Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

New York-Style Chinese Fried Rice


by350
 Share

Recommended Posts

  • 2 weeks later...

Using a $2.50 5lb container of dark soy I bought from a local chinese supermarket, we made this fried rice this evening using chopped up leftover roast pork loin we made for the cubano sandwiches we had this week using the Toast N Serve:

i938.jpg

i939.jpg

The rice was fried up in a chinese commercial wok oil blend. The rest of the stuff in it is scallion, julienned carrots and frozen peas and 2 eggs. A little bit of sesame oil was added at the end.

This tasted a lot closer to the one you get in a old-style American chinese restaurant. The type of soy sauce used is clearly half the equation and the high intensity wok burners (and restaurant-made roast pork with tons of MSG) is the other.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 11 months later...

I have been meaning to ask this, and since the thread on the roast pork mentioned it, I figured it's a good time. I love the traditional fried rice served in Chinese-American restaurants, what I think that Irwin (aka wesza) refers to as New York-style fried rice. The one where the white rice ends up brown. I like the one with "everything" in it. I have never been able to make it at home.

This is the info that I have gathered over the years, but I'm no closer to the taste I'm looking for:

All cookbooks I have seen avoid the issue by giving the more authentic Young Chow recipe. That's fine, but I want the non-authentic recipe.

At a restaurant here, which is very close to old-school American-Chinese, the owner told me she couldn't duplicate the fried rice at home. I started to think that maybe the very high heat of the restaurant wok is part of the recipe.

Shopping at a market in Philly's Chinatown, a young chef told me to use Maggi Seasoning sauce, instead of soy sauce.

But now I'm a member of egullet, where the real truth-telling experts are. Anyone know the secret or secrets?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Definitely a dark soy, the thick and syrupy kind, combined with cubed Chinese roast pork (char siu). Use a decent amount of scallions, bean sprout and chopped up omelet. Other meats such as shrimp or beef or chicken is optional, but the Char Siu is key. No pork fat, no flavor. You can also use Lap Cheung chinese sausage instead of the char siu, and its really good that way, but it will be a different flavor.

However, you will not be able to produce identical results for the stated reason by your restaurant friend -- even with a "pro" style home burner at around 15,000BTU its no match for a restaurant wok burrner that hits around 100K BTU . However, it will be very good for home made fried rice, we probably make this at least once a month at my house. You need to cook each component in small amounts and in stages, though.

You will need to chan up the roast pork or sausage to release the pork fat, along with the whites of the scallions and the beansprout and hit it with a small amount of the dark soy. Remove it from the wok, then make the omelet and remove. Then put in more oil and chan up the rice (DAY OLD! DON'T USE fresh rice!) with more of the dark soy, and then when that is all done, re-incorporate the veggies/egg and pork and chuck in the green part of the scallions. You might want to throw in a handful of peas. The results will yeild something that looks like the picture of fried rice upthread.

Fried rice, as well as chow mein egg noodles, is really an excellent way of getting rid of the leftover veggies you have sitting around the house. I always buy scallions, beansprouts, etc and hit the chinese grocery every iother month for the char siu, I buy it in larger amounts and freeze it in vacuum seal bags. We always have the leftover rice sitting around from whenever we order chinese food, which happens a few times a month.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fried rice with a hit of sriracha chili sauce and basil, and perhaps a little pineapple along with the regular stuff is good, but yeah, its definitely vietnamese. I wouldnt use the dark soy with that though, I would use a decent Japanese mardaizu instead and with a light touch.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Definitely a dark soy, the thick and syrupy kind, combined with cubed Chinese roast pork (char siu). Use a decent amount of scallions, bean sprout and chopped up omelet. Other meats such as shrimp or beef or chicken is optional, but the Char Siu is key. No pork fat, no flavor. You can also use Lap Cheung chinese sausage instead of the char siu, and its really good that way, but it will be a different flavor.

However, you will not be able to produce identical results for the stated reason by your restaurant friend -- even with a "pro" style home burner at around 15,000BTU its no match for a restaurant wok burrner that hits around 100K BTU . However, it will be very good for home made fried rice, we probably make this at least once a month at my house. You need to cook each component in small amounts and in stages, though.

You will need to chan up the roast pork or sausage to release the pork fat, along with the whites of the scallions and the beansprout and hit it with a small amount of the dark soy. Remove it from the wok, then make the omelet and remove. Then put in more oil and chan up the rice (DAY OLD! DON'T USE fresh rice!) with more of the dark soy, and then when that is all done, re-incorporate the veggies/egg and pork. You might want to throw in a handful of peas.

Fried rice, as well as chow mein egg noodles,  is really an excellent way of getting rid of the leftover veggies you have sitting around the house. I always buy scallions, beansprouts, etc and hit the chinese grocery every iother month for the char siu, I buy it in larger amounts and freeze it in vacuum seal bags. We always have the leftover rice sitting around from whenever we order chinese food, which happens a few times a month.

For the last few years, I've used only cooled rice, not day-old rice. What's the difference? My parents like using fresher rice, because it takes a lot less time cook. For me, it's fried rice with egg, ham, and shrimp. I would never think of putting bean sprouts in fried rice. And green peas? Ick! I don't understand why people put them in fried rice anyway.

Edited by Transparent (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are several schools of thought on the leftover rice vs fresh or recent rice issue. Basically, if you want to reproduce the texture of "NY Chinese Takeout Place" fried rice you use day old or older rice. I know other asian cultures such as Japanese and certainly authentic chinese places will use fresh or semi fresh rice when cooking fried rice at home, but the texture will be different. It has to do with the gluten, and yeah I think it interacts with the oil differently.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are several schools of thought on the leftover rice vs fresh or recent rice issue. Basically, if you want to reproduce the texture of "NY Chinese Takeout Place" fried rice you use day old or older rice. I know other asian cultures such as Japanese and certainly authentic chinese places will use fresh or semi fresh rice when cooking fried rice at home, but the texture will be different. It has to do with the gluten, and yeah I think it interacts with the oil differently.

Chalk up my vote for day-old rice. Fresh rice has too much moisture in it, whereas day-old helps give fried rice a crispy, more granular texture.

I find a slug of toasted sesame oil gives something approximating the taste I get from my local (Not particularly high quality!) chinese.

Carlovski, you hit the nail right on the head. You don't need to use too much sesame oil, just a few drops or the taste will be too overpowering, but it sure helps replicate that restaurant taste.

Shopping at a market in Philly's Chinatown, a young chef told me to use Maggi Seasoning sauce, instead of soy sauce.

I've tried using Maggi, but definitely prefer the taste of my fried rice with dark soy sauce instead.

Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The other thing is that most of the Chinese restaurants use short or mid grain rice, not the standard "American" long grain.

There is of course the normal fast food fried rice with peas etc. The best fried rice I have had is from mom and pop Chinese restaurants where it's made with whatever left over they have. My favorite place rarely has peas since they are not common in most of their dishes.

They use cabbage, carrots, assort bbq meat etc. Basically whatever bit and pieces they have left over.

Never trust a skinny chef

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re day-old versus fresh rice: It's not necessarily a fresh versus not-fresh question, it's a warm versus cold guestion.

When rice is cooked, it releases starch. There are two kinds of starch in rice: amylose and amylopectin. Short grain rice has more amylopectin and long grain rice has more amlyose. Amylopectin is stickier than amylose, which is why short grain rice is said to be "sticky rice." But amlyose is also pretty sticky, and well-cooked long or medium grain rice will still stick together when the rice is fresh.

When cooked rice cools to refrigerator temperature, the starch undergoes a process called retrogradation. This means, among other things, that the starch cells collapse, the starch crystalizes and the starch molecules realign within each grain of rice. The result is that the rice gets hard and individual grains of rice no longer stick together.

Since one would like separate grains of rice rather than clumps of rice stuck together when making fried rice, it makes sense to use refrigerated cooked rice. This usually means day-old rice. The hardness imparted by retrogradation also works to the cook's advantage in making fried rice, because it means that the rice will not break apart while it is tossed in the wok. Luckily, when the rice is reheated, the hardening effect of retrogradation is reversed.

--

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like the retro kind too.  I've always wondered how the rice gets so dark, though.

The dark fried rice owes it's color to a type of food coloring that's based on molasses. Very thick stuff. You stir fry it into the rice (rice must be hot to pick up the coloring), let the rice cool off overnight, and make sure it doesn't clump up. As far as I know, it's not available for sale outside of Oriental restaurant suppliers. It comes in 5 gallon buckets.

If you want heat, use the burner from a turkey deep fat fryer like Alton Brown did. Just be sure to use it outside of the house.

For us it was oil first, rice until hot (if rice is too hard, add a bit of water and cover for 20 seconds or so to let the rice steam a bit, but not too much or the rice will be sticky), then add in scrambled eggs, chopped green onions, salt and MSG (optional), and whatever meat you wanted to add, precooked. Stir fry for under a minute after turning down the heat to medium and serve.

Edited by Singapore (log)

Be polite with dragons, for thou art crunchy and goeth down well with ketchup....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's apparent that each country has a different way of preparing "fried rice" in their region. I've had the opportunity to witness the preparation of "Old Style", darker colored fried rice in a Chinese kitchen years ago and rather than being immersed in trying to identify the secret ingredients, I was in awe of the cooking process that I'm sure would be difficult to duplicate in a home kitchen. The day old rice danced in the superheated wok and the chef's uncanny ability with wok and chan allowed ample airtime between the individual grains that I believe is so important to the preparation process. I was told though that only Chinese soy should be used to get the flavor and dark color of North American Chinese fried rice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re day-old versus fresh rice:  It's not necessarily a fresh versus not-fresh question, it's a warm versus cold guestion.

When rice is cooked, it releases starch.  There are two kinds of starch in rice: amylose and amylopectin.  Short grain rice has more amylopectin and long grain rice has more amlyose.  Amylopectin is stickier than amylose, which is why short grain rice is said to be "sticky rice."  But amlyose is also pretty sticky, and well-cooked long or medium grain rice will still stick together when the rice is fresh.

When cooked rice cools to refrigerator temperature, the starch undergoes a process called retrogradation.  This means, among other things, that the starch cells collapse, the starch crystalizes and the starch molecules realign within each grain of rice.  The result is that the rice gets hard and individual grains of rice no longer stick together.

Since one would like separate grains of rice rather than clumps of rice stuck together when making fried rice, it makes sense to use refrigerated cooked rice.  This usually means day-old rice.  The hardness imparted by retrogradation also works to the cook's advantage in making fried rice, because it means that the rice will not break apart while it is tossed in the wok.  Luckily, when the rice is reheated, the hardening effect of retrogradation is reversed.

Day-old rice cooled to refrigerator temperature?? Shouldn't it be cooled to room temperature(not in a fridge)? Should the rice be uncovered or not, I'm not 100% sure(I've seen Chinese restaurants cool their rice uncovered, but maybe that's not the best way).

-Steve

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Day-old rice cooled to refrigerator temperature?? Shouldn't it be cooled to room temperature(not in a fridge)? Should the rice be uncovered or not, I'm not 100% sure(I've seen Chinese restaurants cool their rice uncovered, but maybe that's not the best way).

I'm not sure what temperature is required for retrogradation, but I assume it is refrigerator temperature. That's where I keep my leftover rice anyway. Not sure I'd want to eat cooked rice that had sat out at room temperature for 24 hours.

--

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Mystery of "Fried Rice" as it's evolved in America is something that can be attributed to the "New York City" evolution of Cantonese Restaurant's that apparently began in Shanghai sometime in the 1920's.

Fried Rice, Egg Fu Yong, Shrimp in Lobster Sauce, Lobster Cantonese. Egg Drop Soup, Roast Pork, Spare Ribs, Lo Mein and Egg Rolls, Chop Suey and Chow Mein are dishes that became part of the East Coast Chinese Restaurants that were so popular for many years.

"Fried Rice" that is regularly served in authentic or conventional Chinese Restaurants is most common the "Yangzhou Fried Rice" also known as "Golden Rice". It contains no Soy Sauce or Oyster Sauce. In fact Salt is often added to the Rice. The Vegetables, Meats or whatever else that's added isn't specific.

The one common denominator of this kind of Fried Rice is that it's customary to Coat the Grains of Rice with Eggs. This is often done almost when the Rice and added ingredients are Cooked at which time a well is made into the center of the Rice and 2 pre-stirred Eggs are placed into the well and quickly mixed into the Rice Mixture afterward it's quickly plated and served.

In "NYC" or more American Style Chinese Restaurants it would have been prepared with since Onions, Scallions, Bean Sprouts, Shredded or Diced Carrots, Celery, Roast Pork, Shrimp, Chicken, Peas, Water Chestnuts, Egg and Dark or Regular Soy Sauce as well as Maggi Sauce. Originally some Garlic and Ginger was used because the Oil most common to Chinese Cooking was a inexpensive Peanut Oil that required the Garlic, Ginger combination to remove the Peanut Taste it was generally scooped out of the hot oil in the wok and discarded. One very common addition to many Fried Rices served is that often some rich Chicken or Pork Broth is added to enhance, moisturize and improve flavor to the Rice as it's being Fried under high heat in the Wok. It really makes a difference in the finished product.

Even in Seattle where I'm now living there are still several Restaurants that make the NYC Style Fried Rice and I personally prefer it to the Yangzhou Style served at most ethnic Chinese Restaurants.

The one type of Rice Dish that is popular in Shanghai Restaurants in Hong Kong and China that I haven't seen served in the States is the "Vegetable Rice" available at Dinner time that a favorite of Students, Vegetarians and many other customers. Has anyone else found this dish in America ?

Fried Rice is fun, make it your way, different every time. I never thought I could eat it made with Pineapple but now I've even seen Mexican Fried Rice.

Irwin :blink:

I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Day-old rice cooled to refrigerator temperature?? Shouldn't it be cooled to room temperature(not in a fridge)? Should the rice be uncovered or not, I'm not 100% sure(I've seen Chinese restaurants cool their rice uncovered, but maybe that's not the best way).

I'm not sure what temperature is required for retrogradation, but I assume it is refrigerator temperature. That's where I keep my leftover rice anyway. Not sure I'd want to eat cooked rice that had sat out at room temperature for 24 hours.

Thanks for your feedback. I was thinking of overnight(at room temperature).

-Steve

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

Nothing posted on this topic for a while, but I have a couple fresh questions that I haven’t seen mentioned before …

1) Wok Flame, and its role in getting classic NY-takeaway-style rice: I have a wok burner and a well seasoned wok, and have finally managed to get some serious flame action happening not just up the side of the wok but actually into the contents/inside the bowl of the wok itself. I’d been trying to make char hor fun/rice noodles, but could never ‘set them on fire’, even tho I always chuck in a bit of strong Chinese rice wine. I finally mastered it, by seriously tipping the wok full-on into the burner flame… I just hadn’t had the guts to tip it that far, but when I did, it did the trick. Exhilirating! (My wife would use another word …).

But now, when it comes to rice, it doesn’t seem right to add Rice Wine… so maybe “flame inside the bowl” isn’t required for the taste we’re all looking for? Seems like getting the flames actually inside would help get me closer, but the rice wine taste wouldn’t. What do you think?

2) Other question is about the egg… I’ve always found that when raw egg is added to rice, even in a hot wok, and then mixed in (even if allowed to set a bit), you get a sheen or gumminess to the rice, as the raw egg adheres to the rice and alters the texture. All the NY style rice I’ve had has been much "drier", and the egg a much more separate, solid component. But I see lots of suggestions to add the egg and mix it up with/into the rice, rather than cook a separate omelette and add it as its own ingredient, later.

Hope you have ideas, I am going to give it another go tonight. I have recreated lots of chinese recipes to great satisfaction, but never this all-important one. I know it can be done…

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nothing posted on this topic for a while, but I have a couple fresh questions that I haven’t seen mentioned before …

1) Wok Flame, and its role in getting classic NY-takeaway-style rice:  I have a wok burner and a well seasoned wok, and have finally managed to get some serious flame action happening not just up the side of the wok but actually into the contents/inside the bowl of the wok itself. I’d been trying to make char hor fun/rice noodles, but could never ‘set them on fire’, even tho I always chuck in a bit of strong Chinese rice wine. I finally mastered it, by seriously tipping the wok full-on into the burner flame… I just hadn’t had the guts to tip it that far, but when I did, it did the trick. Exhilirating! (My wife would use another word …).

I'm not sure what's your goal here. That feels quite wrong in terms of getting the desired texture. Fried rice is not a flambe, it's just what it sounds like. Fried. The proper American analogue is a hash.

The wok hay you see mentioned is *not* flame. A decentish literal translation is "the breath of the wok". A good analogy is properly done french fries. You want them right after they come out of the fryer, when they're so hot they nearly scorch your fingers, and you have that perfect balance between the crisp and the steam and the starch. French fries on fire, wrong. French fries sizzling hot and trying to burn you, just right. Note that as near as I can tell, all stir fried dishes should have wok hay if you're Cantonese. Not just fried rice.

2) Other question is about the egg… I’ve always found that when raw egg is added to rice, even in a hot wok, and then mixed in (even if allowed to set a bit), you get a sheen or gumminess to the rice, as the raw egg adheres to the rice and alters the texture. All the NY style rice I’ve had has been much "drier", and the egg a much more separate, solid component. But I see lots of suggestions to add the egg and mix it up with/into the rice, rather than cook a separate omelette and add it as its own ingredient, later. 

Your problem here is not enough heat. As it states earlier in the thread (and I can attest they're right from much experience), you need at least a 100,000 BTU wok burner to prepare restaurant style fried rice. You can come a *bit* closer with a 20,000 BTU burner and a heavy, preheated cast iron pan, but it will never be just like the dish as prepared on the higher output burner.

The raw egg added directly to the rice does work, if you have high enough heat. You end up with something rather like "velveted" rice grains. I've never managed the effect at home, tho it does work nicely one some restaurants' rice.

IME, you can prepare a fairly close to restaurant style fried rice at home on a low BTU burner in suitable quantities for one fairly small appetite. If you wish to feed more than one person, you're screwed. If you can live with home-style fried rice, then you're fine again.

Emily (who *does* use ginger, but only because ginger is a vegetable in her household, and of course you use extra veggies in your fried rice)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Similar Content

    • By liuzhou
      Sea fish in my local supermarket
       
       
      In the past I've started a few topics focusing on categorised food types I find in China. I’ve done
       
      Mushrooms and Fungi in China
       
      Chinese Vegetables Illustrated
       
      Sugar in China
       
      Chinese Herbs and Spices
       
      Chinese Pickles and Preserves
       
      Chinese Hams.
       
      I’ve enjoyed doing them as I learn a lot and I hope that some people find them useful or just interesting.
       
      One I’ve always resisted doing is Fish etc in China. Although it’s interesting and I love fish, it just felt too complicated. A lot of the fish and other marine animals I see here, I can’t identify, even if I know the local name. The same species may have different names in different supermarkets or wet markets. And, as everywhere, a lot of fish is simply mislabelled, either out of ignorance or plain fraud.
       
      However, I’ve decided to give it a go.
       
      I read that 60% of fish consumed in China is freshwater fish. I doubt that figure refers to fresh fish though. In most of China only freshwater fish is available. Seawater fish doesn’t travel very far inland. It is becoming more available as infrastructure improves, but it’s still low. Dried seawater fish is used, but only in small quantities as is frozen food in general. I live near enough the sea to get fresh sea fish, but 20 years ago when I lived in Hunan I never saw it. Having been brought up yards from the sea, I sorely missed it.
       
      I’ll start with the freshwater fish. Today, much of this is farmed, but traditionally came from lakes and rivers, as much still does. Most villages in the rural parts have their village fish pond. By far the most popular fish are the various members of the carp family with 草鱼 (cǎo yú) - Ctenopharyngodon idella - Grass Carp being the most raised and consumed. These (and the other freshwater fish) are normally sold live and every supermarket, market (and often restaurants) has ranks of tanks holding them.
       

      Supermarket Freshwater Fish Tanks

      You point at the one you want and the server nets it out. In markets, super or not, you can either take it away still wriggling or, if you are squeamish, the server will kill, descale and gut it for you. In restaurants, the staff often display the live fish to the table before cooking it.
       
      These are either steamed with aromatics – garlic, ginger, scallions and coriander leaf / cilantro being common – or braised in a spicy sauce or, less often, a sweet and sour sauce or they are simply fried. It largely depends on the region.
       
      Note that, in China, nearly all fish is served head on and on-the-bone.
       

      草鱼 (cǎo yú) - Ctenopharyngodon idella - grass carp
       
      More tomorrow.
    • By liuzhou
      Big Plate Chicken - 大盘鸡 (dà pán jī)
       

       
      This very filling dish of chicken and potato stew is from Xinjiang province in China's far west, although it is said to have been invented by a visitor from Sichuan. In recent years, it has become popular in cities across China, where it is made using a whole chicken which is chopped, with skin and on the bone, into small pieces suitable for easy chopstick handling. If you want to go that way, any Asian market should be able to chop the bird for you. Otherwise you may use boneless chicken thighs instead.

      Ingredients

      Chicken chopped on the bone or Boneless skinless chicken thighs  6

      Light soy sauce

      Dark soy sauce

      Shaoxing wine

      Cornstarch or similar. I use potato starch.

      Vegetable oil (not olive oil)

      Star anise, 4

      Cinnamon, 1 stick

      Bay leaves, 5 or 6

      Fresh ginger, 6 coin sized slices

      Garlic.  5 cloves, roughly chopped

      Sichuan peppercorns,  1 tablespoon

      Whole dried red chillies,   6 -10  (optional). If you can source the Sichuan chiles known as Facing Heaven Chiles, so much the better.

      Potatoes 2 or 3 medium sized. peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces

      Carrot. 1,  thinly sliced

      Dried wheat noodles.  8 oz. Traditionally, these would be a long, flat thick variety. I've use Italian tagliatelle successfully.    

      Red bell pepper. 1 cut into chunks

      Green bell pepper, 1 cut into chunks

      Salt

      Scallion, 2 sliced.
         
      Method

      First, cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and marinate in 1½ teaspoons light soy sauce, 3 teaspoons of Shaoxing and 1½ teaspoons of cornstarch. Set aside for about twenty minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

      Heat the wok and add three tablespoons cooking oil. Add the ginger, garlic, star anise, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, Sichuan peppercorns and chilies. Fry on a low heat for a  minute or so. If they look about to burn, splash a little water into your wok. This will lower the temperature slightly. Add the chicken and turn up the heat. Continue frying until the meat is nicely seared, then add the potatoes and carrots. Stir fry a minute more then add 2 teaspoons of the dark soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of the light soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of the Shaoxing wine along with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium. Cover and cook for around 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are done.

      While the main dish is cooking, cook the noodles separately according to the packet instructions.  Reserve  some of the noodle cooking water and drain.

      When the chicken and potatoes are done, you may add a little of the noodle water if the dish appears on the dry side. It should be saucy, but not soupy. Add the bell peppers and cook for three to four minutes more. Add scallions. Check seasoning and add some salt if it needs it. It may not due to the soy sauce and, if in the USA, Shaoxing wine.

      Serve on a large plate for everyone to help themselves from. Plate the noodles first, then cover with the meat and potato. Enjoy.
       
    • By liuzhou
      Way back in the 1990’s, I was living in west Hunan, a truly beautiful part of China. One day, some colleagues suggested we all go for lunch the next day, a Saturday. Seemed reasonable to me. I like a bit of lunch.
       
      “OK. We’ll pick you up at 7 am.”
       
      “Excuse me? 7 am for lunch?
       
      “Yes. We have to go by car.”
       
      Well, of course, they finally picked me up at 8.30, drove in circles for an hour trying to find the guy who knew the way, then headed off into the wilds of Hunan. We drove for hours, but the scenery was beautiful, and the thousand foot drops at the side of the crash barrier free road as we headed up the mountains certainly kept me awake.
       
      After an eternity of bad driving along hair-raising roads which had this old atheist praying, we stopped at a run down shack in the middle of nowhere. I assumed that this was a temporary stop because the driver needed to cop a urination or something, but no. This was our lunch venue.
       
      We shuffled into one of the two rooms the shack consisted of and I distinctly remember that one of my hosts took charge of the lunch ordering process.
       
      “We want lunch for eight.” There was no menu.
       
      The waitress, who was also the cook, scuttled away to the other room of the shack which was apparently a kitchen.
       
      We sat there for a while discussing the shocking rise in bean sprout prices and other matters of national importance, then the first dish turned up. A pile of steaming hot meat surrounded by steaming hot chillies. It was delicious.
       
      “What is this meat?” I asked.
       
      About half of the party spoke some English, but my Chinese was even worse than it is now, so communications weren’t all they could be. There was a brief (by Chinese standards) meeting and they announced:
       
      “It’s wild animal.”
       
      Over the next hour or so, several other dishes arrived. They were all piles of steaming hot meat surrounded by steaming hot chillies, but the sauces and vegetable accompaniments varied. And all were very, very good indeed.
       
      “What’s this one?” I ventured.
       
      “A different wild animal.”
       
      “And this?”
       
      “Another wild animal.”
       
      “And this?”
       
      “A wild animal which is not the wild animal in the other dishes”
       
      I wandered off to the kitchen, as you can do in rural Chinese restaurants, and inspected the contents of their larder, fridge, etc. No clues.
       
      I returned to the table with a bit of an idea.
       
      “Please write down the Chinese names of all these animals we have eaten. I will look in my dictionary when I get home.”
       
      They looked at each other, consulted, argued and finally announced:
       
      “Sorry! We don’t know in Chinese either. “
       
      Whether that was true or just a way to get out of telling me what I had eaten, I’ll never know. I certainly wouldn’t be able to find the restaurant again.
       
      This all took place way back in the days before digital cameras, so I have no illustrations from that particular meal. But I’m guessing one of the dishes was bamboo rat.
       
      No pandas or tigers were injured in the making of this post
       
    • By liuzhou
      Note: This follows on from the Munching with the Miao topic.
       
      The three-hour journey north from Miao territory ended up taking four, as the driver missed a turning and we had to drive on to the next exit and go back. But our hosts waited for us at the expressway exit and led us up a winding road to our destination - Buyang 10,000 mu tea plantation (布央万亩茶园 bù yāng wàn mǔ chá yuán) The 'mu' is  a Chinese measurement of area equal to 0.07 of a hectare, but the 10,000 figure is just another Chinese way of saying "very large".
       
      We were in Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County, where 57% of the inhabitants are Dong.
       
      The Dong people (also known as the Kam) are noted for their tea, love of glutinous rice and their carpentry and architecture. And their hospitality. They tend to live at the foot of mountains, unlike the Miao who live in the mid-levels.
       
      By the time we arrived, it was lunch time, but first we had to have a sip of the local tea. This lady did the preparation duty.
       

       

       
      This was what we call black tea, but the Chinese more sensibly call 'red tea'. There is something special about drinking tea when you can see the bush it grew on just outside the window!
       
      Then into lunch:
       

       

      Chicken Soup
       

      The ubiquitous Egg and Tomato
       

      Dried fish with soy beans and chilli peppers. Delicious.
       

      Stir fried lotus root
       

      Daikon Radish
       

      Rice Paddy Fish Deep Fried in Camellia Oil - wonderful with a smoky flavour, but they are not smoked.
       

      Out of Focus Corn and mixed vegetable
       

      Fried Beans
       

      Steamed Pumpkin
       

      Chicken
       

      Beef with Bitter Melon
       

      Glutinous (Sticky) Rice
       

      Oranges
       

      The juiciest pomelo ever. The area is known for the quality of its pomelos.
       
      After lunch we headed out to explore the tea plantation.
       

       

       

       

       
      Interspersed with the tea plants are these camellia trees, the seeds of which are used to make the Dong people's preferred cooking oil.
       

       
      As we climbed the terraces we could hear singing and then came across this group of women. They are the tea pickers. It isn't tea picking time, but they came out in their traditional costumes to welcome us with their call and response music. They do often sing when picking. They were clearly enjoying themselves.
       

       
      And here they are:
       
       
      After our serenade we headed off again, this time to the east and the most memorable meal of the trip. Coming soon.
       
       
    • By liuzhou
      It sometimes seems likes every town in China has its own special take on noodles. Here in Liuzhou, Guangxi the local dish is Luosifen (螺蛳粉 luó sī fěn).
       
      It is a dish of rice noodles served in a very spicy stock made from the local river snails and pig bones which are stewed for hours with black cardamom, fennel seed, dried tangerine peel, cassia bark, cloves, pepper, bay leaf, licorice root, sand ginger, and star anise. Various pickled vegetables, dried tofu skin, fresh green vegetables, peanuts and loads of chilli are then usually added. Few restaurants ever reveal their precise recipe, so this is tentative. Luosifen is only really eaten in small restaurants and roadside stalls. I've never heard of anyone making it at home.
       
      In order to promote tourism to the city, the local government organised a food festival featuring an event named "10,000 people eat luosifen together." (In Chinese 10,000 often just means "many".)
       
      10,000 people (or a lot of people anyway) gathered at Liuzhou International Convention and Exhibition Centre for the grand Liuzhou luosifen eat-in. Well, they gathered in front of the centre – the actual centre is a bleak, unfinished, deserted shell of a building. I disguised myself as a noodle and joined them. 10,001.
       

       
      The vast majority of the 10,000 were students from the local colleges who patiently and happily lined up to be seated. Hey, mix students and free food – of course they are happy.
       

       
      Each table was equipped with a basket containing bottled water, a thermos flask of hot water, paper bowls, tissues etc. And most importantly, a bunch of Luosifen caps. These read “万人同品螺蛳粉” which means “10,000 people together enjoy luosifen”
       

       
      Yep, that is the soup pot! 15 meters in diameter and holding eleven tons of stock. Full of snails and pork bones, spices etc. Chefs delicately added ingredients to achieve the precise, subtle taste required.
       

       
      Noodles were distributed, soup added and dried ingredients incorporated then there was the sound of 10,000 people slurping.
       

      Surrounding the luosifen eating area were several stalls selling different goodies. Lamb kebabs (羊肉串) seemed most popular, but there was all sorts of food. Here are few of the delights on offer.
       

      Whole roast lamb or roast chicken
       

      Lamb Kebabs
       

      Kebab spice mix – Cumin, chilli powder, salt and MSG
       

      Kebab stall
       

      Crab
       

      Different crab
       

      Sweet sticky rice balls
       

      Things on sticks
       

      Grilled scorpions
       

      Pig bones and bits
       

      Snails
       
      And much more.
       
      To be honest, it wasn’t the best luosifen I’ve ever eaten, but it was wasn’t the worst. Especially when you consider the number they were catering for. But it was a lot of fun. Which was the point.
       
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...