Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Batter Up

potato fries with fried meat and red sauce on round white ceramic plate
Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

The What

When we were pan-frying, we typically used breading…

But now that we are deepfrying, we’re most likely to be using a batter instead.

Batters will give youf food a lighter, thinner style coating…instead of  the thicker, heavier coating associarted with breading.

Batters also consist of the same ingredients as breading—flour, egg, and milk or water—but are mixed together instead of being dipped onto the food…and may also include salt, baking powder or baking soda, and sugar.

Baking soda, baking powder, beer, or any other type of carbonated liquid are often used to make the batter more  fluffy as it cooks.

Also herbs, spices, fruits, and even vegetables can be added to your batter to give it more flavor.

 

 

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The Why

 

Using batter when deep-frying serves many functions, including…

  • forming a protective, crispy shell around the food
  • giving your foods that expecteed crispy crunch
  • keeping the food from absorbing excessive amounts of fat
  • preventing your food from scorching
  • retaining the flavor and juices of the food
  • simply having a pleasing texture

 

 


The How

Find the right consistency for what you are  cooking…Batters range in consistency from the “very heavy” batters that will adhere to an upturned spoon…to “very thin” batters that will quickly pour or drop from that same spoon.

The ideal batter for fried foods is thick enough to adhere to the food, but not so thick as to become heavy.

 

Slow down the thickening process…Your batter will thicken very quickly after you finish making it. You can slow down this process the the following three methods…

  • using beer instead of baking powder or baking soda
  • using ice water when mixing
  • making it at the last possible moment before use

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The Which

In the next series of posts, we will looking at some of the different batters—such as baking powder batter, beer batter, egg white batter, flour and water batter, and yeast batter—and which batters are best for which foods…(more recipes, yeah)…

 

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Feathering the Nest, Random Thoughts

Zigeunerschnitzel

pork and sausage on the grill
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

Another favorite type of schnitzel commonly served in Germany is Zigeunerschnitzel.

Zigeunerschnitzel, also referred to as “gypsy schnitzel” or  “paprikaschnitzel” is a pork schnitzel with a creamy sauce that contains tomato, bell peppers, and onion.

You won’t find this listed in German restaurants because there has been much controversty over the use of the term “gypsy.”  Insteaad look for the word “Balkanschnitzel.”

 

The Breading

  • 1C breadcrumbs
  • ½C flour
  • 2 eggs

First heat 2Tbsp oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Remember that you alaeys want your oil to be hot whenever you start adding the meat.

Combine 2 tablespoons flour, salt and white pepper in shallow bowl. Coat pork, one piece at a time, in flour mixture, shaking off excess.

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The Meat

  • 2# veal cutlets or boneless pork loin chops
First wash the cutlets under cold water and dry them well with paper towel. Now lightly dredge the meat in flour and shake off any excess. Add your pork to the heated oil, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.

Pound meat slices between plastic wrap using a meat mallet.

Cook pork in batches 2 to 3 minutes per side, until both sides are golden brown and barely pink in center.

Cover to keep warm.

To serve, place two schnitzels on each plate, top with pepper sauce and mushrooms. Serve immediately.

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Gravy

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 12 medium crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large or 2 small bell peppers
  • ¼C dry red wine
  • ½C peeled chopped tomatoes
  • 1Tbsp paprika
  • 1C beef broth or dry white wine
  • 2Tbsp cornstarch

In a second skillet, saute onion, bell peppers, and mushrooms for about ten minutes, until all of the vegetables are soft and translucent.

Add garlic cloves, salt.tomato. Cook five minutes.

Remove vegetables from skillet. Set aside.

Now add flour, paprika, salt and pepper to the skillet. Cook one minute.

Whisk in beef broth or wine. Cook for about five minutes.

 


Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Weiner Schnitzel

Authentic Wiener Schnitzel Recipe

Perhaps the best known schnitzel and the one that first comes to mind whenever the topic of schnitzel comes up is weiner schnitzel.

There is nothing like a perfectly breaded, perfectly fried, and perfectly crispy wiener schnitzel, complete with a juicy interior. I have eaten them many, many times.

 

 

But the truth is that I’ve never been able to cook a wiener schnitzel nearly as the ones that I ate whenever we were stationed in Germany.

You would think that this would be so easy…especially since the recipe is so darn simple…

But getting that perfectly breaded, perfectly fried, and perfectly crispy wiener schnitzel all boils down to technique.

SInce we are talking about cooking methods, or techniques, let’s take a look at how to supposedly make wiener schnitzel that honestly doesn’t taste like cafeteria food.

The Meat

Wiener Schnitzel” is actually a geographically protected term in Germany and Austria and can only be made with veal.

If what you yourself would call Weiner Schnitzel actually isn’t made from veal, but some other type of meat—such as pork loin or chicken—cooked in the same style…it should technically be called “Schnitzel Wiener Art,” not wiener schnitzel.

Remember that regardless which type meat you choose to make your wiener schnitzel, or any other simple dish like this, it is especially important that you choose quality ingredients.

And regardless what type of meat you decide to use, the meat must be very thin.

It is important that you meat be thin because you will frying it at high heat for a short period of time, and you want to be sure to get that perfect crispy crust without leaving the middle of the meat raw.

Pounding your meat will not only make your cut of meat tender, it will also tenderizes it.

Getting your cut of meat thin enough to make wiener schnitzel can be done with the help of a meat mallet.

To do this, lay your cutlet between two pieces of  Saran Wrap. Then pound the meat with  the flat side of a meat tenderizer, an empty wine bottle, or a small pot until it is about 1/4″ thick.

Once your meat is thin enough, lightly season both sides with salt and pepper.

 

 

 

Breading

To make four wiener schnitzel, you will need the following ingredients… 

  •  1/2C flour
  • 1tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4C breadcrumbs

First pour about 1/4″ of oil into a frying pan and start heating your oil.

You should not let the meat sit once breaded. Otherwise your schnitzel will not turn out as crispy.

Now, just like when we have been breading any of the other foods so far, lay out your work station, which should consist of…

  • a cookie sheet for your uncooked meat
  • three bowls for your breading “stuff”—a bowl for your flour, a bowl for your eggs, and a third bowl for breadcrumbs
  • another cookie sheet for your breaded meat

Once you have your work station set up, dip the chops in the flour, the egg, and the breadcrumbs, making sure to coat both sides and all edges with each ingredient.

When you are dipping your meat into the breadcrumbs, be careful not to press the breadcrumbs into the meat.

 

 

 

Cooking

You want to start cooking the schnitzel as soon as you get it breaded. If you wait, the schnitzel will not turn out as crispy.

First preheat your oven and place a cookie sheet in the oven. As the schnitzel are fried, you will be putting the cooked ones on this tray while you finish cooking the rest of them.

Now before adding your meat to the skillet, check to make sure that your oil is hot enough.

Your oil should be at a temperature of about 325°F to 350°F. If the oil is too hot, the crust will burn before the meat is done. If the oil is not hot enough, the crust will be soggy.

Once you know that your oil is hot enough, start placing cutlets in the pan, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.

Fry the schnitzels until they are golden brown, about four minutes per side, flipping them only once so that the breading will be more likely to stay on.

Watch your schnitzel carefully as it is cooking so that it doesn’t burn.

 

Also swish the cutlets around a little with your fork as you are cooking them to make sure that the schnitzel isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Once a batch of schnitzels is cooked, put them in the oven on the baking sheet while you finish cooking the rest of them.

Serve immediately with slices of fresh lemon and parsley sprigs.

 

 

 

Side Dishes

Obviously, you could have whatever side dishes you want with your schnitzel but there are a few side dishes that are commonly served along with schnitzel at most German restaurants.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

What’s Next?!

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Flour…The Other White “Stuff” That Gets All Over Your Kitchen Countertops While You Cook

Okay, so these last two posts have looked specifically at dredging your food in flour before frying…

But before we leave the topic of flour, let’s talk about the different flours that are actually out there.

 

Typically when we thnk about flour, we all imagine the white stuff in the biggest canisteron the left of the canister set…that stuff that used to be all over the kitchen when you were helping your Mom make cookies at Christmas time…no, not the sweet stuff…the stuff that you thought was powdered sugar, only to find out disappointedly that it wasn’t.

 

Even though most flour, such as the yucky-tasting white stuff, is milled from wheat…flour can also be milled from several other food products—such as corn, rice, nuts, legumes, seeds, amaranth, arrowroot, barley, buckwheat, chickpea, corn, kamut, oats, potato, quinoa, rye, soy, spelt, tapioca, and teff….(more on this later)…

 

Each of these flours is actually different than its counterparts, and choosing the right type of flour can totally make or break your end result…so it is important to know which type of flour is best suited to which different endeavor.

The basic difference between the several types of flours is the protein content. High-gluten flour is milled from hard wheat and has a high protein content,  Flours with such a higher protein content are often referred to as “harder” flours,.These flours are great for making crusty or chewy breads. Flours with a lower protein are often referred to as “softer” flours. These flours are better for cakes, cookies, and pie crusts.

1.  All-Purpose Flour…That white powder that you accidentally mistook for powdered sugar as a kid is most likely to have been all-purpose flour…the type of flour used most frequently here in the United States.
  • Gluten Content…All-purpose flour has a medium gluten protein content of 9.5-12%.
  • Best for…many bread and pizza bases, but most artisan bakers prefer other types of flour—such as bread flour.

 

 

 

2.  Bleached Flour…Bleached flour is not actually a type of flour in itself, but any type of flour that has been through a chemical process. Many manufacturers bleach flour so that it is more attractive.

  • Gluten Content…Bleached flour has less protein than unbleached.
  • Best for…pie crusts, cookies, quick breads, pancakes and waffles.

 

 

 

3.  Bread Flour…Bread flour is made from hard, high-protein wheat…and often also contains ascorbic acid to increase volume and create better texture.  

  • Gluten Content…Bread flour has a higher gluten protein content—12% to 14%—than all-purpose
  • Best for…yeast products….because this additional protein in the flour helps the flour trap carbon dioxide released while the yeast is fermenting, making your breads rise higher and taste chewier.

 

 

 

4.  Cake Flour…Cake flour helps to keep your cakes from collapsing and improves their texture by distributing fat more evenly through the batter.

  • Gluten Content…Cake flour has the lowest protein content of any wheat flour—6% to 7%.
  • Best for…light, delicate products—such as sponge cakes and genoise

 

 

 

5.  Pastry Flour…Pastry flour is another type of flour made with soft wheat. that is able to hold foods such as cake together, while at the same time allowing you to create flaky crusts.

  • Gluten Content…Pastry flour has the second-lowest gluten protein content, with 7.5-9.5%
  • Best for…making tender, crumbly bread proeducts—such as biscuits, pie crusts, brownies, cookies, quick breads, tarts, and muffins.

 

 

 

6. Self-Rising fFour...Self-rising flour is a low-protein flour with salt and leavening—namely baking powder—already added.  Typically 1-1/4tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt have been added for 1C flour.  

The fact that you are buying a flour that already has the baking powder evenly distributed throughout the flour supposedly means that you will get a more consistent rise in baked goods. Honestly, I’ve been cooking for thirty-plus years and have only bought this stuff once.

Best for…especially suited for biscuits, muffins, cakes, pastries, and some quick breads, scones…,but never for yeast breads.  

 

 

 

7. Unbleached Flour…Unbleached flour is simply flour that hasn’t undergone bleaching and therefore doesn’t have the expected white color typically associated with flour. The process of using bleaching agents has been considered unhealthy by some…so this is why we have unbleached flour in the first place.

Best for…Danish pastry, puff pastry, strudel, Yorkshire pudding, lairs, cream puffs and popovers.

 

 

 

8.  Whole-Wheat Flour…Whole wheat flour contains more nutrients in general, especially having a higher fiber content.

Whole-wheat flour is derived from the complete wheat kernel, and is typically brown in color.

When compared to all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour gives your baked products more of a nutty flavor and denser texture. However, any breads made with whole wheat flour do nor rise as high as your typical white breads…so most bread recipes will call for a combination of the two.

Whote wheat flour is an example of a low-gluten flour.

 

 

 

 

Now let’s look at a few more low-gluten and gluten-free flour alternatives.

 

 

Low-Gluten Flour Alternatives

 

1. Barley Flour

  • What…a non-wheat flour made from grinding whole barley
  • Taste…mild, but very slightly nutty
  • Nutrition…has slightly fewer calories and more than 4 times the fiber of all-purpose flour
  • Cooking Tips…When making yeast bread recipes, there is not enough gluten in barley flour to properly develop the bread, and it is recommended swapping only one quarter of all-purpose flour.
  • Best for…quick breads and pancakes.

2, Pumpernickel Flour

  • What…made from coarsely-ground whole rye berries
  • Taste…pumpernickel breads tends to be dense, dark, and strongly flavored.

3. Rye Flours

  • What…rye flours typically fall into one of three categories—light, medium, and dark—depending on how much of the bran has been removed through the milling process
  • Nutrition…Rye bread may be a better choice than wheat bread for persons with diabetes.
  • Cooking Tips…When baking, substitute one-third of the amount of rye with wheat flour to ensure the bread will rise properly.

4. Spelt Flour

  • What…flour made from spelt, another member of the wheat family
  • Nutrition…the fats in spelt flour are more soluble than any other type of flour, making it a good choice for people who have issues with wheat digestion, but who are not “gluten”…also spelt flours have a higher nutritional content than traditional wheat flour
  • Taste…a nutty and slightly sweet flavor similar to that of whole wheat
  • Best for…one of the most popular and widely available of alternative baking flours

Gluten-Free Flours

 

1. Almond Flour

  • What…made from ground almonds
  • Best for…pastry crusts, cookies, and quick breads

2. Amaranth Flour

  • What…produced from ground amaranth, an ancient grain which was commonly used by the Aztecs
  • Nutrition…contains more protein than any other gluten-free grain and more protein than wheat flour.
  • Cooking Tips...Substitute up to 25% of the flour in your original recipe with this.

3. Buckwheat Flour

  • Taste…nutty
  • Uses…pancakes, soba noodles, crepes,

4. Chickpea Flour

  • What…made from dried chickpeas
  • Uses…a staple ingredient in Indian, Pakistan, and Nepal cuisines
  • Cooking Tips…use as an egg substitute in vegan cookery….substitute up to half the amount of all-purpose flour called for in a recipe with chickpea flour

5. Coconut Flour

  • What…ground from dried, defatted coconut meat
  • Nutrition…highest fiber content of any flour, very low concentration of digestible carbohydrates
  • Taste…very light coconut flavor
  • Cooking Tips….replace up to 20% of the flour in a recipe, but add eggs and an equal amount of oil to compensate as this flour soaks up the liquid

6.  Corn Flour

  • What…made from finely-ground cornmeal
  • Uses…used for breading and in combination with other flours in baked goods…also used as a filler, binder and thickener in cookie, pastry and meat industries
  • tortillas, tamales’

7.  Millet Flour

  • What…made from millet, one of the oldest foods known and possibly the first cereal grain to be used for domestic purposes
  • Taste…naturally sweet flavor
  • Uses…most commonly used in desserts and sweet breads
  • Cooking Tips…When substituting for wheat flour, it is usually best to start with about a 3-to-1 ratio of wheat to millet.

6. Oat Flour

  • What…made from ground whole oats
  • Uses…to make a baked good more moist than wheat flour

7. Quinoa Flour

  • Nutrition…one of the most nutritious grain flour available
  • Uses…ideal solution for those following a gluten free, vegan or vegetarian diet
  • Cooking Tips…substitute this flour for half of the all-purpose flour called for in many recipes…also completely replace wheat flour in cakes and cookie recipes

8. Rice Flour

  • What…can be made from finely ground grains of white or brown rice…which can be used interchangeably
  • Nutrition…lighter, milder, and easier to digest than wheat flour…bown rice flour has higher nutritional value than white rice flour
  • Uses…great as a thickening agent in sauces…widely used in Western countries especially for people who suffer from gluten-related disorders

9. Sorghum Flour

  • What…made from ground whole grains of the sorghum plant
  • Uses…very good substitute for wheat flour in many recipes, especially if combined with other, more denser, flours.

10. Soy Flour

  • What…made from ground soy beans
  • Uses…works best in sweet, rich, baked goods like cookies, soft yeast breads, and quick breads
  • Cooking Tips…substitute for 10% to 30% of flour called for in the recipe.

11. Tapioca Flour

  • What…made from the starch extracted from root of the South American cassava plant
  • Taste..slightly sweet
  • Uses…improves the texture of baked goods…also an ideal thickening agent for a wide variety of baked goods—such as breads and pancakes…as well sauces and desserts—such as tapioca pudding
  • Cooking TIps…use 2Tbsp tapioca flour for each 1Tbsp corn starch

12..Teff Flour

  • What…made from teff, an ancient and intriguing grain
  • Nutrition…packed with nutrition…higher in protein than wheat…has a high concentration of a wide variety of nutrients—including calcium, thiamin, and iron…very high in fiber …is thought to benefit people with diabetes as it helps control blood sugar levels.
  • Uses…dark breads…of considerable importance in eastern Africa
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Pan-frying…Chicken Fried Steak

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Skinny Dipping

5. Chill the  Breaded Food…

Cover the tray of breaded food with foil or Saran Wrap. Place in the fridge for thirty minutes to an hour.

This is priobably the one step that most of us feel like we could simply skip…

But chilling your food is actually extremely important beccause refrigerating the fooed allows the flour to become sticky and attach to the meat….ensuring that the breading stays on your food once you cook it.

4. Fry Until Golden Brown…After the breaded food has had time to chill, you’re ready to fry it.

a. First fill the pan that you have designated as your offricial frying pan with enough oil so the food you’re frying is half-covered. Make sure you use a heavy pan for frying so it conducts heat evenly.

b. Heat the oil until a few breadcrumbs sizzle when tossed in. The type of oil that you fryt your food in is actually a matter of preference. Use cooking oil that can withstand high temperatures.

Make sure that the oil is hot enough before adding the food…otherwise your fried food will absorb the oil like a sponge…resulting in soggy, oily food….and the breading will fall off the food into the pan.

Your oil should be somewhere between 300 and 400 degrees, depending on the recipe.

You can you tell if the oil is hot enough by using use a kitchen thermometer…or tossing a drop of batter or breadcrumbs into the oil to make sure that it sizzles…or sticking the end of a wooden spoon into the oil to see if little bubbles form around the spoon.

Also, if the oil in your ia hot enough, the oil will take on a distinct shimmer.

But it the oil is smoking, it’s too hot…either turn the heat down or start over.

Don’t try to rush the oil into reaching the right temperature by cranking your stove eye up as high as possible. The oil should heat up slowly. Trying to heat the oil too fast will lead to bitter, burned food.’

c. Gently lay your breaded food meat in your heated pan, being sure not to overcrowd.

Once the oil is at the right temperature, and you are ready to add your food to your pan, make sure that you do not overcrowd the pan. Crowding the pan will cause heat to be trapped underneath your food, causing it to steam rather than fry.

Even if you know that your pan coulfd hold more food, you do not want your pieces of food to touch each other. Either cook in batches or use two pans.

Remember that as you take out the cooked food and add another batch of uncooked food to your pan, the temperature of the oil will plummet. Allow the oil to come back up to temperature between batches of cooking…otherwise your food will be soggy.

d. Fry for a minute or two, until golden brown on the bottom, and then flip. You may want to use your probe thermometer to check the temperatures of the meat as you are cooking it.

Keep an eye on the food.

Keep the flame on medium to medium-high.

Make sure the temperature doesn’t get too high. If the oil starts to smoke or turn black, it’s too hot and you either need to let it cool down or start over with fresh oil.

To avoid your breading when you turn your food, it is imporrtant that you not turn the food too early or too often.

Remember that the second side always cooks faster than the first.

Be patient. Leave the food alone until it develops a crust and is easily lifts off the pan. If the food is still sticking to the pan, it isn’t ready to turn.

Be sure to use the proper utensils—such as tongs or a thin spatula—for turning your food, especially when the food is fragile.

e. Drain the cooked food on cooling racks placed over foil-lined cookie sheeta. Keep warm until ready to serve. You could also use either paper towels or brown paper sacks. Of these two, the sacks yields the crispest food.

Once the food has been fried and transferred to a paper towel-lined plate, sprinkle it once more with kosher or sea salt.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

I Can Bring Home the Bacon…AND Fry It Up In a Pan

 

Panfrying is an easy and straightforward dry cooking method that is used all over the world, giving us such great foods as breaded pork chops and chicken cutlets.

Panfrying allows you to get dinner on the table more quickly than several of the other cooking methods that we have or will be discussing…as long as you prepare as much as possible before throwing the first pork chop into the oil…and as long as the food that you will be cooking is actually food suited for this cooking method.

Panfrying simply involves cooking food in a heavy pan containing a small amount of hot oil over moderate heat until it is brown on one side, then flipping it over so that the other side browns also.

The oil should only cover half of the food’s height, unlike deep frying where the food is completely suspended in oil. The fact that the food actually touches the bottom of the pan means that the crust will be even darker than if it had been floating in the oil.

Panfried foods are often covered with some sort of breading before being added to the hot oil…(more on this later)…

This layer creates a barrier that prevents the oil from soaking into the food and making it greasy

As food is panfried, the moisture contained in the inside part of the meat turns into steam and then has a battle with the very hot oil surrounding it. The steam fights to keep the oil out, while the oil  fights to keep the moisture in. 

Actually I was a little puzzled about why frying would be considered as a “dry cooking method” even though the food is cooked in liquid.

Supposedly this is the case because oil is actually a fat that contains no water at all.

Even though both oil and water are liquids, oil behaves much differently than water.

Fewer flavor compounds found in food dissolve in oil. This means that foods cooked in oil are less likely to lose their flavor than those same foods cooked in water.

Save water for making stocks and broths, since so much of the flavor originally found in the food will be dissolved into the water anyway..

The goal of panfrying is to maintain a moist interior while at the same time creating a crisp, tasty, golden-brown crust, Pan-fried foods are favored for these browned surfaces, crisp coatings, and tender interiors.

Panfrying is an effective way to not only retain the moisture and tenderness that these cuts of meat such as pork chops should have, but also to add rich, caramelized flavor.

Food that has been panfried correctly should have a moist interior and a crispy exterior that you refuse to share with anybody.

One primary difference between panfrying and sauteeing, that we talked about in this previous post, is that panfrying uses lower heat.

This lower heat is important because panfrying involves cooking whole pieces of meat, not food that has already been cut into smaller pieces before cooking. If your temperature is too high, the exterior of the food will overcook while the  interior of the food will be undercoked…(ever cut into a hot piece of chieken only to find that the interior is still pink)…

In these next few posts, we will discuss the right equipment, the proper oils, which foods are best for panfrying…and how frying food can be done so that it isn’t quite as bad for my diabetic husband and my own big fat butt…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Chinese Culinary Conflict—Shandong Campaign

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Chinese Culinary Conflict—Anhui Campaign

The Anjui region is an inland area located in East China. The region surrounds the Huangshan Mountain, also referred to as Yellow Mountains. The region consists of many different types of terrain—including not only these mounjtains, but also forests and farmland.

Anhui cuisine revolves around wild plants and animals, very similar to Fujian cuisine that we talking about in an earlier post.,,,although there is less emphasis on seafood.

Anhui cuisine is humble and hearty peasant food. ..created by the native rustic cooking styles of the mountain dwellers.

Food is seen as therapy and meant to be healthy, visually stimulating, and simple.

As far as cooking method, it is important that the food is cooked in a way that doea not destroy the nutrients of the food. The cooking methods used in this province are simple, usually one of these four methods—braising, stewing, steaming, salting—with special emphasis on controlling cooking time and temperatures

As far as meat, Anhui cuisine includes more gamey meats than anyjui other regional cuisine.

As far as spices, Anhui cuisine uses many fresh wild herbs,

As far as vegetables, Anhui cuisine uses a lot of woodland vegetables—such as foraged mushrooms, berries, tea leaves, bamboo shoots, and other wild plants that can be found locally.

Examples of Anhui entrees that you might find on a menu are…