A Chinese feast at home

This post isn’t really about the recipes, more about how you can structure a Chinese meal for a group of people with a variety of dishes.However, all of these dishes are taken from or inspired by Fuchsia Dunlop’s excellent “Every Grain Of Rice“, apart from the spring rolls.

I wouldn’t call it a banquet, because that is far too grand a term but feast seems like a happy compromise. There is a lot of work involved in cooking any Chinese meal that stretches beyond a simple stir-fry with some noodles or rice. One of the most important aspects is the planning. You need to think about what you are going to cook and get all the preparation done before you even consider actually turning the gas or electric on. Because of the nature of many Chinese dishes, there can be a lot of last minute action on the hob, so it is a good idea to have at least one dish that is a slow cooked affair, ideally one you can pop in the oven to finish cooking, and red-braised pork is perfect for this. It just happens to be one of my favourites, too. Continue reading

Stir-fried Tofu with Black Beans and Chilli

This recipe is adapted from the original in “Every Grain of Rice” by Fuchsia Dunlop. I didn’t do it exactly the same as her recipe because I didn’t have all the ingredients available (no spring onions or green peppers, so I substituted Chinese chives) and I left out the sugar because the laoganma sauce already contains some.

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Fuchsia Dunlop’s “Every Grain Of Rice”.

A Chinese feast

This post is all about a book a bought recently, “Every Grain Of Rice” by Fuchsia Dunlop.

As she says herself, it is a book of simple everyday recipes from across mainly Southern China and concentrates on vegetables, although there are meat and fish recipes.

The book has a lot of information about ingredients, how to cook different things, alternatives and how to get flavour into your dishes. It is also lavishly illustrated, which allows you to compare your efforts with Ms Dunlop’s.

I love Chinese food but much as I enjoy going out for a Chinese meal, I often wish that I could eat the kind of things that Chinese people cook for themselves rather than the standardised restaurant dishes we get in the UK.

As this is a new book, I won’t post any of the recipes, because I think that it is a book that people should go out and buy. However, here are a couple of her lovely fresh-tasting vegetable dishes;

Stir-fried choi sum

Beansprouts with Chinese chives

I included both of these dishes in my Sunday night dinner, which was belly pork rubbed with five spice powder and roasted for about three hours on a rack over a pan of water. The rind wasn’t scored but was tightened up by pouring boiling water over it and then dried, rubbed with groundnut oil and salted before roasting.

I served some plain Thai fragrant rice with the meal and created a dish of my own, based upon the principles in Ms Dunlop’s book. This was broccoli stir-fried with soaked dried shitake mushrooms and fresh chestnut mushrooms. This was the only dish that contained any soy sauce, and also had spring onions, ginger and garlic. I think that it worked pretty well.

I know that I am going to be using this book at lot in the future and there are all manner of dishes that I am sure will become part of my standard repertoire.