Shrimp and chive dumpling (虾韭菜饺子)

I lived seven years in Asia: one and a half in (基隆) Keelung, Taiwan and five and a half in (新加坡) Singapore. If the reader wondered if I crave Asian food, I do. Chinese food is my favorite cuisine of all and dumplings have become comfort food for me.

It’s not Don Tai Fung, but it’s four blocks from my apartment and it’s relatively cheap. IXLB is my local dumpling house and I just realized the acronym means something like “i love xiaolongbao.”

I didn’t order the xiaolongbao, but i ordered cucumber slices in garlic and sesame oil. This version also had Sichuan peppercorns and chilies and I liked it.

The steamed pork bun was likewise delicious and comforting.

It’s no-frills, but the food is authentic and reasonably priced.


Spicy Dry Noodles (干辣面)

I lived for a total of seven years in Asia: one and a half years in Taiwan and five and a half in Singapore. 

Thus, I sometimes crave real Chinese food. Real I mean as Chinese food prepared traditionally by Chinese people for Chinese people. 

The serving was much bigger I would have received in Singapore. I liked the deboned pork ribs, the Sichuan pepper and the pickled vegetables. Except for the huge portion it tasted authentic, like a dish I could get at a stall in the People’s Park Complex in Singapore’s Chinatown. 

I went with my brother. Afterwards we walked over the Pershing Square and I ordered some petits fours at a chocolatier.

The petits fours were very rich and I managed to eat two, a bitter chocolate and a rose lemon flavor. 

Fried Cumin Lamb (孜然炒羊肉)

I went down to San Diego a few weeks ago to hang out with my youngest brother. The Asian ghetto, as it were, is located on and around Convoy Street, so we stopped at Chef Chin’s restaurant which looked promising.

The cubes of lamb were salty, fatty and crispy and aromatic with lots of cumin. The dish was garnished with fried cilantro and scallions. I loved it. While it wasn’t as good as the similar dish cooked by Lao Chengdu in Singapore, it pleased me.

Beef cooked in chili oil was good too.

It wasn’t as fiery as I would have liked.

They even had almond soup for dessert!

Twice Cooked Pork (两次熟猪肉)

One of my favorite Chinese dishes, this attempt did not measure up to my standards, but my parents liked it.

However, I know what I did wrong, so next time, the attempt will be successful. 

For the broth in which to boil the pork I places a chopped up scallion and a small handful of Sichuan peppercorns.

Instead of using pork belly (which I should have used) I used pork loin which was way too lean. This recipe needs fatty pork. So I cooked the pork in the pot for twenty minutes. 

Meanwhile, I had chopped up scallions, garlic, ginger and dried birds eye chilies.

I took the cooked pork from the pot.

Then I sauté the ginger and garlic in the wok. When the ginger began to turn golden brown I added the pork.

I then added chopped leeks, chilies and scallions. 

At this point I should have cooked this down a bit. Instead I added bell peppers. I also added a mix of soy sauce and sugar. 

It added too much sweetness to the dish. Twice cooked pork should be about spice and fat. It might have tasted fine, but I was disappointed. Next time I know what to do. 

Sichuan Green Beans (四川青豆)

By far, this is my favorite Chinese vegetable dish. Not only is fried in oil and pork fat, but chilies and Sichuan peppercorns make it savory and spicy.

The end result, ready to be enjoyed at my sister’s place for Thanksgiving. 

Over two pounds of green beans took awhile to clean and cut off the stems. 

Ready to be cooked. 

I chopped up a thumb-sized chunk of ginger, three cloves of garlic, about 12 Sichuan peppercorns and about eight dried chilies. 

Ordered from Amazon.

I added enough oil to fry the beans. I cooked them until they began to wilt and soften. 

I then removed them from the wok and drained some of the oil. 

Then I added the garlic, ginger and chilies to the wok. When the garlic had turned golden brown I added the 200g of minced pork and 100g of bacon fat, which were marinating in 1/4 cup soy sauce, corn starch (1tbsp) and 1/4 cup sherry. 

I cooked that until the pork was browned. 

To this delicious mix I returned the beans to the wok to coat thoroughly. I then added about 1/3 a cup of soy sauce. 

It was a good Thanksgiving dinner. In the last photo one can see the hors d’oeuvres I made. Toast with anchovy butter and radish slices and poached prunes stuffed with chicken liver pâté. 

Kung Pao Chicken (宫保鸡丁)

It’s a real Chinese dish and to prove it, I have photographic evidence from 川味坊, Sichuan Square. (Thanks, Google Translate). 

The familiar ingredients were all there: diced chicken, peanuts, chilies and zucchini. This being a Sichuan restaurant, Sichuan peppers were present too. In small amounts I like them, but they can numb the taste buds. 

Bitter gourd can be good, say doused in sesame oil with salt. Bitter gourds with chilies was not to my liking. 

I was still hungry, so I ordered Sichuan sausage which came home with me and found itself in a few tasty sandwiches for lunch.