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  1. Retirement can do strange things to people I have an uncle who has always been a bit of DIY freak. As he and my aunt get older - they are becoming more and more careful of what kind of food they eat. Now that that they don't have growing kids to feed - they try to eat as much organic food as possible and grow alot it themselves. News reports out of HK last year detailed alot of the lack of quality controls in foods produced in China - so they decided to start making their own soy sauce. I wanted to provide a little update as to how this is done - and I was surprised that it was not as hard as you might think - just a little time and care. My uncle remembers growing up in post war Hong Kong when food was scarce and making ends meet was not easy. The war had left my grandmother virtually broke (from bribing officials to keep her kids safe), widowed, and still having to find a way to feed 8 kids. One easy source of protein was to make miso at home - fermented soy beans that was cooked with a little pickled plum and rock sugar. My uncle said it seemd like the most delicous food at the time. Making soy sauce is simply removing the liquid that the soy beans are fermented in. They still end up with miso that they use as a condiment for cooking things like fish and pork - it gives a plumlike sourness . Now in Vancouver - we don't get as much sun as we would like - so the fermeted soy mash does not cook in the sun for as long as it should - so there is more acidity in it then you would find in industrial soy. Still - its pretty good. Dried organic soy beans are cooked till they are soft and fall apart into a meal when squeezed between your fingers. The soy beans are mixed with flour - ratio that my uncle uses is 16 oz of soy beans (dry weight) is mixed with 12 oz of flour. The beans and flour is kneaded together to make a loaf. My uncle says that from what he's seen, alot of industrial producers skip this step. The loaf is then cut up into disks - and the whole basket is wrapped in layers of towels to promote mold growth. The mold growth part takes about a week - I will take some pictures then if the mold takes hold like it should. The saltiness for the soy sauce will come later when the fremented disks are soaked in a brine that contains 8 oz of salt. It's funny - the salt water has been prepared for a few weeks now. Large containers sitting out in the sun (under plexiglass). I actually don't understand why this needs to be done - but my uncle says that my grandmother would always let the sun cook out the water - sometimes for a whole month. Perhaps this was a way to remove impurities - when tap water was not so safe - and nowadays, it may be good to let some of the chemicals used to treat water, evaporate off. Vancouver is notorious for its use of cholrine. Hopefully the mold will take hold and I will have new pictures soon. BTW - I have no idea what kind of mold takes hold and how my uncle ensures that it is not some killer strain. So - that's my attempt at a legal disclaimer.
  2. I think you’ll see in a moment why I didn’t just post this on the Lunch! topic. It was exceptional. An epic and it has been an epic sorting through the 634 photographs I took in about three hours. If I counted correctly, there are only 111 here. Like so many things, it came out of the blue. I was kind of aware that there was a Chinese holiday this week, but being self-semi-employed I am often a man of leisure and the holidays make little impact on my life. This one is in celebration of the Dragon Boat Festival (端午节 duān wǔ jié) and although it features nothing boat-like, it was festive and there is a dragon link. It started with this invitation which appeared on my WeChat (Chinese social media) account. Longtan (龙潭 lóng tán) means Dragon’s Pool and is more of a hamlet. It is about an hour’s drive north of Liuzhou city. I’d never heard of it and certainly never been there, but a friend of a friend had decided that a “foreign friend” would add just the right note to the planned event. I’ve seen many pictures of such “Long Table“ lunches and even attended one before – but this one was different and I was delighted to be invited. So, I was picked up outside my city centre home at 9 am and the adventure began. We arrived at the village at 9:45 to be met by the friend in question. He led me to what appeared to be the head man’s home, outside which was a large courtyard with a few men sitting at a trestle table seemingly finishing a breakfast of hot, meaty rice porridge washed down with beer or rice wine. I was offered a bowl of the porridge, but declined the beer or rice wine in favour of a cup of tea. After downing that and making introductions etc, I was left to wander around on my own watching all the activity. Rice Porridge Here goes. I'm posting these mostly in the order they were taken, in order to give some sense of how the event progressed. These two men were the undisputed kings of this venture, organising everyone, checking every detail, instructing less experienced volunteers etc. It was obvious these men had been working since the early hours. and their breakfast was a break in their toil. There were piles of still steaming cooked pork belly in containers all over the courtyard. Some of this had been the meat in the rice porridge, I learned. This young lad had been set to chopping chicken. Not one chicken! Dozens. Entrails, insides and fat were all carefully preserved. In the meantime, the two masters continued boiling their lumps of pork belly. This they refer to as 五花肉 - literally "five flower" pork", the five flowers being layers of skin, fat and meat. Another man was dealing with fish. Carp from the village pond. He scaled and cleaned them with his cleaver. Dozens of them. And all around, various preparations are being prepared. Peeling Garlic Gizzards and intestines. More Pork . You can see the five layers here. to be continued
  3. but this is just pushing us toward the debate...that's why I hate cantonese food, its BLAND! Well, maybe not in Guangzhou, but I have a friend that insists on cooking cantonese here in the US, and to everything she cooks, I must add la jiao or jiang you or something so that it actually has flavor...
  4. 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.
  5. 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
  6. Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southern China, where I live, is sugar central for the country. Over two-thirds of China's output of sugar is grown right here, making it one of the largest sugar production areas on the planet. I have a second home in the countryside and it is surrounded by sugar cane fields. Much of this is produced by small time farmers, although huge Chinese and international companies have also moved in. Also, sugar is used extensively in Chinese cooking, not only as a sweetener, but more as a spice. A little added to a savoury dish can bring out otherwise hidden flavours. It also has medicinal attributes according to traditional Chinese medicine. Supermarkets have what was to me, on first sight, a huge range of sugars, some almost unrecognisable. Here is a brief introduction to some of them. Most sugar is sold loose, although corner shops and mom 'n pop stores may have pre-packed bags. These are often labelled in English as "candy", the Chinese language not differentiating between "sugar" and "candy" - always a source of confusion. Both are 糖 (táng), IMPORTANT NOTE: The Chinese names given here and in the images are the names most used locally. They are all Mandarin Chinese, but it is still possible that other names may be used elsewhere in China. Certainly, non-Mandarin speaking areas will be different. By the far the simplest way to get your sugar ration is to buy the unprocessed sugar cane. This is not usually available in supermarkets but is a street vendor speciality. In the countryside, you can buy it at the roadside. There are also people in markets etc with portable juice extractors who will sell you a cup of pure sugar cane juice. I remember being baffled then amused when, soon after I first arrived in China, someone asked me if I wanted some 甘蔗 (gān zhè). It sounded exactly like 'ganja' or cannabis. No such luck! 甘蔗 (gān zhè) is 'sugar cane'. The most common sugar in the supermarkets seems to be 冰糖 (bīng táng) which literally means 'ice 'sugar' and is what we tend to call 'rock sugar' or 'crystal sugar'. This highly refined sugar comes in various lump sizes although the price remains the same no matter if the pieces are large or small. Around ¥7/500g. That pictured below features the smaller end of the range. Related to this is what is known as 冰片糖 (bīng piàn táng) which literally means "ice slice sugar". This is usually slightly less processed (although I have seen a white version, but not recently) and is usually a pale brown to yellow colour. This may be from unprocessed cane sugar extract, but is often white sugar coloured and flavoured with added molasses. It is also sometimes called 黄片糖 (huáng piàn táng) or "yellow slice sugar". ¥6.20/500g. A less refined, much darker version is known as 红片糖 (hóng piàn táng), literally 'red slice sugar'. (Chinese seems to classify colours differently - what we know as 'black tea' is 'red tea' here. ¥7.20/500g. Of course, what we probably think of as regular sugar, granulated sugar is also available. Known as 白砂糖 (bái shā táng), literally "white sand sugar', it is the cheapest at ¥3.88/500g. A brown powdered sugar is also common, but again, in Chinese, it isn't brown. It's red and simply known as 红糖 (hóng táng). ¥7.70/500g Enough sweetness and light for now. More to come tomorrow.
  7. An old friend from England contacted me yesterday via Facebook with a couple of questions about Five Spice Powder. Thought there me be some interest here, too. Is there anything more typically Chinese than five spice powder (五香粉 - wǔ xiāng fěn)? Well, yes. A lot. Many years ago, I worked in an office overlooking London’s China town. By around 11 am, the restaurants started getting lunch ready and the smell of FSP blanketed the area for the rest of the day. When I moved to China, I didn’t smell that. Only when I first visited Hong Kong, did I find that smell again. In fact, FSP is relatively uncommon in most of Chinese cuisine. And if I ever see another internet recipe called “Chinese” whatever, which is actually any random food, but the genius behind it has added FSP, supposedly rendering it Chinese, I’ll scream. I get all sorts of smells wafting through the neighbourhood. Some mouth-watering; some horrifying. But I don't recall ever that they were FSP. But what is it anyway? Which five spices? Today, I bought four samples in four local supermarkets. I would have would have preferred five, but couldn’t find any more. It's not that popular. First thing to say: none of them had five spices. All had more. That is normal. Numbers in Chinese can often be vague. Every time you hear a number, silently added the word ‘about’ or ‘approximately’. 100 km means “far”, 10,000 means “many”. Second, while there are some common factors, ingredients can vary quite a bit. Here are my four. 1. Ingredients – 7 Star Anise, Fennel Seed, Orange Peel, Cassia Bark, Sand Ginger, Dried Ginger, Sichuan Peppercorns. 2. Ingredients – 6 Cassia Bark, Star Anise, Fennel Seed, Coriander, Sichuan Peppercorn, Licorice Root. 3. Ingredients – 15 Fennel Seeds, Sichuan Peppercorns, Coriander, Tangerine Peel, Star Anise, Chinese Haw, Cassia Bark, Lesser Galangal, Dahurian Angelica, Nutmeg, Dried Ginger, Black Pepper, Amomum Villosum, Cumin Seeds, Cloves. 4. Ingredients – 6 Pepper (unspecified – probably black pepper), Sichuan Peppercorns, Star Anise, Fennel Seeds, Nutmeg, Cassia. So, take your pick. They all taste and smell almost overwhelmingly of the star anise and cassia, although there are subtle differences in taste in the various mixes. But I don’t expect to find it in many dishes in local restaurants or homes. A quick, unscientific poll of about ten friends today revealed that not one has any at home, nor have they ever used the stuff! I'm not suggesting that FSP shouldn't be used outside of Chinese food. Please just don't call the results Chinese when you sprinkle it on your fish and chips or whatever. They haven't miraculously become Chinese! Like my neighbours and friends, I very rarely use it at all. In fact, I'd be delighted to hear how it is used in other cultures / cuisines.
  8. 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.
  9. 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?
  10. An eG member recently asked me by private message about mushrooms in China, so I thought I'd share some information here. What follows is basically extracted from my blog and describes what is available in the markets and supermarkets in the winter months - i.e now. FRESH FUNGI December sees the arrival of what most westerners deem to be the standard mushroom – the button mushroom (小蘑菇 xiǎo mó gū). Unlike in the west where they are available year round, here they only appear when in season, which is now. The season is relatively short, so I get stuck in. The standard mushroom for the locals is the one known in the west by its Japanese name, shiitake. They are available year round in the dried form, but for much of the year as fresh mushrooms. Known in Chinese as 香菇 (xiāng gū), which literally means “tasty mushroom”, these meaty babies are used in many dishes ranging from stir fries to hot pots. Second most common are the many varieties of oyster mushroom. The name comes from the majority of the species’ supposed resemblance to oysters, but as we are about to see the resemblance ain’t necessarily so. The picture above is of the common oyster mushroom, but the local shops aren’t common, so they have a couple of other similar but different varieties. Pleurotus geesteranus, 秀珍菇 (xiù zhēn gū) (below) are a particularly delicate version of the oyster mushroom family and usually used in soups and hot pots. 凤尾菇 (fèng wěi gū), literally “Phoenix tail mushroom”, is a more robust, meaty variety which is more suitable for stir frying. Another member of the pleurotus family bears little resemblance to its cousins and even less to an oyster. This is pleurotus eryngii, known variously as king oyster mushroom, king trumpet mushroom or French horn mushroom or, in Chinese 杏鲍菇 (xìng bào gū). It is considerably larger and has little flavour or aroma when raw. When cooked, it develops typical mushroom flavours. This is one for longer cooking in hot pots or stews. One of my favourites, certainly for appearance are the clusters of shimeji mushrooms. Sometimes known in English as “brown beech mushrooms’ and in Chinese as 真姬菇 zhēn jī gū or 玉皇菇 yù huáng gū, these mushrooms should not be eaten raw as they have an unpleasantly bitter taste. This, however, largely disappears when they are cooked. They are used in stir fries and with seafood. Also, they can be used in soups and stews. When cooked alone, shimeji mushrooms can be sautéed whole, including the stem or stalk. There is also a white variety. Next up we have the needle mushrooms. Known in Japanese as enoki, these are tiny headed, long stemmed mushrooms which come in two varieties – gold (金針菇 jīn zhēn gū) and silver (银针菇 yín zhēn gū)). They are very delicate, both in appearance and taste, and are usually added to hot pots. Then we have these fellows – tea tree mushrooms (茶树菇 chá shù gū). These I like. They take a bit of cooking as the stems are quite tough, so they are mainly used in stews and soups. But their meaty texture and distinct taste is excellent. These are also available dried. Then there are the delightfully named 鸡腿菇 jī tuǐ gū or “chicken leg mushrooms”. These are known in English as "shaggy ink caps". Only the very young, still white mushrooms are eaten, as mature specimens have a tendency to auto-deliquesce very rapidly, turning to black ‘ink’, hence the English name. Not in season now, but while I’m here, let me mention a couple of other mushrooms often found in the supermarkets. First, straw mushrooms (草菇 cǎo gū). Usually only found canned in western countries, they are available here fresh in the summer months. These are another favourite – usually braised with soy sauce – delicious! When out of season, they are also available canned here. Then there are the curiously named Pig Stomach Mushrooms (猪肚菇 zhū dù gū). These are another favourite. They make a lovely mushroom omelette. Also, a summer find. And finally, not a mushroom, but certainly a fungus and available fresh is the wood ear (木耳 mù ěr). It tastes of almost nothing, but is prized in Chinese cuisine for its crunchy texture. More usually sold dried, it is available fresh in the supermarkets now. Please note that where I have given Chinese names, these are the names most commonly around this part of China, but many variations do exist. Coming up next - the dried varieties available.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. I was recently asked by a friend to give a talk to a group of around 30 first-year students in a local college - all girls. The students were allowed to present me with a range of topics to choose from. To my joy, No. 1 was food! They wanted to know what is different between western and Chinese food. Big topic! Anyway I did my best to explain, illustrate etc. I even gave each student a home made Scotch egg! Which amused them immensely. Later, my friend asked each of them to write out (in English) a recipe for their favourite Chinese dish. She has passed these on to me with permission to use them as I wish. I will post a few of the better / more interesting ones over the next few days. I have not edited their language, so please be tolerant and remember that for many of these students, English is their third or fourth language. Chinese isn't even their first! I have obscured some personal details. First up: Tomato, egg noodles. Time: 10 minutes Yield: 1 serving For the noodle: 1 tomato 2 egg 5 spring onions For the sauce: 1 teaspoon sesame oil 1 tablespoon sugar ½ teaspoon salt Method: 1. The pot boil water. At that same time you can do something else. 2. Diced tomato. Egg into the bowl. add salt and sugar mixed. Onion cut section. 3. Boiled noodles with water and cook for about 5 minutes. 4. Heat wok put oil, add eggs, stir fry until cooked. Another pot, garlic stir fry the tomato. 5. add some water to boil, add salt, soy sauce, add egg 6. The tomato and egg sauce over noodle, spring onion sprinkled even better. More soon.
  14. 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.
  15. 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
  16. 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.
  17. 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
  18. Pig Face

    I have received a wonderful gift from a lovely friend. A whole home cured, dried pig face. I call her Cameron. This will be used slowly over the winter. I'm dribbling thinking about the ears stir-fried with chilies Hunan style. The cheeks! The snout! I'm ecstatic. Snout I'm watching! I'll follow up with with how I use it, but for the moment I'm just content watching her watching me as she hangs in the wind on my balcony. It's love!
  19. 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
  20. 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.
  21. I'm probably the worst person to kick off a Chinese Dessert thread. I have the least sweet tooth on the planet, but I know there is interest in the topic. I often read that the Chinese don't do dessert. Not quite true. They don't necessarily serve sweet dishes at the end of a meal, but they may turn up midway through. Chinese food is not normally served in a strict order, serial way. That said, it is not uncommon to finish a no dessert meal then head for one of the many places selling only desserts. Sweet yoghurt, cakes, candied fruits etc are everywhere.
  22. 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!
  23. 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
  24. http://www.smartshanghai.com/articles/dining/the-man-who-spent-a-year-studying-xiao-long-bao
  25. The new Michelin Guide to Hong Kong has a Street Food category for the first time. More here.