19 April 2008

China Moon Night: Dragon Noodles and Grilled Eggplant With Spicy Peanut Sauce

Dragon Noodles, Grilled Eggplant with Spicy Peanut Sauce, and Grilled Broccoli

The China Moon pantry made another appearance tonight. The big discovery is how enjoyable Tropp's cold noodle dishes are. The Dragon Noodle were really good. (Here's a recipe, but use 1/4 cu. Five Flavor Oil, 1 Tbs. China Moon Hot Chili Oil—see link below—and 1 tsp hot chili sauce, in place of the first two ingredients listed.) They'll make a great lunch tomorrow. We took the dish even further afield from traditional Chinese noodles by using whole grain soba noodles instead of the refined noodles she calls for, but the substitution worked well.

It's pretty popular and thoroughly vetted online, but here's my mini book review of The China Moon Cookbook anyway: First, be prepared to spend a whole day making all the ingredients needed to cook any of the recipes in the book. But don't let that fact hold you back; none of the ingredients are particularly difficult to make and the process is actually quite fun. The China Moon Hot Chili Oil alone is worth its weight in gold, and it and many of the other ingredients will certainly be useful when you're not cooking China Moon style.

Also, although we've picked out the quicker recipes to prepare so far, many of the dishes are quite involved (though not difficult certainly), so this is more of a weekend than workaday book. (An exception: the cold noodle recipes.)

If all of the above discourages you too much, than know that there are so many interesting techniques described in the book, and so many great side bars filled with anecdotes and history, that just reading the book is worthwhile even if you never cook from it. But why wouldn't you? Just about everything in it so far has been quite good verging on "awesome." Wholeheartedly recommended.

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