Tag: chinese food

Weekly Link Roundup: The Food Porn Version

I’m up in the middle of the night with a serious head cold.  A friend suggested it might be haggisitis – which turns your internal organs to pulp and mixes them with oatmeal – but I’m pretty sure it’s more of a deepfriedmarsbar syndrome, where your sinuses and lungs get encased in a thick, viscous batter.  Either way, it’s really not a pretty picture.

Because I’ve self-medicated with an assortment of pharmaceuticals and can’t really read anything, I opened my Google Reader for the first time in about 6 months to look at all the pretty pictures.  Oooh, pretty pictures.  I will share some of them with you now.

First off, a great photo from a great article called Northeast China Branches Out In Flushing in the New York Times.

Wait a minute. Those are sticky-sweet caramel sugar strands stretching off chunks of deep-fried sweet potato? And that’s Chinese food? Holy crap. My world is rocking right now and it’s not just me overdosing on cold meds.  Perhaps my deep-frying obsession is coded deep within my DNA.  Irene Bean sent this article to me at about the exact moment the drool hit the keyboard upon reading it myself.  Go read about the cuisine of the Dongbei (literally ‘East North’) region and look at the slideshow: I promise you’ll do some serious drooling yourself.

Next, up: Boston Creme Pies from Design*Sponge

Ooooooooooooohmyyyygod.  Despite being proudly Boston born and bred, I’ve never really liked Boston creme pies.  But seeing this photo made me want to scoop up that cheeky little cake and smooosh it into my mouth in one bite.  Look at how mini it is!  It would totally fit.  Design*sponge is one of my favorite design blogs and their foodie/recipe series  ‘in the kitchen with’ has some of the most gorgeous food styling I’ve ever seen, along with some great recipes.  My camera whimpers a little in shame every time I look at the photos.  But my heart sings a bit with joy at the beauty of it all, so I do my best to temper the rising bile of inadequacy. I mean, really…how has a messy, half-eaten plate of radishes ever looked so good?

This spectacularly beautiful radish explosion is better described as a Spicy Heirloom Radish Salad and the recipe can be found  ‘In The Kitchen With’ Penny De Los Santos.

My last photo (because I reeeeeallly needed to go to bed like 3 hours ago, but I am not up of my own volition. Damn the batter in my head!) is from Slice: America’s Favorite Pizza Weblog, which is part of the jolly, fat, and friendly Serious Eats family.  If I manage to stay up to date with my Reader, it will probably be due to the daily dose of deliciousness  from Serious Eats.

Scrolling through the several hundred posts I missed over the past few months, my eyes starting to glaze over, my brain beginning to succumb to the dripping ooze of fry batter, I was shocked out of my stupor by the following photo:

Hey! I know that pizza! I know that pizza damn well, and glancing at this photo again has me tempted to book a flight to New Haven, Connecticut as we speak. Rather, as I type. And I’ll be honest with you, I’m not a huge fan of Connecticut. But seriously, Sally’s Apizza is some of the best pizza you’ll ever have.  It’s absolutely orgasmically good.  It’s also the home to one of my favorite food stories…

Assuming you have a generally adequate level of vision and sense of  spatial reasoning, I think you get an idea from the above photo how large the ‘Large’ pizza at Sally’s is.  16 slices!  It’s about the size of a small stovetop,  a mid-size bath mat, two normal ‘Large’ pizzas, or perhaps a very big catskin rug if your cat were one of those hilariously overweight cats whose pictures make me laugh on a regular basis.  Regardless, the Larges should more aptly be called Enormously Huges, and then the Large pizzas from every other pizza institution would not suffer the intense shame of comparison.

I went to Sally’s with four girlfriends – Rachel, Lex, Olivia, and Helen, all champion eaters and all wanting a different kind of pizza. I wanted to try the classic White Clam, Rachel swore by the Eggplant Parmesan, Lex refused to leave without the Mixed Hot Peppers No Mozz, and Helen preferred the Pepperoni and Onion. So of course, after waiting in line for almost two hours, we decided to get all four. In Large. For five girls. We had so much pizza, they had to bring over another table to put it on.  The guys at the table next to us started heckling – like straight-up shit talking – but we shut them up when we took down approximately 3.15 of them and had just enough to divide for leftovers the way we intended. It was one of the most satisfying eating experiences of my life – mostly because the pizza is unquestionably amazing and we waited two hours for it, but also seeing the grudging looks of respect in the eyes of those dudes.

Or maybe it was horror. I might have been too high on tomato sauce to know the difference.

Oh, and then Lex ordered another one to take home.  Seriously people, it’s that good.

Also…you’d think if I could ingest almost 16 slices of pizza, I’d be able to ingest enough Tylenol PM aka Lemsip Max All Night Cold & Flu Tablets to knock myself out  for the night, wouldn’t you?

The Family Styles Holiday Eating Escapades, Part Three: Chinese Home Cooking and Tea Glazed Eggs

One of the best things about being home at my parent’s house is the likelihood that any given moment – approximately 89.75% of the time – the Bean and I can walk into the kitchen and there will be delicious Chinese food cooking.  Yep. It’s pretty sweet.  There’s a lovely Chinese couple, Jenny and Don,  living there who help our Dad around the house and also cook tummy filling and seemingly effortless and homestyle Chinese food.

Quite often these dishes are aesthetically pleasing and easily replicable, like the black tea and spice glazed eggs above.

Other times, these dishes are neither easy to prepare nor particularly attractive…

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my new addiction: dangerously quick and easy scallion pancakes

scallion pancakes with a smashed garlic scallion soy dipping sauce

i am in the midst of a very dangerous scallion pancake obsession. if you’ve ever had these flaky fried disks dotted with slivers of green onions, you know that they have potential to become a serious addiction.  you pick up a piping hot triangle, shimmering lightly with a bare trace of sesame oil and threatening to pull apart into thin layers of nearly translucent dough.  you dip a corner into the smashed garlic soy vinegar sauce and bring it to your mouth, inhaling the scent of crispy seared scallions and the nutty warmth of the lingering sesame flavors.  and then you bite down, the doughy inner layers dissolving on your tongue as the crispy outer shards of the browned pancake crack into pieces like the icy surface of a frozen pond as springtime approaches.

oh…it tastes so good. and then you want to do it again. and again. and again.

and when you have perfected the quick and easy scallion pancake recipe to the point that it takes a mere stomach-rumbling twenty minutes to go from a bag of flour and a handful of scallions to the tastiest of pan-fried snacks…well, it’s dangerous business. because you will do it all the time. trust me, i know.

so i give you this scallion pancake recipe with a warning: with great power comes great responsibility.  after trying these pancakes, the mere sizzle of the pan or scent of freshly chopped scallions may cause you to relinquish control, churning out pancake after pancake and consuming every bite. cook at your own risk…

step by step scallion pancakes recipe in photos

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nyc food tour, part seven: chinatown is a paradise of assorted munchies

for my final US of A post, i’d like to showcase some final photos from new york chinatown. i enjoyed a wonderful few hours wandering the area solo with the bean, and then a round table dinner with a kickass crew of dumpling eaters.

irenebean and i started off with a serious case of the munchies. no illicit substances necessary, we pretty much always have the munchies. luckily we encountered paradise in front of us, also known as aji ichiban:


obviously, one is welcome to taste anything they like in munchies paradise. did you know paradise also includes super crunchy mini dried crabs that you eat whole?


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nyc food tour, part six: Chinatown Rules Everything Around Me – dollar dollar bills, y'all.

chinatown in manhattan is a buyer’s paradise. you’ve got bargains galore, from imitation gucci to bootleg cds to endless loads of cheap imported crap. i used to live right off canal street, and wading through the hordes of tourists taking up precious sidewalk space while looking for fake fendi bags used to irk me on the regular (although i’ll admit that a local source for cheap sunglasses is immensely useful when you go through approximately 43.7 pairs per month). but the low prices aren’t confined to the luxury knockoffs   – the food in chinatown is plentiful, varied, authentic, and generally extremely inexpensive, not to mention FANTASTICALLY DELICIOUS.

i’d like to draw your attention to two particular purchases made with one dollar each. no joke. one single george washington, equivalent to 100 disregarded pennies that often inhabit the crevasses of your sofa or fail to merit your attention when lying unattended on the sidewalk.  regard the following plate:


lexi and irene worship at the altar of fried dumpling.

you might start keeping track of pennies now that you know that a hundred of those suckers will buy you a plate of FIVE succulent and freshly folded fried dumplings. yes, deep in the heart of chinatown exists what most be the most straightforwardly named hole in the wall food emporium on the planet: Fried Dumpling. you can tell by the name that this joint sells the best scandinavian-inspired modular shelving units in new york.


kidding. they do make a mean burrito though.

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irene's chinese food to eat before you die

the bean is back up in this business with a hilarious comment on the 100 Chinese Foods To Try Before You Die post, (originally from appetite for china). i’ve rescued it from the comments section where it might die without reaching its deserved readership, sorry for any repetition. irene, you are fucking funny and i love you.

from the mouth of the bean:


This is a sweet list. I think the more challenging task would definitely be to list items in order of importance/level of eat-before-you-die-ness instead of just alphabetical order. (Mei, you’re really getting into the hyphenated sentences… I like them, but they’re so hard to type!) Anyway, where do I begin?!

Let’s start with the obvious: Peking duck. Sweet, salty, crunchy, oily, all wrapped up in a thin flour pancake. What could be better? (Aside: in my exploits at college, I’ve found that burritofying everything (i.e. taking things and wrapping them in tortillas) is a really good and convenient way to live.) I remember when mom and I were living in BeiJing and we used to eat this stuff all the time, and it was so freakaleeking cheap that I wanted to cry when we got back to Boston and it was 40 bucks/duck.

Next, xiaolongbao. Little dragon bun/bag, i.e. a deliciously moist dumpling filled with shrimpy porky soup. Easy to burn your tongue on this one, so you can’t eat it in one bite, which is unfortunately, because that’s my classy signature move. I remember that I was taught to eat this in my wide-Chinese-style soup spoon so that I could save all the soup from getting sloshed across my plate, and therefore, undrinkable. These little guys also come in a bamboo steamy thingy with some big bai cai (bok choy, cabbage) leaves underneath them that are pretty freaking tasty.

Prawn crackers, also known as shrimp chips definitely bring back the memories, namely the memory of Mei deep-frying shrimp chips in our rice cooker (or our wok? I realize that rice cooker makes no sense) and then accidentally dropping in one of the plastic handles on the pot cover. And then we had shrimp chips, and a lump of greasy black plastic. Mei, was that also the time that a burning gob of flying oil hit you right in the middle of your forehead? She clearly has a long career of food-maverickism (<— definitely not a real word).

Crab rangoon. Freaking tasty. I do not care to comment on the authenticity of this dish. Only on the warm cream cheesiness.

Haw flakes: I haven’t thought of these in so long! Those grainy red discs of delicious jujube fruit will always be that part of Chinese school that I remember most fondly.

Tea eggs: delicious. I’m going to have to learn how to make these one day. I can’t imagine that it’s that hard.

Now, here are a couple that I didn’t see (or that I missed because my brain is fried from 50 pages of the American Journal of Sociology):

Rice cakes (in ovalette form). These little suckers have an amazingly satisfying chewiness, and can be thrown into stir fry, soup, whatever. Mmm, mmm chew.

You tiao (literally, oil stick). These guys are long, bready sticks that are so oily you have to eat them folded up in a paper towel unless you want grease stains all over yourself. They’re also delicious sliced, toasted, and stirred up in shi fan (congee).

Any kind of green vegetable. There’s an “oriental” grocery that Daniel and I sometimes go to, and the vegetable section is full of all of these unlabeled, leafy beautiful greens, and they are all so delicious. You really can’t go wrong.

Okay, procrastination time over! I’m giving myself half an hour for hygiene, and the rest of the day for work! Such is a Sunday afternoon, especially when I slept through Sunday morning.

Love you allz! Let’s see some comments up in here!

100 Chinese Foods To Try Before You Die – the childhood food memories abound…

i just went through the top 100 SF foods again with my roommate last night to narrow down what we’re aiming to hit up before i bounce for the east coast.  while i’m on the list tip, bear with me as i indulge my desire to see how well i’m doing on 100 Chinese Foods To Try Before You Die from a beautiful and serious food-porntastic website called appetite for china. the author is a freelance writer and cooking instructor with french culinary training who learned about food in her parent’s chinese restaurants and now travels, writes, and teaches around world.  i’m inspired, admiring, and envious. it’s a gorgeous site and full of good recipes that i plan to try asap. i’ve included a few of her accompanying photos.  is it weird that i want to jump into this bowl of congee (what i grew up calling shi fan or jook) and float on top in a rice-flavored steam bath?


she says that the list is a pretty broad definition of chinese food and a mostly modern take, which makes sense for me as a second and third generation chinese-american who grew up eating chinese food, american food, and american chinese food. posts with links take you back to recipes on her site or wikipedia definitions, so i’ve bolded the ones i’ve tried and added a few comments.

  1. Almond milk
  2. Ants Climbing a Tree (poetic, not literal, name) – apparently a dish of minced beef and bean noodles, named ‘because the tiny morsels of meat cling to the strands of noodles as you dangle them from your chopsticks’. reminds me of how i ate ants on a log in nursery school by picking off the raisins, licking the peanut butter off the celery stick, and then refusing to eat the celery. always could pick out the best part…
  3. Asian pear – that seems unfairly easy.
  4. Baby bok choy – one of my favorite vegetables to cook
  5. Baijiu – an everpresent alcoholic offering in china.
  6. Beef brisket – my mom makes this and it’s DOPE.
  7. Beggar’s Chicken
  8. Bingtang hulu
  9. Bitter melon
  10. Bubble tea
  11. Buddha’s Delight
  12. Cantonese roast duck – mmm…my whole family loves roast duck.
  13. Century egg, or thousand-year egg – in my opinion, it is a texturally bizarre and marginally gag-reflex-inducing experience to unexpectedly encounter one of these in your porridge. definitely a classic jook ingredient though.
  14. Cha siu (Cantonese roast pork) – one of the most delicious salty-sweet-meat combos in a bun. i remember eating these in NYC chinatown with my grandmother.
  15. Char kway teow - didn’t recognize the name, but have definitely had this dish before by the pictures on wikipedia
  16. Chicken feet – i’ll be honest, i always avoided these as a kid. i recently got into a discussion about how good they are though, and saw them at duc loi, so looks like a chicken feet night is in order…
  17. Chinese sausage – in my opinion, these have an interesting but somehow offputting sweet quality which unfortunately lowers them drastically on my pork product scale of tastiness
  18. Chow mein
  19. Chrysanthemum tea
  20. Claypot rice
  21. Congee – also known as shi fan, jook, porridge and probably a bunch of other names. eating jook always reminds me of family holidays like thanksgiving at my aunt and uncle’s house in albany. once the meal is done and the meat has been picked off the carcass, the turkey skeleton gets tossed into a pot of rice and 5-10 times as much water. the next morning we’d wake up to steaming thick savory rice porridge with bits of meat and scallions. such a perfect winter family meal, and it takes practically no work.
  22. Conpoy (dried scallops)
  23. Crab rangoon – so classic americanized greasy hole in the wall late night chinese food steez.
  24. Dan Dan noodles
  25. Dragonfruit
  26. Dragon’s Beard candy - just had this recently! tastes like if you ate your grandma’s sweater and it turned out to be subtly sweet and vaguely delicious.
  27. Dried cuttlefish
  28. Drunken chicken
  29. Dry-fried green beans
  30. Egg drop soup
  31. Egg rolls
  32. Egg tart, Cantonese or Macanese - my cousin paul always says that while asian food is absolutely amazing, the continent is a bit behind when it comes to desserts. as a kid, i always thought that these egg tarts were kind of a poor dessert substitute, but had them recently in nyc and, i’ll be honest, i ate five in one sitting.
  33. Fresh bamboo shoots
  34. Fortune cookies - these have a fascinating history and may not even be chinese in origin, but possibly japanese or american.
  35. Fried milk
  36. Fried rice
  37. Gai lan (Chinese broccoli)
  38. General Tso’s Chicken
  39. Gobi Manchurian
  40. Goji berries (Chinese wolfberries)
  41. Grass jelly
  42. Hainan chicken rice
  43. Hand-pulled noodles
  44. Har gau (steamed shrimp dumplings in translucent wrappers)
  45. Haw flakes - this was one of my absolute favorite candies as a kid. they come in wafer-thin disks, stacked and packaged in pretty paper. such a nostalgic candy memory…
  46. Hibiscus tea
  47. Hong Kong-style Milk Tea
  48. Hot and sour soup
  49. Hot Coca-Cola with Ginger
  50. Hot Pot
  51. Iron Goddess tea (Tieguanyin)
  52. Jellyfish – i have a very strong memory of eating this and duck tongues in an LA-area chinese banquet restaurant with my uncle michael’s family.  i think if you could eat sesame-flavored cold translucent gelatinous plastic, it would taste like jellyfish.
  53. Kosher Chinese food – this is such a classic Brookline feature (my hometown) that i’m surprised i’ve never tried it.
  54. Kung Pao Chicken
  55. Lamb skewers (yangrou chua’r)
  56. Lion’s Head meatballs
  57. Lomo Saltado -interesting, this is something i associate with south america cause that’s where i’ve eaten it. turns out it is chinese-peruvian fusion.
  58. Longan fruit
  59. Lychee - so fun to peel!
  60. Macaroni in soup with Spam – although i’ve never had this exact dish, spam reminds me of visiting my uncle victor’s family in hawaii for the first time when i was six.
  61. Malatang
  62. Mantou, especially if fried and dipped in sweetened condensed milk – i will forever associate mantou with a skit from a chinese camp i went to in minnesota at age 14. someone sang ‘mantou man’ to the tune of the village people’s macho man and i will never lose that association with the word mantou.  (btw, please click that link if you want a thoroughly enjoyable muscle-pumping dude in a tank top 70’s music video).
  63. Mapo Tofu
  64. Mock meat
  65. Mooncake (bonus points for the snow-skin variety)
  66. Nor mai gai (chicken and sticky rice in lotus leaf) – LOOOOOOVE THIS DISH.
  67. Pan-fried jiaozi  – i heart everything dumpling.
  68. Peking duck – this is one of my favorite dishes ever, and i think my favorite memory of eating it is going to peking duck house restaurant in nyc chinatown with my grandmother. so fatty, so succulent, so juicy yet crispy, so perfect.
  69. Pineapple bun
  70. Prawn crackers - these pastel colored styrofoam-y chips were one of my favorite things at chinese banquets as a kid. we used to call them shrimp chips. in thinking about them now, it’s clearly a bizarre idea to serve multicolored chips that taste like shrimp with your roast chicken, but i was obsessed with them…
  71. Pu’er tea
  72. Rambutan
  73. Red bean in dessert form – red bean ice cream is the shit. not as much a fan of the soup. chinatown ice cream factory in nyc chinatown serves a killer version…
  74. Red bayberry
  75. Red cooked porkhey irene, would you hit that? i’d hit it
  76. Roast pigeon – sounds better when you call it squab. first ate this with my grandmother li, also in nyc chinatown. i remember thinking how small they are, barely bigger than your fist. you dip them in a tiny plate of flavored salt. don’t think of street pigeons when you eat, it’ll just ruin the taste…
  77. Rose tea
  78. Roujiamo – her accompanying photo of this makes me want to make this RIGHT NOW and put it in my mouth.
  79. Scallion pancake – i have wonderful memories of making this on my kitchen table at home as a kid. you roll out a long snake  of scallion-studded dough, then curl it into a spiral, then FLATTEN. fry in oil, savor, stuff yourself silly.
  80. Shaved ice dessert
  81. Sesame chicken
  82. Sichuan pepper in any dish
  83. Sichuan preserved vegetable (zhacai)
  84. Silken tofu
  85. Soy milk, freshly made
  86. Steamed egg custard
  87. Stinky tofu
  88. Sugar cane juice
  89. Sweet and sour pork, chicken, or shrimp
  90. Taro
  91. Tea eggs
  92. Tea-smoked duck
  93. Turnip cake (law bok gau) – my dad and aunt tina love this stuff. i’ve just come around to it recently. i don’t know why i didn’t like it, because almost everything pan-fried is delicious, but i think it was because i always expected it to taste like potato and then would have the unexpected stronger flavor of turnip. but now i’m way into this, and it’s super tasty from super 88 in boston.
  94. Twice-cooked pork
  95. Water chestnut cake (mati gau)
  96. Wonton noodle soup
  97. Wood ear
  98. Xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) - i realize i’m quick to throw out the word ‘favorite’ when discussing many food items, but i can’t keep from getting excited when it comes to dumplings. and choosing between fried dumplings and soup dumplings is like choosing between breathing and sleeping. or kittens and puppies. or twilight and harry potter. or battling an ever-regenerating mustache and always reeking horrifically of B.O. so much love for all these things that the bestowal of multi-favoritism must be understood and accepted.
  99. Yuanyang (half coffee, half tea, Hong Kong style)
  100. Yunnan goat cheese


thanks diana! i hope it’s cool that i’ve so shamelessly poached from your blog post, it’s done with an immense amount of respect and admiration. i think i’m at 75/100 (clearly i’m not very good at counting in high double digits). most of the ones i haven’t tried are dishes i haven’t seen before, with a few exceptions for items i thought were gross when i was younger. now i’ll put anything in my mouth at least once (zing!). kidding kidding, i’m trying to keep this PG because i’m going to send this out to my entire family and this is already making me feel reeeally awkward. i really enjoyed all the family food memories that came up as i went through the list and want to share them with my relatives. this is part of why irene and i started this blog and why i named it family styles – food and eating carry such strong shared memories and cultural values and family bonds and passionate enjoyment and eating family-style embodies so many of those principles. my strongest memories of many of my relatives involve taking over huge  chinese restaurants (i have a LOT of cousins, and they’re all awesome) with their big round tables and spinning lazy susans and tackling an immense number of dishes, always family style.

irene and andy and mom and lexi and auntie julia and caroline and auntie virginia and all my other wonderful fam, i’m going to send this to you and hope that you’ll go through the list and see what food memories get dredged up. my apologies for all the cursing if you venture elsewhere on the site:) so much family styles love to all of you…