Songpan, A’ba, Sichuan Province, China
花椒 Sichuan peppercorn
After Sichuan peppercorns are harvested, they have to be immediately processed, heated, and dried.
Only about twenty percent of the harvest remains, after drying, baking, and removing the outer shells and stems.
Sichuan peppercorns have been grown in China for over 2,000 years. People used to preserve meat using salt and peppercorn powder.
Cured yak meat.
The stems of the peppercorn are burnt to smoke the meat.
烤牦牛肉干 grilled yak meat
Strips of fresh yak meat.
Fried in hot oil.
Sprinkle peppercorn powder.
Add chilli powder and sesame seeds.
Pour a big spoonful of hot oil.
炸牦牛肉干 fried yak jerky
Dehong, Yunnan Province, China
A nest is spotted.
Wasps can be pretty aggressive.
Sometimes they even attack humans and livestock.
But residents in Yunnan have found a way to deal with them.
Decked out in protective gear, a resident cuts into the nest.
Culantro, leaves of the knotgrass, and garlic chives are diced.
Then mixed with minced wasp larvae.
涮涮辣 shuanshuanla, one of the hottest chilli peppers in China, with 400,000 Scoville Heat Units.
It’s not eaten directly. Just swirl it in the dipping sauce, and the entire bowl becomes spicy.
撒撇 Yunnan style dipping sauce
炸蜂子 fried wasps
Wasp larvae are rich in protein, and supposedly taste like a cross between eggs and nuts.
Nantou, Taiwan, China
Ailanthus-like prickly ash.
Its leaves are used as a substitute for red peppers.
The leaves can be used in frying eggs.
刺檧煎蛋 fried eggs with prickly ash leaves
Or roll the leaves in egg batter.
炸刺檧叶 deep-fried prickly ash leaves in egg batter
Red pigeon peas, boiled with pheasant.
Add ginger and prickly ash leaves.
刺檧树豆鸡汤 pheasant stewed with prickly ash leaves and red pigeon peas
After a hunt, farmers cook wild boar by rubbing it with prickly ash leaves.
烤山猪肉 Grilled wild boar meat
Xinyang, Sandu, Guizhou, China
The Shui people celebrate the Duan festival, similar to Chinese New Year.
Leaves of the taro plant.
The fish is marinated with diced chilli pepper, garlic, and various ingredients.
Then tied with a bunch of garlic chives.
The fish are cooked the night before the Duan festival.
Add an entire jar of rice wine.
鱼包韭菜 boiled carp with garlic chives and rice wine
Ko Samui, Thailand
These spices are harvested, to be used in a cooking class.
Maeklong Railway Market, Thailand
A few times a day, a train runs directly through the market.
All kinds of spices can be found here.
After teaching a class, the teacher buys ingredients for a family dinner.
The milk separates into two layers after ten minutes.
The upper layer is fried, and used as cooking oil.
These spices and ingredients are ground up to make curry.
Thai curry differs from Indian curry. It’s sweet and sour, instead of the hot and spicy of Indian curry.
绿咖喱 green curry
Dry red chilli peppers are added.
红咖喱 red curry
Add coconut to green curry, stir. Then add chicken.
Add a big scoop of coconut milk.
Add basil and lemon leaves.
绿咖喱鸡 green curry chicken
These ingredients go with red curry.
冬阴功 tom yum soup
It’s hot and spicy and sour at the same time. But maybe the ones I’ve eaten are not prepared by authentic Thai chefs—they are always more sour than spicy, and the sour taste goes straight up your nose, like biting into a lime.
To be continued . . .
Lunch today is noodles. You can eat them with chopsticks, spoon and fork, or: