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Chinatown Sweet Sour Spicy Salty

by: Ross Dobson

Millers Point, NSW Australie : Murdoch Books 2005, Paperback
ISBN: 1-74045-397-2


Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Winter Volume: 2007 Issue: 14(4) page(s): 22

An introductory chapter titled: Lotus Flowers and Licorice Root set the stage of magical ingredients and taste sensations; the following chapters seduce and flavor them. The pictures by Mikkel Vang do their job, to, as its recipes tantalize.

Each one of them has a 'down under' surprise, some a new or novel way to make you salivate. We loved the Vegetable Soup, Chinatown Chicken Casserole, Cumin Lamb Skewers, Gunpowder Chicken, Sugar and Soy-cured Tuna, and the Eggplant, Cumin and Black Bean Salad. Bet you will, too.

In this volume, tastes are great as is the information provided. The book ends with Jasmine Tea Ice Cream, Five-spiced Plumcots, Fruit Salad with spiced lime syrup, and Orange, Almond and Fennel Seed Biscuits. These are but a few of its robust recipes.

The author lived next to a Chinatown family and learned from them; also from his own cafe and catering business in Sydney. He now is a food stylist and recipe writer for newspapers and magazines and his read is good, his recipes good to make at home. They are written with passion, plated with panache, and filled with Chinese ingredients and flavors he deems exotic, eclectic, and explosive. Those we tried were worth making part of our table taste treats, be they sweet, salty, sour, or spicy.
Eggplant, Cumin, and Black Bean Salad
Ingredients:
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 Tablespoons salted black beans, rinsed
2 Tablespoons Chinese black vinegar
1 Tablespoon thin soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
2 cups vegetable oil
1 large eggplant, cut into three-quarter-inch cubes (about one pound)
2 ripe tomatoes, cut into three-quarter-inch pieces
2 scallions, finely shredded
6 to 8 coriander sprigs, cut in one to one-and-a-half inch lengths
Preparation:
1. Put cumin seeds in small fry-pan over high heat, and shake it until they begin to crackle; then immediately remove from the heat and allow them to cool before grinding them in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.
2. Mix the ground cumin, black beans, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and garlic stirring until the sugar dissolves. Set this dressing aside.
3. Heat oil in a wok or large pot and when it shimmers, add half the eggplant and cook for two minutes or until golden. Drain on paper towels and repeat with the other half of the eggplant. Discard the oil or strain and set aside for another purpose.
4. Put eggplant, tomatoes, scallions, and coriander in a bowl and toss well before setting this out on a serving platter. Pour dressing over this, and serve.

                                                                                                                                                       
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