Why I Hate White Rice

There is no use downplaying the significance of rice to Chinese cuisine. As one anthropologist put it: “Rice is life”. Although a majority of Chinese people no longer depend on wet rice agriculture for subsistence, no Chinese meal is complete without a bowl, or three, of polished white rice. Let me make this clear: I hate white rice. Here’s why..

First things first, the point of good food is to enjoy the taste. That is where all that simmering, stir-frying, braising comes in. Imagine plates of garlicky vegetables, perfectly tender, braised meats, rich, salty stir-fries. Now imagine white rice: a bowl of small, tasteless grains. It’s not the carbohydrates I’m against; there are plenty of delicious sources. Fruit, for example, is naturally sweet and refreshing. Sweet potatoes are rich, and taste great. Other varieties of rice, such as brown rice, red rice and forbidden rice, have a pleasant nutty taste as well as a superior mouth feel. All of these alternatives are both more delicious and nutritious as boring white rice.

Regarding nutrition, white rice is akin to white flour. It is processed and nutritionally devoid. A cup, or two servings, of white rice contains 200 calories 45g of carbohydrates with a paltry 1.2 g of fiber and literally no nutrients except smidgens of iron and magnesium. Its almost the same as white flour. The thing is, white flour actually produces a fluffier, sweeter texture, which people actually like. Doesn’t a doughnut or a small steak sound much better than a bowl of boring rice. Furthermore regarding nutrition, it hinders any weight or body goals. For those trying to loose weight, every calorie is precious. Why spend those 200 calories on tasteless crap. The sheer amount of refined carbohydrates compounded by the lack of fiber is a recipe for constipation and water retention. The tasteless nature of white rice also dampens the taste of other dishes, making more salt a necessity. Again, more water retention, which only leads to more stress.

For those trying to gain weight, white rice is also not the best choice. It is dense in carbohydrates, but not calories. It can also be quite filling, as well as tasteless, making probably already uncomfortable portions even worse. Another tablespoon or two of peanut butter or olive oil is probably a wiser choice. The bloating and constipation aren’t much help either.


So rant over. Can white rice be improved? Yes. The easiest is just to switch to an alternative. I suggest forbidden rice, sweet potato or just plain fruit. Going paleo isn’t a bad idea actually. If that is not an option, mixing some millet, or the above mentioned grains into boring white rice also helps jazz it up. Porridge and fried rice can also be tasty alternatives.


What do you think of white rice? Post in the comments.

Recipe Post: Steamed Pork Trotters

In my previous post about my recent trip to Xiang Tan, I mentioned that the pork trotters were AMAZING. Thus, it is only proper that I share the recipe


Steamed Pork Trotters


  •  1 -2 pork trotters, preferably the front ones, diced
  • Unground spices (Chinese Cinnamon, Bay leaves, star Anise cloves)
  • Ginger, cut into wide, thin slices
  • salt, to taste
  • soysauce


  1.  Heat a wok on medium and toss the trotters in with the ginger, salt and spices. Cook until the fat renders and the trotter is almost cooked (Around 10 minutes).
  2. Place into a pressure cooker and steam for approximately 20 min.
  3. Remove from steamer and douse with soy sauce. Serve and enjoy!


Yep, only three steps and less than 40 minutes, including prep, until deliciousness.

National Holiday!!

Hi!!! The past week was China’s National Holiday, so I’ve been chilling. Not at home, at my grandparents place. National Holiday is like China’s July 4th. On October 1st 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed the People’s Republic of China after defeating Chiang Kai Shek’s nationalist government in one of the longest civil wars ever. Anyways, we get pretty much an entire week of break because of it! YAY!

As previously mentioned, I spent the week at my grandparent’s house in Xiang Tan. Before I get into more detail, WE GOT A KITTEN!!!!

img_8735 img_8754

Actually he followed my brother home, so we adopted him. Isn’t he soooo cuuuutttteeee! His name is Mao Mao, after Chairman Mao.

Back to Xiang Tan. As usual, it was AMAZING and full of delicious meals. There was also pretty much no WIFI, so I got a much needed tech break. Even better, the osthamus trees were in full bloom so my walks were scenic and shaded. I basically spent all day either eating, studying or walking.


The food has always been one of my favorite parts about going to Xiang Tan. Xiang cuisine, is one of China’s big 8. Although it’s characterized by oily and spicy food (not my type), my relatives manage to make it absolutely DELICIOUS!!!!.



I ended up with a food baby every night. I usually go straight for the steamed fish or bone soup, but this time, the pork trotters stole the show.


On the 5th day, I went to some relatives’ place. More food awesomeness followed. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take pictures as it would have been rude

… About the Relatives

National Holiday means that everyone is on vacation, which makes it the perfect time to go see relatives. We met my uncle for meals many times since he lives nearby (he took the pictures above). On the 5th day, the party got started when we headed towards Changsha. First, we lunched with some of my Grandparent’s nieces and nephews. There was basically a restaurant takeover, with our family occupying 10 tables. If that wasn’t enough, we headed directly to another nephew’s house, where I met some of the most sociable and caring people EVER. The nephew’s wife happened to also be a foodie, so plenty of time was spent sharing recipes and such.

Overall Impression

Xiangtan did not disappoint and I will be heading back ASAP!

XiBei: I Love “You”

Hi!!! Quick update: I AM A CHAIR!! IN A SECURITY COUNCIL!!! For those who don’t know a chair in MUN is like a boss in a committee. They decide when people speak and stuff like that. Soo……. we decided to go to one of my favorite restaurants: XiBei



XiBei is a lively and VERY popular restaurant on the 4th floor of Lianyang Plaza (actually adjacent to 捞王). It specializes in north western Chinese cuisine (西北). Northwestern cuisine is hearty, with lots of lamb and other meat for that matter. While the grilled meat is to die for, XiBei’s real claim to fame is its 莜面(pronounced: you mian aka hull less oats). XiBei actually managed to make it into A Bite of China and the UN. Well, enough introduction, to the food!!!!



We were only a group of 4, so we couldn’t really order much. No regrets about what we did order

Grilled Lamb Leg (Stick)


Grilled Lamb Skewers


Pickled Radish


莜面 short noodles

img_0018 This is the mushroom broth variety, it also comes in lamb broth, beef broth and a couple of other flavors

What we didn’t order but I highly suggest

House-made Tofu, Braised Ox bone, Spicy lamb spine, Dumplings………


Two words: Loud and Lively; like a proper, good Chinese restaurant. It’s very casual with simplistic furniture and open spaces. My favorite part is the open kitchen (picture above). You can actually see them grill the meat, steam the bread and make the dumplings


XiBei has some of the best service I have ever experienced, both in terms of speed and attentiveness. After ordering, your table’s waiter will literally put his hand across his heart and say some oath that all the food is natural and that everything will get on the table by 25minutes


They even have a timer for it. If all the food doesn’t arrive within 25min, you get a free yogurt. Pretty neat.

Overall Impression

Once again, XiBei did not disappoint. I am very glad to live so close

Restaurant Review: 捞王 Hotpot

Last post, I mentioned how we went to hotpot for dinner. Well, that hot pot place was DELICIOUS, so I decided to write it a review:



捞王(lao wang) is a relatively upstart hotpot chain that has taken Shanghai by storm. There are over 20 locations in Shanghai and none of them have less than 4 stars on 大众点评 (China’s version of Yelp). They are famous for their broth as well as their clay pot rice. We went to the Laya Plaza location


The restaurant is in a corner right between two other restaurants, so we didn’t even notice it until a family friend took us. As expected from a great restaurant, there was pretty epic queueing. Of course, the fact that it was a holiday didn’t really help the situation. We were lucky; there was only one group of 8+ before our turn. Nevertheless, we had to wait for almost 1.5 hrs. For the 1-5 table, the waiting list went from 44 to 79. The interior was rather Chinese chic: clean and modern, but with traditional elements

It was also quite loud, which is expected for hot pot. It ‘s a great place, but it’s location is at a bit of a disadvantage.


捞王 is a hotpot restaurant, so most of the food is just platters and platters of raw meats and veggies. (we ordered WAY too much meat)

That's 1/3 of our order
That’s 1/3 of our order

The meat was very fresh and the house made tofu was to die for. There was also a huge selection of mushrooms. Unfortunately, they ran out of house grown ones

The items were great, but it is more famous for two things: The hot pot broth and clay pot rice


The hot pot broth is essentially just spiced pork bone broth simmered for 24 hrs. After, they throw in mushrooms, more herbs, pork intestines, and chicken. It’s soooo rich and delicious. It also comes in varying degrees of spiciness. We ordered the original.

Clay pot rice is a staple up north. Apparently 捞王 does it just as good, or better. Basically, it’s rice steamed with sausage and cured meat, then mixed with oil and soy sauce. To be honest, I didn’t like it. The cured meat and sausage were strangely sweet and the rice was extremely greasy.

Sauce Bar

Most Chinese people find plain hotpot too bland, so almost every decent hotpot restaurant has a sauce bar. This restaurant is no different.


(Believe it or not, there are people who use chili sauce with their extra spicy hotpot)

I personally don’t like dipping sauces, but it’s cool.


The service was generally great. The waitresses were attentive and very helpful. They taught us how to properly cook the stuff and when to eat what item. Best of all, when we told them it was my dad’s birthday, they played happy birthday on the speaker.

My only complaint is that there aren’t enough servers for the huge demand, so some of our requests were pretty much ignored. Good effort though

Overall impressions

I was very impressed by the restaurant and would love to try some of the other locations!





Happy Moon Festival

Hi!!!!! I’ve delayed posting this week because yesterday (today for the states) is Mid-Autumn Festival!!!!!

I am not going to say much because I did a post last year, but it was awesome. We spent the day with my aunt and had dinner at this delicious hot pot place. Unfortunately, due to the passing typhoon, there was no moon. We also ate moon cakes and celebrated my dad’s birthday!!!!

So, Happy Mid- Autumn Festival. Watch the moon and eat moon cakes!!!

Restaurant Review: Crayfish Restaurant

Hi!!! Another week has passed. Time really goes by quickly doesn’t it. Onto the post:

Crayfish Restaurant:


First, a bit of background. A few weeks ago, I was walking near Thumb Plaza, when I made an amazing discovery. A new restaurant had opened. Even better, the restaurant’s advertised crayfish. I am a HUGE seafood junkie; I HAD to try it out. Unfortunately, we just didn’t have the time…. until yesterday.



The atmosphere was definitely a shocker. I knew this was not a typical crayfish restaurant the moment I walked in. First, the interior decor was elegant chic, almost fancy. In China, at least, good crayfish is almost exclusive to hole in the wall night stalls. More alarmingly, it was quiet. However, the lack of people did allow us to score  seats on the outside balcony. Best feeling ever.


I must say, the menu was underwhelming, initially. There was relatively little variety and the items were pretty expensive. However, what they lacked in variety, they made up in flavor.


Rice in crayfish broth- Guess what? The restaurant doesn’t serve rice. Of course, who needs boring white rice when you can have it cooked in a rich flavorful broth. This dish was DELICIOUS!!! The broth was uber- unami, without the MSG aftertaste; the rice was not too sticky and it was not greasy. Even my dad, who doesn’t like seafood, loved it.


Spicy (Chinese style) marinated cuttlefish- My dad was struggling to look for something on the menu. He settled on spicy, marinated cuttlefish. Spicy? Marinated? Cuttlefish? Sounded good to me. It was great. The cuttlefish was unbelievably tender and absorbed all the flavor. If cuttlefish isn’t your thing, they have a rather wide variety of other marinated seafoods.

Kebabs- I was shocked by these. Normally, Chinese restaurants that serve good meat are a bit deficient in the seafood department and vice versa. Thus, when the waiter recommended the grilled lamb, I was shocked and a bit suspicious. We didn’t really have a choice on this one anyways; crayfish wasn’t going to cut it for a meal. Rather reluctantly, I ordered two grilled sauries and my dad got 4 lamb kebabs. The waiter was right; they were amazing. I will even go as far as to say that the saury tasted better than the ones from the Japanese restaurant downstairs.


Crayfish- I saved the best for last. The restaurant’s name is Crayfish Restaurant. Thus, it was pretty obvious what we had to order. The decision wasn’t as simple as ticking off a box though. The restaurant had 8 different varieties, in 3 different sizes. In the end, we decided on the garlic flavor. Definitely worth the price. The crayfish was fresh and sweet, which matched perfectly with the savory richness of the sauce. Eating crayfish is a messy and hot affair, but don’t worry, the restaurant provides bibs and gloves.

Tip: Do NOT discard the head. There is a reason why it is disproportionally large. It’s the juicest, most succulent part.

Overall impressions:

Crayfish Restaurant is a great restaurant. Although it is a bit overpriced, the food makes it up a great deal. I will be returning soon.

That’s it for now. Have a great week!!!!


Recipe Post: Marinated Beef

Hi!!!! It’s been a while since I last posted a recipe, so I thought it would be nice to start doing that again. Right?


As the title says, today’s recipe is for “marinated beef tendon”. Sounds strange? Not really. I’ve already thrown around the term “marinated meat” (卤肉in Chinese)in a few previous posts. It refers to meat that’s boiled with soysauce and spices. If that sounds vague, the recipe should explain pretty well. If the recipe still sounds strange, try it out. I promise it is good.

In this recipe, I’m using beef (actually yak) tendon, because that’s what I had. However, any tough, lean cut of meat will work. It also works with softer things like eggs and tofu. If you are really adventurous, you could try pork knuckle, liver, pig ear, feet and even gizzards. The possibilities are endless (Obviously the cooking times will vary). As a rule for meats though, the longer it is cooked, the more flavorful and tender. Onto the recipe:

Marinated Beef


  •  2-3 8 oz. cuts of lean beef or other meat
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • unground spices, at least 4 types
  • a splash of cooking wine
  • ginger- cut into large, thin slices
  • 1-1.5l water


  1.  Wash the meat if necessary, then make a few shallow cuts into the meat. This allows the flavor to enter
  2. Fill a pot 60-70% full and put the meat in. Parboil for 5-10 minutes. Once boiling, remove any foam that comes up, especially if it is grey.
  3. Discard the dirty water and refill the pot. Add the spices, soy sauce, cooking wine and ginger. Cover and allow to boil
  4. Once boiling, turn the heat down and allow to slowly cook for at least 1.5hrs. Ideally, cook for 3-5hrs.
  5. Remove from heat, slice and Enjoy!!!!


Well, I hope you have a good weekend. See you next week!

Delicious Weekend!!!!

Hi!! Sorry for posting so late; it’s almost time for this week’s post. Anyways, quick update: As it turns out, AP world is not as much work as I expected, and neither are my other classes. YAY!!! More time for food!!!! Also, XC season started. Other that that, the week was pretty normal, until Sunday that is. Here’s what’s up:

Business started at 10am. Literally. My mom and I headed out to attend the first meeting for the SAGE (Students for the Advancement of Global Entreupreunership) business competition (read more here). It was at this really cool meeting place near East Nanjing Rd called The Naked Hub

So, after 2 very fast and informative hours, it was  time for lunch. We headed towards the subway stop.  A subway stop is a strange place for lunch right? Not if the stop is adjacent to a 3 story food court. Especially not if that food court has one of China’s most famous Shanghainese dim sum places. Behold: Nan Xiang steamed bun shop

IMG_8371 (I know, not the best pictures)

Nan Xiang Steamed Bun has been dishing out delicious, handmade dim sum, and other delicacies for over a hundred years. In fact, Nan Xiang, a small town near Shanghai, actually invented the juice dumpling. My expectations were high.  It was just my mom and I so we couldn’t order much. The decision was hard, but we made some pretty good choices. Here were the best


Marinated cucumber- Marinated cucumber is one of the first things I ask for at any decent looking restaurant. So, of course, I ordered it. It was well marinated but a bit too sweet for me. Apparently, that is authentic Shanghainese, so no comment on that.


Pumpkin Sweet potato balls- Sounds strange right? Strange but delicious. Plus it’s insanely healthy. Just pumpkin, glutinous rice flour and sweet potato, all rolled together and steamed. No sugar, no additives, nothing.


Shrimp and pork Dumplings- These little guys were a bit of a disappointment, but their taste got them on the list. They had great flavour and texture, but many were deflated😦 They were still delicious though, just not as good as I expected


Shepard’s Purse Soup dumplings- of course I saved the best for last. These little morsels of deliciousness were plump and juicy. Basically, fresh shepard’s purse (荠菜)is mixed with cubes of gelatin broth and wrapped in a perfectly elastic skin and steamed for eating pleasure. ORDER THIS!!!!!!

Another highlight of the restaurant was talking to the ladies at the window making the dumplings. They were so nice and actually told me to come back.

…… A few hours later…….



A family friend came to visit so we had to go out. We chose 捞王 in Lianyang Plaza. The restaurant is in a rather obscure corner, behind two other great restaurants, but its location didn’t stop it from being amazing. We ordered the classic mushroom and Chicken broth. PURE DELICIOUSNESS.

About those mushrooms…. the restaurant grows them in house, now that’s fresh.

(The lighting was terrible so sorry, no pics😦

The delicious broth was accompanied by a myriad of meats, veggies and such. The waiter actually had a hard time fitting all our stuff on the cart. We will definitely be going back

At around 8, and totally stuffed, we dragged ourselves and our food babies back to the house. The end of a delicious day. How was your weekend?

How to (properly) Boil Dumplings

Hi!!! Last week was a pretty eventful one. We didn’t go anywhere, but a website asked me to write for them. More importantly, SCHOOL STARTED. Yep, I’m officially a sophomore, ready to tackle AP world and Precalculus. What does that have to do with dumplings?

During the school year, we have a custom of eating dumplings for lunch on either Saturday or Sunday. This is not some traditional or superstitious thing; It’s convenient. They are (relatively) quick to make, quick to eat and cheap. However, they were never good. The dumplings themselves weren’t bad, but something was seriously wrong with our boiling method. They would end up broken and overcooked😦

The good news is that my mom finally discovered the “perfect” method! Before I get into the steps, here are some VERY important Tips:

  •  Use a soup ladle  not a spatula. Soup ladles are rounded, so they give a gentler push.
  • Use a wok, the high width to depth ration of woks makes it easier to move the dumplings. It also gives each one more room. If you don’t have a wok, use the pot (pans don’t work for obvious reasons) with the highest width to depth ratio.
  • Do NOT go out of the kitchen, or worse, look at technology. Boiling dumplings requires a lot of waiting, which gets boring. However, it’s not enough time to check emails or messages. More importantly, there is no exact timing. It all about observation.
  • When adding water, do it around the edges

Onto the steps:

  1. Boil the water. Nothing fancy. The important part here is to KEEP the dumplings FROZEN. Normally I’m all for fresh foods, but for dumplings, keeping them frozen is the key. Do NOT take them out until the water is at a rolling boil, then drop them in. Letting them thaw will allow the liquid water to soften the skin, which makes them break easily
  2. Push the dumplings IMMEDIATELY after they go in. The dumplings will sink like rocks. If they are not pushed, they will stick to the bottom and break. When pushing use the BACK of the appliance (See the 1st tip). The pushing with the front will put the dumplings in contact with the edge. More breakage.
  3. Wait for the dumplings to float. If they look like they are sticking, give them a slight nudge. Other than that, do NOT touch them.
  4. After step 3 is completed, all a little bit of cold water, just enough so that it stops boiling. By this point, the wrapping is pretty much cooked through, but the filling is raw. Adding water reduces the heat and allows for longer cooking
  5. Wait until the water is at a raging boil. Push if necessary, but otherwise don’t touch them. Then repeat step 4.
  6. Boil for an aditional 2-4 min (depending on the amount and size of the dumplings) then Enjoy!

I hope that guide will allow you to say “No more” to overcooked, soggy dumpling. See you next week!

Sorry about the lack of pictures, The steam kept fogging up my  camera.