Foodlore credits Grandma Chen as the creator of many traditional dishes in Sichuan. They show a genius for blending spicy, peppery, hot, tender, fresh, and fragrant ingredients so they can be tasted individually and as an ensemble in a kind of food fugue. Take this recipe for instance. Its essence lies in its seasonings and condiments, their quality, and the care taken in cooking them with the bean curd and beef. This achieves tenderness and contrasting spiciness, while adding garlic at the end of cooking enhances the balance of the whole dish.
Gently cut the bean curd into
Heat a wok or large frying pan until hot. Add the oil and beef and stir-fry for 2 minutes to partially cook. Put in the whole yellow bean sauce, soy sauce, and salt and continue to stir-fry for another minute. Add the chilli powder and continue to stir-fry for 30 seconds. Pour in the stock, add the bean curd and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cornflour mixture and cook for another minute. Ladle the mixture into a serving bowl, garnish with the Sichuan peppercorns, and serve.
© 1990 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.