Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Importance of Chinese Cuisine and How it Applies to a Chef (CHN-190, Jimmy Townsend, Blog Post 4)

According to the readings, from Shu Xi’s poetry and Ju Lin, Chinese food has a very deep history and is very meticulous in its nature. The Chinese people find that food is not only something to maintain proper health, but is also symbolic and historic. In this post I want to delve into the vocabulary used in Chinese rhetoric to describe food, what food relates to in the eyes of the Chinese population and I also want to analyze two noodle forms and depict how they relate to each other. Furthermore I am going to go into how this cuisine relates to me and my experiences working in the kitchen.

When reading the text associated with Shu Xi’s poem “Rhapsody on Pasta” I found that the Chinese language values words for food. This really stuck with me because in the English language, food and meals are just called by their general appearance (like green bean), whereas the Chinese use words for food that are associated with their ingredients and are placed in different categories. This is specifically shown in the text through the term ‘bing’, which means wheat and flour. The Chinese are find that food and cooking are so important to their lifestyle that it is intertwined within their language. There is a very complex and deep history of food within their language. In one word: chronicled.

Image 1: Green bean vs. Bing
Image 1: Green bean vs. Bing


Specifically, though, “Rhapsody in Pasta”, the poem by Shu Xi, emphasizes the basic structure of food in Chinese society. No matter the season, no matter the area of China, the basic foundations of Chinese foods are maintained, whether it is rice, flour or soy. There seems to be a general consensus that meals may change and rotate based on season, but the backbone remains the same.

The importance and relevance of Chinese food in their culture is also exemplified in Ju Lin’s writings and description of two distinct versions of noodles. Another main aspect, other than the importance of history, of Chinese people’s views of food is the geographical importance. Lin illustrates this through the following two forms of noodles: Bamboo Pole Noodles and Pulled Noodles. Bamboo pole noodles are very labor intensive and require a massive amount of specificity to produce the proper dough and consistency for the noodles to be made and then consumed. This dough production is so specific there are almost rules that must be abided by:

Image 2: The rules for Bamboo Noodles
Image 2: The rules for Bamboo Noodles

These noodles are usually found in southern China, mainly in Hong Kong and Canton. Noodles that are usually found in the north are called pulled noodles. These noodles are not as demanding in terms of time and labor, but the actual ‘stretching’ of the noodles is more like a spectacle (see video 2 below). These noodles are also not as specific as the bamboo pole noodles in that their recipe tends to have general outlines about what should be added to the dough (i.e: a little bit more flour, a sprinkle of water etc…). What these two noodles represents is how, even though the basics of the noodles may be the same, the geographical split has caused them to be produced in differing ways. I think this is really what Chinese cooking is all about; maintaining the historical basics of the recipes while also changing and developing based on location and tastes.

As a chef myself, I’ve found that I can relate significantly to the processes the Chinese put into creating these noodles. I think the best food comes from diligent and historic recipes, those which have been worked on for years until the perfect combination of ingredients, time and science come together to form the most precise and tasteful dish possible. Though I am not Chinese, and I do not eat the most authentic Chinese dishes, I still find that there is one part of the Chinese food culture that I seem to always find myself working with: wonton (or in cantonese: húndun), specifically the wrapper. I’ve worked as a sous chef in the Belgian Ambassador’s residence for several years now, but what shocked me was how much the executive chef used Chinese influences in his dishes. There was one that I found to be the most interesting (and I cannot find the recipe, my apologies) which was veal tongue in a soy, ginger and Belgian beer broth with a steamed wonton on top. This wonton, though so simple in nature, added the needed carbohydrates, from the flour, to fully complete the dish. It reminded me of “Big Night”, even though it is about Italian food, not Chinese, in that the movie talked about how you cannot have too much or too little starch in a dish, where you cannot order pasta and risotto at the same time. Back to the wonton. My relationship with this component has evolved from eating it as a microwaved snack, to in wonton soup, then to cooking with it in a Belgian dish. I think that wontons embrace the Chinese cuisine and what the Chinese people think about the cuisine, as it is so basic, but it can be evolved and used in any other dish, even in Belgian recipes.

Image 3: Homemade wonton wrappers
Image 3: Homemade wonton wrappers

Recipe for Wonton Wrapper:

  1. In a large bowl, mix flour with salt and then add egg in. Stir well.
  2. Slowly add water and keep stirring the mixture. Then grasp with hand to form a ball. Adjust the amount of water based on the water absorbing capacity of your brand of flour. Stop adding water when there is no dry flour in your bowl.
  3. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and rest for 10 minutes.
  4. And then knead the dough again for around 8-15 minutes until smooth. Rest for around 30 minutes.
  5. Divide dough in half. Press on half down and roll out to a larger wrapper around 3mm in thickness. Fold up and cover with plastic wrap again for the next resting process.
  6. Finish the other half and reset both for another 30 minutes.
  7. Take one larger wrapper out and divide in half. Roll each of the halves into paper-thin wrapper or as thin as possible. Keep dusting. Then cut the large wrappers into small squares around 8cm.
  8. Repeat to finish all.


Eat to Live or Live to Eat? An Obvious Answer – Rhea Nair ITAL190 Post 4

In class last week, we discussed Chinese people’s attitudes towards food and cooking. I was more than happy when I discovered from both the readings and the discussion, that food is a deeply significant and personalized matter to the Chinese. It’s from here that I realized (without making an overgeneralization) that Chinese food philosophy is both intensely complex yet clear enough to easily appreciate. From the many food traditions, methodology in cooking, medicinal and healing properties, to the importance placed on the elements and variety of food, there is a lot of beauty in this way of thinking and this way of life.


The best part of last week’s readings was how relatable they were, since this attitude relates to my personal philosophy with food on so many levels. Starting with the seemingly curious food traditions to the healing properties of certain ingredients and the symbolism attached to others, there were so many parallels I was able to draw between Chinese and Indian culture.


I know I definitely live to eat and not the other way around, and I believe the Chinese share a similar sentiment with regards to food. When I read that I had to pick a dish that I believed represented Chinese food philosophy, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about. It also helps that this dish is a personal favorite.


Cha Siu Bao – Steamed Barbeque Pork Buns

Cha Siu Bao is a Cantonese dish that has its origins and place in the Cantonese tradition of Yum Cha, which literally translates to ‘drink tea’. The more popular dim sum is closely associated with yum cha as Cantonese people enjoy midday meals involving lots of tea and a variety of bite sized dumplings, one of them being Cha Siu Bao.


I believe this dish really exemplifies several aspects of Chinese attitudes as it is a part of an integral tradition in the Cantonese region of China – dim sum, which means ‘touch your heart’. This reflects the connection and value people place on food. Further, the preparation involves a lot of time and effort; in order to make the dish, one has to knead out dough and prepare the pork before creating the well-loved bun in a specific way. Although the dish can be baked, most people prefer the steamed version, which reflects the concern for health and well-being in Chinese culture. Finally, the dish itself reflects the five elements of Chinese cooking; when done right, the balance of sweet and savory elements combined with the variety of textures is really a feast in itself.


The recipe below has been translated from a recipe in Cantonese, and although I can’t be sure, I hope it’s the truest rendition of this marvelous dish.

The source for the image and recipe are:

Steamed BBQ Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao)

Prep Time: 3 hours

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 10 buns

For the dough:

  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

For the filling:

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment (you can also just use a regular mixing bowl and knead by hand), dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Sift together the flour and cornstarch, and add it to the yeast mixture along with the sugar and oil. Turn on the mixer to the lowest setting and let it go until a smooth dough ball is formed. Cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for 2 hours. (I haven’t forgotten about the baking powder. You’ll add that later!)

While the dough is resting, make the meat filling. Heat the oil in a wok over medium high heat. Add the onion and stir-fry for a minute. Turn heat down to medium-low, and add the sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and dark soy. Stir and cook until the mixture starts to bubble up. Add the chicken stock and flour, cooking for a couple minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the roast pork. Set aside to cool. If you make the filling ahead of time, cover and refrigerate to prevent it from drying out.

After your dough has rested for 2 hours, add the baking powder to the dough and turn the mixer on to the lowest setting. At this point, if the dough looks dry or you’re having trouble incorporating the baking powder, add 1-2 teaspoons water. Gently knead the dough until it becomes smooth again. Cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for another 15 minutes. In the meantime, get a large piece of parchment paper and cut it into ten 4×4 inch squares. Prepare your steamer by bringing the water to a boil.

Now we are ready to assemble the buns: roll the dough into a long tube and divide it into 10 equal pieces. Press each piece of dough into a disc about 4 1/2 inches in diameter (it should be thicker in the center and thinner around the edges). Add some filling and pleat the buns until they’re closed on top.

Place each bun on a parchment paper square, and steam. I steamed the buns in two separate batches using a bamboo steamer (be sure the boiling water does not touch the buns during steaming process). Once the water boils, place the buns in the steamer and steam each batch for 12 minutes over high heat.

Food as Medicine by Cecillia Bae (CHN190)

While many different cultures and cuisines have come and gone throughout my life, the Korean cuisine has always been a stable, unfaltering part of my life. Throughout my childhood, I remember growing up, hearing my parents and elder family members lecturing me on different Korean dishes, and the specific medicinal effects they carried. “Seaweed helps clear up your blood,” they’d recite, or “Kimchi speeds up your metabolism, so you won’t gain weight.” Distinct vegetables that all looked the same carried so many different healing powers, and my elders would remind me of them at every meal, ensuring that I would eat diversely and carefully to live at optimum health. I am passionate about eating and always have been; however, due to the incessant “nagging” of my relatives, I have always considered my health and fitness to be values of utmost importance to me, and have based the food I consume around that. It was very interesting to read about how the Chinese culture also views food as medicine.

Korean "banchan" or side dishes
Korean “banchan” or side dishes

For the Chinese, viewing specific foods with different properties and functions goes so far as to assigning different types of “bing” to different seasons. For example, in the “Ode to Bing,” Shu Xi declares that in spring, one should eat mantou; in autumn, qisou; and in winter, boiled noodles. Similarly, the Chinese also believe that eating seasonal food helps people maintain their health, almost as if each nature produces the right healing foods during each season for people. For example, while in the summer, yin foods like melons and cucumbers are best, in winter, high yang foods such as garlic and onions are recommended in order to maintain a specific balance. In the same vein, in winter, the Chinese would refrain from consuming melons, while in the hot summertime, they would refrain from having garlic and onions.

A Chinese dish that carries sentimental value for me is the xiao long bao.I remember going to a Chinese restaurant in the neighborhood mall in Indonesia to consume these from 5th-12th grade for every occasion: after swim practices, a bad day at school, or over the weekend with my family and friends. The small dumplings were definitely an immense part of my adolescence.  In China, the xiao long bao originated in Nanxiang, a suburb of Shanghai. While there are two main types of xiao long bao (xiang style or steamed), the steamed buns are the ones I am most familiar with. While these buns originated in a small town in Shanghai, today, they are one of the most famous dishes in Chinese cuisine, and have diffused to a myriad of different countries.

Steamed xiao long baos
Steamed xiao long baos

The recipe for steamed xiao long bao: 



bones of 1 roasted chicken

1 small carrot, cut into chunks

a few slices of ham or Asian-style cured sausage

a few sprigs of cilantro or parsley

1 green onion

big pinch salt

1 Tbsp. plain gelatin


1 lb. ground pork

1/4 cup chopped cilantro (stems too)

2 green onions, finely chopped

2-3 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 tsp. grated fresh ginger

1-2 garlic cloves, finely crushed

2 tsp. brown sugar

a squirt of Sriracha (to taste)

1 pkg. dumpling wrappers

To make the stock, combine everything but the gelatin in a medium pot, cover with water and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat, without bringing it to a rolling boil, for 30-45 minutes, or until you have a rich-tasting stock. Strain and pour back into the pot. Sprinkle the gelatin overtop (you should have about 2 cups of stock – reduce the gelatin if you have less) and let sit a few minutes to soften. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the gelatin completely. Pour into a loaf pan or other dish and refrigerate until firm.

To make the dumpling filling, combine the ground pork, cilantro, green onions, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, brown sugar and Sriracha, mixing gently with your hands to combine.

When you’re ready to assemble the dumplings, put some water in a small dish and find a clean work surface, like a chopping board. Cut the gelled stock into strips, then into pieces about 1/3-inch square. (If you like, stir the pieces of gelled stock gently into the pork mixture.)

Place a few dumpling wrappers at a time on the board, and brush around the edge with water using a pastry brush or your finger. Place a small spoonful of the pork mixture in the middle of each wrapper, along with a square or two of gelled stock. Gather the dumpling up into the palm of your hand and pleat it all around the edges using your thumb, twisting it in a small topknot at the top to close. If it doesn’t stick (most dumpling wrappers are coated with a layer of cornstarch), add another drop of water.

As you fill them, put them on a parchment-lined sheet and cover with a light towel. Steam over simmering water in a bamboo steamer basket (or in a rice cooker or other steamer), on a layer of parchment, cheesecloth or cabbage leaves, for 12-15 minutes, or until cooked through. For the dipping sauce, mix the ginger with about 2 parts soy sauce to 1 part vinegar, or to taste.

To eat, pick up the soup dumpling by its topknot using chopsticks, and transfer to a Chinese soup spoon. Either poke a hole in the side with your chopstick and let the soup run out into the spoon, or lift it up, bite off one side and sip out the soup, then eat the dumpling.

Makes 2-3 dozen soup dumplings.

My Relation to Chinese Food by Jonathan Brown

Food is an essential aspect of most if not all cultures of the world. It is believed by many that the Chinese culture places one of the greatest emphasis on than other cultures. One of the things that the traditional Chinese really value about their food culture is the seating arrangement at the dinner table. One of the important rules they follow is that children and elders shouldn’t be seated next to each other, and neither should people of different social classes (the rich and poor). In addition to this, the Chinese tend to have certain members at the center of the table during certain events, such as the bride’s uncle at wedding celebrations and the maternal grandmother at a celebration held a few months after the birth of a newborn. Aside from the seating arrangements, the Chinese also like there foods served a specific way. Cold foods are usually served first and are usually lighter than the warmer dishes served afterwards. Although I feel like this particular custom is sensible as well as thoughtful, I am reluctant to say that this is a part of Chinese culture that I cannot relate with. At my home, we usually like to have all of our food together with no appetizers or other dishes served first. Something else that we are used to is have the whole meal (with the exception of a salad as a side to another dish) being  either completely cool or completely warm. A part of Chinese culture that I can relate to is eating foods at designated times, such as breakfast foods in the morning, lunch in the afternoon, and dinner in the evening. However, something I find interesting about myself is that whenever I skip a meal, I still feel like I must consume it later. For example, let’s say I sleep in and wake up at 12 noon. Even though this is lunch time, I still feel the urge to have breakfast food and I would have to eat breakfast food before I can eat foods that are representative of lunch even if it is technically lunch time.

One of the attitudes that the Chinese have towards their food that I find very intriguing is how they not only consider food as food, but also as medicine. This leads me to believe that health is a major part of the function of food, not only should it taste good but it should also but it should also hold medicinal properties to not only cure sickness but to also prevent it. A food that is very important to my diet is the tomato. I have always heard that it prevents cancer. In my family there have been instances in which extended relatives have had cancer (some have survived, some have died, and someone has it now) so I always try to get my parents to include tomatoes in the dishes they cook. Hopefully I can find information on other foods that aids in preventing to include in our diet because I am dismissive of the mere thought of any other relatives getting this mysterious disease. I just hope the next food is as tasty as the tomato.

A Chinese dish that I can relate to well is Lo Mein which has the meaning of stirred noodles. I like this dish because it is one of the healthier dishes that consists of many ingredients such as garlic, ginger, carrots, chestnuts, peas, onions, scallions, etc
along with a meat for protein. I learned from the reading that some of the ingredients with the strong tastes such as the ginger and garlic have pungent tastes which are useful in giving the food a stronger flavor as well as having medicinal properties. This dish reminds me of chicken noodle soup which I eat usually when I have a cold or fever. Although Lo Mein has its origins in China, it is popular in Chinese restaurants all over the world especially in the United States. This dish has always been a favorite of mine and it is great to no that it one of the healthier ones. Overall, though there are some traditions of the Chinese culture that me and even some of the younger Chinese cannot always relate to, I still find everything about it very interesting. But the attitude that I believe all cultures including mine share is viewing food as one of the delicacies of life in which puts us in a mini heaven around the people we love.


D4: Chinese Approach to Healthy Food by Claire Mahon CHN190

turtle soupChinese people are very focused on improving health through eating certain foods in balanced proportions.

Unlike Americans who enjoy a wide range of foods year round, Chinese people traditionally eat seasonally. In the old poem “Ode to Bing,” Shu Xi describes what kind of bing people should eat throughout the year that corresponds to the weather. For example, in late spring you are supposed to eat mantou, and during the peak of summer, you eat bozhuang. Shu Xi goes so far as to say that “each of these preparations has its own season, and those who respect this will surely benefit; those who upset the proper order will be unable to profit from their qualities.” It is only useful to eat a food during a specific time of year, like the modern winter melon soup and summer sweet-sour plum juice.
       Everyday Chinese food comes from a balance of different flavors that are all known to have preventative health benefits. The five tastes are a Chinese idea that isn’t prevalent in US culture. Saltiness is the most important taste because it brings out all the flavors in a dish. Sourness, which often comes from the addition of vinegar to dishes, is thought to help with digestive and immune system health. Pungency is a quality that roughly translates to the American idea of spiciness. Some pungent ingredients such as garlic and ginger are thought to help regulate body fluids. Bitterness is also a quality not desired in American cuisine, but it is believed to help the stomach and vision. Sweetness is used to counteract the bitterness and pungency, but real Chinese food is much less sweet than American Chinese food or the average American diet. A Chinese chef’s objective is to mix the five tastes in harmony. In contrast, American dishes are generally less complex and focused around one taste, such as sweet or salty.

When someone gets sick, the Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor will advise eating certain foods before prescribing medicine. For example, eating turtle soup is believed to help failing kidneys. The soup preparation is very time consuming and complex because you have to fist make a chicken broth and then cook the turtle in the broth over at least two days. The soup broth should be eaten once a month until your kidneys recover, or once a year for people with functioning kidneys. The recipe has not seemed to evolve much over time, but the footnotes on the recipe include that you can go to a supermarket and have the staff chop up the turtle for you instead of finding and killing the turtle yourself.

I think the idea of using food as medicine is very interesting. Growing up in an American family, I was always sent to the doctor for antibiotics or other types of medicine when I got sick. My family tried to eat pretty healthy, but we have very few ideas of eating certain foods for certain problems. All I can think of is that I drink ginger tea when my stomach hurts and a broth based soup when I have a cold.

Recipe for Turtle Soup (

Make a broth from these ingredients:

  1. One ounce Dioscorea (Shen Yao)
  2. One and a half ounces Radix Astragali (Huang Qi)
  3. One and a half ounces Codonopsis Pilosula (Dang Shen)
  4. One half ounce Medlar (Qi Zhi)
  5. 8 dried Chinese dates
  6. One whole (dead) chicken with the feathers and feet removed. Include the liver, heart, gizzard and neck in the broth.

When the broth is done, remove the chicken meat and the bones, but not the herbs.

Put the chopped up turtle (including the shell) into the ceramic pot and fill the pot, up to one inch from the top, with the chicken broth.

Place a towel or some chop sticks on the bottom of the stainless steel pot so that the ceramic pot does not touch the bottom of the stainless steel pot.

Pour water into the stainless steel pot, and allow the soup to simmer inside the ceramic pot for 12 hours at least. Do not allow the water in the stainless steel pot to get into the ceramic pot, which has a small hole in the lid.  Cover the stainless steel pot with a tight-fitting lid and allow the soup to simmer for up to 7 days.

To serve the soup, remove the pieces of turtle shell.  You may also remove the turtle meat.  You do not have to eat the turtle meat, as all of the medicinal properties will be in the broth. The amount of broth that you are required to drink depends on how much you boil it down.  Normally, about 12 ounces of broth will be enough to have a good effect on your kidneys.

Domain Entry 4: My Observation of Chinese Food Traditions (Andrew Phee)

China not only has a wide variety of cuisines and exotic fare in all its regions, even ordinary homemade cooking can provide for unique recipes. The Chinese stress the aesthetics of food, the refinement of dining ware, and the elegance of the dining environment, so having food is a daily enjoyment. The Chinese have had a regular dining discipline since long ago. First it was a two meals a day practice. The first meal called Zhao Shi is usually had around nine o’clock in the morning. The second meal bus hi is had around four in the afternoon. In comparison with the western practice of individually served foods, the way of shared dining is a distinctive characteristic of the Chinese. People usually sit around the table and eat from the same served dish and the same bowl of soup. But the ancient Chinese practiced individually served foods for quite some time.

A person’s status could be observed from the number of people he or she was sitting next to. At the dining table, a strict set of proprieties exists. Elders and youngsters or the noble and the poor may not sit together. Sitting on round stools or high chairs around a table in a natural posture, while sharing a table full of tasty food, is the way Chinese eat today; it is most characteristic of Chinese dining habits. Having families and friends enjoying great food at the table – the close attention the Chinese pay to blood relationships and kinship. Among the many foods of the Chinese culinary tradition, the most memorable are the delectable dumplings, stuffed buns, soups and noodles


Shu Xi was a native of Yuancheng, which was the administrative seat of Yangping Commandery. Shu Xi was reputed to be a descendant of the famous Han scholar Shu Guang, who served as grand tutor to Liu Shi, the future Emperor Yuan. Shu Xi was a skilled fu writer. The earliest occurrence of the word bing in a Chinese text is in the mozi. Bing is given a definition in the Explaining Simple and Analyzing Compound Characters, compiled around 100, which defines it as a ci made of wheat flour. The bing that Shu Xi describes in the most detail is the laowan, a dumpling stuffed with meat. Meaning “kneaded dough balls.” Shu Xi tells us that the wrapper is made of wheat flour blended with a meat stock. Into the wrapper goes a filling consisting of minced lamb, pork, sliced ginger and onions, which was flavored with cinnamon, fagara, thoroghwort, salt, and bean relish.

The foods that I really want to discuss about are Lily bulb soup and Zhajiangmian. I thought the Chinese food were all really unhealthy since we have the perspective of Lo Mein and other greasy food. I was really interested to see Lily bulb soup because I was able to get a different perspective of Chinese food. Lily bulb is a starchy edible root vegetable that comes from Lilium flowering plant family. It is used fresh as a vegetable in Chinese stir-frys or dried as a herbal remedy in Chinese medicine. Lily bulb has a light sweet taste and crispy texture similar to that of the green sugar peas or lotus root. Lily bulb provides protein and starch. Additionally they contain small amounts of calcium, iron, phosphorus and vitamins B1, B2 and C. In traditional Chinese medicine, lily bulb is considered sweet and cooling in properties.  The herb is also associated to the lung and heart meridians and help to relieve coughs, dry throats, clear heat, and moisten the lung.  Dried lily bulb is also used as an herb to calm the spirit, promote restful sleep, and lessen irritability.imgres

Recipe: Moisturizing Asian Pears Herbal Soup with Dried Figs

Recipe type: Soup, Herbal Soup

Prep time:  10 mins

Cook time:  2 hours 30 mins

Total time:  2 hours 40 mins

Serves: 8

This is a moisturizing soup that nourishes the lungs and relieves dry coughs and dry throat. It is a perfect drink for the cold or hot summer seasons. A vegetarian version of this soup can also be made by omitting the pork from this recipe. Use instead 1 or 2 more dried figs, and/or add honey after cooking to sweeten this soup.



  1. Boil a small pot of water to blanch the meat. In the meanwhile, cut the pork to 2 inch chunks. When the water boils, add the pork in. Blanch, drain, and set aside.
  2. In a separate large clay pot**, boil 10 cups of water.
  3. Rinse and soak all ingredients for 5 minutes except for the pears, dried figs, and Chinese yam. Cut the softened white fungus to ½ inch pieces.
  4. When the soup water boils, add the blanched pork and all ingredients except for the pears. Cover and cook on high heat until the liquid bubbles. Reduce the heat to Low and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, wash, core, and cut the pears to quarters.After the 30 minutes, add the pear quarters in. Cover and simmer for another 2 hours. When done, turn off the heat, season with salt (or honey if making vegetarian version) as desired. Serve hot.


* Ya Li Pear is the variety traditionally used with this soup. If you cannot find this pear, other types of Asian pears can be used although the sweetness and flavor may be slightly different. ** Always use clay or stoneware to cook herbs. Metal will react with some herbs.

Furthermore, there is lots of noodle in China but the one I wanted to talk about is Zhajiangmian. Noodles may be cooked from either their fresh or dry forms. They are generally boiled, although they may also be deep-fried in oil. Zhajiangmian is a Chinese dish consisting of thick wheat noodles topped with a mixture of ground pork stir-fried wish Zhajiang, which is salty fermented soybean paste. We can see that even in China, recipe is distinguished. For example, In Beijing cuisine, yellow soybean paste is used, and Tianjin and other parts of China use hoisin sauce or broad bean sauce. It’s sold everywhere—from street vendors to restaurants in five star hotels. Until now I thought the Korean Zhajiangmian(jajangmyeon) and Chinese Zhajiangmian were the same thing. After I did some research, the difference were that the Chinese Zhajiangmian has less amount in regular, have lots of vegetables, such as, Cabbage, cucumber, carrot, radish, cabbage, celery, bean sprouts, parsley, peas, onions, garlic, ginger. Additionally, its more sweet and pleasant. I was able to see the evolvement over from both Lily bulb soup and Chinese Zhajiangmian. For years only the dried bulb sections were available from China, but now there are lily bulb soup. Zhajiangmian had developed from literally just fried sauce noodle to various vegetables and new sauce recipe and noodle. If there is a chance I would really want to try making both of the food.


Ok, let’s start. You’ll need:

  • 6 oz. ground pork
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 oz. pork fat, finely minced (optional)
  • 3 slices ginger, minced finely
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 fresh shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sweet bean sauce or hoisin sauce
  • 3 tablespoons ground bean taste
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 oz. noodles (your favorite flour-based noodle. Fresh or dry—both will work).
  • 1 cup julienned carrots
  • 1 cup julienned cucumbers
  • 1/2 cup julienned scallions

Marinate the pork with the following for 15 minutes: ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, ½ teaspoon oil, 1/8 teaspoon white pepper.

Heat a tablespoon oil in your work over medium heat and add the pork fat (if using). Cook for 1 minute to render the fat down, and add the marinated ground pork to the wok. Cook for a minute to brown it, and then add the ginger and garlic. Let everything caramelize together.

Add the chopped mushrooms. Stir fry everything together for another 2-3 minutes.

Add the sweet bean sauce, bean paste, dark soy sauce, and water, stirring everything together well. Lower the heat and cover the wok. Simmer the sauce for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

While that’s happening, cook the noodles according to the package directions. Mix with the sauce …and toss with the julienned carrots, cucumbers, and scallions.

Domain entry 4 – Changes in my xiao long bao


Cultures, ethnicities and countries treat and view food differently, however, food is ultimately regarded essential anywhere in the world. A deeper look enables us to recognize unique features of each dining culture. Coming from a similar East Asian culture as Chinese, understanding the Chinese people’s attitudes towards food and cooking was rather sympathetic and personal to me. Moreover, having spent my teenage years growing up in Singapore, where Chinese culture is heavily embedded to, my life is indeed significantly shaped by Chinese dining culture.

The principal objective of Chinese food, in my understanding, is to share. Dining together is the fundamental attitude the Chinese people have towards food. Liu Junru wrote in Food and and Drink Traditions that “dining together increase interpersonal understanding and communication“, a statement which I concur. As seen in the movie Eat Drink Men and Women, food is the medium that brought every single family members onto a same dining table. Besides the cultural and historical significance of cuisine, food is a crucial means of communication and interaction for the Chinese people. Main dishes like meat and fish are served on a single plate and shared among the diners. Unlike the individually-served meals in Western countries or Japan, such physical food-sharing action, enhances relation with the diners. The simple fact that diners are sharing the same dish from the same plate provides an interpersonal experience for everyone, cultivates culinary sympathy and ultimately creates bonds. Thus, the Chinese people treat food as a means to physically and emotionally connect with family and friends.

With so much significance embedded to dining, cooking is also viewed and executed very carefully. For a stronger and closer connection through dining, food has to be wholeheartedly and sincerely cooked. In my experience in Singapore, the Chinese people could easily tell if a particular dish has or has not been cooked sincerely. They would often say, “The cook anyhow made this” even when the dish tasted perfect for me.

When I was in grade 7, my friends bought me a food which I never had before; xiao long bao. Unlike other conventional dumpling, xiao long bao was different. It is a common type of traditional Chinese dumpling, originated from Jiangnan region of China, filled with pork, minced crab meat and roe. It is prepared in small bamboo steaming baskets, steamed and served to customers. What was so unique about this was that, it was soup-filled. Dumplings usually contain steamed, dry ingredients inside the bun but xiao long bao is filled with meat and soup.

Back in grade 7, I was not given with much pocket money from my parents so eating xiao long bao was a rare experience. I always looked forward to the day to eat this with my friends, which happened like once 3 months or so. As I grew older, I had more money in my hands and frequently ate xiao long bao. The difference, however, was that it has never tasted as good as how it was back in grade 7. The sense of belonging and friendship I felt while eating xiao long bao with my friends back in grade 7 remained in my grade 7 years. In later years, I have dined xiao long bao at the same restaurants with same people from my grade 7, but things were still different. My friends and I would talk about how amazing xiao long bao was for the whole day back in grade 7. Now we would be busy updating each other because we hardly see each other. Still xiao long bao is the main medium we incorporate to gather friends from grade 7 and hang out.

Oily but Crunchy Tangbing

Having lived in Korea for most of my life, I was able to relate and sympathize in many features of Chinese culture.  Although China and Korea are two different countries with its own language, history, and culture, sharing the edge of the country border made two countries share many things in common, especially in the sense of food and its meaning.

In the last class, we mainly talked about the attitude of Chinese people toward the food and culture.  Chinese people have two main ways to approach to the food; fist, visually and second, spiritually  but both highly valued in the right balance.  Chinese people seem to stress the aesthetics of food, the refinement of dining ware, and the elegance of the dining environment. For each dish, Chinese people would focus on the color as we talked about during class with the shark pin being the exception.

Is it “Italian?” The Effect of Historical and Geographical Differences on the Variety in the Cuisines of Different Regions of Italy

While most Americans perceive Italian food as a single type of cuisine, in reality, cuisines from places like Alto Adige and Sicily are practically unrecognizable from one another, or from foods in other Italian provinces, such as Lombardia. I find the differences so striking that I feel that the term “Italian food” is not accurate. In the island of Great Britain, for example, Fish n’ chips are considered English food, while Haggis is considered Scottish food; there are few items that are considered “British” food. A similar mentality needs to be applied when studying “Italian” food. One major cause of the differences in cuisine between Italian regions is the fact that different regions of Italy have had different invaders, especially after the Romans lost power over the peninsula. These invaders were very culturally distinct, and brought different types of food to different regions of the country. Climatic differences are another cause of the regional cuisine differences in Italy. Regions near the ocean, such as Calabria and Sardegna, have a large amount of seafood in their diet, while more inland areas, like Basilicata, use more terrestrial meats, such as pork. The extreme contrast in cuisine between certain regions of Italy, such as between Alto Adige and Sicilia, is often due to both factors.

While the Roman empire was falling, Germanic tribes began to go into Northern Italy, where the region of Alto Adige is located. Many Germanic food items are now part of the local cuisine in the region, which exhibits strong German cultural influences in other areas, such as language, as well. For example, beer, which is relatively uncommon in places that the Germanic tribes did not manage to reach, like Sicilia, is an integral part of the cuisine in Alto Adige. The Germanic tribes also brought rye, which is used in the native style of bread. The cuisine of Alto Adige is also influenced by the region’s inland geographical position. Unlike in Sicilia, where seafood is common and easily obtained, Germanic-influenced dishes from pork, such as speck and sausage, are common in Alto Adige. While Alto Adige is one of the most extreme examples, Germanic influence can also be seen in the cuisine of Lombardia, which was invaded by a Germanic tribe called the Longobards. Veal, which is a common part of German dishes like schnitzel, is also eaten in local dishes, like Osso Buco or Risotto alla Milanese. Climatic influence can also be seen here, as, like Alto Adige, its inland geographical position makes seafood uncommon.

While the Germanic tribes were powerful, they were unable to reach regions in the southern part of the peninsula, such as Sicilia. However, Sicilian cuisine is very heavily influenced by Arab-Muslim invaders who reached the island. Saffron, which is often used in Middle Eastern cuisine but is not very common in most of Italy, is frequently added to Sicilian dishes. Mascarpone, another Sicilian dish, is made with almonds, which were also brought to the region by the invaders. The island’s geographical position has also had a great impact on its cuisine. Unlike in the mostly-inland regions of Alto Adige or Lombardy, which use mainly terrestrial animals such as the pig or cow, seafood is very common in Sicilian cuisine. Dishes like Pasta con la Sarde use two species of fish, sardines and anchovies, which are easily obtained from the Mediterranean Sea, which Sicily borders.

Domain Entry 4: My Observation of Chinese Food Traditions & Spring Rolls (Dania Quezada)

Though I am not Chinese myself, I did grow up in a predominantly Vietnamese community that I believe contains many similarities to the Chinese culture. My experience growing up in this community and my studies of Chinese culture and food traditions in college have led me to believe that the Chinese peoples’ attitudes towards food and cooking all revolve around a deep-rooted notion of respect and artful mastery of significant ingredients and cooking techniques that are all reflective of the types of lives that Chinese people lead. Food in China is not merely the end product of an obscure process of composition, packaging, and distribution that is unfortunately often the case here in the United States. The Chinese people take into heavy consideration how each ingredient contributes to the dish as a whole, and it appears that they are often involved in the production of the individual ingredients themselves. The short documentary that we watched this week about Chinese food traditions often demonstrated the Chinese people growing, reaping, cooking, and creating their own food. I was particularly struck by a scene that demonstrated a small village in Northern China putting together a small feast in which the men provided the cereals crushed into flour, and the women made the flour into dough which was carefully molded into beautiful blossom shapes and artfully cut with scissors and manipulated with the tiny teeth of hair combs to make petal and leaf decorations on the dough. This attention to detail present in Chinese food traditions, as well as the emphasis of cultural beliefs present in the consumption of certain festival foods (or lack of consumption) permeates Chinese culture.

Though I greatly admire this detail-oriented and respectful approach to cooking, I’m afraid that I can’t relate too much to it. Mexican food traditions also appreciate beautiful details in food aesthetics, but at the end of the day, the most significant aspect of Mexican food traditions is a nice, strong taste. Most Mexican food is heavily spiced and rich, thus, the blander taste of tortillas often pairs well with the spiciness of many Mexican dishes. I’ve never been much of a cook, so when I am forced to provide myself with something hot to eat, I tend to focus on slapping something tasty together without much attention to the traditions behind each ingredient I’m working with.

One of my favorite Chinese dishes is a nice and simple plate of Spring Rolls. Chinese history tells of a tradition whose roots are founded before the Tang Dynasty (618-907) in which the Chinese people would make a thin dough pancake, stuff it with fresh vegetables and fruits, and send it to friends and relatives as a gift and blessing for the spring. This ‘Spring Dish,’ as it came to be known, mostly consisted of the pancake and a bit of carrot and celery for the poor, while the rich enjoyed a variety of rich sauces and meets with their Spring Rolls. In the Song Dynasty, the Spring Dish became a staple in the imperial palace and was served as a luxurious plate. In the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1367-1911), upon the advancement of cooking techniques, the Spring Dish became Spring Rolls that were served at the Manchu Han Imperial Feast as one of the nine main pastries. Today, Spring Rolls are enjoyed by people of all socioeconomic backgrounds in all of China and many other places in the world, including the city in which I grew up in. One of my favorite teachers and my best friend from high school often walked across the street from school to a Chinese restaurant to have lunch. I always ordered vegetable Spring Rolls, which I wrapped in fresh mint leaves, dipped in Coconut Peanut Sauce, and wolfed down happily. That particular dish served as evidence of my assimilation into the Asian cultures that made up the environment of my community, for I chose to eat Chinese food with Chinese friends at a traditional Chinese restaurant while feeling perfectly at home.

Simple Spring Roll Recipe:

  • 1. Mix white flour with a little water and salt, knead into a dough and bake it into round wrappers.
  • 2. Add the filling a vegetable and meat filling in most places, but a red bean paste filling is used in north China on the wrappers
  • 3. Roll the wrappers, folding the two ends up
  • 4. Deep-fry the spring rolls until they are golden brown and crispy.