Monday, September 29, 2014

Cooking With BU Students Live

Latest update on the cooking as food history pedagogy: I went to Boston and got to cook with everyone in person this weekend. Most of the students I've never met. Those who live far away and a few others couldn't make it, but otherwise a nice dozen. I decided we would cook some 13th century Yuan Dynasty recipes, a selection of which is in my reader under the title Yin-Shan Cheng-Yao. The whole is in A Soup for the Qan, which has just come out in a new edition. What really attracted me to the recipes is the influence I've looked at often from medieval Baghdad going west to Europe, but this one goes east, under Mongol Rule, to China. So ingredients like mastic, chickpeas and saffron appear.

Most of them were pretty good, one recipe for chicken morsels with (handmade) vermicelli was spectacular, and sharp with szechuan pepper corns. A lamb and mastic soup was ok, probably would have been very good with more concentrated stock and the lamb cooked longer. Steamed poppy seed buns left a little to be desired for, but I think tweeking could make them great. Weirdest of all though was  a carp soup. It was clearly a pain to clean as you can see here. The stock turned out gray and the fish tasted muddy. Maybe it was just this fish, but I'm really hoping the students wont be scared into thinking people in the past had no idea what they were doing. I myself am wondering about carp.  


Kaz Augustin said...

Hubby is Polish and is well versed in ze cooking of ze carp. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall also covered this in an episode of the UK series, "River Cottage". The taste, according to tasters, was decidedly muddy and grassy, so no surprises there.

The voice of Polish experience (who hates carp, btw) says that killed and filleted carp should be soaked overnight in milk before preparing it for cooking. Although the cooked texture may resemble wet tissue regardless of cooking method (LOL), I'm told the muddy taste will disappear.

Ken Albala said...

Oh gosh! The texture really was like cardboard too. Gasp. Well, I'm not giving up on the fish. Perhaps gefilte fish first.