A Chinese Mentor in the Kitchen

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Beef with Cumin
Beef with Cumin (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Like many of us, I’m a champ in the kitchen as long as I stay in my preferred wheelhouse of Italian + other Mediterranean cuisines. OK, maybe I can dabble in Indian food, but take me to Asia and I feel all wrong handed and left footed.  I end up reading simple instructions over and over, thinking the whole time “this just feels so wrong”. So much of how one operates in the kitchen is muscle memory and innate use of senses like hearing and smell. But before we get to feeling competent and natural even, we have to climb that learning curve. So getting ready for the interview with Fuchsia Dunlop I decided to leaf through her new book, Every Grain of Rice and see what I could pull together without going shopping.  The subtitle of the book is Simple Chinese Home Cooking. Well, I was about to see how simple it really was.By some miracle I had all the ingredients I needed with some slight tweaks:  yellow instead of green bell peppers, spring onions cut Korean style in long shreds and despite my ancient 1 btu cooktop which makes dark browning really hard the dish was, in fact, simple.  But more than that it had depth of flavor and my experience of making it was very enjoyable.  Which means that I’ll be doing a lot of cooking from Ms Dunlop’s book.  She will become another Mentor in the Kitchen for me.  You can’t have too many I’ve discovered.