This past week my mind turned to again to Chinese food. After being out of Sichuan for almost a year, I can help but crave foods from the local Chengdu restaurants. On some evenings I have attempted to replicate dishes while on others I have made non-traditional meals with an Asian flavor.

On Friday night I went all out and made 5 dishes for myself, Ian and one of

Irreplaceable Sichuan peppercorns

Ian’s coworkers. We managed to finish all but one dish (which I was able to toss in a wok and fry up with rice for lunch the next day). Thankfully my stocks of seasonings from Chengdu have not run out yet, and all I need to do to transport myself to China (for a moment at least) is fry up some Pixian Dou Ban (chili bean paste) or grind some hua jiao. Yum!

The week’s meals were:

May 9, 2011 · Recipe · (No comments)

These Chinese steamed buns are very simple to make and are great for sopping up juices.


  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 T dried yeast
  • 500 g/ 4.5 C flour
  • a little vegetable oil


1. Dissolve the sugar in 250 ml (about 1 C) of lukewarm water. Stir in yeast and allow to sit in a warm spot for about 15 minutes.

2. Add yeast/sugar/water mixture flour with an additional 50 ml (about 3.5 T) of lukewarm water to flour. Knead until smooth and elastic.

3. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with oiled saran wrap. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise until doubled in size (1-2 hours).

4. Punch dough down and allow to rise again (maybe 15-30 more minutes).

5. Pull off pieces of dough and roll until about 1 cm thick on a floured surface. Sprinkle seasonings of choice over dough (I often use chili oil or chili flakes, green onions or salt, but anything can work). Roll dough like a swiss roll. Slice roll into buns about 2-3 cm thick. Repeat for all dough.

6. Place buns (swirled sides should be the top and bottom) into an oiled steamer basket. Steam for 8-10 minutes. Enjoy right out of the basket or set aside for later. The rolls are delicious dipped in a combination of soy sauce, black vinegar, sesame oil, chili oil, sugar, etc.

May 9, 2011 · Sichuan Cuisine · (No comments)


Adapted from AllRecipes.


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds and pumpkin seeds
  • arugula
  • avocado


  1. Bring the quinoa, vegetable broth, and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, and the water has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the dressing by whisking together the orange juice, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, honey, and curry powder in a mixing bowl. Stir in the cooked quinoa, red onion, and raisins; season to taste with sea salt. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator several hours until cold.
  3. Stir in half of the toasted nuts immediately before serving. Spoon quinoa over washed arugula. Sprinkle the remaining nuts over top, layer with avocado slices and drizzle with olive oil if desired.



May 4, 2011 · Sichuan Cuisine · (No comments)

After more than a month without posting (and an unknown few weeks coming up!), I am using this post simply to document a few highlights from the past month or so before they are lost forever.



Roasting root vegetables

For quite a while this spring, the only good looking produce in the barn of the nearby organic farm was sunchokes or jerusalem artichokes. While experimenting with some different recipes, I found one for a delicious Root Vegetable Hash. In addition to the sunchokes, the hash included white potatoes and sweet potatotes. Served over arugula and topped with carmelized onions and fried eggs, the dish was good, but ultimately too sweet. If I were to make it regularly, I would roast the sunchokes first (they cooked more slowly than the two types of potatoes) and either reduce or eliminate the sweet potatoes as the sunchokes themselves are sweet. While eating, we spiced it up with Tabasco which definitely cut down on the sweet. Overall, it was a good change and reminded me how delicious breakfast can be for dinner.

One of the best dishes found in my sunchoke research was a simple Cauliflower and Sunchoke Soup. Like a few soups I’ve tried lately, this one has very few ingredients as was quite easy to make. The flavors of the cauliflower and sunchoke blended well and needed little seasoning. The soup will definitely be on the menu a couple times next spring.



At Ian’s request (and my pregnancy cravings), I have been cooking more dishes from my culinary course in Chengdu. In particular, I have successfully made Guo Ba Rou Pian a couple times. I was concerned about the flavor of the dish as I cannot find pickled red chilis in any of the

Our balcony lettuce

Frequently in Chengdu, our ayi, Xiao Wang, would stir fry fresh greens (often spinach) with nothing more than a little garlic and salt. To supplement a vegetarian Chinese meal of Mapo Doufu and corn and peppers, I repeated her technique but added a splash of black vinegar at the end. The dish was delicious and I would feel comfortable serving it at any meal.



Due to its freshness, flavor and price, arugula has become a staple in our refrigerator. Now that the farmer’s market has begun again, I am buying a large bag at least once a week. My favorite way to use it in a combination hot and cold salad. Whether tossed with hot rice, pasta or sauteed vegetables, the arugula manages to stand up enough to retain its crisp texture but wilt enough to blend in. With a littleĀ vinaigrette, there is nothing better for lunch or dinner. Yum!

May 2, 2011 · Sichuan Cuisine · (No comments)

From The Kitchy Kitchen.


1/4 cup olive oil, plus two tablespoons
2 onion, peeled and diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, crushed

1/2 teaspoon chile powder

1/4 teaspoon dried chile flakes
2 large heads of cauliflower, trimmed of green leaves and coarsely chopped (about 10 cups)

1 lb sunchokes, peeled and cubed

Fresh-ground black pepper

8 cups chicken broth
4 cups water (if needed)


Peel and cube the sunchoke, coat it in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in a 425 F oven for 30 minutes, or until soft and deeply browned. Heat a large pot over medium heat, add a 1/4 cup of olive oil, add the onion, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, chile powder, chile flakes, a pinch of salt and pepper, and lastly the garlic. When very soft but not browned, cauliflower, sunchokes and chicken broth. Raise the heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the cauliflower is very tender, about 30 minutes. Pour the soup into a blender or using an immersion circulator, blitz the soup until luxuriously smooth. Add water if it feels too thick. Taste and adjust the seasoning.