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Cookbook of the Month March 2013 EVERY GRAIN OF RICE: General discussion thread

Good evening my little mad March hares - pinch, punch the first of the month is nearly upon, us so it's time to begin cooking from EVERY GRAIN OF RICE by Fuchsia Dunlop.

The reporting threads are here:
Cold dishes, Tofu, Meat, Chicken and Eggs, Fish and Seafood
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/892279

Beans and peas, Leafy Greens, Garlic and Chives, Aubergines, Peppers and Squashes, Root Vegetables, Mushrooms
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/892280

Soups, Rice, Noodles, Dumplings, Stocks, Preserves and Other Essentials
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/892281

In addition, there is already a lively discussion in the announcement thread, which can be found here:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/891284

Some folks have already reported on some dishes in a pre-COTM thread, which is here:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/852298

You know the drill - let's get cooking!

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  1. Here's some online recipes:

    Pock-marked old woman's tofu recipe.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyl...

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

    RED-BRAISED PORK
    PAK CHOY WITH FRESH SHIITAKE
    http://metro.co.uk/2012/06/12/fuchsia...

    Here are four from the “Telegraph”: Smacked cucumber in garlicky sauce, Sichuanese green soy bean salad, Gong bao chicken with peanuts, Blanched choy sum with sizzling oil
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddri...

    Here’s Chef Chen Dailu's Spicy Sesame Noodles:
    http://blogs.laweekly.com/squidink/20...

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

    From Serious Eats:
    wice-Cooked Swiss Chard (Hui Gua Niu Pi Cai

    )

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

    Zhajiang Noodles (Zha Jiang Mian)

    Chili Oil

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

    http://www.seriouseats.com/tags/recip...

    http://sampan.org/2013/02/every-grain...

    http://www.matchingfoodandwine.com/ne...

    http://www.projectfoodie.com/recipes/

    7 Replies
    1. re: greedygirl

      Thank you so much, GG, for this compilation of recipe links. I can't buy the book at the moment, because we're saving for a holiday (walked past the cookbook shop yesterday without even looking at the window! I really do astonish myself, haha) so I'll be keen to try these recipes.

      Meanwhile, although my local library doesn't even have EGOR on order yet (I will fill in the request form, but experience suggests it will take a long time for them to order & stock it) they DO have Fuchsia Dunlop's memoir "Shark Fin and Sichuan Pepper" which is so marvellously well-written, entertaining and utterly absorbing. One of the best food memoirs I've read in ages. Highly recommended if you haven't read it already (and yes, there are some recipes!)

      1. re: greedygirl

        I'm very excited to get started now that March has arrived. Does anyone know if the page numbers of the recently released North American version are different than the UK version. I know with Jerusalem there was some variance.

        1. re: delys77

          I just received a US edition to give as a gift so was able to compare to my UK version. The page numbers are indeed the same, at least with what I flipped through.

          1. re: Allegra_K

            That's good to know, thanks very much Allegra.

            1. re: Allegra_K

              Allegra, would you be able to comment on the differences between the US and UK version of the book?

              I have the US version of LOP & RC, but the UK version of EGOR, which I got right after it came out in the UK because it wasn't available in the U.S. Is there anything to be gained by my acquiring the US version of EGOR?

              I'm comfortable with my UK version in the sense that I know groundnut oil is peanut oil, and aubergines are eggplants, etc., but I was wondering if the US version had any specific-to-the-US recommendations for stocking the pantry (ie., different brand names) or anything like that.

              ~TDQ

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                Okay, so looking at the books side-by-side I can tell you that there is no noticeable difference between them, other than what you already mentioned. The weights in the US version are given in both metric and imperial. The paper is the same matte finish, the photos (including the ones of the ingredients) are identical, and she seems to list no brand preference in either book.
                Really, if you are comfortable with imperial and a few choice word swappings, then either of them would be a good addition. I would give a slight edge to the UK edition merely because it doesn't have a dust jacket,and I always somehow manage to rip and ruin them, hah!

                1. re: Allegra_K

                  Thank you for this! I think I shall be happy to stick with my UK version and not worry that I am missing out on something.

                  ~TDQ

        2. Here's a fun piece on shopping w/FD in NYC Chinatown. Be sure to click on the slide show.

          http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2013/0...

          6 Replies
          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

            Well that was serendipitous, her shopping spree article on the eve of our COTM. That *was* fun, and I feel I am in good shape ingredient-wise for the dishes I wish to cook this month.
            But no dried chicken and no hair-like moss for me!

            1. re: blue room

              Dried oysters and hair moss are must haves for chinese new year dinners. They are often cook together. Dried oysters = good business, and hair moss = makes lots of money. Both delicious. Though I don't think there are any recipes for hair moss in EGOR?

              1. re: lilham

                No, I just saw the hair moss in the slide show about the shopping trip. Interesting info here:
                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat_choy
                Explains why it's associated with money, and even a health warning!

                1. re: blue room

                  Did you see the health effect section? I think you aren't missing anything for not cooking it :)

                  A research team from the biochemistry department of the Chinese University of Hong Kong said that international research has shown that Fat choy, besides having no nutritional value, has also been found to contain Beta-methylamino L-alanine (BMAA), a toxic amino acid that could affect the normal functions of nerve cells. Professor Chan King-ming of the team told the media that eating Fat choy could lead to degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and dementia.

                  1. re: lilham

                    That's why I didn't run out to buy a package. Plus, I can't stand looking at the photo in the Serious Eats slide show... As far as I know there are no recipes with hair moss in EGOR.

            2. re: Caitlin McGrath

              Caitlin that's awesome. Thanks for sharing!

            3. Many thanks GG. Looking forward to more Fuchsia in March.
              I do love her recipes...

              1. Apparently I am in my own little world these days because I missed both the nomination and voting threads for March. When EGOR was selected I immediately ordered it from my library. Imagine my frustration when I got the book home today and realized it was a different EGOR (by Ellyn Blonder). Oy!

                So now I feel compelled to buy it, but here's my question for the group: If I am only going to own one Fuchia Dunlop book, (I presently own none), is this the one to get? Discuss....

                20 Replies
                1. re: dkennedy

                  I'm the absolutely Last person in the world who should answer your question beacuse I love all three that I own; Land of Plenty, Revolutionary Chinese Cooking, and Every Grain of Rice. Each is a little different from the others and each has it's own focus. EGOR is more or less what Chinese home cooks would make in the privacy of his or her own kitchen and is vegetable based although there are meat, poultry, and seafood recipes . LOP introduced us to Szchuanese cooking... very spicy with that Ma La element from the Szechuan peppercorns. . RCC is Huanese which is based on bold, spicy flavors. Perhaps a quick read from the correct library copies is in order for you, plus our Dunlop archived threads.

                  1. re: dkennedy

                    Yeah, hate to tell you this, DK, but you need all three. For the record, I resisted purchasing Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook the longest. But I did cave in the end. Each book contains home-style dishes as well as more company-worthy recipes.

                    1. re: Allegra_K

                      Yep, you need all three. Plus her memoir. HA! I haven't actually cooked from her memoir, so I guess I shouldn't recommend it on that basis, but the first 2/3'rds or so is a great read. (Last third gets a little tedious). You can check her memoir out from the library.

                      The reference sections of all 3 of her (non-memoir) books are very helpful and the recipes from LOP and RC are fabulous (I haven't cooked anything from EGOR yet, so I cannot comment). EGOR does appear to be have some duplication of recipes from the other books, smacked cucumber, gong bao chicken, dan dan noodles, mapo tofu, etc. but I think (and I'm not completely sure) that the recipes in EGOR are slightly different. EGOR seems more vegetarian focused to me, but I could just be making that up.

                      Not only do I have all three, I'm wondering if I need both the US and the UK versions of all three! I hate to miss out on anything... Long story, but my (U.S.-version) copies of RC & LOP are badly water-damaged. If I replace them (and I use them enough that I could easily justify doing so), I was thinking I would replace them with UK versions. But, then I'd keep them all!

                      ~TDQ

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        Haha, of course, how could I forget the memoir?!
                        Funny that you mention it, I was just telling someone the same thing; it's very humourous, charming, and engaging for most of it, and then really becomes a chore to finish.

                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          On the subject of duplication of recipes in EGOR vs. LOP & RC, on page 9 she says: "I've included some simplified versions of classic recipes from my previous books, and a few unmissable favorites in their original forms."

                          ~TDQ

                      2. re: dkennedy

                        Oh dear, I warned against that "same title" problem right here in these pages! http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8912...
                        Oh well. Does the "wrong" book look any good?

                        I see that some of the recipes from Land of Plenty are repeated in EGOR -- does anyone know if it's a big percentage?

                        1. re: blue room

                          I don't think it's a very big percentage, BR. In fact, some may come close to those in LOP but with changes. Of all the recipes from EGOR that I've made... about 25 with many repeats, not one was a duplicate from LOP.

                          1. re: Gio

                            When you say, "not one was a duplicate", do you mean the recipes aren't identical to the ones that appeared in her previous books or do you mean the recipes were for entirely different dishes? Just off the top of my head (and as I mentioned above, sorry to repeat myself) I know there is some overlap in the dishes, smacked cukes, mapo tofu, dan dan noodles, gong bao chicken, etc., but I know that in some cases the recipes are slightly different (or different variations) and others I haven't had a chance to compare.

                            Funnily enough, I noticed that on Eat Your Books new cookbook roundup for February, they refer to EGOR as a "Compendium of old and new Dunlop recipes - nicely packaged and illustrated. "

                            ~TDQ

                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              There are many recipes with similar names in LOP and EGOR. But there are slight differences between them. Think of the EGOR recipe as a variation from the LOP ones. All three books have a ma po tofu recipe but all three are very different from each other.

                        2. re: dkennedy

                          I was going to say, though, that of LOP and RC, I think I have a slight preference for LOP, but I think that's because I have a preference for Sichuan cuisine, not necessarily because the book or the recipes are necessarily any better. One thing I will say about her first two books vs. EGOR is that they do seem to have a lot more history about the recipes and their place in the culture. I loved just reading through the headnotes in RC and LOP... I don't feel compelled to snuggle up with EGOR in the same way.

                          EGOR seems to be more for day to day cooking. The recipes just seem a little less involved to me... She talks about "magic ingredients" that pack a lot of flavor, much in the same way an Italian author might recommend using the very best parm cheese or prosciutto to add flavor or in the way Medrich used ingredients in Pure Dessert. Maybe you don't need to have a zillion ingredients in a dish if you have one exceptionally tasty one...

                          ~TDQ

                          1. re: dkennedy

                            I like LOP the best (by a slim margin). It's Dunlop's speciality since she studied in Chengdu and haunted many restaurants. It also has the best index with both Chinese and English so you can look up the dish both ways. I find both the RCC and EGOR indexes to be highly frustrating.

                            As for ease and convenience for making daily meals. They are all about the same. As long as you have the ingredients, the meals come together quickly.

                            1. re: beetlebug

                              Thanks for all the input. It is as I feared, I need them all. Not sure if I am going to buy them. Will have to hit Barnes and Noble this weekend to page through them. I don't do a lot of Asian cooking, I am not sure why. I do stir fry quite a bit. And I already own more than a reasonable amount of Chinese Cookbooks, though none that focus on a particular region.

                              I have resisted buying most of the other Asian inspired COTM but since this is the third one of Fuscia Dunlop's to get such rave reviews, I really feel like I am missing out. What to do?

                              1. re: dkennedy

                                A number of the recipes are online--maybe try a few of those before taking the plunge?

                                ~TDQ

                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  Here's a link to EYB's listing of FD recipes that are available online: http://www.eatyourbooks.com/library/r...

                                  Of course, these don't give you access to the wonderful ingredient and technique glossaries the books have, but it might be a way to at least "test drive" some recipes.

                                  I'll bet a lot more of the recipes are online if you find titles of dishes that sound appealing to you in EYB, then search on them...

                                  ~TDQ

                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    I am not a big fan of using online recipes. I really like the feel of a book in my hand and reading all the extras - the background, tips, and anecdotes. If I am going to skip this month's selection, it will be because the book doesn't inspire me. If the book makes a good read, setting aside the recipes, it will be enough to sway me into adding it to my collection.

                                    1. re: dkennedy

                                      Yeah, I feel the same way, actually, and I think it might be particularly true for these books of Dunlop's where the ingredient glossary is so important and the stories (in LOP and RC) are so delightful.

                                      I like to collect online recipes in pepperplate for books I already own. I know it's strange to need both the book and online recipes, but it just helps me plan my meals from the office or wherever I happen to be. And share them with others, including my husband when we're trying to decide what's for dinner or if I need to send him shopping.

                                      Honestly, I am such a fan of Dunlop's books that I would tell you to go ahead and buy EGOR so you can participate this month. Also, it's a little broader than the other two in terms of the regions it covers. If you love it, and I am sure you will, you can gradually acquire the other two if you want to dive in deeper.

                                      During Dunlop month 5 years ago, many people cooked from either LOP or RC, but eventually (even years later) acquired the other.

                                      LOP is still my favorite, but I have the feelingI will be cooking from EGOR more these days due to my need to simplify my life a little.

                                      ~TDQ

                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        Done. Just bought it on Prime so it will be here by mid week at the latest.

                                        1. re: dkennedy

                                          My copy just came in the mail and any misgivings I had about adding another book to my collection evaporated as soon as I cracked the spine. I am going to enjoy this one so thanks for encouraging me.

                                          Once I have a chance to read through it I will reread this thread to absorb all the sage advice.

                                          1. re: dkennedy

                                            No sage this month, but lots of chilli and fermented products of various kinds! So glad you'll be cooking along!

                                            ~TDQ

                            2. Has anyone posted a shopping list of key ingredients yet?

                              I'm excited because mr bc suggested we make the trek to a big Asian supermarket (T&T - http://www.tnt-supermarket.com/en/ind... ) so I need to pull together a shopping list this weekend.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                I linked to Fuchsia's pantry essentials/shopping list in my post here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8912...

                                I'd add tofu and wasabi paste to the list (for that avocado and tofu dish!) and tian jin preserved vegetables.

                                ~TDQ

                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  That's a great list TDQ thank-you.

                                  I'll paste that list into word and added suggested brand names beside it.

                                  Gio, great idea to take the book w me. I'll definitely do that. In the past I've printed photos from my Google search but this way, I'll be sure to get the right brands. I was excited to see that FD's recommended brand of light soy is on sale at that mkt for $1. I'll pull LoP and RC as well to see if those books have photos this doesn't.

                                2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                  When I first got the book, BC, way back in June 2012, I took the book with me to the Asian market. The clerks there were then able to not only see what I wanted when I pointed to a picture but could read the Chinese characters and know exactly. They thought I was brilliant. Hahahaha...

                                  1. re: Gio

                                    Lately, I've gone to the market, taken photos of the various packages and jars (close-ups of all of the labels, both the front and then the ingredient lists on the back or side), then come home and compare them to what she says in the book. It takes me a couple of rounds to shop, but I haven't found the folks at our local Asian markets in a position to be reliably helpful. I think the staff is mostly Southeast Asian rather than Chinese.

                                    ~TDQ