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Cookbook of the Month March 2013 is EVERY GRAIN OF RICE

Season those woks and stock up on soy sauce - we're going to China in March in the capable hands of Fuchsia Dunlop. I attended a cookery demonstration on this book last June, and everything Fuchsia cooked was delicious. There's already quite a lengthy thread if people need inspiration.


The reporting threads will go up on 1st March or possibly on the last day of February - I have the time difference to contend with, plus being an upstanding member of the community (ha!), I'm on jury service next week so will be offline for most of the day.

In the meantime, we can start the discussion here. It's a good job EGOR was ahead, because Burma and Ad Hoc at Home had the same number of votes!

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  1. Oh fantastic! I really hope to jump in and cook this month! Thanks GG!


    1. Thanks GG. I'm really looking forward to this. So far what I have made from the book has been quick and tasty. I can't wait to try more dishes.

      1. Hopefully I can cook 2-3 dishes I haven't tried from this book. Most of the recipes in this book is fairly quick. Except the fried tofu ones! I don't know why but it took me like an hour to fry all the tofus last time. Never again. (I probably am doing it wrong though).

        1. This book isn't available in my library system and I'm not interested enough to buy it. I'll look for some recipes in the other thread or see you in April!

          17 Replies
          1. re: pavlova

            Ditto here - I have another of Fuchsia's books which I have yet to cook from, so I can't really justify buying this one and it's not in my library system (probably too new). I'll see you all in April. :-)

            1. re: geekmom

              Which is it that you have but you haven't used Geekmom. I have Land of Plenty, which I only just recently purchased, and I already think it is a great book.

                1. re: geekmom

                  Geekmom, you know that we're still cooking and reporting on the Land of Plenty thread. Here it is:


                  1. re: Gio

                    Yes, and thank you. I will be checking that out for inspiration when I finally get around to bookmarking LOP. Things have been kind of nutty around here so Jamie's 15 Minute Meals is kind of more where we're at most days. But I know things will slow down eventually...

                    1. re: geekmom

                      I haven't cooked from Jamie's 15 minute meals, but I use the Dunlop books in the same way. Fast and delicious quick meals.

                      1. re: beetlebug

                        Absolutely true, bb. Dunlop and Young are the first books I reach for when I want something quick and easy. And there must be at least half a dozen recipes in those books that I seem to crave on a weekly basis. Win, win.

                        1. re: JoanN

                          I had to think for a minute -- Grace Young, right?
                          I just hope I can find ingredients. Already "green garlic" is either shallot or "a little garlic" in my head. Because it will taste good regardless.

                          1. re: blue room

                            Green garlic = garlic scapes -- a seasonal item not available in my neck of the woods for a few more months yet. FD says you can substitute with the green shoots that grow out of your old garlic cloves, but there's not a lot of volume there! My first choice for a sub would be chives bought from an asian market, second choice would be scallions with a little garlic.

                            1. re: Westminstress

                              Actually, green garlic is not quite the same as garlic scapes.

                              Scapes are curly and dense, and have a little closed flower bud at the top; green garlic is like a small leek or big scallion. Confusingly, the terminology in Chinese is somewhat region specific, with '蒜苗' referring to scapes in most areas, but to green garlic ('青蒜' in most places) in parts. http://www.fuchsiadunlop.com/the-joys...

                              In Fuchsia Dunlop's recipes, many of the recipes where she calls for green onions and / or leeks (e.g., mapo doufu, huiguo rou) are originally intended for green garlic. The new book also has some recipes that feature garlic scapes. Usually it's stir-fried with bacon. I'm vegetarian, so I've done it with tea-smoked shiitakes or tea-smoked vegetarian duck, which works pretty well.

                              Both types are different from garlic chives (aka jiucai / gowchoy / Chinese "leek", which are commonly available in three varieties -- regular, flowering, and yellow), which is a different plant entirely, though still in the same family.

                              1. re: will47

                                Thank you both! I suppose I'll take one recipe at a time, improvise, and enjoy the results.

                                1. re: will47

                                  Of course you are right about the difference between green garlic and garlic scapes, I was a bit too loose in my terminology. I had assumed blue room was referencing the recipe that actually called for garlic scapes, but it wasn't a good assumption. In any case, green garlic and garlic scapes are pretty similar once cooked; I think you could substitute one for the other pretty easily. Neither are available right now in the depths of winter, though.

                                  1. re: Westminstress

                                    In my limited experience, even when cooked, scapes tend to be fairly crunchy and tough, whereas the bulb of green garlic can be cooked kind of like scallion or leek whites, and the stems are not that tough.

                                    I purchased some small green garlic a few weeks ago at the local farmers market (I'm in California, though). While garlic can grow year-round in California, I think late winter / early spring is the season for green garlic here.

                                    We also get imported green garlic (from Mexico, I believe) at the Asian markets where I live for a portion of the year (though definitely not year-round). It's sold as 'Taiwan leek' in English, but the Chinese sign says 蒜苗.

                                    If you read the comments in the link on Fuchsia Dunlop's site above, one other interesting note that one of the posters pointed out is that you can grow small garlic sprouts at home year-round - when you get cloves that start to sprout, you can put them in a dish of water, and you'll get small garlic sprouts which you can cut up like chives.

                          2. re: beetlebug

                            Last night I came home late and cooked dinner from EGOR -- two dishes and rice were on the table in less than 30 minutes and much enjoyed by all. Love this book already, very excited for March COTM!

                  2. re: geekmom

                    wow same here - there isn't a library in my state that carries any books by Fuschia Dunlop

                    ...I am sure they have plenty of copies of 'twilight' tho-pfft!

                    -my tax dollars at work indeed!

                  3. re: pavlova

                    Same here. The wontons linked below look interesting so maybe I'll try those, but in the end I don't think this book will be worth buying for me.

                  4. So happy about this! Would have liked to have seen what Burma is all about but EGOR is a favorite cookbook here. In fact last night I made the Sweet and Sour Fish Tiles from the book. Like all the other recipes we've made this was absolutely wonderful.

                    Good luck next week, GG. Hope it won't be too gory.

                    1. I'm really happy about this selection. I'll be traveling over 50% of the time in March, so I feel like my only hope for participation is a book like this one that I am already somewhat familiar with and that has lots of weeknight-friendly recipes.

                      1. Does anyone know of any recipes from the book that are online somewhere? My library doesn't have this one yet. (But they don't have Land of Plenty, either. Just Revolutionary Chinese.)

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Kontxesi

                          Here's one to start you off...
                          Pock-marked old woman's tofu recipe.

                          You can Google for others, although there's not an awful lot out there yet. When the time comes ask for one of us to paraphrase a recipe that you're interested in. We'd be happy to do it.

                          Here's the old but still active reporting thread...

                        2. Well done! Thank you GG.

                          1. Some online recipes for those who don't have access to the book.

                            RED-BRAISED PORK
                            PAK CHOY WITH FRESH SHIITAKE

                            Pock-marked old woman's tofu
                            Runner beans with black beans and chilli
                            Stir-fried potato slivers with chilli and sichuan pepper
                            (on the right hand side of the article)

                            1. A few more online recipes that I don’t think have been mentioned yet:

                              Here are four from the “Telegraph”: Smacked cucumber in garlicky sauce, Sichuanese green soy bean salad, Gong bao chicken with peanuts, Blanched choy sum with sizzling oil

                              Here’s Chef Chen Dailu's Spicy Sesame Noodles:

                              Scroll down past the interview and you’ll find links to three recipes on Epicurious: Red-Braised Pork, Braised Trout in Chilli Bean Sauce, Sichuanese Wontons in Chilli Oil Sauce

                              1. I have EGOR but have not cooked from it at all and for some reason have no interest in it. What was I thinking when i bought it?! Not a clue....

                                Hopefully I will get inspired once all of you start to cook and report on the recipes in March.

                                Great start, GG - thank you for taking on the job!

                                1. Hooray! I've already made a couple of dishes from the book and have a few more planned. I will wait until March to post in the appropriate threads.

                                  ETA: For those who don't want to buy the book and have trouble sourcing recipes or finding a library copy ... perhaps we can gently encourage folks to revisit FD's earlier books, Land of Plenty/Sichuan Cookery and Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook, which were former COTMs and very successful ones, and may be more readily available.

                                  1. First, thank you so much greedygirl! Jury service, huh? We call it jury duty here in the States, but I'll bet it's pretty similar.
                                    I hope it will be either speedy or really interesting for you.
                                    Second -- hooray for this choice! Surely there will something for everyone -- can someone tell me if there are any dumplings? I know the book is sort of geared toward quicker recipes. (?)

                                    Note -- if you are planning to buy this book --
                                    There are *two* cookbooks called "Every Grain of Rice"! This is the one by Fuschia Dunlop. The *other one* comes up first on Amazon.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: blue room

                                      Yes, there are a few simple dumpling recipes in the back with really great step by step photos.

                                      1. re: blue room

                                        Thanks blue room. I have heard it can be either really interesting or quite boring depending on the case! There's a pretty high-profile trial starting at the court I am attending on Monday so maybe I'll get that... I am taking my kindle and ipad just in case. The good news is that I have two weeks leave of absence from work, and the days end early (about 4pm), so lots of time to cook from EGOR!

                                        1. re: blue room

                                          in looking on amazon.com today, the fuschia dunlop book comes up first when "every grain of rice" is typed in! i'd like to attribute that to the power and influence that we hounds have... turning it from #2 to #1!

                                        2. I was kind of hoping for Burma since I know so little about the food, but I already own this book so actually this will be a great month for me.

                                            1. Did you know that March 2013 will mark five years, exactly, from the first time Dunlop's LOP and RC were COTM (in March 2008)?


                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                I'm not sure why that surprises me when I consider how battered, and I mean that in both senses, my copies of those books are.

                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                  I guess after you've tried all of the recipes, your only option is to batter and eat the book itself!

                                                  I can't believe it's been 5 years!


                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    Nor can I. I want to see the battered book!

                                              2. Thank you gg! Can't wait to get started. Trip to Chinese market will be needed in the near future to stock up on the pantry essentials.

                                                1. In preparation for next month, I am stocking my pantry. I have found most of the ingredients, but a few are eluding me. I have to take a better look locally, but can anyone recommend a Chinese online grocer for the US? At posharpstore.com, I've found Pixian doubanjiang, zha cai, pao cai and Sichuan ya cai, but I am still looking for xue cai, gan lan ma and Sichuan pickled bean paste. Is another resource I am unaware of?

                                                  Also, does anyone know what Sichuan pickled bean paste would be in Chinese (phonetically and in pinyin) or even have a picture of a bottle?
                                                  Thank you.

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: BigSal

                                                    I don't know if this article by Fuschia will help or not Sal.


                                                    I've been avoiding the recipes with ingredients I have not been able to find... in 5 years of cooking from her books. (LOL) There are just a few though, thankfully, and sometimes I can find homemade recipes for the less "exotic."

                                                    BTW: When I Google certain items i go to Images instead of Web. I can usually find what I want faster.


                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                      I do the same thing Gio, Googled ingredients then print the photos and take the page w me to Chinatown. Funny I was doing that last night and said to mr bc that I don't know what I'd do without the internet....such an amazing tool for research.

                                                    2. re: BigSal

                                                      If you mean what she calls "sweet fermented sauce" (tian mian jiang; 甜面酱, p336)
                                                      The characters and pinyin are in the glossary too (in traditional characters).

                                                      Assuming you mean lao gan ma, they're in this section:
                                                      I think the one you want is

                                                      I think you will have to find the xuecai locally. It's semi-preserved, but found in the refrigerated section in the market and usually doesn't stay good for that long. If you can find it, you can also buy the vegetable (properly called xue li hong) and blanch / salt it yourself. [edit - I see that she has a packaged one in the glossary. I don't see it on the site you mentioned, and would not subsitute the other preserved mustard greens they sell]

                                                      1. re: will47

                                                        Thanks to everyone for the responses. The item I am referring to is Sichuan pickled chilli paste- no beans- my mistake. She indicates that the ingredients should have chiles, water and salt as main ingredient, not vinegar.

                                                        1. re: BigSal

                                                          Yeah, those are hard to find here. I have made them with home-grown peppers, but don't think there's a good web source.

                                                          1. re: will47

                                                            Thank you. she does say to use douban jiang instead and I have red that sambal olek could be a good substitute too.

                                                    3. EGOR has been selected as Feb's "Cook The Book" feature on Serious Eats. They've made the following 4 recipes so far:

                                                      Twice-Cooked Swiss Chard (Hui Gua Niu Pi Cai)

                                                      Cold Chicken with a Spicy Sichuanese Sauce (Liang Ban Ji)

                                                      Zhajiang Noodles (Zha Jiang Mian)

                                                      Chili Oil

                                                      Here's a link to their notes, photos and recipes:


                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                        Oh! I love Serious Eats Cook the Book-- all those recipes zip right into pepperplate. Thank you!


                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                          The chard is one of my favorites. I knew I would have to try it as soon as I saw it. A little labor intensive, but the results are surprisingly delicious and complex in flavor.

                                                          I've also done an interesting vegetarian "hui guo rou" based on an Internet recipe I found that's made with doufu gan and egg (you cook up the egg as a thin omelet and then break it up into little pieces), green garlic, and some cabbage or green pepper (optional).

                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                            I just made the chilli oil in EGOR this weekend. It's a little different from the SC one. It has sesame seeds and ginger in it. (I'm fairly sure my last jar only has crushed chillis and oil). Maybe I'll be able to test it just in time for COTM!

                                                          2. My copy of EGOR just arrived from Amazon today. Very excited to have a look through it.

                                                            1. It took me forever to figure out what "EGOR" is.

                                                              1. I'm stocking my kitchen for essentials for March. Has anyone tried this Clearwater tamari Dunlop recommends in this blog post of hers? And if yes, and you're in the U.S., where did you buy it?


                                                                And has anyone in the U.S.tried purchasing anything from britsuperstore.com? http://www.britsuperstore.com/acatalo...

                                                                Also, FYI, here's Fuchsia's listing of pantry essentials for those of you who may be out shopping without her books in hand. http://www.fuchsiadunlop.com/chinese-...

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                  I going out this morning to try to put a dent in my longish list of Chinese ingredients for March. I have a stupid driving phobia which keeps me close to home, so I love online shopping too.
                                                                  I've decided I don't need potato flour, I'm gonna use tapioca flour left over from... some other COTM..? I see that (F. Dunlop) mentions spinach, lettuce, bok choy, broccoli, cucumbers, and bean sprouts all as good candidates for some (delicious sounding) cooking methods. So while I'm pretty sure I can't find "choy sum", I'll think like any home cook (in China or anywhere) and make do.

                                                                  1. re: blue room

                                                                    You can use cornstarch instead of potato starch too - just use a little more by volume. Just keep in mind that her recipes aren't calling for potato "flour" in the sense that most people in the US would think about it.

                                                                    1. re: will47

                                                                      We are from Hong Kong and my mum uses cornstarch. So I always do too.

                                                                  1. I have a question about a black bean sauce called for in EGOR.

                                                                    Does anyone know if Laoganma is a brand name or, a particular variety of black bean sauce?

                                                                    At the back of the book there is an explanation of its ingredients and, a notation that it differs from regular black bean sauce but no info as to whether this is a brand or variety.

                                                                    12 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                      I was just googling that this morning -- wondering the same. One site says:
                                                                      Lao Gan Ma Sauce (Old Dry Mom Sauce)
                                                                      It does look like a brand name, though.
                                                                      (Hard to tell, I know!)
                                                                      We'll all learn so much this month.

                                                                      1. re: blue room

                                                                        OMG blue room, that made me laugh out loud!! Not sure my Mom would feel the same way though!! ; )

                                                                        Thanks for that laugh.

                                                                        1. re: blue room

                                                                          It's a brand name. They are available in the UK. They do many different sauces and pickled chillis. It's even funnier if you know that the Gan can mean both Dry and F**k.

                                                                        2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                          I *think* that it is a brand, as when I went to pick some up at the Asian market, it was the only one that I could find. The Laoganma brand had several different varieties available, including regular black bean sauce, but the one I think Dunop is referring to (I hope!) is the 'Hot Pepper Sauce', which was the only jar I saw that contained the ingredients she listed (chili, veg oil, black bean, sugar) and resembled the contents in the photo (the label was also identical, from what I could see).

                                                                          1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                            Yes, it's the brand.
                                                                            The one here says "Black Beans" in English across the bottom (and fengwei douchi -- 风味豆豉 on the yellow boxes going down on the left side) is the one used for the recipe in the book. That's also what's pictured in the book, except without the English writing.

                                                                            Mine has:

                                                                            Soybean Oil
                                                                            Sufpher Dioxide
                                                                            Sodium Sulfite

                                                                            1. re: will47

                                                                              Thank you for clarifying! I guess I'll have to find other uses for this jar, but no matter; it smells delicious.
                                                                              Although, because this one is distributed by a Canadian company, I wonder if the translation would be any different? Comparing the characters you listed, the one on my jar seems to be the same....(but I do not read/speak Mandarin so could easily be overlooking something) Could you tell by the photo if this is indeed the incorrect item?

                                                                              1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                Hopefully this one is clear enough....

                                                                                1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                  That appears to be the one pictured in the book.

                                                                                  Mine has the same writing down the left side, but also says "Black Beans" in English under the picture (presumably the version made for the US market).

                                                                            2. re: Allegra_K

                                                                              Thanks Allegra and Will, that's very helpful. Now just to find a Canadian stockist.

                                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                Hi Breadcrumbs, do they have T&T in Toronto? I know they were purchased by Loblaws and I'm wondering if they have expanded East. They are a pretty comprehensive Asian grocer that generally has most products I look for.

                                                                                1. re: delys77

                                                                                  Thanks so much for taking the time to post this delys. Yes, there are T&T mkts in Toronto...unfortunately, not near me. I may have to make a trek to Chinatown - it's just finding the time. I wish I could find an online Asian grocer that delivered to Ontario.

                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                    No worries. Yeah I'm always a bit jealous of our neighbours to the South with their access to good online delivery sources.

                                                                          2. btw, I meant to mention that I saw a number of recipes in this book that called for pre-cooked chicken. I thought those dishes would be perfect for weeknight meals since the prep could be done in advance.

                                                                            This weekend I plan to buy, poach and freeze a quantity of chicken thighs.

                                                                            It made me wonder if anyone else had discovered any time-saving opportunities for recipes in this book?

                                                                            12 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                              If you don't have a rice cooker, it's a real help when dinner includes rice. You don't have to watch it, and most have a "keep warm" feature.
                                                                              Notice how saving time often means spending more money?

                                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                                That's a great tip br. I bought a Zoji last year and honestly, I don't know how I'd ever lived without one. I've become very attached to Zoji and I love the little happy song he plays when he's made our rice!! (Yes I really do refer to it as he!!)

                                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                  Mine's a Panasonic, but I just looked underneath, and I think it's a she.

                                                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                                                      OMG blue room, that's great! Thanks for that belly laugh!

                                                                                  1. re: blue room

                                                                                    I'm not sure if I am using it wrong (it's a hand me down that didn't come with a guide) but whenever I cook rice in my rice cooker it always ends up cooking onto the bottom of the cooking bowl, and the rice there is all brown and crunchy (in an inedible way, not in a dolsot bibimbap kind of way).

                                                                                    1. re: geekmom

                                                                                      What brand is it geekmom? I've never had an issue w mine. Is your interior bowl non-stick? Do you have settings for different types of rice (eg, white, brown, sweet etc)

                                                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                        BC, it's "national" brand and has two settings "rice cooking" and "keep warm" - a nice basic cheap model, but hey, it was free so can't complain! I do have a nonstick interior bowl. I liked delys77's suggestion to get the bowl out of the cooker as soon as it's done cooking, and will try a little more water as BR suggests. Thanks everyone.

                                                                                      2. re: geekmom

                                                                                        My rice gets brownish sometimes, but in a good way. (Not crunchy, just tanned.) However, I notice the more liquid I use the less this happens.

                                                                                        1. re: blue room

                                                                                          Fluff right after the rice cooker finishes.

                                                                                          Another rice saving, and time saving tip, is to freeze leftover cooked rice in "hamsters" (basically, make a rice burrito with some microwave-safe plastic wrap). Then you can microwave the frozen "hamsters" the next time you have a dinner that's served with steamed rice.

                                                                                        2. re: geekmom

                                                                                          I sometimes have a similar problem with my very cheap black and decker rice cooker. I have found that the element that is meant to keep the rice warm is just a bit too hot. What I typically do is unplug the rice cooker when it is done and let the residual heat keep the rice warm. Even then I find that if I am going to leave the rice for very long I take the insert out and place it on the counter with a tea towel underneath. This approach definitely results in cooling of the rice, but I have generally found that I am good for about 30 minutes with the rice resting in the insert outside the cooker.

                                                                                          Of course I could just get a better rice cooker, but I have grown accustomed to the rhythm of my little cheapie and it is fine for us.

                                                                                    2. Hello everyone. Sorry to interrupt and all, but the reporting threads are up.


                                                                                      A little early I know, but Spring's only a few hours away here, and I'm a little over-excited.

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                          gg that's fantastic, thanks so much! I'm excited too!

                                                                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                            Great job, Greedygirl! I have a small suggestion - is it possible to include page numbers in the titles of reporting threads? I found it very helpful in the past but not a biggy by any means.

                                                                                          2. Yip yip yippee, hao jile, tai hao le, however you want to say it, this is great.

                                                                                            Check this out: http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2013/0...

                                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                              Nice link. I don't usually think of myself as a "groupie," but I really like Fuchsia (even more so after going on her China food tour!).

                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                Oh how fun! I love going to the market with someone who knows what everything is.


                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                  I wouldn't buy that brand of hot bean paste, it's from HK. Sniff.

                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                      I don't get the joke, was that a derisive snort or a sniffle of sadness.

                                                                                                      1. re: delys77

                                                                                                        Is it the Lee Kum Kee chilli bean sauce? Hong Kong food is never hot so a chilli bean paste from HK will be on the very mild side. However Lee Kum Kee is the most available brand in the UK.

                                                                                                        1. re: lilham

                                                                                                          Sniff of derision...I'm not surprised it's available in the UK, Commonwealth preference and all that :)
                                                                                                          Furthermore, her guide in this seems to be a bit clueless AND Shanghai Heping next door to Deluxe is a much better restaurant. And Shanghainese food is not gloppy, wth is she talking about?

                                                                                                2. In re Sichuan eggplant, the March Saveur has an excellent tip from the chef Danny Bowien: he halves Japanese eggplants, scores them about 1/4 in deep in diamonds, soaks them in ice water for 5? min (says it seals the cells off so they absorb less oil, which I rather doubt, but...), dries them off very well, fries them, and then soaks them for 5 min in boiling water to get rid of most of the oil. Dries them off again, then sauces them. This makes yuxiang qiezi a much, much less caloric proposition.
                                                                                                  And this will be my last soapbox statement: I agree with the late Barbara Tropp (with whom I'm not otherwise that taken) that the origin of "fish-flavored" is actually the homonymic Yu Xiang, the traditional names for Sichuan and Hunan. Characters for yu (fish) and xiang (fragrance) are simpler to write than the kingdom names...the flavoring elements are not uniquely used with fish...etc.

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                    I hope you'll be cooking w us this month bt, I love your passion for this topic! I wish you could come to T&T market w me next week!

                                                                                                  2. Questions about condiments:
                                                                                                    1. I have a jar of Preserved Black Bean (chilli, black bean, soy bean oil, water, salt, sesame oil) - is this the same as fermented black beans?
                                                                                                    2. Sechuan Chilli Bean Paste - can I substitute sambal oelek or is it completely different flavour?


                                                                                                    18 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: herby

                                                                                                      I've decided to use any *reasonable* substitute, the better to enjoy anything from this book.
                                                                                                      This has helped a bit:

                                                                                                      p.s. I know this didn't answer your question, herby, but I thought it needed to be said!

                                                                                                      1. re: blue room

                                                                                                        Well, I concur with Blue Room. I do try my hardest to get Exactly the type/brand/whatever ingredient mentioned in the book but sometimes one has to adjust to "get 'er done"...However the fermented black beans I have are just black beans, in a package.

                                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                                          Gio, your black (soy) beans presumably also have salt in them, though, right? They usually look like this http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2013/0... or like this http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2013/0...

                                                                                                          In the past, I've tried to do exactly as Gio says, get exactly what Fuchsia recommends even her preferred brand, if possible. However, this time around, I'm going to be making a lot of substitutions. I know things won't taste perfectly authentic, but they will still taste delicious enough. I don't have a lot of time to go ingredient shopping at specialty stores these days, so, I'm willing to let go of some perfectionism in order to be able to participate.


                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                            Yes, TDQ. Definitely they have been salted fermented and then dried, as Qianning says below.

                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                              I figure the people cooking this book will know already stuff like .. the black beans here aren't Tex-Mex black beans, or they will be interested enough to do the googling to find out. However, if I were a Chinese home cook and I wanted to make American Thanksgiving Turkey Stuffing or American 4th of July Potato Salad I might use whatever sort of onions (even if they were "wrong") I had on hand, and I think it would be OK!

                                                                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                substituting scallions for onions would be fine, substituting ketchup for mayonnaise might lead to some interesting results.....but then again I've made more than one Thanksgiving dinner using a duck in place of the unavailable turkey, so really I do get your point.

                                                                                                                1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                  Sorry, I just wanted to make sure that people who read GIo's post knew there should be more than just beans in a pack of fermented black beans, which is also why I provided what I thought were helpful links to the specific fermented black beans Fuchsia identified for the Serious Eats folks on their shopping trip.

                                                                                                                  You know, I never assume too much when it comes to these ingredient questions. If you're doing a giant shop all at once, even if you have the book along, even if you have good notes, it can get very confusing, very quickly, especially if they don't have exactly what you had on your list and/or there's a language barrier (we have great Asian markets here, but relatively fluent Chinese speakers don't make up the majority of our Asian population here.). It's easy to come home with the wrong stuff.

                                                                                                                  I just came back from my local Asian market, which has specific sections for Chinese, Thai, Korean and Japanese goods and the only black beans in the Chinese dry goods section were dried black beans, with no salt or anything. I have NO idea what kind of beans those were. TexMex beans, perhaps, but if so, it was strange to see them in the Chinese imports section. Anyway, since I knew those weren't what I was looking for, I had to go ask where the fermented black beans were. They took me to an entirely different part of the store (the refrigerated section). It was odd, because the beans weren't actually refrigerated, but that's where they were, on the shelf above the fridge case. (I can't really remember where I got them in the past--they last so long it's been awhile since I've had to buy any!)

                                                                                                                  The good news is, that they also had all of the fermented tofus right there, too, so I was saved the trouble of having to ask where those were.

                                                                                                                  Anyway, I was just trying to be helpful as maybe someone else's Asian market also has packs of plain black beans with no salt.


                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                    I always like what you write, even when you're wandering in the non-refrigerated sections!

                                                                                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                      Very kind of you, thank you. I burn a lot of calories wandering around lost in markets.


                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                        They sold them loose in barrels in Taipei when I lived there (black beans as in frijoles negros). I never saw them used in anything, however.

                                                                                                          2. re: herby

                                                                                                            Doubanjiang is completely different from sambal oelek in taste and texture.

                                                                                                            While not the best option, Lee Kum Kee "Chili Bean Sauce" is probably fairly widely available.

                                                                                                            The beans you want could be either dried or jarred, but shouldn't have chili in them.

                                                                                                            1. re: will47

                                                                                                              Thank you all for your very helpful and encouraging replies!

                                                                                                            2. re: herby

                                                                                                              1. re: "fermented black beans" see this link:
                                                                                                              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douchi The three items to the right-hand side of the picture are "fermented black beans". the jar on the left-hand side of the picture is a product made with black beans, but is not a substitute for fermented black beans.

                                                                                                              Based on the ingredients you list in your jar of preserved black beans it sounds like it is a product made with fermented black beans, and is not really a substitute. Fermented black beans, like the black beans in the foreground of the picture, are individual beans that have been salted fermented and then dried. They taste salty and a bit tangy. They have no chili heat flavor, and very little oiliness. Any Chinese grocery will carry them. Most western groceries don't. The Chinese name is 豆豉 douchi in Mandarin.

                                                                                                              2. re: "Sichuan Chili Bean paste", see this link:

                                                                                                              I totally agree with Will, sambal olec is not a good substitute, texture flavor and ingredients are all different.
                                                                                                              My preferred substitute if I can't find Sichuan Chili Bean Paste is this one: (cribbed from Wikipedia


                                                                                                              "Guilin chili sauce (Guìlín làjiāojiàng 桂林辣椒酱) is made of fresh chili, garlic and fermented soybeans; it also is marketed as soy chili sauce (la jiao jiang and la dou ban jiang are not the same thing, though they look vaguely similar in the jar)"

                                                                                                              I mention it because Lee Kum Kee Brand has a version of Guilin Chili Sauce that is carried in a fair number of western groceries these days. But then again Lee Kum Kee also has the "Chili Bean Sauce" which is closer as Will mentions.

                                                                                                              Hope this helps.

                                                                                                              1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                Q, do you have a preferred brand of fermented black beans? I recently had to buy a new bag, and silly frugal me bought the cheapest ones (I keep making this mistake over and over again). Not a huge shock to find that there were stones and grit in them! Obviously I need to spend that extra fifty cents to get something better.

                                                                                                                1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                  Poor you. Tuition in Chinese groceries can be steep. Believe me I've paid my fair share.

                                                                                                                  I'm not that brand loyal about the fermented black beans (or a lot of the other pickles that come in plastic/cryovac packaging) because available brands vary a lot from store to store and time to time. But when it comes to these things, try to go for mid-market or above.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                    Pearl River Bridge should be Ok, as far as the dried ones. I believe the dried ones should be rinsed a few times before using.

                                                                                                                    1. re: will47

                                                                                                                      Thanks will and qianning. I should have known that anything over 89 cents would be just fine. It's sometimes so hard to beat the cheapskate in me into submission!

                                                                                                                  2. re: qianning

                                                                                                                    Super helpful! Many thanks, Q, for taking the time to explain the differences in such detail.

                                                                                                                2. Ok my friends, I'm hoping you can help me with some of the ingredients I purchased on my incredibly fun trip to T&T Supermarket (large Asian grocer in Canada).

                                                                                                                  First up, my Laoganma sauce collection.

                                                                                                                  I'm not sure which (if any) of these is the one in the book. #1 looks most like it but, mine seems to have an additional white character at the top of the label.

                                                                                                                  Here are the ingredients in each bottle listed in the order they appear in the first photo:

                                                                                                                  1. Chili, Vegetable Oil, Black Bean, Sugar, MSG, Salt
                                                                                                                  2. Soybean Oil, Bean Paste, Bean, Pepper, MSG, Salt
                                                                                                                  3. Oil, Vegetable Oil, Sugar, MSG, Salt, Onion, Black Bean, Chinese Prickly Ash

                                                                                                                  I've only opened #1 and it smells incredible; much like toasted onions. It is hot.

                                                                                                                  Are any of these what I'm supposed to use for the dishes in this book and for the ones that are not, any suggestions on how and when to use them would be appreciated.

                                                                                                                  Also, I was able to find many other ingredients so if its helpful to have a photo of something posted here, just ask and if I have it, I'll post it. That way you can have it on your phone or ipad. That's where I've put my pics for future shopping.

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                    The last picture (far left in the first picture, and fourth picture) is the one you want for the book recipes - the one with 风味豆豉 running down the left side of the face in yellow.

                                                                                                                    The short one in the middle says
                                                                                                                    香辣酱 (fragrant chili paste)

                                                                                                                    The other tall one says:
                                                                                                                    香辣脆油辣椒 (roughly "fragrant / spicy / crispy chili oil with chilis")

                                                                                                                    1. re: will47

                                                                                                                      Thank-you very much will. Funny that the second one means chilli paste because they don't list chilis as an ingredient! Or maybe that's what "Pepper" is meant to convey.

                                                                                                                      I really appreciate your help Will.

                                                                                                                  2. Next up, 2 items:

                                                                                                                    Photos 1 & 2 are of my mystery bottle that looked so delicious, I couldn’t pass it up.

                                                                                                                    Ingredients: Edible Vegetable Oil, Chilli, Peanut, Ginger, Green Onion, Salt, Sugar, Sichuan Pepper, Sodium Glutamate, Disodium5, and another item that I can’t make out because the writing is smudged.

                                                                                                                    Photo 3 is obviously a hot chili oil. I'm not sure where the "Sate" comes into the equation. The ingredients are Canola Oil, Dry Chilli, Garlic, MSG.

                                                                                                                    I'm wondering if this might be suitable for use instead of making my own (though I did buy the Korean chilis to do so, I just haven't made it yet)

                                                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                      The one on the left says "oil hot things", essentially. It's a condiment (at least I've never used it in anything, except for a cucumber salad).
                                                                                                                      Is the other one just red oil? Chili oil doesn't always have garlic in it. Since this is also labeled in Malay and Thai, it may be more geared to southeast Asian tastes.

                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                        Thanks bt, I figured w it having whole peanuts inside it might be a condiment. Honestly it looks and smells so good I'd eat it w a spoon if it wasn't suspended in oil!!

                                                                                                                        Yes, the one on the right is Thai-(ish) It says it's made in Canada. In 1/2 of the bottle are the solids w the oil atop. I haven't tasted it though so will definitely do that prior to using it. I know some of the Chinese hot oils are super hot so I thought I may be better w a Thai or Korean Oil but couldn't find the latter.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                          I would expect Thai chili oil would be hotter than heck, myself. I don't know if hot oil is used in Korean food, a cuisine on which I am woefully uninformed.

                                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                            ...and if I'd noticed the angry looking devil creature in what looks like fighting gear on the label I might have come to the same conclusion bt!!! Duh! I'l have a taste and let you know.

                                                                                                                            I did buy a bag of what the T&T mgr assured me were crushed red Korean chilis and it was in one of FD's books or on her website that I read they weren't as hot as the Chinese ones. I intend to use them to make the Chilli Oil in EGOR. We'll see how that goes. I may make it tomorrow while mr bc is on course since the aromas would likely make him weep!!

                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                              I don't think chile oil is too common in Korean food unless you are making a Korean-Chinese dish. Usually, the heat in Korean food comes from gochujang (red chile paste), gochugaru (red pepper flakes used to make kimchi), or just by adding kimchi to a dish (in a soup or fried rice).

                                                                                                                              1. re: TrishaCP

                                                                                                                                Thank you for providing the Korean names for the chilis Trisha. The author of this book recommends making your own chilli oil and using Sichuan or Korean chilis which aren't as hot as others apparently.

                                                                                                                        2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                          The flavored chili oils (with things like garlic, shallot, dried shrimp, peanut, etc.) in them are popular in HK, parts of Guangdong [especially Chaozhou area], etc., and are more often used as a general purpose condiment, or maybe in soups [a bit OT, but this is a great starting point if you want to make your own at home -- http://3hungrytummies.blogspot.com/20...].

                                                                                                                          For most of the recipes in the book, I would use just (relatively plain chili oil, either homemade or store-bought. Some of the store brands don't have sediment, whereas some of Dunlop's recipes do call for the sediment to be included. I sometimes heat a little ginger and / or star anise in the oil (per her directions in the earlier book). Adding sesame seeds like in the EGOR variation is also very nice.

                                                                                                                          If you're using whole dried chilis rather than crushed, you do need to snip and toast them (with just a little oil, avoiding burning) before grinding them. I haven't had great success grinding - Vita-mix works well, but I don't have the dry grinder blade, so always worried about messing up the motor. Dry spice grinder also seems to work Ok.

                                                                                                                          1. re: will47

                                                                                                                            Thank-you very much for such an informative post will. I've bookmarked that link as that oil looks sensational.

                                                                                                                            I appreciate your suggestions on the chili oil as well. I have an Italian chili oil that I used for the cooking I did yesterday but I think I'll make my own since I did buy the crushed chilis for FD's recipe.

                                                                                                                        3. Now, here’s my assortment of Preserved Vegetables. Which would be best for the dishes in this book? Fingers crossed that one of these will work. FYI, the ones in the foil pkgs are refrigerated.

                                                                                                                          I realize it won’t be the ones in the jar as they are preserved “in syrup”. Any ideas on how those might be used?

                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                            The canned one and the one in the foil packet are both zhà cài (榨菜). I would probably guess that the foil packet one will be better. Some markets sell them in the refrigerated section (or even in both refrigerated and unrefrigerated sections), but I don't think they need to be refrigerated necessarily, until after they've been opened. These should be fine for any recipe which calls for ya cai - they taste a little different, but they're used somewhat interchangeably.

                                                                                                                            Whichever one you use, I would rinse once or twice before use.

                                                                                                                            The first one is some kind of mixed preserved vegetable, as the English name says.

                                                                                                                            1. re: will47

                                                                                                                              I love those foil packets, since it would take a month of Sundays to get through one of those cans :)

                                                                                                                              1. re: will47

                                                                                                                                Will I can't thank you enough for your help. I'll take your guidance and rinse well. Thank-you!

                                                                                                                            2. Finally, I couldn’t find anything labeled preserved “white” bean curd. The red was no problem. Both these bottles say “Wet Bean Curd”. Will these work?

                                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                Looks right to me. One of them says 白 (white) on the front.

                                                                                                                                1. re: will47

                                                                                                                                  i think the white is mentioned to differentiate it from the red furu one sees.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                      It's the thing pictured here. It's a kind of fermented tofu product. A little bit salty, a little bit sour. It's a little funky, but it's not funky like stinky tofu.

                                                                                                                                      It goes well with dark leafy greens (common preparation is to use a bit of it as seasoning with ong choy / kong xin cai). You can also put some sugar on it and add to rice porridge. I usually use the red kind.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: will47

                                                                                                                                        Oh, ok Will, I see. Thank-you! I have the red kind too and I've noted your feedback in my book. I really appreciate it.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: will47

                                                                                                                                    Will, thanks again. I don't even know how you could make that character out in my photo. mr bc went and pulled the jar off the shelf and we were both grateful to have learned something new today. Sincere thanks!

                                                                                                                                2. If someone could tell me what these are for? When you get a chance, of course!
                                                                                                                                  The one on the right says in English "preserved beans with ginger".

                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                    The picture on the left is fermented tofu. Here's more information on it. Not sure about the picture on the right, though.


                                                                                                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                      picture on the left is "low sodium doufu ru (fermented ? preserved? beancurd--not quite sure what FD calls it). It's similar to the white beancurd in BC's pic above, but this is the "red" version -i.e. packed in red rice yeast paste- and it is low salt, which I've never seen before.

                                                                                                                                      picture on the right, the dark red label just says "hand selected", I can't quite see the white label, but pretty sure it is preserved black beans, dou chi, mentioned somewhere up thread.

                                                                                                                                      meanwhile, not quite sure if I got your question, did you want to know what recipes they are for?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                        Thank you both!
                                                                                                                                        Now that I know what they are, I can find recipes. I'm afraid I've bought some things I'll have trouble using-- or at least using up.
                                                                                                                                        However, the nature of these foods make me think they'll last a long time!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                          yep, refrigerated they pretty much last forever.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                        I found a promising recipe for the one on the right!

                                                                                                                                        And I know there are red fermented tofu recipes in the Dunlop book.

                                                                                                                                      3. is there a reasonable sub for sweet fermented sauce? I wanted to make the red braised beef tomorrow but can't go to an Asian market until next week.

                                                                                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                          From the Cook's Thesaurus site, "sweet bean sauce = sweet bean paste Notes: This brown sauce is made from sweetened fermented soybeans. Taiwanese cooks use it as a marinade or a condiment for meats. Substitutes: hoisin sauce (milder)."

                                                                                                                                          The site as a whole is invaluable... here's the Asian ingredient page were I got the quote:


                                                                                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                            Hmmm, no hoisin either. the recipe calls for Sichuan chili bean paste and sweet fermented sauce. Reading this link, I think I could get away with subbing a bit of sugar (maybe brown sugar?) and some fermented black beans (or maybe I could replace some chicken stock w fermented bean stock.) what do you think?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                              Do you have any thick textured soy pastes/sauces in the house? Kecap manis? Miso? Soy paste? Thickened soy sauce? Despite the name, sweet fermented sauce is more of a fermented and salty flavor than a sweet flavor....or if you have fermented black beans, rinse well, soak in a very small amount of water, pummel, add a very slight (1/8-1/4 tsp per tablespoon of beans) amount of sugar.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                I have miso and fermented black beans (and the sichuan chilli bean paste of course!). If the recipe calls for 11/2 tsp sweet fermented sauce (to 1 pound beef, 3 cups stock, and 21/2 tbsp chilli bean paste), what proportions would you use?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                                  Major caveat--this is a guess.

                                                                                                                                                  1tsp black beans measured, then rinsed and ground to a paste. + 1/8 tsp brown sugar.

                                                                                                                                                  probably about the same for miso (might not add the sugar depending on what type of miso).

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                    Thanks, im going to try it! I'll let you know how it turns out. I have a very small fridge so I can't keep condiments unless they really get used frequently (chilli bean paste obviously passes the test but not so sure about the sweet fermented sauce)

                                                                                                                                                2. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                  Do you think Korean doenjang would work? I have a big tub of it in my cupboard and it definitely has that salty, fermented taste.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                              As I know, Sichuan sweet bean paste is usually used for cold dish. One version is made from fermented wheat powder and taste "sweet" for Sichuanese, but no sugar and no chili added at all.

                                                                                                                                            3. LAOGANMA SAUCES -

                                                                                                                                              For anyone who's interested, I'm sharing a link to an online store with clear photos and descriptions of each of the various jars of Laognma sauces:


                                                                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                I ordered, and have received a package from this store.
                                                                                                                                                As well as a jar of "Laoganma Spicy Black Bean" I've got a foil packet of "Chengdu Dandan Pixian Chili Broad Bean Paste."
                                                                                                                                                And some Wangzhihe red fermented tofu -- cooking with that today, will report.
                                                                                                                                                Talk about feeling clueless! It's fun though!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                  That's great blue room. Unfortunately they don't deliver to Canada but I loved their website and I've bookmarked it as a reference guide. Their search feature leaves a lot to be desired though.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                    Can't wait to hear what you think of the fermented doufu--

                                                                                                                                                    for those who haven't seen it this is a wonderful article by FD comparing fermented tofu and Stilton cheese. The observations are so spot on.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                      Great article....I laughed out loud at the "earthy, old underwear aroma" part used to describe the various fermented vegetables.

                                                                                                                                                      I bought my first jar of fermented tofu as well, but haven't yet cracked it open. I must admit that I'm slightly intimidated, though I've been loving all the other preserved vegetables so far, so I really need to just get over it.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                        Thanks for the article -- I had no idea cheese was unusual in any part of the world -- it's *cheese*! I thought it was especially a good point about the fermented tofu disappearing quickly from your taste, while dairy cheese hangs around longer.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                          Great article -- thanks. My favorite line was the one about the part of old Stilton that "gets right up your nose, dirty and delicious" -- such a great description.

                                                                                                                                                          I remember reading somewhere years ago that people in Asia could often smell the scent of dairy eaters on Western tourists and I have often thought of it since, even though I am still an avowed cheese and dairy lover!

                                                                                                                                                          And I also found it fascinating -- and hilariously telling -- when I learned that the Mandarin word for butter translates as "cow oil" -- makes it sound much less appealing and appetizing, right?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mebby

                                                                                                                                                            Cow breast oil, actually...yum yum!

                                                                                                                                                      2. I think I made a mistake purchasing this one --
                                                                                                                                                        apparently it's ony for coloring restaurant foods (fried rice) but not for home use? It tastes almost burnt, very black and bitter. The first ingredient is molasses, but I wouldn't call it sweet. Should I keep it?

                                                                                                                                                        1. I thought this would be about this book


                                                                                                                                                          -which is a good book on it's own

                                                                                                                                                          will have to get this one now too :)

                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: madeliner

                                                                                                                                                            I was wondering if this was a good book too -- it certainly isn't going cheap. And I wonder how the same name situation occurs when people write books.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                              It's a nice book, homey recipes from their chinese family and some lovely stories too.

                                                                                                                                                              I really liked the artwork

                                                                                                                                                              sadly when googling I found the illustrator had passed away

                                                                                                                                                              good question about the title, maybe the addition of ': A Taste of Our Chinese Childhood in America ' was enough to make the dunlop book use the title and still be different, who knows?