The monks from the great monastery of Wu Lake wash the shaggy-mane mushroom1 to rid them of sand, then stir-fry them with autumn sauce and wine until done. They plate and serve them to guests at their banquets. This dish is incredibly good.
1The Chinese name “Chicken drumstick mushroom” sounds so much more appetizing than the English name, which sounds more like a dirty mop of hair on top of some unwashed animal. I remember reading about the English cultures being complete mycophobes in comparison to their continental cousins, which may explain the rather unappealing names given to many fungi.
Wenzheng bamboo shoots are a type of bamboo shoots from Huizhou, brought in by people of that region and are typically lightly salted and dried. One must soak them until soft, cut them into shreds and braise them in a meaty chicken broth. Marshall Gong boils shoots in autumn sauce, bakes until dry, then serves them thus. The people of Huizhou eat this as a delicacy and are enraptured by its flavours.1 I laugh and cannot wait for them to awaken from their dreams.
1 A dried bamboo shoot snack similar to some Chinese beef jerkys and prepared in the same manner.
Green soybeans harvested in the evening during August and September are very large and tender, and known as “Fragrant pearl beans”. Boil them until done and soak them in autumn sauce and wine. They can be served shelled or left in shell, and are fragrant, soft, and are loved by all. Normal beans cannot be eaten this way.
1Xiangzhu beans(香珠豆) literally mean “fragrant pearl beans”. Although green soybeans are commonly known as edamame, calling it such would obscure this rather pretty name thus the translation.
Soak the tofu skin1 until supple, and mix with autumn sauce, vinegar, dried shrimp to make dish well suited for summer. The household of Jiang Shilang makes a nice dish by adding sea cucumbers to it. It is also good in a soup with laver and peeled shrimp. It can also be braised with mushrooms and bamboo shoots for a very good clear soup. Cook the tofu skin until soft.
Monk Jing Xiu of Wu Lake rolls the tofu skin into a cylinder, cuts them into segments, lightly browns them in oil, and braises them with mushroom for an excellent dish. Do not add chicken broth.
1 Tofu skin is not technically a tofu but rather made from the membrane of soy protein that forms on the surface of simmering soy milk. This is similar to what happens when one simmer cow’s milk on the stove. This thin membrane is lifted off the milk, folded, dried, and then shipped and sold everywhere you can buy Chinese dried goods. However, like many things, it is best to get them fresh. The Japanese make something more or less the same known as “yuba”.
The household of instructor Wu Xiaoyen peels the skin off the eggplants1, soaks them in boiling water to rid them of their bitter taste, then sears them in rendered lard. When searing, one must to wait for the water used for soaking the eggplants to cook dry, then dry braise them in sweet soy sauce and water. This is exceptionally good. The household of Magistrate Liuba cuts their eggplant into small pieces without peeling the skin, fries them until slightly browned, and then stir-fry with autumn sauce in hot oil for a great dish.
I have learned these two recipes, yet I have yet to be able have success with them. Still, if one steams them until soft, then slice them open, and dress them with sesame oil and vinegar, one get a dish well suited for summer eating. They can also be braised until dry to make into jerky and served as-is on a dish.
1Peeled eggplant makes for a shockingly sensuous dish. Highly recommended.
Matsutake1 are the best when stir-fried with white button mushrooms. It is also excellent stir-fried hot with autumn sauce on its own. Unfortunately they cannot be kept long. They work well in dishes, providing them a delicate umami. Due to how tender they are, matsutake can also be added to line the bottom of the bowl of birds nest.
1 Matsutake Tricholoma matsutake
Boil some mountain yam until soft, cut them into inch long pieces, and wrap in tofu skin. Pan-fry in oil, then add autumn sauce, wine, sugar, and soy-pickled ginger, and cook until they are brownish red in color.
1A recipe that is a rather poor substitute for real goose and requires quite the imaginative effort on the eater’s part. Still, when eaten without expectations it is remarkably delicious.
Apologies for the slow drip of posts… The planning and work for the on-coming book event is taking much more time than expected. More announcements to come!