There’s an article about me today in the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia! (I’ll be talking at the Sydney Food Festival in October.)
Archive for July, 2009
I had some friends for dinner on Saturday and, for the first time in ages, cooked General Tso’s chicken. This, as some of you may know (especially any Americans), is the most famous “Hunanese” dish in America…. but is virtually unknown in Hunan itself. Exploring its origins was one of the unintended highlights of my research for Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook, and the piece I wrote about it was excerpted in the New York Times.
Although it’s not the most traditional dish, it is incredibly delicious when done properly, with good chicken. On Saturday I used the Taiwan version of the recipe, which I was taught in the kitchens of the man who invented it, Peng Chang-Kuei, in Taipei. I’d forgotten quite how good it was, but after the reception it got from my friends the other night, I suspect I’m going to be making it regularly!
The full menu on Saturday was Sichuanese cucumber salad, smoked beancurd with chilli oil, General Tso’s chicken, Red-braised beef with Asian radish, Pock-Marked Woman’s Beancurd (mapo doufu), stir-fried mixed mushrooms with garlic, stir-fried water spinach with chillies and Sichuan pepper, and stewed peaches with crystal sugar. With steamed rice, of course. And raspberry pavlova for pudding, thanks to my friend Penny!
The picture to the left was taken in Taipei in 2004. It was an incredible honour to meet Chef Peng, who is one of the most celebrated chefs of his generation, and used to be in charge of state banquets in Taiwan.
P.S. the recipe is at the bottom of the New York Times article.
Chinese cuisine, Chinese food culture, Ingredients, Unusual delicacies / No Comments
You can hear me on BBC Radio Four’s The Food Programme, talking about suckling pigs in Chinese culinary culture. The programme went out yesterday, and will be broadcast again this afternoon, at 4pm UK time. It’s also available on the web.
According to an academic quoted in the official Chinese English-language newspaper, The China Daily, Chinese officials spend an annual average of about five hundred BILLION yuan (or 73 billion US dollars) of public funds on banquets. ‘Officials are used to sealing deals and making decisions at dinner tables,’ said Professor Li Chengyan of Beijing University. (He was commenting on the news that an official in Hubei Province recently died of a heart attack after drinking excessively at an official dinner, and that another official, in Guangdong, fell into a coma after a separate alcoholic binge.)
I’m in Manchester for the weekend for the end of the International Festival, and in particular for Sunday’s Festival Feast. I was invited to contribute a recipe for this feeding-of-two-thousand event, and offered the recipe for Zhong dumplings from Sichuan Cookery, which is being made up by the well-known local restaurant Yang Sing. I think I’ll be saying a few words as people sit down to eat.
Great fun to be here, anyway. I manage to catch a Bach cello concert at lunchtime in the Zaha Hadid pavilion, and have just got back to the hotel after seeing Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed at the Palace Theatre – amazing!
Quite a few people have been emailing me to ask if I do any cooking classes, so I wanted to let any readers of this website know that I will be doing at least one at the Divertimenti Cooking School in central London in November.
In October, I’ll also be appearing at the Sydney International Food Festival in Australia. I’ll be doing a demonstration of Sichuanese homestyle dishes myself, and a presentation with my friend Yu Bo, who is one of the most talented chefs I’ve met in more than a decade of eating in China. (He is featured in the ‘Rubber Factor’ chapter of my book ‘Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper’. )
A belated post to say that Sharks’ Fin and Sichuan Pepper won the Kate Whiteman Award for Work on Food and Travel at the Guild of Food Writers’ Awards last week. I will try to post a picture of the trophy, a glass vase engraved with the Guild’s Logo, my name and the date, sometime soon.