Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Roasted Peppers with Preserved Duck Eggs

Some things are a leap. I had invited the lovely Marie to dinner on Saturday night and wanted to cook Chinese. More specifically Hunanese from the oft used Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook by Fuchsia Dunlop. I have hugely enjoyed owning and using this book. She tells great stories ahead of the recipes giving them both context and depth. But, more interestingly for me, she has given me the skills and confidence to cook a different sort of cuisine with ingredients I have never used or, in the case of tofu for example, never used successfully. This has given me a great deal of pleasure - I love amazing food.

So, having decided that this was the plan for Saturday night I sat down with the book mid-week and started making lists of what I'd like to have. Chinese being difficult to structure into courses as such combined with the need to finish a lot of dishes off simultaneously I decided to have cold starters. Eases the pressure. Rather than my usual method of marinating and roasting them, the very first recipe in the book is for bite sized spare ribs simmered with aromatics then coated in a reduced glaze. Which sounded pretty fab. A few pages on was a very simple dish of coriander salad chopping whole stalks, again into bite sized pieces with a chilli garlic dressing. A definite.

But what caught my eye and refused to leave my imagination was the photo next to the recipe for roasted peppers with preserved duck eggs. The description of the eggs was marvellous, the presentation was beautiful with the eggs sliced into 'petals' round a tangled heart of silky peppers. I could not resist. So off I went to chinatown and bought the eggs to make this dish and didn't think till I cracked the shells that perhaps it is a little challenging to a dinner guest to serve up slices of eggs where the 'whites' are like a rich brown beef jelly surrounding yolks that are marbled green. She's only been over once before! Luckily Marie is an adventurous type, not easily fazed and they went down very well. To my delight they tasted ultra eggy rather than like a sulphorous mess from the depths of hell, as my friend Vicki was expecting when she was offered them in Singapore as a treat. But she has 'issues' with eggs.
So I'd seriously recommend this as a dish to start a Chinese dinner. It's good to experiment sometimes outside what you already know. And with this you're bound to like the pepper salad.

Roasted Peppers with Preserved Duck Eggs

3 red peppers, or a mix
4 preserved duck eggs (1,000 year old eggs or century eggs)
2 tspn very finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 tbspn light soy sauce
2 tsp Chinkiang vinegar
1/2 tspn sesame oil

Char the peppers over a flame or in the oven till blackened and wrinkled then put them into a bowl and seal with plastic wrap. Leave till the peppers are cool enough to handle, then take one pepper at a time, reserving any juices in the bowl. Rub off the skin - it should come off with little encouragement. Slice open the pepper, discard the stem and seeds and then cut it into 1cm/ 1/2inch strips. Pile these into the center of a serving plate, then repeat with the remaining peppers.

Peel the preserved duck eggs, rinse well and then cut each into 6 segments. Arrange these round the peppers like the petals of a flower.

Combine the garlic with any juices from the peppers, and then stir in the soy sauce, vinegar and salt to taste. Add the sesame oil and then pour over the peppers and eggs. Use chopsticks to mix the sauce into the peppers before eating.

Confound your expectations.


New User said...

Tried the ingrediants in Chongqing China today using local peppers and it was great. Was not sure of what to add and my Chinese cook was not sure either. Thanks for the recipe. We had a similar order at restaurant but could not match the 'fixins'.

bron said...

My pleasure - glad you liked them. I'm thinking of making Schezwan for xmas day - something a little different...