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It's a Hot, Hot, Hot, Hot World (1963)


hzrt8w
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I love hot sauces of all kinds, but mainly the Asian types of hot sauce. I am not used to American types of hot sauce, such as Tobasco and the likes, because they are too sour for me.

This is unusual for a Cantonese, as we typically avoid eating hot food. This habit only started in my college days. Perhaps that's the result of working in a few Sichuan/Beijing (the so-called "Imperial" style) restaurants. :biggrin:

Hot sauces are a little bit like wines, in that there are different types that would go well with different types of food. Some are good with wonton noodle soup, some are good as condiments for stir-fries, some are good with cheung fun, and some are good for cooking only.

A recent trip to the 99 Ranch Market, I walked down the isle that showed all kinds of Chinese hot sauces. I thought I was in heaven! :biggrin:

Here are some of the hot sauces that are interesting:

gallery_19795_2817_31696.jpg

Ning Chi. This is a Taiwanese made. Chili with black bean sauce on the left. Chili with garlic on the right.

gallery_19795_2817_17813.jpg

These are "hot oil" (La You), mostly hot oil with a bit of garlic and chili.

gallery_19795_2817_7442.jpg

These are hot sauce "paste". Typically used as condiments in Vietnamese food (e.g. Pho and Vietnamese BBQ).

gallery_19795_2817_39348.jpg

Similar hot sauce "paste". Popular with Southeast Asian food.

gallery_19795_2817_42090.jpg

Many Chinese hot sauces. Typically these are quite salty and not suitable to be used as condiment. They can be used for cooking.

gallery_19795_2817_22963.jpg

This hot sauce is typically added to "Cheung Fun" (steamed rice noodles).

gallery_19795_2817_14710.jpg

Similar ones but other varieties: sweet chili garlic sauce, sweet chili sauce. They are hot and sweet.

gallery_19795_2817_56635.jpg

Sichuan hot sauce... in cans! Good for cooking for sure. I wonder if they are good as condiments.

gallery_19795_2817_27645.jpg

The famous Guilin style hot sauce. In Guilin, most use this to accompany their rice noodle dishes.

gallery_19795_2817_29311.jpg

Out of many hot sauces that I have tried, I have come to this conclusion: my personal most favorite brand is: Yank Sing Chili Pepper Sauce and Yank Sing XO Sauce. Yes they are made by the San Francisco famous Yank Sing dim sum restaurant inside the Rincon Center in downtown San Francisco. But I have known them over 20 years ago when Yank Sing was a small neighborhood restaurant selling wonton noodles and stir-fried entrees at the corner of Broadway and Powell. Their hot sauce has not changed much over the years. Before they distributed their hot sauce via the Asian markets, I used to buy half a dozen of them dropping by their restaurant every time I visited San Francisco! :raz:

I would kill to know how they make their hot sauce. It is full of flavor. Very balanced and not exceptionally hot. (Perhaps that's from MSG? :unsure::laugh::laugh: )

The only thing is: they are a bit expensive. Much higher compared to the counterpart. But, I have not seen even a close second.

And in case you are wondering: yes, I have bought some of these hot sauces. I am going to post some of my evaluations on different brands and different types of hot sauces.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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My all time favorite that I first learned about after sending a Hong Kong Cantonese Chef for a one year contract establishing a Chinese Restaurant in Japan that he brought back with him for everyone to try because he thought it was the best type of "Hot Sauce" he had ever tried.

We are still using it for many dishes including Italian style Pasta Dishes to help perk them up, omelette's, almost all types of Asian Dishes and even Mexican items.

It's called "KIMCHEE NO MOTO" or "KIM CHEE BASE". Momoya Brand packed by Momoya Co. LTD, 16-2. 2-Chome. Kamigara-Cho Nihonbashe, Chuo-Ku, Japan.

Sold everywhere in Japan or Korea and many Japanese, Asian and Korean Groceries in the States. It comes in various sizes but we use the 15.87 Oz or 450 G size.

Ingredients are: Garlic, Salt, Chili, Sugar, Ginger and Vinegar.

It seems to enhance, lift up flavors but compliments without over whelming without being salty or sour as many other sauces often will do to dishes.

After opening I keep it refrigerated, it is quite hot, but its predominantly Garlic, Chili Taste remains fresh and lively.

It really compliments Sui Kow or Won Tons as well as Congee used modestly. Its very popular in Asia as it's designated being a Kimchee Base in Korea but adapts well into a all purpose enhancer.

Irwin

Edited by wesza (log)

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

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gallery_19795_2817_17813.jpg

I call this "old lady sauce" because of the picture of the old lady on the bottle. The type that also includes fermented beans is AMAZING. It has so much flavor. I use as the only thing added when I make super quick stir frys. It covers the sweet, hot, umami, and salty all with one item. I was so happy when I found this in Japan after using it in the states for years. what is its real name?

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Guilin chili sauce is SUPERB - the addition of Shaoxing makes it truly special.

I just sent Ah Leung some pics of my 'straight from Guilin' crock o' sauce, as well as the labels and the sauce itself - I'm not sure how to post them on my own. This is my preferred hot sauce of choice nowadays in Chinese cooking, due to it's depth of flavour. If I was making Szechuan, I'd stick with Tobanjon. For hot chili oil, you can't beat the oil floating atop the Yank Sing Chili XO sauce - like Ah Leung, I think they make the highest-quality product and have used their sauces for years. :)

cheers, JH

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gallery_19795_2817_29311.jpg

Out of many hot sauces that I have tried, I have come to this conclusion:  my personal most favorite brand is: Yank Sing Chili Pepper Sauce and Yank Sing XO Sauce.  Yes they are made by the San Francisco famous Yank Sing dim sum restaurant inside the Rincon Center in downtown San Francisco.  But I have known them over 20 years ago when Yank Sing was a small neighborhood restaurant selling wonton noodles and stir-fried entrees at the corner of Broadway and Powell.  Their hot sauce has not changed much over the years.  Before they distributed their hot sauce via the Asian markets, I used to buy half a dozen of them dropping by their restaurant every time I visited San Francisco!  :raz:

I would kill to know how they make their hot sauce.  It is full of flavor.  Very balanced and not exceptionally hot.  (Perhaps that's from MSG?  :unsure:  :laugh:  :laugh: )

The only thing is: they are a bit expensive.  Much higher compared to the counterpart.  But, I have not seen even a close second.

Yes, Yank Sing is definitely my fave hot sauce. Great flavor without too many hard chili seeds. The bits of radish, black beans and garlic are also nice. The price is a bit higher but not excessively so.

gallery_19795_2817_17813.jpg

These are "hot oil" (La You), mostly hot oil with a bit of garlic and chili.

However, I would not refuse this hot sauce either. It comes a close 2nd to Yank Sing. The flavor of the sichuan peppercorns is prominent. The hard chili seeds can be a bit distracting though.

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John --Just how old are you? The picture of the 'old lady' on the sauce jar looks pretty young to ME!!!! LOL!

Xiao hzrt --- Does my favorite Lan Chi brand Chili Paste with Garlic measure up to any of those sauces?

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John --Just how old are you?  The picture of the 'old lady' on the sauce jar looks pretty young to ME!!!!  LOL!

Xiao hzrt --- Does my favorite Lan Chi brand Chili Paste with Garlic measure up to any of those sauces?

The Lan Chi brand, which was highly recommended to me by my cousin, I've found to be really salty. I think the saltiness overwhelms dominates any other flavors.

I'd also have to agree that the 'old lady' is sorta old looking to me. I'd call her ah-mo. :)

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John --Just how old are you?  The picture of the 'old lady' on the sauce jar looks pretty young to ME!!!!  LOL!

Xiao hzrt --- Does my favorite Lan Chi brand Chili Paste with Garlic measure up to any of those sauces?

Lan Chi has become hard to find in the bay area, for some reason - however, I do like it very much when i can find it. As noted, it is a bit salty, but I use it in specific recipes where that aspect works. In most recipes calling for Chili sauce now, I use Guilin chili paste (still hoping Ah Leung will post the images I mailed him of the brand I prefer) or the Yank Sing variant.

Chiu Chow Chili oil from Lee Kum Kee is also excellent - I use the detritus/solids from the bottom for a potent concentrated kick in certain recipes where I don't want a sauce or oil, but want a powerful chili flavour.

cheers, JH

Edited by jhirshon (log)
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I call this "old lady sauce" because of the picture of the old lady on the bottle. The type that also includes fermented beans is AMAZING. It has so much flavor.

[...]

Actually that's pretty close. I am not sure if this brand has an English name. They probably have but I can't recall what it is.

The Chinese brand name is "lau gan ma" [Mandarin], which means "old honorable mother".

I like this brand too at first, until I could taste it that they put a lot of MSG in it. :sad:

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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[...]If I was making Szechuan, I'd stick with Tobanjon.  For hot chili oil, you can't beat the oil floating atop the Yank Sing Chili XO sauce - like Ah Leung, I think they make the highest-quality product and have used their sauces for years. :)

I have a wild guess that the Korean Tobanjon is the same (or very similar) as Chinese Chili Bean Sauce ("Dou Ban Jiang" in Mandarin). IMO Chili Bean Sauce it too salty to be used as a condiment. It is great for cooking.

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

Xiao hzrt --- Does my favorite Lan Chi brand Chili Paste with Garlic measure up to any of those sauces?

I don't think I ever had Lan Chi brand Chili Paste with Garlic. Since you brought it up, I should look for it and sample it to give you my eval. :biggrin:

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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A recent trip to the 99 Ranch Market, I walked down the isle that showed all kinds of Chinese hot sauces.  I thought I was in heaven!  :biggrin:

Here are some of the hot sauces that are interesting:

gallery_19795_2817_7442.jpg

These are hot sauce "paste".  Typically used as condiments in Vietnamese food (e.g. Pho and Vietnamese BBQ).

gallery_19795_2817_39348.jpg

Similar hot sauce "paste".  Popular with Southeast Asian food.

And in case you are wondering:  yes, I have bought some of these hot sauces.  I am going to post some of my evaluations on different brands and different types of hot sauces.

Thanks for the hot sauce/condiment tour Ah Leung. That aisle sounds like heaven indeed. I look forward to your evaluations of the different brands and the how you use them.

I have a question about the sriracha sauces depicted. I recognize the one with the rooster on the label (the company is Huy Fong?) But I'm intrigued by the other bottles of sriracha you photographed with the different colored caps and different flavors with the duck on the label. I've never seen these before. Do you know the name of the company that makes those?

Also are the sauces that you prefer the most -- Yank Sing Chili Pepper Sauce and Yank Sing XO Sauce -- widely available across the US or are they only available on the west coast?

Anxiously awaiting your next installment. :smile:

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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I have a question about the sriracha sauces depicted.  I recognize the one with the rooster on the label (the company is Huy Fong?)  But I'm intrigued by the other bottles of sriracha you photographed with the different colored caps and different flavors with the duck on the label.  I've never seen these before.  Do you know the name of the company that makes those?

Like they show in some movies... I played Dick Tracy and went back to the original digital and blew it up:

gallery_19795_2817_18300.jpg

The brand name you sought is "Flying Goose Brand" (not duck :biggrin: ).

Also are the sauces that you prefer the most -- Yank Sing Chili Pepper Sauce and Yank Sing XO Sauce -- widely available across the US or are they only available on the west coast?

That's hard for me to tell. Yank Sing Chili Pepper Sauce is widely available in the Asian markets in both Northern and Southern CA (99 Ranch and others). I have no idea if they made it to the East coast or elsewhere, but I think they probably did.

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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I call this "old lady sauce" because of the picture of the old lady on the bottle. The type that also includes fermented beans is AMAZING. It has so much flavor.

[...]

Actually that's pretty close. I am not sure if this brand has an English name. They probably have but I can't recall what it is.

The Chinese brand name is "lau gan ma" [Mandarin], which means "old honorable mother".

I like this brand too at first, until I could taste it that they put a lot of MSG in it. :sad:

Now I don't feel so bad for calling it old lady sauce, I think I will continue to call it that. I was 20 years old when I first tried this sauce so I think it is fair to call it old lady sauce. I also noticed the MSG but I am one of those people who doesn't hate MSG. I like the fact that it includes the chili seeds, sichuan peppercorns, and preserved garlic and beans. one of my favorite dishes to make with this sauce is cabbage and bacon stir fry, yum yum.

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I have a question about the sriracha sauces depicted.  I recognize the one with the rooster on the label (the company is Huy Fong?)  But I'm intrigued by the other bottles of sriracha you photographed with the different colored caps and different flavors with the duck on the label.  I've never seen these before.  Do you know the name of the company that makes those?

Like they show in some movies... I played Dick Tracy and went back to the original digital and blew it up:

gallery_19795_2817_18300.jpg

The brand name you sought is "Flying Goose Brand" (not duck :biggrin: ).

Also are the sauces that you prefer the most -- Yank Sing Chili Pepper Sauce and Yank Sing XO Sauce -- widely available across the US or are they only available on the west coast?

That's hard for me to tell. Yank Sing Chili Pepper Sauce is widely available in the Asian markets in both Northern and Southern CA (99 Ranch and others). I have no idea if they made it to the East coast or elsewhere, but I think they probably did.

:laugh::laugh::laugh: Thanks for your detective work Ah Leung. Duck, duck, goose anyone? :biggrin:

Actually I found a link to a company that sells Flying Goose products. Looks yummy:

Flying Goose Products Online

Unfortunately this website is for ordering large quantities of products by stores only and not for individuals. :sad: However, I still found it useful/educational to see the vast array of sauces and other products one might find when shopping for Asian ingredients.

I guess I'll have to do a bit of investigating of my own for those other sauces here on the "left coast."

Thanks again.

Edited for additional comments/clarification.

Edited by divalasvegas (log)

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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Also are the sauces that you prefer the most -- Yank Sing Chili Pepper Sauce and Yank Sing XO Sauce -- widely available across the US or are they only available on the west coast?

I just have an idea: you may want to call Yank Sing and see if they do mail orders. They just might...

Yank Sing's website including phone numbers

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Also are the sauces that you prefer the most -- Yank Sing Chili Pepper Sauce and Yank Sing XO Sauce -- widely available across the US or are they only available on the west coast?

I just have an idea: you may want to call Yank Sing and see if they do mail orders. They just might...

Yank Sing's website including phone numbers

Thanks so much Det. Tracy, er, Ah Leung for the information. I've emailed their sales and marketing representative. Their website indicates that their products can be found in stores all over the US, but if there aren't any convenient to me at least can place an order, if necessary. As for the prices, if they are as delicious as you describe, I think they'd be worth every penny.

Of course since I was on their website I just had to check out their menu and thanks to you, now I'm starving!!! :biggrin:

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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[...]Of course since I was on their website I just had to check out their menu and thanks to you, now I'm starving!!!  :biggrin:

Well... I gotta warn you. They are a pricey one for dim sum. I have been to their restaurant inside the Rincon center. Not that worths it, IMO. It is a general opinion to some on Chowhound that they are just over-priced. I like them better when they were the small neighborhood restaurant on Broadway... :unsure:

Koi Palace (Daly City) on the other hand has top quality dim sum. While their prices are high too but not not as high as YS and I think it worths it. You can read Koi Palace's menu online too:

http://www.koipalace.com/

Now... only if Koi Palace would package and sell their hot sauce (which is good too, I had tasted it when I had dim sum there) and do mail orders...

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Well... I gotta warn you.  They are a pricey one for dim sum.  I have been to their restaurant inside the Rincon center.  Not that worths it, IMO.  It is a general opinion to some on Chowhound that they are just over-priced.  I like them better when they were the small neighborhood restaurant on Broadway...  :unsure:

I've been to Yank Sing a couple times over the years and have to agree. It's pretty average dim sum at very high prices.

On the other hand, if you are on an expense account and/or taking guests not all that familiar with dim sum, it is a bit more "user friendly" than some of the other restaurants that serve dim sum. In addition, both of their locations are conveniently located near many downtown hotels, which can be a plus as well.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Hot Sauce Evaluation

Pictures:

gallery_19795_2817_11923.jpggallery_19795_2817_13699.jpg

English brand/sauce name: Ning Chi, Chili with garlic

Chinese brand/sauce name: 寧記, 蒜蓉辣椒

Hotness rating: 5 out of 5

Evaluation: This is a Taiwanese make. It is very hot! Not vinegary, not salty. The label claimed it is made of "heaven pointing" chilis. I can see slices of fresh chilis in the sauce. It contains too many seeds. While the hot sauce is extremely hot, I think it lacks other flavors. The taste of garlic seems minimal. It is rather bland. Selling at US$4 a small jar, I expect something better than this.

Usage suggestions: Condiments or cooking. Good with noodle soup and stir-fry entrees. In cooking, use it wherever a hot taste is called for.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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~~~~~~~~~ one of my favorite dishes to make with this sauce is cabbage and bacon stir fry, yum yum.

Cabbage and bacon stir/fry? That sounds good to me. Got a recipe?

-3 or 4 strips bacon, or an equal amount of cubed block bacon

-1/4 head cabbage

-1/2tbs each minced garlic and ginger

-(as much as you like) old lady sauce

-a splash of shao hsing wine

-1 pinch salt

cut the cabbage into 1 1/2 inch squares and the bacon in 1 1/2 inch lengths. add the bacon to a very hot wok and allow some of the fat to render. Once about 1/2tbs of bacon fat renders remove the bacon and add the garlic and ginger and then immediately the cabbage. cook the cabbage for about a minute and then splash with the shao hsing and add a pinch of salt. add the bacon back in and cook until the shao hsing has evaporated. add old lady sauce in the last 30 seconds of cooking.

notes: thicker bacon is better. You are not trying to fry the bacon to a crisp, it will still be floppy. cabbage should maintain some firmness. you can substitute red pepper flake for old lady sauce.

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~~~~~~~~~ one of my favorite dishes to make with this sauce is cabbage and bacon stir fry, yum yum.

Cabbage and bacon stir/fry? That sounds good to me. Got a recipe?

-3 or 4 strips bacon, or an equal amount of cubed block bacon

-1/4 head cabbage

-1/2tbs each minced garlic and ginger

-(as much as you like) old lady sauce

-a splash of shao hsing wine

-1 pinch salt

cut the cabbage into 1 1/2 inch squares and the bacon in 1 1/2 inch lengths. add the bacon to a very hot wok and allow some of the fat to render. Once about 1/2tbs of bacon fat renders remove the bacon and add the garlic and ginger and then immediately the cabbage. cook the cabbage for about a minute and then splash with the shao hsing and add a pinch of salt. add the bacon back in and cook until the shao hsing has evaporated. add old lady sauce in the last 30 seconds of cooking.

notes: thicker bacon is better. You are not trying to fry the bacon to a crisp, it will still be floppy. cabbage should maintain some firmness. you can substitute red pepper flake for old lady sauce.

Thanks! Sounds easy AND tasty! I understand about the bacon -- like using 5-flower pork 五花肉 - wu hua rou.

Cabbage is probably the most versatile vegetable there is, and this just proves the point.

I can probably use one of the hot sauces I have, but now I want to buy 'young chick' sauce ---- er --- old lady sauce!!

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[...]If I was making Szechuan, I'd stick with Tobanjon.  For hot chili oil, you can't beat the oil floating atop the Yank Sing Chili XO sauce - like Ah Leung, I think they make the highest-quality product and have used their sauces for years. :)

I have a wild guess that the Korean Tobanjon is the same (or very similar) as Chinese Chili Bean Sauce ("Dou Ban Jiang" in Mandarin). IMO Chili Bean Sauce it too salty to be used as a condiment. It is great for cooking.

Well, this makes me feel good, because I think I've been naively using Korean and Chinese chili bean sauces interchangeably in my cooking. :smile:

I am really enjoying this latest pictorial. Whenever I go in an Asian market, I find myself spending ages poring over the labels of all the jars and bottles in the sauce aisle--so many choices, so little time! :biggrin:

I can just imagine some recent immigrant from China being similarly flummoxed by the big aisle of American-style condiments in a typical Vons/Safeway/etc.--only to discover how *boring* all those different brands of ketchup and American-style barbecue sauce are. :laugh:

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I'll second the Lao Gan Ma Old lady sauce.. It is the best bean+chili combo I've ever gone through. It's uses are endless. That company is Guizhou based, so plenty of heat, and they like their flavours as exciting as possible.

I use this in so many different dishes, it is amazing.

I usually have stock of 2 jars of this stuff and another bag of just the black beans for less spicy or cleaner tasting dishes that require a bit more control

I don't have any experience with the La You sauce.. But the La Zi Ji one is equally fantastic.. This is the one with bits of chicken inside. The leftover meat + chili dishes with this stuff makes a fantastic fried rice the next day.

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      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.
       
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