Thursday, July 28, 2011

Indo-Chinese Sichuan Fusion: Spicy Mapo Paneer for the International Incident Sichuan Party, Plus a Dragon's Hollow Wine Giveaway!

I am a bit late to this month's Incident Party, as I honestly thought it wasn't happening. You see, our fearless foundress and hostess Penny aka Jeroxie recently lost her dad. My mom died in 2006, and I unfortunately know a thing or two about the grieving process: It's long, exhausting, unpredictable, and  utterly nauseating.

But then I found out the Incident gang was going ahead and posting in support of Penny, and I'm all for that. Watching someone grieve is a helpless feeling, because there is nothing at all you can do. That said, it's important to show your support, so if you have a moment please go stop by Penny's blog, check out her tribute to her father,  and give her some love. I know she will appreciate it. Penny - this post is for you.

Before I get to my dish, I've got a really cool giveaway at the end of this post. It's a bottle of Dragon's Hollow Chinese wine. As far as I know, it's the only fine wine produced in China - but it makes sense, as it's on the same parallel as Napa and Bordeaux. I met David Henderson, the company's founder,  at the Fancy Food Show, and after tasting his delicious wine (at 10 am!) I set this giveaway up. More 2 year blogoversary festivities! As always - you have to get to the end of this post to see the goods.


Now, on to my dish. Its genesis involves a bit of mild adventure. While at the Fancy Food Show  I made it a point to stop by as many international pavilions as possible, including the China Pavilion. Funny thing, though - some of the Chinese booths seemed, for lack of a better word, sketchy. Sparsely appointed spaces, people huddled in corners, not engaging with  - even ignoring - the conventioneers.  Not all, certainly, but enough to make it notable. Take this booth for example:
Hello??? I'm over here!!!
For the longest time, that trio in the corner would not look at me. But do you see that goodness in the foreground? I wanted some. So I gesticulated, coughed, and said AHEM! loudly until the chef finally looked at me. "You want some?" she said. Um, yeah. "It's spicy!" she sternly warned.

Good - bring it on! Turns out it was a fiery mapo tofu, made with this sauce of broad beans and chilis:

If you look at the label, you'll see it's made in Pixian County ... Sichuan Province. Score. Now keep in mind that all the exhibitors at the Fancy Food Show are free sample crazy. I was literally walking around with a bulging sack full of 'em. So when the chef asked me if I'd like a bag of the Sichuan paste, I was totally unprepared for her response when I said yes: "That'll be 3 dollars." What the ... ?

Yep, I was getting scammed at the Fancy Foods Show. But what the heck - I wanted this stuff for my Sichuan Party dish and so I forked the money over, shaking my head all the while. Sigh.

So, on to my actual dish. Last year (in my other life as a journalist)  I reviewed a local Indo-Chinese fusion restaurant, and ever since I have ben thinking about Paneer 65, Indian curd cheese bathed in glorious chili sauce. If you're unfamiliar with it, Indo-Chinese food is an Indian-infused Chinese cuisine that developed in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta)  over the last century.

So I decided to merge mapo tofu, a quintessentially Sichuan dish, with Paneer 65. Kind of an Indo-Chinese-Chinese fusion.  Yum!

This dish is pure simplicity, and doesn't really need measurements. First, I marinated a pound of cubed paneer in my Sichuan sauce for a couple of hours. Then I sauteed garlic, onions, a handful of fresh curry leaves, green peppers, and three hot green chilis (seeds intact) in peanut oil. I added my paneer, some chicken broth, rice wine, a couple of tablespoons of the broad bean paste, and a dash of dry garlic chutney and let it all simmer.

I had a small problem at first in that I went a little crazy with the Sichuan sauce and the garlic chutney and the sauce ended up way too salty, so I poured some off, added more broth and let it cook down. And then all was well. I served it with cucumber yogurt raita and basmati rice. Oh, and ...
Yep, one reader will win a bottle of yummy Dragon's Hollow wine. I hope I don't have to tell you that you must be of legal drinking age? Well, there, I just did. My rules are the same as they always are. No hoops to jump through, just this:


1. Leave a comment
2. Tweet the giveaway and come back and tell me that you did
3. You get an EXTRA CHANCE if you leave a comment that demonstrates you actually read this post and didn't just skip to the giveaway part. 
There - three chances to win.  I will announce the winner on Friday, August 5,  and use Random.org to choose.

If you don't drink you can still leave me a comment! Just tell me you don't want to be entered. 
In the meantime, check out the other Sichuan dishes, and make sure to send Penny some love. 






33 comments:

  1. Trix, your spicy paneer sounds simply wonderful. Lucky you to have bought that packet of sauce. I would love to have that wine too! ha... Hope you're having a great day.
    Kristy

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  2. Great idea, the paneer looks almost like tofu! Guess it was worth the 3 bucks. ;)

    I don't know much about wine so googling Dragon's Hollow now!

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  3. Love mapo tofu. I eat it by the bowlful. Mapo paneer, what an incredible idea!

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  4. Calcutta's major part of street food is indo chinese fusion. You can get anything depending upon your pocket. I like sichuan sauce in my blend of indo chinese cooking as they statisfy my spicy tongue. Only thing I don't like the addition of msg. I know Paneer taste more delicious than tofu. By the way nice give away.

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  5. Lovely stew. Sounds very flavorful from the ingredients.

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  6. This sounds delish, now if I can just find a place that sells paneer!

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  7. This meal looks wonderful. What an intricate story of fusing cuisines!

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  8. I like the Dragon's Hallow wine label, very cool!
    You crack me up with your determination to do the tasting at the fancy food show and get the goods you need for your dish. But, I'm sure it was all worth the trouble to get the flavors you wanted, it looks and sounds delicious;-)

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  9. Wow, what a great idea...since I love mapo tofu and paneer as well, therefore I already know that this dish is very yummie.
    Hope you are having a wonderful week Trix and thank you so much for stopping by :-)

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  10. Trix, your intro is very touching and right now, I can't imagine how that might feel like. Mapo tofu has got to be my favorite Sichuan dish and it's genius that you substituted the tofu with Paneer! You cheesy woman....LOL. As I don't drink, this is a rare day when I say, please exclude me from the giveaway ;-).

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  11. Oh, your spicy dish looks so inviting! I'd love a taste or bowl or whole pot! I will go send my condolences to Penny...you are a good friend, Trix.

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  12. This post made me laugh out loud Trix! I cannot believe the sketchsters sitting there ignoring you and THEN you were scammed! This looks like a wonderful dish, though I have never made my own paneer - on my "to do list". A lovely post - I am sure Penny is touched!

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  13. Too funny! The dish looks terrific and of course coming from you it has to be... lucky Penny!

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  14. You are so funny! I could picture the scene! It reminded me of going to a dumpling place a few years ago with the whole family, kids and husband and the waiter coming over and saying very bluntly: VAT DOO YU WANT?
    It was hilarious. The dumplings were great and we had a grand meal. Glad you survived the heat of that chili sauce and made this dish for our benefit.

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  15. at three-dollars-for-free, there is a reason that booth was not busy... AHEM....
    as for the Indian curd cheese, that is one taste I would love to experience, I think I might like it... I must confess, I got lost in trying to imagine the flavor of this dish, what I mean to say is that so much of these flavors are totally out of my range and I just can't imagine it... would you come down, and recreate it for me... I will trade you a shrimp and crab boil, maybe through in a fried shrimp po-boy...

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  16. Lovely post. I have grieved and watched the people I love go through the same process. It never ends, but at some point it becomes a warm, lovely feeling of beautiful memories.

    On a lighter note - I love your pictures. They truly bring out the beauty in your food.

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  17. oh wow great dish Penny will love it and can't believe they charged u

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  18. Just a lovely executed and conceptualized dish. Bright bold flavors at play.

    Two thumbs up.

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  19. Looks good and we at home will simply love it.

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  20. Heh...we get service like that in Cayman. I'm a pro at the 'ahem' cough :) Your dish looks amazing...great idea mixing the Sichuan flavors with paneer!

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  21. I don't tweet but love the label and the coin... I am such a sucker for packaging. You were brave to go up to them.. I would worry their cooking would be as desultory as their attitude. Nummy recipe ... I LOVE hot.

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  22. How wonderful that you guys are posting for the International Incident party for Penny. Your dish sounds spectacular, excellent fusion flavors! A very neat giveaway too!

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  23. oh wow! this looks incredible!

    BTW -I'm having a giveaway worth $160!

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  24. That is one interesting fusion dish, quite a gusty move there Trix. I would very much like to give it a try.

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  25. And yes I really read you, 3$ when things free is a looser move on their part. No wonder they were being ignored.

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  26. The dish looks delicious, I never would have imagined a fusion of Chinese and indian cuisine. I love panneer so I will have to give it a go.
    I can't believe the chefs ignored you at the stand and then charged you for the Sichuan paste! At least it was put to good use!
    Love your website and I am very curious about the wine??? Chinese wine??? Hmm, but similar temps to napa and bordeaux, who would have guessed.

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  27. Thanks Trix. This means a lot to me so thank you :)
    And paneer in sichuan? That is truly IIP!

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  28. I'm a sucker for Sichaun flavors so probably would have forked over $3 too. Hubs is on a strict low-sodium diet now, so I have to really read labels and they probably don't have that listed (in English anyway) ;)

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  29. I can't say I've ever tried Chinese wine so this sounds unique!

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  30. That sounds like a good mix Trix! I love tofu mapo. Your version sounds so tempting to try. Haha you're funny with the Chinese booth. Made me laugh out loud. I don't think I have the Dragon's Hallow wine before but it's really hard to say no to it at the moment :)

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