Ni Zan's Dietary System of the Cloud Forest Studio

Ni Zan was a Yuan dynasty painter who, luckily for us, had OPINIONS about food.  And he wrote them down.  Stylishly:

There's was an English translation published in Petit Propos Culinaire volume 60 but it's got a few problems.  Chiefly, it isn't free.  Less importantly, the more I look at it, the more problems with its translations I see.  While the authors clearly had some really good sources on plant and animal identities, they also made a lot of very questionable choices.  They also wrote off some recipes as being mistakes or too weird where they probably shouldn't have ("Certainly the soup did not have ash in it" for a recipe for noodles cooked in a lye solution, which is still a thing done today), and they completely missed on the brewing recipes because they're weird, if standard for what they are.

A wonderful set of comments was published in PPC 61 and mostly validates my disagreements.

I'll update this post with an interpretation of the units given for the few recipes that have them in a few days - the book with that information is not with me currently.

I'd love feedback and challenges to my interpretation.  Literary Chinese is at times very ambiguous, and I'm sure I haven't interpreted everything exactly how Ni Zan intended.  Please leave a comment!

Dietary System of the Cloud Forest Studio

Numbers correspond to the Chinese Text Project paragraph numbers, and begin at two. This translation has taken pains to be precise in translating plant and animal species where it can, and most species have scientific names attached except where they’re either so common in the English-speaking world that they’re not ambiguous (ginger, wheat, soy) or where the word in Chinese is ambiguous and maps well to a more vague English category (crab, shrimp, carp). Most species assignments are from A Student’s Dictionary of Classical and Medieval Chinese (Paul Kroll, 2015), with corrections where that dictionary used a deprecated name synonym. Where a species could not be found in that dictionary, the broader Chinese internet was referenced, which typically meant Baidu and Wikipedia’s encyclopedias. These species assignments should be regarded as best guesses.

Square brackets represent the translator’s notes and attempt to provide insight into open questions about the meaning of certain passages. Parentheses represent square brackets from the original text and are probably later commenters’ additions.

The PPC translation notes “our translation has been free rather than pedantically precise” and while this translation attempts to be a translation and not a transcription, it hews closer to the structure of the original, aiming to represent every phrase in the original faithfully where possible and not repetititve.

2 To Make Soy Sauce

For every standard dou of yellow seeds [soybeans], take a full ten jin (as measured on the steelyard) of salt, 20 jin so measured of water, add them together; you just do this during the dog days of summer.

3 To Boil Noodles

If you wish to eat for lunch, at daybreak take salted water and dampen [the author is likely using 搜 “to search, to dig” where they meant 溲 “to soak,” as they are and were homophones - this interpretation will be used throughout] wheat into rounds, press down 20-30 times, and cover with something immediately, and then again press the rounds as before. Like this press the rounds four times, and if made with finely-grained pure flour, will resist cutting with a knife. To boil: when boiling water is agitated and moving, add the noodles. If the boil escapes, reduce the fire, and add a lid, and then bring back to a boil. Then, dredge out the noodles and put in the broth “sinking aromatic [diseased Aquilaria agallocha wood used as incense]” spines and sandalwood [Santalum album or possibly rosewood Dalbergia hupeana, D. odorifera] and for a short time patchouli [Pogostemon cablin] at the end.

4 [Silkworm Incense?]

When the original silkworm moth [Bombyx mori] is dominant and unparalleled, air some to dry, and add a little wild duck musk. Take goose pear [Pyrus × bretschneideri] juice and make cakes, and burn them covered.

5 Honey-Drunk Crab

[Charbydis japonica]
Rapidly boil them in salted water, and when the color changes immediately dredge them out. Break [the meat?] out the shells, keeping them whole. Take the meat out of the claws and legs, and chop the leg meat into small chunks. Then, take the above items and arrange them inside the shell, and then take a little honey and chicken eggs [literally “chicken pellet,” which is unusual but see “duck eggs” in recipe 29 for the same vocabulary], mix it evenly and pour it everywhere. Then, spread the fertile belly fat [roe? liver?] on top of the egg and steam it. When the egg congeals, then eat it; you may not fully steam it. Serve with sweet oranges [Citrus sinensis], pickled chopped meat / vegetables, and vinegar.

6 To Boil Crab

Take fresh ginger, purple perilla [Perilla frutescens, “purple” may be just part of the plant name], sourpeel tangerine [Citrus reticulata] skin, and salt and boil them together. Gently heat it, and when the boil penetrates, turn it over. Heat again, and when it’s penetrated by a great boil, eat. Whenever you boil crab, it is best to turn it, boil it, turn it, and then eat it. In proportion to one person, you may only boil two. Eat, and then boil again. Serve with pounded sweet orange [Citrus sinensis], pickled chopped meat / vegetables, and vinegar.

7 To Boil Crab in Wine

Take a crab and wash it clean, and while fresh [possibly, alive] split it horizontally into two pieces and chop the meat, and then break open the shell. Chop the leg meat into small chunks, and also chop the shell into small chunks. Only use the upper part of the legs. Break open the claws. Take scallions [Allium fistulosum], pepper [Sichuan, Zanthoxylum simulans], pure wine and a little salt, and in a sand-tin vessel repeatedly boil them. After it’s cooked, eat it. Serve without vinegar.

8 Boiling Wontons

Finely mince meat, and add riced bamboo shoots or wild rice shoots [Zizania latifolia], garlic chives [Allium tuberosum], or vine flowers [“climbing or trailing vines, including various species of wisteria or liana”] - any of them work. Take Sichuan pepper [Zanthoxylum simulans], almonds and a little [soy?] sauce evenly mixed and bundle it all together, with a skin laid out slightly thick, cut square, and again use pure flour to withstand thinness. Add them to boiling water [or broth?]. When boiling, use a rolling boil so that they turn over, and do not cover the pot. Wait for them to float, and then lift them, but you may not stir. In the filling, do not use fructus amomi [Amomum villosum], which will cause burping.

9 To Make Eurasian Siskin Mantou

Take Eurasian Siskin [Spinus spinus] and use the brain [possibly head] and wings. Take scallions [Allium fistulosum], pepper [Sichuan, Zanthoxylum simulans] and salt and mince them together and stuff it inside the belly. Wrap it in leavened dough, making little long rolls, making both heads even and round. Steam on bamboo, or after steaming marinate in wine dregs as one does for wine dregs-mantou. A fragrant method is to fry these and it’s wonderful.

10 To Make Cold-Washed Noodles

Remove the skin from fresh ginger, and grind with a pestle. Take the juice that flows out, and powdered pepper [Sichuan, Zanthoxylum simulans], and vinegar mixed with [soy?] sauce. Spread it out and take the juice, and do not add other juice. To the liquid add jellied [PPC 61] mandarin fish [Siniperca ssp.], seabass [Lateolabrax japonicus], or river fish, and add it quickly to the reduced liquid. Shrimp meat is also fine. Shrimp does not need to be jellied. Add finely chopped cilantro [Coriandrum sativum], cilantro [clearly the author thought these were different plants, but A Student’s Dictionary and CC-dict gloss them as the same. The first “cilantro” is literally “western-barbarian cilantro” which according to A Student’s Dictionary of Classical and Medieval Chinese, 2015, is just regular cilantro (along with non-barbarian cilantro), but perhaps the author meant a cilantro-like plant from the west. Parsley? The second is literally “fragrant leafy-vegetable” but in modern Chinese means “cilantro.”] or garlic chive [Allium tuberosum] shoots, all fresh. Soak the cold-washed [PPC 61 suggests “rinsed in fresh water”] noodles in it, and use the cold meat juice with a little salt as seasoning. For the mandarin fish, river fish or other fish, take out the bones and skin, pare it into strips, and line a basin with them, or fix them on a platter. Take the fish juice and the river fish paste and simmer it until combined. Pour off the clear liquor and chill.

11 A New Method for Clams

Take clean clams, and open them while alive, leaving the liquid in a separate vessel. Scrape off the clam-mud and -sand, pare it off, and wash in water, leaving the washing water behind and again using warm water to wash it. Then, perhaps take finely julienned scallion [Allium fistulosum] or julienned sourpeel tangerine [Citrus reticulata] and mix them with the clam meat, evenly arrange them in a bowl, and take the liquid from before and the water from the second washing boiled into a clear broth. Take out the feet and add scallion, pepper [Sichuan, Zanthoxylum simulans], and wine and mix. Pour the juice over and serve. Very wonderful.

12 Snow-Covered Vegetables

Take spring leafy vegetable [cabbage?] hearts with a few remaining leaves, and for every kind make two sections. Put them in a bowl, and take milk cakes [rubing, a kind of farmer’s cheese] thickly cut into sheets and fully cover the top of the vegetables. Take ground pepper [Sichuan, Zanthoxylum simulans] and roll it in your palms on top. You don’t need much pepper. Take pure wine and a little salt and pour it over the whole bowl, and then steam it on bamboo. When the vegetables are cooked, and soft, eat it.

13 To Boil Dry Seitan

Take fine [in size] gluten from Wuzhong newly put in a bamboo steamer but without water added. Tear it into thin small strips. First take some licorice root [Glycyrrhiza glabra] in inch-long pieces. Add a little wine, and boil in water until dry. Then, take purple perilla [Perilla frutescens] leaves and sourpeel tangerine [Citrus reticulata] skin sheets, and ginger sheets and boil them together with the gluten. Take it out and let it cool. Then, take some finished oil-sauce, pepper [Sichuan, Zanthoxylum simulans], black pepper [Piper nigrum], almonds, all ground and mixed, mix with the ginger, tangerine, etc., and knead it three times, so the flavor has evenly entered. Air it until dry, and put it in a sweets jar and seal it. If you try to eat it a while later and it’s hard, then steam it.

14 Blood Clams

Take live blood clams [Tegillarca granosa], split four or five open in succession, and immediately arrange them in a bowl. Trickle sauce on top, and take very hot wine and boil them, and then eat them. Do not use pepper [Sichuan, Zanthoxylum simulans], salt, etc. When you break them open, first take a big cloth needle and pierce their mouth to open them more easily.

15 To Cook Rolled-Up Blue-Green Shrimp

Take fresh [live?] blue-green shrimp and remove the heads and the shells leaving a small tail. Take a small knife and thinly slice it from the large head to the tail, leaving the meat linked to the tail and not severing it. Immerse in scallions [Allium fistulosum], pepper [Sichuan, Zanthoxylum simulans], salt, wine and water. Pound the heads and shells until they break down, and then boil and take the broth. Cook the shrimp meat in the broth after it is clear. Consider adding bamboo shoot slices, wine dregs, and ginger slices. (Basically, if the broth does not have spiciness, the wine does not need to be a lot) Cook until done.
[The PPC translations render the cooking verb here as “cook very quickly” but Student’s doesn’t support anything more than just “cook.”]

16 Mr. Fragrant Snail

[Gastropod; snail, whelk, periwinkle]
Beat off the shells and take the clean meat and wash it. Do not use sauce. Take a small thin knife and slice it into curls like for a blooming pear, or slice it thinly. Cook in chicken stock.

17 River Flying Fish

[Exocoetidae, or possibly skates since all flying fish are marine. PPG thinks this is scallops but scallops are also all marine.]
Take the meat from fresh ones, wash in wine and finely julienne it to the size of a chopstick head. Boil in very hot wine and serve. Or, finely make it into filaments and when fresh add black pepper [Piper nigrum] and vinegar and serve it. Add the pepper and vinegar to a little sugar and salt and serve cold.

18 Zi Fish

[“A kind of black fish,” possibly striped mullet Mugil cephalus]
Cut it into chunks like you do to prepare carp. Boil in half water and half wine with ginger, pepper [Sichuan, Zanthoxylum simulans] and salt. Serve it making it lustrous [possibly just “oily” or “rich”]

19 River Snails

[Literally, “field snails,” Viviparidae]
Take big one sand pound off their heads [the operculum?]. They don’t need to be shown water. Briefly wash in sand-sugar thickly mixed with submerged [boiled?] rice, and possibly slice it. Submerge in scalllions [Allium fistulosum], pepper [Sichuan, Zanthoxylum simulans] and wine for a little while. Boil in clear unused chicken broth [possibly egg whites, but that seems unlikely] and serve. You may serve them raw with salt, wine and cumin [Cuminum cyminum] immersed for three to five days and served with clear vinegar. You may not eat them in summer.

20 Boiling Meat Stew

Use backbone meat, but first remove the tendons and membranes. Clean and cut the meat into inch-long pieces, and chop up the small pieces. Journey [score?] the top of the meat [so that it appears] like litchis. Take scalllions [Allium fistulosum], pepper [Sichuan, Zanthoxylum simulans], salt and wine and submerge for a little while, and then toss it into boiling broth, and immediately stir to disperse it. Quickly take the meat with the broth and put it in a vessel so that it is well soaked. Allow the meat broth to clear. Serve with wine dregs, sliced ginger or mountain medicine [yams Dioscorea polystachya?] chunks or bamboo shoot chunks together, in the original broth.

21 Tender Belly and Loin

Prepare tender chicken as in the previous method. In it, use white breast meat cut in pieces the size of dice, and then continue to cut them to shreds. Journey [score them?] like litchis. The skin will be extra, like in the previous method.

22 To Make Vinegar Bamboo Shoots

Take bamboo shoot juice and put it in white plum [PPC 61 suggests Prunus mume preserved in salt] sugar frost or white sand sugar and the natural juice from fresh ginger. When mixed, add cooked bamboo shoots. Immerse for a little while. Eat cold. You may not keep them long.

23 To Cook Radishes

Take [radishes, Raphanus sativa] cut into four small chunks the long way, and put them in a clean vessel. put julienned fresh ginger and pepper [Sichuan, Zanthoxylum simulans] grain powder on top. Add a little water and wine and add mixed salt and vinegar to a cauldron and boil. When hot, pour it over the radishes, and immediately cover. Ensure that you completely immerse the ground, so that the radishes are soaked.

24 To Make Gingered Wine Dregs

With a clean cloth, wipe off the tender shoots, and for every jin of ginger take one and a half jin of wine dregs. Stir-fry one and a half liang of salt mixed evenly, and then put it [all?] in a bottle. Take a little of the the stir-fried salt and sprinkle on the surface, then seal it.

25 To Boil Vegetables

[Metaplexis ssp? It’s a specific kind of vegetable, not generically vegetables.]
Take water and wash some four, and wash out any sand and mud. Then add chicken meat broth to it.

26 Duke Zheng’s Method for Wine Yeast Cakes

[This is a pretty standard approach to making yeast cakes. Compare to the methods in Qimin Yaoshu]
Take thirty jin of white flour, one dou of green [mung?] beans boiled until soft, one liang of powdered sand-retreating [cleaned of sand? Grown in sand?] wood fragrance [one of a few plants, possibly “original wood fragrance” Saussurea costus, or Dolomiaea soluliei], one liang of powdered Cassia cinnamon [Cinnamomum cassia], the stamens of thirty lotus flowers along with the petals they are alongside. Pound [the flower parts] in a mortar. Do not use the housing for the sweet melon [don’t include the receptacle? The sepals?]. When pounded soft, take a coarse cloth and wring out a bowl of liquid from the mash. Pound water pepper [Polygonum hydropiper] and mix the natural juice with the previous. Mix the wet and dry ingredients, and use a cloth bag and stomp on it to make it firm. Wrap each cake in two mulberry leaves, and then in hemp. Pierce and suspend them from the rafters. After a month, take them, remove the leaves and brush them clean. Air them in the sun and in the night dew for a month, and then put them in an earthen jar and seal it. For every thirty jin of flour you will get 70 cakes.

To Brew

Take [glutinous] rice and wash it until extremely clean in river water. Soak it for ten days or so and drain it. Again take river water and soak it. Drain, reserving the water, and let it clarify. For every dan of rice, reserve one dou as a sacrifice. You may delay three days. Soak every dou of grain in eight jin of the reserved water, and for every dan [of rice?] use four or five jin of flour [yeast cakes?]. To make clear wine, only use three jin. A gang jar can ferment one dan of rice. Pound yeast cakes into powder and mix with cooked rice, and then divide into four parts. In succession, put one part in a small gang jar with a little water, so that it is soaked, and mix evenly. Put one part in the a gang jar [the same one?], and use your hand to press it down and make it firm. Take a wooden ladle and the lining water and irrigate it. Take a reed [Phragmites communis] mat and rice straw and cover it. After a night, look at the face of the jar and see that it has great cracks opened in it. Take your hand and mix the lining and warm it, and then beat it with a stick. After beating three times, then add the sacrificial rice, and then add a little unstrained wine dispersed in the rice, and pour it into the jar. Then, cover it, mix it evenly, and cover again. After about a month, it will be fully done. For every two dan use eight ash rounds, one half into the unstrained spirits and pressed through a bag, and one half in a bag in the wine liquor [post-pressing?] where the clear liquor can be removed from the sediment. Clarify twice and add the cakes and boil it (clear wine does not need the sacrificial rice).

27 To Make Ash

Take mulberry ash, foxtail millet [Setaria italica] ash, fresh millet charcoal ash and sift it, and then add hot water the size of a small wine cup [4-5 cm?], or the size of charcoal rounds. [Subject unclear] fire heated through red three or four times and then powdered, and then use them.

28 To Boil Carp

[Cypriinus carpio] Cut it into chunks and boil in half water and half wine. Take ginger, remove the skin, slice it thin and pound it into a paste. Mix powdered pepper [Sichuan, Zanthoxylum simulans] in evenly, and then disperse it in wine. First take a little sauce and water and add the fish at the third boil [1-5 scale of how much the water is boiling, not three times]. Then, add the ginger and pepper and quickly remove the fish.

Another Method

Cut it into chunks. First, take fragrant oil [sesame?] and boil it until cooked, and then boil ginger and pepper [Sichuan, Zanthoxylum simulans] in the oil and put it in another vessel. Next, dry-fry the fish in a wok with the oil. When the color changes, boil it. Slowly add the fire stops, add sauce and water, and finish as in the previous recipe.

29 Crab Softshelled Turtles

[soft-shelled turtle Pelodiscus ssp., although this may be meant to merely look like turtles]
Take cooked crab, separate the meat, and mix in a little pepper [Sichuan, Zanthoxylum simulans]. First, take flour and cover the bottom of a bamboo steamer with dry lotus [Nelumbo nucifera] leaves, and spread the crab meat mix in a layer on top. Then, take chicken eggs or wild duck eggs and a little salt, beaten, and pour it over. Spread crab grease [roe?] over the top and steam. Stop when the eggs are dry. Take it out, let it cool, and remove the lining. Cut it into eyeball sized pieces, and take the crab shell and make a broth with well-pounded ginger. Add [Sichuan] pepper powder, and bind it with a little pure flour mixed in, adding it to the previous juice or line with spinach [?], serve it and it’s wonderful.

30 Sweet Mantou

[“Sweet” is probably an error as the character is similar to “wine dregs”]
Fill mantou with a fine[ly minced] filling and one at a time wrap them in a yellow grass [mugwort or wormwood, Artemisia ssp?] cloth bag, or use a full-selvedge cloth. First spread wine dregs in a big basin, spread a cloth on top, and thinly arrange the mantou on top of the cloth. Then, take a cloth and cover it. Thickly cover the cloth in wine dregs. After a night, take them out and stir-fry them in fragrant oil [sesame?]. On a winter day, you may keep these half a month; if they are cold, then roast them over a gentle fire.

31 Boiling Pig Head Meat

Take meat cut into large chunks, and for each take half water and half wine with a little salt, and long scallion [Allium fistulosum] whites and pepper [Sichuan, Zanthoxylum simulans], and put them in a rouge bowl [lit. “vermilion small bowl] or silver cooking pan and make a thick broth overnight. Looking over it, slowly add wine dregs, ginger slices, and new julienned orange [Citrus sinensis] and sourpeel tangerine [Citrus reticulata]. If you would to make thick gruel, add pounded glutinous rice and mountain medicine [yams Dioscorea polystachya?] all at once. (One pig’s head can make four parts of gruel.)

32 Sichuan Pig’s Head

[Readers may be more familiar with the older spelling, Szechuan, a region known for its spicy food today.]
Take a pig’s head, but don’t break it open. Take grass and firewood and smoke it over a fire for a time. Scrape it very clean, and then boil it in a white broth [possibly just clear water]. Change the broth and re-boil perhaps five times. Do not add salt. After you take it out of the broth, slice it cold into willow leaf slices and add to them long-cut julienned scallions [Allium fistulosum], garlic chives [Allium tuberosum], julienned bamboo shoots or julienned wild rice shoots [Zizania latifolia]. Mix in pepper [Sichuan, Zanthoxylum simulans], almonds, sesame and salt. Sprinkle a little wine over it. Steam it in a shaking-gong and serve it wrapped in hand cakes [See recipe 33]

33 Hand Cakes

Take ten parts of top-quality flour [leaven in the ctext version, but PPC 61 has a version that reads “flour.”], and evenly mix in boiling water and salt and roll out. Knead adding flour so that they are extremely fully and dry, and perhaps make small bowls [take pieces the size of a small bowl?]. Grill the big cakes on a platter until done. People often sprinkle salted water over them. Finally, wrap them in a damp cloth to cover.

34 Goldfish Stomach Stew

[Carassius auratus]
Take fresh small goldfish and break open the stomach and remove the intestines. Cut the belly fat [possibly roe] into two slices, and fief [sic] them with scallions [Allium fistulosum], pepper [Sichuan, Zanthoxylum simulans], salt and wine. The belly fat should be cut in the shape of a butterfly. Take meat from the head, backbone, etc., and boil it in broth. Drench [remove?] the meat, and take the stomach and belly fat and pack it in a winnowing basket, grain bucket, or bamboo strainer. Add the broth and meat gently, and when appropriately warm, pluck out the bones. Mix in Sichuan or black pepper, or sauce water with the broth from before ensuring that it is clear as water when you add it, and serve together with leaf vegetables or bamboo shoots.

35 Honeyed Shredded Meat Bits

Take true flour and soak it in egg [lit. “embryos”] and mix it well. Boil concentrated rice straw ash liquor or charcoal ash liquor, and lace noodles through it and it will be complete. Serve in clear chicken broth, with shredded chicken, or shredded meat, and it’s appropriate to use as a “nod.”

36 Cooked Filled Lotus Roots

Take really good true flour, honey and a little musk [lit. musk deer Moschus moschiferus] and pour it inside lotus roots. Pour from the big head. Wrap in oiled paper, tie, and boil until cooked. Cut into slices and eat warm.

37 Tangerine Tea

[Sourpeel tangerine Citrus reticulata]
(The same as jasmine tea [Jasminum sambac]) Take medium-grade fine sprout tea and use a hot water jar. First, put a layer of flowers, then a layer of tea, alternating until the jar is full. Then, take flower honey and cover the top. Air it in the sun. Turn the jar over three times, and then steam it in a wok with shallow water. After steaming for the appropriate time, the jar’s lid will reach its hottest. Take it out. Wait until it’s fully cool, and then open the jar. Take out the tea, remove the flowers, and wrap the tea in “construction-linking” paper. Air it in the sun until dry. While airing, often open the paper and shake it so that it’s even in the hope that it will be easy to cool. For every jar, use three or four paper wrappers, and then it will be easy to air. Like this, change the flowers and steam. Air three times and it’s wonderful.

38 Lotus Flower Tea

Before breakfast, before dawn [lotus flowers open daily with the sun], go to a pond and pick lotus flowers. Use your fingers to open them, and fill them with tea leaves like a vessel. Bind with hemp threads and tie firmly. Pass a night, and in the morning gather the lotus flowers. Take the tea in a paper bag and air it until dry. Do this three times. Store in a full tin/pewter jar.

39 To Simmer the Above Teas

Boil water in a silver tea kettle, and when the time is right and the bubbles are crab-eye sized and moving, put the tea in another vessel. Pour out a little of the water in the kettle and soak the tea, and immediately cover it. Wait until the tea is wetted through, and then put the kettle back on the fire. Wait until the water has a sound, and then immediately add the soaked tea leaves. After a moment, take it up, and after another moment put it back on the fire. Finally, after it boils, you may drink it. Very good.

40 Candied Bitter Citron

[Citrus medica]
Take bitter citrons and even if they’re old, remove the pulp and “sack.” Julienne. Put it in water boiling at the first or second boil. Let drip dry. Separately put honey in a little water. For every liang of honey use one qian [= 1 liang?] of water and in a silver stone vessel boil over a slow fire until the honey is cooked, judging by its thickness. Add the julienned citron into it, stirring, and put it in a linked container. Pass a night and cook it again. Bring to a boil and then take it out. When it’s cold, boil again. When cold, put it in a ceramic vessel and seal it well. Add less honey to offer wine, and if you will use it in soup slowly add more honey.

41 Fragrant Ash

Take China-fir [Cunninghamia lanceolata] tree branch ashes, autumn eggplant root ashes, paper money ashes, etc., mixed evenly. Add hot water to make rounds and put them in a stove with a high wood fire and roast till red. Take them out and grind them. Again, make cakes and roast until they are white. Insert ⅓ part thin spikes of lime and roast again. Sieve fine. To make three kinds of ash white after several roastings you may have to roast ten or twenty times.

42 To Wash Inkstones

Use rice straw ash or roasted ash or fragrant ashes, or that which is in temples [incense ash?]. Finely sieve and wash it and it will be exquisite.

43 Water Dragons

Take the finest meat from a pig: two parts fat, one part meat. Chop it fine, and add scallions [Allium fistulosum], pepper [Sichuan, Zanthoxylum simulans], almonds, a little sauce, and a little crushed dry-steamed cakes, evenly mixed. Form into balls with your hands and vinegar. Coat in true flour. Add to boiling water or broth and when they float, take them out. Clear hot broth is appropriate.

44 Eurasian Siskin

[Spinus spinus]
Remove the feathers. Take the brains [head?] and wings with scallions [Allium fistulosum], pepper [Sichuan, Zanthoxylum simulans] chopped and mixed to brew in the belly. Boil well in good sweet wine and then eat as a meal. Add a little salt to the wine.

45 White Salt Cakes

Take some amount of salt and rinse it with water. Take a bamboo basket and arrange coarse paper on its bottom. Pour water inside, and place it in a clean wok for a time while the water drops completely, and then boil it [the remaining salt?] dry. Then, add a little fresh sesame to the inside of the wok, press it till firm, and heat until the water boils with shrimp eye bubbles and then take the liquor and pour it into a stone bowl. Make the cakes as large as you please.

46 Roast Pork Fat and Belly

[“Fat” is ambiguous here but probably refers to a specific cut or organ. “Belly” may mean stomach but could equally be belly meat.]
First boil the above things in water or broth until done. Add cut and mixed garlic [Allium sativum or rocambole Allium scorodoprasum] slices, coarse and dry, with a little salt. Add it to a wok on a bamboo platform. Cover over a slow fire and roast. Add a small cup of water to the wok.

47 Roast Pork

Clean meat and use scallions [Allium fistulosum] and pepper [Sichuan, Zanthoxylum simulans] with a little honey, salt and wine and rub it. In a wok put it on a bamboo stick platform. Add to the wok one small cup of water and one of wine, and cover it using wet paper to seal the seams. When dry, use water to moisten it. Build a fire out of great grass, do not stir. After the appropriate time, again build a grass fire. Stoke it for a meal-time. Use your hand to feel if the wok lid is cool. Open the lid and turn the meat. Cover again and moisten the paper. As before, seal it. Again use build a grass fire and when cool it will be done.

48 Roast Goose

Use the roast meat method [above], using salt, pepper [Sichuan, Zanthoxylum simulans], scallions [Allium fistulosum] and wine rubbed over the inside. On the outside, smear wine and honey. Add it to a wok. Follow the rest as the above recipe, but when you first add it to the wok, point the cavity upwards, and later turn it so that the cavity points down.

49 Newly-Issued Crabs

[It’s unclear if the crabs are newly-issued or if the recipe is]
Take freshly opened [softshelled?] crabs, leave the shells with the belly fat [roe?]. Cut the legs into joints about an inch long, and wash them in water. Take fresh honey and submerge for a good while. Then, take scallions [Allium fistulosum], pepper [Sichuan, Zanthoxylum simulans] and a little wine mixed well, and cook in chicken broth. Take the above fat [roe?], steam it well, remove the shell and put it in the broth. Add wine dregs and ginger slices to the clear broth when you start. Serve without claws, and don't overcook.

50 Flame Jellyfish Stew

[Rhopilema esculentum]
Use shrimp [Fenneropenaeus chinensis], fresh shrimp, and [jellyfish?] heads and boil in [to make a?] clear broth. Optionally add sliced tender [crispy?] chicken. Again add the jellyfish. Only use flower heads [not the tentacles?]. The best is washed clean. Mix the shrimp, sicklepod [Senna obtusifolia, probably the seeds which are a thickener], the fresh shrimp and the tender chicken and add. You may also use fish.

To Boil Sicklepod

First clean, then put them in a wine bottle and that bottle in a full bamboo steamer. Cook over a chaff fire for a turn, then take it out, change the water, and soak it. Chop and eat. use.

51 River Fish

(Fake Flying Fish [but see 17 for a discussion of this fish’s identity. The PPG version thinks this is imitation scallops.])

Use river fish backbone meat, and cut into long pieces. For each, take six pieces in the shape of flying fish [or whatever this actually is], salt, fief [sic] in wine and steam. Boil the remaining meat in broth, using the head. Remove the bones, and take the yellow beautiful stuff from the mouth and cheeks and moreover (the remainder is missing)


  1. Wow, Alec. What a great resource. Thank you. I have had so many questions in the Wang/Anderson translation and many have been addressed through your translation. I do have a quick question about translation choice. In 9 To Make Eurasian Siskin Mantou and 44 Eurasian Siskin you have translated the bird as Spinus spinus. Obviously, Wang/Anderson translate 'yellow bird' as Emberiza ssp. My query is because Emberiza ssp is still eaten today (in fact the threat of human diets is the primary pressure on this bunting). Why did you choose Spinus spinus instead? Ultimately, it wont change the outcome of my redaction being unable to source either for food manufacture. But my understanding is that Emberiza spp is less greasy and that could make a change to my meat for the redaction. Thank you again. Regards, Natal'ia

    1. I apologize for the late response.

      I don't feel strongly about the bird identification. The word in question is 黃雀 which is "yellow que," where que is a large class of sparrow-like birds.

      CCdict, the large online Chinese-English dictionary gives Spinus spinus:, which is why I went with that translation.

      A Student's Dictionary doesn't have an entry for yellow que, but for que, it gives "small bird, birdling, esp. sparrow, tree-sparrow (Passer montanus). a) general term for all birds but raptors.

      So this doesn't tell me much. Chinese Wikipedia also thinks that yellow que is Spinus spinus:

      Wang Li's Dictionary of Old Chinese is also silent on the issue. I don't have any high quality bi-syllabic dictionaries (yeah, this is a problem with literary Chinese dictionaries). So, in the absence of any reason to follow Wang/Anderson, I have to go with the information I have.


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