The delights of cooking Chinese food: A conversation with chef and author Fuchsia Dunlop - SupChina
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The delights of cooking Chinese food: A conversation with chef and author Fuchsia Dunlop

In this episode of the Sinica Podcast, Kaiser and Jeremy talk to Fuchsia about her time at the Sichuan Higher Institute of Cuisine, how she chooses recipes for her books and the gamut of flavors of Chinese cuisine.

“You both want to challenge people and give people dishes that they don’t necessarily know, but also to offer them things that are doable and that are palatable,” says Fuchsia Dunlop, a British writer who has won a cult following with her recipe books of Chinese food.

Fuchsia’s 2013 book, Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking, won the 2014 James Beard Award for an international cookbook. The renowned culinary organization also recognized much of her other work, which includes more books as well as articles featured in publications such as Lucky Peach, The New Yorker and the Financial Times. In addition, Fuchsia has appeared on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, CNN’s On China and NPR’s All Things Considered, consults on Chinese cooking for major companies and gives speeches around the world. For someone who described her relationship with Chinese cuisine as one that began fortuitously, it is an impressive list of accomplishments.

As the first foreign student at the Sichuan Higher Institute of Cuisine, Fuchsia studied the regional cooking style along with about 50 other students, only two of whom were women. She remembers the gender dynamics of that experience, as well as the slow transition of her classmates toward calling her by her name rather than laowai, the Chinese slang word for foreigner.

Fuchsia’s latest book, Land of Fish and Rice: Recipes from the Culinary Heart of China, delves into the cuisine of Jiangnan. It’s a region whose flavors she loves just as much as those of Sichuan, which she also has written about.

Relevant links:

Appetite for China: The website of Diana Kuan, writer, cooking teacher and author of The Chinese Takeout Cookbook.

The Cleaver Quarterly: A publication that “covers Chinese cuisine as a global phenomenon and a lifelong mission.”

Travel China Guide: Eight Cuisines of China – Shandong & Guangdong.

Recommendations:

Jeremy: Ximalaya, an app for listening to audio content in Chinese.

Kaiser: No-knead bread.

Fuchsia: A Chinese cleaver.

Jeremy Goldkorn

Jeremy Goldkorn worked in China for 20 years as an editor and entrepreneur. He is editor-in-chief of SupChina, and co-founder of the Sinica Podcast.