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Found 278 results

  1. I had my noodle fix this week. Once at the Chinatown Express in DC china town, where I had noodle soup with roast pig. The other was at a korean Ja Jang Mein place in NOVA. I had Ja Jang Mein. They were both good and excellent and had the hand pulled noodles in common. As I watched the noodle maker streching and tossing the noodles, I wondered if I could do it. Have any of you made noodles by hand by the streching method (not via pasta machine or cutting with a knife). I would appreciate if you could share the recipe and experience. I'm hoping to give it a try....It just can't be easy as the people I was watching seem to make it. Soup
  2. We are all used to unami now. Maybe it's time to consider gan. Particularly found in teas, but also in other foods. An interesting article from a great magazine. Going, going gan
  3. Celtuce and Its Tops

    I’m an idiot. It’s official. A couple of weeks back, on another thread, the subject of celtuce and its leafing tops came up (somewhat off-topic). Someone said that the tops are difficult to find in Asian markets and I replied that I also find the tops difficult to find here in China. Nonsense. They are very easy to find. They just go under a completely different name from the stems – something which had slipped my very slippery mind. So, here on-topic is some celtuce space. First, for those who don’t know what celtuce is, let me say it is a variety of lettuce which looks nothing like a lettuce. It is very popular in southern mainland China and Taiwan. It is also known in English as stem lettuce, celery lettuce, asparagus lettuce, or Chinese lettuce. In Chinese it is 莴笋 wō sǔn or 莴苣 wō jù, although the latter can simply mean lettuce of any variety. Lactuca sativa var. asparagina is 'celtuce' for the technically minded. Those in the picture are about 40 cm (15.7 inches) long and have a maximum diameter of 5 cm (2 inches). The stems are usually peeled, sliced and used in various stir fries, although they can also be braised, roasted etc. The taste is somewhere between lettuce and celery, hence the name. The texture is more like the latter. The leafing tops are, as I said, sold separately and under a completely different name. They are 油麦菜 yóu mài cài. These taste similar to Romaine lettuce and can be eaten raw in salads. In Chinese cuisine, they are usually briefly stir fried with garlic until they wilt and served as a green vegetable – sometimes with oyster sauce. If you can find either the stems or leaves in your Asian market, I strongly recommend giving them a try.
  4. “… and so it begins!” Welcome to “Tales from the Fragrant Harbour”! In the next couple of days I am hoping to take you to a little excursion to Hong Kong to explore the local food and food culture as well as maybe a little bit more about my personal culinary background. I hope I can give you a good impression of what life is like on this side of the globe and am looking very forward to answering questions, engaging in spirited discussions and just can share a bit of my everyday life with you. Before starting with the regular revealing shots of my fridge’s content and some more information on myself, I’d like to start this blog and a slightly different place. For today's night, I ‘d like to report back from Chiba city, close to Tokyo, Japan. It’s my last day of a three day business trip and it’s a special day here in Japan: “Doyou no ushi no hi”. The “midsummer day of the ox”, which is actually one of the earlier (successful) attempts of a clever marketing stunt. As sales of the traditional winter dish “Unagi” (grilled eel with sweet soy sauce) plummeted in summer, a clever merchant took advantage of the folk tale that food items starting with the letter “U” (like ume = sour plum and uri = gourd) dispel the summer heat, so he introduced “Unagi” as a new dish best enjoyed on this day. It was successful, and even in the supermarkets the sell Unagi-Don and related foods. Of course, I could not resist to take advantage and requested tonight dinner featuring eel. Thnaks to our kind production plant colleagues, I had what I was craving … (of course the rest of the food was not half as bad) Todays suggestion: Unagi (grilled eel) and the fitting Sake ! For starters: Seeweed (upper left), raw baby mackerel with ginger (upper right) and sea snails. I did not care for the algae, but the little fishes were very tasty. Sahimi: Sea bream, Tuna and clam ... Tempura: Shrimp, Okra, Cod and Mioga (young pickled ginger sprouts). Shioyaki Ayu: salt-grilled river fish. I like this one a lot. I particularly enjoy the fixed shape mimicking the swimming motion. The best was the tail fin Wagyu: "nuff said ... Gourd. With a kind of jellied Oden stock. Nice ! Unagi with Sansho (mountain pepper) So, so good. Rich and fat and sweet and smoky. I could eat a looooot of that ... Chawan Mushi:steamed egg custard. A bit overcooked. My Japanese hosts very surprised when I told them that I find it to be cooked at to high temperatures (causing the custard to loose it's silkiness), but they agreed. Part of the experience was of course the Sake. I enjoyed it a lot but whether this is the one to augment the taste of the Unagi I could not tell ... More Unagi (hey it's only twice per year) ... Miso soup with clams ... Tiramisu. Outside view of the restaurant. Very casual! On the way home I enjoyed a local IPA. Craft beer is a big thing in Japan at the moment (as probably anywhere else in the world), so at 29 oC in front of the train station I had this. Very fruity … When I came back to the hotel, the turn down service had made my bed and placed a little Origami crane on my pillow. You just have to love this attention to detail.
  5. Golden fried Cauliflower?

    The best Chinese food restaurant I have ever been to is a place called the Imperial Buffet in Aberdeen SD. Their General Tso's is unlike the Tso's anywhere else. The closes comparison I could make is the Orange Chicken at the Panda Garden only 3x better. Their Lo-Mein Noodles are done with the skill of a master Italian pasta chef & perfectly seasoned. They also used to do a mean fried squid. I say used to because they had it when I lived in Aberdeen from 02-04 but didn't when I visited in 15'. One of their other discontinued specialties was a dish advertised as 'Golden Fried Cauliflower'. Note, this was NOT a breaded product. The cauliflower was cooked as though it had been boiled perfectly. It was not greasy as I recall but was a golden orange color as was the sauce it was evidently cooked in. I never could identify the flavors in that sauce. I wish I could describe it better but it has been well over a decade since I had it. Is anyone familiar with it or something similar? I can't seem to find anything like it online & all my searches just bring up links to breaded deep-fried crap.
  6. China Menus

    I'm often asked to translate menus for my local restaurants. Usually by foreign customers; less often by the restaurants. I thought I'd post some here. Copyright isn't an issue as they are just lists of dishes. They may be of interest. First up is a small restaurant which I visited yesterday. Their menu is on the wall and they specialise in sand pot dishes. These are (almost) all in one meals with the dish of your choice served over rice cooked in a clay (sand) pot. They do come with a side of stir-fried cabbage and a bowl of thin soup (more like water). This is Chinese work/student canteen type food. Cheap and cheerful. At the bottom of the main menu is a variety of soft drinks plus beer, which I haven't translated. Most are unavailable outside China, although Coca Cola and Sprite are there. The smaller menus on the right are for rice porridge. I haven't translated these either Sand Pots 莲藕肉片饭 Lotus Root and Sliced Pork Rice 10 豆腐肉片饭 Tofu and Sliced Pork Rice 10 时菜肉饼饭 Seasonal Vegetable Pork Pie Rice 10 茄子肉末饭 Eggplant with Ground Meat Rice 11 鱼片煲仔饭 Fish Sandpot Rice 11 姜汁鱼尾饭 Ginger Fish Tail Rice 12 鸡杂砂煲饭 Chicken Giblets Sandpot Rice 12 冬菇骨鸡饭 Dried Shiitake and Chicken Rice 12 香辣牛肉饭 Spicy Beef Rice 16 酸甜排骨饭 Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs Rice 16 香芹腊味饭 Celery Cured Meat Rice 13 豉椒排骨饭 Salted Beans and Pepper Ribs 13 冬菇田鸡饭 Dried Shiitake Frog Rice 13 蚝油牛肉饭 Oyster Sauce Beef Rice 14 红烧带鱼饭 Red-cooked Belt Fish Rice 14 干妈五花饭 Pork Belly in Chilli Sauce Rice 14 美味叉烧饭 Tasty Char Sui Rice 14 鲜虾煲仔饭 Fresh Shrimp Sandpot Rice 14 红椒黄鳝饭 Red Chilli Ricefield Eel Rice 14 黑椒猪肚饭 Black Pepper Tripe Rice 15 肥肠煲仔饭 Pig's Intestines Sandpot Rice 15 柠檬鸭仔饭 Lemon Duck Rice 15 加菜每份 (以最高价) Extra Vegetable Portion (by highest price) 4 打包盒 Take Away Box 1 Soups 紫菜蛋花汤 Seaweed Egg Drop Soup 8 枸杞猪肝汤 Goji Berry Pig's Liver Soup 10 车螺芥菜汤 Clam and Leaf Mustard Soup 15 西红柿蛋花汤 Tomato and Egg Soup 8 Vegetables etc. 炒油菜 Fried Rape 8 西红柿炒蛋 Scrambled Egg with Tomato 12 鱼腥草 Lizard's Tail 5 凉拌皮蛋 Cold Dressed Century Egg 10 凉拌黄瓜 Cold Dressed Cucumber 5 煎蛋 Fried Egg 2 Prices are in Chinese Yuan (1 Yuan = $0.15 USD / £0.10 GBP as of September 15, 2015) This is number 4 on the menu
  7. eG member @Carolyn Phillips has just published her ten-year-long-gestated Chinese cook book, All Under Heaven. 500 pages on China's 35 cuisines. Gathering rave reviews. I've ordered my copy. Can't wait. Simultaneously, her "Dim Sum Field Guide is published. She hasn't posted much here recently, but who would or could while writing two books at the same time - one of them a huge tome? Congratulations Carolyn.
  8. Someone suggested starting a topic to discuss dishes made from this book. I think it's a good idea. I got the book a couple weeks ago and read through it. It's fantastic. While i have Dunlop's other books and have cooked from them A LOT, this one seems more streamlined for weeknight dinners with dishes that don't require 8-10 marinade or sauce ingredients. I've cooked a couple meals from it and everything has been awesome. Last week it was chicken with black bean sauce and spinach with fermented tofu. Both were delicious. Last night it was pork tenderloin with chinese chives (not a recipe in the book, but i took the recipe for the chicken livers with chives and subbed pork tenderloin), stir fried cabbage with dry shrimp and bok choy with shiitake (i used dry, rehydrated). Everything was delicious. I really liked the baby bok choy. The flavors were clean and light. Wife thought it was kind of bland, but i liked it. The cabbage was also delicious, though wife and daughter didn't agree I thought it was funny that my purple cabbage turned my yellow/orange tiny dry shrimp green. Forgot to take pictures of the dishes. What is everyone else making?
  9. Chinese Bow Ties

    I have been asked to make Chinese Bow Tie desserts for a function. However, I have never made them, but using Mr Google, there are a number of different recipes out there. Does anybody have a decent recipe which is tried and tested? - these are for deep-fried pastry which are then soaked in sugar syrup.
  10. Haunting Hunan

    Introduction I spent the weekend in western Hunan reuniting with 36 people I worked with for two years starting 20 years ago. All but one, 龙丽花 lóng lì huā, I hadn’t seen for 17 years. I last saw her ten years ago. One other, 舒晶 shū jīng, with whom I have kept constant contact but not actually seen, helped me organise the visit in secret. No one else knew I was coming. In fact, I had told Long Lihua that I couldn’t come. Most didn’t even know I am still in China. I arrived at my local station around 00:20 in order to catch the 1:00 train northwards travelling overnight to Hunan, with an advertised arrival time of 9:15 am. Shu Jing was to meet me. When I arrived at the station, armed with my sleeper ticket, I found that the train was running 5 hours late! Station staff advised that I change my ticket for a different train, which I did. The problem was that there were no sleeper tickets available on the new train. All I could get was a seat. I had no choice, really. They refunded the difference and gave me my new ticket. The second train was only 1½ hours late, then I had a miserable night, unable to sleep and very uncomfortable. Somehow the train managed to make up for the late start and we arrived on time. I was met as planned and we hopped into a taxi to the hotel where I was to stay and where the reunion was to take place. They had set up a reception desk in the hotel lobby and around half of the people I had come to see were there. When I walked in there was this moment of confusion, stunned silence, then the friend I had lied to about not coming ran towards me and threw herself into my arms with tears running down her face and across her smile. It was the best welcome I’ve ever had. Then the others also welcomed me less physically, but no less warmly. They were around 20 years old when I met them; now they are verging on, or already are, 40, though few of them look it. Long Lihua is the one on the far right. Throughout the morning people arrived in trickles as their trains or buses got in from all over China. One woman had come all the way from the USA. We sat around chatting, reminiscing and eating water melon until finally it was time for lunch. Lunch we had in the hotel dining room. By that time, the group had swelled to enough to require three banqueting tables. Western Hunan, known as 湘西 xiāng xī, where I was and where I lived for two years - twenty years ago, is a wild mountainous area full of rivers. It was one of the last areas “liberated” by Mao’s communists and was largely lawless until relatively recently. It has spectacular scenery. Hunan is known for its spicy food, but Xiangxi is the hottest. I always know when I am back in Hunan. I just look out the train window and see every flat surface covered in chilis drying in the sun. Station platforms, school playgrounds, the main road from the village to the nearest town are all strewn with chillis. The people there consider Sichuan to be full of chilli wimps. I love it. When I left Hunan I missed the food so much. So I was looking forward to this. It did not disappoint. So Saturday lunch in next post.
  11. My son married a lovely young lady from Yakeshi, Inner Mongolia, China. Mongolian: ᠶᠠᠠᠠᠰᠢ ᠬᠣᠲᠠ (Ягши хот); Chinese: 牙克石; pinyin: Yákèshí We had a wedding in the US but her family also wanted to have a traditional wedding in China. DH and I have never being to China so this was an exciting opportunity for us! We spent a few days in Beijing doing touristy stuff and then flew to Hailar. There is only one flight a day on Air China that we took at 6 in the morning. Yakeshi is about an hour drive from Hailar on a beautiful toll road with no cars on it. I wish we took pictures of free roaming sheep and cows along the way. The original free range meat. The family met us at the airport. We were greeted with a shot of a traditional Chinese spirit from a traditional leather vessel. Nothing says welcome like a stiff drink at 9 AM. We were supposed to have a three shots (may be they were joking) but family took pity on us and limited it to one only.
  12. I just bought these greens from the neighborhood Asian grocery. Had them once in China as a salad, and they tasted exceptional - a bit peppery like arugula, yet much more subtle and fresh, with hints of lemon. Store lady (non-Chinese) could not name them for me other than "Chinese greens". Any help identifying them is greatly appreciated
  13. China's plan to cut meat consumption by 50% I wish them well, but can't see it happening. Meat eating is very much seen as a status symbol and, although most Chinese still follow a largely vegetable diet out of economic necessity, meat is still highly desirable among the new middle classes. The chances of them willingly giving it up, even by 50%, seems remote to me.
  14. Chinese Cookbooks

    A few weeks ago I bought a copy of this cookbook which is a best-selling spin off from the highly successful television series by China Central Television - A Bite of China as discussed on this thread. . The book was published in August 2013 and is by Chen Zhitian (陈志田 - chén zhì tián). It is only available in Chinese (so far). There are a number of books related to the television series but this is the only one which seems to be legitimate. It certainly has the high production standards of the television show. Beautifully photographed and with (relatively) clear details in the recipes. Here is a sample page. Unlike in most western cookbooks, recipes are not listed by main ingredient. They are set out in six vaguely defined chapters. So, if you are looking for a duck dish, for example, you'll have to go through the whole contents list. I've never seen an index in any Chinese book on any subject. In order to demonstrate the breadth of recipes in the book and perhaps to be of interest to forum members who want to know what is in a popular Chinese recipe book, I have sort of translated the contents list - 187 recipes. This is always problematic. Very often Chinese dishes are very cryptically named. This list contains some literal translations. For some dishes I have totally ignored the given name and given a brief description instead. Any Chinese in the list refers to place names. Some dishes I have left with literal translations of their cryptic names, just for amusement value. I am not happy with some of the "translations" and will work on improving them. I am also certain there are errors in there, too. Back in 2008, the Chinese government issued a list of official dish translations for the Beijing Olympics. It is full of weird translations and total errors, too. Interestingly, few of the dishes in the book are on that list. Anyway, for what it is worth, the book's content list is here (Word document) or here (PDF file). If anyone is interested in more information on a dish, please ask. For copyright reasons, I can't reproduce the dishes here exactly, but can certainly describe them. Another problem is that many Chinese recipes are vague in the extreme. I'm not one to slavishly follow instructions, but saying "enough meat" in a recipe is not very helpful. This book gives details (by weight) for the main ingredients, but goes vague on most condiments. For example, the first dish (Dezhou Braised Chicken), calls for precisely 1500g of chicken, 50g dried mushroom, 20g sliced ginger and 10g of scallion. It then lists cassia bark, caoguo, unspecified herbs, Chinese cardamom, fennel seed, star anise, salt, sodium bicarbonate and cooking wine without suggesting any quantities. It then goes back to ask for 35g of maltose syrup, a soupçon of cloves, and "the correct quantity" of soy sauce. Cooking instructions can be equally vague. "Cook until cooked". A Bite of China - 舌尖上的中国- ISBN 978-7-5113-3940-9
  15. I'm hearing rumours of a new book from Fuchsia Dunlop, this time on Zhejiang cuisine from the east of China around Hangzhou and Ningbo, south of Shanghai. No date or title - or confirmation yet.
  16. Peanut oil...who knew? FYI

    DH and I make Chinese dishes for our lunches quite often. He does the 'mises' and I do the cooking and get ready the odds and sods, like the tea, setting the table, putting out the condiments, etc. Truth be told, his job is more work than mine...but then he gets to have Chinese food quite often which is what he likes. And we use peanut oil, most of which we buy at our local Asian grocery store. And until yesterday, neither one of us never looked at the "Ingredient list" for peanut oil. Peanut oil would contain only peanut oil...one would think. Apparently not so. Our current container which is titled "Peanut Cooking Oil" has the following ingredient list (in order): Soybean Oil, Sesame Oil, Peanut Oil. Who knew? Yesterday we bought peanut oil at a regular grocery store, a Loblaws brand (Canadian brand), and it contains...wait for it...100% peanut oil. Hooray!
  17. Chinese Noodle Joints

    Everywhere around me are noodle places. When I go down town, I see even more. I find them interesting. I am in the south of China where the preference is for rice noodles. In the north, wheat is more common. But that's not the only choice you have to make. Here are a few noodle joints, all within ten minutes walk of my house. There are more (though some are still closed for the New Year holiday). This one specialises in not specialising. They are all rice noodles though. This one give more choice. You can have either rice noodles (粉 fěn) or wheat noodles (面 miàn), but again in a variety of styles Beef Noodles Lamb or Mutton Noodles Guilin Rice Noodles Mushroom Noodles Donkey Noodles Horse Noodles Snail Noodles Snail noodles is THE local dish. There are literally hundreds of shops selling this dish. More on this topic here. More to come
  18. http://www.smartshanghai.com/articles/dining/the-man-who-spent-a-year-studying-xiao-long-bao
  19. The new Michelin Guide to Hong Kong has a Street Food category for the first time. More here.
  20. Cooking with Black Garlic

    I ordered some of this after hearing it mentioned on Top Chef a few moths ago. So far I've just peeled off a clove to taste it. It's sweet-almost "balsamic" with garlic undertones. The texture is that of roasted garlic. Has anyone ever cooked with it?
  21. Great NY Noodletown

    At the time one is puzzled by the perplexing question of the first Creation of the earth and of man, or troubled about the sources of defeat or victory and success or catastrophe in the Iliad and the Odyssey, some of us are simply pursuing a passion toward the baby pig. Of several conversations I had with Ms. X (an eGullet dining companion), there was none that did not contain a reference to the baby pig she recently tried at New York Noodle Town. Well, since Montaigne wisely noted that among three classes of philosophers (those who claim to have found the truth; those who deny that truth can be found; and those who confess their ignorance and go on searching) only the last are wise, we decided to pursue our search for the truth about the perfect baby pig by setting a lunch date to be held at New York Noodle Town. Using self-exploration to help illuminate the world may be quite noble in some instances but very disturbing in others. In my case, not taking into consideration the late hour we set for the lunch and leaving the house with nothing but three grapes consumed in a hurry, which added to a quite elaborate symphony successfully conducted by my stomach while passing by China town’s cozy little restaurants and cafés with their enticing smells teasing my senses with the provocative images of delightful and tempting food, wasn’t very smart. Well, the good thing about the bad thing is that everything comes to an end, and, in my case, it was the end of my sufferings as soon as the three of us were seated at a cozy table for four. “I am so hungry! All I had today were three grapes,” said Ms. X while browsing the menu. If one could ever think of a better time to start believing in fate or telepathy or any other weird stuff, that certainly was a good one. Not just any hunger, but the “hunger of three grapes” and the thoughts of the baby pig added a communal sense, and bonded us for life. We ordered: Barbecued baby pig Salt baked seafood combination Roast duck with flowering chives Sizzling casserole with chicken and Chinese sausage The baby pig served at room temperature was certainly a star. A nearly perfect execution of crisp skin and tender baby flesh provoked no less than cute little sounds of satisfaction exchanged among us all, not overlapping but rather creating a perfect harmony. The meat was a little tiny bit too salty for me, but again, I may just be a supertaster. The salt baked seafood combination wasn't as good as I remembered it from two years ago. More or less crisp while still hot, it turned soggy upon cooling, like a balloon losing air. The roast duck with flowering chives was very good indeed. Not as crisp as it would’ve been had we ordered duck separately from the chives, the meat was very tender and added a certain ducky flavor to the chives that was definitely worth trying. What I liked the most was that the dish was not overwhelmed with the flavor of the brown starch sauce, contrary to what we had at New Lok Kee in Flushing. The sizzling casserole was quite sizzling when it was brought to our table. We all agreed that it wasn’t spectacular, but pretty good. To be fair, though, we were quite full by that time. I’ll let others chime in with more details. Overall, the food made us happy, and that is probably the best praise one can give. As to Montaigne, he was wrong. We did find the truth about the perfect baby pig in New York Noodle Town.
  22. Why Jews Like Chinese Food

    <img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1205428244/gallery_29805_1195_6256.jpg" hspace="8" align="left">The Daily Gullet is proud to present an excerpt from eGullet Society member Arthur Schwartz's brand-new book Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisted. Here's an old joke about Jews, Chinese people, and food: Two Chinese men are walking out of Katz’s Delicatessen. One says to the other, "The problem with Jewish food is that two weeks later you’re hungry again." Here's another one: If, according to the Jewish calendar, the year is 5764, and, according to the Chinese calendar, the year is 5724, what did the Jews eat for forty years? That Jews have an affinity for Chinese food is no secret. The Jews know it. The Chinese know it. Everyone knows it. Until the dispersal of middle-class Jews to the New York suburbs was complete in the 1970s and 1980s, Chinese take-out shops opened on every corner of the city. It was said that you could tell how Jewish a neighborhood was by the number of Chinese restaurants. Going out "to eat Chinese" continues to be a Sunday ritual for many Jewish families; even kosher families know that there are many kosher Chinese restaurants. In Brooklyn, there’s one called Shang Chai, a play on the Hebrew word for "life," chai. Any Sunday at 6 p.m., step into Shun Lee West on West 64th Street, the Upper West Side’s upscale Chinese restaurant, and you’d think they were holding a bar mitzvah reception. Here's another joke, although it's no joke: What do Jews do on Christmas? They eat Chinese and go to the movies. Eat Chinese because those were the only restaurants open on Christmas. Go to the movies because all the Christians were home, and you could get into the theater without waiting on line. That the Chinese are not Christian is important to understanding the appeal of the Chinese restaurant to Jews. If you went to an Italian restaurant, which, aside from the coffee shop, the luncheonette, or the deli, was likely the only kind of restaurant in your neighborhood before the American food revolution, you might encounter a crucifix hanging over the cash register, or at least a picture of the Madonna or a saint. That was pretty intimidating to even a nonobservant Jew. The Chinese restaurant might have had a Buddha somewhere in sight, but Buddha was merely a rotund, smiling statue -- he looked like your fat Uncle Jack. He wasn't intimidating at all. Important, too, was that the Chinese were even lower on the social scale than the Jews. Jews didn't have to feel competitive with the Chinese, as they might with Italians. Indeed, they could feel superior. As Philip Roth points out in Portnoy's Complaint, to a Chinese waiter, a Jew was just another white guy. Italians didn't go out to eat as much as Jews. Italian-Americans spent Sunday afternoons gathering in large family groups, eating Italian food at home. The Italians and Jews continued to live together when they left their immigrant ghettos on the Lower East Side and started moving to the boroughs, along with the Chinese who wanted to leave the impoverished conditions of the Lower East Side as much as any other group. The Chinese that lived among the Jews and Italians in the boroughs were the owners of the restaurants and the hand laundries. So the Jews' proximity to Chinese restaurants was important, and let's not discount the fact that Chinese food tastes good and costs little. When I asked my parents why, when they were courting in the 1940s, their dates always ended with a Chinese meal, and why we continued to eat in Chinese restaurants as a family more often than at other kinds of restaurants, the answer was simple and obvious. They could afford it. In their youth, during and right after World War II, a classic combination plate of egg roll, fried rice, and usually chow mein cost 25 cents. The attraction of the forbidden aspects of Chinese food should not be underestimated, either. Eating forbidden foods validates your Americanness: it is an indication that you have "arrived." Although both Italian and Chinese cuisines feature many foods that are proscribed by the Jewish dietary laws, such as pork, shrimp, clams, and lobster, there are two big differences. The Chinese don't combine dairy and meat in the same dish, as Italians do -- in fact, the Chinese don't eat dairy products at all. And the Chinese cut their food into small pieces before it is cooked, disguising the nonkosher foods. This last aspect seems silly, but it is a serious point. My late cousin Daniel, who kept kosher, along with many other otherwise observant people I have known, happily ate roast pork fried rice and egg foo yung. "What I can’t see won’t hurt me," was Danny’s attitude. Even Jews who maintained kosher homes often cheated by serving Chinese takeout on paper plates. I had one neighbor who would only let her family eat Chinese on paper plates in the basement, lest the neighbors across the alley that divided the houses only by about ten feet should look into her kitchen window and see those telltale white containers on the table. <div align="center">+ + +</div> Chinese Roast Meat on Garlic Bread with Duck Sauce This is an exquisite example of Jewish crossover food, "fusion food" these days. It was a dish that made first- and second-generation Jews of the 1950s, Jews who no longer abided by the kosher laws, feel like they were truly Americans as well as urbane and sophisticated. Imagine what a scandal it was to observant parents and grandparents, what a delicious act of defiant assimilation it was, to eat Chinese roast pork on Italian garlic bread. This was invented in the Catskills and brought back to Brooklyn where, today, substituting roasted veal for the trayf meat, the sandwich survives in kosher delicatessens in Brooklyn and Queens. (It is particularly well done at Adelman's, a delicatessen on King's Highway and Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn.) With pork, it is also a hot item in diners on the South Shore of Long Island, where Jews from Brooklyn and Queens moved decades ago. By all accounts, the sandwich was created sometime in the mid-1950s at Herbie's in Loch Sheldrake, New York. It was the most popular Jewish-style deli-restaurant in the area. According to Freddie Roman, the Borscht Belt comic who years later starred in the nostalgia show Catskills on Broadway, Herbie's was where all the entertainers would gather after their last shows at the hotel nightclubs. "Specifically for that sandwich," says Freddie. "And everyone else had to eat what the celebrities ate." Herbie's sandwich of Chinese Roast Pork on Italian Garlic Bread was so popular among the summer crowd in "The Mountains," that it was imitated back in "The City." I remember when it was introduced at Martin's and Senior's, two fabulously successful, middle-class family restaurants on Nostrand Avenue in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. In just a few years, it seemed Chinese roast pork on garlic bread became so popular in the southern tier of Brooklyn communities -- from Canarsie through Mill Basin to Bay Ridge -- that every diner and coffee shop made it. The sandwich even made it to Manhattan in the 1960s, at a place called The Flick, an ice cream parlor and casual restaurant near the then-new movie houses on Third Avenue. Eventually, Herbie's, which closed in Loch Sheldrake only several years ago, opened Herbie's International on Avenue N in the Flatlands section of Brooklyn, where many of its Borscht Belt customers lived. It, too, was a well-priced family restaurant, serving, as its name was meant to imply, a little of this and a little of that from all over. But, as would be expected in this neck of the woods, "international" was really limited to red-sauced southern Italian, Cantonese-American Chinese, and a few specialties of the Yiddish kitchen. Maybe they served French crêpes, too. Herbie's original sandwich was undoubtedly made with something other than real butter. Who knows what grease Herbie used. And the garlic flavor may have come from garlic powder, not fresh garlic. There are garlic spreads available in some supermarkets that probably come pretty close to the original flavor. If making the sandwich with pork, you might as well use butter and chopped fresh garlic. Of course, to make it a kosher meat sandwich (using veal), the fat would have to be vegetable-oil based, like olive oil. If you are making a kosher sandwich with veal, using olive oil and chopped garlic not only makes it kosher but also more contemporary. In that case, leave off the Chinese duck sauce, too, and douse the meat with balsamic vinegar. There should be a certain "white bread" quality to the roll with either version. The duck sauce used to flavor the meat is an apricot-based, sweet condiment; Saucy Susan is a popular brand. Serves 4 4 tablespoons softened butter or extra virgin olive oil 8 cloves garlic, finely minced 4 (6- to 7-inch) French-style loaves, not too crusty nor too firm 1 pound Chinese-style red-roasted pork, or plain roast veal Duck sauce or balsamic vinegar, for drizzling Chinese mustard (optional) To prepare the bread, in a small bowl, make garlic butter by working the butter and minced garlic together with a fork until well combined. For an oil dressing, combine the olive oil and garlic. Let the spread stand at room temperature for 30 minutes or up to a few hours. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Heat the bread directly on the middle rack of the oven for about 3 minutes, until hot. Leave the oven on. Remove the loaves from the oven; for each loaf, hold it with a potholder and halve it the long way with a serrated knife. Spread the cut sides of each loaf with garlic butter or drizzle with the garlic oil. Place the loaf halves, spread-side up, on the middle oven rack and toast until the edges are browned. To assemble the sandwiches, arrange a layer of sliced roast meat on the bottom half of each loaf. Drizzle the meat with about 2 tablespoons of duck sauce, and then very lightly with Chinese mustard. Serve open with the top half of the bread, spread-side up, alongside the meat-filled bottom. <div align="center">+ + +</div> Chinese-American Chow Mein There was absolutely nothing trayf about basic chow mein. The base was all vegetables. It could even be served in a dairy restaurant, and it was. Sure it could be topped with roast pork or shrimp, but it was just as Chinese topped with chicken or beef, or nothing. Chow mein became mainstream New York food in the 1930s. It was on the menus of kosher and nonkosher restaurants, and hardly a specialty of just Chinese restaurants. Even the chichi Stork Club had a whole list of different chow mein choices. At the other end of the spectrum entirely, Nathan’s, the hot dog emporium on Coney Island, featured chow mein on a hamburger bun garnished with crisp fried noodles. It still does. Serves 3 or 4 2 tablespoons peanut, canola, or corn oil 2 medium-large onions, peeled, cut in half through the root end, and thinly sliced (about 3 cups) 4 ribs celery, thinly cut on a sharp diagonal (about 2 cups) 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped 11/2 cups sliced white mushrooms (about 5 ounces) 11/4 cups chicken broth 2 tablespoons dry sherry 2 tablespoons soy sauce 4 teaspoons cornstarch 1 cup fresh bean sprouts 1/2 cup sliced fresh water chestnuts (optional) About 2 cups white meat chicken, cooked any way and cut into strips (or red-roasted Chinese pork or veal, or sliced steak or roast beef) Fried Chinese noodles, available at any supermarket In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until very hot but not smoking. Add the onions and celery and stir-fry for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onions are slightly wilted. Add the garlic and mushrooms and stir-fry just 1 minute. Add 1 cup of the chicken broth, cover the pot, and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Meanwhile, in a small cup, with a fork, blend together the remaining 1/4 cup chicken broth and the sherry, soy sauce, and cornstarch. Uncover the pot and stir in the bean sprouts and water chestnuts. Give the cornstarch mixture a final stir to make sure the starch is dissolved. Add it to the pot and stir it until the liquid in the pot is thickened. Taste for seasoning. You may want to add more salt or soy sauce. Serve immediately, topped with the chicken, on a bed of fried Chinese noodles. It is best when eaten immediately, but you can reheat it, gently, if need be, adding a bit more liquid as necessary. <div align="center">* * *</div> Arthur Schwartz is a Brooklyn-based food critic, writer, and media personality. New York Times Magazine has called him "a walking Google of food and restaurant knowledge." His five previously published cookbooks include the IACP award-winning and James Beard award-nominated Arthur Schwartz's New York City Food. Read his 2004 eG Forums Q&A here. Excerpted from Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisted by Arthur Schwartz, copyright © 2008. Reprinted with permission by Ten Speed Press.
  23. Sichuan (Szechuan) Hot Pot Recipe

    In this cold winter, there is nothing better than sharing a spicy Sichuan hot pot with your friends and family. For the uninitiated, Chinese hot pot, a.k.a. huo guo (火鍋), is a group dining activity where a pot of boiling broth is shared. Friends and families cook the raw ingredients of their liking in this communal pot of broth while chitchatting, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company by the table-side. This recipe is for a popular regional hot pot from Sichuan (Szechuan). The broth is infused with lots of aromatic spices, fiery chili oil and tongue-numbing Sichuan peppercorn so it is very fragrant and spicy! This is a make from scratch recipe that I first posted on my blog. If you like to learn visually, I'd recommend you to visit my blog (link in my profile) for the step by step pictorial recipe. Enjoy! Ingredients: For Master sauce (adjust to your own spiciness) 3 tbsp Sichuan Spicy Bean Paste 5 Dried chili, soaked until soft. 1 tbsp Chinese Black Bean 4 slice Ginger, 4 glove Garlic ½ cup Cooking Wine 1tbsp Rock Sugar Dry Spices: 3 star anise, 1tbsp Sichuan Peppercorn, 1 black cardamom, 4 green cardamom, 2 sand ginger, 1 piece cinnamon stick, and 1 tbsp fennel seeds For the stock: 2 lb Beef or Pork or Chicken bones. 3 slice Ginger 2 Scallion 3 Bay leaf 1 gallon water Instructions: The recipe is for half of a 12 inch special pot. Adjust the amount accordingly. 1. Make the base stock by combining beef or pork bones or chicken skeleton with water, ginger, scallion, bay leaves. Broil and simmer for 3 hours. Can be made in advance. 2. The master sauce is the soul of Sichuan hot pot (and is guarded by restaurant owners as top secret but today you’ll get it for free). I recommend making this in advance. To make the aged-spicy paste: chop the Sichuan Spicy Bean Paste, soaked dry chili, ginger, garlic, and black bean. Combine 4 tbsp of oil and all the chopped ingredients, cook in low heat for 10 minutes. Stir frequently. Add the rest of the dry spices and cooking wine and sugar to the paste. Continue to cook in low heat for another 30 minutes then turn off the heat. This is your aged-spicy taste and can be made in advance. 3. Before serving the hot pot, combine the aged-spicy paste with base stock and bring to boil. Add additional ginger, dried chili, and salt to taste. 4. To make the special peanut butter sesame dipping sauce, combine the peanut butter, sesame paste, and fermented bean curd. Mix into a paste. Add oyster sauce, sugar, chopped chive flower and mix well.
  24. For those of you frequent Sichuan (Szechuan) eateries, you probably know that Dan Dan Noodles is arguably one of the must-try dishes at any Sichuan restaurants. In fact it’s so popular that this spicy, sweet, and tangy noodle dish has often used to measure how authentic a restaurant is! This is a recipe I learned from growing up in Sichuan and imho it's so much better than the restaurant version. If you like to learn with pictures please check out my blog for step-by-step pictorial recipe! Ingredients: 6oz fresh Chinese noodles (can substitute with dry noodles) Handful of fresh leafy vegetables such as spinach Dan Dan Meat Topping: 4oz ground pork 4oz [ya cai (preserved mustard green from Sichuan), chopped 2tbsp soy sauce 1tbsp Chinese cooking wine 1tsp five spice powder Dan Dan Sauce: 2tsp garlic, grated 2tsp Chinese sesame paste 4tbsp soy sauce 1tsp Sichuan peppercorn powder 1tsp sugar 4tbsp chili oil (more if you can handle the heat) 1tsp sesame oil 2tbsp Chinese black vinegar 1cup hot chicken or pork stock, unsalted (can substitute with boiled water) Chopped scallions for garnish Instructions: To make the meat topping: sauté ground pork and ya cai in 1 tbsp of cooking oil over high heat. When the meat turns color, add soy sauce, cooking wine, and five spice powder. Cook for another 3 minutes. Set aside To build the Dan Dan Noodle sauce: combine the garlic and sesame paste in a bowl. Mix using a spoon until smooth Add the rest of the sauce ingredients except the scallions. Stir until well incorporated While building the sauce, cook the noodles in a pot of boiling water until al dente. If using fresh noodles, it should take about 3 – 4 minutes Cook the vegetable in the same pot. To get the best noodle texture, shock the noodles in ice water right after cooking to stop the noodles from cooking Drain the excess water and drop the noodles into the sauce. Add the meat topping and garnish with scallions. Feel free to add additional chili oil according to your own taste
  25. Substitute for Pandan Leaves?

    Here's a question for you: is there anything out there, and more on the nose anything I've got a chance of finding here in Ecuador, that is an acceptable substitute for Pandan leaves? (I've got access to everything from breadfruits to various jasmines, but Pandan is sadly lacking in this country.) I have a serious hankering for Hainanese Chicken Rice, and every recipe I can find calls for them as a major component of the flavour. Alternately, will the dish come out tasting proper without them?