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Guangxi Gastronomy


liuzhou
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广西壮族自治区

Guǎngxī Zhuàngzú Zìzhìqū

Gvangjsih Bouxeungh Swcigih

   

It has often been said that where I live in China, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, has no distinct cuisine of its own. While that is partly true, it is an over-simplification. Yes, the south is largely Cantonese whereas the north leans more to the robust, chill-laden flavours of Hunan and Guizhou provinces. However, that is to ignore the cuisine of the region’s ethnic minorities, including, but not limited to the Zhuang (壮族), China’s largest minority most of whom live here. Also, there is an influence from the Hakka (客家) people who are displaced members of the majority Han Chinese. A significant number of Hakka also live in Guangxi.

 

So, I thought I’d take the opportunity to introduce some of the things I find in my local supermarkets, markets and other stores which you may not find in yours. I’m not planning on going looking for deliberate oddness or exotica, but instead just everyday food here.

 

I’ll start with 酿豆腐 (niàng dòu fu) - Stuffed Tofu Cubes or Balls. Carolyn Phillips in her All Under Heaven (eG-friendly Amazon.com link) covers this as Zhuang-Style Stuffed Bean Curd Balls. However, although the Zhuang have certainly embraced the concept, I believe it is originally a Hakka preparation. Cubes or balls of firm tofu are hollowed out and stuffed with a spiced pork paste. Fish is sometimes added or the pork completely replaced by a fish paste. These turn up at family meals and family celebrations – less often at formal banquets.

 

1454198727_StuffedTofu2.thumb.jpg.c91eab3fe45da96eae4a51a868d938f6.jpg

Stuffed Tofu Cubes (酿豆腐)

 

In recent years, instead of using tofu, all sorts of things get the stuffing treatment. Shiitake, bitter melon, eggplant / aubergine and chilli peppers (see illustration).

 

525660932_stuffedstuff3.thumb.jpg.bceb30f3480c04bff667e07b80ed440e.jpg

A  selection of stuffed vegetables

 

1220443365_stuffedgreenchillies2.thumb.jpg.5c6d41550af65610fbfe6eab13336d6e.jpg

Stuffed Green Chilli Peppers

 

Pork and Shiitake Stuffed Bitter Melon.jpg

 

Pork and Shiitake Stuffed Bitter Melon 

 

These are made at home, but also ready prepared and sold in many supermarkets to be steamed or fried at home.

 

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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6 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

Stuffed Tofu Cubes (酿豆腐)

Thanks. Probably just a personal quirk but I find the stuffed tofu more “exotic” for want of a better word than the stuffed vegetables. That said I do wish my supermarket had anything like that selection! (Stuffed hot peppers, usually jalapeños, are very popular party food.)

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2. 凉拌海蜇丝 (liáng bàn hǎi zhé sī)

 

Rhopilema_esculentum_at_Monterey_Bay_Aquarium.thumb.jpg.9f777316b840418d84eefdbc690117ea.jpgRhopilema esculentum

Image by Bill Abbott - This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

 

In the south, Guangxi shares a border with Vietnam and lies on the Gulf of Tonkin, giving the region a sea port area. This includes the important cities of Beihai, Qinzhou and Fangchenggang. The first two are heavily involved in a fishing and aquaculture, especially Beihai So, the region is not short of seafood as are so many of China’s provinces, most of which are land-locked.

 

However, today’s foodstuff has its origin far away in northern China, in the eastern province of Liaoning. Here, every year, millions of young Rhopilema esculentum larvae are raised to a sustainable size, then released into the oceans around China where they drift with the tides and winds as they grow to around 2.5 kilograms (5.5 lb). They are then harvested wherever they have drifted to and, after processing, end up on our tables.

 

海蜇 (hǎi zhé), Rhopilema esculentum is the most important type of edible jellyfish, a popular food item here and across China, as well as much of East and south-east Asia.

 

jellyfish.thumb.jpg.e11666042882c987c3339486b54a67b5.jpg

 

Processing involves removing the tentacles (and sting) then the dome-like head and body is salted before being shredded and sold as a snack food or in prepared cold salads known as 凉拌海蜇丝 (liáng bàn hǎi zhé sī) – Cold Dressed Jellyfish Strips in supermarkets and restaurants. It can also be pickled or dehydrated.

 

331077015_.thumb.jpg.f413516cf8dce267a38655c884ea23ad.jpg

Jellyfish  Salad

It is always served raw at room temperature and has a very fine flavour (some say tasteless), but it is refreshingly crisp.

 

jellyfish3.thumb.jpg.b75c646a9600f9eca8be56004c74ac14.jpg

 

jellyfish4.thumb.jpg.c8abb1ff0e52ef65108d67f915a7941d.jpg

 

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3. 黄鳝 (huáng shàn)

 

3D4A2363.thumb.jpg.d8b4261b4977914d7af434086a7a8ad2.jpg

 

This young lady is looking out over a lush rice paddy in Liuzhou, just prior to the harvest. Rice is rightfully held in high esteem and respect in China. Wasting rice is seen as a sign of depravity and of cruel indifference to the peasants who toil relentlessly to bring it to the table.

 

But those rice paddies supply much more than just rice, as we will see. Today features just one example.

 

3D4A2354.thumb.jpg.37aafef6224b980f2b29893754065147.jpg

Rice Paddy and Home to Eels?

 

Monopterus albus, aka Asian swamp eel, rice eel, rice-field eel, or rice paddy eel is known in Chinese as 黄鳝 (huáng shàn) which literally means ‘yellow eel’. Note, this is not what is NOT what is known as yellow eel in the west – a different species.

 

363301948_.thumb.jpg.bde79d572db73b94b0c19e9abee6b939.jpg

Swamp Eels

 

These eels live in the rice paddies, as well as ditches etc. They are happiest at home in shallow muddy freshwater. Unusually, they have both gills and are able to breath air directly. They are also hermaphrodites, all being born female, but with some changing to male when required!

 

They are native to a swathe of Asia from India across China and down into SE Asia , Malaysia and Indonesia. The are also important food animals in many of these countries, especially in Thailand. They are also farmed extensively in China, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar/Burma. It seems that Japan is about the only country to have them, but not eat them!

 

They have also been introduced in Florida as recently as the 1990s. Whether that is a problem is yet to be determined. Will be ever learn?

The eels are usually sold live and are often served with the rice they cohabit with in the paddies.

 

1280px-Rice_With_Swamp_Eel.thumb.JPG.a34d7d72ff9615fb9897b32eec65fc11.JPG

Swamp Eel and Rice

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license

 

Although common across rice-eating southern China, swamp eels are particularly prized and reach their culinary apogee in the area known as Jiangnan. Jiangnan means south of the river, the river being what is known in English as the Yangtze, a name unknown to most Chinese. It is the 长江 (cháng jiāng – literally ‘River Chang’). The area of the south-eastern reaches includes some of China’s culinary giants, including Yangzhou (home of Yangzhou* Fried Rice, Shaoxing (of wine fame), Hangzhou, Wuxi, Suzhou, Ningbo (seafood central) and Shanghai. Famous dishes from this part of the world include Dongpo Pork, Lion’s Head Meatballs, Shrimp with Dragon’s Well Tea, Drunken Chicken, Water Shield Soup and many more.

 

In her study of exhaustive study of Jiangnan cuisine, Land of Fish and Rice (eG-friendly Amazon.com link), Fuchsia Dunlop mentions that swamp eel is popular and cites some dishes: ‘hissing-oil eels’ from Suzhou, Ningbo eels cooked with yellow chives and fava beans and Wuxi crisp deep-fried eels. She does not however give any recipes, saying “”paddy eels are hard to find outside China”. Pity.

 

* Yangzhou is actually just north of the river, but gets an honourable inclusion!
 

Edited by liuzhou
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11 hours ago, liuzhou said:

3. 黄鳝 (huáng shàn)

 

3D4A2363.thumb.jpg.d8b4261b4977914d7af434086a7a8ad2.jpg

 

This young lady is looking out over a lush rice paddy in Liuzhou, just prior to the harvest. Rice is rightfully held in high esteem and respect in China. Wasting rice is seen as a sign of depravity and of cruel indifference to the peasants who toil relentlessly to bring it to the table.

 

But those rice paddies supply much more than just rice, as we will see. Today features just one example.

 

3D4A2354.thumb.jpg.37aafef6224b980f2b29893754065147.jpg

Rice Paddy and Home to Eels?

 

Monopterus albus, aka Asian swamp eel, rice eel, rice-field eel, or rice paddy eel is known in Chinese as 黄鳝 (huáng shàn) which literally means ‘yellow eel’. Note, this is not what is NOT what is known as yellow eel in the west – a different species.

 

363301948_.thumb.jpg.bde79d572db73b94b0c19e9abee6b939.jpg

Swamp Eels

 

These eels live in the rice paddies, as well as ditches etc. They are happiest at home in shallow muddy freshwater. Unusually, they have both gills and are able to breath air directly. They are also hermaphrodites, all being born female, but with some changing to male when required!

 

They are native to a swathe of Asia from India across China and down into SE Asia , Malaysia and Indonesia. The are also important food animals in many of these countries, especially in Thailand. They are also farmed extensively in China, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar/Burma. It seems that Japan is about the only country to have them, but not eat them!

 

They have also been introduced in Florida as recently as the 1990s. Whether that is a problem is yet to be determined. Will be ever learn?

The eels are usually sold live and are often served with the rice they cohabit with in the paddies.

 

1280px-Rice_With_Swamp_Eel.thumb.JPG.a34d7d72ff9615fb9897b32eec65fc11.JPG

Swamp Eel and Rice

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license

 

Although common across rice-eating southern China, swamp eels are particularly prized and reach their culinary apogee in the area known as Jiangnan. Jiangnan means south of the river, the river being what is known in English as the Yangtze, a name unknown to most Chinese. It is the 长江 (cháng jiāng – literally ‘River Chang’). The area of the south-eastern reaches includes some of China’s culinary giants, including Yangzhou (home of Yangzhou* Fried Rice, Shaoxing (of wine fame), Hangzhou, Wuxi, Suzhou, Ningbo (seafood central) and Shanghai. Famous dishes from this part of the world include Dongpo Pork, Lion’s Head Meatballs, Shrimp with Dragon’s Well Tea, Drunken Chicken, Water Shield Soup and many more.

 

In her study of exhaustive study of Jiangnan cuisine, Land of Fish and Rice (eG-friendly Amazon.com link), Fuchsia Dunlop mentions that swamp eel is popular and cites some dishes: ‘hissing-oil eels’ from Suzhou, Ningbo eels cooked with yellow chives and fava beans and Wuxi crisp deep-fried eels. She does not however give any recipes, saying “”paddy eels are hard to find outside China”. Pity.

 

* Yangzhou is actually just north of the river, but gets an honourable inclusion!
 

I've often wondered how the various fish/eels originally made their way to these rice paddies?  Were they originally stocked there by people or some natural means?

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2 hours ago, KennethT said:

I've often wondered how the various fish/eels originally made their way to these rice paddies?  Were they originally stocked there by people or some natural means?

 

 

Given that some of the paddies are hundreds of years old, it is difficult to be certain what happened originally. The famous Dragon's Backbone paddies near Guilin were built between the 13th and early 17th centuries.m, for example.

 

I'd suggest that the antiquity also rules out any serious aquaculture. The paddies were, in all probability, irrigated by diverting streams, rivers, ponds etc all of which would have been rich sources of life. The rice raising peasants of course weren't complaining. The fish (some of them at least) help control insects as well as providing protein. Frogs found their way to the paddies,too again helping with insects

 

Today, a certain amount of aquaculture goes on, but given that most paddies are worked by near-subsistence farmers, most are still naturally stocked.

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4. 黄豆酸笋闷鱼仔

 

Another gift from the rice paddies is this anonymous species. I’ve only ever seen them referred to as 小鱼 (xiǎo yú) meaning ‘small fish’ or 鱼仔 (yú zǐ) meaning ‘baby fish’. I guess the subsistence farmers' pescatarian Latin terminology isn't up to par! Very occasionally, these names may be prefixed by (tián), an abbreviation of 水田 (shuǐ tián). literally 'water field', meaning rice paddy.

I tend to survive by calling the fish ‘minnows’, another non-specific species which forms shoals in fresh water. Despite their individual limited size, these Chinese fish are an important economic and gastronomic asset to the rice growers.

 

This dish I am about to describe is common among the Zhuang and other ethnic minority peasantry throughout Guangxi. I’ve eaten it Miao villages as well as in Dong stockades. I’ve eaten it at home. As recently as last night!

 

1261917182_.thumb.jpg.621187db59cc94df68c0ef60822b6e26.jpg

 

As a dish 黄豆酸笋闷鱼仔 (huáng dòu suān sǔn mēn yú zǐ), Yellow Bean Pickled Bamboo Braised Fish is a true reflection of the local food culture, using only what can be found to hand. The fish from the paddies is braised with yellow soy beans grown by the same farmers and bamboo shoots pickled by the same farmers. Add some garlic, ginger, chilli and a little tomato grown by tthe  same farmers and you are good to go. What fish you can't immediately eat can be dried. Dried or fresh, the fish are consumed whole - guts, bones and all.

The dried fish are also sold in the local supermarkets, farmers' markets and by itinerant street vendors.

 

One of my favourite top three local dishes.

But this is not the only treatment for these fish. Here is another dish I ate in a Miao village north of Liuzhou city. The same rice paddy fish, deep fried in camellia tree seed oil with wild mountain herbs. These fish seemed to be slightly more mature specimens.

 

20171129_124522.thumb.jpg.b9d4e07160e4ac1d9435270b5ffd879d.jpg.b3bf07d500e19e4f6e21c74cc74ff852.jpg

 

But we always return to the favourite. Here is a Dong version, eaten on a tea plantation in the heart of Dong territory.

20171130_140145.thumb.jpg.daf8b6f30011db679f507264a4a84dbd.jpg.6fcef8c327395f991253797258c8002c.jpg

 

黄豆酸笋焖鱼仔.jpg

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5. 发糕 (fà gāo)

 

A quick one today and one I'm not that interested in but for the sake of completeness, I bring you 发糕 (fà gāo), a kind of steamed sponge cake. These are made in huge flat pans then cut into squares or cubes for sale. The Chinese version of Tik-Tok is full of videos of people slicing them. Why?

The only flavour (and colour) comes from the red sugar used. It is way too sweet for me, but I suppose it's  good that in a country which usually overdecorates cakes in garish colours, something plain is a clear winner.

 

1627637770_.thumb.jpg.d1ab30bb9c09bbd9d0ca84b9036a99ef.jpg

 

89367806_SteamedSpongeCake.thumb.jpg.2175334c471cf0f32700aafdcbf9f63b.jpg

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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6. 牛蛙 (niú wā)

 

1196291499_.thumb.jpg.b11c094d2281fe33addc7ca6bb90a10c.jpg

 

Yet another benefit of the rice paddies are of course frogs and there are plenty round here. I often meet them as I walk around the city. 25 years ago, I lived in Hunan on the edge of a rice paddy and every evening I was treated to a chorus that would have made McCartney realise the futility of writing that dreadful song of his. At that time, the frogs were mainly wild yellow frogs, but in recent years bullfrogs* have all but taken over.

 

2060117267_YellowFrogs.thumb.jpg.4a47e26ef00f214ae5cd604da5850054.jpg

Yellow Frogs in My Local Supermarket

 

In 2017, a craze for bullfrog consumption hit Shanghai’s restaurant scene and spread out from there. Previously, they were mainly only eaten in the countryside where they were found. They are now incredibly popular and are being extensively farmed to meet the demand. There was a dip in the market a few years ago, when a number of less scrupulous individuals were raising the frogs in unsanitary conditions and there were a number of food poisoning incidents. To this day, my dear friend J won’t touch frogs, despite the cute branding of the restaurant.

 

2122341931_KungfuFroggy.thumb.jpg.f20165e457c7ffd517c1ef0b4e8c211d.jpg

 

However, the government cracked down and the industry has revived. My local shopping mall has three frog restaurants all doing good business. There are also about twenty peddling their wares on the delivery service I use.  Also, the supermarkets and markets all serve live frogs.

 

My place of choice has a number of sharing dishes on offer - the Chinese love to share food. As I remember from the top of my head they offer Mala* Bullfrog, Hot and Sour Bullfrog, Pickled Pepper Bullfrog and Garlic Bullfrog, Cumin Bullfrog. There are others.

 

As you can probably guess from this, these frogs are often served Sichuan style as it is considered that they benefit from a bit (a lot) of spice – I can’t agree more. Sichuan restaurant across China are now offering the likes of 宫保牛蛙 (gōng bǎo niú wā) and other travesties.

 

*Mala is the flavour of Sichuan Peppercorns (ma) and Chilli (la).

 

So, here is my dinner tonight, 麻辣味牛蛙 (má là wèi niú wā) Mala* Bullfrog as advertised on the delivery app.

 

1760958216_.thumb.jpg.dccefedf603b5bccaa3a5f2cd055bbdc.jpg

 

Now I should address the question I always get asked.

 

"Do you only eat the legs or ...?

 

The frogs are dipatched by being beheaded (a swift swipe of the cleaver) and the head discarded . They are gutted and then everything else is chopped up, skin, bones and all. This is the food. These are not creatures for the bone haters. We suck every bit of meat off those bones.  Perceived wisdom is that, sort of like the shrimps's head having the most flavour, with frogs it's the toes!

 

I've been trying to find out if the bullfrogs are native to China or are American bullfrogs which have been introduced.  Unfortunately, this information has been hidden by the communist party so that they can have their meetings in peace. Google is inaccessible at t he moment as are most websites. All get back to this later. I suspect they have been introduced, though.

 

See also here, for something I forgot to add.

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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33 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

 

I've been trying to find out if the bullfrogs are native to China or are American bullfrogs which have been introduced.  Unfortunately, this information has been hidden by the communist party so that they can have their meetings in peace. Google is inaccessible at t he moment as are most websites. All get back to this later. I suspect they have been introduced, though.

 

 

 

 

According to this scholarly arcticle, the species Southern China is snacking on is indeed the American bullfrog, that was originally introduced in 1959 via import from Cuba ...

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1 hour ago, Duvel said:

 

According to this scholarly arcticle, the species Southern China is snacking on is indeed the American bullfrog, that was originally introduced in 1959 via import from Cuba ...

Wow, I don’t know what I would do if I met a 2 kg bullfrog. 

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11 minutes ago, Anna N said:

Wow, I don’t know what I would do if I met a 2 kg bullfrog. 

 

Well ... how about this ? 😜

 

2 hours ago, liuzhou said:

The frogs are dipatched by being beheaded (a swift swipe of the cleaver) and the head discarded . They are gutted and then everything else is chopped up, skin, bones and all. This is the food.

 

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I am aware of another study published in 2005 in which researchers looked into how the introduced species had an impact on the native population on Daishan Island in the east of China. I've only read the abstract which I quote (with due citatio). This is something I'm more interested in.

 

Quote
Abstract

We examined diet of introduced Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) and three native frog species (Rana limnocharis, Rana nigromaculata, and Bufo bufo gargarizans) co-occurring at a group of ponds on Daishan Island, east of China, to gain insight into the nature of potential interactions between Bullfrogs and native frog species. For postmetamorphic Bullfrogs, aquatic prey items dominated volumetrically. Prey size, diet volume and volumetric percentage of native frogs in diet increased with Bullfrog body size. The number and volumetric percentage of native frogs in the diet were not different for female and male Bullfrogs, and both were higher for adults than for juveniles. Diet overlap between males and juveniles was higher than that between males and females and between females and juveniles. Diet overlap with each native frog species of male Bullfrogs was lower than that of female Bullfrogs and juvenile Bullfrogs. We did not exam effects of Bullfrogs on native frogs but our results suggest that the primary threat posed by juvenile Bullfrogs to native frogs on Daishan Island is competition for food, whereas the primary threat posed by male Bullfrogs is direct predation. Female Bullfrogs may threaten native frogs by both competition and predation. These differences among Bullfrog groups may be attributed to differences in body size and microhabitat use.

 

Citation: 

Zhengjun Wu, Yiming Li, Yanping Wang, and Michael J. Adams "Diet of Introduced Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana😞 Predation on and Diet Overlap with Native Frogs on Daishan Island, China," Journal of Herpetology 39(4), 668-674, (1 December 2005). https://doi.org/10.1670/78-05N.1
Accepted: 1 August 2005; Published: 1 December 2005

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20 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

That the frogs were introduced is exactly what I suspected.The study seems to be addressing the issues I mentioned, many of which have since been addressed.

 

Thanks.

 

True. And it is no wonder that intense large scale rearing of frogs produces exactly the same issues of contamination / diseases as with any other livestock (and we had our share) ...

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39 minutes ago, Duvel said:

 

True. And it is no wonder that intense large scale rearing of frogs produces exactly the same issues of contamination / diseases as with any other livestock (and we had our share) ...

 

I would love to know when they did their research. I'm betting 2017 -2018. They are a bit coy about that information, just saying 'in recent years'. Even Wikipedia would question that!

Anyway, let's not get too off-topic.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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7. 糯米 (nuò mǐ)

 

As in the rest of southern China, the staple food in Guangxi is rice (Northern China tends more to wheat.) So, you will find that the majority of noodles here are rice noodles (米粉 - mǐ fěn*), although we can buy wheat noodles, too. The standard expression 你吃饭了吗 (nǐ chī fàn le ma), literally meaning ‘have you eaten rice’ is used as a greeting – it isn’t an invitation to dinner. Nor are you expected to answer with a list of what you have eaten in the last 24 hours, any more than "how are you?" is an invitation to list every disease you have ever suffered or imagined suffering.

 

The ethnic minorities, including the Zhuang and especially the Miao, Dong, Yao. Mulam, Maonan etc favour 糯米 (nuò mǐ) which is glutinous rice, also known as ‘sticky rice’. Like all rice, glutinous rice contains two starches: amylose and amylopectin in varying proportions. Glutinous rice contains higher amounts of amylopectin which gives it its glue-like nature.

 

NOTE: Rice, sticky or glutinous or otherwise does not contain gluten! The names are similar simply because gluten is also sticky. So is maple syrup but I don’t see people avoiding that! Celiac people can eat rice without fear!

 

Contrary to much of the wisdom on the internet, glutinous rice comes in both long and short grain types, although the latter is much more common.

 

As well as being a staple, eaten with every meal, glutinous rice is used in festivities and at weddings etc. The dish below, 五色糯米饭 (wǔ sè nuò mǐ fàn) – 5-colour glutinous rice - is a favourite at festivals. Some of the rice is coloured using vegetable dyes; some (purple and red) are natural. I first ate it at a wedding in a Dong village near Liuzhou city.

 

757202212_Five-colorglutinousrice.thumb.jpeg.875014e6e113cd626e4f8ba03d331be2.jpeg

 

The glutinous rice is also used to make rice wine with which to prolong the celebrations! It is also used in the manufacture of Shaoxing wine, etc.

 

* 米粉 - mǐ fěn is often mistranslated by computer tranlation systems as 'rice powder'. It is true that (fěn) can mean powder, here it is refering to powdered rice (i.e. rice flour) which is used to make the noodles, so 米粉 is kind of an abbreviation.

 

119601526_.thumb.jpg.7786a0d06283a49a138cd1eaae7838cb.jpg

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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8. 酸肉和酸鱼 (suān ròu hé suān yú)

 

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Miao Maidens

 

One of the more unusual gastronomic delights among the ethnic minorities is 酸肉和酸鱼 (suān ròu hé suān yú) - the pickled pork and pickled fish which are essential foods for the Miao and Dong peoples. These are sacrificed in their ancestor worship festivities and also served to entertain guests. Pickled fish and pickled duck are indispensable to wedding receptions, funerals, to welcome new babies etc. A large pickled goose is considered a great gift. More than half of the dishes in a Dong meal will be pickled. You could almost say, for the Dong, if it isn’t pickled; it isn’t food.

 

The following is compiled from various descriptions by Miao and Dong friends so please take it as it comes. I have edited it slightly, but been careful to change nothing significant. For what follows, it is essential, I think, to show you and explain the pickle jars to which it refers. Luckily, I have two to hand! My other is plain glass, so harder to photograph.

 

This jar can contain 5kg of water (1⅓ US gallons), but they come both smaller and much larger. Like most of these jars, it is in three parts: the main container; an internal lid and an external lid. The neck of the jar has a reservoir into which the external lid fits. The reservoir is then filled with water forming an airtight seal. Simple but effective.

 

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Pickle Jar

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Internal View and Reservoir Space

 

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With Internal Lid

 

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With External Lid and Water to Seal

The story:

 

The pickled pork comes in bright colours: the skin is yellow, the fat is milky white, and the lean meat is dark red. Each piece of meat has a few grains of rice or pepper attached, and has a fragrant taste. The skin is crisp, the meat is fresh, the pickling is moderate, and the aroma is pervasive, but pleasant. It tastes refreshing and

has no greasy feeling. When eating, the diners sprinkle the pickled meat with dry spice powder.

 

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Pickled Pork

 

Cooking Methods

 

1. Put the raw meat with skin on a charcoal fire. It's better to use pork head meat and remove the bones. Burn the skin and scrape away the blackened results with a knife. The purpose is to remove hair and dirt. Do not scrape with water. After scraping and the skin is golden yellow, then cut into thin slices and placed in a pot. Pour prepared salt, pepper, saltpetre, and dried glutinous rice into the pots of the meat and mix evenly. The usual mix is 40g salt, 25g peppercorns, 10g saltpetre and 100g glutinous rice for 500g fresh pork.
 

2. Put the washed pickle jar upside down with the mouth of the jar down, and use the smoke from the embers to smudge the jar for 2 to 3 minutes, so that the smoke flavour in the jar is lingering, and then the jar is placed in a positive position. Squeeze the pork meat with the hand and then put a piece of burning red charcoal into the jar on the pressed pork noodles. At the same time, add the jar cover and seal it with water. Place it in a cool and dry place and pay attention to always keeping the jar sealing water sufficient. When the pickling is mature (usually 10 days in summer and two weeks in winter), you can open the jar and eat the meat.

 

3. Notes

 

A. When the jar is installed, it is not advisable to overfill with meat. It is necessary to leave a certain space. Generally, the meat surface should be 2 to 3 inches from the mouth of the jar;

 

B. During the period of pickling, the lid should not be opened, otherwise air will enter and the meat will be mildewed;

 

C. After removing any food, you should cover the jar quickly and keep the water in the tray so that it is always in a sealed state. Generally, the maximum storage time of pork in the jar after opening the lid is about 3 months.

 

I've posted this before, but it is both informative and amusing (unfortunate typo). Note: (suān) means both 'sour' and 'pickled'. I prefer 'pickled' for foodstuffs, but I often see it translated as  'sour', as here.

 

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Pickled Fish

For more on Miao and Dong people and their food see these two topics:

and

 


 

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

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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9. (shé)


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(shé) – snakes are eaten all over Asia and Africa. Rattlesnakes are eaten in the USA , I’m told. I first ate snake in Italy in 1967. But no one eats more than the Chinese, especially in Hong Kong. And most of the snakes eaten in China (including HK) originate in Guangxi. About 250 km, 155 miles south-east from Liuzhou is the city of Wuzhou which is snake central. A snake repository has existed here for decades and snakes caught all over end up there for identification before being consumed. Originally the repository  was set up to study snakes and to supply Cantonese restaurants, but recently it has been renamed and seems to have become a sort of snake theme park.


A few years go, I made the acquaintance of a retired chef from one of the local hotel restaurants. Once a year, in retirement, he would take over the kitchen of a local restaurant and invite a bunch of people for dinner. The theme of his meal was always the same – snake. Eight or nine different dishes featuring different snakes. Utterly delicious. He has since passed away. Nothing to do with the snakes.

 

Most people here are terrified of snakes. I tell them that snakes are generally shy and will avoid encounters with man, but if trapped or feel threatened may bite. And I tell them that they aren’t all poisonous, but they adopt the kill first and ask questions later strategy. One friend has no such qualms.


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Doesn’t stop people eating them, though In fact, the poisonous ones are considered the best (cooking renders the venom ineffective). Pythons are particularly desirable but I’ve also eaten cobras and boa constrictors.


Snake soup is a feature of many wedding banquets as it is, for obvious reasons, thought of as a virility symbol, “guaranteeing” that the first born shall have a penis!


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Snake soup served at wedding banquet - The first-born was indeed a boy!


Snakes are sometimes sold in the markets, where they are kept safely in cages. Rarely sold in supermarkets. I occasionally see people selling them on the streets just in sacks. Every year or two someone selling snakes gets bitten and dies.


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Caged  snakes in my local market


Snake is used in restaurants as is any other meat. Stewed, stir-fried, etc. Here is one stir-fried dish with Sichuan flavours as served in local restaurant.


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Also, snake wine is popular, especially with older generations (as it is throughout SE Asia). A venomous snake (or several) will be inserted into a bottle or jar of wine. The wine is then considered to have therapeutic effects on a range of complaints. Care is needed though. Many snakes are able to go into a catatonic state when stressed or trapped and can live for months on little air after seeming to be dead. They occasionally revive and bite wine drinkers. People have died!

 

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Chinese  snake wine.

 

Now that I think about it, I recall wine (or maybe grappa) with snake in it on that same 1967 Italian trip.

 

Finally, No, it doesn't taste Ike chicken! It tastes like whatever type of snake it happens to be.  Some are mildly flavoured; others can be quite gamy.


P.S. I was born in the Year of the Snake which may have a bearing on my love of the meat.

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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27 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

It's the snake's skin.  Delicious.

 

Thanks - but that opens a whole load of questions!  Do you need to remove the scales as you would for fish scales? What is the texture of snake skin like? Is it more gamy than the meat itself?

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28 minutes ago, KennethT said:

Thanks - but that opens a whole load of questions!  Do you need to remove the scales as you would for fish scales? What is the texture of snake skin like? Is it more gamy than the meat itself?

 

Snakes are usually skinned before being cooked, but the snakes in that soup came with skin on. I don't recall any scales. Sorry. I didn't cook it, so I don't really know. Further investigation is required.

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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2 hours ago, KennethT said:

Thanks - but that opens a whole load of questions!  Do you need to remove the scales as you would for fish scales? What is the texture of snake skin like? Is it more gamy than the meat itself?

 

I've spoken with a couple of people who shared that meal and they remember it as I do. The skin was texturally similar to fish skin but drier. No more gamy than the meat. It was a mild tasting snake. I'd love to find out exactly what variety but the restaurant is being rebuilt. I'm not even sure it's in the same hands. 

 

I may have to wait for someone else to get married!

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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5 hours ago, liuzhou said:

(shé) – snakes are eaten all over Asia and Africa.

Thanks for this. I had a whole bunch of questions, but I see that they have already been answered. Presumably, they are gutted.  Is there any part of a snake that is considered inedible? Cobra hood perhaps? 

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