While we wait for the magical time Gourmandistan can plant its flag (and food-eating faces) somewhere in Asia, we at least have Fuchsia Dunlop. Her cookbooks have been a main gateway to Gourmandistan’s greater understanding of Chinese food and culture. We find Dunlop’s recipes so useful we months ago rush-ordered her new cookbook, Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking, from the UK, not content to wait for its recent release in the USA.
Every Grain of Rice focuses on dishes Dunlop says are “cheap,” “simple” and “extravagantly savoury” (the British version has all the cool spellings). One of our favorites so far has been Bear’s Paw Tofu (recipe here, following interview). Robust with chili bean paste, garlic, ginger and scallions, it makes a great meal. As so far our tofu slices have been barely bear paw-ish in appearance, we realize now we need a tofu that is softer than the local-ish firm variety we’ve been using, and look forward to trying the recipe again. With or without the optional ground pork, it’s delicious!
At a recent meal we paired our un-ursine entree with a side of Stir-Fried Green Soy Beans. We did not have any of the “snow vegetable” called for in the original (though Steve plans to look for some at an Asian market soon), but Michelle added some tiny squares of fresh red pepper and it came out quite scrumptiously.
Someday, we swear we’ll take on Indian cuisine. But China is a very big place—and with Fuchsia’s help, we’re going to try and cook our way through it.
STIR-FRIED GREEN SOY BEANS
(adapted from Fuchsia Dunlop’s Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking) (serves 3-4)
- 2-3 TB peanut oil
- 5 dried chilis
- 12 oz. shelled green soy beans (edamame), thawed if frozen
- 1/2 red pepper, cut into small dice
- Sichuan peppercorns, ground
- Drizzle of sesame oil
Heat oil in a wok over high heat. Add dried chilis, tossing. Then add beans and red pepper squares and stir-fry until fully cooked. Season liberally with Sichuan peppercorns and salt. Remove from heat and stir in sesame oil to taste.