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Chinese Pickles and Preserves


liuzhou
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46 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

23. 海葡萄 (hǎi pú tao), Sea Grapes, Caulerpa lentillifera

 

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Also known as Green Caviar in English, this is a type of seaweed or algae. It was first cultivated in the 1950s in Cebu in the Philppines after it was accidentally introduced to fish ponds. By 1986, it had reached Japan, before being cultivated in Vietnam and China. This lot came from Beihai in southern Guangxi on the Tonkin Bay, by the border with Vietnam.

 

The seaweed is washed and then brined in a sea-strength solution. This is how I bought it.

 

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It is then drained and soaked in cold, fresh water for three minutes and it's ready to eat. At room temperature. I does not react well to either heat or cold.

 

It tastes of the sea, as you would expect, and has a delicate grassy flavour. But the most important quailty it has is the texture. It is crisp and the bubbles pop audibly in the mouth, like popping candy.

 

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When I was growing up, spending summers on the New Jersey shore, the seaweed would audibly pop.  A pastime of all us children.  No one thought of eating it.  Possibly because of the wartime oil spills.

 

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9 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

When I was growing up, spending summers on the New Jersey shore, the seaweed would audibly pop.  A pastime of all us children.  No one thought of eating it.  Possibly because of the wartime oil spills.

 

 

I doubt it was the same species. It is native to the Indo-Pacific seas. I also doubt it has been introduced anywhere near New Jersey. Invasive species and all that. But I could be wrong.

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24 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

I doubt it was the same species. It is native to the Indo-Pacific seas. I also doubt it has been introduced anywhere near New Jersey. Invasive species and all that. But I could be wrong.

Right a lot of seaweeds have that bladder that pops. The one you mentioned has become quite popular in high end restos. My prominent local kelp has significant bladders that help them stay up to absorb nutrients. Yes like Jo we walked along the shore and popped them ;) Pickling kelp is a longstanding tradition in Alaska for example. https://www.alaskasimplepleasures.com/product-page/alaskan-kelp-pickles

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6 minutes ago, heidih said:

 Pickling kelp is a longstanding tradition in Alaska for example. https://www.alaskasimplepleasures.com/product-page/alaskan-kelp-pickles

 

Pickilng kemp is a longstanding tradition worldwide. I've already posted examples of the Chinese treatment upthread.

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24. 酒糟芥菜 (jiǔ zāo jiè cài ) - Wine Lees Mustard Leaf.

 

This may look similar to the 酸菜 (suān cài) in the first post on this topic. It is the same vegetable, but is processed in a different way, resulting in a different taste. Whereas the suan cai is pickled in a brine, then pressed, this version is pickled in the dregs from rice wine production and is unpressed.

 

It has a slightly yeasty taste, which I find pleasant and is much milder than the suan cai.

Both are used in similar ways.

 

951032290_WineleesMustard.thumb.jpg.aaebb469ec8ef6503586cfedb03d91e8.jpg

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Posted (edited)

I've written before about the Miao people* who live just to the north of here. Here is a brief extract from a guide book to the area. Note that when they say 'sour', they mean 'pickled'. In Chinese, the word is the same -. (suān).

 

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Here is another excerpt from the Food Funnies topic in which a small typo changes the whole concept.

 

*
Munching with the Miao

Moving with the Miao

Harvest Lunch in a Miao Village

 

 

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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25a. (cháng) – Sausage

 

Of course, apart from cured meat to make bacon, meat can be preserved by turning it into sausages. There can be very few countries which don’t have their own versions and China is no exception.

 

sausages 2016-17.jpg

A variety of Chinese sausages

 

(cháng) means ‘intestine’ but also is used to refer to many sausages, as they were originally encased in (usually) pig’s intestines. Most home made and traditional sausages still use natural cases.

 

I guess the most famous Chinese is S*:腊肠 / T*:臘腸 (Mandarin: là cháng), the Cantonese sausages often known around the rest of the world as Lap Cheong (the Cantonese name). But there are many more.

 

Here are a few of those I come across regularly.

 

First let me say there are around four huge companies which process meat. Their products are indistinguishable from each other. In fact, they have all perfected the art of making their products all taste  all the same – basically of nothing. These I am going to ignore, because I do. Industrial crap.

 

I’m only, for the most part, interested in looking at hand made (often home made) products. I see most of these in the streets or in markets. Here are a few images. Unless noted otherwise, these are la chang.

 

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These belonged to the owner of the shop behind which is a local tobacconists. Home made.

 

818964572_sausages2013-2.thumb.jpg.3af90163a18448fd84c5b7c8071db177.jpg

 

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Too fatty for my taste

 

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Market stall - still hand made

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la chang, home made by the family of a Liuzhou friend whose mother is Cantonese. These were hanging on my kitchen wall.

 

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la chang in a local supermarket. Still hand made.

 

Some other varieties.

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These above are cured and smoked sausages from 白色 (bǎi sè), a city in the west of Guangxi, bordering Yunnan and Guizhou provinces as well as Vietnam. 80% of the population are of the Zhuang ethnic group. The sausages were hand made by my Zhuang friend's mother. They have been cured and smoked.

 

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Sichuan Sausages

 

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The above are from Harbin, capital of China's northermost province, on the border of Russsia's Siberia in north-east China. Freezing cold in winter. The sausages are known as 荷尔滨红肠 (hé ěr bīn hóng cháng) or Harbin Red Sausage. They were introduced to China by Russians and closely resembly many East European types, especially those of Poland.

 

Also popular around China are 血肠 (xuè cháng), blood sausage. I've sampled them in many parts of China. Usually pig's blood mixed with rice, sometimes regular rice; sometimes glutinous rice. I've never seen blood sausage industrially produced. Always hand made.

 

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Hunan Blood Sausage

 

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Blood sausage from the Korean ethnic minority in Jilin province, NE China.

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Blood sausage from a night street food  market in Nanning, capital of Guangxi.

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My favourite. The local variety. Made in 宜州 (yí zhōu), the city next to Liuzhou.

 

There are many more I've seen and even more I've heard of, but I haven't photographed. As I find them, I'll add them here in subsequent posts

 

*S: means Simplified Chinese characters as used in most of China, while T: is Traditional Chinese characters as used mainly in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. Traditional characters are still widely used among the Chinese diaspora, although that is changing.

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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25b 玉林牛巴 (yù lín niú bā) – Yulin Beef Jerky

 

Another way to preserve meat is, of course, to dry it. Pretty much all meats are dried here in Autumn to ensure a supply throughout the winter, especially for the Spring Festival, the 15 day celebration starting on the first day of the traditional Chinese lunar-solar calendar, known internationally as Chinese New Year.

 

Although pork is the go-to meat in most of China, I’ll start with beef. You’ll see why.

 

玉林 (yù lín) is a city in the SE of Guangxi. Several of my friends are from there, including my dearest friend, J. You may have heard of it thanks to massive efforts of the lunatics at PETA to publicise a tiny “dog meat festival” into an international success! In fact, it wasn’t a dog meat festival at all. It was a lychee festival . A couple of dog meat vendors latched on and no one paid much attention. PETA succeeded in turning it into a huge success (for a couple of years), then everyone got bored. Today, there is very little dog eating going on. None of my friends from Yulin have ever eaten it, like most Yulin residents.


Anyway, in China, if you mention Yulin, people are more likely to answer “玉林牛巴 (yù lín niú bā)!“ The city is more famous for its excellent beef jerky. I often buy it as a snack.

 

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Although Yulin is in the southern part of Guangxi, normally an area that avoids spicy food (it leans more towards Cantonese food, being near the border with Guangdong, home to that cuisine), this beef jerky is usually served with a chilli oil.

The bag above contains a number of smaller bags.


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each with a small piece of oil-coated jerky to be eaten as a snack, often while mobile.

I open them all and sit a bowl of the stuff next to me at the computer and munch away for half the evening.

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Lovely grub, but not for the spicy heat haters. Great beer food, too!
 

yulin niuba4.jpg

玉林牛巴 (yù lín niú bā)

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My favourite jerky product is South African Biltong so I’m wondering how this compares. 

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2 minutes ago, Anna N said:

My favourite jerky product is South African Biltong so I’m wondering how this compares. 

 

The two are very similar.

I have had both (without either being slathered in chili oil) and would say they are indistinguishable.

 

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13 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

The two are very similar.

I have had both (without either being slathered in chili oil) and would say they are indistinguishable.

 

It looks very similar to jerky we've had in Singapore - there's a really famous chain there but I imagine the recipe is originally Chinese.

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, Tropicalsenior said:

I have a recipe for something that claims to be Chinese dried meat called Bak Kwa. This is made with pork and I wonder how authentic it is.

 

Bakkwa is Hokein for the Mandarin "肉干 (ròu gān)“  which just means "dried meat", although non-specific meat in China (and much of east Asia) just means "pork".

Although Hokein originated in Fujian province, China and is still spoken there, it is now mainly spoken in the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia etc as well as Taiwan.

It is "authentic", but usually sweeter than what I call jerky. Also usually smoked.


Would be interested in seeing the recipe.

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4 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

It is "authentic", but usually sweeter than what I call jerky. Also usually smoked.

Yes, this one is quite sweet. Since it is baked in the oven, it is not smoked but it is delicious and addicting. I haven't made any for quite a while but I may just have to make some now.

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25c 干海鲜 (gān hǎi xiān), Dried Seafood

 

In most markets and some supermarkets, there is a section which you can find by following your nose. The aroma of the dried seafood is not an unpleasant one, at least to my perception, but a distinct one.

 

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Here you can find all the mysteries of the deep in dehydrated form. Some you may recognise; some you almost certainly won’t.

 

Seafood, including saltwater fish, has long been prized in China, but in the past was only really available near the coast. Transportation was just too difficult. Even today, the majority of fish consumed in most of China is freshwater fish, from lakes or rivers, both wild and farmed. Landlocked provinces such as Sichuan or Hunan serve very little fresh sea food, and what is available can be expensive. However they all prize certain preserved seafoods such as follows.

 

They are mainly used to add umami to other dishes, rather than being rehydrated and used to replicate their fresh equivalents.

 

The selection is a constantly changing one, but there are some staples. The following are all in my pantry now (unless stated otherwise).

 

Probably the most common is the large range of dried shrimp - 虾干 (xiā gān). These come in all sizes. (The local shrimp are often this naturally red variety.)

 

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Large

 

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Medium

 

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Small

 

The smallest are known as 虾皮 (xiā pí) and measure about the size of an uncooked long grain rice.

 

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Dried Scallops (Conpoy) - 干贝 (gān bèi) - In the supermarket

 

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Rehydrated Dried Scallops (Conpoy) - 干贝 (gān bèi)

 

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Dried Mussels - 干贻贝 (gān yí bèi)

 

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Dried Clams

 

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Dried Squid - 干鱿鱼 (gān yóu yú)

 

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Shredded Dried Squid

 

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Another type of dried squid, known as 风琴鱿鱼 (fēng qín yóu yú) - Accordian Squid

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Dried Cuttlefish 墨鱼 (mò yú)

 

I'll deal with actual fish, separately in another post.

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Posted (edited)

26 . 酸黄瓜 (suān huáng guā) – Pickled Cucumber

 

All vegetables have to keep moving in China, or they’ll end up in a pickle. The humble cucumber is no exception.

 

Here we have this strange looking object, which looks like something you'd need a poop scoop to deal with.

 

854547149_saucecucumber.thumb.jpg.d337c99dbbe31d3a30ff66807f51e360.jpg

 

Known as 酱黄瓜 (jiàng huáng guā), literally 'sauce cucumber', being an abbreviation for 酱油 (jiàng yóu) meaning 'soy sauce', these are cucumbers cured in soy sauce. Much nicer than they look.

 

Also common and found in most supermarkets is this pickled cucumber salad. Lightly pickled and still with a bite to it. As you can no doubt see, it is dressed with chili oil before serving.

 

886308377_Cucumbersalad.thumb.jpg.d3d359dd19cb3b9e941319ab76ce01b3.jpg

 

Then, this commercially produced, you will see, is labelled 乳黄瓜 (rǔ huáng guā). The literal meaning of ( rǔ) ís ‘breast’ or ‘milk’, but here is an abbreviation for 乳酸 (rǔ suān), literally ‘milk sour’ which is ‘lactic acid’. So, it is lacto-fermented as are so many pickles, including dill pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi.

 

This is another of those things  to add to your rice or noodles to give them a lift.

 

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16 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

Here we have this strange looking object, which looks like something you'd need a poop scoop to deal with.

Very strange looking. Are they pickled whole and unpeeled?b

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Posted (edited)

27. (zhuàng yān huò) - Zhuang Pickles

 

zhuang.jpg.94f442d7749d3270da0108e5bd08e3f6.jpg

Zhuang Ethnic Minority Postage Stamp

 

The Zhuang ethnic group people of Guangxi have their own range of pickles. Here are a few.

First up, yesterday I posted this picture in the Unexpected Food Gifts topic. It is 鸡皮果 (jī pí guǒ), Chicken Skin Fruit, also known as 山黄皮 (shān huáng pí),literally “Mountain Yellow Skin”. This is the fruit of a large shrub / small tree, Clausena anisum-olens (Blanco) Merrill, which only grows around here.

 

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The fruit is naturally on the sour side, but the Zhuang pickle it anyway, also adding chilli. It is HOT, but with citrus notes shining through. The Zhuang in the countryside make their own.

 

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Even here, it is not widely available in stores. I only know one store which sells this jarred version and that place only has it occasionally. I always stock up when I see it.

 

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Then we have this, 壮乡辣菜 (zhuàng xiāng là cài, literally Zhuang countryside spicy vegetable). Also hot, it is yet another type of pickled leaf mustard with spices.

 

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King and queen of their pickles though are their preserved lemons, so much so that I dedicated an entire topic to them, some years back. It is here.

 

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Zhuang Preserved Lemons

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Posted (edited)

28. Fermented Beans


I’ve already mentioned some examples of fermented tofu (which is of course made from soy beans), but there are some preserved products which ferment the beans themselves along with other ingredients, usually chilli.

 

豆豉 (dòu chǐ) – Salted Black Beans

 

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Salted Black Beans

 

I think these are the most well-known, being the basis of many black bean sauce dishes in Chinese restaurants around the globe. I’ve mentioned before here that the jars of black bean sauce so prevalent in the west are virtually unknown here, but every supermarket and cornershop carries the fermented beans.

 

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Salted Black Beans

Essential in 麻婆豆腐 (má pó dòu fǔ), but also with ribs, fish, etc. I often use them with squid or clams.

 

There is firm evidence dating the production of salted black beans to at least 173 BC and the production process remains the same. Black soy beans are salted and left to ferment. Simple.

 

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Black Soy Beans

 

They are also occasionally flavoured as in the following image which shows 麻辣豆豉 (má là dòu chǐ), or hot and spicy salted black beans, 麻辣 referring to Sichuan peppercorn and chili.

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麻辣豆豉 (má là dòu chǐ)

 

There is apparently a version made using white soy beans, but I’ve never seen it. Known as 面豉 (miàn chǐ), these are brown rather than black.

 

豆瓣酱 (dòu bàn jiàng) - Broad Bean  Paste

 

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Another Sichuan essential is 豆瓣酱 (dòu bàn jiàng, literally bean piece sauce). I’ve mentioned this at length before in other topics. The most prized is that from 郫县 (pí xiàn), a county outside Chengdu city. The sauce from here has protected geographical status and is produced to precise standards. Broad beans from Sichuan or neighbouring Yunnan are fermented along with a local type of Sichuanese chilli known as 二荆条 (èr jīng tiáo). Even the water must be from Sichuan wells.

 

doubanjiang.jpg

郫县豆瓣酱 (pí xiàn dòu bàn jiàng)

 

Look out for doubanjiang labelled as 红油豆瓣酱 (hóng yóu dòu bàn jiàng), even if it from Sichuan. This is a non-fermented product. It isn’t bad but there are no standards which have to be followed.

 

腊八酱 (là bā jiàng) – Laba Sauce

 

腊八酱 (là bā jiàng) is another type of fermented bean sauce, this time made from white soy beans, garlic and chilli. It is particularly popular in Hunan. It is typically eaten with congee (rice porridge at the time of the Laba Festival, which takes place on the 8th day of the 12th month of the traditional solar-lunar calendar. This month is known as the ‘la’ month and ‘ba means eight’, hence the name of the sauce and the congee.


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腊八酱 (là bā jiàng)

I'm full of beans.
 

 

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Posted (edited)

29. 鱼干 (yú gān) - Dried Fish

 

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As promised, I get to dried fish. As I mentioned upthread, fresh saltwater fish is difficult to find in the interior of China, but for centuries fish has been dried and shipped overland. Here is the selection from one supermarket, yesterday.

 

Note: It is sometimes difficult to know what some fish species here are, even when I have the Chinese name. Names differ from place to place and many species simply don’t have English names. But I think I’ve cracked most of this lot.

 

In no particular order:

 

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鲨鱼干 (shā yú gān) - Dried Shark

 

655430289_DriedYellowCroaker.thumb.jpg.2fb8d07324758a93a486b8d78e83dce3.jpg

多味鱼 (duō wèi yú ) - Dried Yellow Croaker

 

192970674_Yellowtailscad.thumb.jpg.d187549549808b9323944afc6e7fc9f5.jpg

巴浪鱼 (bā làng yú) - Yellowtail Scad

 

975742182_HonnibeCroaker.thumb.jpg.9faadb0c245172653e91d62dd5272a0b.jpg

春只鱼 (chūn zhǐ yú)  - Honnibe Croaker

 

1030923305_Congerpike.thumb.jpg.63051234d1199c72792a2f224f755457.jpg

海鳗鱼段 (hǎi mán yú duàn) - Dried Conger Pike

 

1989245502_RedSnapper.thumb.jpg.693c90d3dde9552caa2b84da1d149ab4.jpg

红鱼干 (hóng yú gān) - Dried Red Snapper

 

651078725_driedcod.thumb.jpg.3993c90eb7156f45a1e813e07686299f.jpg

鳕鱼干 (xuě yú gān) - Dried Cod

 

1683908153_Boregata.thumb.jpg.6007561e19a44e964b7672a78bee88bb.jpg

金线鱼干 (jīn xiàn yú gān)  - Dried Boregata

 

2144906590_Pacificsandlance.thumb.jpg.607529b38ef49849a5c9c9bebacda795.jpg

面条鱼 (miàn tiáo yú , literally 'noodle fish') - Pacific sand lance

 

1466046367_driedfish.thumb.jpg.4d6929e1741c67441125e2ab19924e40.jpg

浦鱼鳍 (pǔ yú qí) - Dried River Fish Fin

 

488471859_.thumb.jpg.f93bf134f22e69b2314a8e2a3fa57a7d.jpg

and these as were merely labelled as seafish.Very helpful.

 

1423627146_HunanLittleFish2.thumb.jpg.8aa2910a53797fe063c3ca3cea01a63e.jpg

湖南小鱼 (hú nán xiǎo yú) - Hunan Little Fish

 

little fish with shichimi togarishi.jpg

 

I often buy Hunan Little Fish to snack on. Usually with shichimi togarashi as above, or just flaked chilli.

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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44 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

I often buy Hunan Little Fish to snack on. Usually with shichimi togarashi as above, or just flaked chilli.

 

How are the other fish generally used? 

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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4 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

The larger ones, mainly in stocks, soups, hot pots etc. The smaller ones as snacks.

Thanks. I would have to be extremely desperate to make a snack of dried fish. I’m probably missing something very good!  

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Just now, Anna N said:

Thanks. I would have to be extremely desperate to make a snack of dried fish. I’m probably missing something very good!  

 

Not so different from snacking on beef jerky really. I mean in principle.

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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