Category: china food


China proudly wears the crown of the oldest civilization of the world, continuing to make history every day. Quite possibly the next economic superpower, China has risen like a phoenix after decades of communism. China is also one of the top travel destinations in the world today and is almost like an epic adventure.

A study of the culture of any nation is incomplete without an understanding of its cuisine. Hence a good study of Chinese culinary techniques and an actual preparation of some of those dishes prove every word true beyond doubt about its legacy. The proud custodians of a 5000 year civilization, the Chinese have honed their culinary skills through several ages, new adaptations and unsteady changes. Chinese cuisine has managed to withstand every test of time with flying colors. No wonder the Chinese are proud of their culinary skills. One such basic Chinese kitchen technique is steaming – used way before the advent of the first dynasty. With the lapse of time, through foreign trade, many foreign ingredients easily marched all the way into the imperial kitchens of China; and the Chinese excelled in blending it with the traditional cuisine, turning up some out of the world cuisine.

Chinese Cuisine

Historians reveal that Chinese cuisine divided itself into Northern and Sothern cuisines as early as the 7th century B.C. While the southern dishes highlight freshness and softness in their dishes, the Northern cuisines, partly because of their cooler climate include a lot of fat and garlic, with vinegar, creating the right balance. It was during the era of the Tang and Song rules that the Chinese learned to value different plants like mushrooms, herbs and vegetables for their nutritional benefits, all later becoming an inseparable part of Chinese cuisine in general.

The Chinese believed in curing diseases with medicinal food. For them, food was the answer to everything. No wonder food, as well as its preparation, has gained itself a status nothing short of an art form in China. The rich and poor appreciate delicious and nutritious food with a common passion.

But the culinary skills of the Chinese, highly evident in their cuisine, were skillfully sophisticated over the ages. As legend goes, Chinese cuisine has an imperial element in it. Ever since there were emperors and palaces, there was royal food that served the purpose of feeding the regal gentry, including the mistresses of the emperors. In order to get those stately delights, emperors turned no stone unturned and kept the best of the cooks in the royal kitchen. This tradition was carried ahead by every successor. Imperial cuisine proudly exhibited each dynasty’s unique flavours. Chinese cuisine marks its origins to the Shang Dynasty, which was introduced by Yi Yin, the first Prime Minister of the dynasty. Yi Yin, taking a cue from the past, was a cook before becoming a Prime Minister. Believe it or not, many a political leader has been a cook. Even the founder of Chinese cuisine – Peng Zu – was himself a chef to Emperor Yao around the beginning of the 21st century B.C. At that time cooks actively participated in politics, enthroning and dethroning many leaders.

Famous Chinese Cuisine

Confucianism and Taoism spread two different schools of thought that influenced not only the political and economic history of China but also the art of cooking. Confucius lent great import to the artistic and social aspects of food. Carrying forward that philosophy, the Chinese nearly always come together even today with food featuring prominently at such meets. Apart from this, the Chinese do not appreciate the use of a knife on a dining table, and cut the meat and vegetables into bit-sized pieces before it reaches the table, unlike some other cultures. Chopsticks also became a part of their table habits by that time. Confucius upheld the need of a unified dish with a proper blend of ingredients and flavors. He was adamant about his preaching on harmony even in the culinary domain. He even promulgated the effectiveness of well-presented food, taking note of the texture, color and decoration of the food. Above all, he believed in the philosophy “live to eat” rather than “eat to live”.

The development of modern Chinese cuisine can be attributed to the Ming dynasty. Next were the Manchus who ruled China, bringing peace and prosperity to the kingdom. With time, Manchus became more Chinese than even the natives, but later degenerated with their imperial feasts. The food that those gourmands binged on inspired the modern form of Chinese cuisine to a large extent.

It is an interesting coincidence that the culinary philosophies and the methods, at times, of both the French and Chinese cuisines seem so alike, for e.g., a fresh black truffle of the French can easily remind one of the fermented Chinese black beans! But Chinese cuisine dwells on a plethora of ingredients and methods that cannot be equaled by any other culture, rice being one of the main ones. It is no exaggeration to say that without rice there is no Chinese cuisine. Noodles are another thing for which Chinese cuisine is known for across the globe. Noodles, an essential part of Chinese cuisine for about 2000 years, are also supposed to have entranced the Italians when Marco Polo returned to Italy after his Chinese expedition. Tea, originally taken by the Chinese for its medicinal properties, has today been accorded a status fit for a national treasure, and later became a necessary part of Chinese cuisine.

It is nothing but the sheer love for good food, a rich tradition of openness and the fearlessness in experimentation that paved the way for Chinese cuisine into the hall of eternal culinary fame. The Chinese show their love and respect for food by taking utmost care in balancing the ingredients, flavors and presentation, appealing to more senses than just that of taste; a classic case of ‘correct blend of seasoning and saucing’, as the saying goes! Everything from the size of the vegetables to the way it is presented, along with the fragrance, matters a great deal in Chinese cuisine.

Boiled Glutinous Rice Dumplings In Fermented Glutinous RiceSweet filled dumplings itself has a sweet taste, you can add sugar to reduce caloric intake; if no filling small rice balls, soup can use sugar, liqueurs made of sweet osmanthus, jasmine tea or soup, dried longan longan and jujube replaced ginger tea, which complement effects of dispelling cold; cooked vegetables in salted glutinous rice balls can be placed to some increased cellulose.

Winter Solstice, sometimes known as midwinter, falls on 21 December this year. Since Glutinous Rice Dumplings,  Tang Yuan, are symbolic of Winter Solstice, there is no better time to enjoy them during December, or even January and into February. Say the same for this dessert Boiled Glutinous Rice Dumplings in Fermented Glutinous Rice .

Eat healthy:

1, Fermented rice is rich in carbohydrates, protein, b vitamins, minerals, and these are indispensable for human nutrition.

2, Fermented rice contains b vitamins, can promote the secretion of breast milk.

3, Alcohol can promote blood circulation, helps digestion and appetite of the function.

4, Fermented rice useful gas, Shengjin, role of promoting blood circulation.

5, The dumplings are made from glutinous rice flour, from the perspective of health preserving of traditional Chinese medicine, temperature of glutinous rice, sweet flavor, with BU Zhong Yi Qi, invigorating the spleen and nourishing the stomach, effect of the abnormal sweating due to General debility, cold, poor appetite, abdominal distension diarrhea of spleen and stomach deficiency have a certain effect.

6, Rice balls not only nutritional nourishing and easy digestion and absorption, as of stronger warming and invigorating food.

1, Rice dumpling skin parts are eat glutinous rice powder materials, viscous high and difficult to digest. For children, the elderly, the poor gut function, should pay special attention when I eat dumplings to avoid indigestion or swallowing hampered.

2 Range, rice dumpling filling, which are higher oil content, will affect the condition of patients with chronic diseases.

3,Makes sweet stuffing rise in blood sugar in diabetics; peanut, Sesame, red bean paste filling, would increase the severity in patients with kidney disease, special attention should be paid.

4, For patients with gout, foods high in fat may affect uric acid excretion, recurrence may increase gout.

Fermented glutinous rice:

1 Bogey at MSG with fresh or poisoning.

2 Chronic gastritis is not edible.

Perhaps I should name this as Mock Fermented Glutinous Rice Wine with Rice Balls, a boozy dessert also known as  Chinese. This is mock because I was using Japanese sake than the Chinese fermented wine.

I love glutinous rice wine but unlucky it was out of my stock. The replacement, sake, however has got me excited to tell you that it is also good for making an exquisite dessert. At the same time though, I must admit that this is not perfect. With the Japanese wine, you would not be able to enjoy the fluffy and sugary rice from the Chinese wine, but then this different recipe is lighter and maybe a more convenient alternative, in terms of availability.

Here, sake is available in most supermarkets; yet for the Chinese fermented glutinous rice wine, I doubt if I should risk my time shopping around except in established ones or in Shanghainess grocery stores. Happy thing is, Chinese fermented glutinous rice wine couldeasily be homemade, and hopefully I will be ready to take shots of it next time and share the recipe with you soon.

food

In common with many restaurant chains, it’s very easy to have a pop at Ping Pong. So I’m going to start my review with a few positives. The branch I visited (on Great Marlborough Street) is stylish and buzzy. The menu is well presented with a ‘dummies guide to dim sum’ and brief descriptions of all the dishes. In addition to the à la carte, there are also set menus that enable solo diners/small groups to sample a wide variety of dim sum. And I have nothing but praise for the efficient and friendly service. So far, so good, but just how far can a restaurant go on style without substance? Well let’s find out.

Baked & Fried Dim Sum

As I was dining alone (I took it for granted I couldn’t persuade anyone to join me at Ping Pong), I went for the Ping Pong Collection (£9.95) in order to try out ten different dim sum. The baked/fried dim sum came out first, and my first impressions were that the spring rolls were stingily filled and a bit ‘supermarket’. Of these, the crispy duck one was the pick of the bunch, whilst the less said about the Vietnamese rice paper prawn roll and mixed vegetable spring roll, the better. In contrast, I liked the roast pork puff, which had a well-seasoned filling enveloped in a crisp pastry.
Steamed Dim Sum

As mediocre as the spring rolls were, they were positively stunning when compared to the steamed selection. In general, the dumpling wrappers were too thick and had a claggy texture whilst the fillings were underseasoned. Moving onto the dumplings individually, the shortcomings were myriad. The har gau (prawn dumpling) was so overcooked that the wrapper fell away from the prawn upon picking it up with chopsticks. The fillings in the chicken & cashew nut dumpling and spicy vegetable dumpling were too grainy.

I haven’t finished yet! The green chive dumpling did contain prawns as promised, but there were no chives, just a load of other random filler. The chicken shu mai (sic) was a bit dry, which is why this open-topped dumpling is usually made with fatty pork to give it a juicy quality. And to cap it all off, the vegetable sticky rice was bland and stodgy. In short, this bamboo steamer represented the Room 101 of dim sum.

Half-Decent Bao

As I feared the Ping Pong Collection might not sate my appetite, I also ordered a portion of cha sui bao (sic). I actually enjoyed these, as the buns were nice and fluffy and the filling (the same as the roast pork puff) was well seasoned. However, in comparison to other Chinese restaurants, £2.99 for two buns is a bit of a rip-off when most places serve three for a similar price.

To drink, I went for vintage pu-erh tea (£2.25). This was high quality stuff, but it was served in a glass. This meant no refills, and as the glass had no handle and I don’t have Teflon hands, it was very tricky to drink. In total, the bill came to £17.38 including 12.5% service. Whilst not exactly exorbitant, there are loads of places where you can eat more and better dim sum for the same price.

Two, maybe three, acceptable dim sum out of eleven is pretty lamentable, and the food was as poor as I remembered from my previous visit to Ping Pong a few years ago. This is a pity, as there’s definitely a niche in the market for an accessible quality eatery to attract those who might not otherwise check out dim sum the old school way. In fact, there is a risk that some are put off dim sum altogether by Ping Pong. And that really would be a crying shame.

But let’s not single out Ping Pong, or even chain restaurants for that matter. Other cities have top quality chains that I’d love to see in London. Just imagine if instead of Ping Pong, we could eat dumplings from Din Tai Fung and wouldn’t it be great if we could slurp noodles at Ippudo instead of Wagamama? We can dream, but as long as Londoners settle for second-rate crap, they will be locked in the chains that they deserve. Or to put it in the words of some Welsh blokes: IF YOU TOLERATE THIS YOUR CHILDREN WILL BE NEXT.

Tangtuan (rice glue ball) is a kind of traditional food in China. Originally named yuanxiao in the Sui Dynasty (581- 618 A.D.), it used to refer to the Lantern Festival, a day celebrated with rice glue balls. It now has a history of over 700 years. In old times, January 15th on Chinese lunar calendar is called the night of Lantern Festival. This food, much favored by people, was then spread to Ningbo. Through its continuous development and improvement, the unique flavor of Ningbo rice glue balls made of glutinous rice with lard stuffing has gradually come into being.

The Ningbo rice glue balls with lard stuffing are the most popular among all the rice glue balls. Textual research has it that it was originated in the Song and Yuan Dynasties and made of top grade local glutinous rice with tender, pure “white soft sugar”, black sesames and high quality lard stuffing. Featuring fragrance, sweetness, freshness, smoothness and glutinosity, the rice glue balls are pleasantly glutinous with lard fragrance, a truly fresh and delicious dessert enjoyed by people both home and abroad. According to folk custom, every household in Ningbo region will enjoy Ningbo rice glue balls for their breakfast on the New Year’s Day to express their wishes for happiness, reunion and good luck. Many overseas Chinese would too have a bowl of rice glue balls to release their homesickness. In 1982, the Ningbo rice glue balls became the first snack exported abroad from Zhejiang Province; while in 1997, it was selected as one of the “Famous Snacks in China”.

With its connotation of reunion and good luck, even the overseas Chinese, thinking of their relatives far away on festive days, will never forget to eat the lard “Tangtuan” on the Spring Festival, looking forward to reunion and delivering their homesickness.