Category Archives: Stories

The Year of the Snake and the Blizzard

Stir-Fried Lobster in Sslted Egg Yolk Sauce

Chinese New Year Blizzard 2013

For Warren and me Chinese New Year has always meant family and friends. To express our love and affection we do what we do best: offer good food. For many years our Chinese New Year celebration centered on a ten-course banquet. Our nieces would invariably be the focus of the evening. But this year was different. One of our nieces is now living in Singapore and the other one is off in college at Cornell University. Fortunately we live in a Harlem apartment building full of young and lively families. They have become our extended family, so our Chinese New Year tradition continues with them.

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A Lobster Feast Fit for Welcoming the Dragon Year

Dragon Accompanying Poenix in Welcoming the New Year

Juggling consulting work at Lotus Blue and other freelance consulting gigs, I almost neglected my own family’s reunion dinner for Chinese New Year. But since we were entering the Chinese zodiac’s dragon year it would have been improper not to have a grand celebration to welcome it. Among the flurry of my activities I staged a sumptuous Dragon Chinese New Year banquet for a small group of family and friends.

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A Village New Year Celebration in New York City

Grabbing Red Cooked Pork

Grabbing Red Cooked Pork
Photography by Kim Foster

I am very fortunate to be living in the most wonderful building in the greatest city. This year my schedule around Chinese New Year was absolutely crazy. What with cooking classes, cooking demos, panel discussions and a guest chef event I had neglected preparations for my own family New Year dinner. The day before New Year’s Eve only four members of my family had been invited and confirmed. I was not looking forward to spending a quiet New Year’s Eve celebration with so few people. Determined to change this I turned it into a festive gathering of friends and neighbors.

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Three Years of Red Cook

Three Years of Red Cook

This January whisked by at a breakneck pace without my realizing that it is over. During the month I taught cooking classes, consulted restaurant entrepreneurs, advised market researchers on Chinese sauces, and cooked a guest chef dinner at a restaurant. I am quite baffled by how cooking has turned into such a central role in my life. Yet for many years this is what I aspired to do. Three years ago this month I wrote my first post on Red Cook coaxed by my neighbor, Kim of The Yummy Mommy and Charcutepalooza fame. It has become a way for me to share my passion for Chinese cooking with others as well as to discover opportunities to work as a culinary professional. Thanks to my many enthusiastic supporters I am starting to do what I truly love.

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Learning Sichuan Cooking at the Source

Cooking School in China

There is a mystical allure about the Chinese province of Sichuan (四川) that fascinates me. I’m in awe of its endangered pandas and abundant bamboo forests. The stunning scenery at Jiuzhaigou (九寨溝) dazzles me. And I worship the sophisticated, spicy Sichuan cooking. So you can imagine my excitement when I was offered the opportunity to visit Chengdu (成都), the capital of Sichuan, to observe a cooking lesson offered by the Cooking School in China program.

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The Tsingtao Beer Story

Tsingtao Beer Grain Storage

My flight arrived late last Wednesday night into Qingdao (青島) over a crisp clear autumn sky. The brightly lit skyline of Qingdao, a city in the northeastern Chinese province of Shandong (山東), appeared over a dark coastline of the Yellow Sea (黃海). I was very glad to be sitting on the right side of the cabin as it offered a full view of Qingdao city through my window. My excitement increased as we descended into Qingdao Liuting International Airport. I was about to visit the hometown of the legendary Tsingtao beer.

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Carnivore’s Delight

Carnivore's Dinner

There is something slightly disconcerting about planning a dinner intended entirely to highlight different kinds of exotic meat such as wild boar, veal, pork, quail, rabbit sausages, lamb sausages and oysters. Separately they each would make a winning dish, but how would you put them all in one dinner without overwhelming the diners. Should there be a specific style of cuisine? What kind of supplementary ingredients would be suitable? This was the challenge Christo at Chez What? faced when offered a bounty of these meats from Marx Foods to sample. His solution was to invite a few bloggers to get together and cook.

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Welcome the Year of the Tiger with “Big Basin Meal”

Chinese New Year DaPenCai

We’ve just entered the year of the tiger and according to the five elements of Chinese geomancy it is the metal tiger year, which is also known as the white tiger year. Consequently for most people it is to be a turbulent period with unpredictable outcomes and uncertain prospects. But if you were born in the year of the sheep, horse, dog, tiger, ox or dragon, you’re in luck because your birth sign counteracts the negativity. You’ll have more good fortune and opportunities for success in your career this year. Since I was born in the year of the horse I’m due for some good fortune or career success. But as a practical man that I am I just wish for a successful New Year’s dinner.

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Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Cutting Edge Chinese Food at Singapore’s Majestic Restaurant

Majestic Restaurant Dining Hall

Majestic Restaurant Dining Hall

In the heart of the Chinatown area of Singapore was an old faded hotel and restaurant known as the Majestic. I remember the building being one of those relics from the 1930’s unkempt but with lots of potential. Our family used to go to the restaurant for good inexpensive Chinese food but certainly not a gourmet experience by any measure. In 2006 the hotel underwent a complete transformation into an incredibly stylish establishment with an equally modern restaurant. Decorated with custom designed furniture, chandeliers from the Mooi Weer Collection and sculpture by Cai Zhi Song, the restaurant is a modern Chinese art collector’s dream. The food at the restaurant reflects this environment and was created by the modern Chinese master chef Yong Bing Ngen whom I had the opportunity to chat with last week. The restaurant has received numerous accolades since its opening in January 2006. In conjunction with the Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 event I’ve arranged a dinner at the Majestic Restaurant.

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Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Chinese New Year Hot Pot Dinner

Hot Pot Meal

Hot Pot Meal

“What? No red cooked pork?” was the astonished question from my nieces when I told them our Chinese New Year celebration this year was to be a hot pot feast. For years I’ve always made a banquet of traditional Chinese food for the obligatory New Year’s Eve reunion dinner. But this year I decided to break from our family tradition. New Year hot pot dinners have always been very common in the provincial districts of China. But many city folks are rediscovering this tradition because not only is it delicious, it is also more economical and less time consuming to prepare.

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