Monthly Archives: April 2008

Red Cooked Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner

Yes, you can make red cooked beef. But the recipe is slightly modified from red cooked pork so as to add extra spices for reducing the gaminess of beef. Well, the Chinese do consider beef gamey. In fact they think “foreign savages” who eat beef and consume dairy products smell like stale butter. Yet many areas in China have large repertoire of beef dishes, especially in the Northern and Western regions. Go figure!

In Search of “Food Roots” with Jennifer 8. Lee

First a disclosure. I am a fan of Jennifer 8. Lee’s writing so everything I am about to write is terribly biased. This is not a review of Jenny’s book, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, but an expression of how it resonates in my life as I discover my Chinese roots through food. Everyone in America is to some extent an immigrant. The closer you are to being a first generation immigrant like me, the more you think about what part of you is “American” and what part of you is not. Jennifer 8. Lee, in her book writes about her food-centered journey of self-discovery just as I continually do.

Oh My God – It’s Still Alive!

Photography by Ron Boszko

When I order live fish at a restaurant in China it is customary for the kitchen staff to present the live fish tableside for inspection in a basket or plastic bag. (And sometime on an elegant silvery stainless platter in upscale restaurants.) The fish invariably flips and flops, and gasps for its last breath. The Asian and European diners amongst us would nod approvingly except of course for the Americans. They would shake their heads in disbelief. Twenty minutes later a beautifully fried or steamed fish is served, and everyone ooohs and aaahs except for the Americans. By this time they are so completely revolted they’d just sit and smile politely, believing PETA evangelists are about to materialize and surround the table with police tape. The different reactions remind me of what I recently read in The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee. She wrote that Americans don’t want their food to look like real animals. Here lies the root of the culinary culture difference.