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liuzhou

Chinese Vegetables Illustrated

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On 11/7/2018 at 6:55 PM, liuzhou said:

Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench

 

Okra, okro, ladies' fingers, bhindi. 秋葵 (Mand: qiū kuí; Cant: cau1 kwai4).

 

For the first twenty years in China, I never saw fresh okra here. One shop occasionally had dried okra to be consumed as a snack. It did not rehydrate well, at all. 

 

477326267_driedokra.thumb.jpg.6822d6d766359dd51a028370753387a2.jpg

 

Then two years  ago it suddenly appeared. At first, the pods were way too old and long, meaning that the things were so stringy as to be inedible. Now, they've worked it out and every supermarket carries it.

 

0kra.thumb.jpg.be9ef28db1041e3a8270d0e6784ed2fa.jpg

 

Which pleases me greatly, as I like it. I have no idea, though, how Chinese cooks use it. I'll ask. (I did enjoy a dish of grilled venison with grilled okra in Vietnam earlier this year.)

 

37 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

Today, I'm full of beans.

 

Phaseolus vulgaris

 

Green beans. 四季豆 (Mand: sì jì dòu; Cant: sei3 gwai3 dau6*2), literally 'four season beans.

 

2083219314_silidou.thumb.jpg.de595788726dbcdfe691b0dd9c94bfe6.jpg

 

This covers many beans sold and consumed in the pod. It includes runner beans, yardlong bean*, and hyacinth beans. They are known by several English names, including French beans, string beans,[ snap beans, snaps, and sometimes by the French name haricots vert.

 

China grows 80% of the world's green beans. And eats most of them itself. They are stir fried, pickled, and used in soups.

 

* More on yardlong beans in the next post.

 

 

1. Do y'all get corn meal over there? If so, mix it half and half with flour, season it to your liking, toss sliced okra in it, and fry it in a wok.

 

2. I think the next post after this one answered my question, but I presume most green beans are used in stirfries?

 

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2 minutes ago, kayb said:

 

1. Do y'all get corn meal over there? If so, mix it half and half with flour, season it to your liking, toss sliced okra in it, and fry it in a wok.

 

2. I think the next post after this one answered my question, but I presume most green beans are used in stirfries?

 

 

Aaaaagh! Who mentioned that four letter word, "c#%n"?

Yes, corn meal is easily available. It does not enter my home or stomach.

 

Yes, green beans are stir fried.

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Gulp. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

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Glycine max

 

I can't really mention China and beans without mentioning soy, or soya beans. In Chinese 黄豆 (Mand: huáng dòu; Cant: wong4 dau6), yellow beans or 大豆 (Mand: dà dòu; Cant:  daai6 dau6*2), large beans.

 

1717902697_soybeans.thumb.jpg.3575f3eca8e8dbb377f1009b92e07a8a.jpg

regular and black soy beans

 

Most of China's own production, and the huge amount they import, goes into soy cooking oil - 大豆油 (Mand: dà dòu yóu; Cant: daai6 dau6*2 jau4), tofu - 豆腐 (Mand: dòu fǔ; Cant: dau6 fu6); soy sauce - Mand: 酱油 (jiàng yóu);  Cant: 豉油 (si6 jau4/4*2), etc.  A large amount also goes to livestock feed.

 

865787168_yesbeanpastes.thumb.jpg.15362d34cba9d09f41c27383a624685c.jpg

Soy Bean Paste (L: Spicy R: Regular)

 

However, there are some uses as vegetables.

 

毛豆 (Mand: máo dòu; Cant: mou4 dau6*2), literally 'hairy' or 'furry beans' are the immature bean pods, which many know as edamame, the Japanese name. 

 

edamame2.thumb.jpg.5e2ea5434220ac8f35ce6974a68fc8ed.jpg

raw

 

edamame4.thumb.jpg.1c9a164a200c7aeaaf2bd47c00a8a7f1.jpg

cooked

 

Also available are soy bean sprouts - 大豆牙 (Mand: dà dòu yá; Cant:  daai6 dau6*2 ngaa4), raised and used just as any other bean sprout.

 

There is also a black strain of soy bean, 黑豆 (Mand: hēi dòu; Cant: hak1 dau6*2). These are salted and fermented to make 豆豉 (Mand: dòu chǐ; Cant: dau6 si6), fermented black beans as used in many dishes.

 

2050037556_Fermentedblackbeans2.thumb.jpg.8706507d8d4ab30a404bbf03ad8e10f0.jpg

 

Note that bottled black bean sauce is not available in any stores here; people make their own using the beans directly  in the wok as they cook the dish.

 


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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10 hours ago, liuzhou said:

and 红豆角/紅豆角 (Mand: hóng dòu jiǎo; Cant: hung4 dau6 gok3), red beans:

Do these retain their colour when they are cooked?

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1 hour ago, Anna N said:

Do these retain their colour when they are cooked?

 

Good question to which I don't know the answer. I've never cooked the red ones. But I will buy some tomorrow and get back to you!

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20 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

Good question to which I don't know the answer. I've never cooked the red ones. But I will buy some tomorrow and get back to you!

Oh my goodness. You don’t need to do that.


Edited by Anna N (log)

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21 minutes ago, Anna N said:

Oh my goodness. You don’t need to do that.

 

 

No problem. I want to know, too. Anyway, they are very cheap and I need to eat my greens. Or reds.

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15 hours ago, liuzhou said:

I will buy some tomorrow and get back to you!

 

@Anna N

 

Well, just typical. I went to four different places and not one had the red variety today. They all did two days ago. I'll grab some next time I see them. Probably soon.

 

In the meantime, however, I did see a white variety. I have seen it before, but it's less common. I'm adding to the original relevant post now.

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Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,

where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

 

I'm going to be picking away at the peppers we get here in southern China.

 

The general term of peppers is (Mand: jiāo; Cant: ziu1), but just like the English word pepper, it is used for many different species of plant. Your ordinary black pepper, Sichuan peppercorns and the capsicums among others. I'm going to be looking at the capsicums here, because they are the ones used as vegetables. The hot chillies are referred to as 辣椒 (Mand: là jiāo; Cant: laat6 ziu1), meaning 'hot' in the sense of 'spicy'.
 

I'll only be giving the Chinese name for a few of them, as some are local cultivars and some I just plain don't know what they are.

 

I'm starting by looking to heaven for aid and inspiration.

 

When you think how much of China’s cuisine uses the various chilli peppers, it is impossible not to wonder what they did before these were introduced by the Portuguese relatively recently. Sichuan food is particularly well known for its liberal use of chillies, but Hunan probably uses more. Here in northern Guangxi and neighbouring Guizhou province they are freely used too.

Of course, as elsewhere, chilli peppers come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colours and degrees of ‘heat’. One of my favourites are the (originally) Sichuanese 朝天椒 (Mand: cháo tiān jiāo; Cant: ziu1ceng1 ziu1), often translated as ‘Facing Heaven Peppers’. These are more commonly known in Liuzhou as 指天椒 (Mand: zhǐ tiān jiāo; Cant: zi2 tin1 ziu1), which I will translate as ‘Point to the Sky Peppers’.

 

The names all come from the fact that, on the bush, the chillies literally point skyward, rather than hang down as do most other pepper varieties.

 

I grow these on my balcony, but they are easily available everywhere - markets, supermarkets and convenience stores.

 

799254572_chili2-0ct31-2016.thumb.jpg.7256e3ba268af2d3e8233eac2739a041.jpg

 

395395726_freshfacingheavenchillies.thumb.jpg.9a32423b9dd9fa8160aceab0f7fbe551.jpg

 

Here the fresh ones are used in all sorts of dishes. Stir fries, braises, soups, hot pots. They are also used with garlic and ginger in and on whole fish  for steaming.

 

In Sichuan, the chillies are nearly always used in the dried form.  They are available in small bags of around 50 grams. They are not particularly hot, but Sichuan cuisine uses them in huge quantities. One of my favourite dishes, 辣子鸡 (Mand: là zi jī; Cant: laat6 zi2 gai1) uses the full 50g or more in one dish consisting of only two chicken breasts. There is less than 20g of the things in the picture below. The chillies are not actually eaten but impart a wonderful flavour to the dish. I’ve also had ribs cooked in this style and once or twice subbed rabbit for the chicken.

 

laziji3.thumb.jpg.bc1d7478f7c7b6f8dcb3ecd914e8b915.jpg

 

 

They are also used in the 'authentic' version of that restaurant favourite 宫保鸡丁 (Mand: gōng bǎo jī dīng; Cant: gung1 bou2 gai1 ding1) known in the west as Gongbao chicken or Kung Po Chicken.

 

The younger green chillies, are also sometimes available, but don't seem to get dried. At least, I've only ever seen them fresh or pickled.

 

These are known as 米指天椒 (Mand: mǐ zhǐ tiān jiāo; Cant: mai5 zi2 tin1 ziu1) or just 米椒 (Mand: mǐ jiāo; Cant: mai5 ziu1), although other unrelated peppers can also be called 米椒. literally means ‘rice’ but is also used to to mean ‘small’ or ‘baby (as in immature)’.

 

102010844_GreenHeavenChillies.thumb.jpg.b4cfd61c77ca505f104f0797fb455d97.jpg

 

Finally for now, there is a white variety, which I always buy when I can. Unfortunately, it isn't always around.

 

2036409575_WhiteChilliPeppers(1).thumb.jpg.aa287a90e375dd8ecfbcc84be7ba9a70.jpg

 

More to come

 

 

 


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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5 hours ago, liuzhou said:

When you think how much of China’s cuisine uses the various chilli peppers, it is impossible not to wonder what they did before these were introduced by the Portuguese relatively recently.

 

I've often thought this about Thai food as well! I remember being on vacation in Thailand, reading some historical piece that was in a magazine provided by the hotel - there were drawings of traditional houses, descriptions of life in that time, and the food - which was wildly different prior to the introduction of the chili.

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32 minutes ago, KennethT said:

I've often thought this about Thai food as well! I remember being on vacation in Thailand, reading some historical piece that was in a magazine provided by the hotel - there were drawings of traditional houses, descriptions of life in that time, and the food - which was wildly different prior to the introduction of the chili.

 

Yes, applies to  all of south-east and southern Asia. But then again, think of Italian food without tomatoes or Irish without potatoes. Same thing. World food was so different after the so-called "discovery" of the Americas.

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bout the green cilis - we have a pretty big chili culture hee and I have never seen them dried.

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Another popular chilli pepper is this green one. I'm told it looks like hatch or Anaheim peppers, but never having eaten those, I can't be sure how they compare in taste or heat. They aren't particularly hot (although occasionally one can surprise you) and taste vegetal. The peppers are around 7-8 inches/18-20cm long.

 

1925122528_greenchillies.thumb.jpg.883ff9f893ae1dd7123b12aba57c70cf.jpg

 

In Chinese, they are usually just labelled 青椒 (Mand: qīng jiāo; Cant: ceng1 ziu1), which just means green peppers. This name is also used for other varieties, especially the dreaded green bell pepper. So, when necessary to be more precise, they are 青尖椒 (Mand: qīng jiān jiāo; Cant: ceng1 zim1 ziu1) , meaning green pointed peppers. 

 

These often feature in two particular ways. First they are sliced and stir fried to make 青椒肉片 (Mand: qīng jiāo; Cant: ceng1 ziu1 juk6 pin3*2) .

 

676539307_qingjiaoroupian1.thumb.jpg.e7b2dc7b2faa44e02d60d4d0334e7dec.jpg

 

The second is to stuff them with seasoned ground pork. Many supermarkets sell them pre-stuffed to save you time.

 

2113505745_stuffedgreenchillies.thumb.jpg.d99b76ae009595c82c7596931306c4bd.jpg

 

They are usually fried, but can also be steamed. I sometimes place them on top of the uncooked rice in the rice cooker and proceed as normal. By the time the rice is ready, the peppers are done.

 

2077473506_stuffedgreenchillisinricecooker.thumb.jpg.ce3ebca9cdfed183f45e471557a42a99.jpg

 

They are often served with this red chilli sauce, but I've also had them with a black vinegar dressing.

 

1875027260_stuffedgreenchilliesinsauce.thumb.jpg.6c02a4942ac0b01726fafc043da8045a.jpg

 

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7 hours ago, heidih said:

bout the green cilis - we have a pretty big chili culture hee and I have never seen them dried.

 

Dried Anaheims are red. They get strung on risitras and turn orange then red as they dry. I really like the orange ones. So, when in Santa Fe, the red enchilada sauce and green enchilada sauce are made from the same peppers dried and fresh.

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Here's a beauty for you.

 

Lantern-Chillies.thumb.jpg.c36bdf72655e2fb74a50e09667c70420.jpg

 

These are 海南黄灯笼椒 (Mand: hǎi nán huáng dēng lóng jiāo; Cant:  hoi2 naam4 wong4 dang1 lung4 ziu1), meaning Hainan Yellow Lantern Chillies or 黄帝椒 (Mand: huáng dì jiāo; Cant: wong4 dai3 zui1)meaning Yellow Emperor Chillies.


These mainly grow on China's island province of Hainan in the south, hence the name. However, they also grow around here, but in small quantities. Sadly, I rarely see them.

 

They are  about 2-4 inches 5.7cm lengthwise. Most of the production goes into making bottled yellow chilli sauce, used as a condiment or dip.

 

It is HOT!

 

533807035_lanternpeppersauce.thumb.jpg.8238a656ec6efbbd4c702a98c220629d.jpg

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Quote

How does it feel to be
One of the beautiful people

 

                                                                    The Beatles - Baby you're a Rich Man

 

Another widely available chilli is this one known as 美人椒 (Mand: měi rén jiāo; Cant: mei5 jan4 ziu), which means 'beautiful person/people chilli). Chinese seldom does plurals. As with the English, when applied to people almost always means females, so 'beautiful woman/women chilli'. No one has ever been able enlighten me to the origin of the name. But, in Hunan young girls are often referred to as 湖南辣妹 (hú nán là mèi), meaning Hunan hot sister. Whether this is due to their love of chillies or their attractiveness is not for me to say! It is a different 'mei', but the connection is not lost on the Chinese.

 

518435222_BeautifulPeoplePeppers.thumb.jpg.112d5468e2d8771ce794ba40ceea49b8.jpg

 

About 8 inches/20cmlong.  Mid-hot.

 

Sometimes,  I get the red ones fresh, but not at present. The dried red ones are available all year round. Along with the facing heaven variety above, these are always in my kitchen, both fresh green and dried red.

 

1590150094_DriedChillies.thumb.jpg.b2f670658b56b54c2253e1a349a0e954.jpg

 

They are used in stir fries, hot pots, stews and braises etc. The red are also sold ground and flaked.

 

1998704177_chilliflakes.thumb.jpg.ad0475495e230192298f1af000e40aad.jpg

Flaked Beautiful Women!

 

 


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6 hours ago, Lisa Shock said:

 

Dried Anaheims are red. They get strung on risitras and turn orange then red as they dry. I really like the orange ones. So, when in Santa Fe, the red enchilada sauce and green enchilada sauce are made from the same peppers dried and fresh.

 

All red peppers were green once.

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mi-jiao-and-darwin.thumb.jpg.7ea54460d440c591d61ebf39c2f19865.jpg

 

These things on the right are a type of chilli pepper. (The thing on the left is a book.) The peppers are small – about the size of a gooseberry or a large grape and very hot. They also have a citrus flavour Their colour ranges from pale yellow through green to to orange and red or even purple.

 

1138751067_FiveColourChillies.thumb.jpg.6fe06f6bf4be3ec4d10f502b73b27e6b.jpg

 

They are known as 米椒 (Mand: mǐ jiāo; Cant: mai5 ziu1), which literally translates as 'rice pepper', although the rice character is sometimes used to indicate smallness.  Other names commonly used are 五彩椒 (Mand: wǔ cǎi jiāo; Cant: ng5 coi2 ziu1) meaning '5 colour peppers' or 七彩椒 (Mand: qī cǎi jiāo; Cant: cat1 coi2 ziu1), meaning 7-colour peppers.

 

679183780_mijiao.thumb.jpg.c5b1d35e602f246f27aeb377995dbe7f.jpg

 

They are most often used in braises and stews where they contribute their heat and flavour, but are ultimately discarded. I’ve also seen them pickledand labelled as 泡米椒 (Mand: pào mǐ jiāo; Cant: paau1mai5 ziu1) where the first character means 'pickled'.

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It is my sad duty to inform you that China also has these monstrous crimes against vegetation which are an insult to food. The bell peppers - 灯笼椒/燈籠椒 (Mand: dēng lóng jiāo; Cant: dang1 lung4 ziu1), lityerally 'lantern peppers'. Individually, they are commonly known as 红椒/紅肉椒 (Mand: hóng jiāo; Cant: hung4 ziu1) - red peppers, 青肉椒 (Mand: qīng jiāo; Cant: cing1 ziu1) - green peppers and 黄肉椒 (Mand: huáng ròu jiāo; Cant: wong4 juk6 ziu1) - yellow peppers. As these names are also used for other much better varieties of chillies, when it is necessary to be precise, They become 红肉椒/紅肉椒 (Mand: hóng ròu jiāo; Cant: hung4 juk6 ziu1), 青肉椒 (Mand: qīng ròu jiāo; Cant: cing1 juk6 ziu1), and 黄肉椒 (Mand: huáng ròu jiāo; Cant: wong4 juk6 ziu1) with (Mand: ròu ; Cant: juk6) meaning 'flesh'.

 

In order of vileness:

 

1217719364_yellowpepper.thumb.jpg.9cf457b992b145ec225b756d43d88113.jpg

No. 3

 

1573656996_Redpeppers.thumb.jpg.375e19ffd3dd3bb859e9952b22bd9a17.jpg

No. 2

 

1303507802_Greenbellpeppers.thumb.jpg.9b091def614b58dc93d9de9226a445a7.jpg

No. 1

It pains me to inflict this upon you.

 

Very sensibly, I never saw these when I lived in Hunan. They are, however, used more in Cantonese cuisine and there is a Cantonese influence on the cooking to the south and east of here. How they are used, I have no idea or desire to know.


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Leaving chillies behind for now, I forgot about this one while discussing alliums.

 

Allium cepa var. aggregatum  - Shallots

 

shallots.thumb.jpg.a914c4ee64a679e1347376ba029641af.jpg

 

We only get this one variety. In Chinese they are usually 小葱 (Mand: xiǎo cōng; Cant: siu2 cung1) meaning 'small onion'. I've occasionally seen them called 火葱 (Mand: huǒ cōng; Cant: fo2 cung1) meaning 'fire onions'. I always have some on hand, but use mainly in western dishes. The locals use them whole in hot pots etc but more often pickle them.

 


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Now for a couple of rarities.

 

The first I have only seen fresh once, far from here, so no picture. But I can get it easily preserved and bottled. It is well-known in China.

 

1633663094_WaterShieldBottle.thumb.jpg.bc83fb22944aab93d8aba5a2627cf272.jpg

 

Brasenia schreberi 

 

Water-shield.  In Chinese 莼菜/蓴菜 (Mand: chún cài). I have failed to find the Cantonese. What do they know?

 

(Please note: this is a different species than Carolina water-shield.)

 

This aquatic plant grows world wide, but so far as I know only the Chinese and Japanese eat it. I'm probably wrong. It is somewhat mucilaginous which may put  some people off.

 

Ask anyone in China about it and they will all reply "西湖莼菜汤 (Mand: xī hú chún cài tāng)". This is West Lake Water-shield Soup", one of China's most famous dishes, originating from Hangzhou in eastern China where one finds the West Lake in which the plant grows. That is where I saw it fresh. The soup is usually made from beef and water-shield.

 

I have never seen any other recipe which uses it.

 

1745180828_WaterShield.thumb.jpg.6160c2a5ee81159e3442fb61f31ba862.jpg

 

The next is even rarer.


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This is so rare I forget the common Chinese name and all searching has failed me. So you'll have to make do with the scientific names. I've never knowingly seen it fresh, but do occasionally see it dried.

 

592415123_ticktrefoil2.thumb.jpg.bda1f6f56cded51a48a12a297c49024e.jpg

 

In Latin, Desmodium intortum. In Chinese, 绿叶山蚂蝗 (Mand: lǜ yè shān mǎ huáng). I have never seen it fresh. In fact, I have only eaten it once at a buffet lunch in a local 5-star hotel restaurant.  The Chinese government both owns the hotel and runs the star rating system, so take that rating with a pinch of salt.

In English, tick-trefoil among other names.

 

The dish I ate was Bullfrog with Tick-trefoil. Someone had scarfed half of it before I could take the picture. But I scarfed the rest. It was good with a capital GOO.

 

531822919_bullfrogwithtick-trefoil.thumb.jpg.2414bae8575043ec21fd7dcb42dc123a.jpg

 


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On 11/7/2018 at 10:50 PM, liuzhou said:

Camellia sinensis.   (Mand: chá; Cant: caa4)

 

40755917_longjingtea.thumb.jpg.e5bf4f92d69c8400c543c44c4646fdd6.jpg

Longjing Tea- 龙井茶

 

Yes, tea. You are probably thinking I've lost the plot. Tea a vegetable? Well, technically it is vegetation. So, why not eat it? Some people on the interwebs claim that it is unpleasant to eat. Bitter and indigestible.

 

The Chinese are having none of that. Green tea, 绿茶 (Mand: lǜ chá; Cant: luk6 caa4) is used as a vegetable.

Do the dishes using tea as a vegetable give you a caffeine kick, or is it somehow mitigated by a cooking (rather than steeping) process?

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2 minutes ago, MelissaH said:

Do the dishes using tea as a vegetable give you a caffeine kick, or is it somehow mitigated by a cooking (rather than steeping) process?

 

I've never noticed any caffeine kick. If it is present, it is probably mitigated more by the amount of alcohol consumed at banquets where the dishes are served.

 

But even when I've cooked with it at home, alcohol free, I haven't noticed any signs.  It may be the cooking's effect, but I don't know the science involved.

 

Sorry. Pretty unhelpful answer.

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      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.
       
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      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 liuzhou
      It is possibly not well-known that China has some wonderful hams, up there with the best that Spain can offer. This lack of wide -knowledge, at least in the USA, is mainly down to regulations forbidding their importation. However, for travellers to China and those in  places with less restrictive policies, here are some of the best.
       
      This article from the WSJ is a good introduction to one of the best - Xuanwei Ham 宣威火腿  (xuān wēi huǒ tuǐ) from Yunnan province.
      This Ingredient Makes Everything Better
      I can usually obtain Xuanwei ham here around the Chinese New Year/Spring Festival, but I also have a good friend who lives in Yunnan who sends me regular supplies. The article compares it very favourably with jamon iberico, a sentiment with which I heartily agree.



      Xuanwei Ham
       

      Xuanwei Ham
       
      more coming soon.
       
       
    • By liuzhou
      I have just returned home to China from an almost two week trip to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. To get there I first travelled by train to the provincial capital, Nanning. The local airport only does domestic flights, whereas there are direct flights from Nanning. The flight time required that I stay overnight at the Aviation Hotel in Nanning, from which there is a regular direct bus to the airport.
       
      The trip to Nanning is about an hour and a half and passes through some nice karst scenery.
       
       
      After booking into the hotel, I set off for my favourite Nanning eating destination. Zhongshan Night market is a well known spot and very popular with the locals. I had forgotten that it was a local holiday - the place is always busy, but that night it was exceptionally so.
       

       

       
      It consists of one long street with hundreds of stalls and is basically a seafood market, although there are a few stalls selling alternatives.
       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       
      Filled myself with seafood (and some of that blood sausage above), slept soundly and, next morning, flew to Ho Chi Minh City.
       

       

       
      The rest of my trip can be seen here:
       
       
    • By Lisa Shock
      Years ago, when I visited Tokyo, I ate in a small but fascinating restaurant called 'It's Vegetable' which is now, unfortunately, closed. The chef was from Taiwan, and he made Buddhist vegetarian and vegan dishes that resembled meat. During my visit, several monks wearing robes stopped in to eat dinner. The dishes were pretty amazing. I understood some of them, like using seitan to mimic chicken in stir fry dishes, others used tofu products like yuba, but, others were complex and obviously difficult. One very notable dish we enjoyed was a large 'fish' fillet designed to serve several people. It had a 'skin' made of carefully layered 'scales' cut from nori and attached to the surface. Inside, the white 'flesh' flaked and tasted much like a mild fish. Anyway, apparently Buddhist fake meat meals are very popular in Taiwan and many places, cheap through to fine dining serve them. Yes, if I worked on it for a while, I could probably refine one or two dishes on my own, but, I am wondering if there's a Modernist Cuisine type cookbook for skillfully making these mock meats from scratch? (I have heard that some items are commercially made and available frozen there, much like soy-based burgers are in the US.) I am willing to try almost any offering, even if it's entirely in Chinese. And, I know how to use remailers to purchase regional items from the various local retailers worldwide who do not ship to the US.
    • 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 lead 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.
       
       
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