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

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

                      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

                                        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.

                                                    7 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!

                                                             
                                                             
                                                             
                                                          3. re: blue room

                                                            SWEET-AND-SOUR SPARE RIBS 糖醋排骨

                                                            Just as Ms. Dunlop stated in the headnote, sweet-and-sour ribs are not difficult to make, but they do take a little time because the recipe has several stages.

                                                            I didn’t deep-fry the spare ribs since it was an optional step. I thought the ribs turned out to be perfectly tasty without the frying. The ribs were tender, with a slightly crispy outer layer. The sauce was sweet an tangy, and will make you want to lick your fingers.

                                                            Husband normally doesn’t like any “sweet” dishes. But he actually liked this one, and had quite a few pieces.

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