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.

Sign in to follow this  
hzrt8w

Pictorial: Secret Salt Baked Chicken

Recommended Posts

Secret Salt Baked Chicken (秘制鹽焗雞)

The classical Salt Baked Chicken calls for using parchment paper to wrap up a whole chicken, then bury it in a pot of coarse salt and simmer. Many modern restaurants choose to boil or steam the chicken instead because it's easier. Many Chinese restaurants advertise that they have their "secret recipes". I have my own secret recipe too. But I will reveal my secret to you! :biggrin:

I have tried making Salt Baked Chicken by baking the chicken in the oven. I want the skin to be a bit dry and crispy instead of the soft and fatty steamed version. Here is the result:

Picture of the finished dish:

gallery_19795_2134_14141.jpg

Serving Suggestion: 4 to 5

Preparations:

There is a special ingredient you need to make Salt Baked Chicken.

gallery_19795_2134_7354.jpg

It is a dry ginger powder made from a special species of ginger. In Cantonese, it is called "Sa Geung" (or literally means "Sand Ginger"). You can easily find them in Asian grocery markets. They may be translated as "Spicy Bake Mix". They are basically dry ginger powder mixed with salt and some MSG. "Sa Geung" has a very characteristic taste and smell.

This box contains 5 packs of "Spicy Bake Mix".

gallery_19795_2134_13891.jpg

To make this dish, you need to use 2 packs of the "Spicy Bake Mix". Take 2 small bowls. Use 1 1/2 packs of "Spicy Bake Mix" and divide them into 2 equal halves. Save the 1/2 pack to make the condiment.

Taste the "Spicy Bake Mix" and see if it is pre-mixed with salt. Some manufacturers do pre-mix it with salt. Some don't. If it is not pre-mixed with salt, add 2 tsp of salt in each bowl.

In one of the bowl, add 2 tsp of five spice powder and about 5 to 6 star anises. Break the star anises into small pieces. Mix the mixture well with a spoon.

gallery_19795_2134_21745.jpg

Use a whole chicken, about 4 pounds. Rub the mixture with five spice and star anise in the cavity of the chicken. Then rub the outside of the chicken with the plain "Spicy Bake Mix".

gallery_19795_2134_18029.jpg

Make sure the dry ginger powder is spread evenly on the surface of the chicken.

(Optional step):

If you want to chicken skin dry and crispy, use a rack to hold up the chicken. Place a small fan about 3 to 4 feet from the chicken and blow the chicken indirectly at low speed for a couple of hours. (See next picture)

Cooking Instructions:

gallery_19795_2134_1598.jpg

Place the chicken on a rack. Place it in the oven with a pan of water underneath to keep the chicken moist.

gallery_19795_2134_24080.jpg

Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the chicken to keep it moist.

Set the oven to bake at 325F for 1 hour 30 minutes.

gallery_19795_2134_5834.jpg

Meanwhile, make the condiment. Ingredients: Use about 3 to 4 stalks of green onions, 1 large piece of fresh ginger (about 3 to 4 inch in length), the remaining 1/2 pack of "Spicy Bake Mix", and 2 - 3 tsp of sugar (not shown).

gallery_19795_2134_426.jpg

Finely chop the green onions. Grate the ginger. Place them in a bowl.

gallery_19795_2134_13646.jpg

Use a small pot/pan and heat up a generous 4 tblsp of cooking oil. Wait until oil starts fuming. Quickly pour the fuming oil onto the bown of green onions and ginger.

gallery_19795_2134_10923.jpg

Add the 1/2 pack of "Spicy Bake Mix". (If the "Spicy Bake Mix" is not pre-mixed with salt, add 1 tsp of salt.) Add 2 - 3 tsp of sugar. Mix well.

gallery_19795_2134_19705.jpg

The condiment is now ready. Scoop into small dishes to serve at dinner table.

gallery_19795_2134_6723.jpg

After 1 hour 30 minutes of baking at 325F, remove the aluminum foil. Turn up the oven to 400F. Continue to bake for another 30 minutes. This will dry up and brown the outer skin of the chicken a bit.

gallery_19795_2134_14141.jpg

Picture of the finished dish. The skin is slightly cripsy and the chicken meat is moist and succulent - just the way I want it.

gallery_19795_2134_4948.jpg

Carve the chicken at dinner table, or chop it up with a cleaver.


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah Leung:

Browning the Chicken is brilliant, I can only mention one word for my opinion.

--------" BRAVO !"----------

I have been eating this dish for many years, always felt it needed just a little more to make it even better. Since it's often served cold, your way makes it into a superior "Roasted Salt Chicken" that will have a deliciously salty crisp skin.

Since the bird isn't brined, it will be jucier inside, but very tasty outside.

Thank you,

Irwin


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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What a good Si Low you are, Ah Leung!

You just gave me the solution to Xmas dinner. I am in charge of the turkey this year, but I want it to be different. So, this should work with a small turkey, say 8 lbs. Cooking time will be different, of course. I love the idea of the crispy skin. :wub: Then, I will also do a 12 lb. turkey the traditional way, for some of the "out-laws" who will insist on traditional. :rolleyes:

I might even use an eight pound chicken instead of small turkey. Would the turkey be drier because of the salt?

I see you roasted the bird breast side down. This sure keeps the breast meat moist. Funny, in the past, it's always been "roast the bird breast side up"in many cookbooks.

I just emailed my niece in Vancouver to send me some of the spice packets you used. Hopefully, she will find it there and send them with the Xmas package. They usually send days before Xmas.

I have small packets of spices for salty chicken, but I'm not sure if it contains the same ingredients. I used it in the dinner for the visiting profs.


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you, Ah Leung. It looks fabulous. I'm going to have to print out a picture of the "Sa Geung" bag so I can find it easily. The condiment is also a favorite too--I'll have to pass the recipe along to my mom and brother because they can't get enough of that stuff.


Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for sharing your secret ingredients with us. :biggrin:

Another clean, precise pictorial that clarifies the cooking steps for the rest of us who didn’t grew up on Cantonese cooking.

It is a lot easier to see the steps in photo than to try to follow it from a cookbook.

Is there a name for the condiment? It seems to be a standard dipping sauce for many Cantonese Chicken dishes.

Also, waht is the difference between Cantonese Salt Roast Chicken vs. Hakka style Dongjiang (East River) Salt Rosted Chicken?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Is there a name for the condiment? It seems to be a standard dipping sauce for many Cantonese Chicken dishes.

Also, what is the difference between Cantonese Salt Roast Chicken vs. Hakka style Dongjiang (East River) Salt Rosted Chicken?

Thank you Irwin, Dejah Dai Ga Jeah, Karen and William.

This dip is typically called, with the lack of any creative terms, 蔥油 "Chung Yau" in Cantonese. Literally it means Green Onion Oil. I am not sure why the ginger is not mentioned, though it is 60% to 80% of the ingredient. It is a very common condiment accompanying the "white cut chicken". Typically they make it with chopped green onion, grated ginger and salt only. Over the years, I found that adding some "Sa Geung" (Sandy Ginger powder) and sugar would enhance the taste tremendously. Even when ordering Soy Sauce Chicken, sometimes the waiters would bring this green onion and ginger condiment with it. If you don't make Salt Baked Chicken, just make some of this condiment and eat it with rice. It tastes wonderful.

Cantonese versus Hakka: I don't know what the difference is. Perhaps Cantonese learned the Salt Baked Chicken from Hakka people????? Not sure.

One thing I haven't done is to try basting this chicken dish. Basting it with some mixture made from malt sugar, water, vinegar and honey in the last 1/2 hour would make it even "browner" and crispier. I am not if it is "appropriate" for this Salt Baked Chicken, but if one likes a really cripsy skin...

Even my MIL, who is usually very critical of my cooking, accepted this dish with a praise. That's my ultimate compliment. :biggrin:


Edited by hzrt8w (log)

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You just gave me the solution to Xmas dinner. I am in charge of the turkey this year, but I want it to be different. So, this should work with a small turkey, say 8 lbs. Cooking time will be different, of course. I love the idea of the crispy skin. :wub:  Then, I will also do a 12 lb. turkey the traditional way, for some of the "out-laws" who will insist on traditional. :rolleyes:

I might even use an eight pound chicken instead of small turkey. Would the turkey be drier because of the salt?

I have always tinkered with the idea of making a Salt Baked Turkey, though I have not tried it. Turkey meat is very thick. Rubbing on the outside and inside may not reach the majority of the meat. Thus only the skin-side or the inside would be tasty with the Sandy Ginger powder. I have one idea: My BIL bought a big turkey-marination syringe one year and that method worked pretty well to keep the turkey meat flavored and moist. In addition to rubbing on the cavity and the outside of the turkey, use 1-2 packs of "Spicy Bake Mix" and dissolve it with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water. Feed the mixture into the syringe. Use the syringe to inject into the meat in a dozen places: mainly around breast and thighs. This should infuse the salty and gingery taste into the turkey meat and keep it moist.

Just my theoretical cooking. Not sure if you would experiment on a family Christmas dinner. :hmmm:


Edited by hzrt8w (log)

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[...]Even my MIL, who is usually very critical of my cooking, accepted this dish with a praise.  That's my ultimate compliment.  :biggrin:

It would be fascinating if she became a member of eGullet and posted her own versions of all these dishes.


Michael aka "Pan

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Even my MIL, who is usually very critical of my cooking, accepted this dish with a praise.  That's my ultimate compliment.  :biggrin:

For all of us with Mother-in-Laws, can I request a detail pictorial with precise instructions as how to achieve this? :biggrin:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great looking results, Ah Leung. I have made this three times this year, BUT I just trussed the bird as watertight as possible after "stuffing" and make a "nest" in 5-7 lbs. of preheated coarse salt that is in an all metal pot, or wok. Then I lightly moisten the bird with water (no wrapping) and put it into the nest, cover and bake for the required time. When done, use two sturdy spatulas and lift the bird out onto a plate, brush off the loose salt. The salt that is next to the skin has formed a crust, which you would peel away and discard, leaving a crisp, dry skin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I poach as for 'white-cut' chicken, leaving it notably underdone, then joint and debone. I heat the (coarse)salt until grey, cool a bit then add peanut oil, sesame oil , heat up then add some of the poaching liquid and sajiang. I've never come across it with added salt and MSG here. I add the chicken, legs first, then when it's thoroughly cooked I slice the chicken and turn onto a plate lined with green onion and coriander. It's very good, but only when made with an expensive organic chicken.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Secret Salt Baked Chicken (秘制鹽焗雞)

Addendum:

With this recipe, one can steam the chicken instead of baking in oven. The method and ingredients for marination are still the same. The whole chicken can be steamed for 20 to 25 minutes (I think). Check for doneness with a sharp long fork. If no pink juice runs out, it's done. If not, continue to steam a little longer.


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Great looking results, Ah Leung. I have made this three times this year, BUT I just trussed the bird as watertight as possible after "stuffing" and make a "nest" in 5-7 lbs. of preheated coarse salt that is in an all metal pot, or wok. Then I lightly moisten the bird with water (no wrapping) and put it into the nest, cover and bake for the required time.  When done, use two sturdy spatulas and lift the bird out onto a plate, brush off the loose salt. The salt that is next to the skin has formed a crust, which you would peel away and discard, leaving a crisp, dry skin.

Ben:

Your method is very similar to that used by the "Hakka Restaurants" traditionally in Hong Kong for their "Baked Salted Chicken".

They all have special pans made for just this purpose where they can prepare as many as 6/8 whole Chickens at once. The top of the pans are hinged to keep most of the moisture inside while cooking.

They don't stuff or truss the Birds, but do hang them for several hours to completely dry and set adjacent to a fan, before seasoning them with the Ginger Powder, spraying on some water to moisten the powder, mixed with oil and setting them up in the salt nest for cooking.

In a busy Restaurant it's not unusual to see 8 or 10 pans stacked in a Baking Closet used for this purpose.

Irwin


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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Irwin, I must say that I airdry without trussing just as often as stuffing and trussing. But if I don't truss, salt gets into the cavity if one is not careful and it becomes too salty. In any case, moistening the skin and burying the bird in hot salt is a fool proof method.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Irwin, I must say that I airdry without trussing just as often as stuffing and  trussing. But if I don't truss, salt gets into the cavity if one is not careful and it becomes too salty. In any case, moistening the skin and burying the bird in hot salt is a fool proof method.

Ben, In most Restaurants in Hong Kong the Chickens are only cooked until they are still pink fleshed, often bloody by the bones then allowed to set, cool to room temperature until being served. This results in the Breast Meat sill being pinkish, while the darker meats may be closer to medium.

Since the Poultry is cooked for a shorter time, plus the birds are crowded into the special cooking pot it's likely that they don't absorb as much salt. The type of Salt used is in larger crystals then Kosher Salt, almost as large as Rock Salt, chosen because it doesn't break down as quickly and can often be used several times for the process before being discarded.

I have a friend who operates a Restaurant in Seattle from Toysan who is interested in making a special menu featuring Toysan Dishes, he needs some recommendations of items that will appeal to his regular customers as well as those from the Toysan Community. His Restaurant is located in a more upscale area then the International District so draws less Chinese customers, but many foodies. Appetizers, Snacks, Entrees ?

Irwin


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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have a friend who operates a Restaurant in Seattle from Toysan who is interested in making a special menu featuring Toysan Dishes, he needs some recommendations of items that will appeal to his regular customers as well as those from the Toysan Community. His Restaurant is located in a more upscale area then the International District so draws less Chinese customers, but many foodies. Appetizers, Snacks, Entrees ?

This is a great topic for discussion in its own thread. I have created a new thread to continue this discussion so it won't be buried under this "Salt Baked Chicken" recipe.


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This business of chicken served pink at the bone is worthy of comment. For the salt-baked chicken and particularly the deep fried crispy chicken it seems essential, but though I buy the very best chickens I can, people are scared, so I cook it a bit more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This business of chicken served pink at the bone is worthy of comment. For the salt-baked chicken and particularly the deep fried crispy chicken it seems essential, but though I buy the very best chickens I can, people are scared, so I cook it a bit more.

I run into a lot of my fellow American Caucasians who are squeamish about any hint of pink in cooked chicken. Even when it has nothing to do with the chickens being "undercooked" -- i.e. the bones of younger chickens often leak a little red out of the marrow -- I've seen some people just refuse to touch it, no matter how much I explain that the chicken's perfectly safe. Myself, I confess I find their fears a bit over-the-top, but hey, I guess that just leaves more "dangerous" chicken for me. :biggrin:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah Leung,

I made your recipe for salt baked chicken as part of the Choy family Xmas dinner, along with the traditional turkey on Dec 26. It turned out beautifully. Wish I had taken a picture, but my camera was at my brother's house, and I was cutting up the chicken at MY house. :rolleyes:

I used an 8 lb chicken and 3 small packets of the spice mix. The chicken was seasoned, then rested for a day in my fridge-like garage where the skin dried up somewhat.

I roasted the chicken according to your times, and it was perfect even tho' the chicken was twice as big as the one you used. My Mom was pleased with the flavour and the tenderness. There was one leg and thigh remaining after supper, so it was left for her supper the next day.

I also made the ginger dipping sauce. My s-i-l gave it 2 thumbs up.

Thanks, Si-low for the make again recipe.

Next, on to Ben Sook's method!


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For an even tastier Chung Yau, try using melted chicken or duck fat in place of the oil. :) I use poultry fat saved from my stock making, which has a discernable taste of herbs and it REALLY puts it over the top. :)

cheers, JH

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just saw an old episode of "Martin Yan's Chinatown" [2003] series, in which he visited a chef who illustrated how to make "salt baked chicken":

- First marinate the cavity of the chicken with five spice powder and salt mix.

- Wrap the whole chicken in a large sheet of parchment paper.

- Place the chicken/paper-wrap in a large clay pot. Fill the whole pot with table salt.

- Put the clay pot in an over and bake for a couple of hours. (My guess is about 325F)

That's it! Seems quite easy!


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
gallery_19795_2134_4948.jpg

Carve the chicken at dinner table, or chop it up with a cleaver.

Eeeesh Ah Leung, and I thought that I sucked at chopping poultry!!!! :laugh:

Seriously though i hope you've improved since this picture was taken. My family would scold me if i'd chopped this no matter how tasty it was.

I consider myself only a competent chopper so at big family gatherings it would be my mum or my aunt who'd be called on first to "Jaam Gai" or "Jaam Ap"!! It takes a lot of skill and experience to neatly portion each piece without destroying the skin. Also to go through the leg bones without splintering them. They make it look so fast & easy, a quick flick of the wrist - but there's years of timing in there! Of course, I always offer first to do it but they look at me as if i'm joking. "But how can i improve my technique?" i say, "not this time, practise in your own home" they reply!! They're right of course, it's easy to ruin the final dish with poor chopping. As easy to chip teeth on loose bone splinters.

What gets me is that my mum chops poultry better using a cheap veggie slicer on a wonky board than me with my waterstone sharpened heavy cleaver on my lovely end-grain chopping block!!! Definitely an ongoing and ever developing skill to master :biggrin:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Eeeesh Ah Leung, and I thought that I sucked at chopping poultry!!!!  :laugh: 

Well... how can you do a good chopping job if your MIL insists to place the chopping block ON THE FLOOR and you have to kneel down to do it... because FIL thinks chopping chicken on the kitchen counter will ruin the ceramic tiles? :sad::laugh::laugh:


Edited by hzrt8w (log)

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well... how can you do a good chopping job if your MIL insists to place the chopping block ON THE FLOOR and you have to kneel down to do it... because FIL thinks chopping chicken on the kitchen counter will ruin the ceramic tiles?  :sad:  :laugh:  :laugh:

Gosh, it's must be like some kinda Chinese-genetic-memory-DNA-meme-thingy. My mum always chops poultry ON THE FLOOR too! Says that she doesn't want to loosen the counter top :biggrin:

Me? I can't squat for jack!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By SusieQ
      Hello all, I need help figuring out which part of the sichuan peppercorns I bought to use. From what I've read, I think I'm supposed to use the hulls rather than the black seeds. Toast the hulls and grind them up, correct?  This is for use in my fave dish, mapo tofu. Thanks for your help! 
       
      (Well, that didn't work. I guess I don't know how to upload a photo. Nuts. Maybe I don't need a photo? Maybe just tell me whether to use the hulls or the black seeds, or both?)
    • By liuzhou
      While there have been other Chinese vegetable topics in the past, few of them were illustrated And some which were have lost those images in various "upgrades".
       
      What I plan to do is photograph every vegetable I see and say what it is, if I know. However, this is a formidable task so it'll take time. The problem is that so many vegetables go under many different Chinese names and English names adopted from one or other Chinese language, too. For example, I know four different words for 'potato' and know there are more. And there are multiple regional preference in nomenclature. Most of what you will see will be vegetables from supermarkets, where I can see the Chinese labelling. In "farmer's" or wet markets, there is no labelling and although, If I ask, different traders will have different names for the same vegetable. Many a time I've been supplied a name, but been unable to find any reference to it from Mr Google or his Chinese counterparts. Or if I find the Chinese, can't find an accepted translation so have to translate literally.
       
      Also, there is the problem that most of the names which are used in the English speaking countries have, for historical reasons, been adopted from Cantonese, whereas 90% of Chinese speak Mandarin (普通话 pǔ tōng huà). But I will do my best to supply as many alternative names as I can find. I shall also attempt to give Chinese names in simplified Chinese characters as used throughout mainland China and then in  traditional Chinese characters,  now mainly only used in Hong Kong, Taiwan and among much of the Chinese diaspora. If I only give one version, that means they are the same in Simp and Trad.
       
      I'll try to do at least one a day. Until I collapse under the weight of vegetation.
       
      Please, if you know any other names for any of these, chip in. Also, please point out any errors of mine.
       
      I'll start with bok choy/choy. This is and alternatives such as  pak choi or pok choi are Anglicised attempts at the Cantonese pronunciation of the Mandarin! However in Cantonese it is more often 紹菜; Jyutping: siu6 coi3. In Chinese it is 白菜. Mandarin Pinyin 'bái cài'. This literally means 'white vegetable' but really just means 'cabbage' and of course there are many forms of cabbage. Merely asking for bái cài in many a Chinese store or restaurant will be met with blank stares and requests to clarify. From here on I'm just going to translate 白菜 as 'cabbage'.

      So, here we go.


       
      Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis
       
      This is what you may be served if you just ask for baicai. Or maybe not. In much of China it is 大白菜 dà bái cài meaning 'big cabbage'. In English, usually known as Napa cabbage, Chinese cabbage, celery cabbage, Chinese leaf, etc.  In Chinese, alternative names include 结球白菜 / 結球白菜 ( jié qiú bái cài ), literally knotted ball cabbage, but there are many more. 
       
      This cabbage is also frequently pickled and becomes  known as 酸菜 (Mand: suān cài; Cant: syun1 coi3) meaning 'sour vegetable', although this term is also used to refer to pickled mustard greens.
       

      Pickled cabbage.
       
    • By liuzhou
      Perhaps the food-related question I get asked most through my blog is “What's it like for vegetarians and vegans in China. The same question came up recently on another thread, so I put this together. Hope it's useful. It would also, be great to hear other people's experience and solutions.
       
      For the sake of typing convenience I’m going to conflate 'vegetarians and vegan' into just 'vegetarian' except where strictly relevant.
      First a declaration of non-interest. I am very carnivorous, but I have known vegetarians who have passed through China, some staying only a few weeks, others staying for years.
       
      Being vegetarian in China is a complicated issue. In some ways, China is probably one of the best countries in which to be vegetarian. In other ways, it is one of the worst.
       
      I spent a couple of years in Gorbachev-era Russia and saw the empty supermarkets and markets. I saw people line up for hours to buy a bit of bread.. So, when I first came to China, I kind of expected the same. Instead, the first market I visited astounded me. The place was piled high with food, including around 30 different types of tofu, countless varieties of steamed buns and flat breads and scores of different vegetables, both fresh and preserved, most of which I didn't recognise. And so cheap I could hardly convert into any western currency.
      If you are able to self-cater then China is heaven for vegetarians. For short term visitors dependent on restaurants or street food, the story is very different.
       
      Despite the perception of a Buddhist tradition (not that strong, actually), very few Chinese are vegetarian and many just do not understand the concept. Explaining in a restaurant that you don't eat meat is no guarantee that you won't be served meat.
       
      Meat is seen in China as a status symbol. If you are rich, you eat more meat.And everyone knows all foreigners are rich, so of course they eat meat! Meat eating is very much on the rise as China gets more rich - even to the extent of worrying many economists, food scientists etc. who fear the demand is pushing up prices and is environmentally dangerous. But that's another issue. Obesity is also more and more of a problem.
      Banquet meals as served in large hotels and banquet dedicated restaurants will typically have a lot more meat dishes than a smaller family restaurant. Also the amount of meat in any dish will be greater in the banquet style places.
       
      Traditional Chinese cooking is/was very vegetable orientated. I still see my neighbours come home from the market with their catch of greenery every morning. However, whereas meat wasn't the central component of dinner, it was used almost as a condiment or seasoning. Your stir fried tofu dish may come with a scattering of ground pork on top, for example. This will not usually be mentioned on the menu.
      Simple stir fried vegetables are often cooked in lard (pig fat) to 'improve' the flavour.
       
      Another problem is that the Chinese word for meat (肉), when used on its own refers to pork. Other meats are specified, eg (beef) is 牛肉, literally cattle meat. What this means is that when you say you don't eat meat, they often think you mean you don't eat pork (something they do understand from the Chinese Muslim community), so they rush off to the kitchen and cook you up some stir fried chicken! I've actually heard a waitress saying to someone that chicken isn't meat. Also, few Chinese wait staff or cooks seem to know that ham is pig meat. I have also had a waitress argue ferociously with me that the unasked for ham in a dish of egg fried rice wasn't meat.
       
      Also, Chinese restaurant dishes are often given have really flowery, poetic names which tell you nothing of the contents. Chinese speakers have to ask. One dish on my local restaurant menu reads “Maternal Grandmother's Fluttering Fragrance.” It is, of course, spicy pork ribs!
      Away from the tourist places, where you probably don't want to be eating anyway, very few restaurants will have translations of any sort. Even the best places' translations will be indecipherable. I have been in restaurants where they have supplied an “English menu”, but if I didn't know Chinese would have been unable to order anything. It was gibberish.
       
      To go back to Buddhism and Taoism, it is a mistake to assume that genuine followers of either (or more usually a mix of the two) are necessarily vegetarian. Many Chinese Buddhists are not. In fact, the Dalai Lama states in his autobiography that he is not vegetarian. It would be very difficult to survive in Tibet on a vegetarian diet.
       
      There are vegetarian restaurants in many places (although the ones around where I am never seem to last more than six months). In the larger cities such as Beijing and Shanghai they are more easily findable.
       
      Curiously, many of these restaurants make a point of emulating meat dishes. The menu reads like any meat using restaurant, but the “meat” is made from vegetable substitutes (often wheat gluten or konjac based).
       
      To be continued
    • By liuzhou
      It is possibly not well-known that China has some wonderful hams, up there with the best that Spain can offer. This lack of wide -knowledge, at least in the USA, is mainly down to regulations forbidding their importation. However, for travellers to China and those in  places with less restrictive policies, here are some of the best.
       
      This article from the WSJ is a good introduction to one of the best - Xuanwei Ham 宣威火腿  (xuān wēi huǒ tuǐ) from Yunnan province.
      This Ingredient Makes Everything Better
      I can usually obtain Xuanwei ham here around the Chinese New Year/Spring Festival, but I also have a good friend who lives in Yunnan who sends me regular supplies. The article compares it very favourably with jamon iberico, a sentiment with which I heartily agree.



      Xuanwei Ham
       

      Xuanwei Ham
       
      more coming soon.
       
       
    • By liuzhou
      I have just returned home to China from an almost two week trip to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. To get there I first travelled by train to the provincial capital, Nanning. The local airport only does domestic flights, whereas there are direct flights from Nanning. The flight time required that I stay overnight at the Aviation Hotel in Nanning, from which there is a regular direct bus to the airport.
       
      The trip to Nanning is about an hour and a half and passes through some nice karst scenery.
       
       
      After booking into the hotel, I set off for my favourite Nanning eating destination. Zhongshan Night market is a well known spot and very popular with the locals. I had forgotten that it was a local holiday - the place is always busy, but that night it was exceptionally so.
       

       

       
      It consists of one long street with hundreds of stalls and is basically a seafood market, although there are a few stalls selling alternatives.
       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       
      Filled myself with seafood (and some of that blood sausage above), slept soundly and, next morning, flew to Ho Chi Minh City.
       

       

       
      The rest of my trip can be seen here:
       
       
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...