My Citizens, there are few things more annoying to the proud and monomaniacal Emperor of Eatery – the all-knowing TFD! – than finding someone who outguns even my own encyclopædic knowledge of Chinese cuisine. As a renowned raging egomaniac, this irks me to no end – while I’m being (slightly) facetious here, the truth is that Li Ziqi is one of those very, VERY rare vloggers that have impressed me and she is both humble and patient in sharing her life’s work. Unlike me. 😉
You don’t know her, you say? That’s not overly surprising, Citizen – she isn’t well known (yet) outside of China, but she has more than 58 MILLION followers there (and with damned good reason).
Her amazing Sichuan recipes, the incredible cinematography of her stately and flowing videos, her ethereal/otherworldly presence and the unmatched authenticity of her lifestyle have made her the toast of China. Her beauty has assuredly helped as well, but don’t be fooled – she is much more than a pretty face.
This woman knows her rural Chinese cuisine better than anyone, and it is my deep honor to acknowledge her as a peer and equal and introduce you to the recipes that have enthralled China!
This recent article from the South China Morning Post is a very rare interview with her in English – I suggest you start there.
A very lengthy blog post (still worth reading) detailing her life, how she shoots her videos and more is here – it’s a Master-class on the subject of her recipes, philosophy and more. The blog author also sells handcrafted Chinese cleavers and knives of the utmost quality – I recommend any of them heartily, check them out here.
When I first discovered her YouTube channel a few months ago, I was enthralled at the extraordinary authenticity of her work, lifestyle and the breadth of her knowledge of Chinese cuisine. As it happens, this was the first Li Ziqi video I watched of hers and it captivated me – and inspired me to try and put the recipe into English for you to try yourselves!
It wasn’t easy – but I have at last done it and I hope you will see fit to try this most authentic set of recipes for yourselves! This will not be the last of her videos I will try and make more broadly available to the English-speaking world, of that I can assure you!
As Li Ziqi herself noted:
“’Small snowy day to make dry vegetable, heavy snowy day to make dry meat’. After a heavy snow day, every family started to prepare dry meat and sausage for (Chinese) New Year. Now I am sharing the recipe we have used for several decades to make dry meat and sausage.”
Wait until it’s cold and dry outside if you’re going to make this in the traditional way, or if you are using modern techniques and a cold room, you can make them anytime! The Kaoliang liquor used in Li Ziqi’s recipe is basically Chinese hootch – at 116 proof, it’s strong enough to (literally) take the paint off a wall from your breathing on it after a snort. It’s also a necessity in Li Ziqi’s recipe – that high-proof booze helps keep things from spoiling. You can buy it here.
As noted on thewoksoflife.com:
Dried Sand Ginger (shā jiāng or shānnài) is different from your regular variety of Chinese ginger and is part of the galangal family and sometimes referred to as aromatic ginger. A side-by-side comparison of sand ginger powder or shā jiāng fěn (沙薑粉) with ginger powder, jiāng fěn (薑粉) will find that they taste and smell quite different as they are different varieties of ginger.
You can buy sand ginger powder of top-quality here.
Citizens, I hope you enjoy the recipes and videos of Li Ziqi as much as I – her recipes are truly world-class and never-before-seen in the West! 🙂
Battle on – the GeneralissimoPrint
- Preserved pork (Chinese bacon):
- 7 thick slices of pork belly, skin-on
- 100g red Sichuan peppercorns
- 10g Rhizoma kaempferiae (sand ginger)
- 10g Fennel seeds
- 10g whole black Peppercorns
- 200g Kosher salt
- Chopped fresh chilies to taste
- 10kg Pork belly, skin off
- 100g Sichuan Chili powder
- 150g Kosher Salt
- 5g freshly-ground Cumin powder
- 10g freshly-ground black pepper
- 20g Sugar
- 20g freshly-ground Sichuan peppercorn powder
- 50g Kaoliang spirits (if unavailable, use high-proof vodka)
- Hog casings
- Cypress branches
- Fresh tangerine peels
- Fresh grapefruit peels
- For the Ham:
- Grind the sand ginger, fennel and pepper to a fairly coarse powder, them put them with the Sichuan peppercorns into a hot wok and stir-fry them. Add the salt and continue stirring for a while (when you can smell the strong aroma of the spices and the salt is dry enough, remove it from the wok).
- Stab a hole through the top of each piece of pork belly so that a string can pass through it.
- Pour the salt with spices on the pork belly and rub them, add a goodly amount of fresh tangerine peel (it can be replaced by orange peel) and minced fresh chile peppers to taste.
- Tile the seasoned pork in a basin and wait for 7 days. During this period, turn over the pork once. After 7 days, wash them and put a butchers twine loop through the hole. Then dry them in the sun for 3 days, bring them inside at night but keep them in strong light if possible. Ideal temperature during this period inside and out is 10 degrees centigrade.
- For the sausages:
- Mix all the sausage ingredients together by hand, then grind fairly coarse in a meat grinder and inject the mixture into a casing. Stab tiny holes in the sausages to let the air out.
- Cut some cypress twigs, add a goodly amount of tangerine and grapefruit peels. Burn them under the pork/sausage (keep the meat high above the fire, this is a cold smoking process in an ideal world) for 1 hour to give the preserved meat a smoked flavor. These should be cold-smoked by either building the fire on a very cold day outdoors or by using a cold smoker or cold smoking attachment for your grill.
- Then hang the preserved pork and sausages in a dry place for more than 20 days and up to 2 months.
- The best temperature for making and hanging these preserved meats is around 10° C.
- When ready to eat, boil the ham and sausage until the skin of the ham is translucent to make them tender before slicing thinly and serving.
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