Pantry Update #10: Everyday Chinese

I’ve finally built up the pantry and experience to throw together a Chinese-inspired light meal with little to no planning or need to consult a recipe.

Dish #39: Chili oil

Having a great tasting chili oil around is key. A great chili oil can make almost any vegetable into a cold salad, or make any noodles a meal. Throw cilantro on there and boom: you’ve got a meal.

The oil I made (this is my second batch of it) is a version from Lady and Pups, based on the oil at Xi’an Famous Foods in NYC.

What makes this chili oil outstanding, I think, is the coriander seeds, cumin and sesame seeds. It’s so flavourful, you can eat it by the spoonful.

Dish #40: Radishes in chili oil

I found this recipe from flipping through Morgan’s copy of Every Grain of Rice. It’s dead easy. I have made this once with whole smashed radishes as called for, and once with thinly sliced radishes.

First step is to get access liquid out of the radishes by smashing them open, salting them, leaving them to sit, and then draining them. Then you toss them with a dressing of sugar, soy sauce, chili oil, and sesame oil.

I am sure one could replace the radishes with nearly anything and get a delicious result.

Glossy smashed radishes. The salting step also takes the edge off the sharpness.

Dish #41: Dry-fried salt & pepper vegetables

For complete details, see the standalone Dry-fried salt & pepper vegetables post.

Dish #42: Make it a meal with sweet potatoes and rice

Taiwanese rice
Taiwanese rice

I can’t get over how much I love this brand of rice. Sometimes I make a main dish just as an excuse to eat it with this rice. This time, though, I was just trying to feed us on a Sunday with the stuff we had around.

I made us dry-fried salt & pepper vegetables (my new favourite), sliced radishes in chili oil, roasted sweet potatoes (a purple-skinned white one, and an orange one), and some of that nutty, buttery Taiwanese rice.

Sunday dinner
Sliced radishes in chili oil
Rounds of roasted sweet potato make a great finger food, by the way
Take a deep breath. Warm, nutty, buttery. Can you smell it?


Items used up: none
Items added: one, sorta – I bought a fresh bag of white sesame seeds for the chili oil
Items partly used: five + the sesame seeds
Items used from the “Just use already” category: none

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