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Beyond the Great Wall by Alford & Duguid


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The Chicago Tribune has a piece today about the new cookbook by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China. I'm a big fan of Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet and was disappointed by Mangoes & Curry Leaves, so I'm wondering what this book will bring. It's out today: anyone got it yet?

Chris Amirault

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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

Food is all about history and geography.

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Thanks so much for mentioning this book (otherwise I would have never known it existed)!

I've been looking around for a decent cookbook detailing the food culture and recipes in Xinjiang and other lesser known Chinese areas so this book really intrigues me.

They probably didn't but it would be amazing if they also explored Manchu cuisine (in Heilongjiang and Jilin).

Big Bunny: I'm waiting for you! :P

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

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Like chrisamirault, I was disappointed in Mangoes; I think that is the only one of their books I don't own. It just wasn't inspiring compared to the Indian cookbooks I have and the one recipe I tried was the nail in the coffin. I've only skimmed through this latest one, but it looks good. I forgot to check to see if they've got a recipe for da bing (the layered spring onion bread served in Chinese Muslim restaurants) -- I haven't seen one in print yet. There's a blurb on Jeffrey & Naomi's website that gives some interesting info about the book.

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Big Bunny: I'm waiting for you! :P

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

Food is all about history and geography.

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Big Bunny: Oh boy, I'm so excited! And remember to take photos of your fabulous meal!

Oh gosh, I've been looking for a laghman recipe (a reliable one that is) so I might just HAVE to get this book!

Is it the Uighur version?

Also, for the seawood salad, from which region/group is that recipe from?

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

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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.

Edited by Big Bunny (log)

Food is all about history and geography.

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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

Food is all about history and geography.

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I got a copy last week. I've only had a flick through it, but like their other books, the photography is great, and the stories and recipies seem interesting. I'm looking forward to finding a few hours so I can spend some quality time reading it.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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What is it about Mangoes and Curry Leaves that left everyone feeling so meh about it? I made ten recipes from it, so I feel as though I gave it a good try. My favorite was Mountain Dal on page 182 and it's become part of my repertoire.

My copy of Beyond the Great Wall arrived yesterday. I made Beef-Sauced Hot Lettuce Salad on page 67 because I had ground beef on hand. And because I so rarely see recipes for ground beef that intrigue me.

I liked it yesterday. And I liked it even better today. Easy peasy and tasty.

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

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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

Food is all about history and geography.

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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

Food is all about history and geography.

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When I went shopping today, I remembered "tofu sheet". I found them fresh. When I got home and looked in the glossary, I found this -- "fresh tofu sheets are not widely available and so are not called for in this book. Dried tofu sheets and tofu sticks are available in larger Chinese grocery stores and are handy pantry staples..."

So, now what? Can I use fresh tofu sheet in recipes that call for either dried tofu sheet or dried tofu sticks? Do I just cook them for less time?

I love finding new ingredients and want to try this one. The recipes that caught my eye are "Jicama-Tofu Sheet Stir-Fry" on page 105 and "Tofu Batons with Hot Sesame Dressing" on page 110.

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

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I picked up pork already sliced into matchsticks from my favorite Chinese grocer. Perfect for "Stir-fried Pork and Potato Ribbons" on page 304. The ingredients are simple (waxy potatoes, pork, salt, garlic, dried chiles, soy sauce) but the taste is not. This dish will become part of our repertoire.

Edited by Kim D (log)

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

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So, now what? Can I use fresh tofu sheet in recipes that call for either dried tofu sheet or dried tofu sticks? Do I just cook them for less time?

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

Food is all about history and geography.

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So, now what? Can I use fresh tofu sheet in recipes that call for either dried tofu sheet or dried tofu sticks? Do I just cook them for less time?

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

I now have Bruce Cost's book on my wish list. Thank you! I'll be making that Jicama dish tonight. If we like it, I'll be picking up dried tofu sheets to keep in my pantry.

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

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Big Bunny and Kim D: Can you post up pictures pretty pleaseeee?

My camera is stilled packed away somewhere. We moved from Chicago in March and we're still not done unpacking. Once I find it, I'll take pictures.

The Jicama-Tofu Sheet Stir-Fry was pretty good. I soaked the fresh tofu-sheet in cold water and I really should have used warm. I had to cook the dish longer to get the tofu sheet to soften. On its own, it has a textured-plastic taste. I had no hope for the final dish. But I was pleasantly surprised. Somehow, that texture worked within the context of the dish. I might make it again. It's a nice enough side dish. Nothing earth shattering but a good conversation piece.

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

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How did you flavour the tofu sheet stir fry? I love tofu sheets (especially crisp fried!) so that sounds particularly interesting.

I found a review of the book, including pictures of cooking by the reviewer -check it out :)

http://retorte.blogspot.com/2008/05/cookbo...great-wall.html

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

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How did you flavour the tofu sheet stir fry? I love tofu sheets (especially crisp fried!) so that sounds particularly interesting.

Jicama is stir-fried with five dried chiles, 2 thin slices of ginger, a little salt. Tofu sheet is added with some vegetable stock and simmered for a while. Soy sauce and a cornstarch slurry to thicken. Garnished with scallion greens.

So far the recipes are easy, simple and tasty.

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

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Last night I made Ma Po Bean Curd (page 90 of Lucille Liang's Chinese Regional Cooking) and served Chile-Hot Bright Green Soybeans with Garlic (page 102 of Beyond the Great Wall) as a side dish.

I had never eaten edamame and had no idea what to expect. I loved this dish. The soybeans stay firm and I really liked the texture.

I am very glad I bought this book. The recipes are simple, easy to make, and tasty. Nothing earth shattering but solid comfort food. I especially like recipes that I can make from items I normally keep in my pantry. And I will be keeping edamame in my freezer from now on.

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

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We made the warm romaine salad with beef dressing. Very simple, very subtle. The romaine stayed nicely crunchy, the beef sauce was silky and savory. Next time I would make it a little more complex with the addition of some bean paste and chilies maybe.

I do like this book and am looking forward to making more of the recipes. Many of the bread recipes are in my future and the Uighur recipes sound intriguing. I would love to find a bread stamp like the ones pictured. That kind of bread stamp is also photographed in Flatbreads and Flavors. It's a wooden mallet thing tool with nails protruding from the bottom for docking bread doughs. I've never seen one in the US. If anyone has seen one, let me know where!

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I made a few recipes a few weeks ago, I'm away and will need to check my notes when I get home for the specifics and some pics. From what I remember, we made a few of the dumplings, the square noodles in a lamb broth, a carrot salad with sesame oil and picked chilies, a pork and leek stir-fry, some kind of beef and cellophane noodle dish, and the pulled noddles. I haven't tried any of the breads yet. Most everything was completely delicious, although the soup and the beef dishes were too watery. I'm going to post a review on my blog in another week or two but I"ll try to post pics here first.

In the interest of full disclosure: I really liked Mangoes and Curry Leaves. I traveled for months in India and although the coffee table feel of the book put my off at first the recipes were earthy and brought back lots of good memories...Also the Bangla (sp?) Dal with lime and tamarind is my all-time favorite dal recipe, since it's got tons of flavor unlike most dal recipes. I'm curious why people didn't like Mangoes and Curry Leaves. Any additional thoughts? Also, has anyone tried their flatbreads cookbook, I think it's called Flatbreads and Flavors?

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It just so happens that I am eating a Scallion and Sichuan Peppercorn Flatbread from their other book right this very minute! It was simple to put together and very tasty, though I might add a bit of salt next time around. I have not cooked from Great Wall yet, but I am totally enjoying reading my way thru and marking the intriguing recipes.

Oil and potatoes both grow underground so french fries may have eventually invented themselves had they not been invented -- J. Esther
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I made a few recipes a few weeks ago, I'm away and will need to check my notes when I get home for the specifics and some pics.  From what I remember, we made a few of the dumplings, the square noodles in a lamb broth, a carrot salad with sesame oil and picked chilies, a pork and leek stir-fry, some kind of beef and cellophane noodle dish, and the pulled noddles.  I haven't tried any of the breads yet.  Most everything was completely delicious, although the soup and the beef dishes were too watery.  I'm going to post a review on my blog in another week or two but I"ll try to post pics here first.

In the interest of full disclosure: I really liked Mangoes and Curry Leaves.  I traveled for months in India and although the coffee table feel of the book put my off at first the recipes were earthy and brought back lots of good memories...Also the Bangla (sp?) Dal with lime and tamarind is my all-time favorite dal recipe, since it's got tons of flavor unlike most dal recipes.  I'm curious why people didn't like Mangoes and Curry Leaves.  Any additional thoughts?  Also, has anyone tried their flatbreads cookbook, I think it's called Flatbreads and Flavors?

I have all of the Duigud-Alford books except the Seductions of Rice. I happen to really like Mangoes and Curry Leaves, too. The Mountain Dal and Bangla Dal with Lime are my favorite dal recipes.

I've cooked a great deal from Flatbreads and Flavors. My wish would be that they would do a revised version of that book. Many of the recipes seem to have much more whole grain flour and yeast than seem necessary. I've adapted lots of the recipes to fit my personal style of bread baking with very fine results.

I'm definitely going to try some of the nans from Beyond The Great Wall.

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