Nothing says Guizhou to me like zao lajiao (糟辣椒), or fermented chili pepper paste. It exemplifies the best of Guizhou country cooking: homey, simple and bold in flavor. With a few slices of scallions and cloves of garlic, it can transform ordinary ingredients (cabbage! potatoes!) to a beautiful thing of complex spiciness. Zao lajiao has [...]
Posts under ‘recipes’
Yuanxiao and tangyuan – glutinous rice balls stuffed with a range of fillings – are a must for the Lantern Festival (Yuanxiao Jie 元宵节) on the 15th of the first lunar month, or the first full moon of the new year. But since my family never gets tired of anything involving glutinous rice, we’ve already [...]
Recently we’ve started ordering organic yogurt from Green Yard Organic Dairy, based in Yanqing County. Though it’s not as thick and creamy as unsweetened Herun Yogurt ( 和润酸奶), I’ve come to prefer Green Yard because it’s local, organic, and comes in a recyclable paper carton. I loved Herun, which is also local, but it’s sold [...]
When the ginkgo trees turn golden, when the flower seller has seas of long-tendriled chrysanthemums and the vegetable seller has pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, then we know that fall has arrived. Beijing’s autumn is its most beautiful season, but also its most fleeting. Thinking of autumnal treats back home, Thanksgiving feasts and pumpkin [...]
I can clearly remember the first time I ate purslane. I was eight, and the ayi who worked for my family had brought back a bag of purslane from her home province in southern China. She made them into golden crisp purslane bing (饼), or pancakes, and I was instantly smitten: It was somehow decadent, as pancakes were a rare treat, but also very healthful from the succulent crunch of the purslane.
I am quite ready to declare this to be the best brioche dough in the world. As cinnamon rolls, they’re divine. As a tart base, it’s pillowy and sweetly accommodating. In simple brioche form, the essence of the dough shines through: The crumb is light, airy, and moist; fragrantly rich but not at all heavy. And with red bean paste, it elevates the humble little red bean bun to new heights of deliciousness.
This colorful salad caught my eye when I was wandering through the small food court above the Niujie Halal Supermarket, in the Hui Muslim neighborhood. From among the bevy of cold dishes and salads, its bright tangle of shredded purple cabbage, watermelon radish, carrots, and cucumbers was particularly inviting and lively.
Later I found myself craving this salad again, and it was as easy to throw together as it is versatile. Unlike a typical cabbage slaw that’s thick with mayonnaise, it’s light, crunchy, and refreshing – just the sort of thing for a summer lunch.
People are always surprised when I tell them that I bake bread in China. It shouldn’t, though, come as a shock, because flour, water and yeast are integral parts of north China cuisine. To me, there’s even more incentive to bake bread while living in China: the challenge is exciting, and the rewards – delicious bread and a new skill – are priceless.