I love eating Sichuan food! When we go to Sichuan restaurants, we will often order spicy oil wontons, also known as hong you chao shou (紅油抄手）。 Hong you translates to ‘red oil,’ better known as chili oil. Chao shou is another way to say wonton. So，hong you chao shou = chili oil wontons.
When we were in Taiwan last year, I got two cookbooks- one of which was this tiny, old cookbook in Taiwan called 正宗川菜，which means ‘authentic Sichuan dishes’. I love this little book for its pictures and approach to breaking down Sichuan food into what I would describe as different flavor styles.
I decided to go all out and make these wontons from scratch- from the chili oil to the wonton skins. If you think about what you get at a restaurant- 6 or 7 tiny wontons for ~$6-7, you will definitely be happy knowing that you can make these on your own at a fraction of the price =)
I highly recommend that you make the chili oil in advance, because it keeps extremely well, and you will be able to cook these chao shou in no time!
|Wonton skins, and from the same dough, noodles that were eaten with Niu Rou Mian|
I’ll be sharing about some of my food experiences in Taiwan in this 5 part series. It will mostly reflect our most recent trip (Oct 25- Nov 8), but will also talk about some places I went to on my second trip by myself, back in 2011. I didn’t capture all of the places we went to, but I did my best! We spent time in Taipei, Gaohsiung, Hualien, Yilan, then back to Taipei. I’ll post in order of where we went.
Don’t worry- recipes will still be posted!
If you are traveling to Taiwan with USD, you will feel rich. Note that T and I prefer mom and pop, no frills places, with some exceptions for fancier places. Taiwan is like a culinary mecca, so I know there are thousands of restaurants and food stands we missed. It would probably take a lifetime to explore them all, and have enough stomach to try everything! Do you have a favorite place to eat in Taiwan?
阜杭豆漿 fu hang dou jiang
Hua Shan Market, 2F
I got some nice fennel in my CSA this week, and I have some brown lentils in the pantry that want to be cooked.
Perfect timing, David Lebovitz. I almost didn’t make this because I didn’t have the time to get French green lentils, but I figured I could just use the brown lentils and be vigilant about not overcooking them (I still did a tiiny bit because I was also making a braised pork..).
I followed almost all of David’s directions, and it turned out deliciously! Good olive oil really makes a big difference, like he said. I used olive oil from Rancho Olivos, the olive orchard Tim and I got to visit on our honeymoon!
David says that fennel is optional, but I think it is a must because of how it adds a semi licorice-y, special dimension to an otherwise maybe “ordinary” dish.
French Lentil Salad
adapted slightly from David Lebovitz’s recipe
For the lentils:
1 1/4 cup (250 gr) French green lentilles du Puy or brown lentils
1 bay leaf
a few sprigs of fresh , dried, or frozen thyme
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
1 fennel bulb, finely diced
freshly ground pepper
For the vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
a few swigs of good extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, peeled and minced, or half a garlic clove, minced
On the side:
Belgian endive, romaine lettuce, or Bibb lettuce leaves (see below)
1. Rinse the lentils and remove any debris or rocks.
2. Put the lentils in a 1.5 quart pot and cover with a few inches of water. Add the bay leaf and thyme.
3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, add a pinch or two of salt, and simmer
for 15-20 minutes for brown lentils, or 20-25 minutes for green lentils, until the lentils are just tender. After 10 minutes, taste one to see how ‘done’ it tastes, to know how much longer to cook it. Add more water
if necessary. Cook until they are just bite-able; don’t overcook!
4. While the lentils are cooking, heat a little bit of olive oil
in a skillet and add the carrots, onions, and fennel. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook until tender,and set aside.
5. In a large bowl, mix together the ingredients for the vinaigrette.
6. When the lentils are done, remove bay leaf and thyme. Drain them in a colander, then toss them in the
vinaigrette. Add the cooked vegetables. Taste, and season with more salt, pepper, and olive oil if
This can be eaten warm, room temperature, or cold!
-This would also be a good appetizer or finger food. Use Belgian endive, Bibb lettuce, or small romaine lettuce leaves as ‘bowls’. Spoon a bit of the salad onto the leaf.
I learned all my essential skills and understanding of everything food-related from my mom, who is an amazing cook+baker. Much of the time, I learned while procrastinating on homework by spending time in the kitchen. After all, who else would take over sauteeing for her when she was in the middle of cooking and had to answer the phone? 😉
I don’t know any measurements to Chinese recipes because it’s how I learned:
“Ma, how much wine?” “More…more….okay, 夠了 (enough)!” The dishes that remind me of home are the ones that I only know how to cook by feel, because I would almost always be there to watch my mom make them.
Scallion pancakes and mung bean porridge (葱油餅 cong1 you2 bing3 and 綠豆稀飯 lu4 dou4 xi1 fan4) were two staples in our house as I grew up. My mom would buy bunches of lush and green onions fresh from the Chinese supermarket (only in Los Angeles can you call the Chinese grocery stores SUPERmarkets), or sometimes she would rescue green onions from the fridge that were threatening to go yellow/brown and limp. We would make stacks of these, and my sister and I would take turns being in charge of cutting these into eighths.
My husband Tim will attest to the fact that when we go out with friends and they order scallion pancakes ($4.95) at restaurants, I try my best not to let my cringing show. Of course, I cringe because they are so easy to make at home, and with $5 you could buy enough ingredients to make you a huge stack of scallion pancakes with lots of scallions, not just a wimpy few scallions that they give you in restaurants.
Thin dough and very little oil; cooked for a longer period of time
Won’t you try making it ? I brought these for my friends at Bistrot La Minette, and even they loved it! (To me, that is ultimate food validation, next to Tim’s validation of posting pictures of the food to his Facebook page or pretending to steal all the food 😀 )
You have been warned: Once you make this, you may also start to cringe when you friends order it at restaurants, because you’ll know how simple it can be to make at home! Enjoy!
Cong You Bing
Makes about 4 pancakes Continue reading