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Ben Hong

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Posts posted by Ben Hong

  1. Not all things should (could) undergo scientific scrutiny. It would be anathema for a lot of people if Chinese cuisine were to be standardized by exact scientific strictures so that the first dish is the same as the ten thousandth. To do so would strangle creativity and intuitive thinking, creating McChinese food. An engineer may find it acceptable, but not me. :angry: If Martin Yan and Ming Tsai were to be asked to cook say, West Lake Fish, in separate kitchens I can absolutely guarantee that the result would be more or less different as each man would use slightly different measurements, proportions, sequences, heats and techniques. Therein lies the charm of Chinese food. Just like no two pianists can play Beethoven's Emperor Concerto exactly the same way, no two dishes are exactly the same.

    Tell me Project, how did an engineer or a scientist explain accupuncture when he first encountered it? Words like chi, inner strength, yin yang, meridians, life points were completely foreign to him and worst of all, it could not be subjected to scientific scrutiny. As a result that art and practice was ridiculed by the scientific community when it was revealed during the Nixon visits to China. Most of us owe our lives to science, but there are things which science cannot explain, much less solve. There should be a place in this world and in your mind for non-scientific art/craft.

  2. Project: May I humbly suggest that you abate your obsession with "sauces" in Chinese cooking. There are very few instances in Chinese cooking (especially stirfrying) where a dish reqires a "sauce" in the orthodox French or European manner a la Bearnaise, veloute', etc. to be poured on top of a finished dish. What you call "sauces" in a Chinese dish is most usually part of the dish, ie: an intrinsic liquid result of the food cooking process. Yes, a cook may choose to thicken it with a little starch of some kind, but not always. Most would not ever purposely make a separate sauce to be poured over the finished dish. :unsure::shock:

    Your statement about lack of precise documentation of techniques and ingredient proportions indicate precisely why Chinese cooking is an art, not a science. Please stop thinking like an engineer :biggrin::raz::laugh: . In an earlier post, I mentioned the words harmony, balance, yin and yang, heating and cooling humours, even fung shui. You can learn all the techniques and procedures and use of ingredients and become a good cook. Understanding and paying heed to the terms just listed would make you a great sifu.

    Seek it and you can't see it, reach for it and it can't be grasped, meet it and it has no head, follow it and it has no rear. "IT" is ephemeral, it "IS"


  3. Project, I would suggest getting yourself into a "good" Chinese cooking class, not just one of those once a week sessions that you see being given by well meaning blue haired ladies of the YWCA. But first you must cleanse your mind of the idea that Chinese cooking is complicated. One can create all sorts of great tasting dishes with 2-3 ingredients and 1-2 flavouring agents(aromatics), the combinations and permutations are endless. :biggrin:

  4. We've always called the ordinary BugsBunny carrot "hung lo bok", or red lo bok. If you really want to roil the waters, I could call the small round red salad radish " hung lo bok" also, it is after all a radish or lo bok and it is red. :blink::rolleyes::raz: , . To clear up muddy waters, does anyone know the Chinese words for the more common round red radish that is used in salads?

    Green lo bok is a lot sweeter than the ordinary white longer type (daikon), and has a slightly "heavier " mouth feel.

  5. Markk, I have never heard of anyone calling the so-called queen crab, aka snowcrab, aka spidercrab, inedible. Are you sure that it was queen crab (Chinoecetes opilio) that you ate? The Gulf of St. Lawrence on the Canadian east coast is a major producer of the species, and the most common way to eat them fresh, if you are cosy with a fisherman, is just to boil them and eat only the claws, which are huge and long. Deeliciiiooouuussss.

  6. I have tried various recipes at different time tryng to make rice noodles. I gave up after many experiments that came up short on the satisfaction scale. Real rice noodles that you get at the larger noodle houses are usually made on premises where they grind/mill their own rice flour using a large mill with real millstones and lots and lots of water. It's involves a skill and equipment that many amateurs can't acquire practically.

    As to cooking sa ho fun I have found that it is best to enjoy the treat eating the real McCoy at a restaurant, once in a while. Most cooks use way too much oil in the dish for me to eat it too often. As for preparing a reasonable facsimile at home, I have been known to take a few shortcuts and adaptations.

    If I'm using refrigerated or frozen fun, I'll thaw and soak the block in warm water for about an hour, until the noodles are pliable and can be separated easily. I'll then drain the noodles, and keep it at the ready. Then, I'll make my "topping", usually beef, green peppers, celery, green onions, in a black bean sauce. Just before the topping is done, toss in the noodles and stir cook it until the noodles are soft and smooth. Top with a drop of sesame oil and scallions and you're good to go. Not at all oily, not authentic, but genuinely good :rolleyes: . The only thing missing is the "fried" taste of the noodles which of course, comes with a humongous amout of oil. :wacko:

  7. I am one of those poor wretches who actually love moon cakes, especially the ones with lotus paste and a big honking salt egg yoke in the middle. :laugh: I understand eating a lot of mooncakes will make you doctor rich. :wink::biggrin:

  8. Dou fu fa is eaten warm, freshly scooped out of a wooden vat at the larger dimsum places. Usually a simple syrup is poured over the top before it is consumed. It is heaven in a bowl. Of course I have added a Canadian twist to the dessert and used maple syrup instead of simple syrup to silken doufu which is readily available now. Bliss. :rolleyes:

  9. Jayhay, if you are going to St.John's and don't eat at "Chuck's", you'll regret it big time. Chuck's is off one of the main drags just about two blocks from the grand Hotel Newfoundland. Chuck's is one of the few places left that has a license to serve wild game...in season. In Sept. moose, rabbit and maybe caribou would be available, including wild fresh and salt water fish of several kinds. A definite myust do.

  10. From this old codger who is seeing an inexorable and tragic decline of traditional cooking in progress, all I can offer is this. If you have any inclination or curiosity to try your hand at cooking, please, please, please do it. No matter what you try, or spoil, it's only a few pennies worth of food ingredients. It's not only food at stake, it's our cherished and extremely long lived heritage. Lord only knows that any aspect of Chinese heritage generally involves a food component. :rolleyes:

  11. I will agree that salmon is not the preferred fish to cook Chinese style, with the possible exception of two favourite dishes of mine, both involve salmon heads, which are generally free. :wink::rolleyes:

    The first is that I use a couple of large salmon heads for fish stock to make jook. There is usuall a large amount of delectable meat that can be salvaged before tossing out the bones. The second was is to slather some shrimp paste, ginger and scallions on a large split head and steam it. Delicious.

    Otherwise, salmon gets a pass from me, even at give away sale prices.

  12. Egg rolls are the staple on the east coast of Canada and, I presume, the US too. The skin is a larger version of the wonton wrapper, perhaps 4 inches sq. , made with the same egg noodle type pastry. So when the things are deep fried, the wrapper tends to bubble on the surface. The shape is not the same barrel shape as in spring rolls (chuen guen), but their ends are pinched flat and sealed. Typical dipping sauce is "plum" sauce or sriracha or other condiment.

  13. Dejah, I rarely buy the cuttlefish, as I don't think that they're worth the effort to chew or the money spent in the purchase. I think that your kids got it wrong, it's eating cuttlefish that feels like you're eating a rubber tire. :smile:

    While we were in Toronto last week, we ate some fantastic meals and had some great snacks at the noodle shops and dim sum places. I grossed everyone out when I ordered pigs' intestines (chitlins)and stomach, but what the hell do they know. :raz::biggrin: It's too bad my jook sing son wasn't with us, as he is his father's son when it comes to food. :rolleyes:

  14. Dejah, if the octopus you bought were tiny things, they are indeed octopus. However, there is always one or two orangey/yellowish coloured cuttlefish that's hanging with the ducks and soy sauce chicken. They are quite large, about a foot long and shaped like a deflated football.

    As to pork stomach and bean curd stick soup, if you put gingko nuts in it, I'll be sure to stop by this fall. :rolleyes::wink::smile:

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