My wife and I made dinner for my in-laws tonight. We have been trying out a bunch of stuff from Fuchsia Dunlop's new book.
First up was Smoky Eggplant with Garlic (火烧茄子, p63).
I've been intrigued by this one since I first saw the recipe, since it's so different from the usual ways (deepfried, boiled, 'xiao chao', etc.) you usually have Chinese eggplant. My in-laws say that they make a similar dish in Shanghai, but just seasoned with soy sauce and sugar, instead of the Sichuanese version in the book. I think this is actually one of my favorite recipes I've made so far (charring the eggplants is a bit time-consuming, though). It is also a good "make-ahead" kind of recipe, which is one reason I picked it. The eggplant has that same great smoky flavor you get from baba ganouj. I wasn't sure the seasoning would be balanced, but the flavors worked well together.
Second dish was fresh "dong sun" ("winter" bamboo shoot).
Since I think it's a bit past the season, this was a bit tough. I was trying to copy the recipe from a local restaurant - I stewed it in rice-rinsing water with ginger slices, jalapenos (intact, with their seeds), and a little salt / sugar. Came out with more spice than I expected.
Also, I made a salted duck-egg / white bittermelon dish that I copied off of a TV cooking show.
You cook the (cooked) duck-egg yolks for a bit in oil, add green onion whites and the egg-whites, then add blanched bitter melon (preferably white) and cook together; then add some water or stock. After the water cooks down, you add some rice wine (salt, if any more is needed, and MSG if you want), and finish with some sesame oil.
Then "Silken Tofu with Avocado" (鳄梨豆腐; p42).
I was a bit skeptical of this one, but it was pretty good. I'm just sad we didn't have any wasabi (fresh or otherwise), because I do think it would have gone well with it. Obviously, this isn't a traditional dish. It's based on a dish featuring tofu, uni, and avocado that the book's author had at a restaurant in Southern Taiwan.
Pictured also in the wide shot:
Fava Bean and Snow Vegetable [xuecai] Soup (豆瓣雪菜汤, p244) -- second time making this, but a little closer to the actual recipe this time. I thought it was pretty good. Instead of chicken stock, we used a kelp / soybean sprout broth, along with a little shitake soaking liquid. These fava beans were frozen.
I also found fresh "king" fava beans at the farmers market. I think these are the kind you find as dry Chinese snacks (with garlic) - they're larger than the normal ones, and a more brown-red color. My wife cooked them with scallion slices, scallion greens, and some soy sauce.
And, reprised Pipa Tofu (琵琶豆腐) (see above).
Earlier in the week, we made some vegetarian 'xian bing' out of leftovers. Tasted pretty good - I need to work on my wrapping skills still, though.