Posted by Fuchsia
on January 17, 2011
You can hear me talking about the versatility of the Chinese kitchen cleaver (菜刀) in last week’s edition of The Food Programme on BBC Radio 4.
Using a cleaver is addictive, because it is so ruthlessly efficient. It is also a contagious habit, as my mother and certain of my friends (as well as some readers of my books?) would be able to tell you.
The photograph on the right is reproduced with kind permission of Martin Leeburn.
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…
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
I’m just back from a week in Turin for my first Slow Food Salone Del Gusto and Terra Madre. The Salone Del Gusto centres on a vast ‘Slow Food’ trade fair: two enormous halls filled with vendors of Italian delicacies, and (more interesting), a slightly smaller international hall where you can find extraordinary and wonderful foodstuffs, including ancient varieties of almonds from Uzbekistan, Yak’s milk cheese from the Tibetan Plateau, and dried mulberries and mulberry halva from the Pamir mountains. The simultaneous and adjacent Terra Madre is a gathering of some six thousand delegates from 161 countries, all of whom are in some way involved in sustainable local food production.
Funnily enough, I was a member of the Chinese delegation. Continue reading…
The garden of the Master of the Nets
You can read my article about Suzhou cuisine in today’s Financial Times Weekend.
Here are a few photographs from my various trips there: one of my favourite garden, the Garden of the Master of the Nets (网师园)；one of the Wumen Renjia restaurant courtyard, and other of the wonderful Mrs Sha, who runs it; and a couple of food.
A blog reader called Tom emailed me recently to say that he was enjoying cooking from my books, but:
I am trying to figure out whether there is any way to reduce sodium in these
recipes, though. Like many Americans, I have high blood pressure and am trying
to manage it through diet modification. That means really watching salt intake.
I see that my soy sauce has nearly 1600 mg of sodium per tablespoon. It tastes
fantastic, but wow! That's a huge number. And that's hardly the only source of
sodium in Sichuan and Hunan cuisine. Continue reading...
I’ve just written a guest post for the Guardian’s Word of Mouth blog, which you can read here.
Posted by Fuchsia
on July 19, 2010
A blog reader called Graham wrote to me to ask advice about how to get a decent high-powered flame for cooking Chinese food in a UK kitchen.
This is part of what he said:
“I am staying in a modern flat in Beijing over the summer and one of the great things is being able to cook on a high-powered burner. I can actually get some smoking happening quickly, and attempt to flash-fry things.
“I’m sure this is nothing compared to restaurant kitchen stoves, but it would be great to cook like this back in England, and it makes me realise how puny my UK cooker is. I guess it might be possible to buy Chinese stoves in England, but even then is out domestic gas supply suited to them?
“I know Chinese restaurants in the UK must be able to do it, and I saw the guys from Yang Sing in Manchester do a cooking demo last year, and instead of using the outdoor kitchen provided, they rolled in their own can of propane with a wok-holder attachment fitted to the top! Great, but I’m guessing this isn’t very wise (or probably legal) in the UK to have indoors.”
Posted by Fuchsia
on June 22, 2010
, Chinese cuisine
Last week Barshu (the Sichuanese restaurant where I work as consultant) ran a team-building awayday for some corporate clients in the beautiful private room on the second floor. The programme? A demonstration by two of the chefs, Xiao Wei and Xiao Hua, followed by a Chinese wine-tasting and a fabulous banquet. Xiao Wei and Xiao Hua showed the guests how to wrap various kinds of jiaozi dumplings, glutinous rice balls (tang yuan), and leaf-wrapped glutinous rice zongzi – the latter particularly appropriate as the event took place on the Dragon Boat Festival 端午节, when they are traditionally eaten. Some of the guests had a go themselves. And then they tasted a few Chinese wines and some sake, and then sat down to feast…
The pictures show Xiao Wei wrapping zongzi (top), Xiao Hua making tangyuan (right), and one of the guests trying his hand at wrapping jiaozi (below left).
Posted by Fuchsia
on May 14, 2010
So this is what Chinese astronauts eat in space, according to an article by Malcolm Moore in the Daily Telegraph, citing an astronaut’s autobiography:
“A selection of dishes from the Chinese Astronaut menu (2009 mission)
“Day One: Lotus root porridge, crispy tofu with spring onions, braised yellow croaker fish, pork ribs with seaweed, spinach with minced garlic.
“Day Two: Spicy pig skin, braised duck neck, hairy crab with ginger, chicken liver with chilli, pine nuts with sweetcorn, three-flavour soup.
“Day Three: Poached egg in fermented rice soup, Harbin sausage, Huajiang dog, baby cuttlefish casserole, eel with green pepper, spicy beans with dried tofu.
“Apples, pears and oranges served with every meal, as well as rice, noodles, sweet potatoes.”