I have been waiting for this book for ages since I heard that it was being written. If you have never been to the Hunan Restaurant in Pimlico, you need to add that to the London Restaurant bucket list. I had a really memorable meal there and can happily say that it was one of the best (non Cantonese) Chinese meals I’ve had in London.
Hunan the cook book, subtitled ” A lifetime of secrets from Mr Peng’s Chinese Kitchen” is a collection of recipes that spans over 50 years of his experience in the kitchen. Taiwanese Mr Peng who is now 70, still regularly works in the kitchen at the restaurant. By his son’s Michael’s own words, he describes his father as focused, uncompromising and a traditionalist. He lives and breathes food.
About Hunan the cook book
The Hunan cook book is beautifully bound like an old Chinese manuscript. It has a lot of brightly coloured pictures for each recipe. If you have eaten at Hunan, this is like a download of the Mr Peng’s brain and it helps you decipher what it was that you ate at your last meal there as they don’t have a menu.
The book has over 70 recipes and many of them are easily achievable at home. I love cook books like this as it both practical and approachable. I have tried a couple of recipes so far and found them easy to follow and to recreate at home. The recipe for Aubergine and Minced Pork below has an unusual flavour and uses miso and white wine vinegar, not usually found in Chinese cooking.
The unique recipes are a mixture of Taiwanese, Hunanese, Sichuan, Guangdong and Northern Chinese. I am quite thrilled to expand my knowledge as my own Chinese recipe repertoire includes mainly Cantonese and Hokkien dishes. The main ingredients needed to create the multitude of recipes in this book are just 3 vinegars, 4 chilli sauces, sugar, salt, a little Shaoxing wine, slivers of ginger, spring onions and garlic.
It is unlike any other Chinese cook books and doesn’t include the usual takeaway favourites. If you are an adventurous cook, you must add the Hunan Cook Book
to your collection. I will certainly be cooking my way through this book over the years.
Aubergine with Minced Pork
- 1 tbsp minced pork
- 1 aubergine cut into 5cm batons
- 10 tbsp water
- 1 tsp slaked cornflour for thickening the sauce
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- oil for frying
For the sauce
- 3 tbsp chicken stock
- 1 tsp miso paste or yellow bean paste
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1/4 fresh red chilli finely sliced
- 10 coriander stalks finely chopped
- Salt and sugar to taste
- Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl and season to taste
- Heat a little oil in a wok ihntuil almost smoking. Add the pork mince and cook until it changes colour.
- Add the aubergines with about 10 tbsp water and cook for about 3-4 minutes until the aubergine has softened
- Add the sauce to the wok and stir through before adding the slaked cornflour, white wine vinegar and sesame oil. When the sauce has thickened, it is ready to serve.