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Authentic Chinese food


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There seems to be a lot of discussion on this board of regional Chinese cuisines.  I think it might help if we had some "formalized" definitions.  Here are some information about more well-known regions of food.  These are taken directly from South China Morning Post

Good summary. Here is another good rundown from a semi-"official" mainland site:

Chinese Imperial Cuisines

It also gives some history of the cuisines. Elsewhere on the site there's a tutorial with recipes (click on the button at the bottom right-hand side of the page).

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I posted this question on another thread, but this one seems more active and current.

I have two recipes for making salty eggs (eggs soaked in brine). My question is: should I put a tight sealing lid on the jar or just cover the jar with cheese cloth? One recipe suggests the cheesecloth. The other recipe did not say.

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  • 4 months later...

I am assuming that several posters in this forum are of Asian descent. Just wondering how many cook foods like their immigrant ancestors did. For example:

hum yeau (Salty fish), beef/pork with salted turnip, dried bak choi tong, say mai tong. tofu stick tong with dried oysters...or even shrimp paste!?

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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I am not only Chinese, but can be classified as "lo wah kiu" from Taishan(Toyshaan). If you know anything of the Chinese immigrant experience in North America, I won't get into the significance of that here. Since my wife is not Chinese, she does not cook the stuff that I like, ie: some of the stuff you mentioned. However I do 99% of the cooking at home and I cook ALL the pungent, homey, "soulful" stuff all the time. My family (wife too) have grown to love all that stuff too. In fact they develop cravings for it. :rolleyes:

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I am not only Chinese, but can be classified as "lo wah kiu" from Taishan(Toyshaan). If you know anything of the Chinese immigrant experience in North America, I won't get into the significance of that here.

Is the expression translatable, though?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I am not only Chinese, but can be classified as "lo wah kiu" from Taishan(Toyshaan). If you know anything of the Chinese immigrant experience in North America, I won't get into the significance of that here.

Is the expression translatable, though?

It conveys the sense of "Original (Chinese) Immigrants", I suppose. Kind of like the "Daughters of the American Revolution" or the "Native Sons of the Golden West" :rolleyes:

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Ah....lo wah kiu...me too, AND from Toisan. My hubby is Scotish/English and we have 3 "mixed blood" children :laugh:

Hubby is adventurous so he and the kids have grown up with my Mom's and my immigrant Chinese cooking. Don't know about in your area, but most Chinese people here often eat with forks at banquets :wacko: Sometimes, hubby is the only Caucasian, AND he insists on eating with chopsticks!

One of my family's favorite foods is ham yiu with ground pork. My Mom can't get over how the kids devour the stuff. Most family's cook acouple squares for a meal...my 3 kids, hubby and I would eat a whole fish!

Do you cook any of the "medicinal soups'?

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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I am not only Chinese, but can be classified as "lo wah kiu" from Taishan(Toyshaan). If you know anything of the Chinese immigrant experience in North America, I won't get into the significance of that here.

Is the expression translatable, though?

It conveys the sense of "Original (Chinese) Immigrants", I suppose. Kind of like the "Daughters of the American Revolution" or the "Native Sons of the Golden West" :rolleyes:

Got it. Thanks, Gary.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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hum yeau (Salty fish), beef/pork with salted turnip, dried bak choi tong, say mai tong. tofu stick tong with dried oysters...or even shrimp paste!?

I like all these dishes. I used to really dislike the dried salty shrimp paste that's steamed with fatty pork, but I love it now.

Fermented bean curd mixed into my hot rice is another favorite. :wub:

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OK, stop it right now! It's not yet supper time and you are making me hungry. On the other hand you people just gave me ideas for supper. :biggrin:

My wife is an English rose, born in England and has come to LOVE the more, ah, intense flavours of hum yu, fu yu, shrimp paste, etc. Shrimp paste fried rice with belly pork bits, ginger and scallions; hum yu fried rice; green beans or zucchini or cucumber with fu yu and pork; fish fillets steamed with shrimp paste, all are yummy and are favourites here at home.

As for "medicinal" type soups, I personally like only a couple, as most of them require a lot of procedral driven cooking methods. I do enjoy them when someone else makes them though, eg: by a little old Chinese Popo (Grandma) who really does believe in the beneficial aspects of the dishes.

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Ben Hong: As for "medicinal" type soups, I personally like only a couple, as most of them require a lot of procedral driven cooking methods. I do enjoy them when someone else makes them though, eg: by a little old Chinese Popo (Grandma) who really does believe in the beneficial aspects of the dishes.

I hear ya! Hurray for Po-Pos! :laugh:

I usually cook these soups when Po-Po comes for the day. Prepare the ingredients the night before per her instructions, then cook while she is here.

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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  • 8 months later...

In reading this forum over the past year or two, one word that pops up in almost every thread is the word "authentic" or the idea of authenticity. What does it mean? Why is it so much sought after? What does it imply? Does it mean that we must slavishly adhere to the gospel of whoever spouts it, subsuming our own creative instincts? Does it mean that a dish must taste a certain way, ignoring our own palates and judgment? Is authenticity truly the Holy Grail of any cuisine?

For example, if I make mapo tofu and I didn't have szechuan peppercorns (which some people feel makes the dish "authentic"), can I still call my dish mapo tofu? If Dejah makes mouth watering joong shaped longer than my mother's and she uses peanuts instead of chestnuts, is it authentic? If a restaurant chef creates a signature dish, how can the public accept it if it is a new creation and doesn't conform to the orthodoxy? Does the quest for authenticity stifle creativity and versatility?

Is Susur Lee a Chinese food chef and if he is, is he a heretic because his dishes are not "authentically" Chinese?

HHmmmm...questions on a late summer evening.

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Authentic: (Merriam-Webster)

2 a : worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact <paints an authentic picture of our society> b : conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features <an authentic reproduction of a colonial farmhouse> c : made or done the same way as an original <authentic Mexican fare>

If pizza has kiwi on it, is it pizza?

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I like to think of "authentic" as what has been in my family, and passed down through generations . . . :smile:

Does authentic mean producing the exact same results as when the original recipe was first developed? Is that possible considering the changes that have been made to the ingredients?

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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The dreaded "A" word is one I try to avoid, as I consider it almost meaningless. Cuisines are the happy product of cross-fertilization and discovery, at least since the age of navigation. Just imagine the days of no tomatoes in Italy, no chilis in China, no potatoes in Germany of Ireland, no peanuts in southeast Asia, etc.

If authentic means anything, it means true to something we remember from a given time or place, no matter how recent or how worthy or unworthy of re-creation (you might find an "authentic" Frappucino in Zimbabwe, but so what?). Last week I was traveling the back roads of St. Lawrence County, N.Y. and we stopped at a roadside diner frozen in time that served up an authentic circa 1950 Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast as a main menu item (my mother ordered it, and prononced it good).

And let me tellya about my wife's authentic Shanghai luosang tang!

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Forget authenticity! If it tastes good, eat it...China is a huge country and if you eat food from another region in any big city, there will surely be people who are from that other region who will tell you the food isn't "authentic," but it doesn't matter if it tastes good (back to that). The same thing with "neo-Chinese" or innovative Chinese dishes. I agree there isn't really one definition of "authentic," its more of a personal standard. In fact, the idea of "authenticity" is one that annoys me almost as much as that of "fluency" in a language, but thats a different matter entirely...

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You guys have reaffirmed my belief that there are some who are not fixated on the authenticity concept. Dejah's point about what she was used to at home probably hits the nail square on the head.

I started this thread as a pointer to all aspiring cooks trying to do Chinese food, recipes are fine but trust your taste and creativity and cook what tastes good. Chengbo2 's idea that if it tastes good eat it, is similar to Deng Shiao Peng's pragmatic admonition "black cat, white cat, what does it matter if it catches mice ".

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Authenticity was important thirty years ago when we were becoming aware of "un-Americanized" cuisines. While groping for a better understanding of foods of the world, we became impatient with substitutes and, sometimes, over-zealous in our search for the "real thing."

Gary's mention of the 50's diner shows the paradox of trying to nail things down. If the diner serves "authentic" 50's food, does it still serve "authentic" American food?

Of course, we imagine that there are classics, that don't evolve - but I suspect that these are really rare. Few "classics" in any cuisine are more than a century old.

BB

Food is all about history and geography.

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I think it means keeping the "identity."

Maybe not have to be exactly same in "face," but it has to keep the core factor of the "Soul."

"All the way to heaven is heaven."

___Said by St. Catherine of Sienna.

Let's enjoy life, now!

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I like the concept of tsen, which is Mandarin for "proper." That may be what my parents mean when they taste a classic Chinese dish and pronounce it well-made. They never say that if the chef or cook has taken creative liberties with the ingredients or cooking method of a dish. Traditionally, Confucian Chinese society was very conformist, and the concept of authenticity in cooking reflects this conformism.

Here's a good column on the concept of tsen in Chinese cooking.

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I think "authenticity" in many cases implies the presence of one or more "key" ingredients. Mapo dofu made without haujiao (Sichuan pepper) is simply NOT mapo dofu, because the name of the dish itself describes the tingling sensation that the Sichuan peppercorn provides. It may be delicious, but please don't call it mapo dofu.

Pasta carbonara without a cured pork product in it is not pasta carbonara. A hamburger made with pressed dofu and no meat is not a hamburber. Chocolate cake made with carob is carob cake, don't tell me it's chocolate cake. A Napolean is a dessert, not something layered with thinly sliced potatoes.

I don't think this makes me a slave to authenticity.

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  • 6 months later...

I have Chinese-Korean recipes. But I was wondering how these dishes are made in China. Truth be told I don't even know if Chiachiang mein was invented in Korea by Chinese immigrants which is what I've heard through some accounts. Although I do recall a Chinese woman on Korean TV saying that Chinese-Korean chiachiang mein was too sweet and black compared to what she was used to back home.

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Touaregsand: I think that you are asking the impossible when you ask for "authentic" recipes. The beauty of Chinese, yea most cuisines, is that each cook has his or her own particular idea of authenticity, depending on his training and where he comes from. Mapo tofu in Japan is hell of a lot different than what I've eaten in a small town in China; mine is almost completely different than what I've eaten at my cousin's. The only things that are common were the dou fu, the meat, and the chilis. Even the meat is often different as there are just as many people who think that pork should be used as those who think that beef is correct . Now is that ground minced meat or shredded? Is the dou fu firm or silken and should it be diced, or mashed?

What you should do is get a few good recipes, try them out, adapt and adjust to suit your taste and then you may call it authentic. That's is exactly what I tell my adult children who call me every other day at supper time for advice. No one who eats your food would dare call it anything but authentic. :rolleyes: Works for me :laugh:

BTW, cooking Chinese food is not like baking pastry where you have to follow a recipe down to the last quarter tsp. or your cake/bread goes "poof" and it costs you many hours of prep time. My wife has spent 40 years dispensing medicine as an RN and she is a superb pastry cook because she can follow directions to a "T". I, on the other hand, rarely look at a recipe except maybe as a checklist of main ingredients. I literally can't make anything that involves dough or timing or strict temperatures :unsure:

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I just want to know how these dishes are made in China.

Whenever I call up my parents for Korean recipes they are very hesitant to give them to me. They think I'm gonna hurt myself cooking or something. I'm not asking for better, I'm just curious as to how these dishes are made in China.

I'm a bit of an Asianist in an academic sense and in my soul. At University I took all of these courses ya know in Chinese, Korean, Japanese history, Asian-American studies and all that. I want to document a few things with alot of help from you and Dejah, Shalmanese, jo-mel. origamicrane, russell, herb, melonpan, chengpo, laksa, guppymo and a many others that I'm not mentioning here (this is sounding like an Oscar speech :unsure::biggrin: ). I moved to America when I was 5. I was old enough to remember leaving and the ensuing struggle with accepting or resisting assimilating (why does it have to be one or the other?). This sense of fracture has never left me.

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