Five and two-thirds cups of salt
Yesterday it was like 7:00 p.m. and I'd cleaned up the whole kitchen and then eaten dessert (twice) and then cleaned that up, and I was restless. I didn't have it in me to sit on the couch anymore, even though Vito and Bruno Kirby had just rolled up the rug and taken it back to Vito's wife and they put little baby Sonny on it and he cried and fell over. I couldn't take it anymore with the sitting and the watching, I had to do something else, so I went into the office and started rummaging around in the books. The New Yorker Book of Eight Billion Cartoons wasn't doing it for me so I moved on until I found the most deeply artisanal, holy-shit-you-have-way-too-much-time-on-your-hands-you-know-Vons-is-still-open-right? recipe I've ever come up against. (Because of course after you've stuffed yourself silly you want to read about food you'd never want to make.)
The following is taken from a traditional Chinese recipe. Boil 2.5 kg (5 1/2 lb. 13 cups) soya beans in water until they are reduced to a puree. Add 1 kg (2 1/4 lb. 9 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour and knead well to produce a thick dough. Leave in a cool dark place for 2 days, then hang the container in a draught for a week. When a yellow mould appears on the dough, place a jar containing 5 litres (8 1/2 pints, 5 1/2 quarts) water and 1.5 kg (3 1/4 lb. 5 2/3 cups) salt in a sunny place. When the water is warm to the touch, put the dough into the jar. Leave this uncovered for a month, pounding the mixture vigorously every day with a stick. The mixture will turn black as it ages.
Leave for 4-5 months without stirring or covering the jar, unless the weather is bad, in which case the jar should be covered. Decant and store the sauce in hermetically sealed bottles.
Who the hell thought this up, is what I want to know. Who thought, Hmm, I need some salty black delicious liquid to dip my dumplings in, maybe I'll just punch some dough with a stick and then leave it out back until spring? Well, whoever it was, whether individual or collective, I do thank you. Because we're having sushi tonight.