Cooking healthy Chinese food at home is easy and if you are in China then it’s painless.  No running to Chinatown or finding an Asian store in your hometown. We all miss the foods and customs of our country but given the kitchen restrictions you might find here having a couple of delicious Chinese recipes up your sleeve is not a bad idea.

There are a myriad of books out there, at the moment my favorite book is Fuchsia Dunlop’s Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking.  Fuchsia is probably the most knowledgeable food writer about the Middle Kingdom’s gastronomy.  Her memoir Shark’s fin and Sichuan Pepper is now legendary for any self-respecting Chinese foodie.  For those us trying to learn Mandarin, her home cooking book is unusual since it gives you the Chinese characters and pinyin (phonetic) for all the basic everyday ingredients so you can practice your conversational skills while you shop.  Her recipes are nutritious and use a variety of cooking methods.  After 2 months of cooking out of her book my favorites are Zhaijiang noodles, salted duck egg and winter melon soup, sour and hot mushroom soup and smoked tofu with celery and peanuts.

The last recipe is so practical since you only need celery, a packet of smoked tofu, roasted peanuts and chili oil.  This type of tofu has a wonderful taste reminiscent of smoked gouda, the peanuts with their sweet crunchiness make a nice contrast.

Give it a try !

Smoked Tofu with Celery and Peanuts

from Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking by Fuchsia Dunlop

Serves 4 as a Starter

  • 3 1/2 ounces smoked or spiced firm tofu
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1 ounce Fried or Roasted Peanuts
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili oil with 1/2 tablespoon of its sediment, to taste
  • Good pinch of sugar
  • Salt, to taste

Cut the tofu into 3/8-inch cubes.  De-string the celery stalks, cut them lengthways into 3/8-inch strips, then into small pieces to match the tofu.  Bring some water to a boil in a saucepan, add the celery and blanch for 30 to60 seconds; it should remain a little crunchy. Remove to a colander and cool immediately under the cold tap, then shake dry.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Serve.