*Every Grain of Rice*

by on February 3, 2013 at 6:25 pm in Books, Food and Drink, Uncategorized | Permalink

That is the new book by Fuchsia Dunlop and the subtitle is Simple Chinese Home Cooking.  The first recipe I tried (tonight), the vegetarian tofu, was an absolute knockout.

Two of Fuchsia’s previous books Revolutionary Chinese Cooking: Recipes from Hunan Province and Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking, are two of my favorite books of all time.  Not just two of my favorite cookbooks, but two of my favorite books period.  They offer much more than just a series of recipes.

I will buy everything she writes, forever.

1 dearieme February 3, 2013 at 6:28 pm

She attended a decent university: that helps.

2 dcdrone February 3, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Don’t eat too much tofu. It has a feminizing effect on men.

3 Anonymous coward February 3, 2013 at 8:45 pm

vegetarian tofu

WTF. Since when is plain tofu non-vegeterian?

4 Hunter February 3, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Mapo tofu ( 麻婆豆腐 ) is a classic Sichuan tofu dish that includes minced pork. Obviously tofu itself is vegetarian, but a surprising number of Chinese dishes with tofu are not vegetarian

5 yenwoda February 4, 2013 at 10:29 am

You can replace the pork with minced mushroom, and it’s still very tasty, although a chicken stock base is essential to the dish. Dunlop, about whom Tyler is 100% correct, has an excellent ma po dou fu recipe in Land of Plenty.

6 jtf February 4, 2013 at 10:00 am

The vast majority of tofu dishes are not vegetarian. See, e.g. Beijing style fried tofu, which is breaded, fried, and then simmered in chicken broth, stuffed tofu (with shrimp or chicken), or Mapo tofu as Hunter cited. Chinese vegetarian food is usually buddhist monks’ food, which is very different from food consumed by the laity.

7 DocMerlin February 4, 2013 at 3:28 am

Seriously, minimise tofu intake, the phytoestrogens can do bad things to you.
Its also terrible for you if you are trying to lose weight.

8 Dee Kat February 4, 2013 at 5:31 am

I hate to break it to you but in the U.S. you are getting far more estrogen like compounds eating meat than you are by eating tofu. Estrogen is used to make cattle fatter and to increase milk production and has been linked to the dropping age of puberty in girls and breast development in both boys and girls.

9 Roy February 4, 2013 at 10:46 am

The odds are you aren’t eating a lot of dairy cattle

10 Dave February 3, 2013 at 7:52 pm

I’ve had this book on pre-order for a while. Spent some time wondering if I should order the UK edition which has been out since the summer (with great reviews) but decided to wait for the North American release.

11 tom February 3, 2013 at 8:30 pm

I can’t eat Sichuan, it’s too spicy. Good food doesn’t need spices, spices became popular because they were effecitve at masking the taste of bad food. I don’t need my mouth on fire. (Granted, some are quite good for you) Any Cantonese books coming out?

12 Thor February 3, 2013 at 8:43 pm


I’d buy a great book on other Chinese regional cooking styles, though.

13 Dbltap February 3, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Good food doesn’t need spices———Wow.

14 Thor February 3, 2013 at 11:10 pm

I think the charitable interpretation is that food doesn’t need to be HEAVILY spiced… (NB I’ve had some curries where the hotness has meant that I couldn’t tell if I was having cauliflower or potato or what have you.)

15 Cliff February 3, 2013 at 11:14 pm

I think he means “doesn’t need capsaicin” which is correct.

16 Tom West February 4, 2013 at 9:36 am

I’ve never really understood the desire to mix food and masochism.

“Could I have those noodles extra painful, please?”

17 noilly February 4, 2013 at 3:31 am

“Real” Sichuan cooking using Sichuan peppercorns has the effect of numbing the heat, n.b. habituation as well

18 Daniel Francis February 3, 2013 at 8:38 pm


19 Phil February 3, 2013 at 9:34 pm
20 Ralph E February 3, 2013 at 11:09 pm

Which Sichuan chili paste do you use?

21 Hunter February 3, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Paste? For the iconic Sichuan “ma la” flavor (麻辣 numbing/tingly, not straight-up fiery) always use whole Sichuan peppercorns (hua jiao), not paste or powder!

It’s not Sichuan but my favorite Chinese jarred chili paste is Lao Gan Ma 老干妈 – it’s from Guizhou and incorporates black beans. Great on everything!

22 Sol February 4, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Is there a decent US source for cleaned peppercorns? Picking them over to get rid of stems, etc. is by far the most labor-intensive part of the cooking process. I’d use them a couple of times a week if I didn’t have to do that…

23 Ostap February 4, 2013 at 9:08 am

Don’t buy the stuff with the soybeans. For the real deal, see http://posharpstore.com/en-us/juancheng-pixian-broad-bean-paste-8-oz-p2768.aspx.

24 RM February 3, 2013 at 11:34 pm

Tofu on super bowl night? Any particular reason why you chose tonight? A personal statement against mass-produced chicken wings?

25 Ray Lopez February 4, 2013 at 5:11 am

If you cook and it tastes good, consider: (1) you may be biased since it’s your own cooking and everybody likes what they cook, and, (2) your guests may be flattering you–who is going to say ‘this is terrible’ at a Super Bowl party?

26 dead serious February 4, 2013 at 8:57 am

Any relation to Fuzzy Dunlop?

27 jtf February 4, 2013 at 9:58 am

My preferred Chinese cookbooks have always been the Wei-Chuan home and regional cookbooks. They’re authentic enough that I find dishes that my mother regularly cooked in Taiwan in them.

28 AJ February 4, 2013 at 7:58 pm

“They offer much more than just a series of recipes.”

Such as?

29 David Jinkins February 4, 2013 at 10:33 pm

A while ago I thought about checking one of her books out, but the reviews on Amazon turned me off — apparently contain much “OMG I’m totally Chinese”. Tyler’s ridiculously glowing review might push me over the edge, though.

30 Nick February 14, 2013 at 2:10 am

Chris Blattman just commented he’s never seen you recommend someone so highly…must be pretty dang good : )

31 Kris February 15, 2013 at 12:05 am

There are some tricks to cooking Tofu: (1) Buying Tofu: supermarket normally has three types of tofu: tender tofu, firmed tofu & “old” tofu. Everyone likes the tenderness taste of tofu, and so newbies usually buys tender tofu. The trick is when tofu is heating up with SALT, it becomes tender. So always buy firmed or old tofu if it will not be eaten in cold. (2) Cooking Tofu: many ways to cook. If you like light taste or Cantonese style, boil tofu with your delicious soup – pork bone soup, chicken soup, whatever soup, or even clean water, but do not forget the SALT. Many people simply boil the tofu with vegetables in clear water and serve with dipping sauces. If you like heavy or strong taste, the simplest way is to get a sauce base such as: http://posharpstore.com/en-us/chengdu-yidayuan-hot-spicy-seasoning-for-fish-63-oz-p4483.aspx or http://posharpstore.com/en-us/chengdu-yidayuan-spicy-sauce-for-beefpork-p1207.aspx or a Sichuan hotpot sauce, add half or one bowl of water and boil the tofu until it becomes tender. That’s it. If you do not want the meat in Mapo Tofu recipe, you can cook it with chili broad bean paste ( link for it: http://posharpstore.com/en-us/bean-paste-doubanjiang-c121.aspx), but always remember to stir-fry the paste first with some oil. (3) Eat Tofu: alway eat in HOT. Tofu becomes back to firm when it is cold.

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