Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Tomato in Chinese Cuisine - Ketchup, tomato sauce


Gary Soup
 Share

Recommended Posts

I wouldn't hike to Flushing for Shanghainese food. The best Shanghainese restaurant in the entire Tri-State area, China 46, is in Ridgefield. We've had several threads on the place, you should definitely give it a try.

Is China 46 the one in a big strip mall, Jason, or is it on Route 46?

On route 46, right near the Grand Ave exit. Literally 300 feet from the overpass in a converted diner.

http://china46.com

or use our new Google eG button and search on China 46.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Shanghainese, Cantonese, Pekinese, Szechuan, Swatow, Hunan, Hakka, Fukien, all regional differences are coloured and shaped by the availability of ingredients, cooking fuels and custom. One region's sweet and sour pork is another's gu lo yuk, one region's twice cooked pork is another's double cooked pork, one region's gou-tee is another's potsticker, etc. You can find homologues of any dish of any region in another region. They may not be EXACTLY the same, but would be similar enough to identify.

And, they are all DELICIOUS. :biggrin:  :laugh:

I think that's a very accurate observation, one I never thought about before,

but based on my personal experience, knowledge base, etc. one that is wholly correct.

Edited by herbacidal (log)

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm curious if any of the type of Shanghai Restaurants so popular in Hong Kong have opened anywhere else in the States.

I'm referring to the Night Super places that of course serve Fresh Water Crab and other specialties in Season but stay open until 3/4 AM in the morning catering to night club goers, Restaurant Workers, Performers and Musicians.

These places also feature Shanghai Congee, Yung Chow and Vegetable Rice, Assorted Cold Cuts like Jellied Mutton, Drunken Baby Crab, Sliced Air Cured Ham, various Pickled or Salted Vegetables and the real Treats.

That were served from a Large Centerpiece of a Boiling Cauldron with many types of inserts containing different variations of Tofu, Braised, Simmered, Fermented, Skinned and Stuffed. All types of special Stews like Teal, Rice Birds and All kinds of Offals as well as translucent noodles with different broths. There were also many kinds of Dumplings served from the Steamers in front of the restaurant where you entered. I used to order a essence of Chicken Ginger Soup served in a special Pot where it had been steaming for many hours that was like no other soup served anywhere else.

During the Winter we were served a wonderful Crabapple Tea or a almost Black Ginger Molasseses Tea that were delicious and invigorating.

They were always crowded with people really enjoying the variety of items being served. Somehow this is the kind of eating experience that I miss most since leaving Asia.

Irwin :unsure::rolleyes:

I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Markk:

I wouldn't hike to Flushing for Shanghainese food. The best Shanghainese restaurant in the entire Tri-State area, China 46, is in Ridgefield. We've had several threads on the place, you should definitely give it a try.

I did try it tonight, and I'm writing to thank you. It was outstanding, and just what I was looking for. We had the Shangai crab and pork dumplings to start. Then we had a dish which I think was "pork ding" that was neither here nor there, really. But the waiter, Paul, was wonderful, and helped us order up a real feast. We ordered the blue crabs Shanghai style, and he came back a momenet later to tell us that they had just sold out of them thanks to a large party that had just departed. So we had lobster Shanghai style, soft shell crabs (salt and pepper), steamed Tilapia with ginger and scallion, and sauteed Ong Choy (Chinese Water Spinach) with garlic. Everything was outstandingly good, and we will definitely return.

I think I've probably read elsewhere on egullet the other dishes you've enjoyed there, but if you wouldn't mind listing them again (for my return visit), I'd be most appreciative. Thanks.

I had just posted elsewhere that I had a very disappointing batch of soft shells last week at New Lok Kee in Flushing. I think I will save myself the drive from now on, and stop at China 46 !!!

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Markk, the wonderful dishes you had bears out what I stated in my previous post, about the similarity of dishes from different regions. I had most of the dishes you itemized all last week in Toronto at typical Cantonese places. Tilapia, salt&pepper soft shell crabs, ong choy,etc. I don't know how Shanghai crab is prepared, but I had my favourite ginger and scallion lobster dish. Other than the outdoor signs, the menus, and the waiter telling you that it is so, how does one differentiate the dishes we mentioned? Mine from a Cantonese (Toyshan) place and yours from a "Shanghai" eatery.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, when I asked about the foods they were serving, they explained that it was "Shanghai and Cantonese" cooking. Obviously the dumplings with the soup in them are a Shanghai dish, and obviously the things with Shanghai in the name are as well. The lobster had a dark brown sauce with ground up pork, and some exquisite fresh green beans that that waiter referred to as fresh peas, although they weren't round. We got into a discussion with him, and he said, revealing a sense of humor that turned out to be very useful, that Cantonese dishes were mostly ginger and scallion and that Shanghai had lots more flavors.

I've also seen in my readings that Shanghai dishes feature a lot of braised pork. Two of the dishes on the China 46 menu were:

H13

Honey Glazed Ham Chinese Style

Virginia ham steamed in aromatic honey sauce, served with mini bread.

H14

Superior Ruby Pork

A giant pork shoulder with mixed herb simmered for hours. Served very tender as melt in your mouth.

Another dish is listed as:

H6

Tofu Lover

Silky tofu slowly simmered w. hand picked meat from Maryland Crab. A notable cooking art: 2 simple elements to create the real treat.

So I realize that a lot of the dishes I had were Cantonese, expertly prepared, and I was delighted about this as I just love Cantonese cuisine. And of course, I obviously didn't have many of the strictly Shanghai dishes, although I would like to, in the hopes of discovering something new.

Does anybody reading this have any experience with the three dishes I listed above, either at China 46 or other Shanghai restaurants?

I'm off now to see on a map where these various regions are, how close they are to each other, and to see what else I can learn about them.

Edited by markk (log)

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For anyone who questions the huge importance and influence of Cantonese cuisine in China and abroad, there is a an old adage in Chinese: "Go to Soochow for a wife, go to Canton (Guangchou) for a meal" :biggrin::raz: .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

H13

Honey Glazed Ham Chinese Style

Virginia ham steamed in aromatic honey sauce, served with mini bread.

H14

Superior Ruby Pork

A giant pork shoulder with mixed herb simmered for hours. Served very tender as melt in your mouth.

Another dish is listed as:

H6

Tofu Lover

Silky tofu slowly simmered w. hand picked meat from Maryland Crab. A notable cooking art: 2 simple elements to create the real treat.

Honey Glazed ham I think is a Hunan dish, not cantonese.

Ruby Pork, if it is the whole pork shank it is a Shanghai dish.

And the tofu and crab is a Shanghai dish.

I've had a very good crab roe and tofu dish at a local Shanghainese restaurant.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

China 46 is a unique restaurant because although it positions itself as a Shanghainese restaruant, the owner's parents are originally from Chengdu and then migrated to Shanghai -- so it has Sichuan dishes on the menu as well. Many feature a robust amount of Hua Jiao, he's not stingy with it when he's got it. The current kitchen staff is a mix of Sichuan and Shanghainese.

The Sunday "dim sum" luncheon it has started doing is truly a pan-Sino experience -- Hong Kong style, Sichuan and Shanghai dishes are all served up small plates. All excellent renditions.

Edited by Jason Perlow (log)

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Honey Glazed ham I think is a Hunan dish, not cantonese.

Ruby Pork, if it is the whole pork shank it is a Shanghai dish.

And the tofu and crab is a Shanghai dish.

I've had a very good crab roe and tofu dish at a local Shanghainese restaurant.

Tissue, as usual you've nailed it. Ham doesn't figure much in Shanghai cuisine at all. The famous Jinhua ham is possibly the saltiest and driest of cured hams anywhere, and is mostly used as a condiment, or served as an appetizer, thinly sliced and steamed. Crab tofu is one of the most delectably subtle of Shanghainese dishes, right up there with crystal shrimp. (So much for "hong shao" everything.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 years later...

I’m curious about the use of tomatoes in Chinese food, whether that be Ketchup, Tomato Sauce, Tomato Puree, etc.

How authentic is this? I have many Chinese cookbooks, Wei-Chuan, Pei-Mei, and others that I bought in China (English/Chinese languages together) and a lot of them use ketchup in their recipes.

Of course the obligatory “Sweet & Sour” has ketchup in it, except for some which don’t and use pineapple juice or haw flakes or something else. Also Sichuan prawns, prawns/shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce (with ketchup, hot bean paste).

I hate the taste of ketchup in Chinese food, especially sweet and sour sauce. Which is why I don’t ever order it out, I haven’t in the last 5+ years (in a restaurant). I’ve had Sichuan Prawns that had no taste of ketchup in it but I know they used it. I was thinking they used something else like tomato puree or sauce.

Does anybody have a suggestion of what to use in place of ketchup or not getting that ketchup flavor if it’s used. I do think they use way too much, especially when you see sweet and sour dishes that use 1/3 or ½ Cup ketchup.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How authentic is this?  I have many Chinese cookbooks, Wei-Chuan, Pei-Mei, and others that I bought in China (English/Chinese languages together) and a lot of them use ketchup in their recipes.

Re: "How authentic is that". How far back in Chinese history would you consider for being "authentic"? 20-30 years? 200 years? 2000 years?

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

How authentic is this?  I have many Chinese cookbooks, Wei-Chuan, Pei-Mei, and others that I bought in China (English/Chinese languages together) and a lot of them use ketchup in their recipes.

The sources you cite should answer your own question. Maybe, if you had a cookbook that was geared towards american readers, you might have some doubts. But, when authentic chinese cookbooks like those use ketchup, then I would argue that it is authentic.

As XiaoLing mentioned, the word ketchup is of Chinese origin but the Chinese ketchup, ka-tsiap, that was referring to is not the same ketchup we know today. Tomatoes aren't indigenous to China, and so ka-tasiap did not use tomatoes. But, the fact that tomatoes weren't indigneous to Chinese cuisine doesn't mean the use of it today isn't authentic. After all, peanuts and thus peanut oil aren't indigenous to China, but every Chinese kitchen uses peanut oil today.

Edited by leviathan (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree. From what I understand, tomato was not native to China. It was introduced at some point. Maybe hundreds of years ago. In Chinese, tomato is "Fan Kei" [Cantonese]. The first word "Fan" implies that it has a foreign origin.

Like many things, Chinese adopted the foreign ingredients in our cooking. Does it make you consider it's authentic?

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The origin of the word 'ketchup' or 'catsup' is probably the most disputed in all of etymology. (Although , it is generally agreed to be Asian. Malay has a good claim.)

However, every supermarket and small store round this part of China carries the stuff. So someone is using it. Even my very traditional mother-in-law has a bottle on the shelf.

(The tomato is native to America, along with other 'Chinese' goodies such as the chilli. Hard to imagine, but not that long ago Sichuan and Hunan had no chillies.)

Edit: I was in my local supermarket this afternoon and checked out the ketchup. Not only do they have it; they have 8 competing brands.

Edited by liuzhou (log)

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The origin of the word 'ketchup' or 'catsup' is probably the most disputed in all of etymology. (Although , it is generally agreed to be Asian. Malay has a good claim.)[...]

I doubt Malay has a good claim. Kicap in Malay means soy sauce, and surely, the Malays did not invent soy sauce, did they? I seriously doubt that!

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kicap in Malay means soy sauce

Whether it came from Chinese or Malay,the original meaning was 'fish sauce'. My own opinion is that it was introduced into English from Malay, but Malay took it from Chinese. Borrowings are often indirect and meanings change.

Which is what makes etymology interesting.

See here.

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, but that was my point: That the original derivation was pretty clearly Chinese, based on what I know and have read. And your point about its original meaning gives rise to another question: The derivation of "budu," the Malay word for "fish sauce." But that's off-topic for this forum. :wink:

Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To answer the original question, yes, tomatoes and ketchup are part of "authentic" chinese cooking.

stirfried eggs and tomatoes is probably the first dish a lot of chinese people learn to cook.

If you don't like ketchup, you can substitute vinegar + sugar.

Edited by stephenc (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Similar Content

    • By liuzhou
      Big Plate Chicken - 大盘鸡 (dà pán jī)
       

       
      This very filling dish of chicken and potato stew is from Xinjiang province in China's far west, although it is said to have been invented by a visitor from Sichuan. In recent years, it has become popular in cities across China, where it is made using a whole chicken which is chopped, with skin and on the bone, into small pieces suitable for easy chopstick handling. If you want to go that way, any Asian market should be able to chop the bird for you. Otherwise you may use boneless chicken thighs instead.

      Ingredients

      Chicken chopped on the bone or Boneless skinless chicken thighs  6

      Light soy sauce

      Dark soy sauce

      Shaoxing wine

      Cornstarch or similar. I use potato starch.

      Vegetable oil (not olive oil)

      Star anise, 4

      Cinnamon, 1 stick

      Bay leaves, 5 or 6

      Fresh ginger, 6 coin sized slices

      Garlic.  5 cloves, roughly chopped

      Sichuan peppercorns,  1 tablespoon

      Whole dried red chillies,   6 -10  (optional). If you can source the Sichuan chiles known as Facing Heaven Chiles, so much the better.

      Potatoes 2 or 3 medium sized. peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces

      Carrot. 1,  thinly sliced

      Dried wheat noodles.  8 oz. Traditionally, these would be a long, flat thick variety. I've use Italian tagliatelle successfully.    

      Red bell pepper. 1 cut into chunks

      Green bell pepper, 1 cut into chunks

      Salt

      Scallion, 2 sliced.
         
      Method

      First, cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and marinate in 1½ teaspoons light soy sauce, 3 teaspoons of Shaoxing and 1½ teaspoons of cornstarch. Set aside for about twenty minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

      Heat the wok and add three tablespoons cooking oil. Add the ginger, garlic, star anise, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, Sichuan peppercorns and chilies. Fry on a low heat for a  minute or so. If they look about to burn, splash a little water into your wok. This will lower the temperature slightly. Add the chicken and turn up the heat. Continue frying until the meat is nicely seared, then add the potatoes and carrots. Stir fry a minute more then add 2 teaspoons of the dark soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of the light soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of the Shaoxing wine along with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium. Cover and cook for around 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are done.

      While the main dish is cooking, cook the noodles separately according to the packet instructions.  Reserve  some of the noodle cooking water and drain.

      When the chicken and potatoes are done, you may add a little of the noodle water if the dish appears on the dry side. It should be saucy, but not soupy. Add the bell peppers and cook for three to four minutes more. Add scallions. Check seasoning and add some salt if it needs it. It may not due to the soy sauce and, if in the USA, Shaoxing wine.

      Serve on a large plate for everyone to help themselves from. Plate the noodles first, then cover with the meat and potato. Enjoy.
       
    • By liuzhou
      Way back in the 1990’s, I was living in west Hunan, a truly beautiful part of China. One day, some colleagues suggested we all go for lunch the next day, a Saturday. Seemed reasonable to me. I like a bit of lunch.
       
      “OK. We’ll pick you up at 7 am.”
       
      “Excuse me? 7 am for lunch?
       
      “Yes. We have to go by car.”
       
      Well, of course, they finally picked me up at 8.30, drove in circles for an hour trying to find the guy who knew the way, then headed off into the wilds of Hunan. We drove for hours, but the scenery was beautiful, and the thousand foot drops at the side of the crash barrier free road as we headed up the mountains certainly kept me awake.
       
      After an eternity of bad driving along hair-raising roads which had this old atheist praying, we stopped at a run down shack in the middle of nowhere. I assumed that this was a temporary stop because the driver needed to cop a urination or something, but no. This was our lunch venue.
       
      We shuffled into one of the two rooms the shack consisted of and I distinctly remember that one of my hosts took charge of the lunch ordering process.
       
      “We want lunch for eight.” There was no menu.
       
      The waitress, who was also the cook, scuttled away to the other room of the shack which was apparently a kitchen.
       
      We sat there for a while discussing the shocking rise in bean sprout prices and other matters of national importance, then the first dish turned up. A pile of steaming hot meat surrounded by steaming hot chillies. It was delicious.
       
      “What is this meat?” I asked.
       
      About half of the party spoke some English, but my Chinese was even worse than it is now, so communications weren’t all they could be. There was a brief (by Chinese standards) meeting and they announced:
       
      “It’s wild animal.”
       
      Over the next hour or so, several other dishes arrived. They were all piles of steaming hot meat surrounded by steaming hot chillies, but the sauces and vegetable accompaniments varied. And all were very, very good indeed.
       
      “What’s this one?” I ventured.
       
      “A different wild animal.”
       
      “And this?”
       
      “Another wild animal.”
       
      “And this?”
       
      “A wild animal which is not the wild animal in the other dishes”
       
      I wandered off to the kitchen, as you can do in rural Chinese restaurants, and inspected the contents of their larder, fridge, etc. No clues.
       
      I returned to the table with a bit of an idea.
       
      “Please write down the Chinese names of all these animals we have eaten. I will look in my dictionary when I get home.”
       
      They looked at each other, consulted, argued and finally announced:
       
      “Sorry! We don’t know in Chinese either. “
       
      Whether that was true or just a way to get out of telling me what I had eaten, I’ll never know. I certainly wouldn’t be able to find the restaurant again.
       
      This all took place way back in the days before digital cameras, so I have no illustrations from that particular meal. But I’m guessing one of the dishes was bamboo rat.
       
      No pandas or tigers were injured in the making of this post
       
    • By liuzhou
      Note: This follows on from the Munching with the Miao topic.
       
      The three-hour journey north from Miao territory ended up taking four, as the driver missed a turning and we had to drive on to the next exit and go back. But our hosts waited for us at the expressway exit and led us up a winding road to our destination - Buyang 10,000 mu tea plantation (布央万亩茶园 bù yāng wàn mǔ chá yuán) The 'mu' is  a Chinese measurement of area equal to 0.07 of a hectare, but the 10,000 figure is just another Chinese way of saying "very large".
       
      We were in Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County, where 57% of the inhabitants are Dong.
       
      The Dong people (also known as the Kam) are noted for their tea, love of glutinous rice and their carpentry and architecture. And their hospitality. They tend to live at the foot of mountains, unlike the Miao who live in the mid-levels.
       
      By the time we arrived, it was lunch time, but first we had to have a sip of the local tea. This lady did the preparation duty.
       

       

       
      This was what we call black tea, but the Chinese more sensibly call 'red tea'. There is something special about drinking tea when you can see the bush it grew on just outside the window!
       
      Then into lunch:
       

       

      Chicken Soup
       

      The ubiquitous Egg and Tomato
       

      Dried fish with soy beans and chilli peppers. Delicious.
       

      Stir fried lotus root
       

      Daikon Radish
       

      Rice Paddy Fish Deep Fried in Camellia Oil - wonderful with a smoky flavour, but they are not smoked.
       

      Out of Focus Corn and mixed vegetable
       

      Fried Beans
       

      Steamed Pumpkin
       

      Chicken
       

      Beef with Bitter Melon
       

      Glutinous (Sticky) Rice
       

      Oranges
       

      The juiciest pomelo ever. The area is known for the quality of its pomelos.
       
      After lunch we headed out to explore the tea plantation.
       

       

       

       

       
      Interspersed with the tea plants are these camellia trees, the seeds of which are used to make the Dong people's preferred cooking oil.
       

       
      As we climbed the terraces we could hear singing and then came across this group of women. They are the tea pickers. It isn't tea picking time, but they came out in their traditional costumes to welcome us with their call and response music. They do often sing when picking. They were clearly enjoying themselves.
       

       
      And here they are:
       
       
      After our serenade we headed off again, this time to the east and the most memorable meal of the trip. Coming soon.
       
       
    • By liuzhou
      It sometimes seems likes every town in China has its own special take on noodles. Here in Liuzhou, Guangxi the local dish is Luosifen (螺蛳粉 luó sī fěn).
       
      It is a dish of rice noodles served in a very spicy stock made from the local river snails and pig bones which are stewed for hours with black cardamom, fennel seed, dried tangerine peel, cassia bark, cloves, pepper, bay leaf, licorice root, sand ginger, and star anise. Various pickled vegetables, dried tofu skin, fresh green vegetables, peanuts and loads of chilli are then usually added. Few restaurants ever reveal their precise recipe, so this is tentative. Luosifen is only really eaten in small restaurants and roadside stalls. I've never heard of anyone making it at home.
       
      In order to promote tourism to the city, the local government organised a food festival featuring an event named "10,000 people eat luosifen together." (In Chinese 10,000 often just means "many".)
       
      10,000 people (or a lot of people anyway) gathered at Liuzhou International Convention and Exhibition Centre for the grand Liuzhou luosifen eat-in. Well, they gathered in front of the centre – the actual centre is a bleak, unfinished, deserted shell of a building. I disguised myself as a noodle and joined them. 10,001.
       

       
      The vast majority of the 10,000 were students from the local colleges who patiently and happily lined up to be seated. Hey, mix students and free food – of course they are happy.
       

       
      Each table was equipped with a basket containing bottled water, a thermos flask of hot water, paper bowls, tissues etc. And most importantly, a bunch of Luosifen caps. These read “万人同品螺蛳粉” which means “10,000 people together enjoy luosifen”
       

       
      Yep, that is the soup pot! 15 meters in diameter and holding eleven tons of stock. Full of snails and pork bones, spices etc. Chefs delicately added ingredients to achieve the precise, subtle taste required.
       

       
      Noodles were distributed, soup added and dried ingredients incorporated then there was the sound of 10,000 people slurping.
       

      Surrounding the luosifen eating area were several stalls selling different goodies. Lamb kebabs (羊肉串) seemed most popular, but there was all sorts of food. Here are few of the delights on offer.
       

      Whole roast lamb or roast chicken
       

      Lamb Kebabs
       

      Kebab spice mix – Cumin, chilli powder, salt and MSG
       

      Kebab stall
       

      Crab
       

      Different crab
       

      Sweet sticky rice balls
       

      Things on sticks
       

      Grilled scorpions
       

      Pig bones and bits
       

      Snails
       
      And much more.
       
      To be honest, it wasn’t the best luosifen I’ve ever eaten, but it was wasn’t the worst. Especially when you consider the number they were catering for. But it was a lot of fun. Which was the point.
       
    • By liuzhou
      Chinese food must be among the most famous in the world. Yet, at the same time, the most misunderstood.

      I feel sure (hope) that most people here know that American-Chinese cuisine, British-Chinese cuisine, Indian-Chinese cuisine etc are, in huge ways, very different from Chinese-Chinese cuisine and each other. That's not what I want to discuss.

      Yet, every day I still come across utter nonsense on YouTube videos and Facebook about the "real" Chinese cuisine, even from ethnically Chinese people (who have often never been in China). Sorry YouTube "influencers", but sprinkling soy sauce or 5-spice powder on your cornflakes does not make them Chinese!
       
      So what is the "authentic" Chinese food? Well, like any question about China, there are several answers. It is not surprising that a country larger than western Europe should have more than one typical culinary style. Then, we must distinguish between what you may be served in a large hotel dining room, a small local restaurant, a street market stall or in a Chinese family's home.

      That said, in this topic, I want to attempt to debunk some of the more prevalent myths. Not trying to start World War III.

      When I moved to China from the UK 25 years ago, I had my preconceptions. They were all wrong. Sweet and sour pork with egg fried rice was reported to be the second favourite dish in Britain, and had, of course, to be preceded by a plate of prawn/shrimp crackers. All washed down with a lager or three.

      Yet, in that quarter of a century, I've seldom seen a prawn cracker. And egg fried rice is usually eaten as a quick dish on its own, not usually as an accompaniment to main courses. Every menu featured a starter of prawn/shrimp toast which I have never seen in mainland China - just once in Hong Kong.

      But first, one myth needs to be dispelled. The starving Chinese! When I was a child I was encouraged to eat the particularly nasty bits on the plate by being told that the starving Chinese would lap them up. My suggestion that we could post it to them never went down too well. At that time (the late fifties) there was indeed a terrible famine in China (almost entirely manmade (Maomade)).

      When I first arrived in China, it was after having lived in Soviet Russia and I expected to see the same long lines of people queuing up to buy nothing very much in particular. Instead, on my first visit to a market (in Hunan Province), I was confronted with a wider range of vegetables, seafood, meat and assorted unidentified frying objects than I have ever seen anywhere else. And it was so cheap I couldn't convert to UK pounds or any other useful currency.
       
      I'm going to start with some of the simpler issues - later it may get ugly!

      1. Chinese people eat everything with chopsticks.
       

       
      No, they don't! Most things, yes, but spoons are also commonly used in informal situations. I recently had lunch in a university canteen. It has various stations selling different items. I found myself by the fried rice stall and ordered some Yangzhou fried rice. Nearly all the students and faculty sitting near me were having the same.

      I was using my chopsticks to shovel the food in, when I noticed that I was the only one doing so. Everyone else was using spoons. On investigating, I was told that the lunch break is so short at only two-and-a-half hours that everyone wants to eat quickly and rush off for their compulsory siesta.
       
      I've also seen claims that people eat soup with chopsticks. Nonsense. While people use chopsticks to pick out choice morsels from the broth, they will drink the soup by lifting their bowl to their mouths like cups. They ain't dumb!

      Anyway, with that very mild beginning, I'll head off and think which on my long list will be next.

      Thanks to @KennethT for advice re American-Chinese food.
       
       
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...