Archive for November, 2010

Hunanese government award!

Posted by Fuchsia on November 23, 2010
Awards, Chinese food culture, Hunan / 10 Comments

At the conference today I received a Hunanese government award for contributions to the internationalisation of Hunan cuisine! It was worth getting up at what seemed like ungodly hour, after a jetlagged and somewhat sleepless night. The hall was packed with about 300 delegates, and I was the only Westerner – a weird throwback to my early days in China. Awards in the international category were also given to my friend and colleague, Bashan/Barshu owner Shao Wei;  Peng Tieh-cheng, son of Peng Chang-kuei; and Susur Lee. And there were also awards for local chefs and restaurants. Shao Wei and I spent the rest of the morning doing interviews with local media (I think we may be on TV tonight!), and then I had to give a brief talk after lunch. A bit nightmarish having to speak in Chinese before such a crowd, but it seemed to go OK, and I managed to entertain them with tales of persuading Westerners to love eating preserved duck eggs and rubbery things!

Continue reading…

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In praise of hong cai tai (and other Chinese greens)

Posted by Fuchsia on November 22, 2010
Chinese cuisine, Cooking, Food and health, Hunan, Ingredients / 16 Comments

Hong cai tai... oh yum...

I’m back in Changsha, where I lived for a few months while researching my Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook, for the first time in five years. It’s wonderful to see some old friends, including Peng Tieh-cheng, the son of legendary Hunanese chef Peng Chang-kuei (of General Tso’s chicken fame). He’s in Changsha for the same Hunan food conference as me, and I hadn’t seen him for about six years. Peng Tieh-cheng tells me his father, who is now 93, is in good health, and still popping into their main restaurant in Taipei every day.

I’ve had some rather lovely meals in the last 24 hours, and one of the highlights of all of them has been the simplest of dishes: stir-fried red rape shoots (hong cai tai 红菜苔), served at lunch with a little dried chilli, and at dinner with slivered ginger. Only the tenderest tips of the shoots are used, and the thicker parts may actually be peeled of their skin. Stir-fried, they have an exquisite flavour and mouthfeel, sweet and juicy, with a hint of dark sleek bitterness in the leaves. Hong cai tai have a similar appeal to asparagus, although I think they are even more delicious. When they are in season, they are served at almost every meal. Continue reading…

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Shanghai in November

Posted by Fuchsia on November 20, 2010
Uncategorized / 3 Comments

Arrived in Shanghai to warm and sunny weather! I had a simple vegetarian lunch at a Buddhist monastery (Shanghai wontons stuffed with shepherd’s purse, green pak choy and mushrooms; ‘Arhat’s noodles’ with cloud ears, bamboo shoot and another kind of mushrooms). Dinner was fine Spanish jamon, cut from an entire leg of ham that had been smuggled into the country in a container, with home-made Spanish tortilla, tomato bread and red wine. Well, Shanghai is a melting pot, isn’t it?

I spent the afternoon doing a few errands, and while I was walking around in the old Foreign Settlement area, I noticed these salted fish and pieces of pork wind-drying on a traffic light!

Guild of Food Writers knife clinic

Posted by Fuchsia on November 15, 2010
Chinese cuisine, Chinese food culture, Cooking, Events, Uncategorized / No Comments

The knife clinic, held last Thursday, was great fun. Delicious canapes by Daylesford Organic, great demos by Marianne Lumb and Corin Mellor. And I did a bit of Chinese chopping, including spring onion ‘fish-eyes’, ‘flowers’ and ‘horse ears’, ‘ox-tongue’ slices made from Asian radish, and ‘eyebrows’ and ‘phoenix tails’ cut from pig’s kidneys.

Illustration on left by Sebastian Wilkinson


A Chinese view of Italian food

Posted by Fuchsia on November 13, 2010
Chinese food culture, People, Restaurants / 1 Comment

The pleasures of cheese

You can read my piece about eating my way around Piedmont with Chinese restaurateur A Dai on the From Our Own Correspondent pages of the BBC’s website. Or you can listen to me reading it myself on their podcast for today, 13 November, on this webpage.

I’ll try to post a suitable photograph later!

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Vegetable extravaganza

Posted by Fuchsia on November 11, 2010
Barshu, Chinese food culture / No Comments

For special banquets in the private rooms at Barshu restaurant, the kitchen can provide carved-vegetable centrepieces for the table. This carrot-bird ensemble is what one of the chefs came up with for a drinks party for Japanese visitors on Tuesday night!