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Big Bunny

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  1. Indian Chutneys, Raitas, Pickles & Preserves by Michael Pandya (ISBN: 0722511671) It is out of print and starting to become expensive used. You may not want something so specifically about Indian chutneys, but this is an excellent book. BB
  2. I imagine that cuisines like Jiangsu, Anhui and Fujian are at the heart of Ce'Nedra's original question. Books tend to combine the first two into the Shanghai school, with Fujian loosely attached to Guangdong. Since I am strictly an arm-chair traveler/cook, I refer to my books for what answers are there. Obviously, that has limits - but it leads to lots of insights and good meals. Lee Hwa Lin's book on Shanghai, from Wei Chuan, has some wonderful steamed pork dishes that show that "delicate" flavors can be "sweet" and "fat" flavors. I guess the hard part is to differentiate between the "provincial" cuisine of Jiangsu and the cosmopolitan cuisine of Shanghai. Yong Yap Cotterell's book has lots of recipes labelled Jiangsu, so I would look there for insight. Another interesting book is Pei Mei Fu's vol III, regional banquets. She gives a "Kiang-Che" (Jiangsu-Jejiang) menu that looks quite good. Of course this is nothing like going and trying the cuisine. By the way, arm-chair exploration of Chinese cuisine via books published in English during the last forty years is very confusing. Between Wade-Giles, Pinyin and various ad hoc transliterations of Mandarin, Cantonese and some local variants, simply flipping through cookbooks looking for "clues" can be frustrating. Kiangsi = Jiangsi, Kiangsu = Jiangsu but Jiangsu != Jiangsi! When I was little, I had a jigsaw-puzzle map of the USA where each state was a piece. That really fixed the map in my mind. I wish I had something like that for China, and perhaps S.E. Asia. Two asides: 1) Speaking of Jiangsi, Deh-Ta Hsiung gives a few nice recipes in his regional Chinese cookbook. Plugs for the author's native area are a good source of insight. 2) Back to the steamed wintermelon soup - there are lots of recipes "out there". Some assemble ready-cooked meats with vegetables for a short (one-hourish) steam, others use uncooked chicken or duck, and typically go for a few hours. In Chinese Technique, Ken Hom actually mentions watermelon as an alternative to wintermelon, but his recipe is of the simple, vegetarian sort. BB
  3. That's interesting. The chicken is done when it is put into the watermelon. I don't have a recipe at hand, but I think that the wintemelon version actually cooks the chicken in the melon. Of course, winter melons are much sturdier than water melons, and they have a great flavor of their own. On the other hand, water melons are so easy to get in season. I have never even considered doing the "winter", but the "water" would be fun for a summer party. BB
  4. I love "odd" little cookbooks. It is frustrating that the same recipes appear so often in cookbooks (not just Chinese.) But sometimes we find little gems that give insights into either an idiosyncratic regional style, or perhaps a personal or family specialty. Is the "Chicken in a Watermelon" like the classic "Chicken in a Wintermelon" dish? It would be fun to have a variation on that. BB
  5. I associate brassieries with brew pubs, bistros with a more typically French menu, but nothing is really defineable. I don't know of any place that doesn't serve bot beer and wine, although the style of food there might lean more towards one than the other. What about boite and cafe? In a sense, the words "brasserie" and "boite" are less overworked. There is a feeling of freshness about them, now. BB
  6. I have only used dried tofu sheet, so I checked Bruce Cost's "Asian Ingredients." Without directly saying so, the impression is that fresh and dried are used the same way. Also, he mentions that fresh OR dried should be moistened before use. BB
  7. Supper last night: Everything was flavorful, all of the recipes worked well. I consider the seaweed salad to be still "pending." I have been experimenting with seaweed lately, and the Atlantic coast American kombu I chose needs a bit more softening than I gave it. The laghman was very good - homey and filling. I really like Chinkiang vinegar, but had never kept it on the table before. It gave a nice light note to the noodles and vegetables. With the fritters, I had two chutneys: Patak's "Major Gray", and Laziza plum. This added a bright note to the meal. Last night was cold and rainy, so the colorful hot tea was appropriate. I used green tea, dried pineapple, apricot, red dates, sultanas and goji (wolfberry.) I didn't have the rice pudding because I was quite full. --- For me, cooking is an extension of armchair travel. I have always enjoyed reading about the Silk Road, especially the stories about pilgrims and missionaries of long ago. This book, pictures - text - recipes, all added to a nice "journey." As I had supper, I also heard the news from Sichuan. I prayed a bit for the people there. BB
  8. Progress report: Yesterdy I cooked three of the recipes: Fritters, Laghman and Rice pudding. The seaweed salad and tea are toss-togethers to do tonight while the noodles cook. The fritters were a bit fiddly, but careful molding to form a solid patty, and attention to cooking time are all they need. These are a cinch with a food processor - flavorful and light. I just sampled a bit of the laghman sauce, without noodles. It is very simple, but quite flavorful. It is often surprising how much Central Asian cuisine is like what my Italian grandmother made from her own vegetable garden. I had a bowl of the rice pudding at bed-time - classic comfort food. BB
  9. Quick note: The Laghman recipe is Uighur, from Turpan. The seaweed salad is from Lhasa, and the Rice pudding Tibetan. The tea and croquettes are "general." I don't have a digital camera that works. BB
  10. Ce'nedra, I don't have the book at hand, so I don't remember exactly whare the laghman sauce noodles are from. A&D's recipe is simple, but looks delicious. If you want more information about laghman, though, try: Lynn Visson The Art of Uzbek Cooking It is published by Hippocrene books(http://www.hippocrenebooks.com/default.aspx). They publish lots of great little books, usually by otherwise unknown authors. If I remember correctly, the seaweed salad is from Lhassa. By the way, my home computer is on the blink, and the book is a bit much to bring to work on the bus. BB Editted to add this P.S. The carrots and ginger stir-fry is just what I had hoped: simple and bright. It would fit into almost any meal. I was lucky to find some organic carrots that actually tasted like carrots.
  11. Chinese regional cookbooks tend not to stay in print for long. Most of the ones I have are either from used book stores, or cut-out tables. Now that I can (sort-of) afford it, I watch for new Chinese cookbooks as they are published. If you can, spend time in good, old used book shops and see what comes along. In the beginning stages of building a library, random finds are valuable, and lots of fun. BB
  12. So far I have picked out a menu and an one extra recipe. I don't have the book here, but will describe them from memory. The menu, whiich I will do next weekend is: Noodles with a Laghman sauce (I will cheat and use store-bought noodles) Carrot-chickpea fritters. Seaweed salad (They tell how seaweed is easily transported to a vegetable-poor region) Rice pudding. Eight-flavored tea. I chose these mostly by whim and to make a balanced meal, not on any theme. The "odd" recipe, which I prepped yesterday for tonights supper,is a stir-fry of "matchstick" carrots and ginger seasoned with pork & peppers. I am sure to enjoy anything with a whole cup of ginger in it. I'll report back as these develop. BB
  13. Ce'nedra: Here are four books that I love. None gives you exactly what you want, but they all have tempting bits of it. All but Martin Yan's book are out of print, but they are inexpensive from the used book dealers. Calvin B. T. Lee The gourmet Chinese regional cookbook (ISBN: 9780399116735) This is a low-key introduction from about 25-30 years ago, when ingredients were not readily available. You may want to make some modifications. Lots of stuff from Eastern provinces. ------ Yong Yap Cotterell Chinese Cooking for Pleasure (ISBN: 094153362X) The same but different. These two books complement each other beautifully. ------ Ken Hom The Taste of China (ISBN: 1858131499) This is more of a journey-to-the-west type of book, but lots of good stuff from K.H.-s home village and nearby. ------ Martin Yan Martin Yan's Chinatown Cooking The Companion Cookbook To The Public Television Series (ISBN: 0060084758) This book is excellent. It shows how the various "ethnicities" have brought their cuisine to foreign lands, and developed cuisines around them. ------ All of these books will make you want to cook! BB
  14. Sometimes, in home cooking, a little extra oil will help to keep the temperature high when food is added. If it is hot enough, the oil will not penetrate the food. Of course, some oil must be left behind in the wok. BB
  15. I have had it for a couple of weeks. I plan to cook from it soon, but haven't yet. I have always been fascinated by the Silk Road, so this book has special significance for me. So far, I like it the best it the three. It gains a lot from their individual insights. As is usual in their work, the recipes look good and are quite doable. I usually plan a menu or two around a book like this, so I will try the recipes when I have made up my mind. BB
  16. I am fascinated by this topic and would like to explore it. However, I am simply an "arm-chair" traveler. Over the years I have collected lots of cookbooks and tried as many recipes as possible. Granting that reading and cooking from cookbooks in Baltimore is only a tiny glimpse of the real Asian scene, I still feel that one can learn a lot. Cooking is all about history and geography. People bring old ideas to new places, and ingredients from here to there. Obviously, this has gone on in SE Asia for a long time. Within my arm-chair limits, I have developed a good sense of the relationships between Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine, and between Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. There are lots of really excellent books about all three. I have only two books about Cambodian cooking: "The Elephant Walk Cookbook" by Longteine de Monteiro "The Cuisine of Cambodia" by Nusara Thaitawat There are a few others "out there", but, in general, Cambodian cuisine is not well documented. I have cooked enough Vietnamese, Cantonese and Sichuanese food to know that although all are related, they are all quite different. One way or another, geography rules all traditional cuisines. People do flow from place, but soils, climates, mountains and rivers determine who gets what to eat. I have spent time reading the Cambodian books. They are very different from each other. I have yet to seriously cook from them, but would love to do so. From what I have seen so far, Cambodian food relates to Southern Vietnamese food in much the same way as Southern Vietnamese relates to Northern Vietnamese, Northern Vietnamese to Lao, etc. There are borders - the borders are crossed - ideas exchange - but the land and water of each place give it a palette from which to work. I'm rambling now, but I plan to spend more time on this. It fascinates me that I know so little about such an historically important culture. I will start planning some menus, then cook my way through. BB
  17. Besides the 14-inch wok, I have an 18-inch, mostly to deep-fry fish. I also have two 12-inch woks. Although they are a bit small for most stir-frying, they are light and easy to handle. I find them useful for all sorts of everyday tasks. For $8.95 each they have been amazingly useful. BB
  18. I occasionally "stir-fry" in cast iron. Sometimes it is good to let food sit and get charred a bit on one side before continuing. The problem with a flat pan, though, is that the food tends to just scoot around when you want to flip it. The deep bowl of a wok is much better for this. Jo-mel is right about doing stir fries in batches. It really doesn't take longer. I keep a big stainless bowl on the stove to facilitate flipping the food back-and-forth. I don't know the actual strength of my burner, but I have a fairly "normal" old gas range. I use a 14-inch wok with a long handle and a "helper handle." It has a flat bottom, but tends to lean towards the handle side, so I really don't know how much that helps. You may have heard - "Hot wok, cold oil. Hot oil, cold food." I.e., let the wok get good and hot before adding the oil, then do the same with the oil. You will develop an instinct about when the oil is ready to start smoking. By the way, "cold food" is a bit of a misnomer. Within reasonable health concerns, bring the food to room temperature before cooking. Once you have developed a sense of how pleasant it is to see/hear/smell food cook properly over high heat, you will really want to avoid the heartbreaking thud of too much food hitting a wok. BB
  19. I have net shopping bags, but almost never remember them when I go to the grocery. I have even tried hanging them on the door knob to remind me. Part of the problem is that I shop at lunch time and on the way home from work. I would have to remember ahead of time to bring the bags with me on the bus to work. Because I often walk several blocks home from my local stores, I appreciate the "security" of double bagging. Sometimes, though, the clerks even triple bag for no apparent reason. Some smaller, non-food stores have started doing the opposite ... they will ask if I need a bag. Usually I don't. BB
  20. http://www.wokshop.com/HTML/products/crock...s_claypots.html BB
  21. How about wood shelves covered with sheet aluminum? BB
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