Open Sesame

March 26, 2016

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One of the finest series Gourmet ever published was Nina Simonds two-year long epic on Chinese cooking. That was back in the seventies, when sourcing Asian ingredients was anything but easy. Nevertheless, the magazine boldly forged ahead, publishing recipes for all sorts of arcane items like fermented wine rice, which you made yourself using a wine yeast ball (chiu niang).

To my great distress, I never did manage to locate what I needed to make the fermented rice, so I couldn’t manage those enticing Sichuan stir-fried shrimp in the February, 1979 issue.  But this recipe from the same issue was something I often made; I even used it once for a catering gig. It was a huge hit.

(A couple of caveats: be sure to use Asian sesame sauce, not tahini.  If you can’t find it, peanut butter makes an acceptable substitute. And don’t use Worcestershire sauce; it you come up short on Chinese black vinegar, substitute Balsamic vinegar. )

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  • Linda says:

    Nina Simonds cookbooks still my go to for recipes.

  • Rebecca says:

    My mom had Nina Simonds cookbook and was really getting into experimenting with Chinese cooking in the late ’70s.

    I can still remember the scent of chicken stir fry made on a wok and her enthusiasm for this healthy style of food prep!

    Thanks for this article- it brought back wonderful memories-