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


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Gold coins from large to small.  I loved these gold coins when I was a kid.  It’s pure chocolate inside!

I loved those gold coins, too! My parents used to pack the coins in our Christmas stockings, along with an orange in the toe, a Mad magazine, a nutcracker, and an assortment of unshelled nuts - usually walnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, and hazelnuts. They would hang the stocking on our bedroom door after we went to sleep. I think they wanted us to stay occupied as long as possible Christmas morning. :biggrin:

Heh. Similar chocolate coins also turn up as Hannukah gelt ... only embossed with Stars of David and Hebrew instead of Chinese glyphs and characters. Yet another Jewish/Chinese connection! :laugh:

I've been seeing the piles of sweets and other red/gold-wrapped CNY food gifts at my local Asian grocery stores for weeks now. They fascinated me, even though I'm not much of a sweets person either--plus my food regimen makes sweets a very rare indulgence anyway. Still, I've been extremely curious as to how they taste. Maybe I'll buy a really small sampler (do they typically do post-holiday clearance sales of this kind of stuff?) and give any extra away to some willing victim. :biggrin:

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This is S.F. Supermarket where I did my Chinese New Year food shopping.

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Sugar-glazed water chestnuts.

Holy merde! I love water chestnuts, ans the idea that they are candied? WOW! :wub:

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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So much to eat, so little time! Back to work tomorrow... :wacko::unsure::sad: (Where is the crying emoticon when you need it???)

> <

o

[---] ...

For those who are not familiar with the culture...

In China, the first, second and third day of the Chinese New Year are public holidays. Most businesses are closed, factories are shut down. The only businesses which remain open are entertainment, restaurants, transportation and public services.

Of course in the USA, these holidays are not observed. So... Chinese living in America are robbed! :shock:

Today it just happens to be a US holiday - President's Day - and we get a day off. Comes tomorrow, things are back to normal.

And tomorrow... the Tour de California people will be coming from Santa Rosa to downtown Sacramento! Yikes! I better watch out and not be hit by these Grand Prix cyclists riding at 40mph+!

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Here are my lunch pictures from this afternoon. We met up with my in-laws for the “hoi neen” (opening of the year) lunch meal.

The lunch was held at…. (I need some drum beats Dai Ga Jeah!)… You are right!

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Happy Garden Seafood Restaurant!

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The owner had taped some CNY decorations at the door. The banner said (wishing you) “everything would be going your way”. Very nice!

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They use dim sum carts in this restaurant. We had some of the typical ones and they probably don’t need introductions… this is “har gow” (shrimp dumplings).

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“Siu mai” (shrimp and ground pork dumplings).

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“Har cheung fun” (steamed rice noodles with shrimp filling), served with diluted light soy sauce.

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“Char siu cheung fun” (steamed rice noodles with shredded BBQ pork filling), served with diluted light soy sauce.

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Steamed tofu with ground shrimp.

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Taro rice cakes: cooked taro mixed with a batter made from rice flour, seasoned and steamed to harden, then sliced up and lightly fried before serving. There are dried shrimp, laap cheung (Chinese sausage) and diced black mushroom fillings.

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Daikon rice cakes: the cooking process is the same as taro rice cakes, only using daikon.

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“Char siu bao” (steamed buns with shredded BBQ pork filling).

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To match everybody’s demand, there usually are some fried noodle or fried rice noodle dishes. Today is the “opening of the year”, the rule is “must have chicken”. Both the fried rice noodle and fried noodle dishes were cooked with chicken.

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Fried noodles with chicken.

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Dessert: egg tarts.

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We drank the usual “Teet Kwun Yum” tea. (Remember the goddess who blesses the poor and suffering commons?).

Leaving the tea pot cover open – this is the well-understood signal in Hong Kong restaurants which means “I need hot water refill”. If you want to signify the urgency, wave the tea pot in the air. :laugh::laugh:

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Being that this was the second day of Chinese New Year, the owner had been showing some videos of some lion dancing competition. It is amazing to watch these masters doing their lion dances to jump from pillars to pillars six feet above the ground and still keeping their balance and grace.

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Sorry for the blurry shot. It was an attempt to shoot at the interior of Happy Garden as we were leaving. But should have known that walking and photographing don’t mix. Not on a small, idiot-proof automatic digital anyway. I can’t wait to have my DSLR!

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Those sweets look so delectable. I might have to go hunting for some tomorrow, if I can stand the thought after having a morning root canal. Boo hoo, I really want those water chestnuts, too. And the lotus root. And the sesame treats. Oh dear, bad week for dental work!

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What I drank and ate "in between meals" this afternoon while preparing for dinner:

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Grass Jelly Drink. These are made from some herbal grass anf formed into a jelly. The jelly then is cut into small dices and mixed with honey or sugar syrup. You can buy a can of just the grass jelly itself, dice it up and make your own drink. In Cantonese they are called "Leung Fun" (literally means Cool Noodle).

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What I snacked on: Some very tasty Vietnamese-Chinese made beef jerkies - strong in lemongrass flavor and heavy on chili peppers. Also some dried fish. (Horse-face fish sheetz?). Bought from my recent trip to Garden Grove - the home of best Vietnamese food in California.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Also some dried fish.  (Horse-face fish sheetz?). 

Could be. Looks similar to what I had except that yours were covered with sesame seeds(?) and other stuff.

I have to join the chorus and tell you how much I'm enjoying your blog. Since I live out in the boonies we don't even have Chinese restaurants or shops as good as those in Sacramento. Some of those dim sum at Happy Garden actually look halfway decent, but what I'm focused on are those pretty little steamer baskets for the har gow and siu mai. Any idea where I can buy those?

Edited by sheetz (log)
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The “opening of the year” dinner tonight.

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In the afternoon, I marinated the chicken with some salt-bake chicken powder.

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Rubbed that evenly on the surface of the chicken. Broke some star anises and mixed it with some salt, rubbed that in the cavity of the chicken.

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The Leung Cooking School of chicken hanging underneath the paper towel rack. Blew the skin dry for about an hour or so.

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Soaked some dried oysters to make a second dish.

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Also soaked some “hairy moss” fungi.

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Minced some garlic.

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I normally cook these dried oysters whole. Because MIL’s teeth are not as good as they used to be, I cut up these dried oysters into smaller pieces.

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Soaked and trimmed some black mushrooms.

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Heated up some oil, sautéed the garlic. Added some salt.

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Splashed in some ShaoHsing wine. Added the dried oyster, some chicken broth, water, oyster sauce and a bit of brown bean sauce. Braised it for an hour or so.

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Added the hairy moss fungi and black mushrooms. Cooked for another 30 minutes.

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Meanwhile, the chicken was progressing well.

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Chopped some green onions.

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Grated some ginger.

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Poured some fuming hot oil onto the mix.

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Added more baked chicken mix, sugar and salt.

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This was the condiment for the chicken.

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The chicken in the stove when done.

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The chicken was bowing to me, except… without the head.

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Got to my in-laws’ house. My MIL made a few dishes of her own. Shredded BBQ pork stir-fried with mung bean noodles.

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Some Chinese cabbage on her well-used wok.

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I chopped up the chicken, Cantonese style. The skin turned out very dry and crispy, just the way I preferred it.

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The final touch of my second dish: blanched some iceberg lettuce. Lined on the plate.

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On top, poured my braised dried oyster with hairy moss fungi. This dish has a good title “Ho See Fat Choy”, with “Ho See” (the dried oysters) means prosperity and “Fat Choy” (the hairy moss fungi) means getting rich.

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My MIL bought some roast pork this afternoon. Very good. Skin was crispy and tasty.

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And she made some soup from pork, dried oysters, bean curd sheets, black mushrooms and dried jujube dates.

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Quite good! I had a couple of bowls.

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Dessert: some Mandarin oranges.

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And some regular oranges.

Pheww!!! I ate like a pig today! But hey! This is MY year!!!

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Date: Feb 19, 2007

Chinese calendar: The second day of Chinese New Year

Festivities:

This is the second day of the Chinese New Year. This is the day that most married women would visit their parents and be with their side of the family. It is also the first day for the official meal after the vegetarian meal on the first day. In Cantonese it is called "Hoi Neen", meaning "opening of the year". It is customary to slaughter a live chicken for the occasion. As tradition would have it, the chicken would have head on and feet on. The chicken may be made as an offering to the gods and goddesses first before consuming in the family.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Grass Jelly Drink.  These are made from some herbal grass anf formed into a jelly.  The jelly then is cut into small dices and mixed with honey or sugar syrup.  You can buy a can of just the grass jelly itself, dice it up and make your own drink.  In Cantonese they are called "Leung Fun" (literally means Cool Noodle).

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When I buy a can of grass jelly to drink, I always find the strands of grass jelly too long and so there's always some left at the bottom of the can after drinking it. Anybody have this problem?

I've also tried making it, but when I tried fiddling around with ratios, it never tasted the same as the canned ones.

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Ah Leung, I love reading your blog. It also reminds me that I need to follow more of your pictorial recipes. Currently I can get a lot of Chinese ingredients locally (although it takes me a LONG time to find them, since I don't read Chinese), but after I move I think I will have a hard time finding them. I should stock up....

Also, there's that chicken on coat hangers again! That is my favorite kitchen MacGyvering ever.

Jennie

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Also, there's that chicken on coat hangers again!  That is my favorite kitchen MacGyvering ever.

Ahem: Ah Leung is beyond coat hangers!

That chicken looks perfect. Bet M-i-l was very happy. Reminds me that I need to make it again.

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Also, there's that chicken on coat hangers again!  That is my favorite kitchen MacGyvering ever.

Ahem: Ah Leung is beyond coat hangers!

That chicken looks perfect. Bet M-i-l was very happy. Reminds me that I need to make it again.

Oh no! I loved the coat hangers. What's different? I haven't been able to follow the forums for a few months...

*hides in shame*

Jennie

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Good morning America!

This Tuesday, Feb 20, 2007 - third day of Chinese New Year. My calendar shows today is "red" (holiday). Oh, oh... sorry. That's my Chinese calendar. I wish today is holiday...

Today's liquid breakfast:

Most of the same. Just heated up some soy milk that I made a few days ago.

And, sorry, I got to run. I am late for work. See ya!

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Hi again America!

I am at work now! My office is 10 feet away from my bedroom. :laugh:

I am telecommuting. Being a computer consultant, I am all "wired". Most works don't require a "body presence". Occassionally, something may require some "SIFO" work. It's a geek's term that means "Standing In Front Of" it. That's when travelling must be made.

Boy... many questions. I will to get to answer some of them during my many breaks - which is... whenever I get bored at work. :wink:

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Consumers have to be very careful these days when purchasing "fat choi". There have been many cases of fake fat choi these days. A family friend's son broke out in hives after he ate some recently and had to go to the emergency room. Apparently the way to tell if it's real fat choi is to look at the colour when it's soaking - the fungus should be a reddish-brown colour.

We just used the last of our fat choi in a similar dish to Leung Uncle on Sunday - ours had dried oysters, fat choi, and pork tongue (the Cantonese word for tongue ("lei") is also related to fortune).

On a related topic, there are a few different kinds of dried oysters. They are dried to different degrees of dryness - I like the large, less dry ones, which are much more flavourful and softer. I think they're more expensive though - my relatives bring them over from Hong Kong. However, I don't know what the difference between the light-coloured oysters & darker reddish-coloured ones is.

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Also, there's that chicken on coat hangers again!  That is my favorite kitchen MacGyvering ever.

Ahem: Ah Leung is beyond coat hangers!

That chicken looks perfect. Bet M-i-l was very happy. Reminds me that I need to make it again.

Oh no! I loved the coat hangers. What's different? I haven't been able to follow the forums for a few months...

*hides in shame*

I think Ah Leung fashioned S hooks from coat hangers used in the "drying process", and used large skewers in the roasting process in the oven.

I used fatt choy that I received as a gift about 30 years ago! I just found it stored in an old cracker tin at our country home. I assume that it must be real as we still live!

ETA: I actually prefer the drier oysters, which are usually darker in colour. The drier ones are more intense in flavour. I use these in soups. The lighter coloured and softer ones are good for other dishes.

I love foo jook oyster soup.

Edited by Dejah (log)

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Thanks for answering my question on the (previously) unknown guord. So... butternut and delicata they are. The label I saw combined the 2 names into one label so it confused me a bit. I will try some of your suggestions on how to make them next time.

What's the difference between congee and shi fan?

leviathan: congee usually refers to what Cantonese called "jook". "shi fan" is Mandarin, which literally means "diluted rice". Beside the dialect differences, they actually are different ways of making the soupy rice portridge. Cooking "Shi fan" is fairly quick. The rice is still grainy. "Jook" on the other hand takes much longer - typically from a few hours to overnight. The rice has completed broken down and the liquid becomes thick and starchy.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Yesterday I mentioned that on this Chinese New Year Eve, we went to a special place for lunch, taking advantage of this holiday weekend before we had the family gathering dinner.

We heard that Koi Palace is opening shop

More historic pictures of China in the back corner.  When I host a small banquet in the future, I would like to book a private room and host it here.

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for Koi Palace.

I'll let you know as soon as I can when this Dai Gah Jeah will be arriving for " the small banquet". :raz::laugh:

Dai Gah Jeah if you are ever coming this way, only the Koi Palace private banquet room can match the delight of your presence. :smile: Or the new Fat's in Folsom, which I heard is "very good". But then again, the "very good" rating is from my caucasian sister-in-law so I need to verify it first. :wink:

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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What oranges are available there? We have a choice of teochew mandarin oranges, honey mandarins, lokam, and, in recent years, tiny little kums have been featuring in the markets.

Tepee: Here what they sell are mostly Mandarin oranges. Tangerine and kumquats are found too. I haven't seen other varieties. May be just need to look in more places. These citrus trees usually do well in central California - plenty of sunshine and enough rainfall or watering.

Unfortunately there was a big cold freeze a month or so ago in California and damaged many crops. That caused the vegetable/fruit prices to go up and quality to suffer.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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As to those squash at the farmer's market - the top ones that are tan, those are butternut squash.  The lower picture, yellow with orange stripes, are Delicata squash.  They're one of the most delicious squash in existence.  You can bake them whole, then scoop out the seeds, or you can slice them into rounds, brush them with a little oil, a little sweet soy, and roast them.  Even the skin is good to eat.

Thank you Abra. That sounds delicious! I really like kabocha. I need to try out the way you described.

This two-way information trading in the foodblog is really great!

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Ah Leung: I am delighted to see you blogging, and I appreciate that you are exploring the cultural as well as the edible facets of your life. Food can illuminate a culture in remarkably accessible ways. This is one of the reasons that I love learning to cook food from different countries – food reflects history, economics, geography, botany, social customs, trade . . .

...

With your additional clues, I guess that you are 48. Kung Hey Fat Choy!

Thanks Bruce. Yeah I explicitely gave away my age didn't I? :laugh: Actually I am not 48 quite yet because my birthday is in June. But that would be soon enough. :sad::shock:

These foodblogs are great ways to learn a culture. All cultures evolve around food. After all, we all need to eat to survive. I haven't met a culture whose social activities do not involve food. To understand any ethnic food, it's best to have the history/cultural background explained.

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