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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.
Started in on Rob's book tonight. Nice pictures, interesting philosophy. The bit about grapevines reminded me ever so much about my balcony. My grapevine has been growing ten or twenty years, planted by the birds. Never a grape, ever. Only recently did I learn that unlike European grapes, the native grapevines are sexual. This one is undoubtedly a boy. He provides lovely leaves and shade, and something for the tomatoes to hang onto.
By Bon Appetit Cookbooks
This topic was hijacked from the Vancouver Board.
What cookbooks do you love to cook out of at home?
Is there a specific recipe that is your favorite?
Or is there a book you just can't live without?
If you have pictures, even better! Lets see how it turns out!
Some of my favorites to cook out of:
The Balthazar Cookbook - The Beef Tartar is amazing! As is the Chicken Liver Mousse
The Babbo Cookbook - The Strawberries & Peaches with Balsamic Zabaglione
Barefoot in Paris - The Blue Cheese Souffle looks JUST LIKE THE PICTURE!
The Bouchon Cookbook - The Roast Chicken will seriously change your life
Gordon Ramsey Makes it Easy - The Chocolate Pots are the easiest dessert in the world and tastes so good....especially with the Amedei #7
There are lots more. Hopefully I can take pictures and show you.
Hopefully this post can be an ongoing thing.
I think we are all interested in what eachother cooks!
By Dave the Cook
Those of us that have been following Rob Connoley's (aka gfron1) trek from home cook to down-and-literally-dirty locavore James Beard-semi-finalist chef are justifiably proud of his well-deserved transformation to a published author, which he has faithfully detailed in an earlier topic. If you're not familiar with his story, I urge you to catch up, then come back here, because we're ready to move on to the next step.
Rob's book, Acorns & Cattails: A Modern Foraging Cookbook of Forest, Farm & Field, is finally, officially available. This alone is awesome news, and you should totally order your copy today. Or . . .
. . . we want to continue the conversation about Rob, his book and his future plans in this topic. And just to up the awesomeness, Rob is offering a free book to a randomly selected participant here.
Simply post a question or comment in this topic between now and 11:59 p.m. CST (US), 13 September 2016 and you'll be eligible to "win," based on a random drawing to be conducted, with each participant getting one chance, not including Society volunteers (and Rob himself. Multiple posts will not improve your chances, so don't get overheated.) The winner will be announced on 14 September.
Rob will be along shortly to add his encouragement and whatever late-breaking news he has -- he's busy guy these days, so be patient -- but there's no need to wait to post questions or comments.
P.S. And if you don't win, you should still get this book.
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