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Cookbook of the Month March 2013 EVERY GRAIN OF RICE: Cold dishes, Tofu, Meat, Chicken and Eggs, Fish and Seafood

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Welcome to Cookbook of the Month for March 2013, which is Every Grain of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop.

Please post your full-length reviews of recipes for cold dishes, tofu, meat, chicken and eggs, and fish and seafood here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

This thread is for the following chapters - please note I am using the British version of the book for the purposes of this thread:

Cold Dishes - p32
Tofu - p74
Meat - p92
Chicken and Eggs - p112
Fish and Seafood - p134

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

Happy wokking!

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  1. There are a few dishes in the Meat section that call for pork belly. I'd like to try the recipes but I just don't like the fattiness of pork belly which I tend to find too gelatinous in texture for me.

    Red-Braised, Twice-Cooked and Salt-Fried were 3 such recipes. Has anyone tried these and could you offer a substitute for the pork belly?

    12 Replies
    1. re: Breadcrumbs

      I haven't but I think you would need something with a reasonable amount of fat like shoulder.

      1. re: Breadcrumbs

        Those are three of my favorite recipes. I don't have a substitute, but I also don't like too much gelatinous pork fat, so I make sure to cook the pork belly down a bit more and, if necessary, eat around any larger chunks of fat.

        1. re: emily

          Thanks gg & emily. I really dislike it so I'm hoping to find a substitute as the dishes really appeal. I'm excited to know those are your favourites emily!

          1. re: Breadcrumbs

            I'm trying to work out which dishes will allow me to substitute pork cheek, as i have some to use up - any ideas?

          2. re: emily

            I'm totally intimidated by the idea of cooking with pork belly, but I find it hard to resist these recipes if you're saying they are among your favorites. Could I use strips of uncured bacon?

            ~TDQ

            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Hmmm... I honestly don't know. Bacon is going to have a different texture and then there's the smoked flavor. It might work for the twice-cooked recipe, but you need cubes for the red-braised. I had never cooked with pork belly before either and was slightly wigged out (sometimes it has small nipples attached to the skin), but it's not a big deal now.

          3. re: Breadcrumbs

            I haven't tried the EGOR variant of the recipe titles you mention, but I've cooked other non-FD recipes for all of them; I'd say Red-Braised would be OK with pork shoulder or butt (you will need to leave in some fat for the the texture to have the moisture and tenderness you are looking for in a braised meat like this).

            As for twice-cooked and salt-fried pork, the point of these dishes is the fat and the texture will be all "wrong", at least from a Chinese perspective if you use something else. Of course, to each his own!

            1. re: Breadcrumbs

              Looks yummy!

              Edit--this was supposed to be in reply to frizzle....I keep forgetting that the new site software doesn't like mozilla....

              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                Hi Breadcrumbs,

                I would second all that qlanning brought to the conversation.

                I made the Red-Braised pork with boneless country-style pork ribs which were actually quite lean, probably a bit more so than pork butt. I've made it before with pork belly, so have that as a baseline. I let it go for 2 hours or so until it was quite tender but not totally falling-apart. It was tasty, but I thought that it definitely needed to be richer and more moist.

                I agree with qlanning that twice-cooked/salt-fried pork would not work well without pork belly. What Emily suggests works very well for those recipes.

                That gelatinous texture is such a Chinese thing: I, too, was freaked out by it at first, but have since grown to appreciate it. There was a great local Sichuan restaurant near me that had all sorts of goodies on the menu like homestyle tendon and ma la duck tongues. Focusing on the wonderful flavors really helped me get over my squeamishness. I can certainly understand!

                1. re: ericurus

                  qianning and ericurus thank-you so much for your thoughtful responses and insights. I sincerely appreciate them and will commit to keep these dishes on my list of "to-try" dishes. I most definitely appreciate the value of preparing and tasting a dish as it was intended to be tasted. Many thanks!

                2. re: Breadcrumbs

                  I have the same issue and use pork shoulder instead,defatting it at every stage. "Country ribs" cut of pork shoulder are ideal.

                  1. re: Milliezz

                    Thanks Milliezz, that's good to know and much appreciated.

                3. Salt and Pepper Squid Pg 144 UK edition

                  I made this on the eve of COTM but thought I would write it up anyway. I absolutely loved this but I am a novice at cooking and eating this dish. In the past I've simply put some salt and some black pepper in my flour or corn flour, tossed my cut squid in that and fried it. This was far nicer than my sad attempts. The cornflour stuck nicely to the squid and was crunchy, the garlic, spring onion and chilli gave loads of flavour and the salt and ground sichuan pepper gave it that mouth-watering quality.

                  I did all the pre-cutting first. Garlic, spring onion whites and greens separate. I had run out of fresh chillis so I used a combination of dried flakes and salted chillis.

                  I used a squid tube (pre-frozen) and scored and chopped it into bite-sized pieces. These get put in a bowl with a little shaoxing wine for a bit. They're then drained and tossed in the potato flour (I used corn flour). Then you deep fry them in batches until nice and golden. They drain on paper towels until they are all done. I'm cheap with my oil and used a small pot so I did several batches.

                  She then tells you to remove all but 1 tbsp of oil and fry up the garlic, spring onion whites and chilli. I swapped to a fry pan for this stage. You cook these until they are fragrant and then add the squid back into the pan with the salt and pepper, toss it around and then finally add in the spring onion greens.

                  Very easy and quick to make, especially if you buy a cleaned squid tube. I did miss the slightly different texture you get from tentacles but it was still very good.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: Frizzle

                    Photo...

                     
                    1. re: Frizzle

                      Amazing. Sounds fabulous, too. I was going to make this tonight but forgot to pick up squid, darn it! Must rush to store now....

                      1. re: Frizzle

                        This was one of the first dishes I made as well and also found it worked really well. I liked that you can deep fry the squid in batches a little bit in advance and then bring it all together to heat through just before serving, which made it less of a rush to get everything ready at the same time!

                        1. re: Frizzle

                          This dish looks great! Wishing I could nibble on a few pieces of it now.

                        2. re: Frizzle

                          Yum, this one's been on my list for a while.

                          1. re: Frizzle

                            Sounds fabulous! This one s also on my list for this month as my partner loves this dish at our favourite Chinese take out.

                            1. re: Frizzle

                              I made this last night using squid rings instead of scored pieces. I think it would have worked much better using the piece, but it was still absolutely delicious. I am still a bit scared of deep-frying, but am getting over it gradually!

                              1. re: Frizzle

                                Made this tonight but substituted large shrimp for the squid. Excellent, though the 3/4 tsp. salt called for was too much for the equivalent weight in shrimp.

                                1. re: Frizzle

                                  SALT AND PEPPER SQUID, P 144.
                                  This was my first time deep frying squid. Had been given a gift of frozen, pre- cleaned squid tubes and tentacles. The procedure is covered very well above - the only changes I made were to reduce the salt in the salt and Sichuan pepper mixture so that the ration was half and half, and also to use corn starch. The flavors were delicious. The squid was a touch rubbery but I am sure this is due either to user error or the fact that it was frozen... I will definitely try this again. I think I will try potato flour next time. Perhaps I did not dry the squid thoroughly enough before coating in the corn starch - but it did not seem to adhere well.

                                2. Steamed Chicken with [ham] and Shiitake Mushrooms p. 114

                                  This is a gingery and light meal.
                                  Boneless chicken thighs are cut into strips and mixed with Shaoxing wine, slices of ginger and ginger water, salt, sugar, a little oil, and a thickener (I used tapioca flour.)
                                  The chicken is placed in a steamer with thin slices of ham and slices of shiitake caps covering, then steamed for about 15 minutes. It isn't such a pretty dish because cooking method keeps the chicken pale, with raggedy bits of grey and black mushroom on it, but mix well with rice and a little soy sauce and it's good!
                                  I boned the chicken thighs myself -- kind of a hassle, but doable. The recipe calls for Chinese sausage or Spanish ham, I used a mix of few strips of prosciutto and a few strips of local grown and cured ham.
                                  I have a bamboo steamer, but don't want meat juices on it -- must keep pristine for dumplings! -- so I rigged up a steamer plate inside a deepish braiser, it worked well. I think it's possible to steam inside a wok too, but wouldn't that ruin the seasoning on the surface?
                                  I'd recommend this, and I'd do it again.

                                   
                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: blue room

                                    Looks great blue room. I like the way you plated it with the greens.

                                    Like you I don't usually use my wok for steaming, not wanting to ruin the seasoning on the wok, or add the oil smells to my steamed dish.

                                  2. Steamed Sea Bass with Ginger and Spring Onion p. 136

                                    My Mom is staying with us and her birthday was last night and she wanted a fish dish. After looking through a number of cookbooks, this was one of the dishes she chose (along with sake simmered mackerel from Japanese Cooking, A Simple Art). I was excited to give this whole fish preparation a try since we really like steamed fish fillets CHinese style, but have never done a whole fish. Unfortunately, this ended up being a bit disappointing and overshadowed by the excellent mackerel dish.

                                    So, first, had to procure a whole sea bass. Luckily the Chinese market close to us has a tank of striped bass than you can pick your fish while its swimming in front of you. Always been looking for an excuse to do this. I found it mildly disturbing to see them bash it in the head with a mallet to stun it into submission for the scale, but we certainly knew it was fresh. Swimming around a mere hour and a half before it hit the table!

                                    The prep for this dish is easy. Slash fish on the sides. Rub with Shaoxing wine (I subbed sherry because I couldn't yet find a bottle of Shaoxing that was not industrial sized) and salt and stuff cavity with ginger and scallions. It sits like this for 10-15 minutes then goes into te steamer set up on some whole scallions. I don't have an official steaming apparatus, so I always fut the fish in a pie pan and put that onto ramekins sitting in a layer of water in my biggest wide soup pot. Directions are to steam for 10-12 minutes until cooked. I checked at 12 and the side facing up was done but the underside still needed longer. I flipped the fish (thank god for my fish spatula) and let it go another 6-7 minutes. At this point it was flaking apart nicely and the skin was peeling back a lot.

                                    To finish, you drain off the juices that have accumulated and pile some shredded ginger and scallions on top and then sizzle the whole thing with hot oil. Dilute tamari is poured around the plate. Mine finished product did not look nearly so elegant as the pic in part since the tail, which had been hanging over the edge of the pie pan fell off. I have a pic I will attach as soon as I get it off my phone.

                                    Unfortunately, we thought the flavor was so mild as to be verging on bland. More importantly, the texture was weird. It was cooked unevenly with some parts a very cooked and falling a apart and some less well done, but all of it had a bit of a rubbery chew to it. It was flaky and soft, but there was an underlying resistance to the flesh which was unappealing in steamed fish. Obviously the fish was very fresh so I'm not sure where this came from. Maybe a byproduct of being a farmed fish? I didn't ask, but I bet those striped bass are farmed. We were disappointed since we have really enjoyed steamed fish previously (especially the recipe from Gourmet today). Luckily the mackerel was a winner and saved the celebratory dinner for us.

                                    I served with rice, he mackerel and Chinese Broccoli in Ginger sauce p. 182, which I will review in the appropriate thread.

                                    17 Replies
                                    1. re: greeneggsnham

                                      here's the pic

                                       
                                      1. re: greeneggsnham

                                        I've never done a whole fish either, very intimidating!
                                        About how big/heavy was your fish?
                                        The irregular shape (by which I mean perfectly fish-shaped) would make it hard to cook it evenly.

                                        1. re: blue room

                                          Agree! Intimidating!

                                          Did they clean and gut the fish for you at the Asian market?

                                          ~TDQ

                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            My fish was just shy of a pound and a half when live. They did clean and gut it, thankfully! That would likely have been a bit much for me.

                                            It was too bad, but also a fun experience for my mom and me. All of the whole fish preparations in the book look so yummy, but it is a bit hard to cook a whole fish properly (for me, at least). Wonder if you could do them with fillets?

                                      2. re: greeneggsnham

                                        A shame this didn't work for you. It was one of the dishes prepared by FD at the demonstration I went to last year, and was really delicious. I wonder if your fish was a lot bigger then the ones we have in England, which are sea bass rather than striped bass (not sure if they're the same thing).

                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                          gg did you ever post about your experience in Fuchsia's class? I'd love to hear more about it and your impressions of her.

                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                            I typed a long post which I managed to lose and never got round to repeating! I will try to think back and post something maybe in the pre-COTM thread. We share the same employer, so I was thinking that I could maybe email her at some point if we have some questions. She's very nice.

                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                              That's a shame about your post gg. I've had that happen to me as well where the screen freezes up and I lose everything. This actually started to happen more frequently after the "upgrade" - so much so that now I type all my reviews and longer posts in Word first.

                                              I'd love to hear more about your experience if and when you have the time.

                                          2. re: greedygirl

                                            A 1 1/2 lb fish ungutted is not a very big fish.

                                          3. re: greeneggsnham

                                            Steamed Sea Bass with Ginger and Spring Onion, page 136

                                            The sea bass is running off the Massachusetts coast right now, and on a whim, I bought two at my fish market this morning. Mr. Fishmonger said they were fresh off the boat this morning. [One of the many reasons to love living on a coast.] GreeneggsandHam described the cooking process well above, so I won't repeat. The recipe calls for one sea bass, about 700g. I had two sea bass, and they weighed 707 g, so I kept the proportions unchanged.

                                            I used a bamboo steamer which I rubbed down with a bit of peanut oil to prevent sticking. My fish was done at 9 minutes, less than FD's estimate of 10-12. As you will see in the pictures, I did my sticks of onion and ginger going the wrong way. It also appears that I might have had too much of the onion and ginger.

                                            I got the oil very hot before pouring over, but I think it could be been a bit hotter. I got the sizzle, but the ginger didn't soften much.

                                            I served this with some dumplings with a sauce of soy, lime juice, and ginger. For us, when we dipped our fish into this mixture, it really came alive. I have made a note to substitute some Ponzu or lime juice for some of the soy in the finishing sauce.

                                            We really liked this a lot. The texture of the fish was wonderful. Though subtle, the underlying flavor from the ginger stuffed into the cavity gave the fish a nice flavor and aroma. Other items besides the fish and dumplings, sweet and sour cabbage from Breath of the Wok and Jasmine rice.

                                            Pictures include a shot of the fish trying out their new home, and then the finished version.

                                             
                                             
                                            1. re: smtucker

                                              That's picture perfect! We pick up our CSF share Tuesday, and can't wait to see what it is. Now I'm hoping it will be sea bass.

                                              1. re: smtucker

                                                Looks delicious. Which fishmonger please?

                                                1. re: beetlebug

                                                  This fish is from Courthouse Seafood, my favorite spot for fish. I am sure that New Deal has some great examples as well though.

                                                  I specifically asked them for two smaller fish, of equal size. He pawed through the ice and found two perfect specimens.

                                                2. re: smtucker

                                                  Perfect yin and yang set up in that steamer! Looks and sounds delicious.

                                                3. re: greeneggsnham

                                                  Steamed Sea Bass with Ginger and Spring Onion (page 136)

                                                  I was hoping the fisherman at my local farmer's market would have whole black sea bass yesterday, but he only had fillets, so I was pleased to see that she says this dish can be made exactly the same way with fillets just adjusting for the cooking time. This was just marvelous. Wouldn't hesitate to make it with fillets again. I served it with the Stir-Fried Sugar Snap Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms (the snap peas also fresh from the farmer's market) from "Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge." Great meal.

                                                   
                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                    Looks delicious. I've always modified this recipe using the one from the Green Gourmet cookbook. I'll have do check this one out.

                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                      That looks heavenly, Joan. Every time I am in Atlanta I eat at the Buckhead Diner and always order the steamed sea bass, which seems very similar to this. It's about the only time I leave a restaurant feeling virtuous.

                                                      I occasionally see sea bass fillets here. Next time, I'll have to grab some and try this.

                                                  2. I didn't make Sweet and Sour Spareribs p. 58
                                                    but I used the same ingredients (and proportions) to flavor two big pork chops. Brined them for 1 hour in a simple salt and sugar brine, seared them, put them in the oven for 4 hours at 300F, even remembered to sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Delicious and easy.

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                      Sweet & Sour Spare Ribs p. 58

                                                      Holy mackerel, where has this recipe been all my life? This was crazily, unbelievably delicious.

                                                      The process is fairly lengthy but well worth it. To start, pork ribs are boiled & skimmed, then simmered with crushed pieces of ginger and green onion whites, along with salt & shaoxing wine until cooked. The cooking liquid is reserved for the sauce. The pork is deep fried to a golden brown (optional) and set aside. The meat gets stir-fried a few moments in a ginger/green onion laced oil and some reserved cooking liquid is added to the wok along with sugar and dark soy sauce, which is then cooked down to a syrupy consistency. At this point I moved it all to a pot to simmer, as I wanted to protect the patina on the wok that I just re-seasoned (darned vinegar from another dish ruined it!). I cooked the sauce down some, but not completely; the Mr. is a huge fan of s&s sauces, so for his sake I added a potato starch slurry to thicken so we would have plenty of sauce to spoon over rice. Chinkiang vinegar meets up with the sauce, simmers for a few minutes more, and then off the heat sesame oil is mixed in. Top with toasted sesame seeds, and serve at room temp.
                                                      Okay, I didn't have spare ribs, so I used chunks of pork shoulder, which ended up-not surprisingly-dried out from all the cooking, as I should have known. Alas. It was still wonderfully tasty, albeit a little chewy, and I wish I had doubled the recipe, as they were gone in a flash.
                                                      This was, hands down, the best sweet and sour sauce I have *ever* had. It was lusciously dark, sweet but not cloyingly so, with a deep meaty flavour from the pork broth and an enticing fragrance from the ginger and green onion and the chinkiang vinegar. The sesame oil rounded it all out with its glorious nutty undertones and silky mouthfeel. That sauce was so good that we found ourselves spooning rice onto the leftover glaze on the serving plate in order to soak up as much of the flavour as we possibly could. Highly, highly recommended!

                                                       
                                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                                        Wow, Allegra. Sounds and looks fantastic! Another flag goes into the book!

                                                        1. re: Allegra_K

                                                          Wow I agree w genh, high praise Allegra! I picked up ribs for this recipe. Looks like I'll have to pull the out of the freezer!

                                                          Thanks for your terrific review!

                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                            I'll be anxiously awaiting your reports,bc & genh! Gee, I sure hope you like it.....

                                                          2. re: Allegra_K

                                                            SWEET-AND-SOUR SPARE RIBS – p. 58

                                                            Wow! What on earth can I say other than Allegra nailed this. I completely agree with Allegra’s review and experience with this dish. Right down to all of us dipping spoons into the serving dish to scoop up the very last dregs of the sauce to mix in w our remaining rice. This was so delicious. One of our favourites from the book and like Allegra, I’d go as far as saying that this was the very best sweet and sour recipe I’ve ever made. The deep mahogany colour of the pork was a thing of beauty too. If you like ribs, you’ll love this. Thanks Allegra!

                                                             
                                                             
                                                             
                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                              OK you two, it's going on The List.

                                                        2. Pock-Marked Old Woman’s Tofu (Vegetarian Version) Ma Po Dou Fu p. 76

                                                          http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyl...

                                                          I absolutely love Dunlop’s version of ma po dou fu from "Land of Plenty," but this is also lip-smackingly (and numbingly) good. I’ve already made it several times since getting "Every Grain of Rice." In fact, I prefer this version to the one in "Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook."

                                                          If you already have roasted Sichuan pepper and ground red chiles (heaven facing), this comes together in a snap.

                                                          My preference is to make this with soft tofu and green onions (instead of leeks). I also always steep the tofu in hot water. I do not have access to super fresh tofu (unless I make it myself), so I use House Brand tofu and the steeping gets it to temperature and freshens up the tofu.

                                                          I’ve also found that my silicon spatula is a great tool to push the tofu around in the wok without breaking it.

                                                          Ma po dou fu with a bowl of rice is a perfect meal in this cold weather.

                                                          17 Replies
                                                          1. re: BigSal

                                                            It's been a couple of years since I've been to Dragon Star Oriental foods in St. Paul, and I don't know how convenient that might be to you, but in the past they have had fresh tofu in the fridge case and in the deli case. In my experience, it wasn't consistently available there, but it's always worth checking for when you are there.

                                                            Why do you prefer this version of mapo tofu to the one in RC? I think I've only tried the LOP version (which I love!)

                                                            ~TDQ

                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                              Thanks for the tip on where to find fresh tofu. I

                                                              I think I prefer the version in LOP because it has a richer, deeper flavor (likely because it uses more doubanjiang and includes fermented black beans).

                                                              1. re: BigSal

                                                                I bought the WS/Andrea Nguyen tofu kit out of curiosity, so I'll be trying to make tofu at some point. Wondering how much difference it makes.

                                                                1. re: emily

                                                                  It was making fresh tofu from Nguyen's book which made me appreciate fresh tofu. I think it really shines in simple preparations- less so with strongly flavored dishes.

                                                                  1. re: emily

                                                                    I will be curious to read about your results. Personally, I've found the effort (and dealing with all of the waste/byproduct) not worth it compared to how cheaply it can be purchased, except maybe for silken tofu which is relatively easy. I was really glad I tried it, though.

                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                              2. re: BigSal

                                                                Same as you, I prefer this version too. It's now my fall back version whenever I want Ma Po Tofu.

                                                                1. re: BigSal

                                                                  I think baby leeks / scallion are a substitution for green garlic in this recipe -- an accommodation for the fact that the latter is rarely available. If you can get some, try using those instead (they're in season here, so I made it recently using them).

                                                                  1. re: will47

                                                                    Thanks for the tip, I'll try in a few months (it's still snowing here).

                                                                  2. re: BigSal

                                                                    Just a "me too" post here. I made the pock-marked old woman's tofu tonight and it was a big hit. I stole a tip from beetlebug and didn't steep the tofu in boiling water first and honestly I don't think it made any difference. I'm glad I saved myself a step (thanks bb).

                                                                    1. re: BigSal

                                                                      POCK-MARKED OLD WOMAN’S TOFU – VEGETARIAN VERSION – MA PO DOU FU - p. 76

                                                                      I’ve said it before, Ma Po Dou Fu is my favourite Chinese dish and perhaps my favourite Asian dish. I was feeling anxious with the end of the month fast approaching and I still hadn’t tried this recipe. That said, I decided to make it for lunch on the weekend.

                                                                      Thanks to Big Sal for providing a link to the online recipe – I won’t get into the prep except to say that I used freshly made firm tofu that I did not pre-soak. I was able to find the Chinese baby leeks and decided to use them since I’ve never had them before. I did garnish w some chopped green onion as well. I used the optional crushed chilis and water vs stock.

                                                                      So, with all that out of the way, while I thought this version of the dish was ok, I didn’t love it. I’d really appreciate some feedback from those of you that have made this before. I found the tofu was a bit too firm (totally my fault for picking it!) I went w the firm because I found some that had been freshly made and it seemed softer than the usual rubbery firm stuff I buy. Though it was indeed softer, it was a bit too firm for me. The next issue I had was the saltiness of the dish. I have no idea where that came from but I found it almost overwhelming. This is the same bean paste I opened at the beginning of the month so I’m ruling that out and wondering whether the 1 tbsp of well-rinsed fermented black beans could have been the culprit? This is the first time I’ve used a tinned version vs my usual vacuum-packed beans. Finally, I didn’t find this dish to be as saucy as I like it to be. Even before I stirred in the potato flour slurry to thicken things up, I didn’t feel the dish was very saucy.

                                                                      If anyone has any suggestions or insights I’d love to hear them. I served this atop steamed rice. It made for a nice lunch but definitely didn’t wow me. I should also add that while the dish tasted salty, I didn’t find myself thirsty throughout the afternoon so I wonder whether it was a drying “salty sensation” on my tongue that I was experiencing? I’ll have to re-visit this at some point and really appreciate any feedback.

                                                                       
                                                                       
                                                                       
                                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                        The only Ma Po Dou Fu I've made so far is the recipe in Land of Plenty where I omitted the meat. The recipe is similar, but the outcome was delicious. Plenty of flavor and spice, plenty of sauce.

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

                                                                        Lilham made the EGOR version last year...and so did quite a few others...
                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8522...

                                                                        The reports go all the way down to JoanN's report.

                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                          Thanks for those links Gio. I hadn't read the pre-COTM thread. It seems Joan and I may be on the same page but she hasn't elaborated on why she prefers other versions.

                                                                          I agree w you that the LoP version is delicious. I've made that several times with and without the pork and have it down to an art now. I gather from that thread this version uses less water/stock so that may have been a determining factor for me. I'll have to compare the recipes when I have some time. More liquid would also further distribute the salt so this sounds like a promising lead! Thanks Gio!

                                                                        2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                          I've made this version twice, but I see I've never reported on it. Shame on me!

                                                                          The first time, I made it from an online version of the recipe, I think it was pretty close to the book version, if not identical. I didn't have the right kind of chilli bean paste (I think I used Lan Chi Chilli Bean Paste with Garlic) and the sauce ended up too simple and so spicy that we could hardly taste anything but heat. And I do like spicy food! My kids couldn't eat it at all.

                                                                          The second time, I made it from the book and I used the right kind of chilli bean paste, or at least as close as I can get (It's not Pixian, it's not 100% broad beans, but at least it does have broad beans in it. It's not Lee Kum Kee brand -- I tend to avoid that brand because it contains preservatives, flavor enhancers and other weird chemical ingredients. Though it has crossed my mind that the only difference between LKK and the one I have is that LKK is more honest in labeling!). IIRC, I cut back on the chilli bean paste a bit and omitted the chilies, and we each added sichuan pepper to taste at the end, so that my kids didn't have any on theirs. It was much better than the previous version, but it was still spicy enough to make my son cry. (He did eat it though -- mixed with lots of rice). I didn't fall in love with the dish, and as I mentioned up-thread, I preferred the Bears Claw Tofu and would make that again before this one. My dish was saucy and I don't recall it being overly salty, but the flavor was still not as complex and delicious as I had hoped.

                                                                          I want to try the LOP and RCC versions of this dish. I like the idea of vegetarian ma po dofu but I think I may simply prefer this dish with some pork in it. (I know the LOP version actually calls for beef, but I feel pretty confident I would like it better with pork.)

                                                                          1. re: Westminstress

                                                                            Interesting to read your report Westminstress. I agree w you and found the Bear's Claw tofu far superior to this dish. If you do decide to make the LoP version, there are extensive notes in the COTM thread Gio has linked to above...including my own experiences having made it several times now.

                                                                            I definitely prefer the LoP version to this one.

                                                                          2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                            Interesting. I definitely preferred this version, but that may well be because I'm a more experienced Chinese food cook at this point (bad grammar, sorry). I seem to remember having a bit of an overdo on the potato starch in the LoP version.

                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                              Restaurant mapo doufu I've had seem to have more oil, more heat, and maybe a bit more sweetness than Dunlop's recipes. I'm not sure if they just top it off with chili oil, or if the oil is just red because of the crushed chili and doubanjiang that they cook in the dish.

                                                                              I think next time, I'll add try adding more oil.

                                                                              I don't remember where, but I once heard something to the effect that the dish should be numbing first, spicy second, salty third, and sweet last.

                                                                              1. re: will47

                                                                                will thank-you for such helpful feedback, I really appreciate it. I agree w you about the restaurant dishes having more oil and I really like what you said in your last sentence. The first thing that hit my palate was a salty taste. . . not good.

                                                                          3. Gong Bao Chicken with Peanuts (pg 118)

                                                                            I've made this dish and versions of it nearly 40-50 times (it's a favourite with my flatmate and friends). There are a couple of variations available too.

                                                                            The Sichuan Cookery/Land of Plenty version adds additional water to the marinade, but is otherwise identical. I haven't found that this makes a huge difference - your mileage may vary.

                                                                            Modernist Cuisine contains a version of this dish (attributed to Fuschia), This version calls for a 12 hour marinade under vacuum in the fridge with an additional gram of baking soda (to help tenderise and brown the chicken), as opposed to a 'in bowl while you prepare other ingredients' time step. The peanuts are blanched and peeled instead of roasted.

                                                                            My version of this uses a 2:3 marinade:sauce ratio (all other ingredients at same quantities), and uses the refrigerated marination from Modernist Cuisine. With these proportions, the chili and sichuan pepper tends to form clumps. I soak and quarter the dried chili, and use a mortar, pestle and sieve to powder the sichuan peppercorns before addition - this also prevents any unpleasant sharp cracking feelings when you bite down :(

                                                                            I've also substituted cashews for peanuts, and cornflour for potato starch as necessary. If necessary, you can substitute peanut oil (I had some shallot/chilli/garlic infused) for sesame oil, but you will lose some of the dishes' flavour, and I wouldn't recommend it.

                                                                            31 Replies
                                                                            1. re: LiamF

                                                                              The EGOR version does have you add 1T of water to the marinade. Unfortunately, it's not in the ingredient list. Instead, it's in the first paragraph of the cooking instructions. For some reason, in EGOR, if any water is added, it falls within the instruction itself. I've been writing in the water into the ingredient list so I don't forget the next time.

                                                                              1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                Hmm, hadn't noticed that before, but you're quite right! I end up cooking the hybrid of the Land of Plenty and the Modernist Cuisine recipes with changes to proportions from memory most of the time, so I must be filling that in.

                                                                              2. re: LiamF

                                                                                This is a very nice dish. I've made other versions of it as well, but this version rules. (Do cut the chicken chunks small -- it h=makes all the difference.)

                                                                                1. re: LiamF

                                                                                  I've made this gung bao chicken twice now in the past week or so. One time I attempted to follow the recipe closely but made a few deliberate substitutions (cornstarch for potato flour, medium dry sherry and Balsamic for shaoxing wine and whatever vinegar she has you use, prechopped ginger and garlic from a jar (not the same jar, mind you), Canola for the peanut oil, regular old roasted planters peanuts for whatever it was the recipe called for. Oh, and I skipped the Sichuan peppercorn altogether (not quite ready to expose my toddler to that and although this isn't a dish I'd typically share with him because of the chilles, you never know when I'm going to have to give him a taste of a piece of chicken off my plate or something),

                                                                                  I was worried that the marinade and sauce was not going to be enough, but it was. Was very pleased with how this turned out though I found cutting the peppers (dried chile de arbol--her recommended substitution) into bits very fiddly so the second time around I used WAY TOO MANY (maybe 2 TBSP?) red pepper flakes instead. Whoops.

                                                                                  Anyway, the second time around I just winged it from memory and didn't measure anything. I also removed the chicken from the wok, then stirred fried some chopped green bell pepper, then added the chicken back and stir fried it altogether (I'm a one pot meal kind of gal these days). It was not nearly as delicious as when I actually attempted to be faithful to the recipe, but it wasn't half bad either.

                                                                                  I'm afraid to admit how lazy I am, but I really resent having to care for my wok, vs. my super easy Swiss Diamond nonstick pans... Sad but true, but it's a deterrent to stir-frying for me. Are there any other lazybones COTMers out there with some advice for me?

                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                    Use kitchen scissors / shears instead of a knife, and you'll find snipping whole chilis much easier. This is what they usually do in restaurants. With a knife, you'll tend to get caught on the seeds. Snip the base off, tip out as many of the seeds as you want, then snip a couple times across the pepper (or vertically, depending on how you want to cut them).

                                                                                    Obviously, mind your fingers.

                                                                                    As far as a wok, I don't really use nonstick, but I don't find caring for a wok that hard, especially once it builds up some seasoning. My advice - rinse quickly with hot water immediately after use, and buy a big wok brush if you can find one. That will make quick work of scrubbing off any extra bits - it takes me all of 20 seconds total. Then just wipe with a clean paper towel and warm the wok back up til it's dry.

                                                                                    1. re: will47

                                                                                      That's almost what I did: I held the chilis with kitchen tongs, then used kitchen scissors to snip up the chiles into a bowl (with also flying into the bowl). Then I used the tongs to pick out the chiles (leaving the seeds behind.) I wish I'd been smart enough to tip the seeds out into another bowl!

                                                                                      Great tip, thank you!

                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                        Even more lazy, I don't even bother to snip the chiles. I just throw them in whole.

                                                                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                      Lazybone here. I find the wok much easier to clean then nonstick pans. After I remove the cooking ingredients from the wok, I either just wipe it clean with a paper towel or if there is gunk, I run it under hot water (so there isn't a huge temperature difference bw wok and water) and do a quick scrub with the plastic brush. I turn the burner on medium to help the drying process and finish gathering dinner stuff (usually pouring of water, getting chopstix and dishing out rice). When I'm done with that (about 2 minutes), I turn the stove off and eat. For me, cooking with a wok is easier because I don't have to wash a pot post dinner.

                                                                                      Also, to save more time on the vegetable side, in the summer, I'll stir fry a bunch of chopped green peppers ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. Then I throw it into whichever dish at the end and have it heated up with the rest of the stir fry.

                                                                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                        Thank you! Next time I'll have my papertowel ready!

                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                      2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                        I use a non stick saute pan. Don't tell anyone :)

                                                                                        1. re: lilham

                                                                                          Not to worry. It will be our little secret. I have a little difficulty in keeping food from flying out of my pan when stir-frying, but my pan is also a little on the shallow side, too. But, yes, I've decided it's better to stir-fry in a saute pan than avoid stir-frying when I'm not in the mood to deal with my wok...

                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                            I used to use my dutch oven for stir frying. It wasn't perfect but stuff was still really delicious and it meant no flying out of the pan.

                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                              I use a nonstick skillet or my very nice Scanpan 14" wok, that you could bathe a baby in.

                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                That scanpan wok is on my wish list!

                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                  It's really nice. Get the 14".

                                                                                            2. re: lilham

                                                                                              I still don't even HAVE a wok. I either use dutch oven, saute pan or nonstick.

                                                                                              1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                                I couldn't live without my wok. In fact I have two!

                                                                                          2. re: LiamF

                                                                                            Gong Bao Chicken with Peanuts p. 118
                                                                                            My chance to try this popular dish -- it is another that could be varied endlessly. I had a little too much sauce for my amount of chicken. But today's lunch was a tasty fast no-problem combination of ingredients and flavors. I had it with bean sprouts and store-bought crispy "chow mein" noodles (because I can't eat another spoonful of rice this month!)
                                                                                            It's funny how casually I regard/use the once exotic bottles of Chinese wine/vinegar/2 soy sauces.
                                                                                            Enjoyed this dish!

                                                                                             
                                                                                            1. re: LiamF

                                                                                              Gong Bao Chicken with Peanuts Pg. 118

                                                                                              Nothing much to add to the already glowing reports of this version of the Gong Bao. We've made the one from LOP but it was so long ago I really don't recall if there's any difference, but I must say we liked this very much! I followed the recipe exactly using 2 chicken breasts almost precisely the weight of those called for. I sliced the breasts just about as big as the peanuts, which BTW I thought were too many.

                                                                                              No substitutions were made but, after reading the reports up thread I made a note in the book re the water in the marinade then left it out. The marinade was just enough to thoroughly coat the thicken so I didn't worry about it. I used 5 not 10 dried chilis and crushed the Sichuan peppercorns.

                                                                                              I also served steamed broccoli splashed with a touch of toasted sesame oil, and leftover spicy "Chinese-y" rice from a Donna Hay recipe. It's a treat to have recipes like this one that are usually ordered at Chinese-American take out places...

                                                                                              1. re: LiamF

                                                                                                LOL, I completely missed the 1T of water you're supposed to add to the marinade.

                                                                                                The recipe uses chicken breast instead of thigh meat and that seemed odd at first. But it actually worked out great and produced extremely juicy and flavorful chicken. That may have something to do with it being easier to cut even cubes of breast than thigh or leg. It may also have helped that I had just cut it from an organic/home-schooled/etc. whole chicken.

                                                                                                I did run into a problem when the dish was straight out of the pan. I used green sichuan peppercorns. These beasts are more citrusy and numbing than red ones I've purchased and have worked best in cold dishes, especially ones with cucumber. Combined with the fresh ginger here, it produced enough tingling to distract from the rest of the dish. As cold leftovers, everything came into balance.

                                                                                                1. re: hyperbowler

                                                                                                  Where'd you get the green peppercorns? I've been dying to get hold of them since seeing them in Tokyo...

                                                                                                   
                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                    I got these at Marina Foods in San Mateo, California.

                                                                                                    1. re: hyperbowler

                                                                                                      Grr they don't seem to be available on the right coast.

                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                        They're uncommon out here too--- the source I cited might be the only commercial supplier in the Bay Area, if not more broadly. Those ones you pictured are a lot more uniformly green than what I have, which are brownish on the outside. I don't know of that's irradiation, age, etc.

                                                                                                        1. re: hyperbowler

                                                                                                          These were in a department store food section (Takashimaya on the Ginza, I think) and must have been picked no more than a day before. It's sansho pepper, which is a very clsoe relative, apparently. (Never have I been so tempted to smuggle food back into the States.)

                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                            wonder why sansho pepper and the thing i'm dying to find, fresh green peppercorns, are impossible to get.

                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                              BT, you can buy sansho pepper on line: http://www.thespicehouse.com/spices/j...

                                                                                                              1. re: herby

                                                                                                                Thanks for the link herby! I've been buying whole sansho pepper from Japan. Glad to have a domestic source now.

                                                                                                                1. re: herby

                                                                                                                  Fresh, green?

                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                    No, dry.

                                                                                                                  2. re: herby

                                                                                                                    In the off chance they're in stores somewhere near you, here's what I got. It's a 2.8 oz. package (sold here for ~$3). The same brand sells red sichuan peppercorns, and the only difference in the package is in the Chinese characters for red and green and the color of the contents:

                                                                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9039...

                                                                                                    2. Pipa Tofu p. 78

                                                                                                      This is tofu fritters, I would say. The tofu (I bought soft but drained it well to firm it some) is whirred to a paste in the food processor with mushrooms, carrot, cilantro (I used celery leaves), egg white, a little cornstarch and S&P. The resulting mix is as thick as frosting and can be pushed off a spoon into hot oil.
                                                                                                      You now have golden savory puffs. Mine were bigger than the book picture, but it didn't seem to hurt -- they were cooked inside.
                                                                                                      The sauce is from more mushrooms (dried shiitakes that have been plumped), sliced carrot, sliced ginger, sliced red chili, sliced green/spring onion, the mushroom water. Also Shaoxing wine (this is "shao-shing", right? Rhymes with "cow-king"?) and both light and dark soy sauce, cornstarch to thicken, some sesame oil to finish.
                                                                                                      After the "fritters" are done, just wipe out the pan and make the sauce. The aromatic vegetables are stir fried quickly, the liquids and seasoning added, the puffs dropped in, thicken with a little cornstarch/water mix, done! Sesame oil for final flavoring. Delightful, satisfying, an excellent use of tofu (I'm afraid I'm not a fan.)

                                                                                                       
                                                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: blue room

                                                                                                        Tofu isn't on my list of favourites, either, but I'm happy to see you give it a thumbs-up! Sounds just as good as it looks.

                                                                                                        1. re: blue room

                                                                                                          This is a bit labor intensive, but is one of my favorites from the new book (picture somewhere in the older EGOR thread).

                                                                                                          1. re: will47

                                                                                                            Yes, I found your review!
                                                                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8522...

                                                                                                          2. re: blue room

                                                                                                            I love tofu and this sounds delicious. The tofu fritter sounds very similar to a Japanese dish (ganmodoki).

                                                                                                            1. re: blue room

                                                                                                              Pipa Tofu, p 78, UK ed.

                                                                                                              BR has described the method. Now, I actually love tofu, so maybe I'm coming at this from a different angle. I really liked the tofu puffs. Mine came out a little bigger than what is pictured in the book, but not nearly as big as BR's are. Probably similar to how Will47's look in his pictures on the other thread.

                                                                                                              I found this enjoyable and satisfying, especially the leftovers for breakfast the next day! I did find myself wishing the sauce had a little more kick to it (it is just my personal bias), so I will probably add some chili oil or pepper flakes next time, but not a lot, as I wouldn't want to overwhelm the tofu puffs. The tofu puffs come out very light and delicate, it is a much different texture than if you just fried slices of tofu, as in the Bear Paw tofu.

                                                                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                Pipa Tofu (Pi Pa Dou Fu) p. 78

                                                                                                                http://cooking.sofeminine.co.uk/recip...

                                                                                                                This fritter is similar to a Japanese version called ganmodoki. My favorite comes from Shizuo Tsuji. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7943... This recipe is quicker to make since it does not require pressing the water out of the tofu.

                                                                                                                To make this version, I used medium tofu and shaped the tofu using a Chinese soup spoon. This was a hearty and comforting dish. Although I prefer Tsuji's ganmodoki recipe, this was very nice with a bowl of rice.

                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                  Pipa Dou Fu Pg. 78

                                                                                                                  This was a real winner for us. I often like tofu, but not always, whereas my partner generally derides it. This dish actually had him asking me what the little dumplings were made of, when I told him it was tofu he was incredulous.

                                                                                                                  I was a bit heavy handed with the cilantro and carrots as I wanted to insure some good flavour in the little deep fried balls, and I think the balance was nice. We also especially loved the sauce, with it's slight hint of mushroom it was a perfect compliment.

                                                                                                                  My only challenge was that it was a challenging to keep the balls separate from each other while deep frying. I used about 2 cups of oil in my wok, and fried about 3-4 at a time, and this was the upper limit of what I could manage without having them crowd and stick to each other.

                                                                                                                  As she states, the recipe takes a little time but it is well worth it.

                                                                                                                2. Braised Trout in Chili-Bean Sauce pg.140

                                                                                                                  Wow. The photo in the book captivated me at first sight. It was only a matter of time before I tried it, and I thought if it was even half as sensational as it looked, I would be happy. It ended up having a flavour to rival the stunning presentation.
                                                                                                                  A small rainbow trout is slashed times three on both sides, rubbed with salt inside and out, sprinkled with Shaoxing wine in the belly cavity, and set aside for 15 minutes. The fish is then slid into hot oil and fried until slightly golden on both sides, spooning the oil and tilting the wok to make sure the fish cooks evenly. I wouldn't use a fish any larger than the one called for as it just barely fit into my average-sized wok with ease. The skin seemed to stick to the bottom of the wok no matter what I did, so upon flipping it over, the skin was left behind. No matter; as Fuchsia mentions it's easily covered up with the sauce afterwards.
                                                                                                                  Once mostly cooked through, the fish and the oil is removed. Reheat with a touch of oil, toss in a sneeze-inducing dose of chili-bean paste, then ginger & garlic and stock. The delicious fragrance wafting up from the wok was reminiscent of fish-fragrant dishes (no wonder!). The fish slips back into the liquid to finish cooking, seasoning with a touch of soy sauce. The sauce is moved over the fish as with the oil to ensure timely and even braising. Ole' fishy gets removed to a plate, and the sauce gets thickened with a splash of potato starch slurry while finishing the flavours with a swirl of sesame oil and spring onion greens. All is poured over the trout and served.
                                                                                                                  The only quibble I have with the recipe is that it was rather salty, most likely user error in being too eager with the salting early-on. Since my shaoxing wine is already filled with sodium I would skip the other part and just leave it to marinate in the rice wine alone.
                                                                                                                  Other than that, this was a fantastic dish. It was perfectly, nose-clearingly spicy, fragrant with the ginger and garlic and luscious from the glorious deep red oil pooling around the fish. We loved this recipe and ate it right down to the bones. A definite repeat.

                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                    I'm loving reading all the happy reports from this book, and it seems like "Ol' fishy" was a big success too!

                                                                                                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                      Looks fantastic, Allegra! Do you think you could do it with fillets, adjusting the cooking time? I worry about the flesh being unprotected in the frying, but that looks so good it might be worth a little experimentation to see....

                                                                                                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                        The fish looks fabulous! I love the plate it's on too.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                          Salivating Allegra_K. It looks fabulous and is now on my must make list.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                            Allegra, your post reads like poetry. It has made me hungry for trout and I am currently in the midst of a juice cleanse so I won't be able to try this for close to a week. Meanwhile, I am tagging the recipe.

                                                                                                                            1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                              Thanks, everyone!

                                                                                                                              @ greeneggsnham--I was going to mention in my review that I think it would work just fine with fillets. All the skin on my fish ended up coming off anyways and it was still super! In fact I am going to pick up some pickerel (walleye?) cheeks and try them in this dish for next time. It maybe wouldn't be as exciting-looking, but it will certainly be easier.

                                                                                                                            2. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                              Looks precisely right. Sichuan food is fairly salty but there is such a thing as TOO salty!

                                                                                                                            3. Braised Chicken with Dried Shiitake Mushrooms Pg. 121

                                                                                                                              This was lovely! FD states that this is a great dish to cook since it isn't a la minute, so you can busy yourself with other tasks. In this case I served with the Blanched Choy Sum in Sizzling Oil and steamed rice so I wasn't very taxed at plating time.

                                                                                                                              The dish consists of a small amount of boneless chicken thighs that are simmered in a soy broth with shaoxing wine and some aromatics. Reconstituted mushrooms are added to the party before the final simmer, and then the sauce is reduced with the lid off. Very simple, and takes about an hour end to end so definitely doable on a weeknight.

                                                                                                                              The flavours are simple but very nice, with earthy notes from the mushrooms and a relatively soft savoury note from the soy which is nicely cut by the Shaoxing. For those of you who love umami flavour elements, this would be great since it includes the mushroom soaking liquid, soy, and mushrooms themselves.

                                                                                                                              I would definitely repeat this dish, but I would possibly cut the mushrooms back just a tad since my partner found there were more mushrooms than chicken and he didn't love the texture of the mushrooms. Also, FD directs you to cut the chicken to the same size as the quartered mushrooms, but I would suggest you go a bit larger than this. After the simmer and the reduction my chicken was a little overdone, if the pieces were larger it would likely fair better.

                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: delys77

                                                                                                                                This sounds like a great dish for this cold weather and healthy to boot. I'm adding this to my list of dishes to try.

                                                                                                                                1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                  We actually had this on Saturday and I had just come in from walking the dog during a torrential downpour so I can testify that this warmed the bones nicely.

                                                                                                                              2. Smacked Cucumber in Garlicky Sauce Pg. 34

                                                                                                                                The flavour was a little different than I had expect, but on the whole it was good. Essentially you bruise the cucumber and dice, then dress with as sauce which includes chilli oil, garlic, soy and a few other ingredients that escape me at the moment. The result is a nice little cold nibble that is very punchy with garlic and heat, and quite savoury from the soy and the salting. I must admit I found it a touch too salty for me since she has you salt the cucumber but doesn't suggest you rinse it. When you add this to the soy in the dressing you get quite a hit of salt. This might have been my fault though since I followed her instructions counter to my instinct of rinsing off the cucumber before dressing.

                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: delys77

                                                                                                                                  SMACKED CUCUMBER IN GARLICKY SAUCE – p. 34

                                                                                                                                  I’ve been craving this since I first purchased the book and the recipe didn’t disappoint. delys does a great job of describing how this comes together above. I’ll note that I tasted the cucumber after draining and I did think it was a little too salty for my taste so I decided to rinse it given that the sauce has soy.

                                                                                                                                  I thought this was fresh and delicious. I didn’t make my own chili oil and will rectify that the next time around. It was a little too hot for mr bc as is. (I’d say “yay, more for me” but that’s not very nice, is it? Even if it was true!! ; - )

                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                    Smacked Cucumber in Garlicky Sauce p. 34

                                                                                                                                    Both Breadcrumbs and Delys did a good job describing how this one comes together. It's simple and delicious! Reminded me how nicely a cold punchy side-dish goes with rice and meat. In our house we often serve kimchi with any rice dish and I could see this little treat fitting in nicely in that role. Definitely to be repeated.

                                                                                                                                    Oh, and I used Persian cucumbers so I didn't really "smack" them since they are so petite and tender to start.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                                                                      Smack them anyway! Seriously!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                                                                        I've made this recipe too, GEH, and you really need to smack the cucumber. Doing it opens up the cucumber to let the delicious sauce permeate the inside of the veggie.

                                                                                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8522...

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                          Okay, Okay!! I guess I gotta smack 'em! I will be smacking the cucumbers next time I make this and I will report back.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                                                                            hahahaha... I knew you'd come around!

                                                                                                                                    2. re: delys77

                                                                                                                                      Really good and really spicy. After tasting the dressing I made sure to pull out a few pieces of cucumber for Lulu plain before adding some with the dressing. She was fine with it that way, but I think with the full on dressing it would have been too much. Overall I have to say I find this book spicier than her others, but to me that is a good thing. I liked this salad a lot.

                                                                                                                                    3. Spinach in Ginger Sauce Pg. 64

                                                                                                                                      I tried another cold side tonight since I was pressed for time after struggling with the wontons (which I will report on in the relevant thread).

                                                                                                                                      This is very reminiscent of a spinach salad that I used to make years ago. Basically you wilt spinach and then rinse and drain, squeezing out any excess liquid, then dress with quite a lot of ginger, chinkiang vinegar, sesame oil, and a touch of soy. My version from years ago was simply a tossed spinach salad with the same ingredients except I used rice wine vinegar instead of chinkiang. I liked the tossed salad then, and I liked this cold/cooked preparation now.

                                                                                                                                      It is worth noting that the amount of ginger and the strong uncooked flavour of the dressing isn't for the faint of heart, this little side has a lot of punch. Not a bad thing, but definitely a dish you would eat in small quantities.

                                                                                                                                      EDIT

                                                                                                                                      Unfortunately I attached the incorrect picture and can't seem to edit it. I will repost in a moment with the correct one.

                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: delys77

                                                                                                                                        Here is the correct one

                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                        1. re: delys77

                                                                                                                                          Sorry all, what a mess. I'm using someone's pc and I'm used to a mac.

                                                                                                                                          Here is the spinach

                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                          1. re: delys77

                                                                                                                                            Delys, make this recipe with asparagus as FD says in the side bar. You can thank me later...

                                                                                                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8522...

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                              Will do Gio, I love asparagus and luckily the season is approaching.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                I'll thank you now, would probably have missed it!

                                                                                                                                              2. re: delys77

                                                                                                                                                Spinach (Asparagus) in Ginger Sauce p.64

                                                                                                                                                I carefully skimped on the raw (I grated it) ginger, as delys77 noted it is strong and raw. Did my asparagus in the microwave (this works well!) I tilt the cooking dish with a little saucer under one end. That way the stems are in water more than the tips.

                                                                                                                                                The sauce is not cooked at all, I just swirled everything in a teacup and poured it over the cooled stalks.

                                                                                                                                                Oh dear, not my favorite. Hot asparagus with melted butter edges this out for me.

                                                                                                                                                Howevah .. the strong flavor of spinach I think would go with the soy-sesame-ginger vinegar concoction. F. Dunlop says to use mature, not baby, spinach.

                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                  Oh Gosh... so sorry, BR! I hate when that happens.

                                                                                                                                                  We liked the combination of that sauce over the blanched asparagus... ours were very thin from our CSA last year.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                    Aw, just a fluke -- I'll never get to your rank, Gio!

                                                                                                                                              3. Steamed Eggs p. 130

                                                                                                                                                This dish is also in an earlier thread of Every Grain of Rice recipes here:
                                                                                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8522...

                                                                                                                                                It is such a tender dish! I just loved it, I'm amazed at the simplicity, a custard made from eggs and water. The flavoring is shiitakes, a little Shaoxing wine.
                                                                                                                                                I did mix in the optional 1/4 pound of ground pork (pre-cooked in a little oil and wine.) It is all steamed, I rigged up a small casserole dish inside a Dutch oven.
                                                                                                                                                After steaming, scatter some green onions and pour a small amount of very hot oil over them for a fragrant sizzle, then a little soy sauce.
                                                                                                                                                I had this for lunch and I'm still thinking about it. I think those who have made it already know what I mean!
                                                                                                                                                The recipe is for 3 eggs, I used 2 and reduced everything accordingly.

                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                  I loved, loved, loved the steamed eggs dish I tried from (I think) Revolutionary Chinese. So simple and delicious. I have never tried it again, but I don't know why. It's a wonderful dish. This one sounds very similar.

                                                                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                2. Stir Fried Tofu with Black Bean and Chilli Pg. 86

                                                                                                                                                  This dish is a whirlwind of spicy flavours. Very good, but not for the faint of heart.

                                                                                                                                                  I used the suggested spiced tofu and followed all the directions with regards to size of the julienne and quantities for condiments, oils, spices etc... The resulting dish was very flavourful with intense heat, undertones of umami black bean, lots of crisp veggies, tender tofu, and the ma la effect of the sichuan peppercorns. While it was very good I did find that there was a bit of sensory overload with this dish. The heat almost overpowered the other flavours, and I was distracted from the textural elements by the fire in my mouth.

                                                                                                                                                  That said, as I ate it I became more and more interested in the dish. I wouldn't necessarily repeat it the way it is written, but I would definitely go for a slightly tamer version. Hopefully I can find a balance between the attention getting heat, and one that allows me to enjoy the other flavours/sensations of the dish.

                                                                                                                                                  Next go around I might eliminate the dried peppers entirely, but keep the the lao gan ma at the suggested 3tb. I would cut the initial sauteeing oil back a touch as well since the lao gan ma also adds quite a bit of oil.

                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: delys77

                                                                                                                                                    Stir Fried Tofu with Black Bean and Chilli, Pg. 86

                                                                                                                                                    If you want less heat make this recipe with plain old white tofu as I did last night. That's all I had in the fridge and I thought the finished dish was terrific, although G thought it was only "so, so". I loved that it used bits and pieces of various ingredients that utilized 1/2 a red pepper. a celery stalk, 1/2 a red onion, etc. I used only 5 dried arbols instead of 10. All the other condiments Delys listed were used according to the recipe. For me it was a very good dish especially served with the Soupy Rice with Pork and Greens on page 262, another clean-out-the-fridge recipe.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: delys77

                                                                                                                                                      Stir Fried Tofu with Black Bean and Chilli, Pg. 86

                                                                                                                                                      Another recipe using the laoganma black bean sauce, another ho-hum result. I am beginning to wonder if this is due to the sauce instead of coincidence as I first chalked it up to.
                                                                                                                                                      I didn't add any whole chiles, keeping the other reviews in mind, in order to get the offspring to eat it. Omitted the celery, as I was in a fridge-emptying kick and needed to use it all for another dish, slightly increasing the red&green pepper instead.
                                                                                                                                                      I found this to be far too oily, and would definitely suggest reducing. The sauce was a bit one-dimensional and un-interesting. I don't think I'll be repeating this one. Very colourful and attractive, but unfortunately the looks belied the taste.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: delys77

                                                                                                                                                        Stir-Fried Tofu with Black Bean and Chilli, p. 86

                                                                                                                                                        I played around with this quite a bit, so you can take my review with a grain of salt (or a black bean), if you wish. To start with, I made my own pressed, five-spice tofu. You can read about that process, and see a picture of the final dish, here:
                                                                                                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9132...

                                                                                                                                                        I also played around with the vegetables a bit. I only had green bell peppers, so that's what I used. I didn't have any celery, so I left it out. I added some bamboo shoots, cut into matchsticks, to replace the missing celery, and I added some carrot, also in matchsticks, to add some color. I didn't have red onion, so I used yellow. I also didn't have the Laoganma black bean sauce, so I used chopped fermented black beans, and I added some bourbon, because I like it. I SHOULD have added some chile oil, which I did have, to make up for the lost chile from the Laoganma sauce, but I didn't think to do that. Next time.

                                                                                                                                                        So let's say I followed the recipe in spirit, rather in fact. Still, it was a really nice stir-fry. The homemade five-spice tofu was a big highlight, as it actually had a flavor, whereas I find the stuff from the store to have little. Laoganma is on the list of things I'd like to stop buying, so I will continue with the black bean substitution, but next time I will add some chile oil, and perhaps a bit of sugar to make up for what would be in the sauce.

                                                                                                                                                        Funny thing is that I started out to make the Firm Tofu with Green Pepper, for which I had all the ingredients, but then I turned the page and saw this, and knew I had to make it instead. No regrets there. Served with the stir-fried corn and pepper from Young's Sky's Edge, this made for a colorful and flavorful summer meal.

                                                                                                                                                      2. Don't forget about that tofu and avocado appetizer, easy, beautiful, and delicious...

                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                          I have my avocado ripening as I type bt!! Picked up the fresh tofu last night.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                            CH needs a like button!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                              There is one at the top of the thread. I just clicked on it to test and it works :)

                                                                                                                                                        2. STIR-FRIED BEEF WITH BLACK BEAN AND CHILLI – p. 101

                                                                                                                                                          This was the hit of the evening; the recipe produces a wonderful, flavourful dish.
                                                                                                                                                          Prep is straightforward. Lean beef steak (I used beef tenderloin) is cut into strips and marinated in a mixture of dark soy, light soy, water, Shaoxing wine and potato flour while you prep the other ingredients. Red and green pepper is cut into strips then the beef is added to cooking oil (I used canola) in a hot wok. Stir-fry to separate the pieces the add in the peppers before adding in the Laoganma black bean sauce. FD suggests that you add salt to taste. I didn’t feel the dish needed any. As FD says in the book, everything “smells delicious” and honestly, it tastes even better. Cilantro can be added however I omitted due to an allergy. Now I do want to say, I didn’t have the Laoganma sauce at this point so I concocted my own version using fermented black beans that I chopped finely and added to the remaining ingredients in the original sauce as listed by a kind hound on the main thread! I now have the proper sauce and will make this again as mr bc thought it was one of the best Asian stir-frys he’d ever had! Needless to say, there were no leftovers!

                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                            This is one of my favorites. I need a new jar of Laoganma black bean sauce.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                              Stir-Fried Beef with Black Bean & Chili

                                                                                                                                                              This recipe is one of the few to come out of this book that I wasn't thrilled with, tho I made it as written and Breadcrumbs' version sounds tastier.
                                                                                                                                                              I used the laoganma sauce, which I really liked and can see myself adding to many different things in the future. I did add some extra coloured pepper to use up what I had laying around, but the 40 grams of cilantro called for in this dish is what killed it for me. I love cilantro, but it just seemed like it didn't fit with the other ingredients and overpowered everything else. This dish gets bonus points for ease of preparation, however.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                                                                Stir-Fried Beef with Black Bean & Chilli, p. 101, UK ed.

                                                                                                                                                                This might be the simplest stir-fry I've ever made. If not, it's surely in the running. I used skirt steak for this. Like Allegra, I used the laoganma sauce. Having had a good look, and taste of the stuff, I will probably make my own in the future. I'm pretty sure I could make it and have it come out better than the jarred stuff. I went a little heavy on the peppers, and on the laoganma sauce. The technique for this stir-fry is very much simplified. As there are no aromatics that would burn easily, like garlic and ginger can, you just toss in the ingredients one by one.

                                                                                                                                                                To me, the main advantage of this recipe is the ease of preparation. It is relying almost entirely on the jarred sauce for seasoning, and to me it came out a bit one-note. It was fine, but not outstanding.

                                                                                                                                                                I think it may not be a coincidence that the person raving about this dish is the one who concocted her own version of the laoganma, as opposed to opening a jar.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                                  Mel, here's a recipe I found that I'm going to try when my jar of the sauce is finished... there are others on-line, too:

                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.recipesource.com/ethnic/as...

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                    But that recipe has no chiles in it!

                                                                                                                                                                    The laoganma sauce is oil, soybeans, chiles, sugar, MSG, and a couple preservatives. The chiles are a big part of it.

                                                                                                                                                                    My thinking is that I would would mix FD's chile oil with fermented black beans, or I would steal the chile paste from a Kylie Kwong recipe, which has fresh and dried chiles, salt, Sichuan peppercorns and oil, and mix that with some fermented black beans.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                                      Hmmmm.... I've only used the black bean sauce in conjunction with chili paste. I'm going to see if there's a recipe that mirrors the Laoganma. Thanks Mel.

                                                                                                                                                            2. Everyday Stir-Fried Chicken, (Xiao Jian Ji), Pg. 120

                                                                                                                                                              G and I enjoy food with big bold flavors. This dish is the direct opposite but it somehow struck a chord of quiet satisfaction. There are many different flavors at play here but each contributed to the kind of dish one could cuddle up with in a comfy chair in front of the fire, eat, and be content. There are several vegetables, the chicken (I used breasts instead of thighs), a marinade, an a sauce.

                                                                                                                                                              Boneless chicken pieces are first pounded then sliced into thin pieces. These are placed into a bowl with the marinade which is a mixture of salt, potato flour, Shaoxing wine, light soy sauce and a little water. Cucumber and a celery stalk are cut into the same size pieces as the chicken. Slice garlic and ginger, and diagonally slice red chili and scallions. The last prep is for the sauce: a mixture of sugar, potato flour, Shaoxing wine, light soy sauce, Chinking vinegar, and stock. So you see, lots of ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                              The rest is a simple stir-fry. First the chicken then the vegetables, lastly the sauce. I think it was the unexpected texture and flavor of the cucumber that helped to quiet down all those other flavors. I tried to taste each component separately but it all came together to create a complex dish with subtle flavors.

                                                                                                                                                              The other dishes were Pak Choy with Fresh Shiitake on page 180, and steamed jasmine rice. This entire meal is worthy of a repeat, most definitely!

                                                                                                                                                              1. CHICKEN LIVERS WITH CHINESE CHIVES – p. 126

                                                                                                                                                                There’s no way I could have enticed mr bc to eat chicken livers but I had some Chinese chives so I decided to make this w b/s chicken thighs instead. This produced a subtly seasoned dish that allowed the garlicky flavour of the chives to shine. I can imagine how the earthiness of the livers would enhance the dish.

                                                                                                                                                                Like many recipes in the book, prep is simple. Chicken strips are marinated in salt and Shaoxing wine while you trim the chives and chop them into 5cm pieces. Meat is then stir-fried in oil in a hot wok until pieces have separated and are partially cooked. Meat is removed from the pan and chives are added along w ground chillies (an ingredient FD notes to be inauthentic but flavourful and, optional). Once the chives are hot and fragrant, meat is re-introduced to the pan too cook through, along w a mere 1tsp of light soy sauce and salt.

                                                                                                                                                                FD suggests you can serve this w additional ground chili though we just passed soya sauce at the table. This is a delicately flavoured, comforting dish. We quite enjoyed it.

                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                  One of the other FD books has a recipe for Shrimp with Chinese Chives that is my husband's all time favorite shrimp dish. Wonder if i could convince the rest of the family to do the chicken livers ...

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                    Chicken Livers with Chinese Chives p. 126

                                                                                                                                                                    This made for a quick and delicious lunch for one (the Mr. doesn't care for chicken livers). I made this as written and included the optional ground chiles. The only change I made was to use 1 T of oil instead of 1.5 T for a half recipe. I loved how quickly this came together. The rich taste of the livers paired well with the chives. Delicious with a bowl of Japanese rice.

                                                                                                                                                                    -I will have to try the Shrimp and Chinese Chives.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                                      Glad you liked this BigSal and I agree, the shrimp sound great too!

                                                                                                                                                                  2. Bear's Paw Tofu, p. 80

                                                                                                                                                                    I loved this! Tofu is cut into small rectangles and deep fried. I chose to shallow fry instead, though, as mentioned in the sidebar, because I'm afraid of deep frying. I think in this instance it would have been easier to deep fry though. Anyway, after the tofu is fried, a simple sauce is made, consisting of chilli bean paste, sliced garlic, ginger and spring onion, veg stock, sugar and soy sauce. The sauce is thickened with a potato (corn) starch slurry. I made my veg stock from fermented black beans, as suggested on p. 319. The black bean stock added another layer of umami richness to the sauce, and i would do this again. The sauce was so savory and delectable! We ate it all up, not a drop left, and preferred it to the ma po tofu a few pages earlier. Yum yum yum!

                                                                                                                                                                    43 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                                                      Bear's Paw Tofu, p. 80, UK ed.

                                                                                                                                                                      I made this a couple weeks ago and am just now reporting on it. Differences between my method and what Westminstress described are that I deep-fried my tofu as described in the recipe, I used potato starch as called for, and I used a chicken stock left over from poaching chicken for the Cold Chicken with a Spice Sichuanese Sauce, so my final dish was not strictly vegetarian.

                                                                                                                                                                      Once again adding the caveat that I really like tofu, which might make me an anomoly here, especially considering that I am not a vegetarian. I really enjoyed this dish. I love the texture of fried tofu, and it seems to soak up sauces the best. This sauce has a nice combination of umami and spiciness.

                                                                                                                                                                      ETA: I just realize that I had made this before last July, and reported on the EGOR thread. I didn't even remember that I had made it before! Which says something about my memory. Anyway, seems like I liked it better the second time around. That might have to do with not serving it with another dish that eclipsed it.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                                                        Bear's Paw Tofu p.80

                                                                                                                                                                        Nothing much to add to the wonderful reviews above, just that we *loved* this dish. I used a pork broth leftover from making the sweet & sour ribs, and deep-fried the tofu.
                                                                                                                                                                        I don't mind tofu, but don't really love it, so this preparation was a fantstic surprise. It was spicy, salty; really exploding with the flavours of the chile-bean paste and the ginger, garlic, and slender leeks. The tofu had a very appealing texture and looked awfully similar to the photo in the book.
                                                                                                                                                                        My husband will be the first to proclaim his dislike for bean curd in all incarnations, so you can imagine my jaw-dropping surprise when he went for seconds, and then thirds! That is the highest praise I could ever ask for. Highly recommended.

                                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                                                                          Hooray, I'm so glad you liked it! (Always feel relieved when others like the dishes I recommend....)

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                                                          Bear’s Paw Tofu (Xiong Zhang Dou Fu) p. 80

                                                                                                                                                                          http://blog.lux-fix.com/fuchsia-dunlop/

                                                                                                                                                                          Like everyone else, I really enjoyed this. I made this with Dunlop’s chicken stock and medium tofu and was surprised to be frying the tofu without pressing the water out of it first (like I do with Japanese recipes). After frying the tofu, I poured boiling water over the deep-fried tofu pieces to remove excess oil.

                                                                                                                                                                          I also liked the texture of the fried tofu (I fall into the “ I really, really, really like tofu” camp) in this dish and it was a wonderful vehicle for the sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                                            Good to hear. I plan to make this in the next week or two and am excited but slightly nervous about frying the tofu. I'm having a hard time picture the pouring water over the friend tofu pieces - can you elaborate? This isn't in the instructions, right?

                                                                                                                                                                            This is a dish Lulu loves in restaurants and I want to make her happy by fixing it for her.

                                                                                                                                                                            PS - I fall into the "really really love tofu" camp too.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                              I was nervous about frying the tofu without pressing it, but there were no issues.

                                                                                                                                                                              The boiling water is not in the recipe. This is something my mom taught me when we make/cook fried tofu (like ganmodoki- Japanese tofu fritters or we simmer abura-age-thinly sliced fried tofu).

                                                                                                                                                                              This might give you a better idea of what I am referring to. http://recipesfortom.blogspot.com/201....

                                                                                                                                                                              I hope Lulu (and you and the Mr.) enjoy this.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                                                Huh, interesting - thanks for the link. I'll have to see what I think it looks like. I figured I'd just set it on paper towels to soak up some of the oil. Will have to see, but will definitely keep this in mind.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                  I haven't posted my review yet LlM but hope to do so later on. FYI, I set a plate w paper towel on the counter and simply placed the fried tofu atop that as it finished cooking. Prior to re-incorporating into the wok, I also dabbed the tops of the slices w paper towel. We didn't find it oily at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I used firm tofu and I did not press out any excess moisture. That said, my tofu was fresh and heat sealed w minimal liquid in the packaging.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                                                  Very interesting BigSal, thanks for sharing!

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                    I never thought I'd go through more than a pound of tofu,
                                                                                                                                                                                    ever. Now I'm on my second in in two weeks.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                      Isn't it great blue room? I wish mr bc would share our enthusiasm! :(

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                        Exactly. You'd think we'd fed them ... old rolls of film or something!

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                          LulusDad used to be a devout tofu hater, Now when he hears we're having it for dinner he doesn't bat an eyelash and admits to liking it. He fought for the leftover mapo tofu. Keep trying.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                                                      What a neat tip, about the boiling water!

                                                                                                                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                                                                  BEAR’S PAW TOFU – p. 80

                                                                                                                                                                                  Outrageously good! I’m indebted to those of you who reported on this prior for enticing me to make this dish. Westminstress, Ma Po Dou Fu is my favourite Chinese dish so the fact you liked this better than the EGOR version of that dish had me intrigued. When Allegra reported her tofu-averse husband had thirds, I just knew I had to try it! So today, on a day where we’d be headed to a pub for a St. Patty’s Day pint and a bite to eat but for the fact that mr bc has a rotten cold, I decided to make this dish! Well, I’d have to say that the luck of the Irish was on my side because I LOVED this dish. Without a doubt it is THE best dish I’ve made from this book and, dare I say it, I may just prefer it to Ma Po Dou Fu as well!

                                                                                                                                                                                  I used fresh firm tofu and I couldn’t find the baby leeks that are hiding in some dark corner of my fridge so I ended up using green onions instead. I used the 200ml of oil (peanut in my case) for deep frying the tofu, then poured off all but 3 tbsp as set out in the recipe. My stock was chicken and I’d reserved it from poaching the chicken for the yet-to-be-made cold chicken dishes in the front of the book.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I loved everything about this. The chewy, crisp-edged tofu, the freshness of the green onions, the bite of the chillis and the saltiness from the soy. All in perfect balance. I could have devoured the entire dish myself but then I remembered my tofu-hating mr bc, cowered on the couch in the fetal position with his man-cold and I decided to don my hazmat suit and go in with a small portion for him to try. The verdict…he didn’t hate it but he said he didn’t like it either. Pity I said…more for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I’d eat this for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack. Amazing dish, alone worth the price of the book IMHO.

                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                    Wow, what a rave review!! I'm so glad you liked it!

                                                                                                                                                                                    Loved the tale about the man-cold, I was laughing in appreciation. I just had to put up with that times three the other week. Sigh. Hope you are both faring better soon!

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks Allegra, what a dish it was. I'm definitely having the remainder tonight. Oh, and sincere congratulations on surviving 3x man-cold...1 mr bc is already more than I can endure!

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                                                                                        Men sick = no one else in the world has ever had a cold before.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I cannot wait to make this!

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                          In Dunlop's LOP there's a recipe for Bear Claw variation of Home-Style Bean Curd. There the tofu is not deep fried but shallow fried and the result is wonderful. Here's a link to my report.

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

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                            I noticed that and was trying to figure out which one to make. I think the EGOR one won out solely because it was this month's COTM. Lulu loves it so much that maybe we can do a "next time I'll make the other one, and you can decide which you like better" test. She'll love being in charge (oh boy will she).

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                              Lol

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                You can imagine.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                                                                      Made the Bear's Paw Tofu this evening. It was semi-catastrophic because when it came time to move the oil from the wok to a container it turned out I hadn't realized that my wok's handle spins a bit, so it splattered all over me, the floor, the cabinets. Yowza. Oh well, we cleaned it up and somehow I'm not horribly burned. Lulu says, when asked which is better "they're *both* really good" which i think is her very thoughtful way of saying she likes the restaurant version better, but she just can't say that to me because she's worried about hurting my feelings. Not to worry, I think it was good, but given that we can get a very good version close by I probably won't make it again (and chance spending an hour cleaning the kitchen floor). However, I did think it was very tasty. Served with the smacked cucumber salad and rice. A very nice meal, I thought.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                        LlM, I'm SO sorry to read of your accident. I hope you're taking good care of your burns and thank heavens Lulu wasn't burned as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I keep an aloe plant in my kitchen jic and so far, I've only ever needed it once but it worked like a dream.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm glad you liked this. I've never had it before so I have nothing to gauge it by. If I could purchase something better I would too. I'll definitely look for it on restaurant menus now. Again, so sorry to hear of your burns. Do take care.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                          Oh no, LLM... get that handle fixed, will you! Too dangerous that. And cleaning up a mess when you're hurting. Not good at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                          We really liked the Bear's Foot tofu. (LuLu is such a diplomat.)

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                            So sorry to read about your kitchen mishap. I hope your burns are not serious.

                                                                                                                                                                                            BTW, I love your attitude. After spilling the oil, you were still able to enjoy your meal and write a post.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                                                              For sure, you are quite the trooper LLM.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                              Ouch, oh no! What a disaster!!! I hope you're doing ok (and trust you are bc you did eat dinner and clean up instead of rushing to the hospital). Hope you're all healed up soon.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                Surprisingly enough, despite the oil being frying temp hot, since most of it spilled on the floor/cabinet somehow I managed to escape basically ok. Only slight burns, but cleaning the kitchen wasn't much fun! But dag, I was not pleased about the wok situation. I love my wok, but ... that part is going to need to be fixed. Thanks for all the kind, healing words.

                                                                                                                                                                                                The good thing is that we had a nice meal. Thanks to everyone for the tips on this. I was surprised how easy it was to fry the tofu (um, just draining the oil was a problem). Lulu will take the little bit of leftovers and rice as lunch tomorrow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Just a note about the leftovers LlM. I too had a small amount of the tofu leftover and I took it to work for a lunch. I re-heated it in the microwave and found it to be tough and not as enjoyable as it was on the first day. If I were to do this again, I would eat it at room temp so as not to mess w the texture. In my case the chillies seemed much hotter as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks - that is very good to know. I won't nuke it in the morning, just let it get to room temp. There is a lot of plain rice with it, so hopefully that won't make it overly spicy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I look forward to hearing what our resident CH-in-training has to say about her lunch. Fingers crossed it has kept well and she enjoys it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yikes. How scary. I'm glad everyone is okay, and I'm so sorry about the mess.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Do you have that Joyce Chen wok from Amazon? My handle kind of spins, too. I think it just occasionally be tightened. :( I avoid deep-frying for many reasons, but this makes me wonder if I should get a different wok.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I got mine from the place in San Francisco, ordered over the phone. I *think* it is a Grace Young one, but really don't remember. It is a good wok except for this issue (which it turns out is a huge issue) but it sounds like we have the same problem. I was really impressed with how well it deep fried the tofu, so I would hate to never been able to do that again, but I really don't deep fry very often so right now I'm not going to sweat it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Made me very glad that I always insist that Lulu stand away from me and the stove when anything hot is going on. She has helped with pasta and sauce, but not when I'm draining it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ah, yes, now I do vaguely remember you talked about buying yours from the Wok Shop. If I ever replace mine, that's where I'd get it from, so maybe there's no advantage, at least for this particular issue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes! Good thing you make Lulu stand back. I don't like having anyone in the kitchen when I'm wokking, period. It just seems too chaotic, which is probably more of a comment on my cooking style than anything else, nevertheless...

                                                                                                                                                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Laughing - no, no I *totally* get it. I'd kick them all out and lock any doors if I had my way when I'm wokking (and even sometimes with other cooking!).

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I really hate to say this ladies, but... I've been using a Joyce Chen steel wok for more than 30 years. The only thing is it has a wooden handle which we just have to watch and wrap with aluminum foil when necessary. No spinning handles though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I am now totally anti-spinning handles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have two cheap woks from Chinatown. Both have wooden handles which I've never had to wrap in foil. No spinning!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                It's just a precaution when the wok is over really high heat. That wok has served us well all these years and is very well seasoned, as you would imagine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Mine too - I've had one of them for about 15 years. Mr GG is always very careful to oil it after he's washed it - it's one of the few domestic things I've managed to drum into him over the years!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I know that, I for one, always underestimate the dangers in the kitchen. Wokking (and its attendant chaos--know exactly what TDQ means) reminds me of them.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thank goodness you weren't seriously wounded, LLM, but sorry you got burned at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks ncw.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Silken Tofu with Avocado, p. 42

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I commented on this dish in the pre-COTM thread, but I wanted to repost here to flag this dish for those who haven't seen that thread. This dish is wonderful and everyone should try it! Silken tofu is sliced and fanned on a plate, topped with half an avocado treated similarly. The tofu is dressed with diluted soy sauce, optional wasabi, and sesame oil. In deference to my young children, I skipped the wasabi and cubed rather than sliced everything. I also used a whole avocado and wouldn't hesitate to do so again. The amazing thing about this dish is the uncanny textural similarity between the silken tofu and avocado. The flavors pair wonderfully and the dressing is perfect. This one should be high on everyone's to-make list - don't miss out!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Now you've done a great job of describing and selling this one - but avocado and silken tofu, two of my least favourite things, together.... I don't think I can go there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Too bad, it's really lovely. But then there are people who say the same thing about Brussels sprouts, don't they!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Silken Tofu with Avocado & Hugh's (3 Good things) deconstructed rice and avocado sushi made for a stunning meal! I was browsing Every Grain of Rice while watching Hugh's 3 Good Things episode on rice (a bit food obsessed, I admit) and found a stunning way to serve this tofu dish. It was such a lovely combination that I felt compelled to share.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Essentially, I used this silken tofu dish as is, minus the avocado and served alongside Hugh's deconstructed avocado and rice sushi dish. I scattered it all with some sesame seeds, toasted nori squares and some thinly sliced green onion and it was just so delicious and so simple to prepare....

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Here's the recipe if you are interested:

                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://scrapbook.channel4.com/bookmar...

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Happy eats...

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Second time on this dish last night, and I just love it! My favorite thing about it (aside from the texture/flavor) is how fast and easy it is to prepare as an extra dish should you happen to discover, as I did last night, that you have not made enough food for everyone at the table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                                                                                            So simple and just wonderful. Nice combination.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Better late than never, I finally got around to the silken tofu with avocado. What can I say - I loved it. Beautiful texture, wonderful flavor. Even LulusDad was crazy about it - fought me for the last bit (we ended up sharing it). Can't wait to make this one again. Should note that, like Westminstress, I used a whole avocado and would do so again. And boy, silken tofu is seriously the bomb.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yay, glad you enjoyed it! The other dish with silken tofu and scallions is very good too -- I think it would be right up your alley.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks for the tip - same book, right? One of our (ok, my) resolutions is more vegetarian stuff. This was met gruffly by LulusDad. But if he loves the stuff he can't really complain, right?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Fuchsia can do no wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. Dinner earlier this week had 3 dishes from the book. This one is kind of a stretch -- as mentioned above, twice cooked pork is really all about the meat, but I do enjoy some vegetarian versions, even though they're of course very different. I got the idea of using doufu gan and egg from a (different) online recipe, and it worked well last time, but I decided to use Dunlop's method for the spices this time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I first made an omelet with 2 duck eggs, and broke it into little bits to add in later. I used fresh green garlic, which is in season here, and also added some red chili. I think this time I didn't compensate enough for the lack of fattiness, and probably should have gone with my first inclination of blanching the tofu instead of just browning it, so it was a little dry, but the flavor was good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Sorry, didn't realize cold dishes were in here, so couldn't add the picture to my previous post. Also made the smacked radish cold dish (熗萝卜, p58). My wife had made this once before. I think it's pretty good, though I think I would like the dressing balanced slightly differently, and it's not one of my favorites from the book.

                                                                                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: will47

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I found that a bit on the meh side too. Also I couldn't really get the radishes smacked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Flat side of a Chinese cleaver works well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: will47

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you have more upper body strength than 小花 me ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It doesn't take any strength at all. You do it just like a clove of garlic: lay the flat side of the cleaver against the radish and strike it with the heel of your palm, or the side of your fist. If anything, you have to hold back, as you don't want to smash it into pieces, just crack it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    When I made that radish salad I used the flat side of my meat pounder thingy. Worked a treat...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: will47

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Radishes in Chili Oil Sauce, p 68, UK ed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Top and tail radishes. I think the problem with a lot of grocery store radishes these days is that they are too mild. If you can find some hot ones, so much the better. The radishes are cracked by smashing with the flat side of a cleaver. Then they are salted and allowed to rest for 30 min. Sugar, soy sauce and chili oil (I used her recipe), are combined. The radishes are drained of liquid and mixed with the sauce ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This was a big hit with Mr. MM, who is a radish fanatic. He's pretty happy with eating a radish just plain, so to guss it up a bit made it a real treat. I like radishes, but to me this is more of a quick pickle to be eaten in small quantities. Nice as a little side item, but I only want so much of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Radishes in chili Oil Sauce pg. 68

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Count us with those who weren't wowed. Every other Chinese radish salad I've had/made included some vinegar, imo, this could have used some.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yep.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4. Black Bean Chicken (p. 86)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Seems that everyone who has reported on this has done so on the EGOR thread and they've done a great job of describing the instructions. Basically chop chicken and red and/or green pepper. Stir fry the peppers and remove from wok, then add the chicken (which has been marinating in Shaoxing wine, salt, potato flour, light and dark soy sauces), then sliced garlic, ginger, black beans, ground chilies and once those are aromatic and the chicken is done add sliced green onions and finish with sesame oil and add back the peppers. The smell from this was heavenly - was beating people away while stir frying. The meal itself was wonderful too, although I think the smell was even better than the actual meal, but it was all very very good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    33 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      LulusMom, this is page 116, right?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'll do it this in the coming week, I'm sure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        You're absolutely right on the page number. Sorry about that. I'm getting over pneumonia and my brain still isn't fully functional I guess (nor are my lungs, but I'm getting there).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Oh no pnot pneumonia! Ye gods, that's a serious thing!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm so glad that you are already better!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yikes! Hope you are feeling 100% again soon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks ladies. I'll be just fine, but appreciate the kind words.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Black Bean Chicken p.116

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Opened my strange and unfamiliar and firm/squooshy packet of preserved black beans (can I freeze this stuff?)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It is very salty, and you can detect that fermented hint, Roquefert!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          These processed soybeans are rinsed and drained before being added to the stir-fry.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          LulusMom has listed the ingredients -- I used tapioca flour instead of potato, cornstarch can be used too. No green onions, otherwise everything else the same.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And..we like it! A little unusual, but that wears off after the first one-and-a-half bites, then you're happily diggin' in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I keep my dried black beans in the cupboard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              These aren't dry -- they are a moist thick mash, sort of. Yours are actually *dry* ?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I know I won't use them daily or even weekly. The refrigerator is already too full, so I was wondering if I could freeze.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hmmm. It's the dried fermented beans. It's in a bag. I wouldn't call it a mash but it's definitely salted and funky. I guess they are mushed in together from the vacuum pack but they definitely come apart. Since it's preserved, it will last forever in the cupboard. I use the same batch during every parental visit (about twice a year) when I cook for them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The contents of my bag looks similar to your bag, just a different brand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Harumph. Am I the only idiot who keeps those FBBs in the fridge? I think I am.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't keep soy sauce, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, or oyster sauce in the fridge either. The only things (chinese ingredients) I keep are salted chiles (once I've opened them), chili bean paste, sesame paste and the lao gan ma chile sauces in the fridge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't keep soy sauce in the fridge either, but do keep hoisin, fish and oyster sauce in. I've had my hoisin go bad on me even in the fridge (it isn't something I use very often).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I just looked. I do keep oyster sauce in the fridge (no idea why) but not hoisin. I use hoisin infrequently as well but haven't had an issues with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is all useful. Our fridge is so stuffed with various condiments and stuff that saving some space in there would be great.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't think the dry ones need to be kept in the fridge, though I doubt it would hurt. The softer ones definitely should be refrigerated after open.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I keep my black beans in the freezer. Don't know why, I just do. Open pastes in jars in the fridge, soy etc on the counter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Interesting that you keep soy on the counter bt, I was just wondering about that. I hate when my condiments are cold and I was debating whether it would suffer by being kept at a cool room temp.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You do refrigerate your fermented bean curd though, right? I ask because a friend of mine said she didn't though that seemed a bit too risky to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Definitely when opened.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks bt, good to have your affirmation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hooray! That was my original question, several posts ago -- can I freeze this stuff? Now I know, thanks. I could smell them right through the unopened package -- it was a slight smell, but it was there. And I have more room in my freezer than in my fridge and cupboards, so a dedicated corner for all this new stuff will work well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As far as I know, they keep indefinitely without need for freezing or refrigeration.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Mine are dry too, and look very similar to yours. They've been sitting in the pantry for a couple of years now and are still absolutely fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I made the black bean chicken for dinner tonight. I think it's the second time I've made it and we absolutely loved it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I keep my black beans in the fridge too. I have a big container of the Pearl River Bridge brand and have hardly made a dent in it over at least a couple of years! They're fine though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Black Bean Chicken, p. 116

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Wow, BC, great minds! I also made this dish last night and liked it a lot despite butchering the recipe! I made the following changes: in the marinade I subbed sherry for shao xing wine (I have an open bottle of sherry taking up too much space in the fridge), corn starch for potato starch, and omitted the dark soy as I don't have it on hand. Then I also omitted the peppers because they are out of season and the chillis because my kids can't take it too spicy. Instead of the chilis and bell peppers, I used some of my chopped salted chilies in the dish, and my husband and I added more to ours later as a condiment. Love those chopped salted chilies by the way! It was a good dish, very flavorful, and my kids liked it especially and ate it all up. Next time, though, I will hold my breath and buy the out-of-season peppers. I was just missing some vegetable matter in the dish, and I think the peppers would have supplied an extra layer of flavors.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm glad to hear that you successfully doubled the chicken with no ill effect, as there wasn't enough for us (I barely got any and there were no leftovers). I will do this next time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Also wanted to note, as a general aside, that in the beginning of the month these recipes were taking me quite a while with all the chopping and whatnot. They seem to be getting faster, however, as I am getting used to the rhythm of this style of cooking and don't have to consult the book as often while prepping and cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          BLACK BEAN CHICKEN – p. 116

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Add me to this list of fans of this dish! With prep well covered above all that’s left for me to say is that we loved this. Another favourite from this book. I doubled the quantity of chicken but used the same amt of marinade specified in the book with no ill effects. I really think that final drizzle of sesame oil is brilliant as it somehow deepens all the flavours in the dish. I liked that this wasn’t overly saucy and all the flavour seemed to be clinging to the ingredients in the dish. Next time I make this I’d like to add some water chestnuts for a little crunch. Quick and easy, this is one we’ll undoubtedly make again and again. I should note that I chopped vs sliced my garlic and ginger.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Beautiful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hi BC
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This is on the menu for Monday and I also thought the 225 grams of chicken might be a little skimpy. When you doubled the chicken I know you left the marinade the same but just wondering what you did with the rest of the ingredients. Thanks in advance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: delys77

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I left everything else the same delys except:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - I used 1/4 cup of green onions
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - 2 tsp of the sesame oil

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I hope that helps!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It does, thanks very much BC.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Black Bean Chicken Pg. 86

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My turn for this lovely little dish. I love black beans, and have always really enjoyed the black bean chicken with green peppers that I sometimes used to get at a local takeout place. This rendition however was far superior to any that take out I have ever had (not surprising).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I went with the combination of red peppers and green peppers and the red peppers gave just a hint of sweetness was much appreciated. For me the salt levels and the amount of black beans were just right. I must admit that I was too lazy to grind chillies so I went with chilli flakes, which didn't have enough heat. That said the dish was packed with flavour and was lighter than any other version I have ever had. I suspect because there is not thickening agent to make the stir fry glossy or glutinous in any way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Great little dish!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: delys77

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Looks delicious. I still have this on my short list, but much of that list is looking like it will have to wait until April. Drat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks NCW! I have a few others that I was hoping to get to but it looks like they will have to wait a bit as well. Mostly due to the fact that, while I love this book, I'm ready for a break from Chinese.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Black Bean Chicken
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Not much to add to all the commentary on this dish. It's the only recipe I've gotten around to in this book, sad to say. Followed the recipe, and was surprised at how very quick and easy it was. I had all the supplies on hand; we go through a lot of fermented black beans here. I used to always keep them in the cupboard but was advised by someone to refrigerate them. Not sure it makes a big difference. Anyway, loved the dish, and hope I get around to pursuing the book a bit more, even though it will be well past the dedicated month.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. RED-BRAISED BEEF WITH TOFU BAMBOO – p. 108

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It was the photo in the book that drew me to this dish. I just loved the look of the tofu bamboo tucked inside the pot of beef. I couldn’t wait to try it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I should say that once I read through the recipe, I had my doubts. I have absolutely never prepared meat in this manner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            FD has you cut stewing beef into cubes then place the beef into a pot of boiling water. Once the water returns to a boil and a froth has risen, the meat is drained and set aside. Oil is then heated in a wok and chilli bean paste is cooked until fragrant. (love that aroma by the way!) A slightly crushed piece of ginger, 2 crushed green onions and a star anise are added and cooked until they too are fragrant. Sweet fermented sauce is stir-fried in and the stock is added. This mixture is then poured atop the beef and some Shaoxing wine that you’ve placed in another pot. The mixture is brought to a boil then simmers for a couple of hours. Almost right before serving, reconstituted tofu bamboo is tucked in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I didn’t have high hopes for this dish. Admittedly, is smelled heavenly but I simply couldn’t imagine the beef surviving its initial plunge into boiling water. Well, I was wrong! This was sensational. The meat was super-tender yet miraculously it held together. The tofu bamboo was wonderful. Somewhat similar in texture to mushrooms. This is the very first time mr bc actually enjoyed tofu!! He loved this dish. The meat was ridiculously flavourful. I could have poured that sauce into a glass and drank every last drop. Thankfully I didn’t because we’re having the leftovers tomorrow atop rice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I’d highly recommend this one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            23 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yay, so glad to hear this! This one is next on my list. I was going to make it today for later in the week but I'm going to have to do it tomorrow night instead.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              So, following up on the discussion in another thread, do you think I'd be fine subbing 1 tsp fermented black beans, rinsed drained and crushed, plus 1/8 tsp brown sugar for the sweet fermented sauce?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              With regard to the initial boiling step, IIRC Judy Rodgers has you do this in her pot au feu recipe (which I've never attempted but always been curious about). The idea is to rid the meat of impurities by briefly scalding it, then you drain the scummy water and start fresh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                reading BC's description of the above, I'd amend my recc to 1 tsp black beans rinsed, no pummeling needed, added w/ the ginger and anise. Or skip altogether, and if you like a darker broth optionally add 1/2 tsp dark soy to the broth for some color.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks, Q! I have a huge bag of fermented black beans and love the flavor, so I will go ahead and use them. (I was leaning towards just buying the dang sauce today when I go to get the tofu skins but I do love the idea of using what I already have....)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    i can relate on the using what one has theme....especially understand not wanting to add more open condiments to the fridge. between chili products, soy products, and pickles there's barely room in mine for food; and don't even get me going on mustard ....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sorry I'm just getting back to CH now Westminstress. jic you haven't made this yet, I'll weigh in on your sweet fermented sauce question.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  FYI, I just replied to blue room's question down thread:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8922...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In that post I mentioned I did a taste test. IMHO, you could easily use hoisin for this recipe given that it only calls for
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 1/2 tsp in total. I do think you'll be just fine w qianning's suggestion as well. The quantity is minimal relative to the other ingredients in the dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ETA: Sorry, I meant to thank you for the insights on boiling the beef, I find that very interesting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Looks delicious. I love tofu skin. In LOP, she has a similar recipe but with chinese radishes instead of tofu skin. I *think* it's called red braised beef with radish. Anyway, it's a really versatile dish and I usually make about 6 lbs of beef and freeze it for my parents. When they defrost it, they will add the vegetables. Sometimes, we eat it as beef noodle soup.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Anyway, those directions also call for blanching the beef. Since I make it in large batches for my parents, I've taken to skipping that step. I haven't noticed any difference in taste to the finished dish. I do skim the broth more during the braising time, but that's it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ETA: I just re-read your post. It looks like your beef may spend more time in the boiling water then in the LOP version. Also, in the LOP version, you blanch the whole piece of beef and then cube, here, you boil the cubed pieces?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Interesting, bb! With 2 kids under 3, I love to simplify! Does skipping the boiling step turn this into a one-pot preparation? E.g you start by sizzling your aromatics in the braising pot, then add your stock and beef? If so, I am sold!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes to all your questions. Boiling water is my nemesis (slow gas stove) so this saves a lot of time. Sizzle the aromatics and throw everything in the pot. Being to a boil and then lower to a simmer. In LOP, it's on page 232. Also, I've made it with short ribs and chuck steak. The short ribs do taste a lot better then the chuck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It becomes a two pot dish if you decide to make noodle soup. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Lastly, I find this dish, like most braises, taste better if you make it the night before. It's an easy Sunday night thing to cook and then the next night, it's just reheat and add the vegetables.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Would you mind sharing how do you adapt it to make beef noodle soup - add more broth and cook the noodles separately? Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I just make noodles in a second pot. Depending on the vegetables, I either add it to the noodle cooking water (greens such as spinach or chard) or the beef pot (napa, other cabbages, daikon radish or japanese turnips). Then I add the beef, broth and vegetables to the drained noodles. All in one lovely bowl. I've only done this with the LOP version. I haven't tried the EGOR version yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks so much bb. Yes, in this version FD has you blanch the cubed beef. I wanted to follow the recipe as set out since this was my first attempt at the dish but I think I'll skip this step in the future. I'm having the leftovers of this tonight over steamed brown basmati. I've been thinking about it all day and wishing I had more tofu bamboo to add in. Next time around I'll add more and, I'll definitely add more beef because there's plenty of sauce to accommodate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Another good one!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Could you say specifically which chili bean paste and which sweet fermented sauce you used -- I'm still struggling with identifying (and keeping straight) those glossary ingredients!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        No problem blue room.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Photo #1- SWEET FERMENTED SAUCE - I was able to find the sweet fermented sauce FD suggests on p. 331 of the book.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        There has been some discussion about this sauce on the main board for this book and how it is not interchangeable for hoisin (despite the package having the word hoisin on it). This is the first time I've ever had the sauce so I did a taste test. In my humble opinion and with my unrefined palate, I would say that this sauce did taste something like hoisin to me. It was definitely more intensely flavoured, saltier and as others have mentioned, less sweet but, to my mind, still sweet. All that said, in a pinch, I'd likely use hoisin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Photo #2 - SICHUAN CHILI BEAN PASTE - FD talks about this on p. 338. She does recommend the brand I happened to find: Lee Kum Kee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          She recommends the Lee Kum Kee brand mostly because it is easier to find. There was much discussion at the demonstration I attended as to which was the best chili bean paste - she devotes a blog post to it I think. A brand which comes in a basket was also mentioned!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Did you bring your camera? We're going to have to take a CH collection to send someone to another one of FD's courses and ask her in advance to bring the products she recommends. Then we can take photos for us to take shopping! I'd LOVE to go shopping in Chinatown w her after reading that article and seeing the photos of her shopping expedition in NYC.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ha! Maybe I'll email her and ask her to bring her favourite products to work so I can photograph them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Her favourite chilli bean paste is by the Sichuan Dan Dan Seasoning Co, btw, and the packaging is very cute.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh yes gg, please do!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Now I'm going on a mission to find that chilli bean paste. I'm sure someone in Toronto must have it!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thank you, nice crumbsofbread. Good to know the Sweet Fermented sauce is at least an approximation of hoisin -- I know there was much discussion.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In addition to the Lee Kum Kee Chili Bean Sauce you picture (which I used for page 194 "send the rice down beef and celery") I also have the one I show below. Haven't opened it yet, I already have too many opened condiments. Curiosity could kill the cook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              she actually says the Lee Kum Kee was the worst out of the three brands she tried. google it and youll find her blog

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Red-Braised Beef with Tofu Bamboo, p. 108

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            So I finally got around to the red-braised beef last night, though in the end I made quite a few changes. On Monday night after work, I braised the beef. I subbed 1 tsp fermented black beans for the 11/2 tsp sweet fermented sauce and did not add sugar. I also didn't pre-boil the beef and instead used BB's simple one-pot version. The braising liquid was very tasty! It was also thinner than I expected (not sure why, since looking at the recipe, there's nothing to thicken the liquid). I reduced the chilli bean sauce to 2 Tbsp and I thought the braising liquid was still quite spicy. 1 pound of beef is not a lot of beef, so after an hour of braising I added a huge carrot cut into beef-sized chunks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Last night, I got out the pot of braised beef and carrots heated it up. I wasn't sure whether to skim the fat or not but in the end I decided to skim. After skimming, my broth was decidedly less spicy. I think I would have personally preferred not to skim (there wasn't a lot of fat anyway), but I was actually worried about how I was going to feed this very spicy stew to my kids, so I wasn't sorry to see the chili level toned down. I wasn't able to find the dried tofu bamboo, but I did find tofu knots in the refrigerated section of my chinese market. I used about half of an 8-ounce package. I added the tofu knots directly to the stew and they took about 45 minutes to soften. This was a new product for me, and as it turned out, I didn't love them. I think it is because they were a more mass-produced brand of tofu than what I normally use. When I use regular tofu, I buy an organic brand that is locally produced, and I think it is just a better quality product.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I served the dish over soba noodles. My husband and I had our noodles with the stew and spicy braising liquid. For the kids, I tossed the noodles with a bit of diluted soy sauce and sesame oil, then added some shredded beef and carrots. The kids liked their dish, but I would have preferred mine over rice (or maybe a different kind of noodle -- these were 100% buckwheat noodles and, as mentioned by FD, they softened and fell apart easily after cooking).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            That said, everybody ate up the stew. The only leftovers were two tiny cubes of beef. The soft beef and carrots were great for the baby and not too spicy for the kids after they were removed from the skimmed broth. So it was a success as a family friendly dish. For myself, it wasn't my favorite recipe from this book so far, but then I ended up making so many changes from the original version that I'm not sure it's fair to make that judgment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              RED-BRAISED BEEF WITH TOFU BAMBOO – p. 108

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I finally made this dish. I had bought dried tofu bamboo and then totally forgot about them. Anyway, this dish is just delicious, even on a muggy rainy day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              For these FD stew recipes, I tend to buy more protein then needed. Almost twice as much. Between trimming the meat and the amount of liquid, I always find that it could use more stuff in the broth. For this, I bought 2 lbs of chuck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Shortcuts - I didn't do that pre-blanching of the meat. I never found a huge difference in the finished product so I just stopped. I do occasionally skim the dish while it's braising. I also made everything into one pot. Once the aromatics are fragrant, I add everything into the pot. I use a 4.5 Le Creuset.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I did soak the dried tofu bamboo for a good 5 hours or so. When I added them to the pot, it thickened up the broth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I served this with blanched spinach and shirataki noodles. I loved the flavor of the dish. It's so similar to the red braised beef from LOP (which has black beans and sichuan peppercorns) but different enough to stand on it's own.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sounds great. I really should try this version, I'm great fan of both FD's LOP braised beef and of dried tofu bamboo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Made this last night with some brisket I'd had in the freezer. What a great dish! I didn't have high hopes since I didn't care too much for her pork stew with potatoes from the same book (seemed a bit boring and one note to me). The brisket was meltingly tender and had absorbed the delicious flavors of the sauce. I did add a bit of dark soy and salt since I felt it needed more salt than the bean paste and stock provided. Will definitely be going in the rotation. We ate it with rice, but would like to try it as beef noodle soup next time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. SICHUANESE SPICED CUCUMBER SALAD – p. 36

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A tasty, subtly flavoured dish. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked cucumber before so this was a first for me. This dish was simple to prepare and produced a very nice salad that I’ll definitely make again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I found the recipe online here so I won’t cover the prep process:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                http://foodwise.com.au/recipes/sic-hu...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                mr bc was a big fan of this dish. The cucumbers retained their crunch but seemed to be infused somehow w the subtle flavours of chillis and the smoky Sichuan peppers that had sizzled in the oil. Delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Fresh Oyster Omelette (Dan Jian Sheng Hao) p. 132
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.bookpage.com/the-book-case...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Eggs mixed with a potato starch slurry are cooked in a wok with oysters and green onions. It is as simple as that, but I enjoyed the fresh egg taste with the juicy, plump oysters. The next time I make this I will not spread the egg so thin, as I prefer a slightly juicier omelette.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Note: The recipe calls for a potato starch slurry made with 1.5 t starch and 1 t water. This is not enough water for the amount of starch. I believe it should be 1 T of water and made the recipe as such.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. STIR-FRIED EGGS WITH TOMATOES – p. 128

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Tasty, quick and satisfying, this dish ticks all the boxes. This is a good recipe to have in your arsenal for those times when you’re “hungry now” and don’t want to be fussing in the kitchen. I had no idea how popular this dish was until I Googled to see if the recipe online. So many blog posts and articles describing this dish as a household staple in regions of China.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I did find the recipe online here in case folks are interested:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    http://www.localgreens.org.uk/recipes...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I would note though that FD also calls for ½ tsp of potato flour and 2tsp of water to be mixed together and stirred in just prior to plating to make a sauce from the juices. I’d highly recommend this step as it creates a luxurious, satiny sauce that somehow elevates the dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Growing up w British parents, fried tomatoes and fried eggs are by no means new to me. What’s different here is that the two are combined to produce a dish that is far greater than the sum of its parts. I served this w plain bruschetta which we used to mop up the lovely sauce. I used grape tomatoes cut in half since they’re what’s most flavourful at this time of year. They’re also very sweet so I skipped adding the sugar. We loved this, it’s a dish you could eat every day without tiring of it IMHO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ETA: I should add that my wok is fairly non-stick so I only used about 1.5 tbsp of oil (I used evoo). FD calls for 4tbsp which would have made this too oily for our tastes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Isn't that a nice comfort food type dish? Never mind it being "a household staple in regions of China", it's a household staple at Casa G & G...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm not at all surprised Gio, it's definitely going to be a household staple here as well. A lovely dish and I can't wait to try it with my own tomatoes this summer!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          One note is that perfect tomatoes aren't necessary -- the dish will work well (possibly even better) with your average off-season beefsteak tomatoes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: will47

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Having tried this recipe with tomatoes from my garden and tomatoes from the supermarket, I can say that to my taste, it is much better with tomatoes from the garden!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Stir-Fried Eggs with Tomatoes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I love tomatoes in my scrambled eggs, but have never thought to stir-fry the two like this. Wow. This really creates a magical combination that I cannot believe I have gone without all these years. Who knew? (Well, apart from the millions of Chinese home cooks, of course!)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Like Breadcrumbs, this will be a staple dish in my home from now on. I was going to have this with a side of fried rice but in the end the fabulous texture of this dish was something that I didn't want to compromise by adding grains.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am just floored by this winning combo!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have had lots of egg with tomatoes when I grew up. I didn't even know it's weird! Another of our family favourite is egg with sweetcorn.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I've made the stir-fried eggs with tomatoes a couple of times now thanks to your review, Breadcrumbs. While it doesn't blow me away, it is a very tasty and quick dish. I just had it for a late pre-gym breakfast, with some homemade sourdough toast. I feel ready for my workout now!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. Cold Chicken with a Spicy Sichuanese Sauce, p. 48, UK Ed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Much to my surprise, I couldn't find a previous review of this recipe either on this thread or the EGOR thread. What are you waiting for?!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I didn't have cooked chicken on hand, but I see no reason why you couldn't make this with leftover poached or roast chicken. I just poached a couple chicken breasts for this. For the poaching liquid, I used chicken stock, into which I threw some slices of ginger, a couple star anise, and a few sichuan peppercorns. After poaching, I saved this stock to use in other dishes, such as the Bear's Paw Tofu.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The cooled, poached meat is shredded and mixed with some scallions, salt and sesame seeds. Prior to serving, it is tossed with a sauce made of soy sauce, Chinkiang vinegar, chicken stock (poaching liquid), sugar, chili oil (I used her recipe), ground sichuan peppercorns, and sesame oil.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My finished dish did not look quite as saucy as what is shown in the book, but it was very tasty. I had leftover, which were refrigerated (after being sauced), and they were equally, or perhaps even more, delicious. A really good lunch box item, which could be placed over greens.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What a great idea to poach your chicken breasts w/those flavorings and have the stock for one of the other recipes. I was going to rely on a storebought roast chicken, but I'm going to follow your lead--and hopefully get to it this week. That dish sounds wonderful: lots of happy lunches.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Cold Chicken with a Spicy Sichuanese Sauce

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yum! Had some leftover roast chicken which made this super quick and easy to throw together. I actually forgot to add the chicken stock and didn't miss it. I served it with sliced cucumber and thought the cool crunch paired beautifully with the flavorful salty, tangy, spicy chicken. Agree completely with MelMM that this makes a perfect lunch box item.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                COLD CHICKEN WITH A SPICY SICHUANESE SAUCE – P. 48

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                With Mel’s enthusiastic review I had to move this up my list and I’m glad I did, this was a very delicious dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Like Mel, I poached my chicken and reserved the broth for use elsewhere in the book. I actually did this at the beginning of the month so I just had to pull a pkg of cooked chx from the freezer this morning. mr bc did the shredding while I prepped the sauce as Mel set out above. I still haven’t made the blasted chili oil so I used a prepared oil I’d purchased and had to pare back on the quantity given the excessive heat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This sauce reminded me somewhat of an Asian dipping sauce I make for dumplings as it has many of the same ingredients. I just loved the Chinkiang vinegar in this sauce and the nutty sesame oil really adds to the dish IMHO…we actually added a splash more right before plating. The toasted sesame seeds are a must as they add another layer of nuttiness and a nice little crunch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think this would be good hot or cold to be honest. We served it atop steamed rice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Cold Chicken with a Spicy Sichuanese Sauce, p. 48.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I had some leftover roast chicken so I made this, just as directed (except half a recipe's worth), for a lunch. Super simple and delicious--a definite keeper. Tomorrow I think I'll toss the remaining sauce, chicken, and onions with buckwheat noodles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Another winner!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I removed the breasts of a 3.5 lb. chicken for gong bao chicken, and poached the rest of the whole chicken for this dish and some extra stock. I removed the thighs and legs after 25 minutes and let them cool before shredding them and returning the bones to the pot to finish the broth. This left me with only about 8 oz. of leg and thigh meat, so I reduced the sauce recipe by 1/3.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The stock provided a fresh 1 tbs. of stock for the sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The chicken has a very clean flavor that matched nicely with the bold sauce, and the scallion helped liven things up a bit. I liked that no one flavor jumped out of the sauce. I'm not sure I'd like it as much with roasted chicken, but others reports are promising. The option sesame seeds seemed unnecessary.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Silken Tofu with Pickled Mustard Greens Pg. 88

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This dish brought back a lot of memories for me. I lived in Korea (ESL Teacher) for a little less than a year after my university days and I loved the hearty soup enriched with greens and tofu that are common at the Korean table. When I saw the picture of this recipe I thought it looked a lot like some of those soups of my carefree early twenties, I was resolved to give it a try.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Essentially you briefly saute a little pickled mustard in some oil then add stock (I used everyday stock) and bring to a simmer before adding a good amount of silken tofu, salt and white pepper. You finish it off with a garnish of green onion and you are done.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I was right that the dish is reminiscent of many Korean jigae (soupy stews) minus the heat of course. I served this along with a bit of white rice as it was dinner for one last night. I just spooned some broth over the rice and then gobbled it up with my spoon. Minus the sound of screaming school children I was transported back to my days as a young teacher.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Love those moments.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Recipe wise I made a few small modifications. I increased the broth by about 50% and I doubled the pickle and green onion. I wanted something a I tiny bit soupier, and I love green onion and the tang of the pickle, so I was very happy with how the modifications turned out. The dish has a good balance of crunch from the pickle and silky smoothness from the tofu, and the flavour of the broth pairs very nicely with the edge of the pickle. I also seasoned relatively heavily with pepper as my stock was only lightly seasoned.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Would definitely make this again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: delys77

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Love your Proustian moment there, delys77. Wonderful story.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks gg, for me food is most enjoyable when it brings back memories.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Sweet-and-Sour Fish "Tiles" p. 142

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This got made with shrimp and tofu --
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It's a marinade/batter of Shaoxing wine, potato flour, egg, a little oil. This coats the "tiles" of fish or tofu or chicken. It's a light batter, just right to soak up the coming sauce. They are deep fried, takes only seconds with shrimp and tofu tiles of course. Set those aside to drain, and add chopped ginger and garlic to some of the oil in the same pan. Pour a prepared sauce mixture (sugar, soy sauce, Chinkiang vinegar, a little stock or water, potato flour) into the oil and cook briefly to thicken. This sauce gets poured over the tiles -- slivers of green/white spring onion and red chili finish it up. And of course it is delicious. Happy eaters here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I was thinking about doing this one with shrimp--thanks for reporting on this!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          When I made the fish tiles I used defrosted tilefish, (thought it was apropos) and shallow fried the slices. It worked very well. Now I'll have to try it with shrimp. What a good idea, blue room.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8522...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Add me to the list of people who think this sounds really good. Thanks for the report. Love the idea of doing it with shrimp.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sweet-and-Sour [Shrimp] "Tiles," p. 142

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanking blue room for the tip, I made this with shrimp over a week ago as our final EGOR dish for a while. Split decision: my husband loved it; I found it too sweet and the sauce a little thick for my taste.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My dish didn't look nearly as pretty as FD's or blue room's as I didn't sliver the green onion and chiles though I otherwise followed the recipe as written (with the major caveat of using shrimp, of course). Agree that this is a simpler, quicker prep than it might appear.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Slippery Woodear Salad with Coriander, Pg. 60

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The title alone does not tell the tale. At first read the salad sounded intriguing with a few simple ingredients such as hydrated woodear mushrooms, cilantro/coriander, minced garlic, fresh chilies and a dressing of clear rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and salt. Put it together and what do you have? A slippery, slidey, hotter than Hades, relishey salad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My mistake? Yup. The Chilies. I don't have any more salted chilies and 1 or 2 fresh ones is the alternative. However the only fresh red chilies I do have are Thai birds, I took 3 of the tiniest ones from the bag and thought they added up to one larger chili. Was I wrong. Gamely we both picked at the woodears trying to stay clear of the devil's revenge. Combined with just a bit of cilantro the flavor of the mushrooms was rather subtle. I expected a more earthy taste. Also, I'd like to see more cilantro and a tad stronger vinaigrette.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Honestly, I'd like to make this again using the proper chilies. I wonder if G will let me... The meatloaf panini with banh mi condiments was delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I've had this dish twice, once from the book before the month started and once from a restaurant last week. On both occasions thought the ratio of coriander was low compared to the mushrooms. I guess it's the way it's supposed to be - the coriander is more of a garnish perhaps?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The restaurant version used fresh chillies and was delicious and terrifying all at once. We picked our way around them too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I will do this dish again, probably with more coriander. I absolutely love the texture of the mushrooms.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Frizzle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm so glad you posted Frizzle! So the restaurant dish was hot too. Do you happen to know what kind of chilies were used? I remember there are few chili choices where you are.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have no idea, they were chopped up but they did look just like the ones I buy at the Chinese markets which I believe are from Thai folk. They are hot. Amusingly that evening a waitress warned us away from a dish with lots of dried chillis saying it might be too hot for us (we got it anyway and sucked the smokey chillis like you do prawn heads) but it was the fresh chillis in the salad she didn't warn us away from that we struggled with.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Also, I noted that in the bought salad the mushrooms were barely chopped at all - just the thick stem bit was removed and I really enjoyed eating it that way. I think when we made it we chopped the mushrooms far too much. There was a real satisfaction in eating a whole mushroom instead of a slice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Frizzle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks so much. I don't think I chopped the woodears too much, in fact there were a few smallish ones that I left whole. My husband had an issue with the texture, but he doesn't like avocados either... although he does like tofu. [shrugs]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Men :)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I once had fresh wood ears, from the Taiwan National U ag research station (present from Chinese teacher). Nothing much is lost in the drying.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        (The real treat from there was oyster mushrooms the ssize of the palm of my hand.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Dry-Braised Fish with Black Bean and Chili, Pg. 139 UK Edition

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This recipe calls for a 500 gram scaled and cleaned sea bass or trout with head and tail. I used a single skinless 1.10 lbs. pollock fillet, so just about the same size. The fish is rubbed with Shaoxing wine with a little salt rubbed in the belly but I omitted the salt and only used the wine. In the meantime prep the rest of the ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                When ready to cook sprinkle the fish with salt and place into a hot oiled wok. I reduced the peanut oil to 3 T. Fry the fish to a nice golden color, turn once, then remove to a warm platter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Now for the delicious sauce: Add more oil if necessary (didn't have to), add and cook sequentially minced garlic and ginger, fermented black beans, chili flakes. Pour in some stock, bring to the boil, return the fish to the wok, simmer for a few minutes turning once. When sauce has reduced and fish has cooked through remove to a platter. Into the wok put chopped scallions and red pepper slivers. Stir this a few times than take off heat and add sesame oil. Pour this additional seasoning over the fish and serve.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Simply grand. So full of flavor and somehow that humble piece of pollock was given a new life. We both loved this dish and I can see using the sauce for other seafood as well. I also served a remake of Pak Choy with Fresh Shiitakes, and soba noodles with a concocted dressing of soy sauce/Shaoxing/chili garlic sauce/dark sesame oil/thickened with a cornflour slurry. Absolutely Scrumptious...everything!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Well you've convinced me I must try this Gio. I passed it up because it called for a whole, head on fish and I'm just not a fan of eating anything that's looking back at me. Your versions sounds sensational. Can't wait.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I've fished for pompano in Florida and bluefish off Cape Cod so I'm used to staring a fish in the eye, BC. A couple of years ago we bought a share in the newly formed Community Supported Fishery and I learned to scale, gut, and fillet whole 4 pound cod. The only thing I haven't done yet is eat the flesh in the head which Dunlop says is the very tastiest of the entire fish... I understand some people fight for the eyes as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Wow Gio, colour me impressed!! I could really use a few lessons in cleaning/gutting and filleting fish. When we're in the Caribbean we always head to the shore to purchase fish and seafood right off the boats. There have been occasions where the line to have your fish gutted and scaled have been too long and I've had to do it myself. Well, let's just say I always apologize to the fish in advance!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Funny you mention that. When I made the whole chili-braised trout, my 8 year old plopped himself right in front of the fish and dug right into it with a pair of chopsticks, very happily dissecting all the pieces from the head and trying them all. The secret's out that the cheeks are the best part, so I guess I'm going to have to fight him for them from now on. He can keep the eyes, however.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bless your Chowpup, Allegra. A true Chowhound-in-training. I can look at the eyes... but eating them is another matter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't eat the eyes but my absolute favorite bits are the triangular pieces on the top of the head (forehead meat, if a fish can be said to have a forehead). Then the cheeks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Agreed that there is good eating around the fish heads. And throats. I grew up on the Texas gulf coast, and have done a fair amount of offshore sport fishing. The cheeks and throats are the best part of the fish, to me, and on the large snapper you can catch offshore they are substantial hunks of meat. If you go on a fishing charter you have to make sure that your guide does not filet your fish for you, reserving the best parts for himself!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              On the gulf coast, in TX and FL, I have seen cheeks and throats of red snapper and grouper for sale in fish markets and once in a blue moon on restaurant menus. Where I live now in the Carolinas, fish markets only sell a whole fish or filets, and never the cheeks and throats as a separate item. If they filet the fish, the head and rack, with cheeks and throats attached, get sold (generally as bait, for stock at best) for $1 per pound. Seems crazy to me that they are basically discarding the best meat on the fish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It might be worthwhile to note that cheeks and throats as viable "cut" of fish meat come from large fish, not the 1-2 lb things you find in most markets.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yum. Putting this on my list (and like your holiday appropriate avatar!).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Erin go Bragh, LLM!... to Your Chowpup too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thank you Gio, top of the morning to you!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Just reading over the recipe for this fish dish (you really did make my taste buds tingle reading your description). This is probably a stupid question, but how do you serve this if there are 3 people? Do you go ahead and chop the fish into sections? I'm probably embarrassing myself with this question, but it really did cross my mind as I was considering feeding it to the family.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Well, if you're cooking a whole fish you will see that you have both top and bottom with the belly slit from gill to tail. Slice the head off. Separate the top fillet of fish from the bones and divide the flesh. Do this by inserting a sharp knife into the flesh, just on top of the spine. Ease the meat off the bones, which should come away easily if cooked properly. I always have a spatular handy to help lift off the fillet. If the fish is too raw the flesh will cling to the bones.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            After removing the top fillet completely at the tail end use the tip of your knife to lift up the skeleton so it comes away freely. With your hand just pick up the skeleton and remove it. Slice the bottom fillet like the top.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You may have to buy 2 whole fish to serve three people, though if one fish is too small. Don't forget there is plenty of good eating in the head, and the tail gets crispy/crunchy. I Always wash a whole fish, especially the tail, before cooking it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The one called for in this recipe is 17+ ounces. G and I ate a boneless 1lb.10 oz. fillet.... I'm guessing he gave me a smaller piece as usual. Hope this helps!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It helps a LOT. Thank you so much for explaining.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. Clams in Black Bean Sauce, p. 146

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I’m so late getting started (and there are soooo many things I want to make!) that I was surprised no one had reported on these, but I don’t see them among the many mouth-watering reports here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I’m a clam fanatic so when the nearby supermarket had fresh littlenecks a few nights ago—a rarity—I ditched my original plan immediately, grabbed two pounds and came home and tried this, my first recipe from EGOR. I’ve had this dish in NY’s Chinatown a few times and loved it so much that I was afraid my home-cooked attempt might disappoint. It did not, but it was pretty salty—not too salty that we didn’t lap up every last drop of sauce, but salty enough that I’d try some modifications next time. (Any suggestions? Possibly reduce the amount of fermented black beans? Or maybe I didn’t rinse them thoroughly enough . . . ).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      After making sure the clams were clean, I added them to 2 c. boiling water, covered the pot, and cooked until they opened, about 4 minutes, fished them out and set them aside while I made the sauce. I heated (grapeseed) oil (I used about 2 T) in my wok, then added the black beans (2 ½ T), chopped ginger (2 tsp) and garlic (1 T), sliced fresh red chiles (2 cayenne, all I could find) and briefly stir-fried these as they perfumed the kitchen. (Since I’m not crazy about green bell pepper, I omitted that). I then added 2/3 c of the reserved clam broth, which I’d strained, and brought that to a boil before tossing in 2 T Shaoxing wine and 1 tsp ea. of dark and light soy sauces. I stirred in the slurry (1 tsp potato starch, 2 T water) as directed, in separate additions. The sauce thickened nicely, and I added the clams and about 3 T sliced scallions, tossed it all together—and then enjoyed them thoroughly with thoroughly untraditional grilled ciabatta.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ETA: I loved the mussels with black bean sauce in Fish Without a Doubt and didn’t remember that dish being salty. In comparing the recipes, I was surprised to see there was no soy sauce in the FWAD recipe. So maybe I should cut back on that next time

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Those look gorgeous! I've got this one on the list, but there are so many others to get to.....
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I've noticed that a lot of her recipes are rather salty in this book.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Another clam fanatic here. Excited to read your review. I will have to try this soon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yum! Count me in as a clam fanatic drooling at your picture and description.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks, fellow (clam)hounds--if you do make this one, be mindful about the saltiness--and do let me know what modifications, if any, you make. The flavors are so great.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Clams in Black Bean Sauce (Chi Zhi Chao Xian) p. 146

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Just popping in to say that I agree with nomadchowwoman's report across the board. The clams (manila for us) were delicious and enjoyed, but I also found the dish too salty. I was very careful to wash the beans thoroughly remembering your report. I'd gladly eat again with adjustments. Andrea Nguyen's blog mentioned Grace Young's version of this dish. I might try that one next.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Braised Pork with Potatoes Pg. 100

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Different and delicious!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Let me start by saying that I am a bit fan of pork and potatoes, so this dish was a natural go to for me. Yesterday was sunny for once, but definitely on the windy side, so I found myself happily buzzing around the kitchen putting this dish together.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The total time required to put this together is about 1.5 hours, so it is stands out from the rest of the quickly put together dishes that I have made from this book. That said, there is relatively little active time. Essentially you cube the a piece of pork shoulder (mine was a bit on the big side so I increased all other ingredients by about 50%), then pounds some scallion whites and julienne some ginger. Into a hot wok (in my case I just used a dutch oven) the oil goes, along with some of the chilli bean paste. Once you have a nice reddish oil you add your ginger and scallions and saute briefly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The smell at this point was fantastic! You then add the cubed pork and stock and simmer for about an hour. Meanwhile I prepped my potatoes and sliced some scallion greens for garnish. Once the meat had simmered long enough to become tender you add the cubed potatoes and let them simmer for about 20 minutes. In my case I left them in for closer to 25 minutes as they were still too firm at 20.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Garnish and serve, hopefully to your family's delight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In our case we just loved this. The chilli bean paste added some heat, but it was just a nice casual warmth that slowly build up as we ate the dish, but never overwhelmed. The pork was nicely flavoured and tender, and the potatoes became silky smooth and extremely flavour from their little bath in the pork/spice broth. the onion and ginger are cut into relatively sizeable pieces so they help up to the long cooking, every so often you get a little bite of one of those aromatics and it wakes up your pallet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I served in plates, but should have left it in bowls as the broth was very nice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Would definitely repeat this again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: delys77

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for this one, I probably wouldn't have paid proper attention to this page without your review. You used russet potatoes?, or ?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hey Blue Room, I ended up using Yukon Golds. They are pretty much my go to potato and they held up very well to the simmer. I can never remember which is waxy and which isn't but I often find yukon gold to work well in many applications.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. TIGER SALAD – p. 66

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A sweet and spicy pickle-like dish that’s the perfect accompaniment to many of the dishes in this book.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The recipe is well covered in the pre-COTM thread here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8522...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I had to omit the coriander due to an allergy. This reminded me somewhat of a summer salad I make called fire & ice cucumbers. This is nice on its own, atop meat or fish and even mixed into steamed rice. A keeper!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. General Tso’s Chicken, p. 122

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I know my photo looks like it captures something straight out of a mall food court, but I swear this was not as garish looking in real life—and it was very tasty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Like so many of these dishes, all the time and effort is in the prep—in this case, cutting up ¾ lb chicken thighs into small pieces (I used boneless, skinless) and then “battering” them in soy sauce (2 tsp light, ½ tsp dark), an egg yolk, 2 T potato flour, and 2 tsp oil. The pieces are fried in hot oil in a wok, in batches, and set aside. Oil is discarded, wok wiped out, and another couple tablespoons of oil added and heated. Sliced dried chiles (6 arbols, in my case) are tossed in and cooked briefly before 2 tsp ea. chopped ginger and garlic are added and stir fried until they release their amazing aromas. The sauce (1 tsp tomato paste + 1 T water; ½ tsp potato flour, ½ tsp dark soy, 1 ½ tsp light soy, 1 T rice vinegar, 3 T chicken stock) is added and cooked ‘til thickened. The chicken pieces are returned to the wok, and two tsp sesame oil, along with sliced scallions, are stirred in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is pretty quick and easy—unless you’re trying to do two other stir-fries at the same time, which is frankly insane. I served this with white rice, Fish-fragrant Eggplant, and Bok Choy with Fresh Shitake.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I was thinking, as I was preparing this, that it would serve four if there were sides, but two of us finished it off (despite two sides, three if you count the rice) so you may want to double it the recipe if you’re cooking for a crew.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I've been reading and enjoying this thread for quite a while and enjoying reading all the comments. I was inspired to get the book and start cooking chinese food! I am a pescatarian and my husband loves all meats…. So I do change things around so I can make things vegetarian. I use many vegetarian meat substitutes (which I know that purists frown on but gives the chew and mouthfeel of meat and lets me make any recipe I want).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So far here are the recipes I have tried:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Radishes in chile oil - made it per instrux 1st time, I wasn't crazy about the smashed part but loved the flavors. Made it the 2nd time with sliced radishes - I liked it better that way. It was the visual of the smashed radishes and the serving eating part of the whole radishes - my radishes were huge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ma Po tofu - I am very iffy on soft tofu, I usually only like it crispy but this was one of my favorites but unfortunately he was not enamored.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Salt fried Pork with garlic stems - made it with seitan and asparagus. A big hit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Beef with Cumin - made with vegetarian 'beef' strips (gardein brand). Another favorite.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Gong Bao Chicken with peanuts - made with vegetarian 'chicken' strips. Husband loved this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      General Tso's Chicken - again with the veg chicken strips. Really good. I have always heard of this dish but had never tasted it cuz it isn't offered in restaurants in a vegetarian version.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Stir Fry chopped Choy Sum - delicious. I want to try this with broccoli rabe which is one of our favorite vegetables.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Bok Choy with fresh Shitake - have made this one about 4 times, never tire of bok choy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Twice Cooked Swiss chard - excellent! another recipe I want to try with broccoli rabe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sichuanese 'Send the rice down' - made this with Match brand 'pork' meat. Will def make again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Xie Laoban's Dan Dan Noodles - again I used the Match brand pork substitute. I used fettucine noodles and think it would be better with finer noodles but we enjoyed very much. I did get the chinese sesame paste which was very different than tahini, dark and toasted flavor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So many more recipes I want to try now that I have my chinese pantry stocked. All except the elusive Facing Heaven dry chiles. WHY are they so rare? There are 5 chinese stores in the town nearby and all of them have given me the hot little skinny peppers and told me they are the same. Any suggestions? I have one market left to try in Hartford. Supposed to be the biggest Chinese store in Connecticut so maybe I will have luck there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thank you all for your inspiration and beautifully written descriptions. I used to think Mexican was my favorite cuisine but my tune has changed and I am loving Chinese food! And it is so much healthier than Mexican:)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ElsieB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        You have been busy, ElsieB! What a wonderful assortment of recipes and meals you have made. I sometime make the vegetarian versions of recipes calling for meat and also use mushrooms in place of the miniscule amount of meat called for in others. It's all good eating, though, isn't it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ElsieB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks for this full post! I would have a hard time deciding between Mexican and Chinese, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have found this COTM thread most interesting because it is so easy to incorporate into real everyday cooking and eating. I love TK's Ad Hoc but I wouldn't be cooking from it on an every day basis but to get a few spectacular recipes from it. Whereas EGOR has been so easy to adapt to everyday life of cooking and eating.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: ElsieB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I wasn't able to find Facing Heaven Chiles in any store (I wasn't even able to get them at the Chengdu market I visited last year!) after I ran out of the stash my Chinese "mother-in-law" sent me. I'm pretty sure these are the same chiles; I ordered about 6 bags and have been happy with them:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.posharpstore.com/en-us/fis...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. Twice-Cooked Pork (Hui Guo Rou) p. 96

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This was our first time trying this classic Sichuanese dish and won’t be the last.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Pork belly is simmered until just cooked through. I did this in advance so I could make a quick dinner on a work night. Tonight we stir-fried the pork belly (cut into thin slices) in lard (we used 2 t instead of 2 T). Next you add the dou ban jiang (chili bean paste), fermented black beans, tian mian jiang (sweet fermented sauce), a dash of dark soy and sugar. It is finished with green onions and red bell peppers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Simple to make and full of flavor (spicy, salty and succulent). Great with rice. Because it is so rich, it’s not a dish I’d eat too frequently, but can definitely see why Fuchsia keeps cooked pork belly in her freezer to make this dish on the fly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I can't do this right away, but I will do it with a small pork shoulder roast in my freezer. I even have real lard (all the other stuff too, thanks to this month's book!) so I'm all set to try. I know pork shoulder isn't pork belly, but can't imagine it will be a problem. The red-braised pork recipe (a couple of pages away) uses belly or shoulder. It sounds well worth making!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I've been avoiding this and other recipes because of the pork belly. Thanks for the shoulder idea, BR. I have a 1 lb. loin and might just try that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I hope you like it. It'll be a good use of that Pixian chili bean paste (douban jiang) that you purchased from posharp.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I thought I read in some of your reviews that you might not be as into hot/spicy as me. I love hot/spicy. This is not overwhelming, but it's not subtle either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If you find that you like these flavors and want to try another tofu recipe, mapo dou fu might be another one for you to try.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  So glad to see your report, Big Sal. I boiled my pork belly this morning. My husband gave me a funny look when I told him that was tomorrow night's dinner. You've renewed my confidence in this dish. Unfortunately, I won't have the Pixian chili bean paste, but hope what I have will work.