Archive for December, 2011

Christmas leftovers, Sichuan-style

Posted by Fuchsia on December 30, 2011
Cooking, Festivals / 1 Comment

As usual, some of the leftovers of my family’s Christmas turkey ended up in a Sichuanese dressing on Boxing Day (as mentioned in Time Out): tamari soy sauce, Chinkiang vinegar, sugar, ground roasted Sichuan pepper, home-made chilli oil and a little turkey stock. A scattering of toasted sesame seeds would have been a nice garnish, but I forgot to bring them with me to my parents’ house. We served it alongside ham, potato salad, green salad, Chinese kohlrabi salad, carrot salad, chicory with pear, walnut and blue cheese and other delicious leftovers. And then for pud, apple crumble, leftover Chinese mince pies (little mince pies made in the shape of jiaozi dumplings – a stop-gap invented one Christmas in Chengdu when there were no mince pie trays to hand, and used ever since), meringues and plum compote made with plums from the garden. Oh – and these marzipan and walnut balls, made in memory of my wonderful grandmother, who used to make them every year.

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Manchurian Legends

Posted by Fuchsia on December 15, 2011
Chinese restaurants, Review / 9 Comments

Gosh, I’m impressed. I’ve had a few really lousy Dongbei (or Northeastern) suppers in London, and until last night had never had a good one. But a friend and I decided to visit Manchurian Legends, a Chinatown newcomer that has won some enthusiastic reviews, and for once it did live up to the hype. We began with homemade ‘mixed chilled vegetable salad’ (家常涼菜), an elegant mix of tofu skin, beanthread noodles, carrot, cucumber, spring onion and coriander, deftly seasoned with chilli oil, vinegar and lashings of garlic; and a couple of perky little fried pastries stuffed with scrambled egg and Chinese chives (韭菜盒子). The potful of sweet potato ‘glass’ noodles with sliced belly pork and pickled mustard greens that followed (酸菜五花肉燉粉條) was delightfully soft and slithery in the mouth, soothing and refreshing at the same time, and we enjoyed another local speciality, thick, lazy ribbons of mung bean pasta on a bed of slivered vegetables, adorned with intensely-flavoured pork strips, chilli and vinegar (東北大拉皮). Continue reading…

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A Sino-Moroccan feast in London

Posted by Fuchsia on December 02, 2011
Banquets, Chefs, Cooking, Sichuanese cuisine / 7 Comments

Anissa Helou beat me to it with her blog post about today’s culinary collaboration! Anyway, here’s mine. Anissa (a brilliant cook and food writer specialising in Middle Eastern culinary cultures) and I had been planning a joint Sino-Lebanese lunch for months, and we finally did it, sort of, because in the end it turned out to be Sino-Moroccan. I was in charge of the first course, Anissa of the main course and dessert. As I was cooking at home and planning a ‘Chinese takeaway’ delivery to Anissa’s place, it seemed like a good opportunity to use one of my Sichuanese cuan he ( 攒盒), the gorgeous lacquered boxes that are sometimes used for banquet appetisers. Each box comes with an ornamented lid – in this case a dragon and phoenix (see below), and a neat jigsaw of detachable compartments for the food. The smallest boxes have one central compartment with four others around: this is known as a ‘five-colour’ box. The one I used today is a ‘nine-colour’ box, although I cheated slightly because I only made eight dishes (as you can see, one is duplicated in two compartments). Continue reading…

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The lonely life of the Chinese chef

Posted by Fuchsia on December 01, 2011
Chefs, Uncategorized / 4 Comments

Chef Zhang in the CIA kitchens

Recently I went with the head chef of Barshu, Zhang Xiaozhong, to give some presentations at the Worlds of Flavour conference at the Culinary Institute of America (generally known, amusingly, as the CIA). As we were driving back to San Francisco after the event, I asked Chef Zhang about his plans for the Chinese New Year, and he replied with this wistful little poem about the life of the chef, slaving away over a hot stove while everyone else celebrates with their families:

他人家中聚   Other people gather in their homes

我望锅中油   I gaze at the oil in the wok

妙手烹万物   Using my subtle hands to cook ten thousand

ingredients

厨房度春秋   Working in the kitchen as the seasons pass