The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
Published: 6th August 2013
Oprah.com’s Book of the Week, a Carnegie Medal nominee, and Goodreads 2013 Best Fantasy finalist. THE GHOST BRIDE is a historical fantasy.
“One evening, my father asked me if I would like to become a ghost bride…”
Li Lan, a young Chinese woman, lives in 1890s colonial Malaya with her quietly ruined father, who returns one evening with a proposition — the fabulously wealthy Lim family want Li Lan to marry their son. The only problem is, he’s dead.
After a fateful visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets, before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.
I often felt very hungry while writing THE GHOST BRIDE late at night, and as a result, the book is filled with descriptions of food and banquets. Perhaps this isn’t surprising, since SE Asia is a foodie paradise, filled with street stalls selling little snacks like pisang goreng, fried bananas dipped in batter, and apom manis, a sweet fluffy crepe made with coconut milk and sugar. In fact, while writing about these delicacies, I would bemoan the fact that, unlike Malaysia, there were no night markets nearby to run off and grab a quick bite. Sadly, I would then wander off to the kitchen and make myself a snack.
I’m excited that the paperback release is out in August, and to celebrate, I’d like to share one of my favorite quick and easy recipes to make. It’s savory, healthy, and goes well with rice. Best of all, it can be quickly made with ingredients on hand if you need a last minute dish for dinner.
I learned to make this silky tofu dish from my mum, who’s the master at dishing out delicious food in a pinch. It’s not a recipe that I’ve ever seen in a cookbook, though that might be because this is home cooking, not the sort that appears in a restaurant. The only potentially exotic ingredient you’ll need is a handful of the small dried shrimp that you can buy in any Asian supermarket (and which most Chinese households always have on hand), but these can be bought and stored in the freezer for several months.
- 1 block silken tofu. Make sure that it is silken, or soft as tofu has very different textures. Tofu has a fairly long expiry date and I usually keep a few blocks in my fridge at all times.
- 1 very scant handful small dried shrimp (about ⅛ cup) Buy this at any Asian grocery store, usually in the refrigerated section. Try to choose shrimp that are not too big (they’ll be tough) or too tiny. About ½ inch is a fine size and a nice orangey colour indicates they’re fresh. They can be stored in your freezer if you have extras.
- 2 stalks green onions
- Soy sauce and cooking oil
- Open the tofu package and drain off any liquid. Put the tofu in a large bowl that you can serve it in. Microwave, uncovered, for a minute to heat it through. If extra liquid seeps out after heating, drain it off.
- Rinse and chop the green onions and add on top of the tofu.
- In a small bowl, rinse the dried shrimp lightly and drain off the water.
- Heat an empty saucepan and when it’s medium hot, add the shrimp. Stir lightly to help the water evaporate.
- When the shrimp has dried out a bit (doesn’t have to be very dry), add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil. The shrimp will sizzle a bit. Fry over medium heat, stirring often, until the shrimp become aromatic and a bit crispy, about 3 or 4 minutes. Be careful however not to burn them! Stop before they turn too dark. They should be a nice light brown colour.
- Pour the sizzling shrimp plus the oil over the tofu. Drizzle with soy sauce to taste and serve!
Thank you so much for having me - it’s been a pleasure!
Thank you! That tofu sounds absolutely delicious!
Author Bio - Yangsze Choo
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