Asian Thanksgiving

Each year the full moon that appears on the eighth month of the Chinese calendar calls for great celebrations, heralding the past year’s harvest or praying for the next year’s bounty, and celebrating the full moon in the sky. In the old days, royalty and peasants alike would take a break from their regular routines to celebrate with friends, family, and feasting. Called Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhong Qiu Jie) in China, Chuseok in Korea, Tsukimi in Japan, and Tet Trung Thu in Vietnam, this year the lunar holiday falls on this date, September 8.

Me, full on erudite in Chinese, circa 1983.

Me, fully erudite in Chinese, circa 1983.

Those who knew me growing up are familiar with my 12-year struggle in the once-a-week Friday night torture session that was more formally known as Silicon Valley Chinese School. (How better to traumatize a high school student than to rob her of her Friday night dances?) But of course, like all things your parents say you will eventually thank them for in the future, of course I now thank them for sending me to Chinese School; for instilling a good sense of Chinese language, both spoken and written, and for the various aspects of culture it cemented within me. It was at Chinese School, in addition to at home, where I learned the romantic folklore surrounding the Mid Autumn Festival, telling of a famous archer who shot down nine out of ten suns in the sky to save the earth from the scorching heat, who was subsequently rewarded with a magical elixir of immortality. The story continues to tell how the love of his life then drank this elixir and was transported to the moon for the rest of eternity–along with a rabbit, although how this rabbit came to be in the moon, my memory fails to recall.

Myself aside, many of the Chinese diaspora who have since emigrated to countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and elsewhere, brought this holiday and its lore to their overseas communities. Unbeknownst to me until this year, the Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese cultures also celebrate this harvest moon, though with different folklores and slightly different rituals.

Hong Kong Holiday

Streets of Hong Kong during the holidays

Chinese culture is something I rarely recall in my life here in Dar, other than the fact that Tanzanians always scream out “China! China! Japan! Japan!” When I pass by them on the streets of City Centre. I actually tried speaking Chinese the other day, only to find myself stumbling over the most basic of words, and leading the Chinese man who asked me where the milk was in the grocery to ask/accuse, “You’re not Chinese….? What are you?” A bit offensive, but unsurprisingly Chinese of him.

I find myself yearning to celebrate holidays so heavily traditional and culturally rich as they have in China. Here in Tanzania, Muslim holidays aside, the year is chock full of non-celebratory bank holidays: Workers’ Day, Independence Day, Nyerere’s Birthday, Boxing Day…you get the point.

A typical Asian potluck--too much food.

A typical Asian potluck–too much food.

This year, myself, a Korean friend, and a Singaporean friend decided that we needed to round up the Asian population in Dar for a feast in celebration of this great festival to the moon. We called it Asian Thanksgiving– because how much more appropriate could you call this Pan-Asian merging of family and friends and supreme feasting?

We had what was likely to be Dar’s all-time best Asian cuisine: An Asiatic mix that included Japanese pork belly, Korean bulgogi and fried chicken, Vietnamese chicken salad, two different kinds of Philippino Adobo and fresh homemade buns, Thai Green Curry and coconut fish stew, and tons of homemade noodles, and rice. Best of all, we had sweet sticky rice and moon cake for dessert. Moon cake, here in Africa…what a treat!

Asian Thanksgiving 2

I was too busy running around the party to remember to take detail shots of the party, but here are a few overview shots of the group. Happy Mid Autumn Festival….or, more appropriately: 中秋節快樂!

My Asian family here in Dar.

My Asian family here in Dar.

Fish and Noodles; family and food.

grandma

Happy Chinese New Year. There’s my grandmother on my father’s side along with my grandfather, looking pretty awesome. Tiny people!

Though I’m mostly Chinese and grew up with Chinese customs mixed into our American life, my family, strangely, didn’t really celebrate Chinese New Year in any huge fashion.

I went to Chinese school once a week every week, so during that one day of the year we would get little red envelopes with a $2 bill folded crisply in half, but that was about it for me and my sister. Other kids in my Chinese School class would boast how much money they received at home; even at the tender age of 9, I knew that $100 was an exorbitant amount for a second grader.

In lieu of cash, and I suppose without any regrets from any of us in retropect, the only consistent tradition observed by my family every year was an emphasis on food; a meal together on at least one night surrounding the New Year holiday. Even though this emphasis would always seem to come about more casually that naught, with either mom or dad saying something like, oh shoot, it’s Chinese New Year tomorrow, we should definitely have fish for dinner.

dried noodles

chinese ingredients

If not fish than it was noodles, sometimes dumplings or 10-ingredient stir fry and 8-jewel-sticky rice or nien gao for dessert. Throughout dinner we would be asked the same question, as we were asked every year: do you know why we’re eating (insert so-and-so) now?

Though we rolled our eyes at the time, we were also nervously excited to carefully, with the calculated concentration so practiced by children, give the right answer. After all, if it’s anything that the Chinese are, it’s superstitious, and everything has a meaning attached. Peaches for fertility, dumplings for wealth, oranges for luck, cakes for prosperity, the list goes on.

The two big-occasion dishes of our household during all Chinese gatherings were fish, and noodles.

Fish was a favorite of mine, for its multiple symbolic qualities, some of which I could remember, some I could not. Always whole, usually steamed, with its beady, glazed eyes always seemingly pointing at me. On the table only because it of an eponymous misfortune (for the fish, at least); the word “fish” in Chinese is a homonym with the word for prosperity, and so, eating fish over the new year is extremely good luck (for the diner).

In traditional fishing cultures, as was the tiny island of Taiwan where my parents are from, it brings especially great luck in the year ahead. However one should NEVER flip a fish over on the serving platter, for this indicates a sunken boat and bad luck at sea. Rather, the spine should be lifted off the plate once the meat is picked cleanly from the bones.

stir fry noodles

My sister preferred noodles, because she was a normal child and liked noodles over fish. I remember we were told, year in and year out, that noodles signified longevity, and more so than usual, we slurped as if the louder our inhalation of an entire noodle, the longer we’d live.

I’m surprised as to how much of this knowledge I’m able to recall all these years later, without hesitation and with great pride. Food serves many important roles, most fundamentally in its nourishing qualities, but to me, it’s also a reminder of where I’m from, and the family that I’m tied to.

It’s Chinese New Year today, and to celebrate, these noodles will likely make an appearance…well, sometime this weekend.

Chow Mein, aka Longevity Noodles

Ingredients:

  • 1 small knob Ginger, about 10g or 2 tsp. peeled and grated
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. Soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Sesame oil
  • 3 spring onions, thinly sliced, whites and greens separated
  • 1 chicken breast, approx. 200g
  • 4 servings egg noodles (see your package’s directions) + sesame oil
  • 1 small red onion
  • 6 leaves (approx. 275g) Chinese napa or savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 8 shiitake or oyster mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, julienned

Directions:

  1. Cut chicken into thin strips. In a medium bowl, combine chicken with ginger and garlic, the whites of the green onion (reserve the green to add into noodles later), soy sauce, and sesame oil. Cover. Marinate for at least 15 minutes, or 1-2 hours if possible for more flavor.
  2. After chicken has marinated to your liking, cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, and drizzle additional sesame oil and toss. This will not only add a great flavor and fragrance to your dish, but it will also keep the noodles from congealing and sticking together!
  3. In a wok or large saute pan over high heat, add 2 Tbsp. Cooking oil (peanut or grapeseed are the best for Chinese cookery). When oil is hot, add onion. Saute for two minutes, or until onion starts to become translucent. Add napa cabbage and mushrooms, cooking for another 3 minutes. Add the marinated chicken, stirring constantly. When chicken is no longer pink (just about 30-40 seconds), add carrots and green onion. Continue to saute until chicken is cooked through, about 3-4 minutes, occasionally tossing with a wooden spoon.
  4. Add noodles to the pan, carefully turning noodles into the vegetables with the help of tongs or chopsticks. Cook for another minute or two. Taste, adding another Tbsp. of soy sauce if you would like more flavor. Transfer to a large dish or bowl, and serve immediately.

Optional: substitute shrimp, peeled and de-veined, instead of chicken. Or, broccoli, for a vegetarian option!

 

Adventure Tasks: Peking Gourmet Inn

Before I get started on this amazing place called Dar, I want to revisit a few favorite places from back home – whatever that word means these days. As an aspiring writer, as a versed traveller, and I suppose inherently as an American, I often find the US all too familiar and all too bland in its everyday, and consequently will fall off the blogging wagon – or get on, whatever the one that’s not a good thing. But I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – there are just as many thrills and just as much to explore during our everyday lives in the US as there are living in an exotic place. Apparently, it takes being away to realize this, because I sure as hell wasn’t this inspired four months ago. Alas…grass….greener….you know.

peking gourmet-teacup

Looking back, I smile when I think about the places I was able to visit and the new friends I acquired, and as a whole about the entire newness that was living in DC for eight months, all of which, in between these amazing new experiences I’m having, I do find a little bit of time to miss.

I’ve been wanting to write about them for some time, so I suppose now – when I have 20G of internet connection slowly ticking down (will explain that reasoning later), a houseful of ugly furniture and even uglier tile (whyyyyyy kitchen tile, whyyyyyy), and a high sun that shines on me like hell hath fury on my straight black hairs and cluster of Asian freckles, I supposed now is as good a time as any to stay inside under my ceiling fan and A/C and write.

In the nine months of living back in the states, excluding a week here and there when I was home visiting my parents, I could count the number of times I ate Chinese Food. That number was two. A pretty lousy, pretty lonely, pretty sad number of a number, no? I suppose after two years of living in China, all the Diploman and I wanted to do was alternate between tacos al pastor and trips to Sweetgreen….sort of joking, but it did happen more than once where we would have lunch at Sweetgreen and dinner at El Chucho, and the next day have lunch at Sweetgreen and then dinner at El Centro, and the day after that, lunch at Chipotle and then dinner at Sweetgreen.

peking gourmet-menu

When I wasn’t eating gourmet salads and slow roasted marinated pork, I tried to venture out of my bubble. Peking Gourmet Inn was one of these adventures.

Adventure Task Number One: Leave DC, via the freeway, which –holy cow I live in a bubble– is definitely a new adventure in itself. And then you take one of the exits, which spits out into stripmallville, which is precisely Adventure Task Number Two: Balk in Awe at Stripmalls. In case you’re wondering, these stripmalls look the same as they do in Southern California as they did in the nether-wheres of Virginia and/or Maryland (because to me, the two are still somewhat a blob). Predictably, stores like Vitamin Shoppe (with an “e” thank you very much) and Best Buy and Target and video-rental-stores-slash-adult-video-stores all laid out in perfect little plots.

Finally, after passing about five strip malls that weren’t the one, we found the one strip mall that was the one! Adventure Task Number Three: Arrive at Peking Gourmet Inn.

Walking into the restaurant recalled a mish-mash of every other Chinese restaurant I had ever been to, whether at home in the States or during my two years in China. Middle-aged waiters dressed like penguins, stern-faced and very quick with movements. Knick Knacks of gold and red adorning the walls. Walls covered with framed photographs, of people who were presumeably owners or investors or perhaps just waitstaff, shaking hands and getting chummy with politicians and movie stars – definitely more the former than the latter, we are in DC after all. A matronly hostess, acknowledging our presence but somehow managing to make us feel ignored, belittled, and having to pay her respect just to get a table, even though we did have reservations. Adventure Task Number Four: Get the hostess’ attention!

Because we have a 6pm reservation, we’re one of the first ones to arrive. We are shown our seats through the maze of a restaurant (though all walls of the maze are filled with decor and picture frames) and then given menus the size of the Declaration of Independence. Adventure Task Number Five: Ordering Food from a Giant Menu. Flipping through, I come to a happy realization that I am now in the Virginia suburbs, which might as well have been a mini China in-itself, and can finally feast on great Chinese Food again. Because Chinese Food has a bad rap, it has many many bad imitations, and good Chinese Food is truly something angels could possibly sing about.

peking gourmet-duck

I happily chirp in with my suggestions (Family Style Tofu!! Sauteed Garlic Sprouts!!!) and we agree on a handful of dishes as well as two orders of Peking Duck for the five of us. That’s almost one duck between me and my friend, but who’s counting? After all, at a place like Peking Duck Gourment Inn, you cannot miss the duck, and ordering one just seemed silly.

The duck was brought out and carved tableside, breasts gleaming and oozing with oil each time the expertly-wielded machete made its way into the meat. Skin and Meat were grouped alongside each other on a porcelain dish, with the fat scraped and patted down between carving.

Each dish that came to our table was served to us in a manner as if we were either children incapable of serving ourselves, or else we were high kings in an ancient court. Either way, we were just shy of being spoonfed our first bites. Waiter rolled our first peking duck pancakes for us. They spooned our veggies onto our plates. They poured our tea. Our head waiter would come up to us in between bites, leaning in very closely to ask, “It’s good, yes?”

We would reply, “Mmmmm, yes!”

And he would say, feigning a very convincing surprised, “Thank you!”

This went on throughout the entire dinner, after every dish was brought out. Adventure Task Number Six: Stuff yourself silly.

peking gourmet-meal

 

Scallion Pancakes

Remember awhile ago- before I left Taiwan, actually- I noticed spring green onions stacked en masse at my favorite vendor’s stand at the wet market?

Green onions, or scallions, are a year-round staple around here, but vary from season to season in their size, shape, onion flavor and even green-ness. There are usually a few varieties of scallions out on display, ranging from small wispy mild miniature scallion onions to larger, tougher and leafier ones more akin to a leek than scallion. Spring and summer has brought about piles of greener and more fragrant scallions. Unable to resist, I needed to find something to do with such a lovely ingredient.

I’m starting to realize the popularity of most Chinese dishes stems not simply from good taste and generations of kitchen tricks, but also from available resources. The Chinese have great knowledge of what their different regions are capable of producing, and no better way can it be seen than on a menu. So, in line with tradition and tastiness, what better way to feature scallions than in the form of a savory, springy fried pancake! These pancakes are always a crowd pleaser, and most certainly among my American friends, come tied in first along with Chiarsu (roast pork) buns and fried noodles. Though a tasty and globally appealing appetizer today, the scallion pancake has humble roots. After all, flour, water, salt and scallions is not exactly food for the gods. My gods, maybe- but not all gods.

By doing a bit of research, I came to find that what I originally assumed to be a painstakingly difficult process couldn’t be any easier. And with so few ingredients, it was hard to get wrong. Granted, Kenji over at Serious Eats had already paved the way and tested the waters (literally) with this article, so all I had to do was use his advice and his basic recipe to get a tasty result.

So what ancient Chinese secret did I learn? I’d say that would be using hot, boiling water in the dough. The varied temperature of the water does something very scientific within the proteins of the dough- something that I’m unable to completely understand. What I did understand was the drastic difference in this dough versus a, say, bagel or pizza dough. This pancake dough was a firmer, denser, and smoother ball of dough, easy to knead and roll. Though the springiness of other yeasty doughs was missing, it did still had a decent level of firm elasticity that was quite pliable. This dough also came together in just a few short minutes- no need to spend 15 grueling minutes kneading like you do with bagels. The Chinese are genius!

I thought back to all the best scallion pancakes I have eaten, which were always crispy on the outside- golden brown and fried in a nutty vegetable oil, and flaky and chewy in the middle. Scallion pancakes have the unnatural ability to be dense yet fluffy at the same time- and if you’ve ever eaten one you’ll know exactly what I mean.

And that was exactly the reason I assumed it would be difficult to create the scallion pancake. How could something have layers, be dense and chewy and flaky all at once? Was the golden pan fried crispiness really that easy? I was nervous. What if this white pasty ball of non-elastic dough sitting in front of me was a total flop?

But, as with any other bread or cake or pastry, I reminded myself that all I had to do was follow directions. Scanning the recipe from beginning to end a few times, I realized it was a simple process masked in a confusion of scallions and flaky layers. All this recipe required was a simple attention to certain detail. Unlike all other layered pastries, there wasn’t too much of an emphasis on the temperature of the fat particles rolled in nor the amount of layers (like cold butter in pie crusts), nor the counting and reiteration of layer upon layer. After all, you’re creating a flat pancake, not a puffed croissant.  And although I imagine the scallion pancake would indeed be dreamy with dozens thin and flaky layers straddled in between the golden fried outside, it’s been proven the dough doesn’t lend itself well to that process.

Remembering that I was working with a warm dough on my hands, I got to work. One recipe’s amount makes two pancakes, so after dividing the dough in half, each is rolled into a perfect ball and flattened out into a thin pizza-like disc. After spreading a generous drizzle of toasted sesame oil, the dough gets rolled up into a log, then curled up in the shape of a snail. Tuck the end of the log firmly in place to the bottom, and flatten the snail-shaped curl. Here is where you create your first layers. This gets rolled out, again, into a thin pizza-like patty. Success! My first scallion pancake-making adventure was blossoming before my eyes.

In an attempt to squeeze more green onions into the pancake than I thought the original recipe did, I pre-mixed double the green onions along with salt and sesame oil in a separate bowl, to form the filling for the next layer. In my head, this bright green, salty, oily macerated paste would fare better in flavor than simply a scattering of scallions.

I realized why recipes were needed, as soon as I began to roll up the pancake. The premixed green onions and salt mixture had already started to generate far more water than I knew scallions were able to retain. As I rolled the pancake up, the green filling began to ooze out and the oily mixture made it difficult for my dough to stick to itself. As you can see below, my pancake turned out to be more of an O than a solid flat pancake.

I tried it again, this time applying the sesame oil, green onions, and salt individually. It was still slippery and messy, but much easier to control. Hm, recipe directions work- who would’ve thought.

This recipe, through a bit of trial and error, turns out to be something I’m loving in my back pocket. I can’t imagine of a simpler, tastier fare that highlights such a simple ingredient. Something that is year-round, at that.

Scallion Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup AP flour (plus more for dusting)
  • 1/2 cup Boiling Water
  • up to 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions- greens only
  • 4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/8 cup veg oil, to cook

Directions:

  1. Put flour in a large bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon as you add 3/4 of the boiling water. Assess how it is coming together, making sure the dough is not sticky, and add the remaining water slowly.
  2. Turn the flour and water onto a floured surface. Knead for about 5 minutes, or until satiny and smooth.
  3. Transfer to a clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes in an oven that is off.
  4. Divide the dough into half, and roll each into a smooth ball. Cover one ball with a towel or plastic wrap. Working with the other ball, roll into a disc approximately 8 or 9 inches in diameter on a floured surface. Brush a thin layer of sesame oil on top.
  5. Roll up into a cigar-like log, then twist into a snail-like spiral. Tuck the end of the spiral tightly underneath, pinching slightly if necessary. Flatten this snail gently with the palm of your hand. Then re-roll into a thin 8 or 9 inch disc again.
  6. Brush another layer of sesame oil onto the disc. Sprinkly 3/4 cups scallion greens and about 2 tsp. salt, leaving about a 1/2 inch rim free around the edges. Roll up again, using slightly more caution this time to make sure not too much of the scallions splurt out of the edges. The scallions will want to poke out of the roll, as long as they don’t tear too much it should be all right. Twist into a spiral, tucking the ends underneath as you did before.
  7. Very carefully, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough with the scallions into a thin 7-inch disc. The scallions will want to poke out again, but simply pat them back in with your fingers. It will be rather oily, so there is no need for a floured surface.
  8. (repeat with your other ball of dough)
  9. In a nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Set the pancake in the oil to cook, shaking the pan periodically until the one side is golden brown- about two minutes. Carefully flip, using tongs or a spatula if you need help. There will still be some oil in the pan, so take caution. Cook on the other side the same way, for about another 2 minutes or until golden brown as well.
  10. Transfer to a cooling rack lined with a paper towel to cool.
  11. After a couple of minutes (not too long, just enough for the oil to dry a little), cut into 6 wedges. Serve immediately.

The Chinese Hamburger

When we were growing up, my family’s favorite Chinese restaurant was called dong lai suen, and I remember it specifically because I could get my favorite dish: The Chinese Hamburger.

Of course this isn’t what it was called on the menu, nor was it what how my parents ordered it from the waiters, nor did it even resemble an actual American hamburger all that much. What it was, was a juicy disc of ground and juicy (so juicy!) pork wrapped in a thin chewy dumpling-like wrapper. The whole thing was pan fried so the outside was oily and the bottom and top crispy and slightly charred. The whole thing was the size of, well, it was the size of a hamburger. In any case, whatever it was or was not, it most definitely was delicious.

I’ve recently encountered yet another Chinese Hamburger. Well, hamburger-ish. This is a different version of the Chinese hamburger I remember from my youth, so it’s technically a hamburger twice-removed. But it’s got the same characteristics: flavorful meat wrapped in a sesame-seed speckled doughy outer layer, eaten with your hands from a wax paper pouch on the street as meat juices drip down your fingers. Dare you say it’s not a burger(ish)?!

This particular “burger” is made super fresh to order- the line for this street market vendor stretches the longest at the Raohe Night Market in Taipei. Sliced strips of a peppered beef filling (heavily peppered, to my great delight) is scooped with a long pair of metal chopsticks and placed in a small disc of rolled-out dough, not unlike a dumpling only three times as big and meaty. This meat and dough is taken in the palm and gets dipped- meat first- in a vat of chopped scallions, where they generously stick like flies on honey as the dough is quickly wrapped back over the meat and scallions to form a bun. What look like big fluffy smooth white cream puffs are tossed aside to be baked.

The baking process is just as unique as the Chinese Hamburger itself. The buns are literally stuck to the inside of a large, cylindrical brick oven wall that is heated by charcoals. I could make another comparison to wood-fired pizza ovens, but I think I’ve done enough International food comparisons for today.

After waiting for what seems like an eternity, a pouch containing a steaming hot bun is finally handed over. They operative word here is: Hot. Hot out of a hot coal oven. So hot, that even after ten minutes I was not able to bite through my beloved “burger”. After fifteen minutes though, I couldn’t wait any longer. Juicy, chewy, tender, peppery, hot, salty, steamy. Sirens blared in my head. This version of the Hamburger hasn’t replaced my love of In-n-Out, Shake Shack, or the Chinese Hamburger from my youth. No sir, it’s only been added to the esteemed (and growing) list.


胡椒餅, 饒河夜市創始攤

饒河總店 台北市饒河街249號

Black Pepper Buns, at the Raohe Street Night Market

Raohe Market Shop, 249 Raohe Street, Taipei

Egg Rolls: Same Same, but Different.

Same same, but different. This is an expression that everyone knows in Thailand, and one that is heard around Asia in general. It’s something that is silkscreened on many a t-shirt seen on the streets and the subways.  It also perfectly epitomizes how I feel about the egg roll.

In the Chinese language, the appetizer that Americans know as the fried egg roll is actually called a “spring roll”, stuffed with a light vegetarian filling comprised of vermicelli, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, Chinese celery, and green onions, then lightly fried and served piping hot. Rarely does the roll take the form of those large, fried, cold, meaty and chewy chimichanga-like foodstuffs I remember from my junior high school cafeteria.

I’m Chinese-American, and I can’t recall any instances when my family sat down and ate egg rolls as part of our meal (apart from my unfortunate and unplanned run-ins with the school lunch lady), regardless of whether we were dining out or sitting around our own dining room table. I wonder, since when did egg rolls, along with the likes of one completely fabricated dish named General Tso’s chicken, represent Chinese cuisine, both in the minds and tastes of America? Having seen the delineation of various regional foods and flavors possible in the Chinese cuisine, I bow my head in disgrace for the unfortunate miscommunication that happened somewhere across the Pacific.

Wait a minute though, I suppose we did have egg rolls growing up- or at least, a dish that when translated is literally “egg”+“roll”.

Mom would make these on special occasions, usually for dinner parties, but every once in a Blue Moon on those few occasions when there was nothing going on over the weekends- no soccer games/piano recitals/basketball practice/OM meetings/birthday parties/speed reading classes/sculpture/oboe lessons/tutoring sessions/drawing classes scheduled (Tiger Mom ain’t got nothin’ on my mother).

Her egg roll was just that, a thin crepe-like layer of egg griddled into a pancake, then rolled up with a fragrantly seasoned ground pork stuffing inside. Cut thinly into bite sized pieces, on our table the egg roll would be arranged among a heap of simmered napa cabbage and vermicelli noodles.

egg roll_process

Pork is the meat of choice in China – although nowadays the country’s interest in beef (not to mention dairy) is quickly gaining ground. Year-round availability of scallions, fresh mushrooms, and ginger gives the cuisine- and this dish in particular- its signature flavors. The chopsticks as lone utensil gives reason for the deliberate slicing into bite-sized pieces, and the laborious prep countered by a quick sauté/steam in a wok is exemplary throughout all Chinese dishes.

This is an egg roll that is much more representative of Chinese cookery than any egg roll you’ve encountered in the past. It is a distant cousin to its American counterpart- but really, the relation is so distant they’re practically not related. They just somehow happen to share the same name.

For the original posting of the article and a full recipe, head over to Honest Cooking, where I am one of their newest contributors!