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.

Cooking a western meal for Chinese grandmother


Recommended Posts

Congratultions, Kent! What a wonderful gift from you to your family!

Not only did you provide them with special new foods, but you also shared the cooking experience with your Mom and aunt.

WELL DONE!

I'm sure your Grandmother was very proud of her grandson.

Edited by Dejah (log)

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well done, Kent. This was not an easy task for so many reasons. The unfamiliar kitchen, the limited grocery supplies, and least of all the need to bridge the gap between the cooking style of the new generation with that of the established family cooking tradition.

I can relate to this challange. When I am visiting with my family I am anxious to share with them my new culinary favorites but am mindful of what flavors and textures will appeal to their well-established palettes.

Bravo, you should be very proud of yourself!

ps Despite your warning about the labor-intensiveness, I think I'm going to have to try to make those shrimp!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for getting back to us, and I, too, am glad your meal was a success!

I'm a little surprised at your relatives' acceptance of a salad of raw, unpickled vegetables. I tried to avoid all raw unpickled vegetables when I was in China. What was your source for the raw vegetables?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Congratulations Kent. Well done!

It's interesting to see your family/relatives use chopsticks to eat penne pasta, crab cakes and deviled eggs... in bowls. :biggrin:

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
Link to post
Share on other sites
ps Despite your warning about the labor-intensiveness, I think I'm going to have to try to make those shrimp!

I think it's a better alternative to the more popular -- at least in America -- bacon-wrapped shrimp as the prosciutto is much thinner and will shrink and bind to the shrimp. Bacon-wrapped shrimp, in my experience, often results in undercooked bacon with overcooked shrimp.

Were you as exhausted, physically and mentally, as I imagine you must have been at the end of that day?

I took a nap afterwards.

I'm a little surprised at your relatives' acceptance of a salad of raw, unpickled vegetables. I tried to avoid all raw unpickled vegetables when I was in China. What was your source for the raw vegetables?

I bought the pre-mixed salad greens from Carrefour. We went to several other dinners at restaurants that served raw vegetable salads and no one seemed to have any compunctions about eating them. Perhaps this is less of a problem in the big cities?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Congratulations and well done! That was a wonderful thing that you did - it was a true labor of love. You should be very proud of having pulled off such a great meal so well, but I think no one will be more proud than your grandmother and your mother. You have certainly given them a lot of face.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You did it! And like a pro!

Imagine -- Italian pasta and chopsticks! The twain has met!

I was surprised at the yellow cherry tomatoes. What would the Chinese use them for? (eating, of course, but how -- what kind of dishes?)

Link to post
Share on other sites
Imagine -- Italian pasta and chopsticks!  The twain has met!

I was surprised at the yellow cherry tomatoes. What would the Chinese use them for? (eating, of course, but how -- what kind of dishes?)

I always eat my pasta and salads with chopsticks. I find that they're more efficient.

I think the cherry tomatoes are eaten like fruit. My aunt one day bought home a bunch and laid it out on our fruit counter -- it's just a counter on which we always leave some fruit as a snack.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Congrats on wonderful dinner; I'm glad they enjoyed it. One of my fondest memories is of my sister and I cooking a few dinners for my grandparents from Austria when they visited the US. Food in Austria is/was always cooked by her and over here it was usually my Mom or Aunt cooking for them. It was very nice to "give back" in this way which wasn't easy to do on a regular basis with all of us spread out geographically. The food differences aren't as great, but we also had fun in coming up with a menu that would be special and different but not *too* different for them.

How did the stuffed eggs go over?

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

Link to post
Share on other sites

Kent -- would you mind explaining the actual cooking routine? Having just a two-burner stove, a microwave and a rice cooker is a little scary. I've cooked meals in a boat galley -- but not for 15!

Link to post
Share on other sites
How did the stuffed eggs go over?

I think they were well liked, as far as I could tell. The Kewpie mayo adds a lot of sweetness and lightness to the yolks.

Kent -- would you mind explaining the actual cooking routine?  Having just a two-burner stove, a microwave and a rice cooker is a little scary.  I've cooked meals in a boat galley -- but not for 15!

The burners were the bottleneck so their use had to be well planned for. The order went something like this:

cook miso soup

bring stock to boil and hold for the risotto

cook risotto

make roux

cook mushroom sauce, add roux

cook penne, combine with sauce

steam fish

fry crabcakes

fry shrimp

The dishes that kept well, temperature-wise, were done first. Of course I enjoy risotto and penne hot off the stove but I had to hold them for a while while I finished the rest of the dishes.

All the chopping I did as early as I could, before I started up any of the burners. You can never have too much mis-en-place.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Similar Content

    • By liuzhou
      I've recently become aware of the existence of this chain of Xi'an restaurants in NewYork. Are there more elsewhere?
       
      They were recenty referenced in a BBC article about biang biang noodles.
       
    • By liuzhou
      Following my posting a supermarket bought roast rabbit in the Dinner topic, @Anna N expressed her surprise at my local supermarkets selling such things just like in the west supermarkets sell rotisserie chickens. I promised to photograph the pre-cooked food round these parts.

      I can't identify them all, so have fun guessing!



      Rabbit
       

      Chicken x 2
       

       

       

      Duck
       

       

       

      Chicken feet
       

      Duck Feet
       

      Pig's Ear
       

       

      Pork Intestine Rolls
       

       

      Stewed River Snails
       

      Stewed Duck Feet (often served with the snails above)


       

      Beef
       

      Pork
       

      Beijing  Duck gets its own counter.
       
      More pre-cooked food to come. Apologies for some bady lit images - I guess the designers didn't figure on nosy foreigners inspecting the goods and disseminating pictures worldwide.
    • 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.
       
      In 2016, a purple variety of napa cabbage was bred in Korea and that has been introduced to China as 紫罗兰白菜 (zǐ luó lán bái cài) - literally 'violet cabbage'.
       

      Purple Napa (Boy Choy)
       
    • By liuzhou
      Yesterday, an old friend sent me a picture of her family dinner, which she prepared. She was never much of a cook, so I was a bit surprised. It's the first I've seen her cook in 25 years. Here is the spread.
       

       
      I immediately zoomed in on one dish - the okra.
       

       
      For the first 20-odd years I lived in China, I never saw okra - no one knew what it was. I managed to find its Chinese name ( 秋葵 - qiū kuí) in a scientific dictionary, but that didn't help. I just got the same blank looks.
       
      Then about 3 years ago, it started to creep into a few supermarkets. At first, they stocked the biggest pods they could find - stringy and inedible - but they worked it out eventually. Now okra is everywhere.

      I cook okra often, but have never seen it served in China before (had it down the road in Vietnam, though) and there are zero recipes in any of my Chinese language cookbooks. So, I did the sensible thing and asked my friend how she prepared it. Here is her method.
       
      1. First bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the washed okra and boil for two minutes. Drain.

      2. Top and tail the pods. Her technique for that is interesting.
       

      3. Finely mince garlic, ginger, red chilli and green onion in equal quantities. Heat oil and pour over the prepared garlic mix. Add a little soy sauce.
       

      4. Place garlic mix over the okra and serve.
       
       
      When I heard step one, I thought she was merely blanching the vegetable, but she assures me that is all the cooking it gets or needs, but she did say she doesn't like it too soft.

      Also, I should have mentioned that she is from Hunan province so the red chilli is inevitable.
       
      Anyway, I plan to make this tomorrow. I'm not convinced, but we'll see.
       
      to be continued
       
       
    • By missdipsy
      Two of my family members are pescetarian, one of whom is my picky daughter who only likes a few types of fish cooked in very specific ways so to all intents and purposes is mostly vegetarian. Many Chinese soup recipes involve meat or fish, or at least meat broth, so I'd love to find a few more recipes that would suit my whole family (I also don't eat much pork as it doesn't always agree with me, and a lot of soups involve pork so this is also for my benefit!). Vegetarian would be best, or pescetarian soups that are not obviously seafood based (I could get away with sneaking a small amount of dried shrimp in, for instance, but not much more than that!).
       
      Any kind of soup will do, although I'd particularly like some simple recipes that could be served alongside a multi-dish meal. But I'm always interested in new recipes so any good soup recipes would be welcome!
       
      Any suggestions?
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...