Sichuanese Hotpot

My dear friend Steevie is leaving Canberra for Northern NSW this week. His parents are ageing and unless one of the kids steps up, the farm – in the family for generations – will have to be sold. So he’s taken a year’s leave from work to test drive the farming life, pasture fattening steers and breeding bush chooks. It doesn’t hurt that the property, at the foot of the border ranges, is lush, well watered and drop dead gorgeous.

Thinking selfishly, there are some of Steevie’s friends who we know quite well, but not really well yet. We decided it was time to have them over for dinner before he left. No point not doing it properly, but little kids make elaborate plans difficult, so Sichuanese hotpot it was. All you have to do is make the broth and cut up some things to cook in it at the table. Of course, you can do this the simple way or the food nerd way. I chose the food nerd way.

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Lamb wraps with sesame dressing

I’m conscious that I haven’t posted much yet about what or how I cook – bit of an oversight, really. This was last night’s dinner – trimmed lamb chops marinated for a couple of hours, cooked in a grill pan and served in flatbread with mixed greens (the leftovers from my Choku Bai Jo shop ten days ago – still crisp and fresh), red chilli oil and a sesame sauce.

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Me and Fuchsia Dunlop. We’ve got a thing going on.

Fuchsia doesn’t know about it, though, so don’t go telling her and freaking her out.

I heard about Dunlop’sSichuan Cookery (the US title is “Land of Plenty“) through the first food blog I ever started reading, Though Small, it is Tasty (which seems to be on hiatus). Dunlop also got tremendous writeups at a favourite US blog Tigers & Strawberries (which reviewed her second book, Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook here).

I cook from those books at least once a week, usually more. She’s permanently changed where I shop, what’s in my cupboard and what’s on my plate. The picture above shows some new cupboard staples – red (chilli) oil, hunanese salted chillies and sweet aromatic soy sauce.

On Monday I managed to get my hands on a copy of her new food memoir Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper, which I’ve been hassling for asking about in bookstores for a couple of weeks.

us edition

oz edition

As isn’t uncommon, the US and Australian covers
are different. Can you pick which is which, though?

Nah, the one with the overblown lychees and those
slightly lewd mushrooms is Australian.

I’m keen to start it but I can’t do that until there’s a
good clear stretch in front of me – judging from past
experience, once I start reading I won’t be doing
anything else for a while.


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