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Jan 15, 2012 08:10 AM

"The Good Food of Szechwan" by Delfs, any fans out there?

Finally got my hands on a copy of this book. It looks pretty solid. Planning to make a few dishes from it tonight, and others in the coming weeks before it goes back to the library.

Meanwhile, are there any recipes that are must tries? Disasters? General pluses and minuses? Things he covers that Ms. Dunlop doesn't? Do tell!

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  1. A favorite! My family loves, loves his gong-bao chicken, also the eggplant with yu-xiang sauce. My mother-in-law has had this book since the 70's, and I finally found a copy about 5 years ago. Another mid-70's favorite is "Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook" by Ellen Schrecker (Harper & Row, 1976). Of course, I use them both a bit less now that Ms. Dunlop has given us some great books.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Spot

      Any recipe where side by side you prefer Delfs to Dunlop? (I love her Gong Bao chicken, but for some reason not her Yuxiang Eggplant, although I haven't made that in a while)

      1. re: qianning

        Sorry, q. I've not compared. I just read 'em and cook what I'm liking. Try those you think you might like; see what you think.

        1. re: Spot

          Just had a chance to do just that with the La Zi Rou Ding(Pork with red Pepper).....a wonderful dish. Looking forward to trying some more of these recipes.

      2. re: Spot

        So happy to see "Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook" mentioned. It was the book that first got me started cooking Chinese food. All these years later, her Anise Chicken is still in regular rotation. What are some of your favorite recipes from that book, Spot?

        1. re: JoanN

          Someone gave me a copy of Mrs Chiang's book a few years ago, and I've hardly even cracked it, due to the (shortly thereafter) discovery of Ms. Dunlop's works. I am also keen on hearing what recipes are good ones!

          1. re: Allegra_K

            Dry Fried Beef (which I do with venison and really dessicate) probably gets cooked the most, but I recently did the Red-cooked Fish Slices, with halibut cheeks a pal brought from Seattle. Killer. The Fresh Ham (tipan) has also been on for larger gatherings, though I probably haven't made it for a few years; it's a festive and delicious make-ahead meat dish, especially with high-grade pig. Oily Scallion Cakes.

            1. re: Spot

              Oh, man! Halibut cheeks? You lucky dog, you.

              And thanks for the list. I'll have trouble tearing myself away from Dunlop and Young, but this may just do it.

      3. Yes, a huge fan here. I admit I stick to a limited range of recipes to which I'd been previously introduced via Szechuan/Mandarin restaurants: kung-pao chicken, yu-hsiang eggplant, dry-fried string beans, pork with green peppers, moo-shi. I've probably tried only 1/4 of the recipes overall in Delfs' book, but their authenticity—based on the Szechuan restaurants I frequented in Boston/Cambridge, MA—seemed entirely credible. The hot and sour soup recipe was hardly distinguishable from that which I'd had in Boston's best Chinese establishments.

        I would love a recipe for suan la chow shao, the delightful spicy dumpling appetizer once served at Mary Chung's on Mass. Ave.

        2 Replies
        1. re: lidia

          FWIW, "Land of Plenty" by F. Dunlop has a good recipe for suan la chao shou. Oddly enough (I'm from the area) I've never eaten at Mary Chung's, so I can't comment compared to that restaurant, but the version in the Dunlop book is fairly similar to the ones available at Sichuan Gourmet in Billerica.

          1. re: qianning

            THanks, qianning! I will check that out.

        2. Just made the "Pork Shreds w/ Szechwan Vegetable" last night, and I have finally found my ideal version of this dish. Over the years I've made lots of different versions, including Dunlop's, Wei-chuan's, and few from Chinese language books, this one is imho better. Two reasons, he doesn't use a starch in the marinade, which never adds much to this dish, and he adds 1tsp of black vinegar to the sauce, what a difference that made!