Gochugaru Girl attended a very interesting lecture on the Ming Dynasty recently.
Uniquely, the lecture was not about vases but about food.
In the short space of one hour, Fuchsia Dunlop (who is one of my favourite food writers) explored regional dishes that have roots in the Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644). This was a scholarly presentation, thankfully spiced up by photos of dishes she took whilst travelling around China. My guess is that everyone will remember the sheep placenta soup.
I learnt some very interesting things:
The Ming dynasty was preceded by the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty, therefore the predominant meat eaten initially was sheep (mutton) and there were a lot of foreign spices used due to the trading routes;
There was no specific banqueting hall in the Imperial Palace/ Forbidden City. Tables and chairs were set up, and food served, wherever and whenever the emperor fancied a royal meal;
Promotion of good health and prevention of illnesses were taken seriously and specific foods were recommended;
Anything foreign had the pre-fix hú 胡 (barbarian) added by the indigenous Chinese to the common and familiar word.
Examples of the last point are hújiāo 胡椒 (black pepper) and húluóbo 胡萝卜(carrot). Originally, jiāo 椒 was Sichuan pepper and luóbo 萝卜 was radish.
As I had both radish and barbarian radish in the fridge, I decided to make a lightly pickled salad to accompany our dinner tonight. It is very easy to make this if you have a hand-held vegetable shredder. I purchased mine in Hong Kong but have also seen them in good cook shops here in London. The salad is best prepared earlier in the day and served lightly chilled.
This recipe is enough for 8 people as a side dish.
For the Salad:
450 g daikon radish
300 g carrot
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
4 tablespoons castor sugar
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
Toasted sesame seeds
How to Make:
Shred the radish and carrot into long, thin strips and place in a large mixing bowl.
Sprinkle over the salt and mix thoroughly.
Leave the radish and carrot for 30 minutes, then drain in a sieve. Squeeze out the excess liquid.
In a clean mixing bowl, dissolve the sugar in the vinegar. Add in the radish and carrot, and stir around a few times. Leave until ready to eat.
Sprinkle over the sasame seeds before serving.
Any leftover salad can be kept in a non-reactive container in the fridge.
Click for links:
I highly recommend all of Fuchsia Dunlop‘s books, which are available from Amazon.
Remember the horse meat scandal in the UK where beef and other meats were tainted by horse meat? There was a similar scandal involving donkey meat in China.