Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Vegetarian Yunnan pot

This recipe is from Bryanna Clark Grogan's Authentic Chinese Cuisine. It intrigued me because of the method, which is as follows:

1. In a wok or skillet, quickly stir fry some vegetables (in this case Chinese cabbage, Brussels sprouts, carrot, dried and fresh mushrooms, garlic, and ginger) to sear in the juices but not fully cook.

2. Boil noodles.

3. Make a little cooking sauce with the mushroom soaking water, soy sauce, corn starch, and sesame oil.

4. In a Yunnan pot or ceramic dish, layer the vegetables, some protein (I used oriental-style seitan meatballs from the freezer, but you could also use seitan chunks or oven-fried or deep fried tofu; in any case, some separate cooking is required for all of these choices; I had to bake my meatballs to get them hot and crisp), and the noodles in that order, and top with some green onions. Pour the sauce over everything. Here it is right after steaming (note that the larger pot is a regular Dutch oven, and the cute little red pot that Diane gave me for Christmas fits nicely into it: this is the whole recipe, not halved, and made about five cups of stew):

5. Steam the Yunnan pot on a trivet inside another, larger pot for approximately half an hour until the vegetables have finished cooking. Serve hot.

Can you count the pots? I couldn't manage with less than five, not to mention the bowl for the sauce and the serving dish.

What's good about this recipe? Well, in fairness you do have the opportunity to wash most of the pots and clean the kitchen while the Yunnan pot steams. Meanwhile, in the Yunnan pot, the liquids drop to the bottom and cook the vegetables, while the entire dish is infused with the flavours of the different foods in it. Because they are lifted away from the moist vegetables, the meatballs and the noodles arrive on the plate hot but not soggy.

So much Chinese cooking depends on split-second timing or the whole dish is ruined. But this must be the Chinese equivalent of a casserole, where you can prepare everything in the morning, but not cook it until later in the day. I wasn't, however, doing that, so I felt a little foolish standing over the sink washing dishes, and washing, and washing…


  1. The end result looks excellent, but the pots ...

  2. You make such cool food, with lots of different styles and methods...I can tell this must be delicious both from your description, and the photos. Those veggies are gorgeous.