Despite the somewhat dubious results of my last attempt at cooking from Practical Shoyu Cooking I returned to it for dinner the other night. I’m not sure I’d heard of tempura pork before but using my usual method of choosing recipes depending on whether I can easily source the ingredients, this one leapt out at me (it’s a great system, one which stops me murdering people in Tesco). I watched Dr Who whilst making this dish. I’m not sure why anyone needs to know this though.
Now, first off, I couldn’t find a leek, so forget about that. I also didn’t really chop the ginger and garlic that finely, so there was lumps of both. I like both and can handle them in large quantities so no problem there, but the lesser of heart might want to make the effort to chop properly (I was probably being distracted by Amy Pond at the time. Ahem).
I wasn’t sure if cornstarch was the same thing as cornflour. I used cornflour. My cavalier attitude to proceedings did not pay off here, as I attempted to mix the cornflour straight into the egg yolk. There’s a reason why recipes are in a particular order; this fact occurred to me quite soon after and I won’t be quite so slapdash in the future (Oh, who am I kidding? Course I will be. I never learn). Anyway, my PROTIP here would be to mix the cornflour/ starch/ whatever into the water first AS INSTRUCTED. You will then avoid 15 minutes of trying to get the damn stuff to mix. At this stage I also added pepper after picking up the wrong sellar.
Also, don’t look at the bit saying ’4tbs of cornstarch’ and mutter ‘No way, that’s loads’. It may well be, but it’s the right amount. I ran out of cornflour and had to add plain flour until I had something thicker than milk to coat the pork with.
And then I started cooking. I could only find olive oil, which wasn’t ideal. I also opted for a small saucepan but lobbed loads of the pork in at once. After a few minutes the meat and batter had formed into a floating island of pork, terrifying and impressive in equal measure.
And you know what? It was delicious. Terribly unhealthy, certainly, but lovely. Like fried chicken but less greasy and with a soy undercurrent. I’ll cook this again, next time I’ll get the cornflour right, use different oil and a larger pan and it will be even more tasty.
Tempura’d by Alix
This recipe is actually one of the very first vintage recipes I attempted, before even this blog existed. It’s from Florence White’s Good Things in England, which has been featured here many times before, and is probably one of my favourite books – not only did it spark my interest in vintage cookery but it also introduced me to the wonderful Persephone Books, who’ve republished it. Briefly, because I’m sure I’m repeating myself, Good Things in England was White’s attempt in the late 1920s to record traditional English recipes that she felt were in danger of being lost – the resulting book is a glorious compendium of regional and ancient recipes, and is a pleasure to read regardless of whether you plan to cook from it.
Although I enjoy Chinese food I’ve very little experience making it – there’s an assumption on my part, rightly or wrongly, that it’s somehow difficult. I bought the following book partly to make me give it a go (and also it only cost 50p). The book is ‘Cheap Chow – Chinese Cooking on next to nothing‘ by Kenneth Lo, published by Pan in 1978. I have no idea how popular Chinese food was in the seventies, but I assume that it wasn’t a very frequently cooked cuisine in the average home (nb, I wasn’t around in the seventies, so please set me to rights if I’m assuming wrongly). This recipe book suffers no fools though, and gives a very decent run through of Chinese cooking techniques, including recipes for the standards Red Sauce and Master Sauce, which Lo explains are the basis of many a dish. I’ve certainly made a mental note to set an afternoon aside to slow cook some meat in the red sauce. I decided to start with something easy though:
Two recipes in one today, both from The Italian Cookbook by Maria Luisa Taglienti, published by Spring Books in 1953. It’s a comprehensive guide to Italian recipes from all regions of that country, and for all parts of the meal. The introduction defensively explains how fine cooking is associated with French culture when it actually originates in Italy, and goes on to point out that Catherine de’ Medici introduced a number of Italian culinary techniques and utensils, including the fork, to other cultures, so there. Halfway through the book there are line drawings illustrating different types of pasta, these pictures are adorably quaint, some of the them simply being squares or rectangles with ‘LASAGNE‘ or ‘EGG BARLEY’ as a caption.
There’s loads of recipes in it that I want to try out, and some I might hold back on such as Brussels Sprouts Parmigiana…ummh. Tonight though I just needed a simple dinner.
I picked up this book on Saturday from a charity shop in Kilburn. It’s called Simple Oriental Cookery and it’s from 1960, published by Peter Pauper Press and compiled by Edna Beilenson (a quick search reveals that similar titles existfor a range of other cuisines, Beilenson was fairly prolific, it would appear!).
Posted in 1960s, Edna Beilenson, Simple Oriental Cookery
Tagged beansprouts, cabbage, celery, egg, garlic, lemon, noodles, onion, parsley, pork, soy sauce, spring onions