Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Szechuan Inspiration

Well the rain hasn't stayed away. Thank god for the Olympics I'd say. I was one of the sceptics, I am afraid, about London hosting the Olympics after the success of Beijing. Most people I would say were thinking the same especially the opening ceremony. Even so I waited patiently anticipating the worse. It was not as impressive as Beijing but it really showcase England. Who can forget the appearance of the Queen and for a spilt second thought she might just jump out of the plane with Daniel Craig or the appearance of our Mr Bean! Hilarious and a stroke of genius. Some of the world might not get the humour but I certainly very much enjoyed it and I had tears of laughter watching it.

The weather might not be great but I have been too busy to notice as I was glued to the TV watching every sport available. There was only programme that tore me away for an hour, the new Ken Hom and Ching He Huang China culinary adventure. I love this programme as it would be my dream job. Exploring new places and their culinary differences. Last week they explored Szechuan food. Szechuan food is spicy but a very special heat what the Chinese called 'Ma Lat'. It is a very well rounded heat and the predominant ingredient for Szechuan food, apart from chillies, is Szechuan peppercorns.

In the programe they featured a dish called Ma Po Tofu which is one of my favourite dishes. Made with silken tofu and spicy bean paste, it is a delicious with rice. In the recipe below, I have modified the dish to incorporate what I learnt from the programme and what i think might go well.

Ma Po Tofu

200g minced pork, marinated in cornflour,white pepper, soya sauce and pinch of sugar
1 pack of silken tofu
1 can of water chestnuts and bamboo shoots ( you can get this in your normal supermarket on the Asian aisle), dice the chestnuts and slice the shoots
100g beans, diced
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Dash of soya sauce
A pinch of crushed Szechuan peppercorns
4 tablespoons of spicy bean paste (Lee Kum Kee does a very good one, you can get this in Chinese supermarket)
Dash of water

1) Heat wok until smoking, add oil and stir fry paste and garlic for 30 seconds
2) Add chestnuts, shoots and beans, stir fry until soft
3) Add pork and continue to fry until cooked
4) Add peppercorns then water & soya sauce
5) Finally add tofu and check seasoning. Cook through and the sauce will thicken
6) Serve with fluffy white rice

I also serve with a side dish so easy to make but visually attractive and tastes divine, Ping's sexy fry eggs

What you need to do is to stir fry sliced spring onions, sliced ginger and chilles until soft, sprinkle over fried eggs and add a generous amount of kecap manis ( sweet soya sauce). The fan brand is the best and you can find it in Waitrose or any Chinese supermarket.

Happy cooking!