Friday, June 06, 2008

Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: Cumin Beef

Aside from an unfortunate incident involving an excitable boy, a water gun, and a glass of Sancerre, we had a swell time last night at an impromptu dinner party with the Reese-Cushings. Stella devoured the Changsha cold-tossed noodles, made from a recipe that Fuchsia Dunlop credits to "Mr. Yao, a gruff-voiced street vendor who had set up a stall near Tianxinge, the pavilion that stands on the last remaining section of the old Changsha city walls."

Sentences like this make me ache to go to China. 

I also cooked what is now my favorite recipe from Dunlop's estimable volume: Beef with Cumin. It's an emphatic, gutsy dish -- slices of juicy sirloin deep fried then tossed with bounteous quantities of chopped garlic, hot chiles, ginger, and, of course, cumin. 

Not so popular were the cucumbers with purple perilla. I've never cooked a cucumber before, but was dismayed to watch my favorite crispy, refreshing vegetable morph into. . . zucchini. Then there was the perilla, which had a thin, insinuating flavor that I didn't like at all. Not an herb I shall be seeking out in the future. 

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I had a non-serious dilemma about my invitation to drink some prosecco with my piano teacher, Elenor. Of course, I went. Of course, I accepted a glass of prosecco. And it was lovely and civilized and fine and the right thing to do. Elenor put preserved hibiscus blossoms -- crimson, sweet, ravishingly beautiful -- in the bottom of the champagne flutes, a neat trick that I intend to try out on guests one of these months.


2 comments:

  1. delicious! and please note, on the big prosecco debate of june 5, my comment was wrong. i want to make sure that the whole world knows that i have issued this correction. i meant to say D. a very very different answer, and far better one.

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