Night Beer: Sichuan Late Night Snack Culture

I struggled about this week’s topic because I have a couple of good ones.Having difficulty in making decision. I want to talk about the dish “Ants Climbing a Tree”, a simple and delicious Sichuan dish with an interesting name. Another topic is to talk about some dishes in other culture that in some way are similar with Sichuan dishes, just thought it would be interesting to make the connection. Eventually, I dropped the two ideas for now. But I promise I will pick them up in the near future.

I’ve talked a lot of Sichuan Dishes, and really hope you can understand more about Sichuan culture and know me, know Sichuan people as interesting human beings. That’s how I made the decision to continue my previous topic “snacks” a little bit more. Today I am talking about the “late night snack culture” in Sichuan.

夜啤酒 night beer Sichuan

It’s a typical scene for night beer restaurants or vendors. It’s usually crowded if the food is good.

Before I went to Shanghai to study in college, I thought late night snack is popular all over China. But I found out I was wrong, after I talked with a lot of students from other places in China. In fact, a lot of locations don’t have late night snack tradition, including northeast provinces, where night life activities are not so prevalent. Even places that have late night snack tradition, people’s interest, or obsession, I would say, is not even close to that of Sichuan people.

Yes, it’s kind of a unique culture for Sichuan and Chongqing, which used to be part of Sichuan. It might not be a healthy tradition, but it’s definitely a fun one.

* By the way, I need to mention, the night beer is only prevalent when weather allow it. We don’t do that in winter, and the peak time is summer. 

For westerners who enjoy night alcohol at bars, this is a great alternative when you go to Sichuan. It’s a great way to experience the local culture at some local restaurants that offer late night food, or just some temporarily set up tables by some vendors. Nowadays cities are more concerned about the city image, so the local government agencies are cracking down the temporary night food places, which is a pity for some people.

The alcohol these places offer are usually just beer. However, the food is really really amazing. So let’s start with some snacks. I call them snacks because they are usually tiny in terms of size and volume, which makes them perfect late night food. You will see a lot of small plates when you go to these night beer occasions. Some snack dishes are usually excellent to go with beer.

夜啤酒-花生-salty boiled peanuts

Salty boiled peanuts. My grandparents love them and sometimes cook them at home. Credit of Baidu.com

夜啤酒-凉菜-cold vegetable dish

Cold bean dish. Cold dishes work good with alcohol. Credit of Baidu.com

“Beer accompany snack” dishes examples:

Salty boiled peanuts (super common and popular)

Toothpick meat (usually beef, I will explain later)

Cold vegetable dishes (such as cold green soy bean)

Pot-stewed meat or fowl (they were usually stewed for a long time in some delicious soup made of a lot of Sichuan spices)

夜啤酒-牙签肉-toothpick meat

This is how toothpick meat dish looks like. The beef is usually thinner than that in the image. Credit of Baidu.com

夜啤酒—卤菜-Sichuan-night beer

One of the pot-stewed dishes. They are amazingly good because they absorb the taste of the spices in the pot very well. Credit for Baidu.com

I can name more if you’d like, but I think you get the idea of the typical “beer dish”. Toothpick meat is one of my favorite. It’s just amazingly good. It’s basically a piece of beef that is stick through by a toothpick, and is lightly fried with a lot of spices, including really spicy dry red pepper. The dish has a bold and spicy flavor, and you can’t resist it if you are into spicy food.

夜啤酒- fenghuang-grilled fish

This is a photo of me having wonderful night snack (including grilled fish and barbecue) at Fenghuang, Hunan. The flavor and occasion is kind of similar with that in Sichuan because Hunan is a close-by province. April 2011.

Other great options:

Barbecue meat and vegetables

Grilled fish

Hot pot chicken, hot pot bullfrog (not the same with the boiled hot pot I talked about a few days ago.)

Barbecues are excellent choices for night beer occasions not only because they have great flavor, but also because they offer many many choices in terms of what food you want. Beef, lamb, pork, chicken wings,leek, lotus roots, sausage, dried tofu, egg plant, potato, green pepper, kelp……..It’s hard to not be able to find something you like!

barbecue

Typical Sichuan barbecue. Actually, barbecue with sticks are very popular almost all over China. Sichuan barbecue is just more spicy than a lot of other places. Credit of Sina blog

Asides from the small size snacks and barbecues, there are some bigger dishes that will suit well for people who haven’t got to have dinner early and apparently want more than small plates.

Grilled fish is one example. I simply love it!! Grilled fish are featured by super fresh fish with some typical Sichuan spices and the unique taste resulting from the grilling method. I might have forgot to mention that Sichuan people love fish and eat at lot of them, especially those with heavily spiced flavor. Some people in other places might think low of our way of cooking because it destroyed the original flavor, especially Cantonese people, who love seafood with original taste. Yeah, everyone is allowed to be subjective when we talk about food.

One last thing to mention is the hot pot dishes in night beer occasions. It’s dry-fried chicken, bullfrog or other meat. You can add some vegetables if you want. Also wonderful food. But compared with other food I talked about today, it’s less of a late night special, because it’s a common dish in daytime dining.

Sichuan Dandan Noodles: Material-Consuming but Amazingly Tasty!

Dandan noodles, meaning ” shoulder pole” noodles, originated more than 150 years when a vendor in Sichuan carried a shoulder pole to sell his delicious noodles. It’s most popular in Chengdu but it’s believed to be a typical flavor of eastern Sichuan, which includes Chongqing and my hometown nearby.

Sometimes I thought Dandan noodles are famous for its simple and readable name. Just sounds so nice! But it’s really delicious.

This is a rather complicated dish, considering all the materials you need. You need basically most of the key Sichuan dish ingredients including red dry pepper, Chinese prickly ash, ginger, garlic and green onion. Moreover, the dish need some cooked peanuts, cooked sesame, chopped bean sprouts as its featured items.

cooked peanuts _Sichuan

Cooked peanuts are usually a side dish or extra for a main dish in Sichuan food. It can be deep fried or light fried. Photo courtesy of Meishij.net.

Cooked peanuts are quite popular in Chinese families, and they usually can purchase some on the street in some snack store. Peanuts are fried or dry-fried with some salt, and need to be stirred constantly until they are crispy and yummy. It’s a common accessory for Sichuan dishes: It can be added to some cold dishes such as cucumber; It can be added in Kung Pao Chicken; It can also be part of the famous hot and sour rice noodles.

Chopped bean sprouts are salty, a little sour and crumbly. They can be replaced by some other pickled vegetables, but preferably with similar texture and taste.

Another thing before I start: the noodles used in this dish need to be the kind that can be used in cold noodle dish, which means it couldn’t break down if boiled for long, and it need to have the “chewing strength”.

担担面_Dandan Noodles

Dandan Noodles without cooked peanuts and sesame on top. Photo courtesy of Baidu.com

Step-by-step:

1. Prepare all the materials: noodles (of certain kind, already explained earlier), some chopped pork (or beef, if you prefer),oil, some red oil (I’ll tell you how to cook),  soy sauce, salt, sugar, red dry pepper, Chinese prickly ash (pepper), cooking wine, vinegar, chicken extract (chicken essence), five spice powder, ginger, garlic, green onion, a little sesame, some cooked peanuts, chopped sprouts.

Extra ingredient: to enhance the flavor, you can add some paste such as hot bean sauce.

PS: You can add some vegetables if you want.

2. Heat vegetables with boiling water for a few seconds and place them in a bowl. Cook the noodles and then place them in to the bowl.

3. Prepare the red oil. I think I mentioned it before while I was introducing the cold cucumber dish about this. It’s the third step of that dish: Heat the oil, add chili seed and garlic in heated oil. Fry just for a few seconds until you smell something amazing.

 4. Heat some oil (traditionally lard, but vegetable oil would be fine too), and add red dry pepper, prickly ash, hot bean sauce/hot & spicy sauce, and then ginger, garlic and green onion.

PS: You can get rid of the spices before you put in ginger, garlic and green onion so that you won’t need to accidentally eat any while enjoying the flavor of the spices.

5. Add chopped pork/beef in the oil mix, and stir-fry. Don’t forget to add a little cooking wine  at some point to get rid of the ugly fishy smell the meat might have.

6. Add sprouts and red oil and mix all together.

7. Add a little vinegar as you like. Add some sugar, salt and chicken extract according to your personal preference. Then, you are almost done!

8. Then pour the mix onto the noodles. Add some sesame and cooked peanuts to top. Enjoy!

Sichuan Snacks: Some Inspiration, Some Memories

I grow up at a place where snacks were easily available: right outside my home entrance. It’s amazing how convenient its for me to get the most fresh and tasty breakfast on a not-so-freezing-but-cold winter morning. I still remember I would hear vendors would come to my apartment area and yell at the neighborhood, hoping someone would get up early and buy their food. I would be woken up by the peddling, went out in my pajamas with my eyes halfly open and purchased some amazing snacks for breakfast. I lived in the first floor and buy early snack is always easier. It was a great childhood.

糍粑Glutinous rice cakes pounded into paste

Glutinous rice cakes pounded into paste. I love the surface of it and could eat it for breakfast everyday while I was young. Unfortunately my mom won’t have allowed that. Credit of Haodou.com

That was the start of love for snacks. At that time, I have two favorite snacks and the vendors who sold them were quite frequent visitors in my neighborhood, which is quite far from the city center. I truely appreciate their efforts to come to my home. One of them is called glutinous rice cake with a specially-made sweet surface. Another one is a super local cake, wrapped up by some leaves with unique smell, taste a little sweet and has more chewing strength than a normal steamed bun. I know the name is cake wrapped with leaves, but I don’t the ingredient at all. Whenever I went to other places in Sichuan (including Chengdu), I would be very sad to find out the cake with the same name and wrapped with leaves are completely different snacks than the ones I had in my hometown when I was little.

rice cake wrapped with leaves

This is not the ones I ate in my childhood but the commonly seen rice cake wrapped with leaves. You can add sweet or salty or other flavor of stuffing. Credit of Sina blog.

凉虾 cold shrimp

Cold shrimp is a wonderful summer treats. It’s so yummy and help quench one’s thirst and summer fever. Credit of Baidu.com.

When I went to elementary school, I had to walk a long way compared with other kids. With my tiny steps, I probably need to walk about 40 minutes or more. I enjoyed though. Why? Because I got to buy a variety of snacks for breakfast all the way from home to  school. I would buy cream cake, steamed twisted roll, and some others I couldn’t remember. For me, the way to get to school is a “snack trail”.

When I get out of school, I usually will look around the vendors outside the school gate and find something to eat if I am hungry, or not hungry, but just feel like eating. Also, a variety of choices at a very low price. I have too many favorites here!! I love a kind of cake that’s cooked with egg and flour, plus an amazingly tasty sweet stuffing. It’s called Danhonggao, meaning baked egg cake. It’s just so good that I would miss it once in a while. Another favorite is Chuanchuanxiang, which is mix of vegetables and meat with a similar flavor to hot pot. You can purchase the food by sticks, which were used to keep pieces of food together. It’s super super cheap and has a heavy flavor.

串串 vegetable and meat sticks

This is the mix pot with a similar flavor with hot pot. It has a spicy and bold flavor, and you can pick any vegetable or meat you prefer. Credit of Baidu.com

蛋烘糕 Baked cake with eggs

This is the amazing baked cake with eggs. Usually it’s a little sweet with a sweet stuffing. Some people want jam to be inside. Weirdly vendors also provide salty options for some people who aren’t big fan of sweets. Credit of Baidu.com

Another thing I love is a summer special. It’s called “Liangxia”, meaning the cold shrimp. Don’t get tricked by the name, my friend. It has nothing to do with shrimp, and it’s actually made of rice and some other things. It’s usually served with brown sugar, which will change the originally pure white color to something yellow and brown. The reason it’s called “Cold Shrimp” is probably because its look. I am amazed by our ancestors for their imagination both in creating the snack and naming it.

Oh god. Merely writing these things made me extremely eager to go home.

Before I shut down the computer I have a few more snacks to talk about. The sour and spicy sweet potato noodles are wonderful for a quick lunch. It’s actually more popular in Chongqing ( which is on the east side of Sichuan and once part of it) and nearby areas. It’s intensely sour and spicy flavor is the feature and represent one the major spicy categories in Sichuan food. The ingredients were somewhat similar to Dandan noodles, which I will be talking about next week. If you go to some populated areas in Chonqing, you will see some Chinese food vendors gathering at some points, with a lot of customers just eating sour and spicy sweet potato noodles on street, or in a very narrow inside space. It’s not an ideal environment for eating for some people, but the flavor of it makes anything else less important.

伤心凉粉 Sad Jelly

A pile of sad jelly is for sale in Jinli, Chengdu. Sour and spicy sweet potato noodles have similar look and taste. The main difference is the main material. Credit for Sina blog. http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4a8a80490102e6la.html

Another kind-of-similar and very famous snack is the “Sad jelly”, which is a cold snack usually made of tomato or rice, and sometimes beans. They reason it’s called sad jelly is it’s so spicy that people would involuntarily tearing, which looks sad and heart breaking. Another explanation is the people who invented the jelly made the snack because of lingering homesickness. Anyway, the flavor  can be similar to the sweet potato noodles but slightly different according the preference of customers and cook.

I don’t want an end to the wonderful snacks. So, let’s continue next time. I will be talking about some late night snack options and introduce Sichuan people’s late night snack culture.

Sichuan Hot Pot: Enjoy All You Have, and Get Messy

If you go to Chengdu or Chongqing, hot pot is one of things you are not going to miss no matter you are with a guide or not. Yeah, it’s one of the items (it’s not really a dish) that define “Sichuan food” and shows the typical features of it. Spicy, heavy flavor, greasy, enchanting smell throughout your eating experience, even after you walk out of the restaurant the flavor will follow, floating around when you meet every passer-by. It’s hard to believe that people would be willing to “impress” strangers or friends they run into on streets with hot-pot leftover flavor, but trust me, people in my hometown get used to it, and they don’t care. They love food, and they love it even though they themselves get all messy after eating.

This is a wonderful compromise Sichuan cook has managed to develop for people with different level of love in spicy food. Anyone can enjoy a hot pot with two flavors. It‘s called “Yuanyang pot”, and yuanyang is a kind of bird that’s famous for its affectionate couple. (Baidu.com)

Fresh and various materials:

What’s more important about hot pot is the amazing flexibility in materials. You can eat ANYTHING, literally anything with it! Beef, pork, lamp, fish, carrots, lettuce, cucumber, just to name a few. Every restaurants need to guarantee the freshness of the materials, or they may lose customers easily. Some materials that are common for some might seem weird for others. For me, my favorite is lotus root and quail egg. Don’t call me weirdo, please.

Lotus roots have always been one of my favorite food and I love it more when they carry the amazingly good hot pot flavor. (Baidu.com)

A lot of people believe that hot pot is originated in Chongqing, which is a municipality directly under the central government and used to be part of the Sichuan province. It’s something invented by dock workers, who would get some cheap materials – mostly viscera parts from swine or cattle or duck and throw them in a pot with heavy Sichuan-style flavors. It might sound a little disgusting if you never tasted animal viscera but since then stuff such as beef omasum and duck intestines have become a necessary part of hot pot, and almost all local customers will order these things when they eat hot pot.

One of the best sellers in hot pot restaurants: duck stomach. It’s brittle taste is very unique, but it’s not very healthy, especially for middle-aged people.(Baidu.com)

OK enough about the materials. It’s basically your choice, and you don’t have to eat anything you don’t like. That’s amazing for group gathering, especially family events or friends reunions.

Casual occasion:

Another wonder feature of hot pot is it never gets cold, which means you don’t need to wait for someone to start ordering. People can join it anytime. For a group of about 10 people, this is so convenient because large group don’t need to wait for one person. Impolite? Not really. In our “Hot pot” culture, be casual is the key. People don’t really expect you to “behave your best” in this occasion. The atmosphere is super relaxing.

Secret is ingredients:

The flavor is the foundation of hot pot, and almost every successful restaurant in Sichuan and Chongqing area has its unique, and always secret recipe. I didn’t really develop a recipe myself and always be lazy enough to just buy some hot pot ingredient from the market.

I only know some basics of the ingredients: hot bean paste, dry red pepper seeds, green onion, ginger, garlic, prickly ash (it’s more Sichuan style to create a numb feeling), cooking oil (beef tallow would add the thickness of the flavor), sugar. If you have seen some of my other posts, you will see these are the commonly used ingredients in Sichuan dish, that’s why I think hot pot is a typical Sichuan food example. However, if you want to stand out as a popular hot pot restaurant, you have to be creative and play with some other extra ingredients. Since I am never in the business, I really can’t tell you what’s the secret.

Various hot pot condiments from Haidilao, a hot pot chain well-known for its fantastic and indefeatable service.(Baidu.com)

Condiment is necessary: 

Another indivisible part of hot pot is the condiment for each person. It’s the similar function of dressing in eating potato chips, but it’s usually based on edible oil. The basic one, and the most traditional one is just to add some chopped garlic in edible oil, then it will be a perfect condiment.

However, as everything develops and people’s desire expands, there are so many different flavors in condiment. One of the most famous hot pot chains in China —— “Haidilao” (meaning searching from the bottom of the ocean) has more than 20 basic ingredients and customers and mix any of them to create their own flavor, which is absolutely amazing! Because for some non-Sichuan residents, they don’t really like oil with garlic, they love sesame paste, or something sweet. This offers them more choices in enjoying the hot pot in their own way.

[Vegetable] Dry Fried String Beans: My Favorite Vegetable Dish in Sichuan Food

Just to keep my promise two weeks ago, I am introducing a vegetable dish. (Of course, I usually add some pork or beef in it, so if you are not vegetarian, you are more than welcome to do that.) But, if you are vegetarian, the dish will need some string beans and some preserved vegetables. The sting beans look long and mellow at the same time.

Dry frying is a common way to cook a Sichuan dish. It requires an intense fry first, and then a relatively light fry. It will add a dry texture to food because of the intense fry, which will make the food kind of crispy, and a heavy taste (because the water in food is partly gone, the flavor will seem more obvious).

Another thing I want to mention is the preserved vegetables. It’s usually up to you what kind of vegetables you use. You can purchase preserved cabbage, or fern and others to make this dish. It’s salty and a little sour. The color of the vegetable should be a little darker than fresh, like swamp green or fern green, or between.

Then the beaf or pork, it should be chopped to very small slices, just like the meat I added in the Mapo Tofu dish. You can purchase already-minced meat at Walmart or Hyvee too.

dry fried beans

I made this a few weeks ago. Added a little hot bean paste to enhance the flavor. September 2012.

Step-by-step:

1. prepare some string beans, some preserved cabbage or so, chopped beaf or pork (optional), chopped ginger, chopped garlic, dry red pepper, soy sauce, salt, cooking wine.

2. Get rid the edges of string beans. You should be able to tear the hard edges along the beans. Wash the beans and drain.

(2′) Prepare chopped meat, if you want some.

3. Boil some oil. (A lot, deep enough to cover all the beans). When it starts to show some little bubbles, pour in the beans. Fry it until there is drape on the beans. Drain them again.

4. Fry some oil again (feel free to reuse some of the oil in step 3), add garlic, ginger and dry red pepper in the pot. Then add the chopped meat in it and mix up. Remember to add some cooking wine because it can help get rid of the weird taste in meat.

5. Add preserved vegetables in it and also the fried beans. Add some soy sauce and salt.

YEAH DONE. Easy, right?

[VIDEO Recommend] BBC’s Exploring China, Sichuan Food Tour in Chengdu

This is THE most amazing Sichuan food video I’ve ever seen, even better than any of the introduction videos produced by Chinese producers, among which I include the incredibly well received documentary —— A Bite of China, produced by the China Central Television Station. I really can’t believe it! BBC, great job, seriously!

spicy chili oil_Sichuan

Photo courtesy of WildChina Blog. I am using this photo just to scare you! Sichuan people eat spices like crazy!!(No they don’t.)

The reason I highly recommend this video is:

— It’s taking tremendous efforts to explore the authentic and traditional Sichuan food regardless of the dining environment (They know great food really doesn’t only go to fancy restaurants);

— It’s extremely conversational style with real local life representation;

— It has wonderful organization and includes basically most of the things you need to know about Sichuan food: ingredients (spices and more), homemade meals, street shops, hot pot, snacks, and modernized Sichuan food. I only talked briefly about ingredients and some homemade meals, here, you’ll find a wonderful big world!

Dishes highlights: Mapo Tofu, twice cooked pork slices, cold dish pig ear with chili oil(weird? you’ll love the Sichuan style once you try), and some more traditional and modernized dishes.

The hot pot restaurant is the one I visited frequently while I stay in Chengdu because that’s less than 10 minutes from the place my parents live. It’s so popular!

— Last but not the least, it’s non Asian-friendly! the tour guides in the video are people with both Chinese culture roots and Western culture influence so they can explain Sichuan food and culture in a way foreign people would most understand. Just amazing for anyone who loves Sichuan food and Sichuan culture as well.OK. Enough. I will let you enjoy this one hour long video. It’s really not long, once you start it. Enjoy!

Welcome to leave any comments or thoughts about this. A wonderful video must have generated more questions. Feel free to ask any questions.

[SPICY]Mapo Tofu: The Most Time-saving Special Dish 麻婆豆腐

Mapo Tofu is a wonderful choice for people who are interested in trying to cook Sichuan food, because it only takes less than 20 minutes. Amazingly time-saving! And, amazingly good taste! It represents one typical spicy flavor — tingling spicy, which was created by the combination of red dry pepper and prickly ash. I actually talked about it in the boiled pork/beef/fish slices, when I introduced the last step: using the heated oil to burn the red dry pepper and prickly ash and pour the oil onto the almost finished dish.

Mapo, meaning an old lady with pocks in Chinese, was used to refer to the person who created this dish in the 1860s of the Qing Dynasty. Prickly ash, which leads to a numb feeling when you taste it, is the key to Mapo Tofu. Good prickly ash with strong and intense flavor is the base for good Mapo Tofu. Also, the hot sauce made of broad beans introduced in the boiled pork slices dish is another key ingredient.

When you think about the name of the dish, you may think it’s an vegetarian option. However, it’s not. Another key component is tiny beef pieces that are as small as possible.


Step-by-Step:

1. Prepare a box of Tofu, 50g beef, prickly ash powder, hot sauce made of broad beans, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, green onion, starch, salt, cooking oil, cooking wine. (Starting to realize the similarity of the condiments in each dish??Yeah you are making progress!) You may also need a cooking funnel.

2. Cut tofu into cubes of 2 cm (3/4 inch),  and heat them with boiling water for about 3-5 minutes. Add some salt in the water while heating. Then filter the hot water and cool the tofu down with cold water, and you may change water for cooler temperature for multiple times. (This process helps the tofu absorbs some salt and also, the heating and cooling process makes the texture better.) Then dry the tofu with funnel again.

3. Chop the ginger, garlic and green onion into small pieces, heat some oil with high temp, and pour the ginger and garlic in it. Pour down the small beef pieces into the pan, and add some cooking wine, and some hot sauce made of broad beans.

4. Mix the things in the pan until they are evenly distributed and the wonderful smell of the hot sauce coming out, and add some water. PAY ATTENTION TO THE AMOUNT! You should add the water just enough to cover all the tofu you are pouring into later, and not too much so that the flavor is diluted. That’s why a smaller pan with a smaller radius might work better because you can cover the tofu with less water.

5. After the water is boiling, you can pour down the dried and cooled tofu into the water, and cook for about 5 minutes. Add some soy sauce to adjust the flavor. Add some salt if you feel like its’ not salty enough.

Mapo Tofu before the last step — adding prickly ash powder! I needed a little bit more water for this dish. Photo taken in August 2011.

6. Mix some starch with water, and pour it into the cooked tofu. This will add to the sticky texture of the dish, which will make it more appealing. Then you add the prickly ash powder to the surface of the finished product, and add the green onion for decoration.

[Guest Blog] Dessert: Cake with Chocolate Sauce

Thanksgiving is coming, I figured it’s a nice time to take a break for everything, including my bold flavor Sichuan food. So I invited my high school friend Wei Liu to write something special for me. This echoes with my promise “Sichuan food, and more”, so I basically eliminated your chance of complaining the missing “more”. Aha.

new zealand_liu wei_gap year_snow

Wei was “hiking” with two Asian girls at South Island in New Zealand June 2012.

Wei is now in New Zealand, working and traveling, enjoying her great time in her gap year after college graduation. She got everything I am jealous of, and including her amazingly improving ability to bake dessert!

So, thank her for her wonderful recipe and teasing introduction for this chocolate sauce cake! It looks just amazing! Unlike me, Wei gave you every detail of the amount of materials in the recipe, which makes it easy to follow. Don’t blame me but Chinese cooking is really something based on experience, not math.

Enough about babbling. Enjoy!

Angel Food: cake with chocolate sauce

This cake is an awesome choice to treat your friends when get together. Lovely and decent!

Everybody else is chatting while you are baking? Come on. You don’t miss anything. They are NOT chatting! Smell the sweet, butter and chocolate? They are totally distracted, imagining what the cake looks like and how yummy it will be. The moment you bring it out, everybody will give you a  big “wow”! it`s much more beautiful than they`ve imagined, isn’t it?

Guess what? It`s suuuuper easy to make it! Don’t believe it? Just give it a shot!

Ingredients:

125g Plain flour
230g Caster sugar
10 Egg white
1 tsp Cream of tartar
1/2tsp Natural vanilla extract
100`s & 1000`s (cake decoration balls) to decorate ( optional )

Chocolate sauce

250g Dark chocolate, chopped
185ml Whipping( pouring) cream
50g Unsalted butter, chopped
angel cake with chocolate sauce_dessert

Finished product! Isn’t that great?! Her baking diary made me hungry every time!

Step-by-steps:

1)     Preheat the oven to 180℃, and get an ungreased angel cake tin ready.

2)     Sift the flour and 115g caster sugar together in a big bowl. Sift it three times more and put it aside.

3)     Add cream of tartar and 1/4 tsp salt into the egg whites. Using electric mixer, whisk until soft peak forms.

4)     Add the rest caster sugar (115g) into the egg whites mixture gradually in several times. Whisk it until it gets thick and glossy.

5)     Sift 1/2 of the flour mixture ( the thing you get in step 2) into the meringue ( the thing you get in step 4), fold them together swiftly. Repeat with the remaining 1/2 flour mixture.

6)     Spoon into the tin and bake for 45min ( or until a skewer inserted into the center of cake comes out clean).

7)     Gently loosen around and turn it out onto a rack to cool it completely.

8)     Make the chocolate sauce: heat the chocolate, cream and butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir until it gets smooth. Cool it a little bit and pour it onto the angel cake, which you get in step 7.

9)     Decorate with 100`s & 1000`s (cake decoration balls) or any cake decorations you like. (optional)

Yeah! Did you get it? Any questions are welcome. I will certainly forward to Wei. Enjoy your break everyone!

[Cold Dish] Cold Cucumber Saves Your Time and Keep you Fit!

So far I have talked about a variety of dishes in Sichuan Cuisine, but they have something in common (They are all Sichuan style? hmm.. good guess..) : they are all hot dishes. Sichuan Cuisine actually includes a good many of famous cold dishes, one of which is the “Husband and Wife Lung Slices”…(Scary name? It’s actually pork lung slices, but the dish was invented by a couple, so…)

Anyway, I am not going to talk about the Husband and Wife lung slices today, just in case some people don’t like the material and think it’s disgusting (It’s really not! Super good taste). I want to show you how to do a cold dish using the example of cucumber. No one hates cucumber, right!? The process of making a Sichuan Style cold dish is pretty much similar even with different materials. You can also do cold needle mushroom or edible tree fungus. Anything.

cold cucumber _cold Sichuan Dish

Photo courtesy of Baidu.com

cold garlic cucumber

This is non-spicy cold garlic cucumber. You can follow the steps but just don’t add dry red pepper or chili seed. Photo courtesy of Baidu.com.

Step-by-Step:

1. Prepare: cucumber, sliced garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, (optional) dry red pepper (or the chili seed inside, which will make the flavor heavier ), sugar, sesame oil. (Easier than any hot dish!)

2. Chop the cucumber into 0.5 * 0.5 inch size slice. (Or you can chop into slices if you want. No restrict rules). Add some salt and mix through the slices. Leave it alone for like 10 minutes or so.

Grandma’s Trick: My grandma always like to pat the cucumber against the chopping board before she cut them into pieces, because she firmly believes that it would make the dish more delicious.

3. Heat the oil, add dry red pepper (or chili seed if you want more spicy dish) and garlic in heated oil. Fry for a few seconds and pour the oil onto the cucumber.

4. Mix the oil with the cucumber. Add some soy sauce, vinegar (just a little), sugar (a little) and sesame oil (a little). Then you’re done!!

Isn’t that super easy! It takes you 15 minutes or so! More amazingly, you can do the dish with other materials. (But not everything. There is some routine material for cold dish).