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hzrt8w

eG Foodblog: hzrt8w - A week of Chinese New Year celebration

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What do an ethnic Chinese, a foodie, and a computer geek have in common?

Answer: Absolutely nothing!

It just happens to be me!

In mathematical terms, using the modern set theory:

A = set of all Chinese

B = set of all foodies

C = set of all computer geeks

There exists a subset D where:

D = A ∩ B ∩ C

And I am a member of set D.

Or in Boolean logic:

A = Chinese

B = foodie

C = computer geeks

D = A AND B AND C

Or expressed in SQL:

SELECT Ethnic_group, Hobbie_interest, Profession FROM All_population

WHERE Ethnic_group = ‘Chinese’ AND

Hobbie_interest = ‘foodie’ AND

Profession = ‘computer geeks’

Okay… I have lost half of the audience! That’s great! I can start with my food blog now.

Greetings! My name is Wai-Kwong Leung. Or in Chinese convention, which goes in the “surname, given-name” format, my name is Leung Wai-Kwong.

In Chinese:

gallery_19795_4241_1673.jpg

Leung (the top character in the picture) is a common surname with no particular meaning. My father named me “Wai Kwong”. Wai (the middle character in the picture) means “Great” (as in achievement) or “Hugh” (as in size). Kwong (the bottom character in the picture) means “Bright”.

Leung, though it seems it may not be as common in the USA, is ranked the 11th in the most popular surnames in the Cantonese region. The order that I heard many years ago was (all pronunciations in Cantonese):

1: Chan

2: Lee (or Li)

3: Cheung

4: Wong

5: Ho

6: Au

7: Chow (or Chau)

8: Wu (or Woo)

9: Ma

10: Luk

Do some of these surnames look familiar to you? My wife’s family is the Wongs. This surname is quite common in the Toysanese region in Canton. Many of them had immigrated to the USA since the railroad building days.

It is quite common, though not required, that the siblings in a family have either the same first given name or second given name. For example, in my family all my brothers share the same second given name “Kwong”. My first brother is Leung Yuk-Kwong. My second brother is Leung Hung-Kwong. Father told us that it is for the sake of identification of our generation – since most people in the same village may have the same surname. When we say we are the “Kwong’s” generation, the villagers will know. They keep the genealogy and naming book in the small village temple.

My father was born in a small village near Guongzhou (old name Canton). At the age of 13, he took a train to Hong Kong to look for work – and didn’t look back since - except during years of the Japanese occupation. Both my brothers and sister and I were born and grew up in Hong Kong. I came to San Diego, California for college and later settled down in the US.

I like to be addressed as “Ah Leung”. And in Chinese:

gallery_19795_4241_2274.jpg

The word “Ah” is just a common street salutation in Canton. Therefore there are many “Ah Wong”, “Ah Lee”, “Ah Chan” walking down the streets of Hong Kong. In Mandarin, the same street salutation would be “Xiao Leung”, where the word “Xiao” literally means “little”. It is an attempt to be modest (a Chinese’s virtue) having others addressing ourselves as “little”.

The food consumed in Hong Kong is primarily Cantonese style. But Hong Kong is actually a melting pot of all cuisines in the nearby vicinities. The primary reason is the influx of immigrants, legal or illegal – well, back in the 40’s and 50’s the Hong-Kong/Mainland border was quite loose. And there was a big wave of immigrants from the mainland seemingly overnight when Mao advocated his “Big Leap Forward” campaign (and later on “The Cultural Revolution”). Many new immigrants brought their home style cooking with them. In Hong Kong, you will find a mix of different cuisines from Chiu Chow, Hakka, Shanghai, Peking, Sichuan, Hunan, etc.. Because of over 150 years of British ruling, Hong Kong also iss influenced greatly by European cultures (primarily British, French and Italy, and to a degree Portuguese because of the proximity to Macau – a Portuguese colony). And in recent decades: USA, India, Japan, Taiwan, The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. Hamburgers, thanks to McDonald’s, made its way to Hong Kong in the 70’s. And pizza, thanks to Pizza Hut, in the 80’s. Mexican food such as tacos, burritos and carnitas, however, did not receive enthusiastic response for whatever reason. In the late 1980’s, there was something like “Two” Mexican restaurants in the whole district of Tsimshatsui.

When the eGullet blog team approached me to write a one-week food blog, I felt flattered and was very excited. The timing couldn’t have been better. The coming week is Chinese New Year. I would like to take this opportunity to mention some of the Chinese customs in celebrating this most important festivity in Chinese culture all around the globe through out this week. More to come later.

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Oh, now THIS is a foodblog to look forward to. Even the introductory post was educational! I can't wait, Ah Leung! Your pictorials have been inspiring, and now... a whole week of New Year's celebration?

:wub:

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Ah Leung~

I am so excited ! (Where is that clapping icon when you need it?)

Thank you so much for taking the time to give us insight. I look forward to the week :smile:

Kathy

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Hot dog! More armchair traveling. I may never actually get out of my own backyard, but egullet is making it feel like I go everywhere! I am really looking forward to this week.

Thanks for the 'name' information. Can I expose my ignorance and request a pronunciation guide to 'Leung' (I think I can figure out the Ah part :biggrin: )?

Kim

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Did you hear a little voice from over this way, beseeching the blog-gods? It was saying, "Let it be hzrt8w!" in the same tones as standing by the Sorting Hat and whispering, "Not Slitherin; Not Slitherin."

Hooray!!!

Caro will be ELATED!! We're snowed in a bit, again, and are all stocked up with good stuff to COOK!!

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Happy Chinese New Year, Ah Leung!

新年快乐,万事如意!

It's already the first day of the year of the pig in Singapore, and we completed our reunion dinner several hours ago. We went to a restaurant this year and both seatings were completely packed. As is a tradition in Singapore, we started with the yu sheng (or raw fish salad) that you toss as high as possible. The other dishes included a shark fins soup, steamed whole fish, sauteed prawns and scallops served in a hollowed out pineapple that was flambed table-side, flattened almond chicken pieces served with egg crepes, braised eight-treasure vegetables (included carrots, corn, mushrooms, cabbage and lotus seeds), crabs sauteed in a light curry sauce, fried noodles, and mashed yam and pumpkin dessert (a quintessentially Chaozhou dessert).

I look forward eagerly to your reunion dinner and the rest of your dining experiences this week!

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Well, it's about time! I'm so glad you're food-blogging this week, sharing your holiday and your always erudite, always interesting knowledge.

Gung Hai Fat Choi (or whatever your favorite transliteration of the Chinese characters is)!

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Looking forward to an enlightening week, Ah Leung!

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Sounds incredibly fun!

Great Intro...I love when people blog to their own style/preference - makes each blogger's write up (blog) THAT much more interesting.

Can't wait to see what you have stored for us....

Please do not refrain from taking ANY pictures :) Love the pictures.

How about starting with some pictures of the fridge/freezer/pantry? PLEASE!!!!

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ah Leung, ....your story makes me homesick and at the same time makes me laugh remembering the saying that you know you are a Hong Kong Chinese when you ask your parents about a simple mathematical problem and 2 hours later they are still lecturing you hehehe

Gung Hei Fat Choy to all and especially to all from my adopted home of Hong Kong.

I am so sad that I won't be home for the New Year but SO happy that you will be blogging

it's a gift to me so dojeh dojeh dojeh sai :smile::smile::smile:

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Gung Hai Fat Choi, Ah Leung, Silow!

I've got my "yoon hap" filled with goodies, ready for you to come "by neen" and get your "lai see". Don't forget I like perfect persimmons, rosy apples, and juicy tangerines in your " siu thleem" bag! :biggrin:

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I am s-o-o looking forward to this. I have never posted on the Chinese forum, but have made many of Ah Leung's wonderful dishes, including last night's dinner of ma po tofu, with leftovers being today's lunch.

Happy New Year Ah Leung and thank you for your great pictorials!

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Another Set D person checking in! I'm excited because this is going to be my first chinese new year away from home so no lavish spreads like I'm used to. I'm going to be making dumplings from scratch for the first time but I can't wait to see what you can pull off!

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...

Or expressed in SQL:

SELECT Ethnic_group, Hobbie_interest, Profession FROM All_population

WHERE Ethnic_group = ‘Chinese’ AND

Hobbie_interest = ‘foodie’ AND

Profession = ‘computer geeks’

...

Okay, you have my attention now. Can't wait to follow your week.

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Having made quite a few dishes from your awesome pictorial, I am looking forward to this blog and increasing my knowledge of Chinese cuisine!

john

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Thank you for your warm responses everyone! I look forward to doing this "show N tell" too. First... to answer some questions:

Thanks for the 'name' information.  Can I expose my ignorance and request a pronunciation guide to 'Leung' (I think I can figure out the Ah part  :biggrin: )?

Kim: The pronounciation of "Leung". Think of the famous French city Leon. But say it much faster - because unlike Mandarin which has transitions, Cantonese is "chopping" monotonic. The Brits gave us this spelling and they usually can do a pretty good job in pronouncing it close to Cantonese.

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I am terribly excited that you are blogging!

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Please do not refrain from taking ANY pictures :) Love the pictures.

How about starting with some pictures of the fridge/freezer/pantry? PLEASE!!!!

Lindsay Ann: Pictures you will find plenty. Ah Leung is nothing is not providing pictures. :raz:

But... errr... the fridge... hmmmm... Chinese don't use refrigerators! We cook everything fresh and consume everything cooked in a meal. (Well, typically it is.)

Let me apologize in advance. No shots on my refrigerator or pantry. That's my condition of doing the blog accepted by Susan in FL. But she said "we'll work on that..." :laugh: Too messy lah!

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Happy Chinese New Year, Ah Leung!

新年快乐,万事如意!

Happy New Year to you too, Makan King!

In California, which is 16 hours behind Singapore time, GMT -8, this is still just the morning of Chinese New Year Eve. I do realize that on your part of the world the New Year has already come upon you.

People in Hawaii, the last major population to the east of the International Date Line, would be the last to observe the arrival of the New Year. So, being Californians are not so bad! :laugh:


Edited by hzrt8w (log)

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Looking forward to an enlightening week, Ah Leung!

Hi Erik:

I still remember your week if portridge breakfast and your shell program! LOL! :laugh:

Another thing I need to apologize in advance:

I don't eat breakfast as a habit. So no picture on McMuffin or donuts or ham and eggs. I do like to drink different beverages in the morning and snack on different things through out the day.

I am not always like this (not eating breakfast). When I worked in Hong Kong in the late 80's, I used to eat 5 meals a day! Breakfast: McDonald's McMuffin and a cup of coffee, or a bowl of congee and cheung fun (steamed rice noodles). Lunch: typically some Chinese stir-fries over rice or a plate of chow mein or dim sum. Afternoon "tea": a bowl of wonton noodle, or an egg sandwich with a cup of English tea. Dinner: usually ate at home or dined out in restaurants - some kind of stir-fried entrees. And Midnight light snack at around 11:00 pm: a bowl of congee again or wonton noodle or something

I think one of what prompted us to eat like a bird (less in each meal, but more often) is that in Hong Kong you have to walk everywhere - so unlike the USA. It is not wise to walk with a full stomach. The meal serving portions are typically smaller than those found in the US Chinese restaurants. And we are always on the run - which means most people may not even finish the food before they need to catch a bus, the subway, taxi, train, whatever. And the convenience of food offered in every corner - no need to drive to a restaurant for 30 minutes just to eat - makes it unnecessary to eat as much each time.

Living in the USA, my eating habit has completely changed. I don't eat breakfast because I usually get up late. Breakfast time is almost a border-line lunch time for some people. And sometimes I am down to just one meal a day: either have a late, big lunch or an early, big dinner.

I have been extremely busy lately. I am taking on many projects both in my professional and personal fronts. And I am going to school two night a week. And this week... being that it is Chinese New Year, it is crazy. I don't have time to cook as often lately. I hope this is not disappointing to some readers. But check out my published pictorial recipes in the China forum:

Chinese Food Pictorials, by hzrt8w

You would a pretty good idea on the kind of meals I make at home.

This week I will try my best to share the kind of food I eat on a regular basis. And... many pictures to come.

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Wow, we are going from strength to strength with these back to back blogs.

Great job, whoever is managing the traffic.

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This is what I had to munch on this morning.

My wife baked some "sweet potato chips". Fresh sweet potatoes, cut in thin slices, baked for about 10 to 15 minutes.

gallery_19795_4242_6001.jpg

This is one of those street snack food you will find in Hong Kong too. They bake/grill the sweet potatoes with charcoal, which adds some nice charcoal flavor to the sweet potatoes.

For drinks, I made some fresh soy milk. I recently bought an automatic soy milk machine and now I make soy milk at home about every week (sometimes every other week as I become busy).

Here is the whole set up:

gallery_19795_4242_11460.jpg

The machine is a plastic jar with a mechanized top. The round metal thing in the front is the filter and (double roled as) holder of soy beans. I buy packs of dried soy bean in the Asian grocery stores.

gallery_19795_4242_8983.jpg

One pack of these 14 oz dried soy bean (cost is about US$0.80) can produce about 5-6 64 oz bottles of soy milk. It is quite economical in the long run - provide that you don't factor in the labor you need to put in. It is a lot of work. But getting freshly made soy milk at home... priceless.

gallery_19795_4242_9511.jpg

The work begins the night before. Pour about 1/2 a pack of dried soy beans in a big bowl. This will make about 2-3 64oz bottles of soy milk - enough for us for the whole week. We keep the soy milk in the refrigerator, of course. Don't leave the soy milk in room temperature. Bacteria will get to it in a day or two to turn it into soya milk yogurt.

Soak the soy beans in water for 24 hours. Don't soak it for too long because the beans will start to sprout and become bean sprouts - unless you want to grow some to make your dinner.

gallery_19795_4242_11279.jpg

Feed the soaked soy beans through the chute into the metal filter/holder below.

gallery_19795_4242_14088.jpg

Fill the jar with water to the prescribed level. Turn the machine on. It is all automatic from here. You will hear the motor starts grinding the beans, and the heating coil starts boiling the water at the same time. It will go through a few cycles of grinding and continuous heating.

gallery_19795_4242_12638.jpg

Voila! About 15 minutes later, the soy milk is ready.

gallery_19795_4242_16726.jpg

One draw back is that making soy milk in these machines produces a lot of foam and suds.

gallery_19795_4242_10745.jpg

You need to use a fine filter to screen off the soy bean residues before drinking.

gallery_19795_4242_8761.jpg

Discard what's left inside the filter/holder.

gallery_19795_4242_7992.jpg

Fruit of the labor (or should I call it juice of the labor?): Fresh, hot soy milk made right at home with no additive.

I like mine plain (unsweetened), though many Chinese sweeten it with some sugar.

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OhMyHolySoy, FRESH soy milk!

I haven't had that in over 20 years! Thank you for blogging for us on this most festive week! Will we be having delicious pastries with you, as well? I hope so, I am missing my New Year's cake. And those myriad sweets that my friend's great grandmother would make, too... Ah, Leung! Thank you!

And, by the way, what do you mean, no refrigerator and pantry shots? There ought'a be a LAW!!!

PS: If you really want a treat, get yourself a newspaper grill for those sweet potato chips. It gives a fantastic flavor.

edited because, well, I'm on a lot of painkillers, jejeje!


Edited by Rebecca263 (log)

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Ah Leung, this is so exciting, I love your pictorials and I can't wait to see an extended week long version.

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Ah Leung, from one Sacramenten to another! Looking forward to seeing where you head off to this week. I would be totally interested in your opinion of which Asian markets are the best to go to, and what to look for, in terms of seafood, sauces, etc. I haven't had much experience in hanging out in the local establishments...enjoy your week.

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