Land of Fish and Rice is another one of the books I came across on the Observer/Guardian’s list of top food books of 2016. (I borrowed almost the entire list from the library to see which ones I might want to buy.)
The book focuses on the Lower Yangtze/Jiangnan area of China, known as yu mi zhi xiang, the land of fish and rice, because of its nurturing climate, fertile land and lakes, rivers and seas that are abundant in seafood. Author Fuchsia Dunlop notes in the introduction that ‘a deep respect for ingredients lies at the heart of Jiangnan cookery’; seasonings shouldn’t dominate but instead frame the quiet beauty of the ingredients themselves, enhance the umami factor or round out or harmonise the flavours.
I just discovered that the fruit and veg shop in Surfdale stocks Asian groceries too (exciting news on an island with a lack of good Asian good options) and so I walked down pre-lunch and stocked up on the ingredients I needed to make hangzhou breakfast tofu. I really like eating savoury, more dinner-like foods for breakfast (I’m a big fan of congee) and this seemed like it would be a good way to start the day. It’s a pretty simple recipe: you quickly heat silken tofu in salted boiling water and then top with preserved veges (I used pickled sour mustard greens), soy sauce, chilli oil, spring onion, coriander, sesame oil, sugar (which I left out) and toasted peanuts. Because I was having it for lunch today, and because I wanted to try the thin fresh wholemeal noodles I had bought, I bulked out the recipe with the noodles and also some bok choy for a bigger dose of green.
This book’s definitely a multiple Post-it note collection. Next I’ll try another recipe from the Hangzhou region, aubergines and minced pork.
Land of Fish and Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop (Bloomsbury, 2016)