Monday, October 03, 2005

Learning Chinese

Bottom left, scallops with orange peel, top, Hunan eggplant flanked by two hot and sour soups

Well, not the language, I think I'll learn Japanese and Thai before I learn Chinese. In the meantime, I decided to learn to cook some Chinese dishes, since there's no decent Chinese restaurants within five miles of my house, and I'm trying to eat more healthfully, so I can add less oil. Some posters on Chowhound recommended Barbara Tropp's The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking, so I ordered a used copy on Amazon and started cooking. My first meal was hot and sour soup, stir-fried spicy scallops with orange peel and Hunan eggplant with spicy meat sauce. Tropp's book is excellent for anyone who's fairly new to Chinese cooking -- she describes every step with sometimes exhausting precision. For the eggplant: "Put a serving dish of contrasting color in the oven to warm." Everything was fairly successful. The scallops were probably the best, especially since I found fresh water chestnuts at A Grocery Warehouse in Echo Park. In fact, I found everything I needed there, all ridiculously cheap -- garlic at six heads for a dollar, a huge package of dried mushrooms for $1.99 -- except the scallops, which were ridiculously expensive, from Fish King. The fresh water chestnuts were a revelation -- crispy, sweet and hauntingly nutty -- a huge difference from the canned ones.

2 comments: said...


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