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Authentic Chinese food


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I think you are a darn good sport to come back and post! I will be fascinated to read what you have to contribute and I hope you feel most welcome here despite the shaky start! Anna N

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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Yikes! Sorry if I came off as rude and condescending, that was most definitely not my intention. Perhaps its my job as an English teacher rubbing off into all my writing, sorry for offending any and all. I re-read the post and I completely agree I sound like quite an ass and I am sorry it was not intentional. I spend most of my time online duking it out with other teachers on Dave's ESL cafe and I think I should have taken a breather before coming over here and posting. Please accept my apology. I guess it takes more than a smiley face on the post eh?

Ah! Explains it all :smile: Anyway, you'll find same comments made by folks in Morocco - i.e Cities are diluted....westernizd; in India; in Indonesia ...... the list goes on.

Much of what common peseant folks eat in many countries are mostly rice/noodle/bread with one or two dishes; be it meat or vegetables.

Please keep posting on your experiences and insights to NE China. Welcome !!!

anil

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Thanks for you post CHASTE on Fortune cookies. Yes if you think about it their last course which I presume it's Fruit, it is definetely healthier than most of the once fried and once sauteed food.

Fun

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I sound like quite an ass and I am sorry it was not intentional.

I trust you don't mean that the way it could sound, as punctuated, either. :biggrin:

Welcome, I enjoyed that post for all if offered about your corner of China. John Lurie wisely points out that China is much larger than the US. I'm not even sure it's all that much more ulturally cohesive. It may be in the large cities, but I'll bet regional differences in the rural areas are considerable. It's interesting to learn thart donkey meat is common. My reputable source on Italian food tells me that donkey meat is traditionally a part of authentic Bologna from the city of that name. On rare occasion, I'll find dried sausages with donkey's meat in France, but I've never noticed the meat for sale fresh anywhere in Europe.

One thing of note, when we have toured and stayed in the "chinese only hotels" it is very different from both what they make at home and what they make for westerners.  Living is quite different from touring and has been very enlightening

I think this is an almost universal truth overlooked by many. Eating in a restaurant frequented by locals, is not the same as eating in a home.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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Hullo mate

Welcome, again.

Just out of interest, how much Korean and how much Muslim/Korean influences do you get where you are? I guess from what you said there's a fair bit of korean, at least (any dog? ;-)

Would be interested in know what, if anything, distinguishes "manchu" food from northern chinese. As I said have had the baozi and sopping-in-oil stir-fries to death in beijing.

General Tso's chicken is also unknown in the UK. Also, incidentally, chop suey (definitely invented in the US) never really features on menus here either (ok, hardly a surprise)

I noticed KFC is everywhere too. I think they were the first of the western chains to break into china (87-ish). Interesting Burger King STILL doesn't seem to have cracked it...

Dumplings are GOOD. The one thing I miss about the UK is not being able to pop down to the local jiazi joint at midnight and stuff my face with cut-price dumplings?

What do people normally have for breakfast out there? In Beijing there is the most fascinating range of street food for brekkie - from tofu with chilli sauce, deepfried doughnuts, baozi and egg-cakes. Yum.

cheerio

J

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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Jon, for breakfast here the most common items sold on the street are these big flatbreads they cook in heavy oil and then eat with hot soy milk. Also they have flakey cakes about the size of "moon cakes" filled with fruits like lychee and pineapple though not very sweet, they taste heavily of baking soda. IN hotels and restaurants breakfast is usually some gruel, very very watery stuff with a few pieces of rice in it, absolutely NO flavor to this.

I am told there is nothing different between northern cuisine and manchu food primarily due to the fact the manchus ruled China and spread their influence in broad strokes.

The popularity for KFC is because they serve chicken and the chinese relate to eating chicken. But Mickey D's and their chopped meat patties are repulsive, the children love it but the adults who were raised on an almost exclusively veggie diet find it gross. Even when they would eat beef it certainly hadn't been ground and pressed, its too foreign, kinda like me and eating silk worm larvae, which I think taste of nothing but my wife says they taste like over-cooked bacon. Pizza hut is here too, but they are sooooo over-priced only the wealthy eat there and even then once in a blue moon. And personally the local interpretations of pizza are better, go figure? :smile:

Very strong Korean influence, lots of dog. The stereotype of the koreans eating dog is unfair because the chinese have been eating it in the northeast right along with them for centuries too. They only eat the large breeds as the small ones are fabled to have saved an emperor's life once and thus are forbidden to eat. Besides they're scrawny :biggrin: . The restaurants will kill and skin them and then hang the carcass outside to advertise how fresh the meat is at their establishment, it's surreal.

Surprisingly we do have a strong muslim influence from Xinjiang here, in food their most notable contribution in this area is the lamb skewers sold on the street, they are to die for. They season them with caraway seed, cumin, little red pepper, msg and salt, if you ask. I cannot help myself when I am out and that smell of the lamb fat burning on the coals hits me, it is the siren's song. :wub:

Which made me recall my very first impression of the food here- it is lacking in salt. Everywhere I go I have to have some yan (salt) brought along because they salt nothing. That was the first thing I noticed and all our other foreign teachers did as well. Not just americans mind you, south africans, brits, italians, and aussies all had the same comment... where's the salt?

And then there is mi jiu... :wacko:

Edited by chaste_nosferatu (log)
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chaste, fermented rice is rice wine with about a fifth of the content still being pieces of rice. I've used it here and there, most inauthentically. I saw it in the pantry the other day and so I was just wondering what you knew about it.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

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Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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But Mickey D's and their chopped meat patties are repulsive, the children love it but the adults who were raised on an almost exclusively veggie diet find it gross.  Even when they would eat beef it certainly hadn't been ground and pressed, its too foreign, kinda like me and eating silk worm larvae, which I think taste of nothing but my wife says they taste like over-cooked bacon.

wow, great post. I can only share what was the case in Nanning, southern province of PRC, 2002. McDonalds was indeed thd premier location..on a weekend, the place woud be filled with balloons and a party atmosphere.., and taxi drivers would deposit lucky diners there...prices by conversion were about the same..meaning McD's was very expensive to most...anyway, the child we adopted from that province was nurtured by a foster family, and with the $$$ provided to her with our funds,( yes, we advocated for them after the adoption as well..she's a spectacular child, and her foster family deserves the credit) ... the eldest daughter took english lessons and was accepted into the McDonald's training program..this indeed was the epitome of her family's hopes and dreams...in my world, if my kid decided to make McD's her career,((weather my biological kid or my adopted kid) I'd be lamenting her $80k education...but there, the West is the future.

Yikes... I've gotten off track. sorry. China is personal to me...hard to comment without some kind of social commentary!

Edited by Kim WB (log)
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Fascinating thread.

Nosferatu:

Most of the people there are of Manchu rather than Han descent?

Just for the information of all the people who think China's area is so much larger than the U.S.'s:

From China: Everything that you need to know about the Middle Kingdom:

China "covers an area of about 3,696,100 square miles (9,572,900 square kilometers)"

And from EnchantedLearning.com's US States (plus Washington D.C.): Area and Ranking:

"United States total area: 3,537,441 square miles."

It's my opinion that the reason many of you think that China is so much larger than the U.S. is that we're accustomed to fly cross-country in the U.S. and (correct me if I'm wrong) it's still much more common to take the train for long distances in China than to fly. But come on, flying for almost 6 hours from New York to LA, is that a short hop? Only if New York-London is! The U.S. and China are both very big countries.

Now Canada, that's a REALLY BIG COUNTRY! (3,849,674 square miles [9,970,610 square km] according to http://www.worldsurface.com/browse/locatio...?locationid=53)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Hehe, remember size is not always = culinary greatness.

Errr, Russia anyone? ;-)

On the fermented rice thing I remember in Korean restaurants in Beijing they had a wonderful tea made with fermented rice; it has a slightly sweet flavour.

On the McD's thing it does have some advantages... the best loos in china!!! (aircon AND with bogroll!). anyhow still think half-price big macs are a fundamentally good thing (NB I am a bit of a philistine though - probably the only person I know who was MORE eager to eat hamburgers after reading fast food nation ;-) )

The one thing I missed in china was no frozen pizza.

Lamb kebabs are another thing you can't replicate back home, no matter how hard you try. The best ones I had were in a street market in Turpan, in Xinjiang. The key was that there were big, fat, crispy chunks of fat threaded between the meet which oozed meltingness inside. YUM.

cheerio

J

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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chaste,

You mentioned MSG in a recent posting. Is their lots of MSG usage by home cooks throughout China? What about in the restaurants of China? How is it mostly utilized?

-------------

Steve

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chaste, fermented rice is rice wine with about a fifth of the content still being pieces of rice. I've used it here and there, most inauthentically. I saw it in the pantry the other day and so I was just wondering what you knew about it.

I have a recipe for shrimp. PM me.

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chaste, fermented rice is rice wine with about a fifth of the content still being pieces of rice. I've used it here and there, most inauthentically. I saw it in the pantry the other day and so I was just wondering what you knew about it.

I have a recipe for shrimp. PM me.

tissue, if it isn't copyrighted, please post it in the eGRA:

recipes.egullet.com

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Just for the information of all the people who think China's area is so much larger than the U.S.'s:

China "covers an area of about 3,696,100 square miles (9,572,900 square kilometers)"

"United States total area: 3,537,441 square miles."

Now Canada, that's a REALLY BIG COUNTRY! (3,849,674 square miles [9,970,610 square km]

I suspect we're influenced greatly by the size of the popuation when we think of china as large.

"It ... has the largest population of any country in the world. ...

More than one-fifth of mankind is of Chinese nationality. The great majority of the population is Chinese (Han), and thus China is often characterized as an ethnically homogeneous country; but few countries have as wide a variety of indigenous peoples as does China. Even among the Han there are cultural and linguistic differences between regions; for example, the only point of linguistic commonality between two individuals from different parts of China may be the written Chinese language." From Pan's first link.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I noticed KFC is everywhere too.  I think they were the first of the western chains to break into china (87-ish).  Interesting Burger King STILL doesn't seem to have cracked it...

going to the western franchised places is a "night on the town" for many families in nanjing (jiangsu province). less so in guangdong since it is a comparatively wealthy province.

in 1997, McDonald's and KFC had made the most inroads.

Dunkin Donuts, TGI Fridays I believe I saw 1 of each in Bejing, none anywhere else.

when I was there, I had been to Chengdu (Sichuan), Nanjing (Jiangsu) Shanghai, Beijing (not in provinces), Xian (can't remember province name) Wuhan (Hunan), and all over Guangdong.

Would be interested in know what, if anything, distinguishes "manchu" food from northern chinese.  As I said have had the baozi and sopping-in-oil stir-fries to death in beijing.

Yes, I'm interested as well. I've never had anything from the area. Being Cantonese, I've had plenty of that, and had the chance to visit the above places. I would expect food there to be hearty, b/c of cold, coal mining and heavy industry area.

What do people normally have for breakfast out there? In Beijing there is the most fascinating range of street food for brekkie - from tofu with chilli sauce, deepfried doughnuts, baozi and egg-cakes. Yum.

I'm interested in this as well. In Nanjing, we had a jian bing. Dough stick (you tiao) wrapped in rice before being wrapped in crepe-thin pancake, with sprinkles of scallion, hot sauce. Or at least that's what I remember. Hope I'm not mixing 2 different breakfasts.

I actually liked the Cantonese version of the dough stick better: larger, lighter, and to me, tastier.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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I'm interested in this as well.  In Nanjing, we had a jian bing.  Dough stick (you tiao) wrapped in rice before being wrapped in crepe-thin pancake, with sprinkles of scallion, hot sauce.  Or at least that's what I remember.  Hope I'm not mixing 2 different breakfasts.

Ooooh yes, thanks for reminding me of those

They had then in beijing - instead of dough stick they used flat squares of you tiao, wrapped in a crepe with an egg, and the scallion and hot sauce

A wonderful - and remarkably cheap way to start the day.

Another option are all the taiwanese-style fast food joints which have started up (no hassle with ordering, you just fill in a form at the table with what you want - very good for non-linguists as there is usually a picture menu too) offering soya milk and various other breakfast goodies, as well as a variety of stuffed, steamed and fried dumplings. Plus they open really late.

There is nothing like unlimited cut price dumplings at midnight!!! (beats chips n' cheese from the kebab van any day)

J

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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Pan, in this particular area the Manchus do slightly outnumber the Han but given the political realities of being a minority most Manchu will claim Han status publicly while privately acknowledging that they are of Manchu descent.

Jinmyo, still working on the fermented rice recipes. Drew a blank with my immediate friends so they networking and promised to do their best.

As for MSG, think of it as salt. That's how they use it. If you or I would add salt to a dish while cooking, they would add MSG. At home or at a restaurant the usage is the same. From my observations a dish that would constitute about two servings (western sized servings mind you) they add about half a tablespoon. On the meat kabobs they sprinkle it on just like it is salt.

At the supermarkets the aisle for MSG is about 15 feet long, seven feet tall and packed with about 30 different brands and multiple sized quantities. It is everywhere, in everything that is cooked.

Herbicidal, the food is heavy. Very oily and really, by what my palatte is accustomed to, bland. Not all but the common foods that everyone eats a lot of. What do you want to know? I don't want to just spout off indescriminately and tell anyone things they already know.

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I've been away --- just catching up ---but this has been a teriffic thread.

Thanks all

The Best Kind of Wine is That Which is Most Pleasant to Him Who Drinks It. ---- Pliney The Elder

Wine can of their wits the wise beguile,

Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --- Homer

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I am a Chinese, my great grandparents came to Malaysia from Guangdong two centuries ago, but have only visited China once. We went on a family holiday in Shanghai and Huangshan area for 6 days last year, doing the scenic tour. We were "escorted" by the official tourist guide, so ended up eating at their "friendship" restaurants and forced to take frequent rest stops at tourist traps like souvenier "museum" shops and acupuncture centres. So I can only comment from a tourist's perspective.

The food we were served was completely inedible, bearing no resemblance to all the Chinese food I've ever come across in Asia, Europe and USA. Everything was bland or oversalted;they don't even seem to use any aromatics like shallot, ginger or garlic. And the oil, oh my, everything was cooked in cold oil I think. We resorted to rinsing bits of food in hot tea or water before eating but we were still overwhelmed. The rice was frequently cold, and I suspect, recycled from table to table if not meal to meal. So there we were, for days on end, a hungry bunch looking miserably at the table piled high with dishes, and not eating much. My stash of dried fruit was very popular. One evening I gave up and went to the tourist shop in our hotel in Huangshan, to buy a piece of red-bean bun (like anpan). The bun had a tiny button of bean paste smeared on the two diametrically opposite ends, but there was NO filling inside at all!!! outrageously expensive too!! so it was dried cranberries for dinner again.

There were some high points of course: in Shanghai all the dumplings we tried were good, even those in places that looked like fast -food joints. And once we were served (for first course) some cigar-shaped spring rolls filled with red beans and dusted with icing sugar- these were delightful. and of course our flight was delayed for 6 hours so they fed us dinner at the airport hotel, and the food was not bad at all- I was never more happy to see sweet and sour pork than that evening. it was sweet, it was sour,.... my taste buds were so grateful.

Edited by tonkichi (log)
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I think we've well and frequently acknowledged the fact here that "American Chinese food" is mostly Cantonese (and inferior Cantonese as well), that we are largely tired of it, that occasionally we get a real find of a restaurant which serves food from another region, and that even then the actual food served in that region frequently uses different ingredients and different preparations from something with the same name here.  Also, we know that many of our "Chinese" dishes are completely Western in origin--created by Chinese immigrants to the west.

Is that really true? Most of the things I think of as "American Chinese Food" most Cantonese I know wouldn't acknowledge them as Cantonese, inferior or not, and I don't see at the Cantonese restaurants I frequent. What dishes are you thinking of? When I think about American Chinese food I think about chop suey, beef with western broccoli, orange beef, general tso's whatever, sweet and sour pork that is breaded and deep fried and served with bright red sauce and pineapple, deep fried eggrolls with indistinguishable middles and really dark brown horrible versions of fried rice. Basically stuff people buy at those mall "Chinese" fast food places. Do you consider these Cantonese? Some of the stuff that I read about from people in the eastern US I've never run across (shrimp with lobster sauce???) so maybe "American Chinese Food" has a regional element as well.

regards,

trillium

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Yeah, the stuff I grew up eating has nothing to do with those Panda Express type dishes.

I don't think they are Cantonese... I eat Cantonese food all the time and have many friends from HK.

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I think we've well and frequently acknowledged the fact here that "American Chinese food" is mostly Cantonese (and inferior Cantonese as well), that we are largely tired of it, that occasionally we get a real find of a restaurant which serves food from another region, and that even then the actual food served in that region frequently uses different ingredients and different preparations from something with the same name here.  Also, we know that many of our "Chinese" dishes are completely Western in origin--created by Chinese immigrants to the west.

Is that really true? Most of the things I think of as "American Chinese Food" most Cantonese I know wouldn't acknowledge them as Cantonese, inferior or not, and I don't see at the Cantonese restaurants I frequent. What dishes are you thinking of? When I think about American Chinese food I think about chop suey, beef with western broccoli, orange beef, general tso's whatever, sweet and sour pork that is breaded and deep fried and served with bright red sauce and pineapple, deep fried eggrolls with indistinguishable middles and really dark brown horrible versions of fried rice. Basically stuff people buy at those mall "Chinese" fast food places. Do you consider these Cantonese? Some of the stuff that I read about from people in the eastern US I've never run across (shrimp with lobster sauce???) so maybe "American Chinese Food" has a regional element as well.

regards,

trillium

yes, most of that stuff was probably created for the market. i've served it enough in chinese restaurants geared to westerners, and seen it on western menus in chinese seafood restaurants that chinese people would come to.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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Just to clarify, I totally agree that these dishes were created for a perceived western appetite, real or not . I'm just questioning the statement ""American Chinese food" is mostly Cantonese (and inferior Cantonese as well)" in the text I quoted. I'm kind of surprised that this food is thought of as Cantonese. It doesn't resemble the food I eat at 1st or 2nd G overseas Cantonese homes and I don't know any Cantonese who would claim it as their own. I'm not trying to be pedantic, I'm just surprised that this type of food gets labeled Cantonese.

regards,

trillium

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An advertising friend of mine was living in Hong Kong. She was working on a large campaign for Kraft cheese. After a long, grueling meeting where folks tried to understand why their campaign was not as successful as they expected, she raised her hand: "Um, Chinese people don't like cheese?"

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