Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Chinese Phood Epilogue: Do It Yourself Matsutake/Pork Ribs & Cauliflower Stir-fry

I was asked by a friend for some recipes based on one of the dishes that I had mentioned as a part of the Chinese Phood trilogy. This got me thinking, perhaps it may be a good idea to start including DIY instructions whenever possible. Now, I intentionally used "instructions" instead of "recipe" because I don't really use recipes. To me, Chinese cooking is increasingly becoming a state of mind, a philosophy of food preparation, as opposed to any set repertoire of dishes.

So I'll add some basic directions, and assuming you have any skill at all in operating a large skillet or wok without getting burned, modify to your heart's content.


Matsutake and Pork Ribs (From Pt 2)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Chinese Phood Epilogue: Do It Yourself Sichuan Lobster & Sichuan Steak

Introduction: I was asked by a friend for some recipes based on one of the dishes that I had mentioned as a part of the Chinese Phood trilogy. This got me thinking, perhaps it may be a good idea to start including DIY instructions whenever possible. Now, I intentionally used "instructions" instead of "recipe" because I don't really use recipes. To me, Chinese cooking is increasingly becoming a state of mind, a philosophy of food preparation, as opposed to any set repertoire of dishes.

So I'll add some basic directions, and assuming you have any skill at all in operating a large skillet or wok without getting burned, modify to your heart's content.


Sichuan-style Lobster (from Pt 2)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Do you even Chinese Phood, brah? Pt 3


This is Part 3 of my Beijing food non-odyssey. Make sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 first!

So, aside from the more formal dining experiences, I wanted to end this with some real-deal food experiences. I mean, real northern Chinese goodness. Which is why, the morning that I was flying back to SFO, I specifically requested a visit to a Northeastern style restaurant.

Now, it's important to point out that in the Northeast, we friggin love our stews. And offal makes awesome stew. Here, I present to you our sauerkraut stew with pork innards (WARNING: not kosher).

You know your broth is thick when the turbidity reaches Beijing smog levels

Do you even Chinese Phood, brah? Pt 2

Here's Part 2 of my Beijing food non-odyssey. Make sure to check out Part 1 first.

So here I was, thinking that the rest of this would be a pretty traditional Chinese meal. Nope. By the time the meal was over, I had to figuratively and literally digest what had just happened. Because to me, some of the dishes didn't seem to resemble any truly local foods I knew. Here are some other "Chinese" foods enjoyed in Beijing that day. (sarcastiquotes intended)



Ah, the Sichuan wok-tossed Maine Lobster, no doubt utilizing a creature indigenous to China and prized by cadres nationwide (confession: probably only one of those is true). I've had chili crab a few times, but something sits weird in hindsight when you consider that Sichuan is one of the furthest removed places you can think of re: lobster. The second thing is that when you think about it, most of what you see is inedible. I mean, 85% of that dish was shell and dried chili peppers. Feels to me like one of those things that's supposed to be a show of opulence, rather than anything that people actually enjoy eating. Find out how to make this dish yourself.

Notice they put the slate on a plate. The plate has a plate.

Here's an interesting one - chili steak cubes. If it looks familiar (i.e., compared to the first dish above) it's because as far as I can tell, it was finished in pretty much the exact same way. It was actually pretty tasty, and I'd say that unlike the former dish, the beef here probably represented a healthier 50% of the net weight here. But that's not the weird thing. The weird thing is that they served it on a slab of slate. Nice presentation, but as a former dishwasher I started wondering how well they could wash one of these things. Why, you'd have to do it by hand, and I don't think those kids are paid well enough to care too much about slate-related hygiene. Find out how to make this dish yourself.

You can spot one piece of matsutake sitting on the 6 o'clock position

So here we have the third dish, which is a twice-cooked rib and mushroom dish. The first thing you may notice is that the dish is actually kind of small. That's because the mushroom is not just any mushroom, but the highly prized matsutake variety. They're big, meaty, and pungent - and pretty expensive. Which is probably why there were only a couple pieces in the entire dish. But hey, there are a couple mint leaves, so that's nice. Plus, there are some yellow peppers, too, which look like the matsutake. Well, a little, right? Anyways, as a carnivore I probably still preferred the ribs, but those mushrooms were that one mushroom was delicious. Find out how to make this dish yourself.

Looks like something I'd make.

Now here we're getting into more traditional territory. which is to say that it's something I'd often cook/eat myself. Stir-fried cauliflower, soy sauce base, and some fresh garlic. Voila. I was pretty happy that someone decided to balance out the meats/seafood with something more sensible for my colon (as I'd do at home). These cauliflowers look a little forlorn, but the flavor was totally on-spot. Dishes like this give me hope that I can one day go vegetarian for longer than a month. Find out how to make this dish yourself.

Now this, I could get used to.

Ok, here's the last one. Once upon a time, when I was a little kid, I tagged along for a meal where someone ordered this sweet and sour fish. Now, you may have heard many Chinese friends tell you how inauthentic "American Chinese Food" is. And that we don't really eat Sweet & Sour and Moo Shu. Well, sometimes we do. In fact, sweet & sour dishes are a hallmark descendant of Shandong (Lu) Cuisine, where strong, bold flavors are a necessity. Anyways, back to the fish. Someone in the party (not me) ordered this. and what you see in the picture is the body of the fish sliced into thick stripes, all still attached on one end like a blooming onion. Then it was deep-fried and quickly covered with the S&S sauce. It was exactly like I'd remembered.

So there you have it. I'm surprised every time I go back to China, because things just keep on changing. Restaurants get fancier, presentation gets upgraded, and Chinese food gets a little... weirder. It makes me wonder what Chinese food was like 100, 500, 1000 years ago. I'm a strong proponent of someone making this a major concentration at Harvard.

Make sure to check out the final segment of the 3-part series!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Do you even Chinese Phood, brah? Pt 1

Yeah, yeah, it's been a minute since my last post(s). Shame on me, blah blah blah. But are you ready for some more foodp0rn? I mean the really good stuff. No Panda Expressin' it here. Let's see how well you know real Chinese food...



These are from my last trip to Beijing, which I've been lazy about uploading. But you know I wouldn't leave you hanging forever, right? Now, let's talk northern Chinese food.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Badly Translated Engrish Menus

I think most of us have seen bad Engrish, right? This menu was sent over by a dear friend, was probably one of the single worst best examples of a total machine translation FAIL and an absolute Engrish GOLDMINE.

I'll have you know that "F*ck to fry the cow river" happens to be one of my favorite Canto dishes!