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nakji

Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook by Fuchsia Dunlop

55 posts in this topic

Susan, I have not yet tried the beef and cilantro. The recipe looks great, but we would need a meal when both cilantrophobic boys were safely elsewhere.

Bruce, I say give it a go. Given the quantity, and the fact that is lightly stir-fryed, it's more of a vegetable component than the typical use of cilantro as a garnish or touch.

Or, you can go my route when you serve it. "You have two choices for dinner. Take it or leave it." It works.


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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Susan, I have not yet tried the beef and cilantro. The recipe looks great, but we would need a meal when both cilantrophobic boys were safely elsewhere.

Bruce, I say give it a go. Given the quantity, and the fact that is lightly stir-fryed, it's more of a vegetable component than the typical use of cilantro as a garnish or touch.

I trust your recommendations, Susan, so I will try to work this recipe in. Perhaps a Friday night when elder son skips dinner to hang out with his buds at the football game.

Or, you can go my route when you serve it. "You have two choices for dinner. Take it or leave it." It works.

Well yes, but I do aim to please.

Anyway, we copied Nakji's meal upthread -- farmhouse stir-fried pork with green peppers. All of the recipes with fermented black beans have been huge hits with the family. We used a mix of Poblano and Anaheim chiles, none of which had any heat to speak of so the dish was quite popular. This is a perfect quick weeknight meal, served with jasmine rice and a salad.

FarmPork09-10.jpg

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Looks great - did you use pork belly with that, or just one type of pork? I've been using smoked ham to great results.

I made the beef with cilantro this past week to accolades from my husband, and the cilantro definitely played more of a vegetable role. It plated beautifully, with all that red and green. But if you you don't like cilantro, that dish isn't going to change your mind. Save it for a night when it's just you and your wife.

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No photos, but tonight, I was a copycat, and did the Farmhouse Pork with Peppers. My pepper mix was poblanos and green peppers (well, they were free from my favorite vendor, and although we loved the pork, we wanted more spice, so I quickly sliced up some birds. I'm not quite sure what Italian frying peppers are, but what I used didn't have enough spice for us. For the pork, I only had one kind on hand -- very fatty country-style ribs, and the pork was, well, delish. It just needed more heat to fill our needs and the birds (which I did fry and slightly char, filled the bill.

Big bonus: realizing that all of my kids have their spice legs!


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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As I was looking through this book again last night, I want to add to Bruce's list of what we've liked and what sort of flopped. The Dong'An Chicken fell into the latter category. It was a textural thing, I think. Not bad, it just didn't turn anyone's crank in this household.


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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Looks great - did you use pork belly with that, or just one type of pork? I've been using smoked ham to great results.

Sorry, I missed this question. We used pork loin and bacon (because I have yet to find a good source for non-baconized pork belly around here). I could see smoked ham working very nicely, too.

Susan, thanks for relating your experience with the dong'an chicken. What was the texture that you didn't like?

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Bruce, I think what we didn't like was the poached chicken texture, even after stirfried (in this recipe, you poach it, but not until it's done, then stirfry). It didn't have enough kick, either. Also, shredding the partially cooked chicken was nasty.


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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Fava beans are in season here, so I thought I'd see what Fuschia had to say about them. Turns out she had a great recipe with ground pork. The beans-and-ground-pork meme is strong in Asia. I've had versions of this with french green beans and sugar snap peas in Japan and Korea. They're a natural marriage. This recipe is sparkier than ones I've had before, though because instead of it being a a sweet bean and salty-pork profile, there's also the spice from the chili and the smokiness of the sesame oil to complement it. Very nice - I'm used to painfully squeezing fava beans out of their skins and having them as a bar snack, like I did in Japan (excellent with sake, dipped in sea salt), but Fuschia says nothing about removing the skin from these beans - just removing them from their pods. (Obviously) These beans were so fresh that I did not mind the skins at all.

IMG_0285.jpg

Since bamboo shoots are also in season, I wok-fried some with a little preserved pork as an accompaniment.

IMG_0284.jpg

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that is beautiful. I will have to try that--love the dry-fried green beans with pork from her other book. Where do you live that you are you getting fresh favas?

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that is beautiful. I will have to try that--love the dry-fried green beans with pork from her other book. Where do you live that you are you getting fresh favas?

Thank you! Dry-fried beans are my husband's favourite dish - maybe if I tell him there's a recipe for it in her Sichuan book I'll be "allowed" to buy it. Hmm.

I live in Suzhou, China, and right now, fresh favas are all over the place.

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I live in Suzhou, China, and right now, fresh favas are all over the place.

Ah, a long way from here. But now I will keep my eye out, they should be showing up within the month.

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But now I will keep my eye out, they should be showing up within the month.

And I urge you to try this dish! I actually had some left over, and used it as a base for fried rice for breakfast the next day - I mashed up the beans and pork in the rice, and added an egg. It was fantastic.

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thanks for the review and for documenting your personal experiences. I have the book and was intrigued by some of the recipes but I have not yet tried any of them. your post prompts me to find the book and try some recipes. thanks.


The link "Cooking - Food - Recipes - Cookbook Collections" on my site contains my 1000+ cookbook collections, recipes, and other food information: http://dmreed.com

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Another CSA delivery has prompted me to try two more dishes out of this book.

First, we got a big round of winter melon in last week's bag. I usually encounter winter melon steamed lightly in chicken broth at banquets, or in the kid's box lunches, but have never cooked it myself. With the help of Eatyourbooks.com, I turned up Fuschia's recipe for red-braised winter melon. Cooked with ground pork, ginger, chili, and dark soy sauce, it's more the kind of dish that will stand by itself.

Red Braised Winter Melon, pp. 230

2010 10 16 001.JPG

Then, since I had some pork belly in the freezer, as usual, I decided to try Qing Qing's back-in-the-pot pork, pp. 81.

2010 10 16 002.JPG

Mmm. Excellent. My husband and I are huge pork belly fans from our days eating it grilled as samgyeobsal in Korea. We didn't really need a new way to enjoy it, but this one has worked its way into our hearts. One teeny-tiny change I made, because I live in Jiangsu and couldn't even think of making rice without a teaspoon of sugar (ok, exaggeration - but, it's close.), I added a tablespoon of sugar to the final dish. It made the seasoning bits even more delicious to spoon up onto our rice afterward.

So, we had pork, with pork for dinner. And a plate of fried qing cai, since it's ever-present in the CSA bag.What's the English name for that? My C-E dictionary is only throwing out Chinese cabbage, which is not what I'd call it. Pak choi, maybe? I'll put a picture of it up next time before I eat it.

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The double-cooking method made for very crispy-on-the-edges, melting-fat pork. If someone isn't a fan of pork belly, I think they'd still enjoy this dish, because it hides the layers of fat, but also doesn't have the soft texture of hong shao rou.

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The double-cooking method made for very crispy-on-the-edges, melting-fat pork. If someone isn't a fan of pork belly, I think they'd still enjoy this dish, because it hides the layers of fat, but also doesn't have the soft texture of hong shao rou.

I am definitely a fan. But could to know it generalizes to the fat finicky.

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Winter melon is one of my favorite things.

I got this book recently, my curiosity piqued by nakji's comments elsewhere. I think I like it, maybe, though it was perhaps not what I was expecting.

It's very accessible though - techniques straightforward and ingredients simple (possibly to the point that I'd like a bit more variation), with useful run-through of ingredients and techniques at the front which includes Chinese characters. I'd actually like a separate, fast-access glossary with characters at the front or back of the book, because I don't always know what something might be called in English.

As for the "inauthentic" jibes, I'd go for "open-ended".The first thing I made was the (p. 109) Yueyang Barbequed Lamb Chops, specifically so that I could "un-Chinese" the recipe by putting it in a South-American-style sandwich in a chunk of baguette for son2's school hike, with onion, tomato, green beans, grilled yellow bell pepper and what not. I always send him with plenty of food for friends, and it was the extra lamb sandwich that he chose to hang on to in preference to chicken/shrimp and other delicacies.

Tonight I plan to make the taro and watercress soup (p. 240), but only because I read that it should be made with young daikon greens rather than watercress. The idea of taro and watercress is moderately interesting to me, but daikon greens are REALLY good with taro, and in a chicken broth, they are great autumn eating.

Another happy surprise was the Smacked Cucumbers (p. 62). I have been making this for decades (but with the addition of some bruised sesame seeds), there's something about crushing the cucumbers open that does things that slicing can't approach - but I hadn't realized it was Chinese. cucmbers fried with purple shiso (perilla) on p. 206 is also something to keep in mind for when purple shiso is back in season.

There is a pleasing range of fish recipes...nakji, how about the salt cod recipe on p. 160?

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qing cai
青菜 is just 'green vegetable'. There are many, many!

Shove up the picture!

As for the "inauthentic" jibes, I'd go for "open-ended".

What inauthentic jibes? I've just read the whole thread and haven't seen one. I lived in Hunan from 1997-1999 and regularly revist (I now live in a neighbouring province) and the book certainly refects what I ate and still eat there.


Edited by liuzhou (log)

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Duh! Of course. I should have read the characters instead of relying on pinyin. I don't have any now, but when I do I'll post a pic.

There is a pleasing range of fish recipes...nakji, how about the salt cod recipe on p. 160?

I wish! My husband won't eat fish. I'd be on my own there, Helen. Try it for me and tell me if it's worth making just for myself.

Tonight I plan to make the taro and watercress soup (p. 240), but only because I read that it should be made with young daikon greens rather than watercress. The idea of taro and watercress is moderately interesting to me, but daikon greens are REALLY good with taro, and in a chicken broth, they are great autumn eating.

A productive use for taro? I get it in my CSA and inevitably give it away to a coworker. I don't usually make a soup to go with dinner, mea culpa.

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If you make enough of it, this is not soup with dinner,this IS dinner! Taro is a great absorber of broth and meat flavors,though it's also very keen to take on mouldy flavors from damp dirt if given a chance!

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Steamed smoked fish with black beans and chiles (p. 157): Stir-fry chunks of smoked trout and then steam with fermented black beans, chile flakes, and chile oil. Very simple and full of flavor.

Stir-fried broccolini with ground pork and preserved greens (p. 200): We adapted the recipe pretty liberally. Broccolini (sub for bell peppers), sausage (sub for pork), preserved mustard greens, Shaoxing wine, garlic, and dried chile flakes.

I undersalted the greens, but the fish turned out fairly salty. When everything was mixed together with jasmine rice, it tasted just right. :rolleyes:

SteamSmokeFish 11-01a.jpg

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I do substitutions all the time when I can't find what the recipe calls for, or don't have it on hand. For example, her farm-house green peppers and pork - it calls for pork belly, but I usually use smoked pork. The recipes are so flexible that way.

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After reading this thread and the one on Land of Plenty I bought both books a while ago and am slowly improving my chinese cooking skills. I haven't cooked a lot out of this one yet, but the farmhouse peppers and pork has shown up on our menu quite frequently. Last night I made the beef with cumin (with a drastic reduction in chiles) and it was a hit too really fragrant.although it probably helped that I ground the cumin freshly. One thing I've noticed in both books is how many unfussy recipes there are. The beef dish is a bit painful because of the oil use, but as a rule many recipes come together quickly and have a great taste impact.

I've noticed others serve dishes with a vegetable dish from the book, while some just mention 'salad'. Because there is only two of us, I usually make something really simple to go with dishes from both her books. Often it's a simple cucumber salad (smashed or otherwise), or green beans quickly tossed in the wok with a bit of salt. Last night I made a cabbage salad with a light ginger dressing. Do anyone have any standbys that they use?

I'm also wondering about rice choices. I tend to stick to calrose (medium grain) because we like it and it goes with pretty much everything and is easy to eat with chopsticks, but I'm curious as to what others use: jasmine, long grain, brown?

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. . . Last night I made the beef with cumin . . .

Speaking of which . . .

Do anyone have any [vegetable] standbys that they use?

Hand-torn cabbage with vinegar makes an easy, tasty winter vegetable dish. I also love stir-fried water spinach (spinach, etc.) and stir-fried bell peppers with black beans. Pretty much anything with black beans is good.

I'm also wondering about rice choices.

We use jasmine rice for Chinese and SE Asian meals, and usually basmati for Indian meals. Anyway, tonight's dinner:

Stir-fried beef with cumin; hand-torn cabbage with vinegar; and jasmine rice

gallery_42956_2536_123646.jpg

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