A Chinese Meal for Four

2/17/2013 04:56:00 PM

Hey hey! I'm planning a Chinese New Year-themed round-up post once the New Year period is finished (it goes for fifteen days), but for now I wanted to share this Chinese meal that I made for my parents a little while ago, shortly after I got Fuchsia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice. All the recipes are from this book - which is fantastic, and which I highly recommend!

Speaking of Fuchsia Dunlop, I recently tried to get tickets for the Fuchsia Dunlop dinner at Dainty Sichuan, but unfortunately they sold out before I could snaffle them. Boo! Oh well, I'm optimistic that she'll come down again in future!

A Chinese Meal for Four

Silken Tofu with Avocado (E'Li Dou Fu)
Sichuanese Wontons in Chilli Oil Sauce (Hong You Chao Shou)
Red Braised Pork (Hong Shao Rou)
Fish Fragrant Aubergines (Yu Xiang Qie Zi)
Rice (of course)

I don't think you quite need four dishes for four people, but I really wanted to try a few different recipes from the book. I actually made this dinner on a weeknight after work - I prepared the red braised pork the night before, and the remaining dishes are reasonably quick to make, as long as you're organised. (Before starting each recipe I measured out all the different sauces/potato flour/spices in little bowls ready to go, and found that this really sped things up).

I got home at 5:30 that afternoon, and dinner was on the table by 7:30, which I think is pretty good going for a multi-course meal! Let's look at each of the dishes individually:

Silken Tofu with Avocado (E'Li Dou Fu)

Silken tofu with avocado
I love tofu, and right now I'm totally into cold silken tofu - delicious! As I mentioned in my "Silken Tofu with Century Egg" post, cold tofu dishes are an easy way to add another dish to a meal without a lot of effort or cleaning up. This avocado dish is quite unusual, but we loved the flavour combination. It's quite impressive for something so easy - just slice the tofu and avocado, arrange on a plate and pour a mix of different sauces over. 

Sichuanese Wontons in Chilli Oil Sauce (Hong You Chao Shou)

Sichuanese Chilli Wontons

I remember when I first got Every Grain of Rice, this was one of the first recipes to catch my eye - and I was surprised by how easy this was, given how "restauranty" they look. Essentially you're just sitting the cooked pork wontons in a pungent mixture of chilli oil, minced garlic, soy sauce and Chinkiang vinegar. Totally addictive!

Folding wontons
I suppose the hardest part of the whole procedure is folding the wontons, although it's not really difficult, just time-consuming. (Try not to make them too far in advance of boiling them, as the skins soak up the moisture from the filling if left to sit and can easily tear).

I followed the instructions in the book to fold them "water caltrop" style, but I guess it doesn't really matter how you fold them, as long as you seal them up properly by moistening the edges and pinching them together - you can't really tell once they're boiled and doused in chilli oil.

Red Braised Pork (Hong Shao Rou)

Red braised pork
I chose to make this dish because I knew my dad would love it - with its soy sauce base and spicy aromatics, I thought it would be similar to the tau yuu bak (pork belly braised in soy) that my dad often makes. I was originally going to replace the suggested pork belly with some pork shoulder (more meat, less fat to scrape off!), but I found this fabulously meaty piece of pork belly at the butcher and thought: "Yes!"

Pork belly, aromatics
So as I said above, I prepared this the night before, allowing it to cook slowly in the oven for a few hours to get really tender. (Not very Chinese, but Fuchsia suggested it and it worked brilliantly).

And like when my parents make tau yuu bak, I thought I'd add some hardboiled eggs to the dish, which I cooked and added to the pot the next day. I didn't cook the eggs for long with the pork itself, as I was worried they'd overcook and get tough - hence the pale white colour of the eggs. My mum says you can brush the eggs with dark soy sauce before adding them to the pork, to give them some colour - so I'll try that next time.

The dish went down a treat! Tender pork pieces in a rich soy-broth, with the warming hint of cinnamon and star anise - winner winner.

Fish Fragrant Aubergines (Yu Xiang Qie Zi)

Fish Fragrant Eggplant

This one is a classic Sichuan dish and traditionally the eggplant pieces are deep fried before being tossed through the spicy sauce - but to make it easier I just brushed the eggplant pieces in oil and roasted them in the oven. I imagine the texture would be silkier if you deep fried them, but it's so much easier roasting them! (And they tasted good to us!)

Fab recipes all around, although my favourite has to be the chilli wontons. I loved them so much, in fact, that I'll be making them for our upcoming chap goh meh dinner to celebrate the end of the Chinese New Year period. Stay tuned!

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  1. I love how simple the dumpling dish is. I've been making a lot of wonton lately (selling them to colleagues in lots of 40 because I'm trying to fundraise for charity!), so this would be a perfect dish to try...

  2. That tofu dish is amazingly simple but looks really good too! I wonder how that would go with home made tofu? :)

  3. Ohhhh I'm looking forward to your new series of Chinese recipe posts after CNY :)

    You're wontons look amazing! I'm not sure if that's the way I wrap mine but I guess we all have our own ways ~

    I want to try that braised pork dish SO badly!!!!

  4. Tofu and avocado! What a curious mix! Everythign else looks absolutely mouth watering! :)



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