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Lochina

Cooking Sichuan with "Land of Plenty" by Fuchsia Dunlop

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nakji   

I'm thinking a large pot, lots of boiling stock, and a relatively large chicken. If I don't uh, chicken out, I'll post the results here.

I tried to load my book onto my Eatyourbooks.com bookshelf, but the copy I have is called "Sichuan Cookery" - I was under the impression that the two are the same book, and "Sichuan Cookery" is the UK version - and they say it has been indexed. Does anyone know if the two are fundamentally different books? Amazon is mysterious on the subject.

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Just (finally) picked this book up, after having a transforming Bang Bang Chicken at Da Dong last night. I'm really looking forward to attempting this dish when I get home. Has anyone tried it, and can they tell me what kind of chicken they've used, and if anyone has attempted her suggested method of bringing the chicken only to a boil, then leaving the lid on to poach the chicken gently? The meat I had was so silky and smooth, that surely some sort of revolutionary method was used; I suspect the one she describes is it.

I often cook my Hainanese chicken for chcken rice this way...drop it into simmering water, simmer for like 10 minutes and shut off and leave covered for about 45 minutes. It's a fine line between it coming out perfectly and it being undercooked. I still check the temp to make sure it at least gets up to 150-155 in the thickest part.

The meat is very tender and juicy.

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nakji   

Can I ask what weight of chicken you usually use? A smallish Chinese one, or a western roaster?

Is it just me, or do you find colour an unreliable indicator of temperature? Whenever I roast my chicken, I'm always careful to bring it up to 155 at the thickest part, but there's still some pinkness on the bone and in the juice. The flesh is so delicious at this point that I always eat it anyway, to no ill effect so far.

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I try to get a smaller roaster here in the US, which usually ends up being about 4 lbs.

at 155 the meat and juice will still be a tiny bit pink, but will be safe to eat IF and only IF you've kept the 155 temperature for a minimum amount of time (which i don't have in front of me...i think it's about 3 or 5 minutes) to kill any salmonella.

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The way a lot of chicken is raised these days the bone is still porous when they are slaughtered, allowing marrows to seep through the bone and colour the meat - especially if the chicken has been frozen, or even just chilled enough for ice crystals to form, so you can thoroughly cook it, and it still look undercooked near the bone.

P.S

This thread reminds me to get the book back from a colleague I lent it too - I bought it when it first came out, but haven't cooked anything from it for a while, although I think I can probably do a few of the recipes from memory!


Edited by Carlovski (log)

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Dinner from Land of Plenty tonight, served with jasmine rice. Thanks to Erin for the inspiration!

Chicken with chiles (la zi ji): Marinate chicken with Shaoxing wine, dark and light soy sauce, and salt. Deep fry the chicken, and then stir-fry with Sichuan pepper, dried chiles, scallions, a little sugar, and lots of sliced garlic and ginger, finishing with sesame oil.

Zucchini slivers with garlic (chao nan gua si): Very simple and very good, especially when stir-fried in the same wok as the chicken. Zucchini, garlic, salt, and oil -- that's it.

Elder son and I loved the meal; younger son and Mrs. C would have preferred less chile heat. Clearly, I need to spend some time building up their chile tolerance (again). :raz:

SichChixChiles10-10.jpg

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nakji   

Glad to have inspired you - and it looks like you got an excellent meal out of it. I made the mapo doufu recipe on Sunday, but took no pictures. I'm fairly sure that mapo doufu is the dish that inspired Prawncrackers's signature. Honestly, I think I prefer the method in our own mapo doufu topic.

Ms. Dunlop's method asks for you to cut the Chinese leek or spring onions into "horse ears' shape, but then only has you add the onion towards the very end of the preparation. I think this method works fine when using spring onion, which is thin enough to cook quickly at the end. I used thin leeks, however, and they remained uncooked past the point where the tofu was beginning to break up even from the gentle simmer I had it on. Since the leek remains white, and doesn't add a colour element like spring onion does, if I followed this method again, I'd add the leek the same time as the pork.

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I got a copy of the book for Christmas this year, so on Christmas day I made the potstickers, and tonight I made the Dan Dan Noodles (wow, I dunno how Westernized this recipe is, but it was mighty fiery!)...

Dan-dan noodles.jpg

ETA: those are Xie Laoban's Dan Dan Noodles, not the other ones.


Edited by Chris Hennes (log)

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nakji   

What kind of noodles did you use, Chris?

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I have no idea. The package was labeled "Fresh Chinese Noodles" in English, no other info. The ingredient list had egg in them, and I think wheat flour.

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hzrt8w   

Looks good! Though most of the Dan Dan Noodles I had were soup-based and meatless.

Did they use crushed peanuts?


Edited by hzrt8w (log)

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Will   

Ms. Dunlop's method asks for you to cut the Chinese leek or spring onions into "horse ears' shape, but then only has you add the onion towards the very end of the preparation. I think this method works fine when using spring onion, which is thin enough to cook quickly at the end. I used thin leeks, however, and they remained uncooked past the point where the tofu was beginning to break up even from the gentle simmer I had it on. Since the leek remains white, and doesn't add a colour element like spring onion does, if I followed this method again, I'd add the leek the same time as the pork.

Are the leeks you're using actual leeks? I don't have the book here with me, but if she said Chinese leeks, I am assuming she means garlic chives (韭菜; jiǔ caì / gow choy); probably the standard green variety, which doesn't have any white part.

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nakji   

The leeks I used were negi - Japanese leeks. Her recipe calls for three "baby leeks or spring onions". I don't think she meant garlic chives - but in any case, mine were too strong. Next time I'll use spring onions instead or add the leeks earlier.

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Did they use crushed peanuts?

No, no peanuts in this one, though it had sesame paste to get a nutty flavor to it.

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Will   

ETA: those are Xie Laoban's Dan Dan Noodles, not the other ones.

I don't find them that spicy using her method. However, there are some slight differences between the version of that exact recipe between her memoir and the cookbook... mostly in the quantity of sesame paste, and maybe the quantity of dark soy sauce? The memoir is newer, so I've been assuming that's the correct one. I was going to email her to ask about it, but didn't want to bug her.

A few notes:

1) Dunlop doesn't say anything about this, but based on the dan dan mian I eat and like at restaurants here, I think that adding a little pasta cooking water helps give a better texture and flavor. When using fresh noodles, I use a pretty short cooking time (30-40 seconds), or the noodles get too soft.

2) Probably doesn't apply to you, but just a general note for folks who are interested... make sure to use Chinese sesame paste. Tahini (whether raw or roasted) is not a substitute.


Edited by Will (log)

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I don't find them that spicy using her method. However, there are some slight differences between the version of that exact recipe between her memoir and the cookbook... mostly in the quantity of sesame paste, and maybe the quantity of dark soy sauce?

For me it was the two tablespoons of hot chili oil that contributed the most to the spiciness. There is also a LOT of Szechuan peppercorn in there, plus a few dried chilies for good measure. Of course, this is all with the caveat that I am a Westerner, so my tolerance for spice is not up to Szechuan standards!

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Are the leeks you're using actual leeks? I don't have the book here with me, but if she said Chinese leeks, I am assuming she means garlic chives (韭菜; jiǔ caì / gow choy); probably the standard green variety, which doesn't have any white part.

I don't have the book so perhaps this is a bit out of context but I would like to state that the only Garlic Chives I've seen in Beijing are sold at Metro and are imported from Spain. I would imagine it's the same in Sichaun (except maybe no Metro).

Chinese Leeks are similar to western ones except the diameter is smaller and the white part extends further up. There are several types of Spring Onions in common use here, smallish ones that look like Chives (but they have white onion at the bottom, maybe about 4") and slighty larger ones (which are less common, perhaps seasonal?).

If you want and can give me some time I could take a photo. I'm not a paying member (yet) but I think I could post it.

Ok, hope that helps!


Edited by Big Joe the Pro (log)

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nakji   

Really? I see jiǔcài all the time at the street markets in Jiangsu - the dark green kind and the pale yellow kind. Aren't they commonly used in jiaozi making?

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Oh sorry, yeah I didn't read the pin yin (and definitely not the characters!), I just read 'garlic chives' and thought about the ones we normally use in the west (and are often bottled by the spice merchants). Is that how 'jiu cai' is translated, garlic chives?

Anyway, if she says 'Chinese leeks' then I would substitute leeks, don't you think?

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nakji   

I have the UK version of the book, which calls for "baby leeks". It may be different in the US version, but I interpreted "baby leeks" to mean ones the size of negi.

I just read 'garlic chives' and thought about the ones we normally use in the west (and are often bottled by the spice merchants). Is that how 'jiu cai' is translated, garlic chives?

All I have to go on is the Wikipedia entry, where they also seem to be called "Chinese leeks". Confused yet? :biggrin:

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Will   

Oh sorry, yeah I didn't read the pin yin (and definitely not the characters!), I just read 'garlic chives' and thought about the ones we normally use in the west (and are often bottled by the spice merchants). Is that how 'jiu cai' is translated, garlic chives?

Anyway, if she says 'Chinese leeks' then I would substitute leeks, don't you think?

I don't think there's really a good translation, simply because (AFAIK) jiucai isn't common outside of Asia. "Chinese leek" usually means jiucai, at least in regards to English recipes for Chinese cooking. I usually say "garlic chive", just because I think that to people in the West, "leek" usually implies something more like the leeks we're used to, and jiucai is really more like a big chive than like a leek. The Wikipedia page has "garlic chives" as the main translation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garlic_chives

Interestingly, "Breath of a Wok" by Grace Young seems to imply that jiucai, jiuhuang (韭黄), and the flowering kind (don't know the name, mabye 韭花?) are all separate plants (at least, she only recommends using the standard one for wok seasoning). My understanding was that they were all the same thing, just with certain differences, with jiuhuang being covered to prevent sun exposure, and the flowering chives just had been let grow long enough to flower. Would love to hear some authoritative information about whether or not they're all the same thing.

What are the other things you're talking about? Is it just green garlic? We can get that here in the US when it's in season, but I believe that is an actual young garlic stalk.


Edited by Will (log)

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nakji   

Maybe we need an Asian green taxonomy topic.

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jsager01   

My understanding was that they were all the same thing, just with certain differences, with jiuhuang being covered to prevent sun exposure, and the flowering chives just had been let grow long enough to flower.

That's also my understanding. Dont bother with g young.

韭菜 – the green kind, probably the most common and cheapest?

韭黄 - the yellow kind, aka 韭芽, grown very much like asparagus, and has a yellowish tinge.

韭菜花 - the green kind, but harvested only when a flower bud appears at the tip.

As far as i am aware there are many translations but no standardised or agreed upon translation into English. I personally prefer the translation into 'garlic chive', as it looks more like a 'western chive' than either leek or whatever, but has a more garlicky flavor than a western chive flavor.

I believe it is native to China or at least in that part of Asia, and is grown in many (almost all?) different parts of China, including Sichuan and Guangdong.

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Can I ask what weight of chicken you usually use? A smallish Chinese one, or a western roaster?

Is it just me, or do you find colour an unreliable indicator of temperature? Whenever I roast my chicken, I'm always careful to bring it up to 155 at the thickest part, but there's still some pinkness on the bone and in the juice. The flesh is so delicious at this point that I always eat it anyway, to no ill effect so far.

I had this exact dilemma yesterday.

I'm still alive. :)

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Dry-Fried Chicken (gan bian ji) (p. 243)

I think this is the best version of gan bian ji that I've ever had: at least, the best I've ever made. The layering of flavors and spiciness was excellent. I'm still adapting to the texture of whole Szechuan peppercorns, however: I love the flavor blast when you bite into one, but some of mine still had the little black bead in the middle. Do you all pick through and remove those beads before using them? This was also the first I've used the chili bean paste, apparently (the jar was still sealed): that is a great flavor as well. My only question about the dish was regarding cooking time... admittedly I cut my chicken smaller than the recipe suggests, but 5 minutes of stir-frying over high heat and then 15 minutes over medium seems like a really long time to cook chicken. My wife loved it, but it was definitely a bit dry for my taste. How long do you all find yourself cooking this style of dish? Is the chicken supposed to remain moist, or is its dryness part of the dish?

Dry-Fried Chicken.jpg

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