Even though I grew up in Sichuan, I could never tolerate spiciness, aka "ma" and "la." My mouth burns at the slightest spiciness, and I swear I can even feel the smoke.
A few weeks ago, in order to increase my tolerance of chili, I sprinkled some Tabasco sauce into my salad. That proved to be a big disaster. While trying so hard to feed myself, I couldn't help crying like a baby. In the end, I gave up and threw the rest into the trash. The price I had to pay was that the corners of my mouth were seriously "burnt," forcing me to become a traditional Chinese lady—never revealing my teeth when smiling. After this incident, I resolved to listen to the Cantonese taste buds inherited from my grandparents, especially the classic sweet and sour.
Sweet and Sour Lotus Root
糖醋莲藕 or tángcù lián'ǒu
Yields 2 servings
2 fresh lotus roots, one sliced, one cubed
1 green pepper, cut into small pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into small pieces
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 Tbsp corn starch
200 mL water
1. Heat the oil in a skillet or wok, add salt and stir-fry for a bit. Add the veggies, turn to heat on high, and stir-fry for 5 to 7 minutes.
2. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients well. Sprinkle into the pan evenly. Turn the heat to low and continue stir-frying for 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture thickens and starts to turn to become transparent.
1. If possible, use a non-stick pan. Lotus root contains a lot of starch and thus sticks to the pan easily.
2. Adjust the proportion of sugar and vinegar according to the brands and your own taste. If you want the dish to be more eye-pleasing, you might want to use white vinegar and white sugar. Because I didn't buy Oriental-style vinegar, I used balsamic, and the taste was lighter and a bit weird. It seems that sometimes the East and the West don't mix well; Chinese condiments do work better in Chinese cuisine.
Sichuanese native and Chengdu resident Annie blogs about her adventures in cooking vegetarian meals, adapting recipes from around the world. Recently she has translated some of her favorite posts into English for GoChengdoo readers to enjoy. The original, Chinese-language version of this post can be viewed here. Photo by Annie Chen.