Sunday, March 17, 2013

inspiration 中国

tony mu: panda pimpacross from the university where i lived and worked in xi'an was a restaurant we called tony's. it was affectionately named for our friend tony, Mu, the panda pimp (he worked for the WWF, in charge of the panda's "genetic exchange"), who didnt like the place at all. but i sure did. one of the things they did well was make a special plate for me: gong bao dofu, aka kung pao tofu.

the combination of peppers, peanuts, ginger, garlic, and cubed tofu (along with celery)... mmhmmm.

what i decided to do was make some soup. i found a recipe that called for cauliflower, which we happened to have, and i also read a little from NPR's Melissa Bock to make sure i got the flavours right.

behold: 宫保菜花羹

first i roasted the cauliflower with vinegar and soy sauce (and lots of ground sichuan pepper! yum!).

in my soup pot, i warmed some sesame oil and added spicy red peppers, garlic, and ginger. i let those warm up and mingle for a while and then i added:

IMG_85062 tsp soy sauce
splash rice vinegar
1 tbsp chinese black vinegar
2 tsp sugar
vegetable stock
2 tbsp peanut butter

i brought that to a boil and added the roasted cauliflower and drippings

i let it do its thing for a while and then the mister and i had a fierce debate about whether or not i should blend it. he never blends his soups but i love to. in the end, we decided that, this time, i'd blend it. next time i might omit the cauliflower and just use this broth as a base for some noodle soup on a cold day. i served it up and sprinkled some peanuts on top for garnish.

the soup resembled wet sand in colour but tasted hot, sour, and warm, with just the right amount of schezuan pepper numbness.

the divi
the divi
just down the street from tony's was a coffee shop named the village. we'd go there for dessert to gorge on the chocolate brownies or hummingbird cake.
my mother-in-law is urging us to stop using silicone bakeware and i told the mister i'd comply. however, i felt my cupcake molds were allowed a swan song. i happened upon the cupcake project's hummingbird cupcakes and knew it was the perfect recipe.

into the bottom went smashed pecans, pineapple, banana, brown sugar, and melted butter.

and then the batter

and yum!

the last chinese inspired dish i'll write about today is the baozi we made yesterday. i've already shared how i make the baozi dough, and i've not strayed from that recipe, but this time i decided to do something different with the stuffing. it's not so different, but a little.

i started with arugula, ginger, garlic, and smoked tofu

then i added some beautiful mushrooms the mister found at the market, and some chives...

and spice! i have a delightful chinese blend. it smells of the spice section of the market were we used to shop.
prickly ash
sichuan pepper
cassia bark

the rest was as before--i added some vinegar and honey and soy sauce and gave it all a stir.

stuffed, steamed, and happy

bonus! the first time eating outside this year! it was still cold as, but we didnt care. there was sun. too bad there's snow in the forecast all next week.

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