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Feb 28, 2013 01:14 PM

Cookbook of the Month March 2013 EVERY GRAIN OF RICE: Soups, Rice, Noodles, Dumplings, Stocks, Preserves and Other Essentials

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 soups, rice, noodles, dumplings, stocks, preserves and other essentials 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:

Soups - p238
Rice - p252
Noodles - p266
Dumplings - p290
Stocks, preserves and other essentials - p316

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. So the Congee recipe on p. 263 calls for 3/4 cup of rice and "2-1/2 cups (2.4 liters) of water." Those measurements are not equivalent. Any idea what the right amount of water is?

    18 Replies
    1. re: lyz2814

      I'm guessing "cups" is a typo for "quarts" (2.5 quarts does seem to work out to ~ 2.4 L).

      Generally, congee will be from at least 6:1 to 12:0 water to rice, so I think 2.5 cups is definitely not correct.

      1. re: will47

        I don't remember which recipe it was in, but I noticed another metric-to-standard mis-conversion/misprint of a liquid amount, so if working from the US edition, it's probably a good idea to go with the metric measure in parentheses to be sure.

        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

          Thanks for the advice to stick to metric!

      2. re: lyz2814

        My British edition just specifies 2.4 litres.

        1. re: lyz2814

          On a note other than the question about measurements, I am super curious to hear what you think if you try this dish. I have only had Congee twice, both times in restaurants and both times I found it unpalatable, which was disappointing since I love rice.

          1. re: delys77

            I've never tasted it delys. Does it have a slimy texture?

            1. re: Breadcrumbs

              My mother in law is Cantonese and we've been to a Congee restaurant here in Vancouver a few times, and she swears it is the good stuff. My issue was with the texture, just as you suspected bc.
              I must say I love most Chinese dishes I have encountered but every so often I come up against somewhat "slippery" or "mushy" dishes that I find a little off putting. For me congee is just too mushy and a touch slimy. That said, I am speaking for myself and millions of Chinese are likely correct, and I'm the odd man out here.

              1. re: delys77

                Thanks delys, much appreciated. If I do make it I think I'll try it w one of Fuchsia's suggested additions. I likely won't have an issue w the texture but mr bc will.

                1. re: delys77

                  Congee is one of the few Chinese dishes I've run across that I can't stand. The texture is very off putting to me.

                  1. re: emily

                    I'm really intrigued now. I'll have to make it and see.

                2. re: Breadcrumbs

                  To me congee feels like porridge in texture. So I guess it is slimy and mushy. The rice should be very cooked down so you don't see grains anymore. At least that is how we do it in Hong Kong.

                  I love congee but I grew up with it. A lot of things are acquired tastes and what you are used to.

                  1. re: lilham

                    That's a great description liham. I'm now wondering if it's at all similar to rice pablum (which I loved btw and, have been know to enjoy as an adult as well!!).

                  2. re: Breadcrumbs

                    Congee is just rice porridge. It's like soupy oatmeal but with rice. Also, it's savory because it's cooked in stock. Then you add in your flavorings, usually slivered ginger, and whatever else you like. Common flavorings are: roast pork and preserved egg, roast duck and preserved egg, chicken and mushroom. Seafood is nice too, or mixed veg like mushrooms, greens and snow peas. Sampan porridge has scallions, roast peanuts and pork. Etc. as you can see, it's infinitely adaptable. I love it but have never made it at home - I may have to correct that this month.

                    1. re: Westminstress

                      I look forward to hearing what you think of the recipe and variations in the book Westminstress.

                      1. re: Westminstress

                        If it's cooked right, to me the "softness" of how it feels is a bigger take away.

                    2. re: delys77

                      I don't eat meat, but one thing that I think is supposed to add a lot of savory flavors is to cook it with dried scallops.

                      Cantonese often mix some proportion of sticky rice in, I think. Using less sticky rice in the mix, or rinsing the rice a bit more may adjust the texture if you find it too sticky in texture. I do think that nailing the texture at home is a little tricky unless you've tried it before at a restaurant or cooked by someone who knows what they're doing. You need to keep it at a moderate simmer / low boil - not so high that it burns, but high enough that it cooks down quickly enough.

                      Another interesting idea that a friend suggested to me is to add little bits of frozen or dry (and rehydrated) tofu skin, and let it cook down with the porridge.

                      Also, you could also try making xifan, basically, rice soup. Normally for this, you start with cooked rice (regular Asian rice), and the consistency is a little more watery.

                      To the people who don't like it - are you eating it plain, or with toppings? I like mine with green onion, the canned wheat gluten and peanut mixture, and the preserved bamboo strips in chili.

                    3. re: lyz2814

                      definitely the 2.4 liters/quarts if you are making congee. as will points out above even that ratio of water to rice sounds on the low side (unless, of course, there is also a lot of stock called for in the recipe).

                      1. re: lyz2814

                        How did i miss the congee recipe? I've been craving the stuff.

                      2. Fuchsia's Emergency Midnight Noodles, Pg. 288

                        This is the third noodle recipe we've made from EGOR and we liked it just as much as the others: Spicy Buckwheat Noodles With Or Without Chicken (68) and Chef Chen Dailu's Spicy Sesame Noodles (282). Also, it reminded me of the late night pasta dish my mother made for her friends after coming home from a concert or opera, Aglio Olio.

                        It's a quick and easy prep and execution with a couple of options I didn't use. One being adding a fried egg to the plate of finished noodles and using a condiment I don't have, "olive vegetable". That's not like European olives but something particular to China.

                        Buckwheat noodles were the vehicle for the Very spicy sauce. The sauce consists of tamari, Chianking vinegar, chili oil w sediment... A Lot of chili oil, and sesame oil. I used toasted sesame oil as FD says it has much more flavor. The noodles are cooked according to package directions then tipped into a serving bowl holding the sauce mixture. Everything is tossed together then chopped scallions are strewn over top.

                        The ingredient amounts can be changed up according to your individual taste or craving at the moment. We chose to keep to the originals but in future probably will decrease the chili oil and increase the vinegar. Nevertheless the noodles were full of spicy flavor and we liked the combination and aroma.

                        In the same bowl as the noodles I served the Stir-Fried Romaine Lettuce on page 185 and the garlicky fried tomatoes from Jerusalem.

                        16 Replies
                        1. re: Gio

                          I've had my eye on that emergency midnight noodles recipe. I have a lot of midnight noodle emergencies!


                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            The olive vegetable is pictured on the egg but is not mentioned in the reprinted recipe. The amount used is "a spoonful."

                            1. re: Gio

                              I wonder if some rinsed and chopped tianjin preserved vegetable would be a good substitute for the olive vegetable?


                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                According to EGOR page 334, "olive vegetable" is a specialty of the Cantonese region of the Chaozhou." It's "made from dark preserved mustard greens, vegetable oil and Chinese olives. "

                                I dunno... for some reason it's a relish that doesn't appeal to me. However, If it jumped out at me at the market I'd probably buy it to see what it tasted like. But I think it may be too salty for me and my low sodium restriction.

                                1. re: Gio

                                  I've added it to my list so will have it early next wk. I'll report back as to the flavour. I see FD has a photo but a Google search produced photos of a variety of brands, many w English text on the labels so it makes me wonder if it may be more popular than some of the other ingredients.

                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                    I've had olive vegetable fried rice as it's one of my Singaporean friend's comfort foods. It's not really like Tianjin preserved vegetable.

                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                      Oh, whoops, okay thanks for clarifying.


                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                        Olive Fried Rice … the recipe! Uncle Louis' recipe. In Singapore. With photo of Olive Vegetable. (from Hong Kong, sniff.)


                                        1. re: Gio

                                          That is a nice blog...I don't think I've ever seen olive vegetable in the stores here.

                                          1. re: buttertart

                                            I had a TON of fun (hours actually!) shopping at T&T (Asian) Supermarket and guess what....I unearthed the olive vegetable!! I can't wait to try it and will report back here as soon as I do.

                                            Oh, and I also managed to put a number of really delicious-looking things in my cart without knowing what they were. I couldn't read the labels but they sure looked good!! I'll post pictures for input at some point! I'm behind in my posting and have 5 dishes to report on. Hoping to get at least 1 up tonight!

                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                Shopping at Asian markets is one of my favourite things to do. I could do it all day long without getting tired!

                                      2. re: Gio

                                        I'd bet tianjin preserved vegetable would work just fine, rinsed and chopped, but that's probably not a good low sodium option because I think salt is what is used to preserve it. Maybe try your sauerkraut?


                                2. re: Gio

                                  I just made these tonight, along with the sweet and sour zucchini which i served on the side. [I just got the book and had no ingredients on hand]. But I made 1/3 of the recipe because I was eating alone tonight. Yes, spicy, but I loved the heat!. I went ahead and added a poorly fried but tasty egg. Except, I just ended up eating it off of the top of the bowl, so I really didn't add any flavour to the dish except for a bit from below- oopsie - too excited about the egg. I'll try to incorporate next time...It's probably a heat-beater....not to mention a decent shot of protein here.

                                  My go-to "stress-noodles" since university have involved hot sauce and soy, but with the addition of mustard and peanuts/peanut butter as opposed to the vinegar and sesame. In fact, I've gotten so incredibly used to my own emergency dish that at first the taste of this bowl seemed "peanut-less." But I found myself enjoying the simplicity and tang of the bowl. In fact, it was a simple-is-better kind of night all around. Still, I wonder how some toasted sesame seeds would do on top... I'd definitely make these again, but I want to try some of the protein laced ones first... Now to get to the asian market!

                                  1. re: roseye

                                    Hello, nice to have you here, Roseye, with your new book and that 'simple & tangy' bowlful! I'll be trying noodles soon, eyeing the noodle soups too.

                                  2. re: Gio

                                    Fuchsia's Emergency Midnight Noodles, p. 288

                                    This recipe made for a quick and delicious dinner tonight. We made these with Chinese wheat noodles and topped them with a fried egg and a dollop of the olive vegetable. Loved the heat from the chili oil (I am addicted to the homemade stuff and find myself looking for ways to use it), tang and savory flavors. Dead simple to make and very satisfying.

                                  3. Made the General Tso's Chicken, pg.122 the American version.
                                    Looked beautiful and very easy to make. I thought it had too much vinegar in it. Also, there was no sweetness. Perhaps I am just used to the Americanized General Tso. Would be interested to hear from other who have tried this recipe.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: sharhamm

                                      That does look absolutely sensational sharhamm. I'm interested in your observations about the flavours. mr bc dislikes anything where a vinegar flavour is predominant so I'll be interested to hear what others have to say about this. I would have expected a slight sweetness as well.

                                    2. I made the "Classic Dan Dan Noodles" on page 280. This recipe was pretty good, resulting in a slightly soupy sauce, but I think I like her other Dan Dan Noodle recipes better. Added greens (I used baby bok choy separated into leaves) were a very nice touch.

                                      My thoughts: Fuschia calls for 3/4 of a cup of stock or noodle cooking water to be added to the sauce right before tossing with the noodles. I used homemade Chinese everyday stock (pork and chicken bones), which added a nice richness, but kind of washed everything else out. Cooking water may have added a bit of thickness to the sauce from the starch, but it would probably lead to the same problem: perhaps more so. I'd be curious to hear from anybody else who did this. I would tend to think that boxed stuff, unless very low sodium, would not work well due to lacking richness and adding too much saltiness.

                                      I skimped on the oil a bit, adding only 1 TB at the beginning, and only 2 TB of chili oil: I think that this may have slightly detracted from the outcome, but with all that stock, I'm not sure it would have made that much of a difference.

                                      Also, as opposed to Fuschia's other Dan Dan Noodle recipes, the ya cai is simply added to the sauce bowl, not sizzled in oil: doing this would have probably helped bring out its flavor quite a bit. Finally, this recipe uses no sichuan pepper, unlike her other ones that do.

                                      What I liked about Fuschia's other recipes better is the fact that they have more character. To me, dan dan noodles are defined by a harmonization of the funkiness of ya cai, richness of meat and sesame paste (when present), and umami goodness from soy. "Xie Laoban's" and "Traditional" Dan Dan Noodles from Land of Plenty have all of these things going on; Xie's is a bit richer from sesame paste, Traditional a bit brighter from the addition of black vinegar. "Classic Dan Dan Noodles," even though possessing virtually the same ingredients as "Traditional" was somehow out of balance, probably from all that liquid added.

                                      In sum, not bad, definitely lighter than the other recipes, but I'm not sure I want my dan dan noodles to be light (apart from added greens, which was nice). I would recommend not skimping on the oil, sizzling the ya cai, perhaps adding it to the meat mixture, and adding cooking water very gradually instead of stock, like one would do thickening a pasta sauce.

                                      10 Replies
                                      1. re: ericurus

                                        I enjoyed your comprehensive report Ericurus, and your suggestions are duly noted and welcome. Here's a link to Beetlebug's report of the same recipe with a small discussion following in which you might be interested:


                                        I haven't made this version yet, but it's on my list, and the others were made so long ago I should revisit them.

                                        1. re: Gio

                                          Thank you, Gio. It looks like Beetlebug and I came to the same conclusion, which is nice to know. Good luck if you decide to make this!

                                          1. re: ericurus

                                            I think I shall stick with her other versions of dan dan noodles, which I absolutely love. Two strikes against this one! Thanks for your detailed report.


                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              Any one know if the preferred version of Dan Dan Noodles is online anywhere? This is my only FD book.

                                        2. re: ericurus

                                          I usually add some noodle cooking water when making her other dandan mian recipes too. The texture is better that way.

                                          1. re: ericurus

                                            P.S. did you make the everyday stock just for this dish or did you already have some on hand? Either way, I'm impressed.


                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              I try to have frozen homemade pressure-cooked everyday stock on hand as much as I possibly can. I do a bunch of Chinese cooking (mostly from Fuschia's books!) and find that the homemade stuff adds so much to the finished product: it's so much easier to control saltiness, and the richness you get makes it totally worth it. Mapo tofu with homemade stock and real pixian bean paste is out of this world good!!!

                                              1. re: ericurus

                                                Would you mind sharing your pressure cooker stock method please, ericurus. I recently purchased one, but I'm a bit scared of it!

                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                  Sure! I have a 6-quart Fagor Duo, if it's any help.

                                                  Basically, I load the pressure cooker 1/2-2/3 full of meat/bones/vegetables, then add enough cold water to barely cover, being sure that the cooker is no more than 2/3 full. I think this is pretty universal with most pressure cookers (needing the extra space to pressurize properly I think), but check your manual if it needs to be less full.

                                                  Next, I bring the water to a simmer, skimming as I go along. When the scum release slows down, I add herbs/whatever else is needed then cover and bring to pressure on the high setting. I let it go at least an hour, then turn the heat off and let the pressure come down naturally. You could probably let it go longer than that, but I've had great results every time. The stock has always gelled, never completely solid like jello, but mostly there.

                                                  I learned a trick to facilitate the descumming process, which is to quickly blanch the ingredients, letting them release scum, then draining everything in a colander. The pot is then washed and the ingredients rinsed before proceeding to refill the pot and bring it up to pressure. Supposedly you lose very little flavor (if any) from this process, which makes sense considering that the pressure cooker extracts the heck out of everything. I actually tend to do this now because I hate standing over the pot and skimming it before bringing it up to pressure.

                                                  Let me know if you have any questions, and good luck if you try this!

                                                  1. re: ericurus

                                                    Thanks for posting this - will give it a go next time I have bones.

                                          2. Quick question for anyone with experience making Asian stocks, I was going to make the everyday stock with a few leftover roasted chicken carcasses but I'm concerned the previously roasted chicken will be too dark or strong for an Asian stock. Thoughts?

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: delys77

                                              Hi Delys77,

                                              I think it would probably be just fine because in most applications the flavors that it will be mixing with will overpower it anyway, and a little extra richness is always nice when you're having soup. I recently made a batch with a chicken carcass and didn't really notice a difference with the final product. If you're concerned, I would suggest including an equal proportion of pork bones to mix the flavor up, but my read of Fuschia Dunlop's everyday stock is that it's a casual thing, made from what's convenient and on hand.

                                              1. re: ericurus

                                                Thanks ericurus, I'm tacking it right now, will let you know..