Tag Archives: chinese

A Shanghai & Beijing Eat-ologue For Mike & Katie

22 Feb

Two of my good friends from Columbus, Mike and Katie, are going to China in a couple months to celebrate a wedding and I wanted to compile a list of places that I love to eat at, for their reference.

Starting in Shanghai:

I blogged about crispy panfried buns when I came back from my trip and I still think about them. They are really heavy so your best bet is to pair an order (4 buns) with a clear brothy soup, like rice vermicelli and tofu skin. There may be some baby shrimp used to flavor the broth too. The best place for these babies is Little Yang’s. There is another location, on the second floor of the Number One Food Stuff Department Store pictured below (it’s in a food court and they use styrofoam & paper).

This is NanJing Road which is all pedestrian with the exception of those teeny trolleys. There are tons of snack shops where most items are measured in bulk like a candy store. The pictures along the right is just a random corner snack shop with a line a dozen deep waiting for these piping hot meat mooncakes. Flaky and pretty freaking delicious. My main recommendation for this street is the three level Number One Food Stuff Department Store. It’s got dried sea cucumbers that sell for USD1000 for half a kilogram, a huge dried meats section, and tons of season appropriate food gifts. There is also a food court upstairs with a huge prepared foods section, a dumpling joint (not so recommended), and panfried buns!

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Shanghai 2010: New Obsession, Crispy Pan Fried Buns (生煎饱)

14 Oct


Ceramic Wall Decoration in the Forbidden City


A couple days ago, while strolling through Hocking Hills, Kyle asked me what my favorite meal was in China. It’s hard to say… there are so many styles and so many types of food to eat. Two years ago, without hesitation, I would have said that my number one was soup dumplings (小笼包). But I think I had so many during that one trip that the flavor is burned upon my palate and I no longer crave it as much as I used to. More recently, I’ve become obsessed with a close cousin of the soup dumpling, pan fried buns (生煎饱, literally, raw fried buns).

Much like a soup dumpling, pork, pork tallow, and pork fat are wrapped in a thin dough and sealed shut with a twist. Unlike a soup dumpling, these babies are lined up in a huge cast iron pan, covered, and fried with the seal side down. You can see the upside down dumpling twist on the left in the pic above. I didn’t get a good pic of the big cast iron pan, but you can find one here, from the exact same purveyor I visited (Lil’ Yang’s Crispy Pan Fried Buns): Flickr pic of 小扬生煎饱.

My goals for successfully eating these crispy pan fried buns are the same for soup dumplings: don’t spill the meat juice, add finely julienne ginger and red vinegar to each bite, and don’t burn my tongue or palate! My technique is the same: nibble a hole at the top of the bun, stuff ginger in said hole and spoon in some vinegar, allow to cool for 15 seconds (if I can wait that long), and then it’s a one bite deal from there. There’s no better feeling than having a mouth full of juicy pork, crispy dough from underside, and ginger&vinegar to cut the richness of the pork fat. This is the new number one eats on my list for my next Shanghai trip.

Under the Weather

23 Aug

This past week has been utter grossness. B’s battling this summer cold that has been going around our social circle and I’m trying hard to nip it in the bud. So I bought twenty bucks worth of Alka-Seltzer cold meds, twenty bucks worth of Emergen-C and Airborne, and another twenty bucks worth of produce to juice. B’s family is a huge proponent of juicing. His mom bought all the kids their own Jack LaLanne juicers and his sis is on her third. I’m a total convert so a lot of the cocktail ingredients (ginger, watermelon, musk melon) at the restaurant (Nida’s Thai on High) go through a Jack LaLanne too.

We juice for hangovers, for cocktails, for colds, and just because. Our base is almost always watermelon and we add whatever fruits and veggies we have on hand. Since both of us were feeling under the weather, I added way more ingredients than usual: ginger, oranges, carrots, beets (and beet greens!), and parsley. The beets add a gorgeous magenta color to the pink watermelon juice. We heard that greens are good for vitamin C and antioxidants so in went the parsley and beet tops. Oranges and carrots added another vitamin C punch, and ginger is well, ginger, and awesome, so in went that as well.  It was so delicious, I forgot to take a picture.  Oops!

While B craves pizza and other such related stuff during his colds, my sore throat was calling for brothy noodles. This is a turkey stock leftover from last Thanksgiving, mixed with a tablespoon of tom yum paste. The noodles are locally made Chinese/Cantonese noodles and a couple stalks of Chinese broccoli to round out the meal. GUH. Total comfort food.

Putting the Pan in Pan-Asian: Leafy Greens

10 Aug

New theme! Putting the Pan in Pan-Asian! Get it? Har har, I’m so funny. This first installment is also known as “The Old Wives’ (太太) Tale Edition.”

When I moved back to the U.S. for high school, I had a really hard time getting adjusted to the veggies available in the dining hall. On the steam table, there were always perfectly cut carrots with murky peas or mushy zucchini with undercooked summer squash. Blech. The salad bar was a little better with fresh romaine, broccoli, cucumbers, shredded cheese, bacon bits, and seven types of goopey dressing. Mmmm, Aramark.

It would be a looooong time before I learned about kale, collard and mustard greens, and even longer until I met Elizabeth Telling’s braising greens. But what I longed for were simply sauteed/stir-fried spinach (菠菜), water spinach (空心菜), amaranth (苋菜), Chinese broccoli (芥蓝),  napa cabbage (白菜), Chinese celery (芹菜), bok choy (调羹菜), and on and on and on. I still have these longings and luckily there are a good number of Chinese groceries that I can now drive to. (!!!) It doesn’t make up for the fact that these greens are a PITA to trim and wash.

The pic up top is water spinach. In Chinese, it’s transliterated as empty heart vegetable. (Kangkong/kangkung in Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia.)  You can see why, the stalks are totally hollow, except at the joint with a leaf. Amongst more conscientious eaters in East and Southeast Asia, it’s rare that this leafy veggie is ordered outside of the home. Water spinach is particularly difficult to wash because it’s grown in mud and/or marshes. The hollow stalks are said to harbor lots of critters that make their home in swamp land, most prominently leeches and worms. There are a bunch of urban legends floating around about how someone ate unclean water spinach at a hawker stall and perished from leech breeding in the belly. Yeaaah.

For this batch, I spent quite a bit of time trimming and washing. First, I soaked the veggies overnight in water. In the morning, I trimmed: snapped off and discarded the toughest part of the stem, then for each leaf, I pinched off a stem segment about half an inch above and below the leaf joint. Lastly, I washed and rinsed twice, just to make sure I got all the mud and dirt out. Finally, my favorite style: sauteed with tofu roo (sauteed with belacan, fermented shrimp paste, also very good).  Let’s just say that cooked Chinese leafy greens aren’t exactly the easiest to photograph.

These greens above are amaranth. They are my father’s favorite greens in the whole world. It’s got the tannic quality like spinach but has a more vegetal flavor. Do you see those violet veins? Once amaranth is sauteed/stir-fried, it exudes this gorgeous magenta cooking liquid. Not sure if this is superstition or old wives’ tale, but it is said that this veggie is good for promoting blood flow and recouping lost blood (monthly bleeders, take note). I washed and rinsed these about three times to get the dirt off and sauteed them simply in garlic. I had almost no cooking liquid so no pics, but if you’re interested in a recipe and more pics of amaranth, Serious Eats recently featured them in their Seriously Asian segment.