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Everything posted by liuzhou

  1. liuzhou

    Dinner 2018 (Part 1)

    New Years Day 2018 Bizarrely for me, today I went vegetarian. Rest assured it was highly temporary and to placate a friend who is going through one of her food fad tantrums. Next week she will only be eating raw whale meat or something. Anyway, dinner was more pleasant than I expected. Most vegetarian restaurants here like to recreate non-vegetarian dishes using vegetable substitutes. I can't figure why? If you want a steak, eat one. Don't make a pretend one! Don't know what half of it was, but it was OK. The "eggs" are sticky rice with a shell made from rice (somehow), I was told. Then I went for a burger!
  2. liuzhou

    "Old/Soup Chicken" from H Mart

    They are, I believe, chickens used in egg production. When their ovaries pack in and they stop laying, they are sold as you describe. I don't know your store, but that's certainly what they are here. They certainly make better soups and stocks.
  3. Allium Chinense 荞头/蕎頭 (Mand: qiáo tóu; Cant: kiu4 tau4) are also known in English as Chinese bulbous onions, Chinese onion,[Chinese scallion, glittering chive, Japanese scallion, Jiangxi scallion, and Oriental onion. They are mildly flavoured. The bulbs are also often pickled and served bat the start of banquets and wedding feasts to keep you going until all the guests arrive. I use the pickled onions a lot in a non-Chinese way - with cheese and in sandwiches. Good with chicken liver pâté, too. I have no respect.
  4. While there have been other Chinese vegetable topics in the past few of them were illustrated And some which were have lost those images in various "upgrades". What I plan to do is photograph every vegetable I see and say what it is, if I know. However, this is a formidable task so it'll take time. The problem is that so many vegetables go under many different Chinese names and English names adopted from one or other Chinese language, too. For example, I know four different words for 'potato' and know there are more. And there are multiple regional preference in nomenclature. Most of what you will see will be vegetables from supermarkets where I can see the Chinese labelling. In "farmer's" or wet markets, there is no labelling and although, If I don't recognise something and ask, different traders will have different names for the same vegetable. Many a time I've been supplied a name, but been able to find any reference to it from Mr Google or his Chinese counterparts. Or if I find the Chinese, can't find a translation. Also, there is the problem that most of the names which are used in the English speaking countries have, for historical reasons, been adopted from Cantonese, whereas 90% of Chinese speak Mandarin (普通话 pǔ tōng huà). But I will do my best to supply as many alternative names as I can find. I shall also attempt to give Chinese names in simplified Chinese characters as used throughout mainland China and then in traditional Chinese characters, now mainly only used in Hong Kong, Taiwan and among much of the Chinese diaspora. If I only give one version, that means they are the same in Simp and Trad. I'll try to do at least one a day. Until I collapse under the weight of vegetation. Please, if you know any other names for any of these, chip in. Also please point out any errors of mine. I'll start with bok choy/choy. This is and alternatives such as pak choi or pok choi are Anglised attempts at the Cantonese pronunciation of the Mandarin! However in Cantonese it is more often 紹菜; Jyutping: siu6 coi3. In Chinese it is 白菜. Mandarin Pinyin 'bái cài'. This literally means 'white vegetable' but really just means 'cabbage' and of course there are many forms of cabbage. Merely asking for bái cài in many a Chinese store or restaurant will be met with blank stares and requests to clarify. From here on I'm just going to translate 白菜 as 'cabbage'. So, here we go. Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis This is what you may be served if you just ask for baicai. Or maybe not. In much of China it is 大白菜 dà bái cài meaning 'big cabbage'. In English, usually known as Napa cabbage, Chinese cabbage, celery cabbage, Chinese leaf, etc. In Chinese, alternative names include 结球白菜 / 結球白菜 ( jié qiú bái cài ), literally knotted ball cabbage, but there are many more. more soon
  5. Time now for onions and related items. What we call onions is not always what the Chinese call onions. The base word for 'onion' in Chinese is 葱/蔥 (Mand: cōng; Cant: cung1), but used on its own, it refers not to what you may call an onion, but to a 'leek'. What I call an onion is referred to as 洋葱/洋蔥 (Mand: yáng cōng; Cant: joeng4 cung1). They are common enough here, but 20 years ago they were very difficult to find. We nearly always only get red onions, but occasionally white onions turn up (as they did last week for a few days). The next few entries will help us 'know our onions', Chinese style. There will be tears before bedtime.
  6. Dicliptera Chinensis Chinese foldwing is a Chinese herb/vegetable. Known locally as 羊肝菜 (Mand: yáng gān cài; Cant: joeng4 gon1 coi3), literally ‘sheep liver vegetable’, it is also known as 猪肝菜 (Mand: zhū gān cài; Cant: zyu1 gon1 coi3)or ‘pig’s liver vegetable’ among several other names. Despite this liverish nomenclature, it is used as a herb in traditional Chinese medicine to ‘strengthen’ the kidneys, as well as for colds and fevers and “men’s problems”, whatever they may be. It is also used stir fried as a green vegetable or in soups.
  7. Came across a slightly different variety of round cabbage, this morning. 铁头白菜/鐵頭白菜 (Mand: tiě tóu bāo cài; Cant: tit3 tou2 baau1 coi3), literally iron (or hard) head cabbage. Mr Google knows nothing about it and so, neither do I. I don't suppose it is much different from the regular ones.
  8. A belated obituary from the New York Times. Interesting. Overlooked No More: Yamei Kin, the Chinese Doctor Who Introduced Tofu to the West Her Wikipedia entry is worth a read, too.
  9. liuzhou


    Tutti Frutti. Feeling fruity? (I have searched and, to my surprise, can find no dedicated fruit topic. I know the search here is deeply flawed, so I could be wrong. Also I couldn't actually find a suitable topic category to put this in. None of the topic descriptions match.) I'm just wondering what fresh fruit you have access to now. We all live in widely scattered places and climates, so I'll wager there are big differences. This is what I have right now. Bananas - available year round. Those are Cavendish bananas, but we get different varieties, too. Longan (龙眼 lóng yǎn; literally "dragon's eyes"). I'm surprised to see these now. They are usually midsummer fruits, but then the weather has been unusually warm (not that global warming exists, oh no! All a Chinese plot.) Loquat (枇杷 pí pa). Right time for them. Strawberries (草莓 cǎo méi; literally "grass berries"). It has always confused me, but Christmas onwards is strawberry season in China. Back in England always summer. I also have loads of apples. What you got?
  10. liuzhou


    'In the market today, 青李 qīng lǐ or 'green plums'. Didn't buy any. They were rock hard and I'm not sure if they are very late or very early in terms of seasonality. Pretty though.
  11. Nasturtium officinale This is another one which I never associated with Chinese cuisine until I came here. It seems the Chinese agree with me. The most common name is 西洋菜 (Mand: xī yáng cài; Cant: sai1 joeng4 coi3), which simply means "Western vegetable'. What we are talking about is watercress. Despite the Latin name, this has no relationship to the flowers commonly referred to as nasturtiums. Alternative Chinese names are 豆瓣菜 (Mand: dòu bàn cài; Cant: dau6 baan6*2) and 水田芥 (Mand: shuǐ tián jiè; Cant: seoi2 tin4 gaai3), the latter meaning 'paddy field mustard'. In Cantonese, 西洋菜 (Mand: xī yáng cài; Cant: sai1 joeng4 coi3) is also slang for 'foreign girl or young woman '. The things you learn on eGullet! It is mainly fried with garlic, like so many greens, or used in soups, particularly those made from pork bones. I have never seen it in salads or seen a bowl of green watercress soup like I know (and make). However it also comes dried to add to soups, and even with all the ingredients you need except water is a 'soup mix' pack. I've never gone there. Dried Watercress Watercress soup mix
  12. Ipomoea aquatica Next is what I'm sure is the most popular. In every restaurant you hear people asking the wait staff "有什么青菜 (yǒu shén me qīng cài)? What greens do you have?" The answer always includes, or may even be limited to "空心菜 (Mand: kōng xīn cài; Cant: hung1 sam1 coi3)." This one also probably has the most alternative names. In English , water spinach, river spinach, morning, glory water morning glory, water convolvulus, Chinese spinach, Chinese Watercress, Chinese convolvulus, swamp cabbage, ong choy or kangkong. In Mandarin Chinese, 空心菜 (kōng xīn cài), 通菜 (tōng cài), 通心菜 )tōng xīn cài), 壅菜 (yōng cài), 瓮菜 (wèng cài), 应菜 (yìng cài), 藤菜 (téng cài), 瓮菜及葛菜 (wèng cài jí gé cài), among others. 空心菜 (Mand: kōng xīn cài; Cant: hung1 sam1 coi3) literally translates as 'hollow heart vegetable' to reflect its hollow stems. Mildly flavoured. this one is, like so many, simply stir fried with garlic and maybe chilli, preferably in lard.
  13. Now I come to what is one of the top two favourite greens round here. Brassica juncea Mustard greens, leaf mustard, Chinese mustard, Indian mustard, Oriental mustard, vegetable mustard, gai choy . Take your pick. Most commonly 芥菜 (Mand: jiè cài; Cant: gaai3 coi3) but also sometimes 大菜* (Mand: dà cài; Cant: daai6 coi3), 大芥 (Mand: dà jiè; Cant: daai6 gaai3) among others, in Chinese. It is stir fried with garlic, chopped and mixed with pork for jiaozi and wonton fillings etc, used in hot pots and soups. A favourite soup round these parts is clam and leaf mustard soup - 车螺芥菜汤 (Mand: chē luó jiè cài tāng). So popular, in fact, that many supermarkets pre-pack their clams with the vegetable. Leaf mustard, as the name, suggests has a strong, but not unpleasant flavour. Much of this pungency is lost with excessive cooking. * 大菜 (Mand: dà cài; Cant: daai6 coi3) is also the name for 'agar', the seaweed derived thickener.
  14. Yeah, I read that some time back. It's good as far as it goes, but only 17 examples. I'm over 20 so far and there are plenty more to come. They, for good reason, stuck with what is available in most Asian markets in the US. I'm trying to go wider and document every thing I see here. I'll never finish.
  15. liuzhou

    Dinner 2018 (Part 1)

    Pork with dried shiitake, chilli, garlic, ginger, red chilli, scallions, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce potato starch. 冬菇肉片 dōng gū ròu piàn Shanghai Boy Choy with Oyster Sauce. 蚝油上海白菜 háo yóu shàng hǎi bái cài
  16. Back to the greenery after a short respite. (I know I said Monday, but an event has been cancelled,so here I am.) Lycium chinense These are the shoots of the wolfberry plant also, more recently, known as the goji plant, source of the goji berries touted by every know-nothing "health expert" as a so-called superfood. Known in Chinese as 枸杞菜 (Mand: gǒu qǐ cài; Cant: gau2 gei2 coi3, literally goji vegetable) or 枸杞叶/枸杞葉 (Mand: gǒu qǐ yè; Cant: gau2 gei2 jip6, literally 'goji leaf'). Young stems are also edible, but more normally the leaves are stripped from older, woody stems. They are simply stir fried or added to hot pots. Another good'un. I'll deal with the separately berries in due course.
  17. liuzhou

    Dinner 2018 (Part 1)

    窝窝头 wō wō tóu buns with a buttery, spicy, wild shrimp filling. The shrimp were stir-fried in butter with a little olive oil, garlic, ginger, chilli and scallions. Finished with a little lemon juice. Enough for eight as an amuse, four for a starter, or all eight a meal for me.
  18. Another not entirely green "green" is Perilla frutescens var. crispa. Purple Perilla, 紫苏/紫蘇 (Mand: zǐ sū; Cant: zi2 sou1*) is a plant in the mint family used both as a vegetable and occasionally as a herb. It is a popular choice throughout South-east Asia and Japan as well as here in China. Perilla comes in green varieties, known in Japan as shiso ( シソ ), but the popular choice round here is the ‘purple’ variety. In fact it’s not entirely purple. As you can see from the picture below which is of one leaf, one side is green and the other purple. This trait and the leaves’ sawtooth edges help to distinguish it from other purple vegetable which are superficially similar. Amaranth leaves, for example are either entirely green or entirely purple and lack the serrated edge. Perilla is generally simply stir-fried as a leaf vegetable with garlic and/or ginger and served as a dish to accompany others. However it is sometimes used as a herb, such as in this recipe from Fuchsia Dunlop. It is important to know that cooking the plant causes the red/purple colouring to leech out. In many people’s eyes this makes the vegetable undesirable if mixed with other ingredients. Of course, perilla is also used in TCM (traditional Chinese medicine). What isn’t? They reckon it boosts the immune system and alleviates the common cold. Probably does a better job in the latter case than the useless injections everyone insists on having. Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses, but they won’t believe me. They also think colds are caused by cold. Nonsense. They forget that every time they get a summer cold. But, I digress. * Beware. The Cantonese name zi2 sou1 is also used to mean basil. More on Monday. I need a rest.
  19. Tired at looking at all of this greenery? Here are a couple of only semi-green greens. First up is amaranth. There are 70 different species, but the ones we get most often are Amaranthus dubius. Quite distinctively red and green, this is a plant which grows worldwide and which is usually regarded as a weed, but in China is a well-liked foodstuff. And why not? In Chinese it is usually 苋菜/莧菜 (Mand: xiàn cài; Cant: jin6 coi3), but is known in the local dialect as 汉菜/漢菜 (Mand: hàn cài; Cant: hon3 coi3) , which kind of means ‘Chinese vegetable’. In English and English renditions of Cantonese it is red spinach, Chinese spinach,, spleen amaranth, hon-toi-moi, yin choy, or hsien tsai. These leaves can leech red juices which colour everything they meet. For that reason it tends to be less frequently used in soups etc, but is simply stir fried. The taste is reminiscent of spinach (hence one of its English names). It is also packed with minerals and vitamins and general good things.
  20. They taste green and almost spinach-like. Perhaps a bit more delicate. If you like any greens you'll like them.
  21. Next, another of my favourites. Ipomoea batatas - sweet potato shoots. Although their origin is in the Americas, the sweet potato was introduced to China in the late 16th century and rapidly became popular. It didn't take the Chinese long to figure out that the shoots are even better than the root. In fact, I don't really like the potatoes, but the shoots are great. We only get the red skinned variety, so the Chinese name is 红薯苗/紅薯苗 Mand: hóng shǔ miáo; Cant: hung4 syu4 miu4), meaning 'red potato shoot'. Again, usually stir fried with garlic and maybe chilli or used in hot pots. I'll say more about the potatoes when I get to root vegetables, probably around 2053.
  22. Still on lettuce, I should mention that we do get what I, and probably you, think of as 'regular' lettuce. Sadly, only one type. Romaine or Cos lettuce. Lactuca sativa L. var. longifolia. I do like the Chinese name. Just as 'whisky', derived from the Gaelic 'uisgebeatha' literally meaning ‘water of life’, the Chinese name for this lettuce is 生菜 (Mand: shēng cài; Cant: saang1 coi3), meaning ''vegetable of life' (literally 'life vegetable'. I'm not sure how long you could live on just whisky and lettuce, though. Like most of the preceding veg, this is usually served wilted with garlic and oyster sauce, but rarely raw. It is also used in noodle or wonton soups.
  23. Mine has been minced, pickled and and deep fried.
  24. So, far I've shown 17 vegetables. Only 100 more to catch up with my supermarket stocks, then they will find something else as the seasons change! Speaking of lettuce varieties (last post), here is another. Lactuca sativa var. asparagina Although it doesn’t look like it, this is a member of the lettuce family. I know it as celtuce, but it's also known as known in English as stem lettuce, celery lettuce, asparagus lettuce, sword lettuce, A-choy, or Chinese lettuce. In Chinese it is 莴笋/萵筍 (Mand: wō sǔn; Cant: wo1 seon2) or 莴苣/萵苣 (Mand: wō jù; Cant: wo1 geoi6). Those in the second picture are about 40 cm (15.7 inches) long and have a maximum diameter of 5 cm (2 inches). The stems are peeled, sliced and used in various stir fries. The taste is somewhere between lettuce and celery, hence the name. The texture is more like the latter. The leafy tops are also sold separately as 油麦菜/油麥菜 (Mand: yóu mài cài; Cant: jau4 mak6 coi3).
  25. 苦麻菜 (Mand: kǔ má cài; Cant: fu2 maa4 coi2) Bitter Hemp This, I'm told, a variety of lettuce, grown mainly in Yunnan province. It grows to around 50cm long (The ones in the image were around 40cm). It was originally used as animal fodder, but the locals developed a taste for its bitter flavour and from there it spread. The leaves are briefly blanched in boiling water, then refreshed in cold water to remove some of the bitterness, then stir fried or added to soups etc. Although it can be more bitter when older, younger leaves, while bitter are not unpleasantly so. This is one I like.