Vegetable Dishes 46: Stir-fried Shaggy-mane Mushrooms

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.

炒雞腿蘑菇
蕪湖大庵和尚,洗淨雞腿蘑菇去沙,加秋油、酒炒熟,盛盤宴客,甚佳。

Notes:
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.

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Vegetable Dishes 45: Wenzheng Shredded Bamboo Shoots

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.

問政筍絲
問政筍,即徽州筍也。徽州人送者,多是淡筍乾,只好泡爛切絲,用雞肉湯煨用。龔司馬取秋油煮筍,烘乾上桌,徽人食之,驚為異味。余笑其如夢之方醒也。

Notes:
1 A dried bamboo shoot snack similar to some Chinese beef jerkys and prepared in the same manner.

Vegetable Dishes 42: “Fragrant Pearl” Beans

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.

香珠豆1
毛豆至八九月間晚收者,最闊大而嫩,號「香珠豆」。煮熟以秋油、酒泡之。出殼可,帶殼亦可,香軟可愛。尋常之豆,不可食也。

Note:
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.

Vegetable Dishes 33: Tofu skin

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.

豆腐皮
將腐皮泡軟,加秋油、醋、蝦米拌之,宜於夏日。蔣侍郎家入海參用,頗妙。加紫菜、蝦肉作湯,亦相宜。或用蘑菇、筍煨清湯,亦佳。以爛為度。蕪湖敬修和尚,將腐皮卷筒切段,油中微炙,入蘑菇煨爛,極佳。不可加雞湯。

Note:
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”.

Vegetable Dishes 30: Two Ways of Preparing Eggplant

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.

茄二法
吳小谷廣文家,將整茄子削皮,滾水泡去苦汁,豬油炙之。炙時須待泡水乾後,用甜醬水乾煨,甚佳。盧八太爺家,切茄作小塊,不去皮,入油灼微黃,加秋油炮炒,亦佳。是二法者,俱學之而未盡其妙,惟蒸爛劃開,用麻油、米醋拌,則夏間亦頗可食。或煨乾作脯,置盤中。

Note:
1Peeled eggplant makes for a shockingly sensuous dish. Highly recommended.

Vegetable Dishes 28: Matsutake

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.

松蕈
松蕈加口蘑炒最佳。或單用秋油泡食,亦妙。惟不便久留耳。置各菜中,俱能助鮮。可入燕窩作底墊,以其嫩也。

Note:
1 Matsutake Tricholoma matsutake

Vegetable Dishes 16: Roast Vegetarian Goose

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.

素燒鵝1
煮爛山藥,切寸為段,腐皮包,入油煎之,加秋油、酒、糖、瓜薑,以色紅為度。

Note:
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!