Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook, Recipes from Hunan Province by Fuchsia Dunlop: Cookbook Review Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook by Fuchsia Dunlop Heart

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane

Fuchsia Dunlop has understood the times. She knows that there is a shift from quick, carefree cooking to a desire to understand the recipes of other cultures and to try to emulate those recipes.
She judges her audience correctly in providing detailed background to the recipes and detailed instructions for preparing them. So the recipe for the essential lu shui aromatic broth takes two pages of explanation to ensure that we understand the range of uses and also so that we prepare it correctly.
We loved the recipe for 'smacked cucumber' (pai huang gua) where the cucumbers are whacked with the flat of a cleaver to help them absorb the flavours used to marinate them (chilli, garlic, rice vinegar and sesame oil). This pre-dinner snack is truly delicious.
When we read the meat section we found recipes for two dishes that we have cooked many times and really enjoy. The first was red-braised pork which we cook with pork shoulder and neck whereas Dunlop uses pork belly. She not only provides a basic recipe but also suggests 8 different variations on that recipe.
The other recipe that we were delighted to find is zhen zhu rou wan, the stunning pearl meatballs that come out of the steamer looking like porcupines (the meatball is rolled in rice that has been soaked).
One recipe that we haven't ever tried until now that particularly caught our eye was Peng's Home-Style Bean Curd which sees deep-fried bean curd covered with a sauce of chilli, garlic, minced pork and fermented black beans.
Western vegetarians will be bemused to see that many of the vegetable dishes of the region contain minced pork as is the custom.
Once again, Fuchsia Dunlop has produced an authoritative, in-depth and highly readable book containing wonderful recipes. It is well-researched and she is generous in attributing sources of recipes. A great addition to your cooking library.
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