I’ve got to the stage that I find myself rushing home from the city centre with that “can’t wait” feeling whenever I have a new recipe from Shan to try out. Of course I inevitably have questions for her when it it 3.30 in the morning in Beijing so I’m usually on my own interpreting her instructions when it comes to my first attempt at a dish.
This is Shan’s latest recipe and it is a common dish in the Northeast of China. What struck me immediately about it is what good use it makes of fresh Irish ingredients – pork, carrots, leeks and potatoes. It is easy to make and took about 45 minutes from the time I got in the door to get it on the table. Shan says its best served with rice.
When I’m cooking Chinese food I usually only need a wok and one saucepan and on a weeknight I serve straight from the wok to individual bowls which also cuts down on the washing up. Pork Rib & Potato Stew (tu dou dun pai gu 土豆炖排骨)
Pork rib chops (500g, ask your butcher to chop them to 3cm long pieces)
I’ve been feeling very chuffed and excited today to see Shananigansblog.com in print in Food File in the Irish Times magazine. A big thank you to Marie Claire Digby for her review and to Aoife of Babaduck (@babaduck71) fame for having the thought to send me the screen grab below.
I’ve started reading Fuchsia Dunlop’s Shark’s Fin & Sichuan Pepper – a fantastic insight into her discovery of China and its cuisine. Fuchsia was the first westerner to train as a chef at China’s Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine. She writes beautifully and she describes vividly her first encounter with Thousand Year Old Eggs – preserved duck eggs in her case. “They leered up at me like the eyeballs of some nightmarish monster, dark and threatening.” She made me giggle because I had a very similar reaction to them and like her I had resolved to dive into the China experience this time and to eat whatever was put in front of me without question. And so I did. I swallowed every single preserved egg I encountered on my trip and felt they deserved their Chinglish title of “perservered eggs” See post on Upper East Beijing and Yuxiang Kitchen.
Fuchsia’s memoir is a testament to how much has changed since the early 1990s, not just in China but in world-wide communications. Imagine if Fuchsia had a blog and Twitter at her disposal on that first visit to Chengdu where, in reality, she was almost completely cut off from the outside world. My own 21st century China odyssey seems very tame by comparison. And yet the superficial modernisation of China can be deceptive. The “otherness” of the culture can jump out and catch you unawares.
It took me a while to figure out that “Fish-Fragrant Flavour” dishes in Sichuan cuisine have no fish in them. These You Xiang Wei Xing dishes are based on the seasonings traditionally used in fish cookery – what Fuchsia describes as salty, sweet, spicy and sour notes, heavy on garlic, ginger and spring onions and using soy sauce and sometimes chilli bean paste for seasoning.
Yu Xiang Rou – Fish Flavoured Pork Shreds is one of the dishes Ricky the head chef made for me in the China Sichuan when I visited their kitchen recently. See Inside the Kitchen of the China Sichuan. Kevin Hui kindly gave me their recipe for this dish which is one of their favourites. It’s pretty straightforward and I look forward to trying it at home (which I subsequently did and you can see my results here.) Ingredients:Continue reading China Sichuan's Fish Flavoured Pork Shreds