Saturday, 12 September 2009

Nick's plum sauce

With the final batch of Victoria and round red plums I decide to make plum sauce. I want it for crispy duck pancakes and to smear on pork ribs. I want an authentic Chinese recipe, and find one. I stone and chop and stone and chop. The pot bubbles and I stir on and on for hours until I have a thick hoisiny mixture. I lean in to inhale and blast my sinuses adrift from their usual resting place. The acid of the vinegar is so overpowering my eyes water. So I taste. Bleurghhh. I recheck the recipe. The ratio of sugar to vinegar is very low, so I add some more, boil and bubble and retaste. And add more sugar. And reboil and retaste. And add yet more sugar and retaste. Hmm. That might be right.
I know, as an old chutney maker, that these things need to mellow over time, but there are limits. Acrid is never good.
So, just to check that there wasn't a typo in the recipe book I email the publisher who passes the message on toot sweet to the author.
Next morning there's an email in my inbox: "I'm sorry the recipe didn't work for you. I'm not sure why. I was picking plums last weekend in Buckinghamshire with Camilla, who passed me the original recipe. Her father opened the first Chinese restaurant in the UK and would make up this recipe seasonally as plum sauce wasn't available commercially then. Maybe the tartness of the plums has affected your recipe. In any case it's not nice when you invest time in a recipe and you don't like the end result. I am making some over the next couple of days and will send you some of mine."
And guess what dropped into the post box today? Isn't that lovely of him? I've sent a wee pot of my own back in exchange. Fair's fair.

11 comments:

James Higham said...

Crispy duck pancakes. Drool.

Scriptor Senex said...

What a lovely response. Gives you faith in human nature when someone does something nice like that.

John Gray jgsheffield@hotmail.com said...

whats the stopper???

Mopsa said...

James, now I just need to go and dispatch a duck.

SS - yup - wasn't it generous

John, it's a cork - not something I'd have thought of using, but it looks nice.

mountainear said...

Could do with that recipe - plums are in abundance this year and what will we do with them?

John Gray jgsheffield@hotmail.com said...

now I know I sound like a geek but where did u get the jar and cork from???

Mopsa said...

M'ear - simply, in oil cook onions, chi;;i, ginger and garlic until soft, add 5.5lbs plums, 1.75 pints red wine vinegar and 1/2 pint water and boil til plums are soft. Push through a seive, put results in a pan with 9oz (??) soft brown sugar, 7floz dark soy sauce, cinnamon, star anise and Sichuan pepper. Boil for 2 hrs, stirring regularly, fill hot jars and seal.

John - perhaps my post wasn't clear? It was a present from the chef Nick Sandler who wrote the Preserved book so I could try some of his....

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Plums, plums... a euphemism for.... ha, ha! That Nick he was always such a mischief at Eton. But really I thoroughly concur with Scriptor Senex.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

That was a nice gesture on the part of the author.

locksparkfarm said...

You've got it! I think that's just the most wonderful thing. Have you tasted it yet? Less acidic? Have you had feed back from yours?

Mopsa said...

Yp - look up a few metres.

Welshcakes - wasn't it?

Lockspark - I'm leaving it to mellow for a while - but then again it's duck tomorrow, so perhaps not...