Archive for August, 2009

Barshu reopening

Posted by Fuchsia on August 22, 2009
Uncategorized / 1 Comment

We seem to have an actual date for the reopening of Barshu, the London Sichuanese restaurant for whom I act as consultant: the evening of 30th August. For any journalists reading this post, a press release will be going out nearer the time. I know many of our regular customers will be relieved to hear this news!

(NB we have had to change the name of the restaurant from Bar Shu to Barshu for trademark reasons – the Chinese name remains the same)

A pearl in my tooth

Posted by Fuchsia on August 22, 2009
Cooking, Foraging, Ingredients / 6 Comments

On the Scottish island, a friend and I picked our way across slippery seaweed-strewn beaches, through bogs and heather bushes, and finally down a rocky cliff, to gather wild mussels, kilos and kilos of them. Back at the cottage, we cooked some of them marinieres, and used the rest in a kind of Italian pasta sauce (onion, tomatoes, herbs) which we ate with spaghetti. The orange mussels themselves were delicious, but many of them had tiny, tiny pearls embedded in their outer layers, which made them somewhat perilous to eat. I crunched one quite badly, and it ended up firmly embedded in one of my back teeth! It was horribly uncomfortable at first, but then settled down. The following day some of it came out, grittily, in some chewing gum, but I had to visit the dentist to make sure that it was completely clear. My London colleagues laughed at me for having such a ridiculous ailment (‘Doctor, Doctor, I have a pearl stuck in my tooth!).

Funnily enough, within the week, something similar nearly happened, but with a piece of shot in a wild duck – and for a moment I dreaded the embarrassing prospect of a return visit to the dentist.

Has anyone else had amusing eating-related mishaps? Live octopus tentacles stuck to their cheeks in Korea?Bones through their cheeks during enthusiastic chewing?

When I was a small child, I once swallowed a small, painted metal ‘gollywog’ pendant that I had been sent after saving up the tokens on pots of Robertsons jam. My parents took me to the hospital in Oxford, where I was X-rayed, and the X-rays showed a perfect little gollywog shape suspended somewhere in my abdomen! (I’ve always regretted that we didn’t keep a copy of the image.)

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Deep-fried jellyfish, anyone?

Posted by Fuchsia on August 22, 2009
Unusual delicacies / 5 Comments

A bizarre story in the Guardian this week: apparently Chinese immigrants are surprising the people of Tuscany by gathering and eating jellyfish. Actually I always recommend jellyfish as an initiation into the pleasures of mouthfeel in Chinese food: a cool salad of ribboned jellyfish and cucumber with a light sesame oil fragrance is not in any way frightening, and very easy to enjoy, even for people who dislike the idea of eating jellyfish. But I’ve never come across them deep-fried – have any readers of this blog? I’d be interested to hear about it.


US paperback out!

Posted by Fuchsia on August 20, 2009
Books / No Comments

The official publication date of the US paperback version of ‘Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper’ is 25th August, but it’s already available on

Lady Mackerelbeth

Posted by Fuchsia on August 20, 2009
Cooking, Ingredients / No Comments

The island holiday in Scotland turned into a wonderful adventure, and I caught my first mackerel! Two of them, in fact. (I was pretty impressed until I noticed that one of my friends, simultaneously, had pulled in SEVEN on a single line!) Between us, we  caught eleven, and I quickly remembered my old Sichuan cooking school lessons and gutted them all on the boat, with my Swiss army knife. Back at the cottage, we rustled up a mackerel feast: sashimi with soy sauce and mustard (no wasabi around); grilled mackerel, eaten with lemon; mackerel baked with mustard and white wine (a French recipe that used to make as a teenager, dimly remembered); and finally the mackerel fillets marinated in soy sauce, wine, ginger and stuff and then pan-fried. Has fish ever tasted so good?

Below are a few more pics of the fish.


More mackerel
More mackerel
Wild creature

Wild creature


Fusion food in Shoreditch

Posted by Fuchsia on August 11, 2009
Chinese cuisine, Cooking, People / No Comments

Non-Chinese cooks often consider Chinese food as a complete world apart from other styles of food, but I find that Chinese cold dishes mix well with dishes from other traditions. I often rustle up some kind of Sichuanese chicken salad, dressed in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, chilli oil, Sichuan pepper and perhaps a little Chinese vinegar, for a party, and it always seems to go down a storm. The spicy cucumber salad from my Sichuan book is another favourite – incredibly easy to make in advance, unusual and delicious.

Supper at my friend Anissa Helou’s place last week turned out to be a polyglot feast, with Gujarati snacks she commissioned from the mother of her newsagent, a magnificent Lebanese tabbuleh, a Sichuanese chicken dish and fish-fragrant aubergines, served cool. We all thought they went together rather nicely.

Altogether, it’s been an incredibly varied fortnight, foodwise: my first visit to the River Cafe in London for a close friend’s birthday (fabulous langoustines with marjoram), a Sichuanese supper at my place for my ‘kitchen sister’ Lipika, a glorious home-made bouillabaisse at another friend’s house, hog roast in a West London garden, extended family picnic in Waterlow Park (with another Sichuanese salad as my contribution), cocktails at Loungelover and dinner at my favourite Vietnamese place, Song Que, with Anissa and visiting food-writer Anya Von Bremzen! Anyway, enough of all that, tonight I’m off to a deserted Scottish island to make bread and attempt to catch fish.