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liuzhou

Chinese Vegetables Illustrated

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The "garlic chives" are a great easy plant to grow from seed in a patio container. Little effort for a power punch of flavor. 

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Now,  I get confused.

 

These are described locally as 蒜苗 (Mand: suàn miáo; Cant: syun3 miu4), which translates as garlic shoots.

 

suammiao1.thumb.jpg.f0efc9a5f7f250bde674348888b851bd.jpg

 

To give you an idea of scale, those tiles are 51cm / 20 inches square.

 

suammiao2.thumb.jpg.ca47c6370c5d7093a5a71d523b3b686c.jpg

 

Hmm. Most suspicious. Look more like scallion/green onion/spring onion to me.

 

To compound my suspicions, we also get these.

 

CSA-Garlic-Scapes.thumb.jpg.832d9b62a84e54db3daf3d6ded6e2de7.jpg

 

蒜芯 (Mand: suàn xīn; Cant: syun3 sam1) or garlic scapes.

 

Surely if garlic has 'scapes' it can't have 'shoots'. But what do I know? I am a linguist not a botanist. It all 'scapes me.

 


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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While on the subject of garlic,  I will mention that we do, of course, get regular garlic. In Chinese, 大蒜 (Mand: dà suàn; Cant:  daai6 syun3). In fact, a lot of what may be available to you may be Chinese garlic.

 

I find it milder in taste to that we get in Europe.

 

dasuan.thumb.jpg.ea78c01b5662942935f9822f6f99c59c.jpg

 

In addition, we get this single headed garlic known as 独蒜 (Mand: dú suàn; Cant: duk6 syun3) from Yunnan province. This is my go to garlic. Easier to peel, chop and crush. One head is the equivalent of two or three cloves.

 

73963477_singleheadgarlic1.thumb.jpg.717a19960fd92a8d2997a37fad1cba8c.jpg

 

Both varieties are also available as black fermented garlic. 黑蒜 (Mand: hēi suàn; Cant: hak1 syun3). for the regular variety.

 

1951006029_Blackgarlic.thumb.jpg.4ff2d43f410405f217351366dbfccd22.jpg

 

and 黑独蒜 (Mand: hēi dú suàn; Cant: hak1 duk6 syun3) for the single headed type.

 

2115260599_blackdusuan.thumb.jpg.02089c23c470e05293731e2ac38de4d0.jpg

 

 

 
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I enjoy young garlic that looks like what you posted above. Very seasonal. It is the basis for my best tomato based salsa.  I try to get it before the bulbs start forming. Generally I only see it at a farmers market or in Latin stores. The scapesare piled up, seasonally, in my Korean markets.  https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/ingredients/article/garlic-scapes

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I was in the supermarket this morning and noticed that they had two varieties of the regular garlic.

 

The first was labelled 白蒜 (Mand: bái suàn; Cant: baak6 syun3 ), 'white garlic'.

 

500795434_whitegarlic.thumb.jpg.d041115b157e4bf97ff48eff57e52c55.jpg

 

The second was 香蒜 (Mand: xiāng suàn; Cant: hoeng1 syun3), where means 'fragrant; sweet-smelling; aromatic; scented; savoury; appetizing; perfume or spice' among others.

 

I had just bought a batch of the single headed variety in the farmer's market, so passed on these. I may do a taste test in the future to see what the difference is, if any.

 

taste garlic.jpg


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Here's an odd one. At least it was to me when I first encountered it 22 years ago in Hunan province.

 

Houttuynia cordata

 

1916234830_LizardsTail.thumb.jpg.6e4b6a2c97f47edcbe726edb08f59843.jpg

 

This is known in English as lizard's tail, fish mint, fish leaf, rainbow plant, chameleon plant, heart leaf, fish wort, or bishop's weed.

 

In Chinese, it is usually 鱼腥草/魚腥 (Mand: yú xīng cǎo; Cant: jyu4*2 sing1 cou2) which means “fish smell grass”, which sounds delightful.  Other names include 截儿根 (Mand: jié ér gēn; Cant: zit6 ji4 gan1), literally "stem young root", 猪鼻拱/豬鼻拱 (Mand: zhū bí gǒng; Cant: zyu1 bei6 gung2) literally "pig's nose snuffle" and 臭草 (Mand: chòu cǎo; Cant: cau3 cou2), literally "stinking grass". The latter name is confusingly also used for the unrelated herb, rue.

The leaves, flowers, stems and roots are all edible. I have eaten the leaves in Vietnam, served with bánh xèo. The leaves do have a faint fishy smell, but 'stinking' is an exaggeration. The leaves are also dried and used to make a 'tea' in Japan and Korea. The flowers are also used in teas.

 

Houttuynia_cordata.thumb.jpg.f4c934d5e06412a27535e59e6ae6d803.jpg

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

 

However here in China, I've only ever seen the roots and stems and despite the weird names, these have little if any noticeable odour. They are served, often in a mild chilli sauce, at the beginning of banquets alongside peanuts and sunflower seeds. You know; something to keep you amused while waiting for the important people to turn up. It is sold in the sauce on the prepared salads counter in most supermarkets, as well as being sold au naturel.

 


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Another little known and very local vegetable.

 

Telosma cordata

 

yexianghua.thumb.jpg.b9de2ee0d3c4538a27b709f17506383c.jpg

 

Tonkin jasmine goes under many English names such as pakalana vine, Tonkinese creeper, Chinese violet, cowslip creeper, telosoma etc. In Chinese it is 夜香花 (Mand: yè xiāng huā; Cant: je6 hoeng1 faa1) or 夜来香 (Mand: yè lái xiāng; Cant: je6 loi4 hoeng1)

 

It is a flowering plant native to Guangdong and Guangxi of China and also cultivated in Vietnam (on the Bay of Tonkin, hence the name.) It has a delicate lemony scent and is used in both southern Chinese and northern Vietnamese cuisine (where it is known as bông thiên lý.)

 

Tonkin jasmine is usually stir fried, often with eggs, with which it has a particular affinity, or is boiled in soups, often with fish. It is also added to many noodle dishes in Vietnam.

 

738598296_tonkinjasminscrambledeggs.thumb.jpg.d014f4015a5aead9e69ca225aec69f2e.jpg

Tonkin Jasmine Scrambled Eggs

 

Me likes it.

 


Edited by liuzhou typo (log)
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7 hours ago, liuzhou said:

Here's an odd one. At least it was to me when I first encountered it 22 years ago in Hunan province.

 

Houttuynia cordata

 

1916234830_LizardsTail.thumb.jpg.6e4b6a2c97f47edcbe726edb08f59843.jpg

 

This is known in English as lizard's tail, fish mint, fish leaf, rainbow plant, chameleon plant, heart leaf, fish wort, or bishop's weed.

 

In Chinese, it is usually 鱼腥草/魚腥 (Mand: yú xīng cǎo; Cant: jyu4*2 sing1 cou2) which means “fish smell grass”, which sounds delightful.  Other names include 截儿根 (Mand: jié ér gēn; Cant: zit6 ji4 gan1), literally "stem young root", 猪鼻拱/豬鼻拱 (Mand: zhū bí gǒng; Cant: zyu1 bei6 gung2) literally "pig's nose snuffle" and 臭草 (Mand: chòu cǎo; Cant: cau3 cou2), literally "stinking grass". The latter name is confusingly also used for the unrelated herb, rue.

The leaves, flowers, stems and roots are all edible. I have eaten the leaves in Vietnam, served with bánh xèo. The leaves do have a faint fishy smell, but 'stinking' is an exaggeration. The leaves are also dried and used to make a 'tea' in Japan and Korea. The flowers are also used in teas.

 

Houttuynia_cordata.thumb.jpg.f4c934d5e06412a27535e59e6ae6d803.jpg

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

 

However here in China, I've only ever seen the roots and stems and despite the weird names, these have little if any noticeable odour. They are served, often in a mild chilli sauce, at the beginning of banquets alongside peanuts and sunflower seeds. You know; something to keep you amused while waiting for the important people to turn up. It is sold in the sauce on the prepared salads counter in most supermarkets, as well as being sold au naturel.

 

 

I've had the fish mint many times in Vietnam - I found it quite stinky - but only when chewed and the smell is in your head - I never smelled them through the air.  I like it when in combination with other herbs, but on its own, I try to avoid it.

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Apium graveolens var. secalinum Alef.

 

Chinese celery or leaf celery.

 

1847865481_Chinesecelery.thumb.jpg.3ee4c44a089ccced98d94a0136dd30cc.jpg

 

Thinner and leafier than what you may call 'regular' celery, Chinese celery is curved into round, hollow stalks. Frequently used and sold along with  蒜苗 (Mand: suàn miáo; Cant: syun3 miu4) above, this is known in Chinese as 芹菜 (Mand: qín cài; Cant: kan4 coi3).

 

It is used extensively in hot pots, but also simply stir fried with the leaves as a side dish. Here in Guangxi, a popular dish is Chinese celery with day lily, chilli and cashew nuts.

 

269735621_celeryanddaylily.thumb.jpg.06d9356df92e84afd37955f1cb48f4b8.jpg

 

We also get regular celery which is 西芹 (Mand: xī qín; Cant: sai1 kan4), meaning 'western celery'. It is less popular.

 

celery.thumb.jpg.50245217c837d8dfb62504be746680ee.jpg

 


Edited by liuzhou removed rampant illiteracy. (log)
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6 hours ago, KennethT said:

I've had the fish mint many times in Vietnam - I found it quite stinky - but only when chewed and the smell is in your head - I never smelled them through the air.  I like it when in combination with other herbs, but on its own, I try to avoid it.

 

It is classified as an invasive species in parts of the US. I grew it for sale - winter dormant with striking multi colored leaves depending on weather. The leaves are an interesting addition to the herb platter.

 

"According to the Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG), “Houttuynia cordata is a perennial plant that has been introduced as an ornamental for gardens. While the plant has apparently not escaped confinement, there is much fear that it will eventually present a huge risk to native habitats. It has a high reproductive and vegetative growth rate and quickly overtakes the gardens where it is planted. Control of this species is difficult as it will reproduce by both seeds and rhizome fragments…. All uprooted plant material should be disposed of by incineration or taken to an official transfer station or landfill site [equipped to handle invasive plant material].”

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@heidih I wonder if that's why the english name is fish mint -  as mint in general will take over a garden also

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maybe used in fish dishes or it kinda has a fiishy smell.  I had no idea when I was growing and promoting it that it was a widely used edilble. or invasive - I just liked the color and seasonal hardiness...


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Sechium edule

 

I guess most people are familiar with chayote, the gourd also known among other names, as christophene, vegetable pear, mirliton, choko etc. In Chinese it is 佛手瓜 (Mand: fó shǒu guā; Cant: fat6 sau2 gwaa1 ), literally, Buddha’s hand gourd.

 

Perhaps less well known is that the leaves and young shoots of the chayote vine are also edible and a popular vegetable in southern China. Often described as 龙须菜/龍須菜 (Mand: lóng xū cài; Cant: lung4 seoi1 coi3), literally 'dragon beard vegetable', they also are sometimes more prosaically described as 佛手瓜苗 (Mand: fó shǒu guā miáo; Cant: fat6 sau2 gwaa1 miu4), meaning chayote shoots. Sometimes they come with pretty white flowers which are also edible.

 

224637612_chayoteshoots.thumb.jpg.24be255c6240928859d569d0a75a8282.jpg

 

Chayote shoots are usually simply stir fried with garlic as a green vegetable dish.

 

chayote.thumb.jpg.e3e966105bf756de3ff05be3e5d9d382.jpg

Stir fried chayote shoots

 

I'll deal with the chayote gourd separately, when I get round to the many gourds.


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Pteridum Aquilinim

 

As I am sure many of you know, brake or bracken is a form of edible fern. It is known in Chinese as 蕨菜 (Mand: jué cài; Cant:  kyut3 coi3) or 山蕨菜 (Mand: shān jué cài; Cant: saan1 kyut3 coi3).

 

brake.thumb.jpg.9e290343caabc01d459efe8728f8a785.jpg

 

For those who don't know (they are not common in the UK, for example) the purple stems are topped with young unopened fronds. At this stage, the fronds are known as ‘fiddleheads’ because of their supposed resemblance to er, the heads of fiddles! Or to the tuning keys on said instrument. These are particularly valued.

 

fiddleheads.thumb.jpg.528b7f56ffd6d4a26b256ebd679145f1.jpg

 

The vegetable with its stems is fried with meat – beef, chicken or even shrimp. The fiddleheads can be simply sautéed for about 5 minutes then lightly dressed with lemon juice, and are wonderful with simple steamed fish. They are also sold on supermarket salad counters as below. Some people say the taste is close to that of asparagus. Not sure about that, but they are good.

 

590272009_FiddleheadSalad.thumb.jpg.39455287913f37ae567af5bf0a542cf1.jpg

Fiddlehead Salad

 

Brake roots are also used to make a type of black noodles, which resemble squid ink pasta.

 

brake-noodles1.thumb.jpg.16bbf77a3e4afb6a0aeb10c0ab2dbea2.jpg

 

brake-noodles-3.jpg.59ddc556499ed8fdb0f84708efb1fdc7.jpg

 

noodles.thumb.jpg.a5bb8a994a8a10bbf906f42c41246bdb.jpg

Fried Brake Root Vermicelli with pork

 

Health Warning

 

Pteridum Aquilinim is considered by some authorities to be a carcinogen and there are suggestions that its popularity in Japan may be a contributory factor in the high rates of stomach cancer found there.

 


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Xanthorrhoeaceae Hemerocallidoideae

 

Day lilies (some times referred to as one word – daylily) are flowers. They are a lot prettier than their Latin name suggests. The name comes from their habit of flowering only for one day then dying off. There are dozens of varieties in different colours.
One variety, a yellow flowered variety, is used in Chinese cuisine. Known as 黄花菜 (Mand: huáng huā cài; Cant: wong4 faa1 coi3) in Chinese (literally “yellow flower vegetable”) or, when dried, 金针/金針 (Mand: jīn zhēn; Cant: gam1 zam10 meaning “Golden Needles”, they are an essential ingredient in the northern pork and scrambled egg dish, 木须肉/木須肉 (Mand: mù xū ròu; Cant: muk4 sou1 juk6) “Moo Shu pork”, but also feature extensively in soups, frequently appearing in hot and sour soups 酸辣汤 Mand: suān là tāng; Cant: syun1 laat6 tong10 or simply just as a simple “Day Lily Soup”. I’ve even made day lily omelettes.

 

272139826_daylillies.thumb.jpg.a6d872efd85a8aba5a98977f24954385.jpg

Dried Day Lilies

 

They are seldom available fresh, but very easy to find the dried variety. In fact, every supermarket has them.

 


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Referring to an earlier post here is our nakji's quote "Chayote is huugggggeee in Northern Vietnam. It's considered "clean", as it doesn't grow in soil, but is grown on trellises. They grow a lot of it in the mountains near Sapa. If you want to serve it like they do here, boil or steam it, then serve plain with ground roasted rice powder for dipping. Alternatively, you can serve it with chili/lime/salt/pepper dip. Both are great."


Edited by heidih (log)

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Lillium brownii

 

Related to the last post are lily bulbs.  All lily bulbs are edible, but I do not suggest you head down to your local garden centre for a few. Although they won’t do you any harm, most are somewhat bitter. Three varieties found in China,  Lillium lancifolium, L. pumilum, and L. brownii,. lack the bitterness (not that the Chinese mind a bit of bitterness) and are widely used in stir fries and soups. In Guangxi, they are often served with Chinese celery as noted above.

 

1188269697_Freshlilybulbs.thumb.jpg.7abad9d12ac4738fef485ca715e72dfa.jpg

 

Known locally as 百合 Mand: bǎi hé; Cant: baak3 hap), they are cleaned, separated into ‘petals’ and briefly cooked to release their flowery scent, slightly sweet flavour and crunchy texture. I like ’em.

 

They come fresh and dried, but I’ve only ever eaten the fresh variety, which are available in packs of four in many supermarkets. You find them in the chill cabinet where they have plastic wrapped meats and the like.

 


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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9 minutes ago, heidih said:

Referring to an earlier post here is our nakji's quote "Chayote is huugggggeee in Northern Vietnam. It's considered "clean", as it doesn't grow in soil, but is grown on trellises. They grow a lot of it in the mountains near Sapa. If you want to serve it like they do here, boil or steam it, then serve plain with ground roasted rice powder for dipping. Alternatively, you can serve it with chili/lime/salt/pepper dip. Both are great."

 

 

Yes, but that is the gourd. I'm talking about the shoots here.

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Pisum sativum

 

Known as 豌豆苗 (Mand: wān dòu miáo; Cant: wun2 dau6*2 miu4) in Chinese, pea shoots are indeed the leaves of the young plants grown from your common peas. They can be used in salads, but in China they are more commonly used in stir-fries or in soups and hot pots. They taste of, surprise surprise, peas and a light cooking seems to bring out their sweetness.

 

wandoumiao.thumb.jpg.060926851b5fd6f058db7c99ac36463e.jpg

 

We also get pea sprouts, 豌豆芽 (Mand: wān dòu yá; Cant: wun2 dau6 ngaa4), which are grown and used in the same way as any other bean sprout.

 

833900237_peashoots.thumb.jpg.ab7c8afbdfe7d24851499a8111e7f4b7.jpg

 

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I love pea shoots, and was investigating growing them as when our (dearly departed) sichuan restaurant (closed due to fire) did have them, they were quite expensive.  Now that the restaurant is gone, we don't see pea shoots unless we go down to Chinatown.  But that's not the point... it seems like the variety used for vegetation is not the exact same variety used for the pea pods, which I guess makes sense.

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I have not grown peas in a while so I can't even visualize growth habit. Any pea growers with input?

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Zingiber officinale

 

It may seem odd to some to include ginger in a list of vegetables. Many people regard it purely as a spice, but it is not only used that way in much of Asian cuisine. And it's a more complicated subject than might appear.

 

It is, of course, the rhizome of a plant, which qualifies it as a vegetable in my book.

 

Every supermarket carries three main kinds. The generic term for ginger in Chinese is 生姜/生薑 (Mand: shēng jiāng; Cant: saang1 goeng1) or just (Mand: jiāng; Cant: goeng1).

 

First we get what I suppose you might call regular ginger, usually called just 姜/薑 (Mand: jiāng; Cant: goeng1) or, if you must specify, then 黄肉姜/黄肉薑 (Mand: huáng ròu jiāng; Cant: wong4 juk6 goeng1), meaning 'yellow flesh ginger'. This is an all purpose ginger.

 

167981450_yellowginger.thumb.jpg.6d08a1984c2bd646eb95c03cf2b65d4b.jpg

 

Then we have 子姜/子薑 (Mand: zi jiāng; Cant: zi2 goeng1), or 'young ginger'. This is thin-skinned, often with purplish colouring, especially at the tips. It has a more herbal flavour than the others and is often used lightly pickled. This is what you are served in Japanese restaurants as a mouth cleanser, but is also used in China the same way. When used in stir fries, it is seldom peeled.

 

1376254797_youngginger.thumb.jpg.d6456575b5e93a237e6b463fdb959011.jpg

 

ginger2.thumb.jpg.6ff5316989b9cc35b598c45f6c8ae812.jpg

Pickled Young Ginger

 

Then 老姜/老薑 (Mand: lǎo jiāng; Cant: lou5 goeng1) or 'old ginger'. This is gnarly, drier and has a spicier taste. Difficult to peel, this is often used in soups, stocks and hot pots where the flavour of less spicy types would be likely to be diluted out of existence.

 

2105404178_oldginger.thumb.jpg.414358b0a9bb6796437a72161e0fb238.jpg

 

In addition to these , we also find what is called 沙姜/沙薑 (Mand: shā jiāng; Cant: saa1goeng1). Despite its common English name, 'sand ginger', this is not a true ginger, but a type of galangal, Kaempferia galanga. It's usually only ever seen sliced and dried, and it is used in hot pot stocks, but very ooccasionally turns up fresh.

 

655946681_sandginger.thumb.jpg.6cc81aef23b9310f503e635ab5ecd789.jpg

Dried Sand Ginger. The whitish slices are about the size of my finger nails.

 

989525966_freshsandginger.thumb.jpg.d9ead94c94b8c231dc9e706f4fb55910.jpg

Fresh Sand Ginger

 

Note: Despite claims on some websites, ground ginger is NOT used in Chinese cuisine. The only places I can buy it is in specialist bakery goods stores, There has been a bit of a minor fashion for western style cake baking just recently., but few families have ovens, still.

 


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Is it common to find lesser ginger? In Thailand it is called grachai.

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My farmers market folks from Fresno (yes they travel this far) have been selling fresh young ginger that looks almost like giant scallions. They say folks juice it (!) or just smash as flavor element. They grow it in a greenhouse.


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      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.
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