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.

Sign in to follow this  
phage

Allergic to something in Chinese food...

Recommended Posts

I am allergic to wheat. (I'm not a celiac - not allergic to gluten, just to wheat.) A little soy sauce usually doesn't bother me all that much - but some Chinese restaurants seem just to have a lot of stuff that gives me an unexpectedly intense bad reaction. So, here are my questions:

1. What makes some Chinese dishes so dark?

2. Do Chinese restaurants in North America sometimes thicken their food with wheat flour instead of corn starch?

3. What can I ask them to omit in cooking dishes?

I'm not talking about food that's clearly wheaty - like much dim sum, egg foo yung, chow mein noodles. It's the stuff that is mainly vegs. and meat, with various kinds of sauces.

--Phage


Gac

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some take-away chinese dishes in the u.k. have food colouring added. I'm thinking of the pink/red sweet and sour dishes. If you go the Chinese supermarkets you see plastic jars of the stuff. Its also nearly impossible to cook chinese food without using some m.s.g. (oyster sauce, chilli-bean paste etc) but thats ok cos me and m.s.g. are dear friends. :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MSG is probably the most tested food additive and no scientific evidence of harmful effects has ever been discovered.
1. What makes some Chinese dishes so dark?

Soy Sauce, usually.

ditto to this

when you say "intense" reaction what does that mean? stomach, throat, rash?


why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You have this problem only with Chinese food, and nothing else? If the problem is MSG, then you should also react to other glutamate-rich foods ...


"There's nothing like a pork belly to steady the nerves."

Fergus Henderson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But, no, it's not an allergy or reaction to MSG. I have an allergy to wheat. And it's not just with Chinese food.

With a lot of food I can tell just by looking at it whether to avoid it. Or by feeling it, in the case of SE Asian noodles. They must think it very strange when I go into an Asian food shop and squeeze the packages of prepared soup - but those with wheat are hard and those made from rice are springy! This is more reliable than reading the labels - I've found some of these Thai or Vietnamese soups give the main noodle ingredient as "flour", but in French it says something like "farine de riz."

Back to the topic - I'm just wanting to know if:

A. Some ingredient(s) commonly used for flavor has large amounts of wheat, and what would it be?

B. Do they often use wheat flour for thickening (this considering that most Chinese restaurants are Cantonese, plus the odd Hunan, Sichuan, etc...)

C. And what can I (in a practical sense) ask them to omit or substitute.

Some restaurants are worse than others regarding their use of wheat. Unfortunately in my part of the country, they are the ones with the best Chinese food....


Gac

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
But, no, it's not an allergy or reaction to MSG.  I have an allergy to wheat.  And it's not just with Chinese food. 

With a lot of food I can tell just by looking at it whether to avoid it.  Or by feeling it, in the case of SE Asian noodles.  They must think it very strange when I go into an Asian food shop and squeeze the packages of prepared soup - but those with wheat are hard and those made from rice are springy!  This is more reliable than reading the labels - I've found some of these Thai or Vietnamese soups give the main noodle ingredient as "flour", but in French it says something like "farine de riz." 

Back to the topic - I'm just wanting to know if:

A. Some ingredient(s) commonly used for flavor has large amounts of wheat, and what would it be?

B.  Do they often use wheat flour for thickening (this considering that most Chinese restaurants are Cantonese, plus the odd Hunan, Sichuan, etc...)

C.  And what can I (in a practical sense) ask them to omit or substitute.

Some restaurants are worse than others regarding their use of wheat. Unfortunately in my part of the country, they are the ones with the best Chinese food....

Perhaps they are dredging your meats to promote color?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Soy sauce commonly contains wheat, although I don't know if this means only gluten. See the last paragraph before the Notes here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soy_sauce

Also "Foods Commonly Containing Wheat" here: http://foodallergies.about.com/od/wheatall...heatallergy.htm

I did a search on Google for "wheat in soy sauce" and came up with a bunch of links.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Doing Chinese food for wheat allergies is very very difficult.

I used to cook chinese food for a friend who was a severe Celiac and that was almost impossible. I would make EVERY single sauce from scratch with wheat-free soya sauce. Pounding black bean, yellow bean, chili, etc.. all from scratch. Also, avoiding certain dishes altogether - for instance red-cooked dishes which rely on 'laochou' (dark soya sauce) as its impossible to buy this style of soya sauce without flour added. Those are the 'dark dishes' - swimming in hidden flour!

The trouble is: wheat flour is a ubiquitous ingredient in a lot of Chinese sauces - from Black bean sauce to various chilli sauces to oyster sauce to being the base for Tianmianjiang (used in a lot of Dongbei cooking).

There is an awful lot of wheat hidden in Chinese cooking that you wouldn't even suspect.

However, one good thing is that you CAN pick the starch used to thicken sauces. Here I use water chestnut starch, but potato starch is a favourite as it gives good bang for the buck in terms of thickening. Usually wheat flour is NOT used to thicken during stir-fries though. You can ask - most people in the US use cornstarch I think.

To be safe, do not order ANYTHING made with sauces. So you could have broth-based cooked green veg, white-cooked chicken (don't dip it in any sauce though), steamed things IF they have not used any sauces ( so black bean spareribs are OUT!), crystal-stir fried prawns. Also, even barbequed meats can be basted in sauces that contain wheat flour. you'll be better off picking Cantonese very simple dishes that are 'white-cooked' or poached.

I'm sorry, but you have to keep to absolutely the simplest things poached in stock and most soups. Even stuff like mapo doufu can harm because of the amount of flour in most commercial Doubanjiang.

I suspect that when you eat Chinese food you are ingesting a lot of hidden wheat flour and this builds up- despite no obvious wheat being present.

I'm sorry to be a gloom and doom person. But having cooked with a wheat-free kitchen for this friend, I know how difficult it is! At least you don't have to worry about hidden gluten too... :wacko:


<a href='http://www.longfengwines.com' target='_blank'>Wine Tasting in the Big Beige of Beijing</a>

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For their mise en place, Chinese restaurants often marinate red meats in a mix of soy sauce, flour, white pepper and sesame oil to be used during service. So this, along with the soy sauce may trigger your wheat allergies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are a few doctors floating around the site. I'm not ofering you a medical opinion, but it would greatly help if you could let folks know:

1) What happens to you when you eat the food - "a bad reaction," isn't really helpful and usually means that it gives people the runs or bad gas, neither of which means you have a food allergy, and they don't want to talk about it.

2) What, if any, testing you have had done for your allergy.

Certain foods are hard to digest, and others have been more commonly linked to allergic reactions, so this isn't me just giving you a hard time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By Burmese Days
      Hello everyone,
       
      This is my first post, so please tell me if I've made any mistakes. I'd like to learn the ropes as soon as possible. 
       
      I first learned of this cookbook from The Mala Market, easily the best online source of high-quality Chinese ingredients in the west. In the About Us page, Taylor Holiday (the founder of Mala Market) talks about the cookbooks that inspired her.
      This piqued my interest and sent me down a long rabbit hole. I'm attempting to categorically share everything I've found about this book so far.
       
      Reading it online
      Early in my search, I found an online preview (Adobe Flash required). It shows you the first 29 pages. I've found people reference an online version you can pay for on the Chinese side of the internet. But to my skills, it's been unattainable.
       
      The Title
      Because this book was never sold in the west, the cover, and thus title, were never translated to English. Because of this, when you search for this book, it'll have several different names. These are just some versions I've found online - typos included.
      Sichuan (China) Cuisine in Both Chinese and English Si Chuan(China) Cuisinein (In English & Chinese) China Sichuan Cuisine (in Chinese and English) Chengdu China: Si Chuan Ke Xue Ji Shu Chu Ban She Si Chuan(China) Cuisinein (Chinese and English bilingual) 中国川菜:中英文标准对照版 For the sake of convenience, I'll be referring to the cookbook as Sichuan Cuisine from now on.

       
      Versions
      There are two versions of Sichuan Cuisine. The first came out in 2010 and the second in 2014. In an interview from Flavor & Fortune, a (now defunct) Chinese cooking
      magazine, the author clarifies the differences.
      That is all of the information I could find on the differences. Nothing besides that offhanded remark. The 2014 edition seems to be harder to source and, when available, more expensive.
       
      Author(s)

      In the last section, I mentioned an interview with the author. That was somewhat incorrect. There are two authors!
      Lu Yi (卢一) President of Sichuan Tourism College, Vice Chairman of Sichuan Nutrition Society, Chairman of Sichuan Food Fermentation Society, Chairman of Sichuan Leisure Sports Management Society Du Li (杜莉) Master of Arts, Professor of Sichuan Institute of Tourism, Director of Sichuan Cultural Development Research Center, Sichuan Humanities and Social Sciences Key Research Base, Sichuan Provincial Department of Education, and member of the International Food Culture Research Association of the World Chinese Culinary Federation Along with the principal authors, two famous chefs checked the English translations.
      Fuchsia Dunlop - of Land of Plenty fame Professor Shirley Cheng - of Hyde Park New York's Culinary Institute of America Fuchsia Dunlop was actually the first (and to my knowledge, only) Western graduate from the school that produced the book.
       

      Recipes
      Here are screenshots of the table of contents.  It has some recipes I'm a big fan of.
       
      ISBN
      ISBN 10: 7536469640   ISBN 13: 9787536469648 As far as I can tell, the first and second edition have the same ISBN #'s. I'm no librarian, so if anyone knows more about how ISBN #'s relate to re-releases and editions, feel free to chime in.
       
      Publisher
      Sichuan Science and Technology Press 四川科学技术出版社  
      Cover
      Okay... so this book has a lot of covers.
      The common cover A red cover A white cover A white version of the common cover An ornate and shiny cover  There may or may not be a "Box set." At first, I thought this was a difference in book editions, but that doesn't seem to be the case. As far as covers go, I'm at a loss. If anybody has more info, I'm all ears.
       
      Buying the book
      Alright, so I've hunted down many sites that used to sell it and a few who still have it in stock. Most of them are priced exorbitantly.
       
      AbeBooks.com ($160 + $15 shipping) Ebay.com - used ($140 + $4 shipping) PurpleCulture.net ($50 + $22 shipping) Amazon.com ($300 + $5 shipping + $19 tax) A few other sites in Chinese  
      I bought a copy off of PurpleCuture.net on April 14th. When I purchased Sichuan Cuisine, it said there was only one copy left. That seems to be a lie to create false urgency for the buyer. My order never updated past processing, but after emailing them, I was given a tracking code. It has since landed in America and is in customs. I'll try to update this thread when (if) it is delivered.
       
      Closing thoughts
      This book is probably not worth all the effort that I've put into finding it. But what is worth effort, is preserving knowledge. It turns my gut to think that this book will never be accessible to chefs that have a passion for learning real Sichuan food. As we get inundated with awful recipes from Simple and quick blogs, it becomes vital to keep these authentic sources available. As the internet chugs along, more and more recipes like these will be lost. 
       
      You'd expect the internet to keep information alive, but in many ways, it does the opposite. In societies search for quick and easy recipes, a type of evolutionary pressure is forming. It's a pressure that mutates recipes to simpler and simpler versions of themselves. They warp and change under consumer pressure till they're a bastardized copy of the original that anyone can cook in 15 minutes. The worse part is that these new, worse recipes wear the same name as the original recipe. Before long, it becomes harder to find the original recipe than the new one. 
       
      In this sense, the internet hides information. 
       
    • By liuzhou
      Perhaps the food-related question I get asked most through my blog is “What's it like for vegetarians and vegans in China. The same question came up recently on another thread, so I put this together. Hope it's useful. It would also, be great to hear other people's experience and solutions.
       
      For the sake of typing convenience I’m going to conflate 'vegetarians and vegan' into just 'vegetarian' except where strictly relevant.
       
      First a declaration of non-interest. I am very carnivorous, but I have known vegetarians who have passed through China, some staying only a few weeks, others staying for years. Being vegetarian in China is a complicated issue. In some ways, China is probably one of the best countries in which to be vegetarian. In other ways, it is one of the worst.
       
      I spent a couple of years in Gorbachev-era Russia and saw the empty supermarkets and markets. I saw people line up for hours to buy a bit of bread.  So, when I first came to China, I kind of expected the same. Instead, the first market I visited astounded me. The place was piled high with food, including around 30 different types of tofu, countless varieties of steamed buns and flat breads and scores of different vegetables, both fresh and preserved, most of which I didn't recognise. And so cheap I could hardly convert into any western currency. If you are able to self-cater then China is heaven for vegetarians. For short term visitors dependent on restaurants or street food, the story is very different.
       
      Despite the perception of a Buddhist tradition (not that strong, actually), very few Chinese are vegetarian and many just do not understand the concept. Explaining in a restaurant that you don't eat meat is no guarantee that you won't be served meat.
       
      Meat is seen in China as a status symbol. If you are rich, you eat more meat. And everyone knows all foreigners are rich, so of course they eat meat! Meat eating is very much on the rise as China gets more rich - even to the extent of worrying many economists, food scientists etc. who fear the demand is pushing up prices and is environmentally dangerous. But that's another issue. Obesity is also more and more of a problem.
       
      Banquet meals as served in large hotels and banquet dedicated restaurants will typically have a lot more meat dishes than a smaller family restaurant. Also, the amount of meat in any dish will be greater in the banquet style places.
       
      Traditional Chinese cooking is/was very vegetable orientated. I still see my neighbours come home from the market with their catch of greenery every morning. However, whereas meat wasn't the central component of dinner, it was used almost as a condiment or seasoning. Your stir fried tofu dish may come with a scattering of ground pork on top, for example. This will not usually be mentioned on the menu. Simple stir fried vegetables are often cooked in lard (pig fat) to 'improve' the flavour.
      Another problem is that the Chinese word for meat (肉), when used on its own refers to pork. Other meats are specified, eg (beef) is 牛肉, literally cattle meat. What this means is that when you say you don't eat meat, they often think you mean you don't eat pork (something they do understand from the Chinese Muslim community), so they rush off to the kitchen and cook you up some stir fried chicken! I've actually heard a waitress saying to someone that chicken isn't meat. Also, few Chinese wait staff or cooks seem to know that ham is pig meat. I have also had a waitress argue ferociously with me that the unasked for ham in a dish of egg fried rice wasn't meat.
       
      Also, Chinese restaurant dishes are often given have really flowery, poetic names which tell you nothing of the contents. Chinese speakers have to ask. One dish on my local restaurant menu reads “Maternal Grandmother's Fluttering Fragrance.” It is, of course, spicy pork ribs!
       
      Away from the tourist places, where you probably don't want to be eating anyway, very few restaurants will have translations of any sort. Even the best places' translations will be indecipherable. I have been in restaurants where they have supplied an “English menu”, but if I didn't know Chinese would have been unable to order anything. It was gibberish.
       
      To go back to Buddhism and Taoism, it is a mistake to assume that genuine followers of either (or more usually a mix of the two) are necessarily vegetarian. Many Chinese Buddhists are not. In fact, the Dalai Lama states in his autobiography that he is not vegetarian. It would be very difficult to survive in Tibet on a vegetarian diet.
       
      There are vegetarian restaurants in many places (although the ones around where I am never seem to last more than six months). In the larger cities such as Beijing and Shanghai they are more easily findable.
       
      Curiously, many of these restaurants make a point of emulating meat dishes. The menu reads like any meat using restaurant, but the “meat” is made from vegetable substitutes (often wheat gluten or konjac based).
       
      To be continued
    • By Chocolatemelter
      Hey everyone.
       
      So im looking for the most affordable chocolate shaking table that actually works.. does anyone have experience with the ones from AliBaba or china in general?
       
      i bought a $100 dental table from amazon but i guess its not the right hrtz cause it kinda works, but not well enough.
       
      im looking in the $500 range or under.. any advice? Thanks
    • By liuzhou
      I know a few people here know her already, but for those that don't, she is simply the best creator of Chinese food and rural life videos. It's not what you will find in your local Bamboo Hut! It's what Chinese people eat!
       
      Here is her latest, posted today. This is what all my neighbours are doing right now in preparation for Spring Festival (Chinese New Year to the Lantern Festival 15 days later), although few are doing it as elegantly as she does!
       
       
      Everything she posts is worth watching if you have any interest in food.
       
    • By liuzhou
      Wowotou buns ( 窝窝头 wō wō tóu), also known more simply as wō tóu are originally from northern China. The name means "nest" and they come in many forms. These are the ones I use. As you can see, they are usually stuffed with whatever the cook decides. These are stuffed with spicy pork and pickled greens, but I've also served them with a seafood stuffing.
       

       
      This is the recipe I usually use.
       
       窝窝头
       
      350 grams all-purpose/plain flour
      150 grams black soya bean flour
      3 grams instant yeast
      260 grams  milk
       
      Mix the flours well, dissolve the yeast in the milk and stir into the flour until a dough forms. Knead the dough until smooth. Cover with plastic
      wrap and leave in a warm place until double in size.
       
      Sprinkle flour on the chopping board, knead the dough, adding more flour if too wet. until all air is expelled and the dough has a smooth surface.
       
      Form the dough into six even-sized balls and rub between the palms until smooth and round. Flatten slightly, then use your thumb to press the dough into a nest shape.
       
      Steam covered for 30-35 minutes.
       
      Note: The flours used vary a lot. Corn or sorghum flours are very popular, but I don't like corn and sorghum isn't the easiest to find here in southern China. Use what you like, but the overall quantity for this recipe should be 500 grams. It has been suggested that pure corn flour is too sticky, so probably best to mix it with regular wheat flour.
       
      They freeze well.
       
      Recipe adapted from 念念不忘的面食  by 刘哲菲 (Unforgettable Wheat Foods by Liu Zhefei). This isn't a direct translation, but retelling of the gist. Any errors are mine. Not Ms. Liu's.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...