I’m such a fan of British food writer Fuchsia Dunlop’s two earlier cookbooks, “Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking” and “Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: Recipes from Hunan Province,” that I couldn’t wait for her latest to be published in this country. I bought my copy of “Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking,” from Britain.
Now it’s out in this country and nobody has to wait to start cooking clams in black bean sauce, blanched choy sum with sizzling oil, cold chicken with a spicy Sichuanese sauce or slow-cooked ribs with red fermented tofu.
Her salad of blanched lotus root with wood ear mushrooms, ginger, chili and scallions has become this winter’s favorite.
Delectable Lotus Root Salad
Adapted from “Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking,” by Fuchsia Dunlop; W. W. Norton & Company, $35.
“The root, cut into slices, has an ethereal quality,” she writes. “With its crisp, crystalline flesh and snowflake pattern of holes, which this colorful salad shows off beautifully.”
1 tablespoon dried shrimps (optional)
2 to 3 small crinkly pieces of dried wood ear mushroom
1 section of fresh young lotus root (about 200g)
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
2-1/2 teaspoons clear rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
A few small horse-ear (diagonal) slices of red chili or pepper, for color
1 spring onion, green part only, sliced diagonally
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Salt, to taste
Soak the dried shrimps (if using) and the wood ears, separately, in hot water from the kettle for at least 30 minutes.
Bring a panful of water to a boil. Break the lotus root into segments and use a potato peeler to peel them. Trim off the ends of each segment and slice thinly and evenly: each slice will have a beautiful pattern of holes.
Blanch the lotus root slices in the boiling water for a minute or two; they will remain crisp. (Make sure you blanch them soon after cutting, or the slices will begin to discolor.) Refresh in cold water and drain well.
Drain the wood ears and the shrimps (if using). Tear the wood ears into small pieces.
Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl and mix well.