Fondue & Raclette by Louise Pickford, published by Ryland Peters & Small (£20) Photography by Ian Wallace © Ryland Peters & Small
Spicy Sichuan Fondue with Chinese Pickles
This intensely flavoured melted cheese dish is inspired by two recipes from The Art of Escapism Cooking by cookbook author and blogger Mandy Lee, @Ladyandpups
- 250g Emmental or Gruyère, grated
- 200g Vacherin Fribourgeois or French Comté, grated
- 100ml single cream
- a handful of fresh coriander leaves
- 2 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
- crusty bread, to serve
- For the Chinese Pickles
- 300ml white vinegar
- 200g caster/granulated sugar
- 11/2 tsp salt
- 2 carrots, cut into batons
- 2 sticks celery, trimmed and cut into batons
- 10 radishes, leaves removed and bulbs quartered
- For the chilli oil
- 8 dried red chillies
- 1 star anise
- 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
- 100ml sunflower oil
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
It’s best to make the pickles a few days ahead of serving. Place the vinegar, sugar and salt in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil, then simmer for one minute. Spoon the vegetables into a one-litre sterilised jar and carefully pour in the hot vinegar. Seal with a vinegar-safe lid and set aside to cool. Keep for a few days at least before serving.
To make the chilli oil, place the chillies, star anise and coriander seeds in a spice grinder and finely grind. Transfer the powder to a small saucepan with the oil, sesame seeds and garlic. Bring to the boil over a very low heat and simmer gently, stirring, for three minutes until the chillies are turning brown. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Sichuan peppercorns, set aside to cool. Add the soy sauce and store in a screw-top jar until required.
For the fondue, place two tablespoons of the chilli oil in a non-stick frying pan and add the grated cheese and cream. Bring the mixture to the boil, cover with a lid and cook gently over a very low heat for 15–20 minutes until the cheese is completely melted. You will most likely end up with a crusty cheese base, which is delicious when you get to the bottom of the pan!
Transfer the pan to the table and scatter over the coriander leaves and spring onions. Serve with the Chinese pickles and some crusty bread.