p.285 was the fresh ginger hits through the other intense/complex flavors of chili bean paste and black vinegar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: pitu
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              j
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              jsaimd Mar 18, 2008 09:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yes - I am enjoying just learning about the flavor combinations, and then being able to combine them without the recipes, which is more of what I have been doing this month. I have found my husband and kids don't like Sichuan too much - too spicey for the kids, and husband just isn't a big chinese food fan - he'll eat it, but prefers others. So, when I am home for lunch or dinner by myself for instance, I will use one of the recipes and adapt to to healthy, quick, individual servings. It is hardly the recipe - so I haven't posted, but it is tasty and I feel that the COB is not a waste. For instance, I made "dan dan" noodles roughly with spaghetti squash because I needed to use it, making a sauce based on the ingredient list and tossing with the squash - it was very tastey. Absolutely not authentic, but good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jsaimd
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                pitu Mar 18, 2008 09:58 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That's a great variation, jsaimd (dan dan)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                please don't not post because it's not authentic

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                people's intelligent adaptations are great to read about
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                so I hope you'll post those workarounds and variations

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: pitu
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  oakjoan Mar 18, 2008 12:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I agree with pitu. Variations and adaptations are gladly accepted here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: oakjoan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Gio Mar 18, 2008 06:25 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Well we certainly strained the "Variations and adaptaions" to the limit tonight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    First of all, I really didn't feel like eating, much less cooking. (I had planned the Fried Eggs with Tomatoes and the Fish-Fragrant Eggplant, and was going to steam jasmine rice)..... But I had the ingredients and DH was hungry, so with fortification in the form of a classic martini this is what we did:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Chopped the eggplants and sprinkled them with a bit of salt, red pepper flakes and peanut oil. Baked them at 350* for about 15 minutes, turned them over and baked for another 5 minutes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In the meantime, scallions, minced garlic and Chinese chives were stir-fried for a few and the chopped tomatoes were thrown into the wok. (I needed to use up the chives - and there's still more in the fridge!) After frying them another few minutes they were removed to a bowl and eggplant was added to the wok for about 3 minutes then added to the bowl of tomatoes, etc. Finally, the whisked eggs were spilled into the wok and following the recipe were allowed to set then the veggies were added and everything was incorporated.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Wok was taken off heat and the grill pan appeared onto which DH placed 2 medium sized long rolls, split, and toasted them. He served the vegetables and egg combo on the rolls and added hot sauce on the side. The whole thing was delicious... but don't tell Ms. Dunlop. She'd be appalled. To be honest - I didn't eat much of the bread, but the juices from the veggies did seep into it and what I did have was very tasty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Just between you and me I would have liked more minced chilis and other vegetables included....Maybe next time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      saltwater Mar 18, 2008 07:30 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Well, I won't tell. It sounds lovely, and not too hard. Putting veggies in a pan in the oven to bake/roast is my favorite easy thing to do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: pitu
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                oakjoan Mar 18, 2008 12:13 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I wasn't suggesting that one could only bake the eggplant, but, if one wanted the crispiness, etc. of frying, one could quickly fry them after baking. Since they'd have lost a lot of their soaking-up properties in the oven.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              NYchowcook Mar 19, 2008 06:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I made the eggplant last night and it was great. Good flavors. Don't know where the "fish fragrant" part comes in, though. But drat! I still haven't used my potato starch!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I cut 4 Asian eggplants in half lengthwise, and cut into 3" pieces (or less), put onto oiled baking sheet, poured peanut oil on top and baked at 400 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, turning. Some pieces were done sooner than others. I should have thought to salt, but I didn't.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Doctored up some vegetable stock by simmering w/ ginger and the white part of the scallions (since the greens were going into the dish) -- I had no (none!) chicken stock in the freezer (I'm going to have to make some for passover)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Cooked up the rest in a big saute pan -- the prep was fairly time consuming -- and then I had to cook short grain brown rice which I like. Very good. I generally avoid Asian eggplants because of the sweetness (I'm a BIG Italian eggplant fan). I will use the recipe again to make w/ tofu and baby bok choy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: NYchowcook
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                MMRuth Mar 19, 2008 06:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Were you able to find the ingredients you were looking for, in the end, by the way?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MMRuth
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  NYchowcook Mar 20, 2008 04:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, I found the ingredients by going to the Asian market with LOP and pointing to the Chinese characters. Love that Pixian bean paste!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Have not yet used the preserved vegetables, fermented bean curd (the English speaker in the store indicated it's more of a garnish than a cooking ingredient) or Shaoxing wine (I bought a new bottle for this month's project -- it's great for steaming fish -- another tip from the store)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: NYchowcook
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    MMRuth Mar 20, 2008 04:53 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Great - glad you were able to find things!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: NYchowcook
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      pitu Mar 20, 2008 12:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ooo excellent - I bought a big bottle of Shaoxing wine for no good reason
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      now, I can steam fish...thx!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  greedygirl Oct 13, 2008 04:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I made the fish-fragrant aubergines last night and my Chinese-Malaysian friend said it was the best dish I made. It's also one of Dunlop's favourites.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I made the recipe as written - deep-frying the aubergines first and then braising in the sauce. Yes it was oily, but I thought it had fantastic flavour and the oil didn't bother me. It was exactly the same as when I had it in a Sichuan restaurant a few months ago, and my friend said the oil on the top was a sign it was cooked correctly. I don't think the aubergines would have the same melting consistency if you skipped the frying. We had this as one of multiple dishes though - I can see that the oil might have been a bit much if you were having it as a main course.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: greedygirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    jen kalb Nov 7, 2008 11:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have made this dish using the dry-cooking method used in one of her other aubergine recipes (one with peppers), which only adds a minimal amount of oil at the end. Texturally it is a bit different, but otherwise its still a very successful, enjoyable dish if you want a cut in the oil.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    mspresque Jan 8, 2014 09:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I just got the dunlop books RCC and LOP from the library and made this on the weekend. Like oakjoan recommended i cooked them in the oven first - half an hour at 430 - rubbed with oil and salt. In the wok went just a couple of tablespoons of oil and this came out divine! I hate deep-frying vegetables (for non fritter applications) and baked eggplant was just wonderful in this dish

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. beetlebug Mar 19, 2008 06:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Dry Fried Eggplant (LOP, pg. 300)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I had a couple of lovely Japanese eggplants and decided to make this dish. As I read the instructions, I had doubts about the flavor of the dish. It seemed too simple. Thankfully, I was wrong because this ended up being surprisingly good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This recipe uses little oil. I lightly oiled the bottom of the pan (just enough to barely coat). Then, I added the eggplant and stir fried until the eggplant looked almost cooked. Then I added a chopped up cubanelle pepper and salt. Lastly, I added a touch of sesame oil for flavor. It’s amazing how such a simple dish could have such a range of flavors. Plus, it was pretty to boot

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: beetlebug
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      oakjoan Mar 19, 2008 12:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Eggplant recipe triers...thank you! I just bought some Italian eggplants on sale and was about to start looking through LOP and RC for recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Will report back tomorrow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: oakjoan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        oakjoan Mar 22, 2008 01:17 PM

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

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Will post results and photos.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: oakjoan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          oakjoan Mar 23, 2008 11:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Well, tonight I made the Bowl-Steamed Eggplants with Winter Sacrifice Beans and Salted Greens (Rev. Chinese, p. 223)...although I used her alternate ingredient - salted black beans and my mustard greens were more marinated than preserved.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This dish was pretty easy to make and quite tasty, although I don't know how different it is with pickled mustard greens rather than preserved. The richness of the eggplant went nicely with the sourness of the mustard greens.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You slice and salt the eggplant and leave for 30-60 minutes. While they're draining, you rinse the mustard, squeeze out excess moisture (she said "shake" but I didn't want to swing them around inside my kitchen) and then put them in the wok to dry out. Then you add oil and stir-fry gently. My mustard greens were pretty large and she doesn't mention chopping them, but I did that. You add a little more oil and add the eggplant a few at a time, until "tinged with gold". You then drain them on paper towels.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Next you layer most of the eggplant pieces in a bowl (I used my steamer with a piece of foil over the holes). You mix the rest of the eggplants with the black beans and scatter with mustard greens and drizzle with chili oil. Cover and steam for about 20 minutes. I served it with scallions as she suggests. Quite nice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I also made Peng's Home-Style Bean Curd but it's late and I've got to get up early...so more on that later.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: oakjoan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hubajube Jan 28, 2010 05:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I found Winter Sacrifice Beans here in Cleveland: http://www.linkshop.com.cn/upload/pro...

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Cross-posted

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: beetlebug
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Blythe spirit Jun 26, 2012 06:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Another 'late in the game' try from LOP. (dry fried eggplant, p.300). Had never heard of dry frying and was intrigued. As there were two beautiful Japanese eggplants waiting to be used, this recipe was it. As Beetlebug mentioned above, the recipe seems much too simple, and I was dubious of the results. But the dish was just fabulous. Two TBS of oil seemed a lot, so only 1/2 a TBS was added at the end and it was just fine. The eggplant had a wonderfully smoky, almost grilled flavor and the oil used was less than in many Italian preparations. A definite repeat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. Rubee Apr 4, 2008 02:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Spicy Cucumber Salad - giang huang gua (LOP, p. 185)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is a nice quick simple side dish that is served at room temperature and can be made ahead. A couple of hours before, cucumbers are seeded and cut up, sprinkled with salt, and left to drain. To make the salad, add whole Sichuan pepper and dried chiles to peanut oil in a hot wok. The cucumbers are added and tossed briefly (about 10 seconds) to coat with the flavored oil. Then add sesame oil, remove from pan, and let cool.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          She didn't say to rinse the salt off the cucumbers. I rinsed them briefly under running water, drained and blotted, but hey were still a bit too salty. Other than that, I liked the simple addition of dried chiles and the flavor bursts of the soft Sichuan peppercorns (not hard since it's really the husk that is used). I served it as a side to Sweet and Sour Pork.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. beetlebug Apr 13, 2008 06:17 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Boiled Amaranth with Preserved Duck Eggs (RCC, pg. 226)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This was unexpectedly delicious. I had amaranth and the duck eggs so I decided to give this a try. I had homemade stock and just lightly simmered it with the ginger. The amaranth is stir fried with garlic, add the stock until it boils and add in sliced preserved eggs. The creaminess of the eggs offset the flavor of the amaranth quite nicely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: beetlebug
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The Dairy Queen Apr 14, 2008 03:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm a nut for amaranth--how did I miss this recipe last month. Must try! Thanks for your report! You are just cooking up a storm!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: beetlebug
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Gio Jan 10, 2013 05:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Stir Fried Amaranth Leaves or Swiss Chard with Garlic, Pg. 294, Land of Plenty, US Edition

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Since I had LOP out to make the Gung Pao Chicken I thought I'd see what Ms. Dunlop had for a green leafy veggie and found this recipe. This is an ordinary sauteed green vegetable dish, one we make all the time, and here it is in China!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I used a huge bunch of gorgeous red chard with stems removed and saved for another use. Also, 4 chopped garlic cloves, a pinch of crushed chili flakes, and peanut oil to stir-fry. Served along with the chicken and steamed jasmine rice.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Beetlebug said it was great and we agree!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. beetlebug Apr 13, 2008 06:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Stir Fried Chinese Leaf Cabbage with Chopped Salted Chiles (RCC, pg. 216)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A very easy dish. Stir fry the salted chiles with the cabbage. That’s it. My version needed more salt to bring out the flavor of the cabbage but this was a tasty version. I prefer LOP version with the Sichuan peppercorn and black vinegar but this is a more than acceptable alternative.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: beetlebug
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Rubee Jul 15, 2008 11:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I made this today (but used green cabbage). I was looking for an easy side dish to go along with Chicken Chunks in Red-Oil Sauce (LOP, p 140). This made a nice lunch today along with steamed rice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'll have to try the LOP cabbage you recommend.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pics:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Rubee Aug 2, 2008 02:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Stir-Fried Potato Slivers/(Cabbage) wtih Chiles and Sichuan Pepper (qiang tu dou si), LOP, p. 296

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I made the cabbage variation on p. 298. I agree with BB - while I liked the cabbage with salted chiles, I liked this better. I used a half of a head of green cabbage, which was stir-fried with dried chiles, whole Sichuan peppercorns, and finished with sesame oil.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: beetlebug
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    w
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Westminstress Mar 29, 2013 07:55 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Stir Fried [Green] Cabbage with Salted Chilies, p. 216 (RCC)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I loved this! I used half a small head of green cabbage, about 3/4 pound, finely shredded. Chopped salted chilies (1tbsp for me) are briefly sautéed in oil until fragrant, then in goes the cabbage. When tender, remove it and season with salt and sesame oil (3/4 tsp for me). My main motivation for making this dish was a head of cabbage and jar of chilies that both needed using. But I thought the dish was delightful! My cabbage browned on the edges and sweetened a bit before it turned tender - I think that's why it was so good - sweet, spicy, salty, toasty and just a bit oily - yum. I'd gladly make this again, though it sounds like there's a great cabbage variation in LOP that I need to try.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Oh - and this was my first recipe from RCC - but not the last! Glad to finally make it onto this thread!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Westminstress
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      beetlebug Mar 30, 2013 05:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is one of my favorite dishes. I make it weekly. I find the crunch along with the salt really satisfying. And, the sesame oil really brings that extra oomph.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      BTW, salted chiles last forever both in the fridge and in the cabinet. Fridge for after the jar is opened, cabinet for when you are ready to use them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: beetlebug
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        w
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Westminstress Mar 30, 2013 08:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That's interesting, BB. Your initial review was a bit lukewarm, I guess this dish has grown on you!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Westminstress
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          beetlebug Mar 31, 2013 07:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes. I think I re-read someone else's report and decided to re-visit the dish. What made the difference was the sesame oil. I think the first time I made it, I neglected to use it and the dish didn't pop.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I do alternate between this and the sichuan pepper/vinegar one from LOP. That version, I often throw into my dan dan noodles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Lastly, I use regular green cabbage or the chinese flat cabbage. My preference is for the flat cabbage but the green is so much more accessible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: beetlebug
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            w
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Westminstress Apr 1, 2013 08:16 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh yes, I completely agree with you about the sesame oil. It makes the dish and is absolutely necessary. I will have to try the LOP dish, and I'll try to remember to try it with Dan Dan Noodles. Thanks, BB.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Westminstress
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ChristinaMason Apr 1, 2013 10:18 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am going to try this with yu choy, maybe tonight! I just got those salted chilies (or at least "sichuan pickle pepper"; not sure if they're interchangeable), mostly by accident.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ChristinaMason
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          buttertart Apr 1, 2013 08:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Check the ingredients, they should be just chilies and salt...but a vinegar pickle would work too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. beetlebug Apr 13, 2008 06:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ma po tofu (RCC, pg. 193)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This was tasty, but I liked the LOP ones better. I agree about the pork in this version, but I liked how saucy the other version was. While I really liked the addition of the salted chilies and the shitake mushrooms, I prefer the fermented black beans with the chili paste combo better. But, I’m glad I tried this and I probably would make this again to change up my tofu consumption.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Rubee Jul 25, 2008 02:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Fried Cucumber with Purple Perilla (zi su jian huang gua) RCC, p. 206

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        When I saw purple perilla at a local Asian market, I remembered seeing some recipes in RCC using this herb. This is my first time cooking with it, and I really love the unique flavor of this. It's hard to describe, vaguely similiar to Thai basil but not quite, not as aggressive as cilantro, for example, and adds a wonderful dimension to this dish of stir-fried cucumber. I bought a big bunch so plan on adding this herb to other vegetable dishes and also think it would nice to add to Vietnamese summer rolls.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I used a light-green Armenian cucumber and didn't have to peel it. I also spooned out the seeds, though she doesn't mention that. The cucumber is sliced, stir-fried in oil, and then seasoned with chopped garlic, minced fresh chili, light soy, rice vinegar, and then finished with chopped perilla and sesame oil. Great vegetable side dish - I liked the texture of the crisp/tender cucumber and it had nice heat from the chili.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Recipe link:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://splendidtable.publicradio.org/...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          LulusMom May 4, 2010 04:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Huh, I thought I had thoroughly searched this thread to see if someone else had made this first ... sorry that I missed this post. Maybe I would have skipped making this since it sounds like the purple perilla is really a huge component. But mine (made with regular basil) was just ... ok. Did the same as Rubee - didn't peel the cuc, but did deseed it. And I obviously had a less spicy pepper - ours was not at all spicy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Rubee Jul 28, 2008 07:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Stir-Fried Zucchini with Salty Duck Egg Yolks (xian dan huang chao xiao nan gua), RCC, p. 213

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Flowering Chives with Smoky Bacon (la rou chao jiu cai hua), LOP, p. 290

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          These were two very simple, but very good vegetable side dishes I made this week. I bought already cooked salted duck eggs, which made the zucchini dish quick and easy. Dry-fry the zucchini until they are "floppy and fragrant", and set aside. Add oil to the wok, and then stir-fry the egg yolks. They did get frothy as she mentions, which is when I added the zucchini, which is tossed until it's coated in the egg yolk, and sprinkled with salt. I wasn't sure I was going to like this because the yolks didn't smell so great when they were cooking, but it was very unique, with a certain richness from the egg-yolk coating. She mentions that some restaurants call such dishes "golden-sand" such as "golden-sand shrimp" etc., so I'll remember to look for this on Hunan menus.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The chive dish was just as easy. Discard the flowering bulbs, and cut up the chives into sections. Cut up bacon or pancetta (I used pancetta) into strips. Then stir-fry the pancetta, add the chives and stir-fry for a few minutes, and then season with salt and sesame oil. This was another simple, but tasty side dish. I love cooking with these fresh Chinese chives, and will definitely make this again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            JoanN May 19, 2012 08:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Flowering Chives with Smoky Bacon (LOP, page 290)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I had bought some flowering chives in Chinatown with no thought as to what I might do with them. Found this recipe through EYB, had bacon on hand, so it was a go--even though my proportions were off since I only had about half the amount of chives called for and decided to use the full amount of bacon. Didn't matter. Super simple, super delicious. And I, too, will definitely be making it again. Served it, by the way, with Five-Spice Chicken with Sugar Snaps from Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge which is also going directly on the do-again list.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              buttertart May 21, 2012 10:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Must try. BTW I was in Kam Man and checked to see if the maltose were still where I last saw it. It was.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              q
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              qianning Feb 6, 2013 04:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Stir Fried Zucchini w/ Salted Duck Eggs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Tried making this for the first time tonight. I wish I had re-read Rubee's report beforehand, because maybe then I would have been brave enough to at least taste a bit. As it was it went straight from the stove to the garbage disposal. First of all it did indeed smell plenty dreadful while cooking. But beyond that the yolks turned a dark brown when frothing(I was also using commercial eggs---a pre-boiled Taiwanese brand-- do they have a shelf life? Kinda thought they kept forever, and nothing on the package said otherwise), and when the zucchini was added back to the pan, it didn't crisp up, just got very oily and limp. Would assume that my oil temp was too low, but given the browning yolks, I really don't know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: qianning
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                JoanN Feb 6, 2013 05:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                How terribly frustrating. Brave of you to have even tried it in the first place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. Rubee Aug 1, 2008 01:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Peng's Home-Style Bean Curd (peng jia chang dou fu), RCC, p. 184

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This recipe has an interesting intro where she explains that "this dish is the creation of one of the most famous of all Hunanese chefs". This was delicious. The ma po tofu in LOP is still my favorite bean curd dish out of these books, but this is a very close second. The only substitution I made was ground beef for the sliced pork. The tofu is sliced and fried ahead of time. In the wok stir-fry garlic and sliced red chilis, add the meat, black beans, and chicken stock, and then the fried tofu and dark soy. Simmer for a few minutes. To finish, thicken with potato flour and water, add scallions, and drizzle with sesame oil. I used Fresno chiles which weren't that spicy, so added the optional chili oil to taste. Great dish with lots of flavors.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I had stocked up recently at an Asian market, so made a lot of Dunlop recipes in the last week, all of which reheated great. This tofu dish, along with Stir-Fried Zucchini with Salty Duck Egg Yolks, Flowering Chives with Smoky Bacon, Cucumbers with Hot and Garlicky Sauce, and Lotus Root "Sandwich" Fritters made a great meal of leftovers one night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                e
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                equinoise Jun 22, 2009 10:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Peng's is in heavy rotation in my house. Tonight I had to use green jalepenos instead of red chiles. Lacked a little color, but the flavor was none the worse. I always try to use Dunlop's everyday stock for this one (and not commercial stock or water); the depth of the pork bone essence comes through on this recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Gio Jan 26, 2013 06:16 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Peng's Home-Style Bean Curd, Variation Version, RCC, Pg.. 184

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This was such a delicious dish I can't wait to make it again. We cook A :Lot of tofu here but this recipe creates a completely different taste sensation. Minimally salty (if you rinse the fermented black beans well), and spicy from chilies and hot oil. The adjustments I made were: 2 Serranos for the red chilies and 1 teaspoon sesame oil instead of 1/2 t. I used chicken stock, not vegetable stock as the variation instruction states.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Rubee explained the process well and we followed the recipe carefully. The variation is meatless but there's such great flavor from the other components we didn't miss it. Our finished dish looked just like the photo on the opposite page, except for the red chili. We both liked this tremendously.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    w
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Westminstress Jan 26, 2013 06:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yay, gio! This one has been on my "to do" list forces long time ... I am flagging it along with the vinegary cabbage you report on below. These new posts are so timely for me!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Westminstress
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Gio Jan 26, 2013 07:14 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh I'm so glad, Westminstress! I'm loving this book. When we first cooked from Dunlop I bought LOP but borrowed RCC from the library. I guess I didn't pay much attention to it and returned it with only cooking one or two recipes from it. Now though I find the food is much more appealing. I must have grown up a bit...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        buttertart Jan 26, 2013 09:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I must make this...and RCC is my favorite of her books.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Rubee Aug 2, 2008 02:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Fish Fragrant Eggplant (yu xiang quie zi), LOP, p. 285

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I LOVED this. If you're a fan of eggplant, you should definitely try this recipe. Chunks of eggplant are fried beforehand (I had a pot of oil that I had been using for other recipes). Stir-fry chili bean paste, and then ginger and garlic. Add chicken stock, sugar, soy sauce, and the eggplant. Simmer for a few minutes, and then thicken with cornstarch and water, stir in Chinkiang vinegar and scallions, and finish with sesame oil. This is a new favorite from this book and I wished I had made a double batch so I would have more leftovers. Along with steamed rice, and the Stir-Fried Cabbage wtih Chiles and Sichuan Pepper above, this made a delicious vegetarian dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    alkapal Aug 3, 2008 05:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    wow, rubee, that looks great. i'll bet it is good hot or cold. i don't have the cookbook, so was curious about the recipe title. does it have fish sauce somewhere in the recipe?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Rubee Aug 3, 2008 06:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It's really good. I just finished the last of the leftovers and may make another batch this week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      There is actually no fish sauce in the ingredient list. In the book, there's a section titled The 23 Flavors of Sichuan. She refers to "Fish-Fragrant Flavor" as a "celebrated Sichuanese invention, based on the seasonings used in traditional fish cookery". I've tried other 'fish-fragrant' recipes in the book, and they're all among my favorites, so I really like the combination of seasonings. She describes it as "salty, sweet, sour, and spicy notes, with the heady fragrance of garlic, ginger, and scallions".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If you're interested, let me know and I'll paraphrase the recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        alkapal Aug 5, 2008 03:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        rube, thanks, i'd love that! your photos are so appetizing!!!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        the home style bean curd dish looks like thai drunken noodles sauce, when made with ground chicken. (you know, the pad kee mao). that is my favorite dish -- probably in the world (co-equal with indian butter chicken, "murgh makhani").
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4531...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        if i brought another cookbook in this house, mr. alka may just shoot me! ;-) but the cooking hounds on this thread, and other dunlop recipe threads, make me think i should just get her books (and does amazon sell kevlar vests?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Rubee Aug 5, 2008 03:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks for that link - you've inspired me to try that the next time I see some fresh rice noodles!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      greedygirl Aug 5, 2008 05:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I loved this when I had it in a restaurant a few months ago, and have been meaning to make it. Unfortunately I'm also trying to fit into my bikini for a holiday in September!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        LulusMom Aug 5, 2008 06:22 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I loved the fish-fragrant eggplant too. Just so wonderful, and it helped that you can make it ahead and serve at room temp. Next time I'll definitely double it - and probably still be able to eat the whole thing!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Rubee Nov 7, 2008 10:14 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is a recipe I've made 3-4 times now, and one of my favorites from the book. It heats up well too, so I make a big batch for lunches during the week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I just wanted to note that last night I made it for the first time with regular Italian eggplant, and I didn't like it as much as usual. I peeled and salted, and prepped them the usual way, but I missed the creamy texture and sweetness of the Asian eggplants. Of course, the delicious sauce itself great and the dish was just as tasty, but from now on I'll only use Asian eggplant when making this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Alkapal - I just noticed above that I never posted the recipe for you! Let me know if you would still like it. Sorry about that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            oakjoan Nov 7, 2008 12:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What about "regular" eggplant? How does that fare. I ask because I have one that needs cooking very soon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I know what Italian eggplant looks like - elongated and thinner; and Indian eggplant - small and round; and Asian eggplant - also smaller than what I think of as "regular" eggplant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: oakjoan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Rubee Nov 7, 2008 05:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sorry oakjoan, I was wrong in calling that Italian eggplant. I actually used the big dark-purple globe or "American" eggplant. The type I prefer and have been using in the recipe is the Chinese/Asian eggplant that is elongated, thin-skinned, and a lighter purple.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                oakjoan Nov 10, 2008 07:07 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks for the info, Rubee. I do love those "Asian" eggplants, but I also love those little round baby Indian eggplants. Do you think it's just our snobbishness, or are the "American" ones just not as good? I certainly like the other ones better and they certainly are cuter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              alkapal Nov 10, 2008 05:11 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              rubee, i'd love the recipe, if you wouldn't mind!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Rubee Nov 10, 2008 11:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Here you go! I apologize for the delay - and I didn't even have to type it out, I found the exact recipe at the link below, along with Dunlop's intro on the dish. I hope you like it as much as I do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Fish-Fragrant Eggplants (yu xiang quie zi)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://splendidtable.publicradio.org/...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  alkapal Nov 10, 2008 03:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  thanks so much. have you read dunlop's new memoir? i started to read it not too long ago while i was lingering at a border's bookstore coffee shop; it was really engaging. http://www.amazon.com/Sharks-Fin-Sich...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Rubee Nov 10, 2008 03:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    No, I haven't, but it sounds great - thanks for the rec!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. beetlebug Sep 7, 2008 05:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Fried Eggs with Tomatoes (LOP pg. 305)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Another deceptively simple yet delicious dish. I had a ton of tomatoes to use up and I’ve made this twice. These are essentially scrambled eggs with fresh tomatoes. I think this dish only works if you have great summer tomatoes because those tomatoes just sing with sweetness.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            There is also a soup variation that I’ll probably try. Just less eggs and tomatoes and add chicken broth. I bet it will be tasty because somehow, this combo just works.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: beetlebug
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              beetlebug Jul 20, 2010 11:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Fried Eggs with Tomatoes (LOP pg. 305)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Made this again last night to go with my dry fried string beans and stir fried summer squash. I would never make this in the winter because the tomato really shines here. And, it was a perfect way to use some of my garden tomatoes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If it weren't 20,000 degrees here in New England, I would have made the soup version. There is something about egg and tomato soup that just goes so well together.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. beetlebug Sep 7, 2008 05:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Steamed Eggplant with Chile Sauce (LOP, pg. 155)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yet another winner and easy to put together for a quick meal. Steam eggplant and make the chile sauce. That’s it. The sauce has soy, black vinegar, sugar, chili oil and sesame oil. Dunlop has you dip the eggplant in the sauce, but I just poured it straight on and mixed. This was a nice veggie dish to go with my other cold dishes for a steamy summer night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: beetlebug
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                oakjoan Sep 7, 2008 08:48 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I made this, too. It's really a nice dish with great contrast between the sweet/silky eggplant and the spicy sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: beetlebug
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  q
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  qianning Apr 2, 2013 05:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Made the steamed eggplant last night for the first time in ages; don't know why it has been so long, because I really think this dish might have the highest ratio of flavorful return to minimal effort of any of Dunlop's recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: beetlebug
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Gio Jul 25, 2013 06:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Steamed Eggplants with Chili Sauce, Pg 155, Land of Plenty

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    When I have no thoughts in my head about which cooking method to choose for various foods I have at hand I usually find that LOP never fails to turn up the perfect recipe. This was one of those times. With two fresh Japanese eggplants from the farm we set to work. Nothing much to add to Beetlebug's description of the recipe. We also liked the simple but zesty finished dish. I tossed the cooked eggplant with the sauce instead of dipping the pieces.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Here's an on-line recipe but please note: The blogger reduced the amounts of the ingredients. The steamer in the picture shown is the one I have...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    http://www.shecookshebakes.com/2012/0...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: beetlebug
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      emily Aug 5, 2013 01:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I thought the Steamed Eggplant was good, and even better with more vinegar and some chopped garlic. I like some of her other eggplant recipes better, though, particularly the smoky eggplant. I did enjoy this dish cold out of the fridge more than at room temperature (also no doubt due partly to the additional overnight marinating time).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. beetlebug Sep 7, 2008 05:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Stir fried Green Peppers with Ground Pork and Preserved Greens (RCC pg. 200)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I loved this. Finally, a use for green peppers that I like. I did make a light variation. The recipe called for preserved veggies (suan cai). I only had the preserved mustard tubers (zha cai) but it worked beautifully.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Dice up the green peppers and stir fry until the skins are puckered. Remove from heat and then stir fry the pork with shaoxing wine and a bit of salt. Add the garlic and preserved veggies until they are fragrant. Add dried chile pepper and add the cooked green peppers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The crunch and salt of the preserved veggies just made the green peppers taste really good. Of course, the ground pork didn’t hurt either. I’ve made three batches of this so far, due to an overabundance of green peppers. I foresee at least one more batch. This dish is great with plain white rice. Or, one morning, I made a quick fried rice using this as the leftover base.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: beetlebug
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        e
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        equinoise Jun 22, 2009 11:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Interesting. I used Tianjin preserved vegetable, the very dry one sold in the brown crock. (There remains confusion over the three varieties of preserved vegetable used in Dunlop's books).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It came out good, with a very rustic, tart flavor. Note that there is a phantom instruction to remove the ground pork from the wok at some point--Dunlop refers to "returning the pork" to the pan without saying to remove it. I left it in, and the meat took on a golden crispiness, sort of like carnitas from your local taco truck....very good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Rubee Sep 18, 2008 08:20 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hand-Torn Cabbage with Vinegar (shou si bao cai), RCC, p. 217

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The easy stir-fried cabbage recipes are some of my favorite vegetable dishes in these books (my favorite is LOP's cabbage with sichuan pepper and chili). I liked this one too with the tang of Chinkiang black vinegar. I chopped up green cabbage, stir-fried it, added some seeded dried red chilis, and then finished with Chinkiang vinegar. Simple and tasty and was a nice side dish to some leftover ma po tofu.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          oakjoan Sep 18, 2008 08:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The stir-fried cabbage sounds really good. Is it a bit undercooked so it retains its crispness? I'll have to look it up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: oakjoan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Rubee Sep 18, 2008 08:52 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, she says to cook the cabbage "until it is tender but still a little crunchy".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Gio Jan 26, 2013 06:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hand-Torn Cabbage with Vinegar, RCC, Pg. 217

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We made this easy vinegary stir-fried cabbage to serve with Peng's Home-Style Bean Curd and steamed jasmine rice. Fab combination. The recipe calls for actually tearing the cabbage leaves - or - one can shred them and that's what I did. The 3 dried red chilies I used were arbol, and G added only 3 scant tablespoons of oil to the wok instead of 4. This a very humble dish and Ms. Dunlop supposes it might have been served for a workers meal during The Cultural Revolution when food served was notoriously bad. This cabbage dish was very tasty!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              buttertart Jan 26, 2013 09:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sounds great. There's a big nostalgia for the Cultural Revolution thing going on in China among the younger set...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Gio Jan 26, 2013 09:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You mean the young people want to return to the bad old days? Or do they want to rebel against...?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  buttertart Jan 26, 2013 09:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  They want to wallow in the nostalgia for something they never had to go through. Sort of like my crowd in high school wearing 30's and 40's fashions. There's a link to an article on it on CNN that I'll post, but this has been going on for quite some time now (a few places we ate at in Shanghai were rustically decorated as a nod to those times).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                q
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                qianning Jan 29, 2013 09:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Isn't this a great dish for minimal ingredients but with great results? Its one of my quick fall back to round out a Chinese meal dishes, we have rather often.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. beetlebug Oct 5, 2008 12:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Vegetables

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Slender Bamboo Shoots with Ground Pork (RCC pg. 214)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This was mediocre. I don’t know if it’s because I had inferior packaged bamboo or if the recipe is mediocre. I had even added a green pepper to use it up. I even blanched the bamboo shoots with salted water, per the directions. I was surprised since the recipe has pork, fresh chili pepper, ground chili pepper and garlic with the regular ingredients (soy, shao xing wine, rice vinegar, etc.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Oh well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. greedygirl Oct 13, 2008 04:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Spicy cucumber salad (LOP - not sure what page as I have the UK edition)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I loved this unusual way to serve cucumber. Basically you cut two cucumbers into 6 inch pieces, then quarter them, remove the seeds, and cut into batons, as if you were making chips (french fries for you lot). Then you sprinkle with salt and leave for at least half an hour to get rid of some of the water. Drain and pat dry. Heat a couple of TBSP of oil in a wok, and add dried Sichuan chillis and Sichuan peppercorns. Stir-fry briefly until fragrant (she says you have to be very careful not to let the spices burn - my chilli started to catch after 20 secs or so and I whipped the pan off the heat sharpish), then add the cucumbers and stir fry briefly. The idea is to infuse the cucumbers with the flavour of the spices, rather than cook them. Eat at room temperature.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This was a really, really nice dish. I love all types of cucumber salad, and this was no exception.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Rubee Mar 13, 2009 12:29 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Stir-Fried Water Spinach Stems with Black Beans and Chiles (dou la chao kong xin cai geng), p. 219

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I was going to make the green peppers with black beans again (p. 201), but decided to try something a little different, and substituted thinly sliced green bell pepper for the water spinach. Other ingredients were fresh red chiles, garlic, salted black beans, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Another nice vegetable side dish, and I served it with tofu made with a sauce from the ginger/scallion/black bean vinaigrette in"New Way to Cook" over brown rice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Rubee Sep 2, 2009 12:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sweet-and-Sour Red Peppers (tang cu tian jiao), LOP, p. 155

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is a simple recipe - cooked peppers are marinated in rice vinegar and sugar with sesame oil - but it was really good as a veggie side with some of the spicier meat dishes. I served it alongside a few Dunlop dishes I made Sunday night - Dry-Fried Beef, General Tso's Chicken, and Cauliflower with Smoky Bacon. I also used both red and yellow bell peppers. I would definitely make it again, especially for a Dunlop dinner party - crisp, fresh, and colorful, and cuts some of the spiciness and richness of other dishes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. LulusMom May 4, 2010 03:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Fried Cucumber with Purple Perilla (RCC p. 206)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I was making the Fishermans Shrimp with Chinese Chives (it has become very much a regular around here, loved by all) and thought trying a new side would be fun. I've always wanted to try cooking cucumbers but somehow never gotten around to it. So - here was my chance. Unfortunately couldn't find purple perilla or even thai basil, so just used regular basil. Possibly that would have made a huge difference. This was fine, but really nothing that special, and, oddly, needed salt (odd since it has soy sauce in it). The shrimp was as delicious as ever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Rubee May 4, 2010 04:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I saw your second comment above, and I do think the purple perilla does add a very distinct flavor to it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I can't believe I STILL haven't made the Fisherman Shrimp yet! Next time I'm at the Asian market getting ingredients, that's the first one I'm going to make.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          LulusMom May 5, 2010 04:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Kicking myself for thinking I could sub regular basil. And I wish I'd seen your above review before trying to do so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We LOVE the shrimp. It is my husband's favorite shrimp dish (and I make a lot of shrimp). I hope you get to it, and enjoy it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          pitu May 6, 2010 08:06 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Purple perilla aka purple shiso is super easy to grow and very hard to find in grocery stores,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          so you might want to order a small pack of seeds.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          : )
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It grows like a weed and reseeds itself in Brooklyn backyards...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pitu
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            LulusMom May 6, 2010 09:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Something exotic for the squirrels and chipmunks to snack on! I'll give it a try. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Gio May 6, 2010 10:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Dream on, LLM... squirrels and chipmunks in my garden leave the Parilla alone and go for my Hosta shoots and Rhododendron buds... Parilla does reseed wildly, and widly. But I leave it in certain flower beds for the color, and weed it out of other places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                LulusMom May 6, 2010 10:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I started thinking about this weedy type growth and got a little nervous. The woman who helps with our garden once threatened to quit if I planted mint anywhere in the yard (or even on the porch!). Would the perilla have the same sort of effect? How would it do on a window sill (with a decidedly non-green-thumbed person in charge)?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  pitu May 6, 2010 10:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Shiso/perilla doesn't send out the roots that make regular mint invasive - just broadcasts a lot of seeds, and looks weedy. I never got it to survive indoors, although it's fine in a pot outside (that's how I grow mine)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pitu
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Gio May 6, 2010 12:13 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Right ...Lots of seeds. However if you have the time, or inclination you can clip or pinch out the top flower before it goes into seed. The person who sold me the teeny little plant 20 years ago warned me...wildly and widely flies the seed... But I keep it nonetheless. You can buy grow lights, small spots not the long fluorescents, and try to over winter a couple in a pot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. beetlebug Jul 20, 2010 11:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Zucchini Slivers with Garlic (LOP, pg. 303)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I used yellow summer squash instead of green zucchini. But, what a pretty and tasty dish. Sliver the squash (about a lb) and chop up some garlic. Then, when the pan and oil is hot, hot, hot, throw in the garlic until fragrant. Then, throw in the slivers. Saute for a few minutes until done. Then, salt to taste.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I did do the recommended salting before hand. I don't know if the slivers did cook faster but the finished dish was just lovely. The garlic gave the squash a nice flavor and it was a great variation of this classic combo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. buttertart Jul 23, 2010 10:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I made the dry-fried green beans with meat from LOP last night (the first time for her recipe, I've used others in the past). Used 1/2 a sachet of shredded pickled vegetables (must be zhai cai) I got a while back in a Chinese market here and doubled all quantities. (The pickled veg was not terribly salty by the way.) Greenmarket green beans. Cooked in 2 tb oil over high heat until all blistered and some quite dark (picked them out as they got done). Husband tries, dryly: "I don't think you'll be disappointed". I try: "I wish there were a way just to vacuum these all up into my mouth RIGHT NOW". Perfect, the best I've had anywhere outside China. It's not the cook, it's the recipe: not mucked up with green onions/ginger/garlic etc. FD is a genius, her recipes are perfect. I can't wait for the next book (fingers crossed for it being on Huaiyang cuisine, a more subtle but equally wonderful lesser-known style, please please please).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            18 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Gio Jul 23, 2010 12:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We love that dry-fried bean dish.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Try her dry-fried eggplant. Excellent! Did you know Fuchsia Dunlop has a blog? http://www.fuchsiadunlop.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Dairy Queen Jul 23, 2010 12:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                WOW! Very cool.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  buttertart Jul 23, 2010 05:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'll definitely try the eggplant, mmm!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    buttertart Jul 25, 2010 06:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Made the eggplant last night - I was expecting the same flavoring as the beans but the recipe in LOP is just eggplant, green pepper, salt and sesame oil. Delicious but not as good as those beans!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: buttertart
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  scoopG Jul 23, 2010 12:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I am sure there were no left-overs! I heard that she was burned out on Chinese cookbooks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: scoopG
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Dairy Queen Jul 23, 2010 12:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I hope your info is bad, scoopg (perverse, I know, because normally I count on your info being good) OR I hope she changes her mind. At the end of Shark's Fin didn't it seem like she was thinking about doing another regional book?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      buttertart Jul 23, 2010 12:43 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      That's where I got the Huaiyang bee in my bonnet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        scoopG Jul 23, 2010 12:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        You know TDQ - I've not read that book. I think her consulting business as taken off and I think she has a part interest in a London restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          scoopG Jul 23, 2010 12:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Let's all gather our loose change - about $6,000 should do it - and head to Sichuan this fall! Not sure if she will be there though:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          http://www.fuchsiadunlop.com/blog/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: scoopG
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            JoanN Jul 23, 2010 12:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't think she will be. I clicked through to the info on the classes and all it says (that i could find, anyway) was that this American woman was inspired by Dunlop's memoir.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The Dairy Queen Jul 23, 2010 01:25 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Blah. That means any one of US could be teaching that class.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                JoanN Jul 23, 2010 01:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I got the impression it was going to be the Chinese professors at the school who were going to be doing the teaching. But I could be wrong about all of this. I just took a quick look at the site to see what the story was; I didn't spend a lot of time there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Gio Jul 23, 2010 01:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I actually think she will be there... What I understand is that although the Chinese chefs will be doing the cooking she'll be translating, taking the students on field trips and to dinner at the house of one of her Chinese friends...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://www.fuchsiadunlop.com/cooking-...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  JoanN Jul 23, 2010 02:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm not convinced. Dunlop doesn't actually say she's going to be there. And when you read the description here http://www.cookingschoolinchina.com/ it just says that she designed the course and that a translator will be present. I can't believe Diane Whoever-she-is wouldn't have made a much bigger splash of it if Dunlop was going to be there in person. I mean, that's one helluva selling point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Gio Jul 23, 2010 02:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yeah,,, you're right. I must have read only what I wanted to read... I bettter go start dinner. My blood sugar must be low. LOL

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      scoopG Jul 23, 2010 05:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      She can't be there - she'd be swamped by too many "I just love your cookbooks" and "can you just sign my apron?" requests. She's just sold her name to the travel deal. She'll relax in London and cash the checks!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: buttertart
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            alkapal Jul 23, 2010 03:35 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            i think i've recommended dunlop's memoir, right? "shark's fin and sichuan pepper"? tremendously insightful, entertaining and easy to read. she is charming.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            did you know she has a blog, too? http://www.fuchsiadunlop.com/2010/07/
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            (i see gio already mentioned it, upthread).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: alkapal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              buttertart Jul 23, 2010 05:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yep! I actually think it may have been me who mentioned it first (but who's keeping score)? Fun and the cookbooks are great.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. beetlebug Aug 18, 2010 05:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Pounded eggplants with green pepper (RCC pg. 202)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have a ton of eggplants and green peppers to eat. I'm not a fan, at all, of the green pepper, unless it's spicy, so using these things up is always a challenge. In the past, I usually stir fry with ground pork and pickled vegetables (also from RCC). But, I decided to branch out a bit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I really like this dish. Granted, it's not turning me into a green pepper fan but the eggplant was absolutely delicious. This is a very simple and subtle dish so you really need to like the flavors of your ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            First, you thickly slice up your eggplant and lightly salt for half an hour. Meanwhile, slice up a green pepper and then you dry fry them in a pan until they soften and are fragrant. Remove the peppers, add a bit of oil and add the eggplant. You have to stir fry over medium flame for about 10-15 minutes, until the eggplant softens. Then, as the eggplant cooks and gets soft, use your spatula and start squashing them. I did lose a bit of patience with this step so my eggplants didn't get to the sludgy paste that she describes. Re-add the peppers, add soy sauce and voila.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            When I first ate it, I was unsure about whether I liked it or not. In the dishes defense, I served this with dan dan noodles (with a pork and green pepper mixture) and the sauce effectively covered up the taste of those peppers. And, it's a really strong dish that didn't complement this dish well. When I ate this dish leftover the next day, I liked it much better since I had a simpler to dish to eat with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The combo does work, although I also think it would be better with the longhorn peppers or poplano peppers. But, this is my anti green pepper bias coming out.

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