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Spice Up Your World

by: Angela Cheng

Taipei Taiwan: San Yau Publishers 2006, Hardbound
ISBN: 986-7545-58-3


Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Spring Volume: 2007 Issue: 14(1) page(s): 19 and 20

How spicy one likes their food is a personal preference. In this book, recipes allow adding a mite or as much as preferred. They can be made with red or green chilies, chili powder, chili oil, Sichuan peppers, hot oil, some other piquant item, or no spice at all. Before the sixty-two regular recipes, author Cheng offers other recipes for making a piquant sauce mixture personalizing how hot or not one likes it.

Included are recipes from the Hunan, Hebei, Guizhou, and Sichuan provinces and one for an in-house XO sauce. Recipes are grouped in beef, pork, chicken, and vegetable sections. They include items such as Stir-fried Beef Shank with Dried Tofu and Cucumber, Diced Chicken with Peanuts and Sichuan Pickles--among other things, Stewed Egg Tofu with pork, black beans, spices and seasonings, Leek Flower with Thousand Year Eggs, and many more.

Our favorite is Stir-fried Lamb with Cumin. Called zi ran in Chinese, this savory seed enhances the meat. It is popular in China's north-western areas. Made with Chinese celery, the recipe is great as written, double the cumin with half as seed and half as powder and add sweet peppers and cucumber wedges and a new recipe is born. Every recipe allows for these types of individual adjustments. Either way, no--any way, it will be wolfed down.
Stir-fried Lamb with Cumin
Ingredients:
1/2 pound lamb loin, sliced
1/2 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons minced onion
2 stalk of Chinese celery (or one of American celery)
1 to 2 hot red peppers
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
Preparation:
1. Mix lamb with rice wine, two teaspoons of dark soy sauce, sugar, and cornstarch, and let the meat mixture rest half an hour.
2. Cut celery stalks into small pieces, seed and then mince the chili peppers.
3. Heat wok or fry pan and add oil, then stir-fry the lamb until most of the pink color is gone. Drain and remove from the pan, and set it aside.
4. Reheat remaining oil in wok or pan and stir-fry the onions, celery, and pepper pieces for half minute, then add the tablespoon of soy sauce, two tablespoons of water, and the cumin. Then return meat and stir-fry one minute until evenly mixed. Serve.

                                                                                                                                                       
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