Szechwan vegetables, condiments: alone or together, quick and simple Essay

These simple, quick dishes and condiments are designed to be part of
the Szechwan party pictured on pages 88 and 89. Prepared individually,
they can also add variety to everyday menus.



Predominantly seasoned by a blend of soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar,
the dishes have a light sweet-tart quality.

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When not part of a Chineses-style meal, the stir-fried cabbage and
the eggplant can be served as vegetable dishes, the cucumber and
radishes as a salad. Use the pickled bell peppers, onions, carrots, and
asparagus as you would pickles or a relish. Aromatic Szechwan
peppercorns can be used like black pepper; you’ll find them in many
supermarkets as wellas Orietnal food stores.



USe the Szechwan-style mustard and pepper-salt mixture as you would
regular mustard and salt and pepper. Stir-fried Napa Cabbage Salad 2
tablespoons each rice vinegar or white wine vinegar 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce 1/4 teaspoon cayenne 1 medium-size head (1-1/4 to
1-1/2 lb.) napa cabbage, rinsed and drained well Salad oil



In a small bowl, stir together vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, and
cayenne; set aside.



Cut cabbage into 2-inch squares.



Pour 3 tablespoons oil into a wok or 10- to 12-inch frying pan over
high heat; when pan is hot, tilt to coat with oil. Add cabbage and
stir-fry until it begins to wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Add vinegar-soy
mixture to cabbage and mix well; pour into a small serving dish. Serve
warm or at room temperature. Makes 4 to 6 servings. Cucumber and
Radish Salad 1 English or 4 Japanese cucumbers (about 1-1/4 lb. total),
rinsed 1 pound radishes with tops (about 10 oz. if tops are trimmed
off), rinsed. Dressing (directions follow)


Run tines of a fork lengthwise down all sides of cucumbers,
piercing skin. Cut cucumbers crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.



Trim tops and root ends from radishes.



With a small sharp knife, cut narrow V-shaped lengthwise gashes at
intervals around the sides of each radish, then thinly slice crosswise.



In a serving bowl, mix together cucumber, radishes, and dressing.
Cover and refrigerate until cold, 2 to hours, or as long as overnight.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.



Dressing. Stir together 2 tablespoons rice vinegar or white wine
vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 teaspoons each soy sauce and sesame oil,
and 1/2 teaspoon liquid hot pepper seasoning. Pickled Red Bell Pepper



Cut 1-1/2 pounds red bell peppers (cored and seeded) into 1-inch
chunks and put into a large bowl. Sprinkle lightly with salt; cover and
let stand overnight. Rinse peppers and drain well; return to bowl and
add 2 tablespoons rice vinegar or white wine vinegar and 1 tablespoon
each soy sauce and sugar. Mix. Cover and chill at least 2 days or as
long as 1 week. Makes 4 to 6 servings. Szechwan Eggplant and Pork



Rinse 1 small (about 3/4 lb.) eggplant; cut of and discard both
ends. Cut eggplant crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices; cut slices
into 1/2-inch-thick strips.



To a wok or 10- to 12-inch frying pan, add 3 tablespoons salad oil
and set over high heat. When hot, add eggplant and stir to coat with
oil. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Lift out
eggplant and set aside.



To wok, add 1/4 pound ground lean pork, 1 teaspoon finely chopped
fresh ginger, and 1 teaspoon crushed dried hot re chilies. Crumble pork
as you cook and stir it over high heat until meat browns, about 2
minutes. Return eggplant to pan and add cooking broth (recipe follows).
Stir over medium heat until eggplant is soft enough to mash easily when
pressed, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in 1/2 teaspoon
sesame oil and salt to taste.



Spoon into a bowl. Serve at room tempearture or chilled (if made
ahead, let cool, cover, and chill up to 3 days). Makes 4 or 6 servings.



Cooking broth. Stir toegether 1/2 cup regular-strength beef or
chicken broth, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon each sugar, white
wine viengar, and cornstarch. Tangy Red Onions



Peel 1 pound red onions. Cut onions into about 1/4-inch-thick
slices.


In a 2- to 3-quart pan, combine 3/4 cup rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon
Szechwan peppercorns, 3 large cloves garlic (minced or pressed), 1/2
teaspoon sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon crushed dried hot red chilies. Bring to
a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat and
simmer to blend flavors, 3 to 4 minutes. Add onions and stir until they
turn brighter pink but are still crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. With a slotted
spoon, lifte out onions; let onions and liquid cool separately, then
combine again. Serve onions at room temperature or chilled (if made
ahead, cover and chill up to 2 weeks). Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Anise-spiced Pickled Carrots



Peel 1 pound slender carrots and cut into 1/4-inch-thick diagonal
slices; set aside.



In a 3- to 4-quart pan, combine 2-1/2 cupes regular-strength beef
broth; 3



beef bouillon cubes; 1/2 cup soy sauce; 1/3 cup sake, rice wine, or
dry sherry; 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger; 2 whole star
anise, broken (or 1/2 teaspoon anise seed); and 1/2 teaspoon crushed
dried hot red chilies. Bring to a boil over high heat; cover, reduce
heat, and simmer 20 minutes to blend flavors. Add carrots; cover and
simmer until they are tender when pierced, about 15 minutes. Remove
from heat and let stand, covered, for 2 hours (if made ahead, chill as
long as 1 week). Drain and serve at room temperature or chilled. Makes
4 to 6 servings. Pickled Asparagus with Sesame Seed



Snap off and discard tough ends of 1-1/2 pounds asparagus. If
desired, peel asparagus with a vegetable peeler; cut spears diagonally
into 2-inch pieces.



In a 3- to 4-quart pan, bring 2 quarts water to a boil over high
heat. Add asparagus and boil uncovered until it is tender to bite but
still bright green, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain asparagus and at once immerse
in cold water until cool; drain. (If done ahead, cover asparagus and
chill up to 3 days.)



In a 6- to 7-inch frying pan, stir 1 tablespoon sesame seed over
medium heat until golden. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons
rice vinegar or white wine vinegar, 4 teaspoons firmly packed brown
sugar, and 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Mix with asparagus and serve at room
temperature or chilled. Makes 4 to 6 servings. Szchwan Mustard



With a wire whisk, blend together 1 cup Dijon mustard, 2
tablespoons rice vinegar or white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons dry
sherry, and 1-1/2 teaspoons sesame oil. Pour into a small serving dish,
cover, then chill at least overnight to blend flavors, or up to 1 week.
Makes 1 cup. Roasted Szechwan Pepper-Salt



In an 8- to 10-inch frying pan, stir 1/2 cup salt and 1/4 cup
Szechwan peppercorns over medium-low heat until salt turns a pale brown
(be careful not to scorch), 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon crushed
black pepper; let cool before serving. If made ahead, store airtight
indefinitely. Makes 2/3 cup.

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