The Tsingtao Beer Story

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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Not All Mooncakes are Sweet

A few years ago I happened to be in Shanghai during the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. Normally during this time of year families come together for reunion dinners. But a few of my expatriate friends from Singapore and Malaysia, and I were posted in Shanghai without our families. So we gathered up a group and celebrated the festival at a Shanghainese restaurant. As we ordered our meal the waitress suggested we try some pork mooncakes. That was the first time I tasted a savory mooncake.

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Posted in Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, Pastries, Pork, Recipes | Tagged , | 7 Responses

Exotic Vegetables at Asian Feastival

Think of sweet potatoes and you probably think of starchy roots candied or French-fried as side dishes. Or may be a dessert such as sweet potato pie to end a hearty meal. For many Chinese, however, sweet potato greens would also come to mind. These leaves are commonly used as a vegetable in Chinese home cooking. Sweet potato greens are just one out of multitude of Asian produce you can get in many Asian markets throughout New York City. On Labor Day (September 6th) you can learn how to identify and to cook this and other Asian vegetables at the first Asian Feastival in Flushing.

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Posted in Plain Stir-fry (清炒), Recipes, Techniques, Vegetables | 10 Responses

Cape Cod Shore Dinner with Asian Flair

Every summer when the weather gets sultry my partner, Warren, who is a “Swamp Yankee” with family directly descended from the Mayflower Pilgrims, gets nostalgic and yearns to get in touch with his roots. This year is no exception and last week we spent an extended weekend in Provincetown to indulge in his nostalgia. Throughout our stay we drove around Southern New England and ate wonderful shore dinners and other scrumptious meals at restaurants all over Cape Cod. We gorged ourselves on fish and chips, lobster rolls, clam cakes, stuffed quahogs and fresh sweet corns. By Sunday I was lusting after the fresh seafood and local farm produce, and decided to make a shore dinner but gave each course an Asian twist.

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Posted in Recipes, Seafood, Soup | Tagged , , | 6 Responses

Banning Shark Fins from Shark Fin Soup

Today (July 1st, 2010) a law prohibiting the possession, sale and distribution of shark fins goes into effect in the state of Hawaii. Hailed as a victory, albeit a small one, by conservationists, this law nevertheless is a major step in recognizing the need for government action to help save the shark. Sought after by the Chinese for millennia shark fins were a delicacy reserved for the elite, and served at important celebrations and banquets. With the recent rise of the middle class in China the demand for shark fins has skyrocketed. This Chinese fondness for shark fins is threatening their survival. Although laws banning consumption of shark fins is a positive step in limiting the shark fin trade we, as consumers, must also consciously make a choice not to eat shark fins if we are to succeed in preventing the shark’s extinction.

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Posted in Recipes, Soup, Vegetarian | Tagged | 12 Responses

Raspberry, Mango and Summer – Perfect Together

Just south of Prospect Park in Brooklyn bounded by Church Avenue to the north, Coney Island Avenue to the west, Beverly Road to the south and the Q line subway track to the east is an oasis of Victorian residences. Known as Prospect Park South the area was built around the turn of the 20th century for discriminating New Yorkers looking for a suburban lifestyle. Our friends Lauren and Maureen fell in love with one of these houses when they were hunting for a home about a decade ago. It was a huge rambling grey house in need of repair with an overgrown garden in the back. Although they knew there was incredible potential for the house, it wasn’t until they started clearing the garden that they discovered the real treasure: raspberry brambles.

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Posted in Recipes, Sweet Dishes, Vegetarian | Tagged , | 2 Responses

Garlic Scape, An Off-Menu Treat

Two weeks ago I went to a Dongbei (or Northeastern China) restaurant in Flushing for lunch with a group of Chinese food enthusiasts. I glanced through the menu, but like many seasoned Chinese diners I asked the owner if they had any special seasonal dishes from the kitchen. As it turned out they had young tender garlic scapes, which are the stalks of garlic blossom, and she suggested we ordered them stir-fried with pork slices. I was thrilled to know they’re still available during this late in the season.

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Posted in Dry Wok Stir-fry (煸炒), Recipes, Vegetarian | Tagged | 13 Responses

Moo Goo Gai Pan by Definition

Arriving in America in the 1970’s I was introduced to a few American Chinese restaurants that still served chop suey and chow mein. I remembered that one particular item on the menu aroused my curiosity. It was Moo Goo Gai Pan. Expecting a dish with mushrooms and chicken I ordered it. Imagine my horror when the dish arrived displaying a rainbow array of vegetables with pork slices. There was no Moo Goo. There was no Gai Pan.

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Posted in Chicken, Moist Stir-fry (滑炒), Recipes | 18 Responses

World Journal Profile

Last Thursday there was a two-inch red headline in the World Journal (世界日報) profiling me and my culinary endeavors. I was very excited by this coverage. Through the Culinary Historian of New York I was invited this past March to participate in a panel discussion on “Chinese Food in America Today.” During the event I met a reporter from World Journal, the largest Chinese language newspaper in North America. A few weeks later this reporter emailed and wanted to write a profile about my cooking experience. So she interviewed me and a photographer took pictures of me during one of my cooking classes at the Institute of Culinary Education. I was feeling quite pleased by the size of the headline until I realized every other page of the paper contains a two inch red headline. If you can read Chinese here is the article, otherwise look at the pictures anyway.

Posted in News | Tagged | 3 Responses

Communal Dumplings for the Family

In Ba Jin’s (巴金) epic Chinese literary trilogy: Family, Spring and Autumn (家,春,秋), the author describes the life of a Chinese aristocratic family during the final years of the feudalistic Qing dynasty. It was a tumultuous time in which the family members had to negotiate changing political landscape as dynastic rule disintegrated, as well as the family’s own struggle between generations over changing values and aspirations. Ba Jin was a great observer and narrator of a China struggling within and without while falling into chaos at the beginning of the twentieth century. Among all the confusions and upheaval, there is one single constant and that is the communal family meal.

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Posted in Dumplings, Pork, Recipes | Tagged | 12 Responses