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Chinese wasting food?


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My Chinese up-bringing says: Never waste food. When I was grewing up, my father would force me to finish everything laid before me on the dinner table. I have never brought to the sink a bowl that still contains even a spoonful of rice. I would finish whatever's left - even though I may not like the food...

But... when will this "virtue" end?

I bought something during my trip last night: an order of potstickers and a pineapple bao. With the pineapple bao, the crust is okay but the bread is hard! With the potstickers... the wrapper is hard and dry.

I did the most sinful thing for a Chinese - I ate just the top crust of the pineapple bao. I ate only the fillings of the potsticker left over. The rest is nicely buried and is waiting for the hotel maid to pick up.

What about you? When will you draw the line between resourceful (or unwasteful), which may mean finish eating everything that you have bought or cooked (and just not buy it or cook it next time), and being trueful to your inner self that says: Life is too SHORT for lousy food!

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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It does depend on the situation. If i was in your position last night then i would have bought something else. Even though i can relate exactly to your 'no wasting food' up-bringing. I was the same but have learnt to erase that part of the programming!

From my own perspective being a human trashcan is not a virtue. If food is bad then you have the choice not to eat it. It's just that 'bad' is such a subjective term. The guilt that follows is you own construction, you have the power to not feel it. It is not a sin.

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Ahhh, I remember my parents used to say that if you don't eat every piece of rice in your bowl, you'll marry someone w/ the same pockmarked complexion.

Like you, my parents were always insistent that I finish everything on my plate and that nothing goes to waste. It's been a challenge as I grow up and the plates at restaurants keep getting bigger, sometimes there are not enough leftover to take home.

So I end up eating way too much, but then I started conditioning myself to eat less so I have more to take home or just leave it there. The first few times were a weird experience, nowadays it's not as much as an issue, but I still do feel some guilt for leaving leftovers at the restaurant.

I still try to adhere to the waste nothing mantra, but when you're traveling it's hard to do that. During those times I think it's actually ok to leave food even though they are just going to waste.

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The dry bread from the pineapple bun would go right into the "crumb bin" I keep in my oven (when oven's not in use). The crumbs reach a critical mass and get put into meatballs and meatloaf.

The potsticker skin would have been cut up and thrown into the container marked "garbage" in my freezer. Once a month or so I make "garbage soup."

Bad food can be transformed. I like saving money, which I can then spend on good food.

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browniebaker: thank you for your inspirational note. That is being resourceful. You see the items not as they are, but as what they can become!

BB: I also like your comment. Making the mistake of getting bad food is already enough. Shouldn't have to prolong or proliferate the suffering!

I think our older Chinese generations have developed their "nothing goes to waste" mentality because they had, in their lives, lived through some dark ages. The younger generation, like myself, is fortunately enough that we haven't seen dying people due to famine such as in times of WWII or the Big Leap Forward or Cultural Revolution, that we don't have the same view as our parents.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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I think older generations are also taking a new view though - due to health problems with over eating or too much starch, my parent's generation now do not insist or finishing everything. In fact - a meal with rice has become a rarity - with alot more vegetables being consumed instead.

This is a real turnaround from when I was a small child and dinner time was a battle of wills about finishing food. I still remember sitting at the table with a mouthful of food - refusing to swallow - as my mother tried to get more food into me. This could continue for an hour or so, with my mother saying "this food is getting into you one way or another!"

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I think older generations are also taking a new view though - due to health problems with over eating or too much starch, my parent's generation now do not insist or finishing everything.  In fact - a meal with rice has become a rarity - with alot more vegetables being consumed instead.

This is a real turnaround from when I was a small child and dinner time was a battle of wills about finishing food.  I still remember sitting at the table with a mouthful of food - refusing to swallow - as my mother tried to get more food into me.  This could continue for an hour or so, with my mother saying "this food is getting into you one way or another!"

I agree. When I was growing up, we were forced to eat all of our food. Back in China, I'm sure that wasn't a problem for mom and dad. But with all the food available to us in the States, I suppose they didn't know what was a proper portion. I remember having to eat a huge plate of rice (we used to eat 4 cups of rice for 4 people and my mom would only eat a small bowl) and about 3-4 dishes, at least two of which were meat (steak, stew, pork chops, etc.). Leftovers didn't exist because my dad didn't like it (and still doesn't).

Anyways, the US diet is a lot richer (and higher in hormones) than China's, and my brother and I grew to be a lot bigger than our parents. I'm a little over 6 feet tall and 200 or so pounds, and my parents are both approximately 5'5". Go figure.

That said, whenever I have dinner with my parents, my mom tells me now to not overstuff yourself. Now she tells me. I give her a glance and then she laughs, knowing that I'm going to tell her for the millionth time that I was trained to finish everything on my plate since inception. At least she didn't have to force us to eat. We did it willingly, except for maybe veggies. To this day, I still finish whatever is on my plate.

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I was also brought up to also finish what was on my plate. And of course my problem now is definitely overeating. With a wife and child that never finish their food, I inevitably finish 3 meals instead of one. It sure makes keeping calories down a hard thing.

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My Mom used to always say" Eat the last few pieces. There's no point leaving it for tomorrow. There isn't enough for a meal!". So, whenever she had meals with us, she and I used to clean off whatever was left on the communial plates. It's not so bad when it is just vegetables, but a couple of mouthfuls of rice, a few pieces of meat. That played havoc with my weight.

Now, at age 99, she's saying that one should cook smaller amounts, eat only until 80% full so as not to gain too much weight.

In the past when food was scarce in China, you would eat as much as possible because you were not sure if there will be a "next meal". And, being fat was beautiful. :wacko:

Now, everyone wants to be slim, so maybe 80% full is the way to go. :wink:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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My Mom used to always say" Eat the last few pieces. There's no point leaving it for tomorrow. There isn't enough for a meal!". So, whenever she had meals with us, she and I used to clean off whatever was left on the communial plates. It's not so bad when it is just vegetables, but a couple of mouthfuls of rice, a few pieces of meat. That played havoc with my weight.

Now, at age 99, she's saying that one should cook smaller amounts, eat only until 80% full so as not to gain too much weight.

In the past when food was scarce in China, you would eat as much as possible because you were not sure if there will be a "next meal". And, being fat was beautiful. :wacko:

Now, everyone wants to be slim, so maybe 80% full is the way to go. :wink:

80%? My mother uses that exact same percentage when lecturing me about eating till your stuffed. I wonder if they were reading the same book, or if it's a Sze Yap thing? My mom is originally from Kaiping (Hoi Ping).

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I was born of parents who went thru the depression, so was taught to eat what was on my plate. I don't remember the 'starving children in China' being used, but we all had good appetites, few dislikes and my Mother was a good cook so eating was never a problem.

But -- the 'waste not want not' was always there and it is with me now. I get mad at myself when lettuce goes bad or there is mold on something that I didn't cook yet. (a little guilt, too!) If something smells bad --- out it goes, but there is the annoyance with myself for not cooking it or freezing it to begin with. I think some of my Scot blood is in play there.

We (DH) are eating smaller portions, but when there are leftovers of anything, they are my breakfast or lunch the next day. Crusts of bread become Sunday's French toast, and fruit becomes a salad --- with a little kick in the pants for allowing soft spots to develop. Never a problem with even a couple of spoonfuls of rice or noodles. I can always find a way to use it.

I raised my kids with the "You have to at least taste it" but I made sure their portions were small so there was rarely a dinner food stand-off. If I was doing it now, I would let them serve themselves --- but they would have to eat everything they served themselves. I hate seeing food go into the garbage! And I hold my annoyance when the grandkiddies are served normal kid servings and they don't eat it --- so it is tossed. (Can't hurt their little psyches, doncha know!)

In Xiao Hzrt's situation I probably would have done the same thing -- if I was eating in my hotel room -- and hoping no one saw me wasting food!! But -- then again, maybe I could have dipped that hard bread in my tea???

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Haha I grew up with this instilled into me from my parents too!

Sad to say, I didn't practice it much. If I don't like something, I don't eat it. Sometimes I REALLY do try to shove it down my throat but in most cases, I just can't do it.

I'm such a waster I think I SHOULD start to be more like my parents because it's never a good thing to waste anything! I feel really sinful afterwards so I'm not sure why I continue it :(

Edited by Ce'nedra (log)

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

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I guess I consider wasting food to be a lesser evil than 1) wasting my one and only health by overeating, or 2) wasting the opportunity to enjoy my one and only life by eating good food. I don't feel bad about this when it's just incidental amounts of food, the odd bag of cilantro that gets overlooked in the fridge. But I wish I could get better about only buying what we're going to eat before it goes bad. I really get carried away in the grocery store!

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Sometimes it's hard to avoid wasting food. For example: when you go to a Cantonese style restaurant and order "something over rice" (e.g. beef stir-fried with water-down eggs over rice). As typical, the restaurant will give you a big plate of rice. When I was younger, eating the whole plate of rice... no problem. As I age, I don't really want to or have a need to finish the whole plate of rice. It's really not much you can do about the half plate of rice (soaked with sauce) that you can't finish. Do you tell the wait staff to "give me less rice" when you order? They just look at you with funny eyes. It's more trouble explaining (to them, and they to the chef) than it's worth. "It's just rice!"

The Asian grocery stores sell cilantro in a bundle (not by weight). Every time I buy a bundle, half of them will be un-used - they will eventual turn mooshy in the frige...

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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I am usually pretty good about leftovers - lunch for next day. This is working out well this term as I stay at school everyday over lunch hour.

I "try" to use up all the vegetables I buy. During the summer is difficult because I want to buy everything at the farmer's market. DH is not much of a veg. eater other than corn, so sometimes, I just cook all the bits of vegetables and eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. healthy, I guess.

But, tonight, like acouple of other functions I have been to lately, I was appalled by the wanton waste of food - by newly arrived Chinese immigrants. :angry: Tonight was the Harvest Moon Festival social at the university. The food was cooked by volunteers, and served by our students. I saw men and women loaded down with platefuls of food. Some of them have little children - age 3, 4 and they were given huge plates of food - baos, dumplings, meat, veg. I thought, ok, it was just another plateful really for the parents. If they are THAT hungry, fine. BUT, I saw plates of food thrown into the garbage because both the parents and the children couldn't eat that much.

How can one explain that, yes, this country offers many opportunity for plentiful, good, healthy food, but not to waste! I am sure they never did that in China. :shock:

ETA: Just so readers don't think I am bashing Chinese people, I am Chinese. The non-Chinese guests didn't throw away any food. Is it just the newer generation?

Edited by Dejah (log)

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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I am usually pretty good about leftovers - lunch for next day. This is working out well this term as I stay at school everyday over lunch hour.

I "try" to use up all the vegetables I buy. During the summer is difficult because I want to buy everything at the farmer's market. DH is not much of a veg. eater other than corn, so sometimes, I just cook all the bits of vegetables and eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. healthy, I guess.

But, tonight, like acouple of other functions I have been to lately, I was appalled by the wanton waste of food - by newly arrived Chinese immigrants. :angry: Tonight was the Harvest Moon Festival social at the university. The food was cooked by volunteers, and served by our students. I saw men and women loaded down with platefuls of food.  Some of them have little children - age 3, 4 and they were given huge plates of food - baos, dumplings, meat, veg. I thought, ok, it was just another plateful really for the parents. If they are THAT hungry, fine. BUT, I saw plates of food thrown into the garbage because both the parents and the children couldn't eat that much.

How can one explain that, yes, this country offers many opportunity for plentiful, good, healthy food, but not to waste! I am sure they never did that in China. :shock:

ETA: Just so readers don't think I am bashing Chinese people, I am Chinese. The  non-Chinese guests didn't throw away any food. Is it just the newer generation?

when my Filipino foster son arrived in the UK he ate soooo much that he ended up looking like a little chipmunk, piling his plate high and often not being able to finish the food; now he realises that the food is not going to disappear and it won't be his last good meal and has slowed down and slimmed down...perhaps a similar thought process is taking place in the minds of the Chinese immigrants, not being able to believe their eyes at the foodie abundance??(altho I must admit I used to sit open-mouthed in wonder at some of the towering plates at buffets in HK :smile: )

Edited by insomniac (log)
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I am usually pretty good about leftovers - lunch for next day. This is working out well this term as I stay at school everyday over lunch hour.

I "try" to use up all the vegetables I buy. During the summer is difficult because I want to buy everything at the farmer's market. DH is not much of a veg. eater other than corn, so sometimes, I just cook all the bits of vegetables and eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. healthy, I guess.

But, tonight, like acouple of other functions I have been to lately, I was appalled by the wanton waste of food - by newly arrived Chinese immigrants. :angry: Tonight was the Harvest Moon Festival social at the university. The food was cooked by volunteers, and served by our students. I saw men and women loaded down with platefuls of food.  Some of them have little children - age 3, 4 and they were given huge plates of food - baos, dumplings, meat, veg. I thought, ok, it was just another plateful really for the parents. If they are THAT hungry, fine. BUT, I saw plates of food thrown into the garbage because both the parents and the children couldn't eat that much.

How can one explain that, yes, this country offers many opportunity for plentiful, good, healthy food, but not to waste! I am sure they never did that in China. :shock:

ETA: Just so readers don't think I am bashing Chinese people, I am Chinese. The  non-Chinese guests didn't throw away any food. Is it just the newer generation?

To overorder now, sadly, is chic here in China. I've seen overindulgence to no end here. There are many newly minted rich people here in China, and they are not afraid to spend it. For example, I've seen a couple of two order 10-12 dishes at a fairly expensive restaurant. The girl was a toothpick and the guy wasn't too much bigger. I'd say about 1/8 of the food was eaten and the rest thrown away. I've also heard of a story from an acquantaince of mine where some Chinese officials were given a case of high end French red wine (I still don't understand the concept of red wine with Chinese food, but that's another story) as a gift. They finished their meal, and there were about 4 bottles unopened. So what did they do? They opened the bottles, and then spilled the contents onto the table. Why? Because they can afford it. So sad.

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It's their way of showing newly gained wealth, I suppose: "See! I can afford to throw away food 'cos I'm rich."

I like the way some buffets are handling "overloading and waste: "Take what you like. Eat what you take. What you don't eat, you take it home, but you have to pay for it!"

My mother has a slice of bread every night before she goes to bed. The crust is trimmed off, but she saves it to make bread crumbs. Funny thing tho'. I would use one tea bag to make 2 cups of tea ( dunk in one cup then the other), but she always insist on using one for each cup, not even saving it for refill. :laugh:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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I like the idea of the buffets that weigh what you select and pay for it then and there.

What is it about buffets that make us overload our plates? The idea of the low price? The huge selection that we can't resist? I saw a couple that made a huge selection, went back for more and then packed it all into their own containers to take home. Pigs? Poor? Taking advantage of a good thing?

At least they probable ate it and it wasn't wasted.

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I think there are two sets of mentalities, which are common among Chinese (the younger generations especially) but are against the traditional value of "not wasting food (for any reason)".

1) Buffer food waster: The thought is "Hey, I have already PAID for the food, I can do anything I like. If I don't like the food, that's too bad!". Each trip to the bar resulted in a small-mount high plateful of food - half of which left untouched before they go for another round.

2) Showing off: "Just because I can! Can you make as much as I do? You can do that too!" This set of mentality is common among those who "got rich quick", such as by speculations in the stock or real estate market. There was a common saying in Hong Kong back in the 70's when the stock market was extremely bullish... that some people ordered the shark fin soup just to use it to rinse their mouths...

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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"To overorder now, sadly, is chic here in China. I've seen overindulgence to no end here. There are many newly minted rich people here in China, and they are not afraid to spend it. For example, I've seen a couple of two order 10-12 dishes at a fairly expensive restaurant. The girl was a toothpick and the guy wasn't too much bigger. I'd say about 1/8 of the food was eaten and the rest thrown away. "

Up until this post I thought I was going crazy. After living in China now for about 3.5 years, I've seen more wasting of food than makes sense. This especially true for restaurants and formal events, and probably less so for normal home cooked meals.

But the level of waste in restaurants is really unbelievable. I've sat through company meals (I work for a small investment company in Guilin, not a big MNC in Shanghai) of 8 people or less where 15+ dishes were served, practically piled on top of each other. And yet everyone ate sparingly, but went for cheap eats 夜宵 later that night. When some of the other expats here get together for dinner, I've even overheard neighboring diners comment on how stingy we must be!

I usually follow the "# dishes = # diners" rule - is this not OK?

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"To overorder now, sadly, is chic here in China.  I've seen overindulgence to no end here.  There are many newly minted rich people here in China, and they are not afraid to spend it.  For example, I've seen a couple of two order 10-12 dishes at a fairly expensive restaurant.  The girl was a toothpick and the guy wasn't too much bigger.  I'd say about 1/8 of the food was eaten and the rest thrown away.  "

Up until this post I thought I was going crazy. After living in China now for about 3.5 years, I've seen more wasting of food than makes sense. This especially true for restaurants and formal events, and probably less so for normal home cooked meals.

But the level of waste in restaurants is really unbelievable. I've sat through company meals (I work for a small investment company in Guilin, not a big MNC in Shanghai) of 8 people or less where 15+ dishes were served, practically piled on top of each other. And yet everyone ate sparingly, but went for cheap eats 夜宵 later that night. When some of the other expats here get together for dinner, I've even overheard neighboring diners comment on how stingy we must be!

I usually follow the "# dishes = # diners" rule - is this not OK?

I follow that rule, depending on the portion size. If I'm in HK, I order 3 for 2 people, or 4 for 3, etc. HK portion size seem a little small for me.

Anyways, in Guangzhou, the food wasting is not nearly as bad as up in Beijing, Shanghai, etc. In GZ, they follow HK protocols more and usually don't order to excess because of HK's relationship with the West and HK being more "mature" with respect to newly attained wealth. Up in Shanghai and Beijing, ordering 10 dishes for 2-3 ppl because you have the means is de rigeur these days. I hope that their non-subtle approach to newfound wealth will die down in due time. To me, it looks gaudy; to them, it looks like you have the means. I think it's a waste of food; they don't feel that way.

I remember once meeting a propery development director in his office in Beijing. He had a desk the size of two snooker tables (not joking), and there was one young girl who poured tea. Yes, she did nothing else but pour tea. Talk about excess. We had lunch in the VIP cafeteria and we each had a servant who would dish food for us, etc. The lazy susan was approx. 30 feet in diameter.

The way I deal with it is just to feign ignorance. If I take a client out and I don't order 10 dishes I might be looked at as cheap. Lucky for me I tell all my clients that when I am treating don't expect me to order like a moron. I'm not going to order like that because it's how it's done here. All of my contacts know that I was born and raised in the States so thankfully this "faux-pas" will be forgiven.

Edited by bethpageblack (log)
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...I hope that their non-subtle approach to newfound wealth will die down in due time.  To me, it looks gaudy; to them, it looks like you have the means.  I think it's a waste of food; they don't feel that way. 

...

In due time, yes I think it will. But that's only to one individual. Typically the way these things work... the newly "rich" will waste and waste and waste like there is no tomorrow. And when the sources of the wealth dry up, be it real estate, stock speculatilons or from his/her own business, he/she will just drop off. Disappears. But there will be other newly "rich" come in and take over.

Maybe this is a rebelious thing? Just waste while you still can.

The general rule of "1 dish per person" is a pretty good guideline in ordering the right quantity of food. Or maybe "1.5 dish per person". Anything more would guarantee left overs, wasted or not.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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      Chile. (One or two fresh hot red chiles are optional).

      Salt.

      MSG (optional). If you have used a stock cube or bouillon powder for the stock, omit the MSG. The cubes and power already have enough.

      White pepper (freshly ground. I recommend adding what you consider to be slightly too much pepper, then adding half that again. The soup should be peppery, although of course everything is variable to taste.)

      Method

      Bring your stock to a boil. Add salt to taste along with MSG if using.

      Finely chop the garlic and chile if using. Add to stock and simmer for about five minutes.

      Make sure all the clams are tightly closed, discarding any which are open - they are dead and should not be eaten.

      The clams will begin to pop open fairly quickly. Remove the open ones as quickly as possible and keep to one side while the others catch up. One or two clams may never open. These should also be discarded. When you have all the clams fished out of the boiling stock, roughly the tear the mustard leaves in two and drop them into the stock. Simmer for one minute. Put all the clams back into the stock and when it comes back to the boil, take off the heat and serve.
    • By liuzhou
      Beef with Bitter Melon - 牛肉苦瓜
       

       
      The name may be off-putting to many people, but Chinese people do have an appreciation for bitter tastes and anyway, modern cultivars of this gourd are less bitter than in the past. Also, depending on how it's cooked, the bitterness can be mitigated.
       
      I'll admit that I wasn't sure at first, but have grown to love it.

      Note: "Beef with Bitter Melon (牛肉苦瓜 )" or "Bitter Melon with Beef (苦瓜牛肉)"? One Liuzhou restaurant I know has both on its menu! In Chinese, the ingredient listed first is the one there is most of, so, "beef with bitter melon" is mainly beef, whereas "bitter melon with beef" is much more a vegetable dish with just a little beef. This recipe is for the beefier version. To make the other version, just half the amount of beef and double the amount of melon.

      Ingredients

      Beef. One pound. Flank steak works best. Slice thinly against the grain.

      Bitter Melon. Half a melon. You can use the other half in a soup or other dish. Often available in Indian markets or supermarkets.
       

       
      Salted Black Beans. One tablespoon. Available in packets from Asian markets and supermarkets, these are salted, fermented black soy beans. They are used as the basis for 'black bean sauce', but we are going to be making our own sauce!

      Garlic. 6 cloves

      Cooking oil. Any vegetable oil except olive oil

      Shaoxing wine. See method

      Light soy sauce. One tablespoon

      Dark soy sauce. One teaspoon

      White pepper. See method

      Sesame oil. See method

      Method

      Marinate the beef in a 1/2 tablespoon of light soy sauce with a splash of Shaoxing wine along with a teaspoon or so of cornstarch or similar (I use potato starch). Stir well and leave for 15-30 minutes.

      Cut the melon(s) in half lengthwise and, using a teaspoon, scrape out all the seeds and pith. The more pith you remove, the less bitter the dish will be. Cut the melon into crescents about 1/8th inch wide.

      Rinse the black beans and drain. Crush them with the blade of your knife, then chop finely. Finely chop the garlic.

      Stir fry the meat in a tablespoon of oil over a high heat until done. This should take less than a minute. Remove and set aside.

      Add another tablespoon of oil and reduce heat to medium. fry the garlic and black beans until fragrant then add the bitter melon. Continue frying until the melon softens. then add a tablespoon of Shaoxing wine and soy sauces. Finally sprinkle on white pepper to taste along with a splash of sesame oil. Return the meat to the pan and mix everything well.

      Note: If you prefer the dish more saucy, you can add a tablespoon or so of water with the soy sauces.

      Serve with plained rice and a stir-fried green vegetable of choice.
       
    • By liuzhou
      Stir-fried Squid with Snow Peas - 荷兰豆鱿鱼
       

       
      Another popular restaurant dish that can easily be made at home. The only difficult part (and it's really not that difficult) is preparing the squid. However, your seafood purveyor should be able to do that for you. I have given details below.

      Ingredients

      Fresh squid. I tend to prefer the smaller squid in which case I allow one or two squid per person, depending on what other dishes I'm serving. You could use whole frozen squid if fresh is unavailable. Certainly not dried squid.

      Snow peas aka Mange Tout. Sugar snap peas can also be used. The final dish should be around 50% squid and 50% peas, so an amount roughly equivalent to the squid in bulk is what you are looking for. De-string if necessary and cut in half width-wise.

      Cooking oil. I use rice bran oil, but any vegetable cooking oil is fine. Not olive oil, though.

      Garlic.  I prefer this dish to be rather garlicky so I use one clove or more per squid. Adjust to your preference.

      Ginger. An amount equivalent to that of garlic.

      Red Chile. One or two small hot red chiles.

      Shaoxing wine. See method. Note: Unlike elsewhere, Shaoxing wine sold in N. America is salted. So, cut back on adding salt if using American sourced Shaoxing.

      Oyster sauce

      Sesame oil (optional)

      Salt

      Preparing the squid

      The squid should be cleaned and the tentacles and innards pulled out and set aside while you deal with the tubular body. Remove the internal cartilage / bone along with any remaining innards. With a sharp knife remove the "wings" then slit open the tube by sliding your knife inside and cutting down one side. Open out the now butterflied body. Remove the reddish skin (It is edible, but removing it makes for a nicer presentation. It peels off easily.) Again, using the sharp knife cut score marks on the inside at 1/8th of an inch intervals being careful not to cut all the way through. Then repeat at right angles to the original scoring, to give a cross-hatch effect. Do the same to the squid wings. Cut the body into rectangles roughly the size of a large postage stamp.
       

       
      Separate the tentacles from the innards by feeling for the beak, a hard growth just above the tentacles and at the start of the animal's digestive tract. Dispose of all but the tentacles. If they are long, half them.

      Wash all the squid meat again.

      Method

      There are only two ways to cook squid and have it remain edible. Long slow cooking (an hour or more) or very rapid (a few seconds) then served immediately. Anything else and you'll be chewing on rubber. So that is why I am stir frying it. Few restaurants get this right, so I mainly eat it at home.

      Heat your wok and add oil. Have a cup of water to the side. Add the garlic, ginger and chile. Should you think it's about to burn, throw in a little of that water. It will evaporate almost immediately but slow down some of the heat.
       
      As soon as you can smell the fragrance of the garlic and ginger, add the peas and salt and toss until the peas are nearly cooked (Try a piece to see!). Almost finally, add the squid with a tablespoon of the Shaoxing and about the same of oyster sauce. Do not attempt to add the oyster sauce straight from the bottle. The chances of the whole bottle emptying into your dinner is high! Believe me. I've been there!

      The squid will curl up and turn opaque in seconds. It's cooked. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of so of sesame oil (if used) and serve immediately!
       
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