Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Few Cooking Recipes

I was asked by to translate some of the food recipes in Qimin Yaoshu by some SCA colleagues, so I thought I'd share them.  I'm hoping they'll give me cooking and tasting notes, which of course I'll share here.

It's worth pointing out that this book is from northern China, and probably has a fair amount of barbarian influence on the cooking, hence all the sheep (or goat, they're the same word) meat.

There are quantities here that I should explain before we dive in.

Weight

1 jin = 16 liang

A reasonable guess of the weight in this period and locality in modern units is that 1 jin is 440 grams.

Volume

1 dan = 10 dou
1 dou = 10 sheng
1 sheng = 10 ge

A reasonable estimate of the volume in this period in modern units is that 1 dou is 3 liters.

羹臛法第七十六 Chapter 76: Methods for Stew and Broth.

《食經》作芋子酸臛法:To Make Taro Seed Sour Broth From the Classic of Food:

「豬羊肉各一斤,水一斗,煮令熟。
“One jin each of pork and sheep meat, one dou of water, boil until cooked.
成治芋子一升——別蒸之——蔥白一升,著肉中合煮,使熟。
One sheng of ripe taro seeds — separately steamed — one sheng of the whites of scallions, add it to the meat and boil together, until cooked.
粳米三合,鹽一合,豉汁一升,苦酒五合,口調其味,生薑十兩。得臛一斗。」
Add three ge of polished non-glutinous rice, one ge of salt, one sheng of the juice from fermented beans, five ge of bitter wine, to taste.  Add ten liang fresh ginger [this is a ton of ginger, 30% ginger by weight in the recipe.  Maybe just one liang].  Yields one dou.”

𦙫腤煎消法第七十八 Chapter 78: Various Ways to Cook Fish Using Water

𦙫魚鮓法:A Method for Boiled Salted Fish Sauce:

先下水、鹽、渾豉、擘蔥,次下豬、羊、牛三種肉,腤兩沸,下鮓。
First take water, salt, mixed salted fermented beans, sliced scallions, and then add pork, mutton, and beef all three kinds of meat, boil them, and add the salted fish sauce
打破雞子四枚,瀉中,如瀹雞子法。雞子浮,便熟,食之。
Break apart four chicken eggs, pour them in, as you would cook [poach] chicken eggs in a soup.  When they float, they’re cooked, so eat them.

《食經》𦙫鮓法:A Method for Boiled Salted Fish Sauce from the Classic of Food

「破生雞子,豉汁,鮓,俱煮沸,即奠。」
“Break open chicken eggs, the juice from salted fermented beans and salted fish sauce, and boil them together, until it forms a stew.
又云:「渾用豉。奠訖,以雞子、豉怗。」
It also says, “Mix up salted fermented beans.  Set it out, and use chicken eggs, and salted fermented beans according to your observance.”
又云:「鮓沸,湯中與豉汁、渾蔥白,破雞子寫中。奠二升。用雞子,眾物是停也。」
It also says, “With the salted fish sauce boiling, add the juice from salted fermented beans, mix in scallion whites, and broken chicken eggs into the broth.  Use chicken eggs, and nothing beyond these.

五侯𦙫法:Mixing Food from Five Marquises

用食板零𢬵 ,雜鮓、肉,合水煮,如作羹法。
Using a food board to chop and collect, mix the fish sauce and meat, and add water and boil as if you were making a stew.

The Five Marquise's Method for Fish Sauce was requested, but the recipe is pretty sparse, so I'm including the two recipes that precede it.  These are both ways to cook with fish sauce, not to make it.  Fish sauce recipes are also given - these are fermented fish sauces that include salt, like Roman garum.  A close approximation would be modern fish sauces from southern China and Vietnam.  These sauces seem to have been replaced with soy sauces in northern China.

《食經》曰作跳丸炙法:From the Classic of Food, To Make Dancing Meatballs

「羊肉十斤,豬肉十斤,縷切之,生薑三升,橘皮五葉,藏瓜二升,蔥白五升,合擣,令如彈丸。
Take 10 jin of mutton, ten jin of pork, julienne them, take three sheng of fresh ginger, five [“sheets/leaves” of] sourpeel tangerine (Citrus reticulata) peels, two sheng of stored gourds [Indofevillea khasiana, or more likely just pickled gourds], five sheng of onion-whites, join them together and pound them, making them into meatballs.
別以五斤羊肉作臛,乃下丸炙煮之,作丸也。」
Separate five jin of the sheep and braise [sear and simmer in its own juices] it, and then below the roasting spit boil the meatballs.  This is how you make meatballs.

餅法第八十二 Chapter 82: How to Make Cakes [Wheat and Rice Flour-Based Foods]

《食經》曰:作餅酵法:From the Classic of Food, to Make Cake Leavening:

酸漿一斗,煎取七升;用粳米一升著漿,遲下火,如作粥。
Take one dou of sour rice water [possibly instead, Physalis alkekengi], and boil it down to seven sheng.  Take one sheng of glutinous rice and add it to the broth, and after some time lower the fire, like making porridge.
六月時,溲一石麵,著二升;冬時,著四升作。
In june, soak one dan of flour, and add two sheng.  In winter, add four sheng.

作白餅法:To Make White Cakes:

麵一石。
One dan of flour.
白米七八升,作粥,以白酒六七升酵中,著火上。
Take seven or eight sheng of white rice, and make a porridge.  Use six or seven sheng of white [rice] wine lees, and add to a fire.
酒魚眼沸,絞去滓,以和麵。
When the wine boils with bubbles the size of fish eyes, press off the dregs, and add the flour.
麵起可作。
When the dough rises, you may bake it.

作燒餅法:To Make Roasted Cakes:

麵一斗。
One dou of flour.
羊肉二斤,蔥白一合,豉汁及鹽,熬令熟,炙之。
Take Two jin of mutton, one ge of onion heads, salted fermented bean juice and salt and stir-fry until done and then bake it.
麵當令起。
The dough will rise.

糉䊦法第八十三 Chapter 83: Tamales [Zongzi]

《風土記》注云:
The Record of Natural Occurrences comments:
「俗先以二節一日,用菰葉裹黍米,以淳濃灰汁煮之,令爛熟,於五月五日、夏至啖之。
“It’s customary to on one day of two festivals place Proso millet inside the leaves of wild rice (Zizania latifolia), take the juice from pure thick ashes and boil them, until well cooked.  Eat these on the fifth day of the fifth month [the Dragon Boat festival], or on the summer solstice.
黏黍一名『糉』,一曰『角黍』,蓋取陰陽尚相裹未分散之時象也。」
Another name for glutinous millet is “zong,” or “horned millet.”  Undoubtedly, this is the image of yin and yang mutually surpassing each other and not yet having been separated inside.

《食經》云粟黍法:From the Classic of Food, Tamales [Zongzi]:

先取稻,漬之使釋。
First take rice [probably dry-field short-grain and/or glutinous, although other varieties also possible] and soak them to clarify.
計二升米,以成粟一斗,著竹𥯕內,米一行,粟一行,裹,以繩縛。
Take perhaps 20 sheng of rice, one dou of rinsed clean Setaria millet, and put it within a bamboo tube, the rice together and the millet together, inside, and use a rope to truss it up.
其繩相去寸所一行。
Make the trusses 1” apart.
須釜中煮,可炊十石米間,黍熟。
You must boil it in a wok, and you can cook ten dan of grain in it, until the tamales are cooked.


作𦵔藏生菜法第八十八 Chapter 88: Pickling and Storing Fresh Vegetables

蕪菁、菘、葵、蜀芥鹹𦵔法:To Make Salted Pickles From Field Mustard [Brassica rapa, possibly a turnip], Cabbage [Brassica chinensis], Mallow [Malva crispa] and Shu Mustard [Brassica juncea]:

收菜時,即擇取好者,菅、蒲束之。
When you take vegetables, take the good ones, and bind them with kangaroo grass [Themeda gigantea] or sweet-flag [Acorus calamus, possibly bulrushes Typha orientalis]
作鹽水,令極鹹,於鹽水中洗菜,即內甕中。
Make salt water, making it very salty, and wash the vegetables in the salt water, and then put it into a weng [an urn].
若先用淡水洗者,𦵔爛。
If you wash with fresh water, the pickles will rot.
其洗菜鹽水,澄取清者,瀉著甕中,令沒菜把即止,不復調和。
As for the washing of the vegetables in salt water, when it clarifies, pour it into the weng, just to cover the vegetables, do not re-harmonize them.
𦵔色仍青,以水洗去鹹汁,煮為茹,與生菜不殊。
While the pickles are still green, use water to wash off some of the salt, and boil it to eat, and eating them with fresh vegetables is not peculiar.
其蕪菁、蜀芥二種,三日抒出之。
For the field mustard and the Shu mustard, ladel them out after three days.
粉黍米,作粥清;擣麥麵䴷作末,絹篩。
Make porridge-clear [the clear, starchy liquid that accumulates on top of porridge] out of proso millet powder.  Pound wheat/barley corns to dust, and sieve it through a thick tabby-woven silk cloth.
布菜一行,以䴷末薄坌之,即下熱粥清。
Spread the vegetables as a group, and dust them with the flour, and then add them to the cooked porridge-clear.
重重如此,以滿甕為限。
Layer them repeatedly like this, and fill the whole weng.

其布菜法:To spread out the vegetables:

每行必莖葉顛倒安之。
Every layer must alternate stems and leaves.
舊鹽汁還瀉甕中。
Still add the old salt water to the weng.
𦵔色黃而味美。
When the pickles are yellow, the flavor will be good.
作淡𦵔 ,用黍米粥清,及麥䴷末,味亦勝。
To make mild pickles, use Proso millet porridge-clear, and wheat/barley flour, and the flavor will also be excellent.

作湯𦵔法:To Make Blanched Pickles:

菘菜佳,蕪菁亦得。
Take good cabbage, and field mustard.
收好菜,擇訖,即於熱湯中煠出之。
Take the good vegetables and pick them over, and blanch them in hot water.
若菜已萎者,水洗,漉出,經宿生之,然後湯煠。
If the vegetables are already wilted, wash them in water, drain them, and freshen them overnight, and then blanch them.
煠訖,冷水中濯之,鹽、醋中。
After blanching, rinse them in cold water, and add to salted vinegar.
熬胡麻油著,香而且脆。
Fry in sesame oil, and they will be fragrant and crispy.
多作者,亦得至春不敗。
If you make a lot, it should last until the spring without spoiling.

䖆𦵔法:To Make Niang [A Kind of Vegetable] Pickles:

𦵔 ,菜也。
Niang is a vegetable.
一曰:𦵔不切曰「䖆𦵔 」。用乾蔓菁,正月中作。
One said, it’s pronounced [this way], and “niang means pickles.”  Use dry field mustard [leaf or seed unclear], and make it on New Year’s day.
以熱湯浸菜冷柔軟,解辮,擇治,淨洗。
Soak the vegetables in hot water until soft when cold.  Tear off leaves, and join [plait, weave?] them, selecting well, and then wash them clean.
沸湯煠,即出,於水中淨洗,復作鹽水暫度,出著箔上。
Blanch in boiling water, immediately take them out, and then wash again in water, and as before put the vegetables in a batch of salt water, and put them out on a bamboo screen.
經宿,菜色生好。
Pass a night, and the color of the vegetables will have improved.
粉黍米粥清,亦用絹篩麥䴷末,澆𦵔布菜,如前法;然後粥清不用大熱。
Take Proso millet flour porridge-clear made with barley [possibly wheat] bits sifted through thick tabby-woven silk.  Irrigate the the pickle vegetables, as in the previous recipe.  Then, the porridge-clear won’t require a great heat.
其汁纔令相淹,不用過多。
When the liquor is just cold, immerse it, not using too much.
泥頭七日,便熟。
Seal the head [of the vessel] for seven days, and then it will be done.
𦵔甕以穰茹之,如釀酒法。
Wrap the pickling weng [jar] in straw, as you would to make wine.
One interesting thing about these pickles is the addition of starch.  Pickling relies on acid to sour the pickles and preserve them.  Some pickles just add a bunch of vinegar.  Others rely on fermentation to produce lactic acid from starches in the vegetables - sauerkraut does this.  These pickles are doing that, but also adding starch to make the process go faster, more sour, and more reliably.

Survey of Vinegar Recipes

Scroll 8 in Qimin Yaoshu has twenty-three  vinegar recipes in it.  I've now translated them all, and rather than posting them fully, I t...