Kenneth Lo’s egg fried rice
Simple as it is, this is a satisfying dish to eat even with only a very limited amount of accompaniments, such as some chopped pickles, or just a tablespoon or two of soy sauce.
Serves 2-3, with at least one other dish
onion 1 medium-sized
salt 1 tsp
spring onions 2
vegetable oil 3½ tbsp
cooked rice 1½ bowls, cold
Slice and coarsely chop the onion. Break the eggs into a cup, add the salt and beat with a fork for 10 seconds. Clean and cut the spring onions into fine shavings.
Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok. When hot, add the chopped onions and stir fry in the hot oil for 45 seconds. Pour the salted beaten egg into one side of the pan or wok, and add the rice on the other side. When the eggs are about to set, scramble them, then bring them over and mix evenly with the rice which is being stir-fried in the same pan. Sprinkle the contents with half the spring onion shavings. Turn and stir the ingredients together.
Serve by transferring the contents into a large serving bowl or into individual bowls, and sprinkle the top of the fried rice with the remainder of the spring onion shavings.
From New Chinese Vegetarian Cooking by Kenneth Lo
Fuchsia Dunlop’s Xie Laoban’s dan dan noodles
This legendary recipe comes from a small noodle shop in Chengdu that was erased a few years ago when the whole neighbourhood around Sichuan university was redeveloped.
Serves 2 as one big bowlful, or assemble in 2 separate serving bowls
cooking oil 1 tbsp
Sichuanese dried chillies 3, snipped in half, seeds discarded
whole Sichuan peppercorns ½ tsp
Sichuanese ya cai or Tianjin preserved vegetable 25g
minced beef 100g
light soy sauce 2 tsp
dried Chinese wheat flour noodles 200g, or fresh noodles 300g
For the sauce
roasted Sichuan peppercorns ¼ tsp, ground
sesame paste 2 tbsp
light soy sauce 3 tbsp
dark soy sauce 2 tsp
chilli oil 4 tbsp, with its sediment
salt to taste
Add the oil to a seasoned wok over a medium flame and swirl it around. Immediately add the chillies and Sichuan pepper and stir fry briefly until the oil is spicy and fragrant. Take care not to burn the spices. Add the ya cai and continue to stir fry until hot and fragrant. Add the meat and increase the heat to high, splash in the soy sauce and stir fry until the beef is brown and a little crisp, but not too dry. Press the beef against the wok with your scoop or ladle as you go, to encourage it to separate out into little morsels. Season with salt to taste. When the meat is cooked (it should only take a couple of minutes), remove the mixture from the wok and set aside.
Cook the noodles. Turn into a colander, rinse and drain, then place in the serving bowl. Sprinkle over the meat mixture, give the noodles a good stir until the sauce and meat are evenly distributed, and serve.
Vegetarian dan dan noodles
This tastes stupendous. Soak one large dried shiitake mushroom in hot water for 30 minutes. Slice off and discard the stalk and finely chop the cap. Snip 3 dried chillies in half or into sections, discarding the seeds as far as possible. Heat 1 tbsp cooking oil in a seasoned wok over a medium flame. Add the chillies and ½ tsp whole Sichuan peppercorns and sizzle until fragrant, taking care not to burn them.
Add 25g Sichuanese ya cai or Tianjin preserved vegetable and the mushroom. Stir fry until they smell wonderful, seasoning with 2 tsp light soy sauce and 1 tsp dark soy sauce. Remove from the wok. Prepare the bowls with the sauce in the main recipe, add the cooked noodles and then your vegetarian topping. Mix well before eating.
Gok Wan’s dad’s fried ho fun noodles with mixed seafood
I never learned to speak Chinese as a child. Dad was always very busy with the restaurant so he didn’t really have time to teach me his native tongue. On occasion, my sister, brother and I were sent to Chinese school but that didn’t last long as I was far too naughty and spent most of my time sitting under the table looking up the girls’ skirts! As a result, the only Chinese phrases I knew, used or recognised were associated with eating. Sit fan (rice dinner), sit mein (noodle dinner), sit mem bo (bread dinner), sit bao (full up). The last phrase wasn’t used very often! This meant that as I got older, food became the way that Dad and I communicated about his culture. Being able to ask for food in Chinese was so important to me, not just because I was hungry but because it gave me precious moments with Dad when he was able to teach me about himself, his life before England and his life before me. Enjoy this recipe – ho fun to your heart’s content!
groundnut oil 2 tbsp
ho fun noodles 250g, soaked and drained according to packet instructions
salt and ground white pepper
raw king prawns 6, peeled and de-veined
squid 1 medium (200g), cleaned and cut into strips
scallops 4 medium, out of their shells, cleaned and roes removed
Chinese fried fish balls 4 (optional)
oyster sauce 1-1½ tbsp
light soy sauce ½-1 tbsp
prawn-shell or fish stock 200ml
sliced bamboo shoots 2 tbsp, drained
water chestnuts 3, roughly chopped
sesame oil 1 tsp
Chinese chilli oil to serve
Heat the wok again, adding another dash of oil. Stir fry the prawns, squid and scallops for 30 seconds. Add the fish balls, if using, along with the oyster sauce, soy sauce and stock, and cover, leaving everything to cook over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the squid, prawns and scallops are just cooked through, remove the lid and taste, adjusting the seasoning as necessary.
Stir in the bamboo shoots and water chestnuts and let them warm through for 1-2 minutes. Add the ho fun noodles and mix together gently, allowing the noodles to absorb the liquid but being careful not to overcook them.
Finish with a dash of sesame oil sprinkled over to taste. Divide the seafood equally between the plates and serve with a little Chinese chilli oil on the side.
Fuchsia Dunlop’s fish-fragrant aubergines
This dish, almost more than any other, expresses for me the gorgeous layering of flavours that is the signature of Sichuanese cookery. Pickled chillies, either on their own or with fermented broad beans in the famous Sichuan chilli bean sauce, give the dish its warmth and lustre; garlic, ginger and spring onions add a luxurious kick of flavour and a hint of sweet and sour serves to harmonise all the other tastes. The same sauce, minus the aubergines, can be poured over steamed or deep-fried seafood or chicken; while a similar combination of flavourings can be used to cook slivered pork, or as a dressing for cold, cooked peas or broad beans. They call this complex flavour ‘fish-fragrant’ because it draws on the seasonings used in Sichuanese fish cookery, so it is supposed to recall to those who eat it the taste of fish.
Leftovers, if you have any, taste wonderful either hot or cold. Some cooks add minced pork to the dish for extra savouriness but, when it’s so delicious as it is, why bother? For me, the beauty of this dish lies in the way it transforms such a humble vegetable into something extraordinary.
Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as part of a Chinese meal
cooking oil for deep-frying (400ml will do if you are using a round-bottomed wok)
Sichuanese chilli bean paste 1½ tbsp, or Sichuan pickled chilli paste, or a mixture of the two
ginger 1 tbsp, finely chopped
garlic 1 tbsp, finely chopped
caster sugar 2 tsp
potato flour ¾ tsp, mixed with 1 tbsp cold water
Chinkiang vinegar 2 tsp
spring onion greens 4 tbsp, finely sliced
Cut the aubergines lengthways into three thick slices, then cut these into evenly sized batons. Sprinkle them with salt, mix well and leave in a colander for at least 30 minutes to drain.
In a wok, heat the oil for deep-frying to 180C. Add the aubergines in batches and deep-fry for 3-4 minutes until slightly golden on the outside and soft and buttery within. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
Drain off the deep-frying oil, rinse the wok if necessary, then return it to a medium flame. When the wok is hot again, add 3 tablespoons of oil. Add the chilli bean paste and stir fry until the oil is red and fragrant, then add the ginger and garlic and continue to stir fry until you can smell their aromas. Take care not to burn these seasonings; remove the wok from the heat for a few seconds if necessary to control the temperature (you want a gentle, coaxing sizzle, not a scorching heat).
Add the stock and sugar and mix well. Season with salt to taste if necessary. Add the fried aubergines to the sauce and let them simmer gently for a minute or so to absorb some of the flavours. Then stir the potato flour mixture, pour it over the aubergines and stir in gently to thicken the sauce. Add the vinegar and spring onions and stir a few times, then serve.
Fuchsia Dunlop’s beef with cumin
The powerful aroma of cumin is always associated with Xinjiang, the great northwestern Muslim region where it is grown. On city streets all over China, you will find it drifting up from portable grills where Xinjiang Uyghur street vendors cook their trademark lamb kebabs, scattering the sizzling meat with chilli and cumin. In Hunan, the spice finds its way into “strange-flavour” combinations, Uyghur-influenced barbecues and a limited number of restaurant dishes. This one is irresistible. Tender slices of beef luxuriate in a densely spiced sauce, speckled with the gold and ivory of ginger and garlic, scarlet chilli and green spring onion, and suffused with the scent of cumin. You may use prime steak if you wish, but I usually make do with braising steak: the method of cutting it across the grain makes it seem almost as tender.
Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as part of a Chinese meal
beefsteak 340g, trimmed (see introduction above)
groundnut oil 400ml, for frying
fresh ginger 2 tsp, finely chopped
garlic 1 tbsp, finely chopped
fresh red chillies 2, seeds and stalks discarded and finely chopped
dried chilli flakes 2-4 tsp
ground cumin 2 tsp
spring onions 2, green parts only, finely sliced
sesame oil 1 tsp
For the marinade
Shaoxing rice wine 1 tbsp
salt ½ tsp
light soy sauce 1 tsp
dark soy sauce 1 tsp
potato flour 1 tbsp
water 1 tbsp
Cut the beef across the grain into thin slices, ideally 4 x 3 cm. Add the marinade ingredients and mix well.
Heat the groundnut oil to about 140C. Add the beef and stir gently. As soon as the pieces have separated, remove them from the oil and drain well; set aside.
Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the oil. Over a high flame, add the ginger, garlic, fresh chillies, chilli flakes and cumin and stir fry briefly until fragrant. Return the beef to the wok and stir well, seasoning with salt to taste.
When all the ingredients are sizzlingly fragrant and delicious, add the spring onions and toss briefly. Remove from the heat, stir in the sesame oil and serve.