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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

                                3. Somewhere we had a discussion about tips for this month (I thought it was here but it seems not).

                                  I'd noticed there were a few recipes calling for cooked chicken so I'm going to purchase a tray of thighs and poach them today then freeze them for use throughout the month.

                                  mr bc just reminded me of something I did during the Grace Young COTM and said I should post about it. Since a number of recipes called for ground, roasted Sichuan pepper, I decided to purchase a pepper grinder just for Sichuan peppercorns (yes I do realize they are not truly peppercorns). I toasted them in small batches - maybe one batch per week then tossed them into my grinder and used them as I needed them. This worked really well and was a great time-saver. Anyone else w some time-saving tips?

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                    We do the same with the Szechuan peppercorns, BC. Just enough for a couple of recipes worth. In fact we pre-grind all peppercorns. It is very time saving.

                                    From the Trader Joe's yay & nay thread: Frozen minced fresh garlic, and frozen cubes of fresh basil. The garlic is measured in teaspoons and all one does is pop it out of the little bubble. I used 3 in the sweet and sour fish we made a few days ago. Just like magic!

                                    Haven't used the basil yet but I'm sure it's going to be just as wonderful. No need to defrost first.

                                    Yes, I know it's best to do as I have been doing for the last 100 years and use fresh/fresh... but in my situation now the less I have to prep the better.

                                    1. re: Gio

                                      Funny Gio, I froze chopped garlic in evoo flat in medium ziplocks in the fall. I wish I'd thought of doing the basil too. I did make up some basil butter logs (FWAD recipe?) and I'm down to my last two.

                                      I wish we had TJ's here in Canada. I love time-savers like that.

                                    2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                      I found another time-saving idea if anyone is interested. At an Asian grocer yesterday I saw a small canister of toasted sesame seeds. I wasn't sure whether or not any of the dishes I'd be making called for them so I didn't purchase them. I did have an opportunity to taste them though since the friend I was shopping with picked some up. I was pleasantly surprised by their intense sesame flavour.

                                      I know see a few dishes in EGOR have you toast sesame seeds in your hot wok prior to preparing your meal so you can incorporate them or garnish w them later. I know its only a small step but not doing it will save a bit of time and for me, on a weeknight, every minute counts.

                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                        I buy toasted too. It's just easier.

                                        Also a trick I learnt from a Malaysian Chinese friend is to pre-cut spring onion greens and keep them in the fridge in an airtight container that's lined with paper towels. They stay nice for at least three days. My fridge is tiny and the bunches of spring onions I get are too long so this works a treat.

                                        1. re: Frizzle

                                          Love that tip Frizzle...I'll be doing that for sure! Thanks!

                                      2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                        If there was another "tips" discussion, I missed it. So I would love a link to it if anyone remembers where it is.

                                        Fuchsia mentioned freezing meats for an hour or two before you need to slice them to make it easier to get those fine cuts.

                                        I will probably try to do some mise en place in the mornings to make dinner go a little more quickly.

                                        ETA: here's the other time-saving discussion, I think:

                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8912...

                                        To summarize:

                                        Get a rice cooker.

                                        ~TDQ

                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                          A couple of other time saving thoughts:

                                          ~Have your leftover rice in the fridge if you're planning stir-fried rice.

                                          ~Go through the last chapter in the book "stocks, preserves & other essentials" and prepare batches in advance, the chilli oil, the stock, the roasted peanuts.

                                          ~TDQ

                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            Great tips TDQ! I hope we can keep them coming!!

                                            I made a big batch of stock today and put it ini ziplocks in 1 cup portions then froze them (flat because freezer space is always at a premium.) I threw a couple of star anise into my pots today and I love the flavour it imparted.

                                        2. What is the preferred brand of chinkiang vinegar that most of you use?
                                          For ages I have happily been using 'Gold Plum' brand, but find that recently the company changed the packaging shape ever so slightly, and I fear they may have also 'improved' the recipe a bit. The flavours seem a bit muddier than they used to, and not as bright, if that makes any sense. Has anyone else noticed this? Maybe within the last year or so. I've tried purchasing several different bottles from different vendors all with the same result. Currently I am using a different brand that is sightly better, Jinshansi, but it's still not as good as what used to be out there. Also tried another brand, Kong Yen (simply labelled 'Black Vinegar') and wasn't a fan.
                                          Any recommendations?

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Allegra_K

                                            I bought Koon Chun, from the "Posharp" online store.
                                            (I've never used black vinegar before, ignore me!)
                                            But the store was mentioned (by poster Big Sal, I think) and the brand was mentioned by poster oakjoan, both known to me through Chowhound.

                                            1. re: blue room

                                              Thanks, I'll keep an eye out for that one!

                                          2. I was sure I saw a recipe in EGOR that called for pea leaves but now I'm home (w pea leaves in hand) I can't find it! I've checked the index and EYB...nada.

                                            I know there's one in RCC. If anyone comes across this will you pls let me know?

                                            I'm obviously losing it!!

                                            10 Replies
                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                              Dai Shuang's yellow split pea soup (Dai Shuang pa wan dou tang) ?

                                              ~TDQ

                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                Thanks for finding this TDQ, it looks great and I may end up making it. That said, somehow I thought the recipe I saw was a stir-fry.

                                              2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                AHA! Success! I found the recipe...Baby Pak Choy in Superior Stock on p.176 includes a notation that the cooking method can be used to cook "all kinds of vegetables, including green pak choy, pea shoots, asparagus, Chinese cabbage and fresh mustard greens."

                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                  I just Love pea shoots. There's a recipe in Land of Plenty that uses them as well, Yibin Kindling Noodles, and it's really good. Also if you have any left over, there's a few recipes in Burma that use the blanched greens, and I suspect many of the applications for various Asian greens in EGOR would do well using pea shoots.

                                                  1. re: Allegra_K

                                                    Thanks so much Allegra. This will be the very first time we've enjoyed them and now I've found a local source for them, I sincerely appreciate your pointing me to those books (which I do have...go figure!) ; )

                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                      Ooh, just found another recipe in EGOR that uses them: Chef Chen Dailu's Spicy Sesame Noodles on p. 282

                                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                                        Oh that's great Allegra, thank-you! I chuckled when I read your post because I'm working my way through the book page by page as I prepare my grocery list. I'm on p. 276!!

                                                    2. re: Allegra_K

                                                      You can also just stir-fry either the large or small doumiao (pea shoots) with some garlic and salt.

                                                    3. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                      Woohoo! Success.I wish they'd note the recommended variations in EYB, but I suppose that could get complicated...

                                                      ~TDQ

                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                        If I remember, I'll add the info in the notes area for the book. Though we won't be able to search the ingredients, at least the info is recorded.

                                                  2. So are these recipes easier than LOP and RC or am I just more confident than I was five years ago? I'm guessing it's a little of both, I mean, it is "simple" home cooking according to the book's title.

                                                    ~TDQ

                                                    1. I finally found camellia oil in a local store. Not sure Dunlop mentions this in EGOR, but she does in her other books. Has anyone cooked with it?

                                                       
                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: emily

                                                        Have you tasted it? I'll be curious to hear your impression. I've never tried it.

                                                        1. re: qianning

                                                          Not yet. Won't be able to cook for a few weeks, so I'll probably hold off on opening it.

                                                          1. re: qianning

                                                            Nor have I. I don't think I've even seen it in a store.

                                                          2. re: emily

                                                            I've used it some, though always a bit nervous about using it for high-heat applications.

                                                            The versions I can get locally are a bit on the expensive side. It does go rancid relatively quickly relative to some other oils, so if you have some, you'll want to use it fairly quickly.

                                                            I've been meaning to try making some chili oil with it, which sounds like it would be really tasty.

                                                          3. I gotta get going with this book again!!!

                                                            1. A question to those of you who wok frequently....do you have a special set-up for your woks? Using a burner with a high BTU? Or, like me, do you have ordinary glass/coil stoves?
                                                              I'm looking for ways to optimize the wok hei/hay in my stir-frying, and wondering what most of you do to obtain the ultimate in deliciousness.

                                                              12 Replies
                                                              1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                We use our ordinary gas range and the hot burner that is "down front, right." That's how I first described it to my husband so he'd know which burner to set the wok on. He prefers the wok to any other pan we have. The burner is not one of those with stratospheric BTU amounts, but it seems to be just right for our use.

                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                  My stove has an extra hot burner in front, too. During Grace Young month, I actually had a back and forth exchange in one of those threads with GY herself about my extra hot burner and what I was witnessing in terms of what was happening with my ingredients--things were scorching way too fast, etc. She was incredulous but she ended up suggesting that I turn the burner down a notch! So, somehow, depsite the fact that I keep hearing people say that home ranges can't get hot enough to achieve wok hei, for my flat bottomed carbon steel wok, my burner is too hot. I don't really understand this, but my wok doesn't behave "typically" in other respects, either (ie., it doesn't bead in the same way others do.) Kind of Twilight Zone'ish if you ask me.

                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                    My gas range has the hot burner in the very same spot! Can't possibly cook rice on that spot but the wok heats up very nicely there.

                                                                  2. re: Allegra_K

                                                                    I'm using a Wolf rangetop with a wok grate. I think it's about 16 or 17K BTUs. For the most part it's fine, but I notice that when I cook beef dishes in particular, the slices appear to almost stew a bit, rather than just sizzle.

                                                                    1. re: emily

                                                                      Emily one thing we learned during Grace Young month was to let the meat slices sit for a minute or two to let the side sear then flip it over and stir-fry. That seems to keep the meat from steaming/stewing quite nicely.

                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                        Well that's a great tip I completely missed! I suppose it evaporates/encloses enough water in the meat to do the trick. I'll use that idea next time I do beef, even chicken.
                                                                        My gas stove is a regular Sears Kenmore (with a right front "Power Burner") but on *any* burner I can get my 14" wok hot enough to overcook/burn. I usually do small amounts of chopped food, though -- if I had restaurant or even dinner party amounts it might cool things down enough to impair the results.

                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                          Also, I find that the stewing effect comes from a bit of overcrowding the wok. For my 12 inch wok, I've learned that I can only have about 3/4 lbs to just under a lb to have a great sear. A lb or more will cause it to stew. Also, while I do throw the meat into the wok, I try and spread it into an almost single layer.

                                                                          I also use the one minute stir and then flip and stir fry method.

                                                                          1. re: beetlebug

                                                                            I've learned my lesson with overcrowding and stir-frying. I'm not sure I realized it at the time, but early on with Dunlop's LOP & RC recipes , I often doubled the recipes so we'd have leftovers for lunch, etc.But, my results weren't as good... I'm not sure when I eventually came to understand that it's better to do two batches of stir-fry than do one "double" batch. Unless, I guess,you have a second, humungo wok (which I do not.)

                                                                            Also, I'm often wanting to throw extra vegetables in. Instead of just tossing them in, I often now stir fry them separately, set them aside, and then mix them in at the end. This prevents not only the over-crowding but, I think, the extra moisture in the vegetables from "steaming" everything...

                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                      2. re: Allegra_K

                                                                        We have a Capital Culinarian, and it's great.

                                                                        ~ 23k BTU, so while it's not like a restaurant setup, it's fairly close to about as high as you'd want in a residential kitchen (there are some stand-alone wok burners that are ~ 30k), and it's definitely enough to keep things constantly sizzling, even when new ingredients are added.

                                                                        Compared to other stoves, I like the design of the wok ring a lot - it's large, heavy, and holds the wok higher up.

                                                                         
                                                                        1. re: will47

                                                                          Oh, that's beautiful! One sweet day.....

                                                                          1. re: will47

                                                                            When I have an opportunity to have a new kitchen, I will definitely consider a Capital Culinarian or Bluestar due to all the wok cooking I do now. I passed on the Bluestar a few years ago because I just wasn't fond of the looks, but I wasn't doing much wok cooking then, either.

                                                                          2. re: Allegra_K

                                                                            I'll throw my two cents in to the is spirited discussion.

                                                                            Years ago when I was renting I had a carbon steel wok with a round bottom that I purchased locally. It was super cheap but worked quite well on my coil stove (with the aid of a ring underneath to hold it). Fast forward a few years and we renovated our kitchen and purchased a glass cooktop since gas wasn't an option.

                                                                            Of course the round bottomed wok had to go since the ring was likely to scratch up the cooktop. I purchased a flat bottomed wok pan and off I went. Well let me tell you it was not a great success. I found that it didn't get hot enough and often had hot spots, plus since it was stainless everything stuck to it.

                                                                            My final solution was a Le Creuset wok. It was pricey but I absolutely love it. It is enameled cast iron on the outside and raw cast iron on the inside (like a traditional cast iron pan). The bottom is flat but the inside of the wok is rounded because the case iron at the base is very thick. I usually place it on the large burner and let it heat on high for several minutes (up to 5), it gets cooking hot and the thick cast iron retains the heat very well so that the temperature doesn't drop when I add ingredients.

                                                                            I have found that so long as I avoid over crowding it does an excellent job. A pricey pan for sure, but cheaper than a higher powered stove of course.

                                                                          3. Does anyone know how long a jar of the fermented white tofu lasts once opened? I'm using the same brand as she has in her glossary and it's in the fridge. I have noticed a slight discolouration of the cubes that are exposed to air at the top but it smells the same after a week.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Frizzle

                                                                              Usually have the red one, but either way, I'm pretty sure those things will last pretty much forever.

                                                                            2. First I have to admit that it's been fun lurking on this part of Chowhound for the past year. I've certainly bought too many cookbooks because of the posts here.

                                                                              I was wondering if there are any soup recipes in EGOR that I can make the day before and still hold up the next day?

                                                                              1. One of the food blogs I read, TheKitchn.com did a review of EGOR today... it's not very long but just thought I'd share: http://www.thekitchn.com/every-grain-...

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. Just a question for the crew about portion sizes ... over the last few weeks I have found the portion sizes, especially of proteins, to be a bit smaller than what would be truly convenient for us. We have a family of four, and even though two of us are under 3, there is still often not enough (especially of proteins) to feed everyone comfortably and have leftovers. Yes, I could make more dishes but with two little ones underfoot, and often cooking on weeknights, it is hard for me to make more than two dishes + rice on any given night. I would like to be able to scale some of these recipes up but I'm often unsure how best to do it. Any tips would be appreciated!

                                                                                  17 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                    We're just two here, Westminstress, and most of the time where are no left overs. G usually has much larger portion more than I. Sometimes for one reason or another there's a tiny bit left that I just use later as a component of something else.

                                                                                    My suggestion to you is simply double the recipe of one or two dishes of a multi-dish menu, and for sure, cook more rice. Or just double the recipe of the main protein. In the past I've just used the old X2 and eyeballed the other ratios accordingly. That seems to work for us.

                                                                                    Frankly, I think it's wonderful that your young children are eating this food!

                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                      I've found that if I pick and choose the recipes carefully, I can usually accommodate everybody. Plus honestly the baby will eat anything, and there is no rhyme or reason to what my toddler will eat. I'd pull my hair out trying to cater to him so I just make what interests me and hope for the best. This seems to be working out ok, he went through a picky stage but seems to be getting better as he gets older.

                                                                                    2. re: Westminstress

                                                                                      Her recommendation is # of dishes = # of people plus 1. So, yeah, you'd want to scale them up if you don't want to make more dishes. In most cases, you can just increase the quantity of everything proportionally, but just keep in mind that for dishes that involve stir-frying, you may end up crowding the pan. In those cases, you would want to consider stir-frying components separately, and then assembling them all at the end of cooking, rather than "building" one on top of the other as you would normally be instructed to do.

                                                                                      I agree with Gio - in most cases, you can probably increase the proportions by eyeballing things without too much trouble.

                                                                                      1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                        I have this problem too Westminstress. I usually double the main, and make a *lot* of rice. Then I make sure that the vegetable is either something incorporated (like the peppers with the black bean chicken) or something that doesn't also need to be stir-fried (like roasting a vegetable or making a salad-y or cold thing). I stand in awe of those who have been making more than one stir-fried thing at a time.

                                                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                          Thanks llm, this strategy makes sense to me. Doubling the main is almost like two stir fries (twice the chopping plus cooking in batches) but it's a bit more efficient, and I certainly like the idea of pairing with a no-fuss side.

                                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                            But, when you double the stir fry, do you do two batches? I've had problems in the past doubling stir-fries and ending up simply steaming my food rather than stir=frying it.

                                                                                            Or do you have a secret technique I need to know?

                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                              I haven't had that problem w this book TDQ. I usually make a judgement call based on the amt of protein. In EGOR many dishes only call for 250g so doubling it in my large wok isn't an issue at all. That said, for larger quantities, I'd do the meat in batches as you say.

                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                Occasionally it does steam instead of stir fry (this happened my first time around with lamb with cumin, but it was still delicious), but as BC said, the quantities in this book seem especially small to me (at least so far), and I haven't had a problem with it.

                                                                                                I *wish* had a secret technique!

                                                                                            2. re: Westminstress

                                                                                              I double the protein usually myself. It would be more proper to make several dishes but...

                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                  BUT don't do what I did last night and triple it in the beef with celery recipe. I upped the other seasonings but it wasn't as sprightly and fun to eat...
                                                                                                  I do make a feast once in a while for an occasion, but for casual cooking for 2, a dish, a veg, and rice is about my limit.

                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                    That is about mine too. I'm incredibly impressed when I read about the feasts some people are able to set out. My hat is off to all of you.

                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                      <"...casual cooking for 2, a dish, a veg, and rice is about my limit.">

                                                                                                      Mine too these days. For example tonight it's rotisserie chicken, G will make the rice, and stir-fried napa cabbage from Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge. We've sunk so low. LOL

                                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                                        Honey, it's a heck of a lot better than heating up a frozen pizza!

                                                                                                      2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                        So glad to hear I'm not alone in this!

                                                                                                  2. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                    My experience so far--and I've tried only a handful of dishes--is that they mostly serve two, unless you're making a feast, with several dishes. While that works out just fine for us, I think you need to double the recipes if you're trying to feed more than two (or want leftovers).

                                                                                                  3. This morning's (April 04, 2013) blog post from Fuchsia Dunlop is titled, "In praise of simplicity". She speaks of creating simple meals from bits and pieces of leftovers from previous meals that she augments with a few savory bits. As she wrote,"a staple grain, some healthy brassica greens, a little protein (the [spicy fermented] tofu), and a strongly-flavoured relish to ‘send the rice down’ (xia fan 下饭) (in this case the tofu again).

                                                                                                    Curiously, this reusing of all-ready cooked food was what I had intended to do tonight and I thought others might be interested as well..

                                                                                                    http://www.fuchsiadunlop.com/in-prais...

                                                                                                      1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                        Thanks for this article. Oddly enough, I found that two of Chang's 'flops' were two of my favourites!

                                                                                                        I see the hoisin/tian mian jiang confusion arising once again....

                                                                                                        1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                          I'm not confused. I thought Dunlop referred to the sweet fermented sauce in the recipe? Why would the author thinks it's hoisin sauce. Given the name, I thought she'd be chinese.

                                                                                                          The equivalent would be getting confused about butter and cream if you are an american. They have the same name in Taiwan, afaik. Also a lot of common ingredients have different names depending on which part of the Chinese dispora you are from.

                                                                                                          1. re: lilham

                                                                                                            I can't check the book right now, but I believe this stems from some potentially misleading wording used in the glossary in reference to the sweet fermented paste...

                                                                                                        2. re: smtucker

                                                                                                          Thanks for the link, SMT. Nice review but I'm surprised T. Susan Chang missed the hoisin vs sweet fermented sauce reference in the glossary (I think it is). It's not hoisin we're supposed to use but the other...

                                                                                                          1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                            Thanks, another great link smt, you're on a roll!

                                                                                                            Chang writes, "I kind of hoped that every few years, Dunlop would somehow develop a lifetime’s mastery of each of the great eight Chinese cuisines and release another regional masterpiece onto the market.", guess I'm not the only one who experienced a let down when FD went for a generalist rather than a focused book....

                                                                                                            1. re: qianning

                                                                                                              From what she's said, she's going back to focused books.

                                                                                                                1. re: qianning

                                                                                                                  HUAIYANG PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                    I'm thinking it's Yunnan, but who knows! Her next group trip to China looks like it will include Yunnan, though.

                                                                                                                    1. re: emily

                                                                                                                      She does skew spicy. Lijiang doufu...

                                                                                                          2. Soy sauce question -- in EGOR, FD recommends using organic tamari instead of the combo of light and dark soy sauce. However, the brand of tamari she uses is not available in the U.S. to my knowledge. I'm just about to use up my bottle of Pearl River Bridge Superior Light Soy Sauce, and I'm wondering whether I should replace it with a good tamari? If so, which brand is good? I do have access to a Japanese market if that helps. Thanks, hounds!

                                                                                                            28 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                              I keep San-J brand Tamari Soy Sauce/Wheat Free/Organic in the pantry but use the light and dark soy sauce combination too. I do prefer the combination better than anything however when I want a lighter flavor I use the San-J. I think Kikkoman makes the same kind of tamari as well.

                                                                                                              1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                Curious where you see that recommendation. In "Basics" on page 10 she says "A good tamari . . . can be used instead of light soy sauce." I took that to mean that instead of combining light and dark soy sauces, you can instead combine tamari and dark soy sauce.

                                                                                                                I do keep tamari on hand, San-J brand also, but use it mainly when a gluten-intolerant friend comes to dinner. I can't imagine completely replacing light soy sauce (I like Kimlan brand) with tamari. To me, light soy sauce is less intense, yet has more of a umami flavor than tamari. And I totally agree with Gio that my preference is for a mix of the light and dark.

                                                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                  I just opened my first bottle of kimlan light soy, and I think it is my favourite brand thus far! Blows PRB out of the water....

                                                                                                                  1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                    I agree. Buttertart turned me on to it a couple of years ago and I've never looked back.

                                                                                                                  2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                    I agree - I don't think she is recommending using it for the combination. Tamari is one type of light soy sauce, and I think she's just suggesting using it instead of another type of light soy sauce.

                                                                                                                  3. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                    I think this is the discussion I was thinking of in which FD says tamari can replace the light/dark combo. http://www.fuchsiadunlop.com/chinese-...

                                                                                                                    But it appears to be based on having access to really good artisinal tamari, not sure San-J would do the job.

                                                                                                                    I might check out the Japanese store and will look for kimlan soy sauce as well. What brand do you like for dark soy sauce?

                                                                                                                    1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                      I've just about finished a bottle of Pearl River Bridge dark soy sauce and bought a bottle of Kimlan dark soy to replace it, but I haven't tried it yet. Another Kimlan product, Super Special Soy Sauce, is great as a dipping sauce. It's so smooth, it's almost drinkable. More expensive than the other types, but well worth it when you want the flavor of the soy sauce to stand on it's own.

                                                                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                        I hope the Kimlan dark soy is just soy, they have a soy paste-ish bottle that has an odd taste. Let us know please...

                                                                                                                        BTW the name is pronounced Jinlan, it means golden orchid...that super special one is v good, as is their multigrain one.

                                                                                                                        Since this is a Taiwanese brand, and there's a lot of Japanese influence in Taiwanese food (owing to its having been occupied by the Japanese from 1895 to 1945), the Kimlan is a bit on the Japanese soy sauce side of things.

                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                          Interesting. I remember Sam Fujisaka once saying that Kikomann was the only soy sauce he ever used and I found that surprising. I much preferred Pearl River Bridge to Kikomann and Kimlan to PRB. Never thought that much about origin. It was just a question of flavor preference.

                                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                            I wonder if Kim Lan is how they would say it in their Taiwanese/Fujian dialect. It is half way between Kim and Come in Cantonese btw.

                                                                                                                            1. re: lilham

                                                                                                                              I'm not sure, I only know Mandarin.

                                                                                                                          2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                            The one Fuchsia uses iirc is Clearspring Organic tamari, which is stocked in our local wholefood shop. I haven't tried it yet, but I should. Have never seen Kimlan here but will look out for it.

                                                                                                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                              Yes, you're right. There's a photo of the Clearspring brand in the book. I've never seen it on this side; not even by mail order. Will be curious to know if you find Kimlan--and will not be the least surprised if you don't.

                                                                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                It's been available in the States for 20 years or so, but it certainly appears from the photos of ingredients in FD's books that the range available there is quite different.

                                                                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                  Clearspring is a British company, but I'm surprised you can't get their products in New York.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                    Well, maybe buttertart knows where to find it here. Perhaps in a Japanese market. I do most of my Asian shopping in Chinese or Korean markets with only a small selection of Japanese products. Perhaps that's why I haven't seen it.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                      I meant Kimlan. I haven't been looking for Japanese products very much.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                    Kimlan was in my local Chinese store today - so I bought a bottle! Is it considered a light or dark soy sauce?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                      Kimlan makes many different soy products....does the label say anything in English? If not can you shoot a picture and post it?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                        The one I just bought looks like this:
                                                                                                                                        http://tinyurl.com/kolkxwj

                                                                                                                                        But I also saw one in the store that looked like this:
                                                                                                                                        http://tinyurl.com/lhla7ee

                                                                                                                                        I don't know the difference between them, but I decided to buy the one that specifically said "light." Not sure if that was the right one. GG, does yours look like either of the images above?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                          The two pictures you linked are the same isn't it?

                                                                                                                                          If you look at the Chinese characters on the bottle, the last two characters are light and soy. If your bottle has them, then it is light soy.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: lilham

                                                                                                                                            There are dark and light ones labeled in Vietnamese as well as in Chinese and English, as the one Westminstress bought is.
                                                                                                                                            The second pic is of the "super special" one that JoanN especially loves.
                                                                                                                                            The one I usually buy is in this photo...

                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                              That's the one I bought Buttertart. I don't think there was a light one, just a low-sodium version.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                I don't know about the subtleties of Tawainese's soy sauces. 醬油 is what my Taiwanese friend called soy sauce. (That's what it says on buttertart's bottle). I would use it as the all purpose soy sauce, and whenever recipes called for light soy. In Hong Kong, we use 生抽 and 老抽 (light soy and dark soy).

                                                                                                                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                  It's the basic one used in Taiwan -- tends to be a bit lighter and sweeter than the HK ones, I think because of the Japanese influence on Taiwanese food (due to the Occupation, 1895-1945).
                                                                                                                                                  PS chemicalkinetics and others have weighed in on soy sauce preference...
                                                                                                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8286...

                                                                                                                                          2. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                            Need to see label, but the one I usually buy, shown in gently-used condition, is medium, "all-purpose".

                                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                              Buttertart's right. I do love the "super special." But I save that for super special. My regular light Kimlan soy sauce is the one on the left.

                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                2. I've tried some recipes from EGOR, and love every and each one of them. This is seriously the best Chinese cookbook ever.

                                                                                                                                  So I've decided I want to learn and master Chinese cooking from cooking every recipes in this book.

                                                                                                                                  I started a blog to record my journey: http://cookingeverygrainofrice.wordpr...

                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: eileen216

                                                                                                                                    Awesome - Look forward to following your journey!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: eileen216

                                                                                                                                      That is great, I'll definitely be having a look as I also love this book.