Happy (Late) Thanksgiving!

Hi!!! It’s 2 days after Thanksgiving so I hope everyone enjoyed their turkey, pies and family time.

What did my family do? Well, there was a bit of a last minute change of plans. We were going to help host a charity dinner like last year, but the team never got together. So, no turkey. Instead, we decided to go out for dinner and eat some roast suckling pig. After a long search for a decent restaurant, my dad brought us to the Golden Jaguar Buffet.

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The buffet was huge, almost mazelike. There were choices ranging from Hong Kong style marinated meats to mushroom soup to dim sum to, of course, roast suckling pig. There was also Japanese hot pot, habachi and even vietnamese salads. While there were many (too many) choices, the actual quality of the food was mediocre, as can be expected from a buffet. Nevertheless, I still ate WAY too much meat. I found the suckling pig quite disappointing; the actual skin had no seasoning. The servers wouldn’t give me any meat, and by the time my dad did get a hold of some, I was stuffed There were a few standouts: steam pot mushroom soup, grilled fish and papaya salad.

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The atmosphere wasn’t too great either. The place was quite empty. It had neither the intimate feel of an Western elegant restaurant nor the excitement of a good Chinese one. I definitely would not recommend it for small gatherings. It might work for a group of 6-10 though. The highlight of the restaurant was definitely the service. Although it was a buffet, the staff were very helpful and accommodating as well as very prompt at clearing plates. When we left, the entire staff bid us goodbye.

Overall, we had a great time and a very happy Thanksgiving. Let the holidays begin!

 

Scrambled Eggs with Tomato

Hi!!! I know it’s been a long time since I last posted. I’ve been busy with MUN and just life in general. Thus, I was inspired to post this recipe.

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Scrambled eggs with tomato (番茄炒蛋) is a classic dish all over China. A good majority of Chinese restaurants have this dish, even if they don’t, you can probably ask for it. Anyways, it’s a quick, delicious dish full of rich unami flavor. Here’s the recipe.


Scrambled Eggs with Tomato

Ingredients:

  •  3-4 eggs
  • 1-2 large ripe tomatoes
  • salt
  • green onion chopped (for color)
  • a pinch of sugar

Directions

  1.  Beat the eggs well and add salt to taste.
  2. Heat oil in a wok and stir fry until 75-80% cooked ( there should be a bit of softness). Remove from heat and set aside
  3. Heat a bit more  oil in the wok and stir fry the tomatoes with salt and a bit of sugar (Sugar brings out flavor) until bubbling and soft.
  4. Lower the heat and toss in the egg. Cook for 30-60 more seconds.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

So that’s it for this recipe. It’s quick and delicious and make a mean topping for noodles or rice

Julienned Potatoes

Hi! Sticking with the theme of last post, here is another classic, quick and easy dish:

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Julienned Potatoes

Ingredients

  •  1-2 Russet potatoes, peeled and julienned
  • salt
  • a splash of soy sauce
  • a splash of vinegar
  • Green onions, chopped- as garnish

Directions

  1.  Place the cut potatoes into a bowl of cold water until ready to use in order to preserve color and texture.
  2. Heat some oil in a wok on medium-high heat and stir fry for 3-4 minutes. Potatoes should still be fairly crispy
  3. Add salt, a splash of soy sauce (for color and flavor) and a splash of vinegar (enhances flavor and preserves texture). Stir fry a bit to distribute add ins evenly, then cover for another 30-60 seconds.
  4. Stir fry for another 1-2 minutes. Serve and Enjoy!

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So there you have it. As for leftovers, combine with some eggs and maybe a table spoon or two of flour, then grill for hashbrowns or Latakes.

Well, that’s it for this week! I’ll be back soon for Thanksgiving!

French Toast Sandwich

Hi!!!! It’s been a very long time since I posted, but I’m back. Things have just been pretty busy lately. Anyways, yesterday morning, I finally had the opportunity to cook again. My brother was finishing up a math class and a boring steam bun just wasn’t going to cut it, so I offered to cook: Savoury French Toast Bacon Sandwich . It’s really simple, so here’s the recipe

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French Toast Bacon Sandwich

Ingredients

  •  2 slices of bread
  • 2 eggs
  • a splash of milk
  • salt, to taste
  • 2-3 slices of raw bacon

Directions

  1.  Beat an egg, add a splash of milk and some salt and soak a slice of bread in the mixture until there are no dry spots ( 3-5 min) Remember to flip and adjust for even soaking.
  2. Repeat step 1 with the other piece of bread
  3. Heat a pan on high and sear the bacon for about 30 sec/ side, until it begins to crisp.
  4. Turn the heat down to low and continue cooking until the fat is completely rendered. There should be no squishy white parts. Remove and drain
  5. With the rendered oil in the pan, cook the bread on medium- low heat until puffed up and golden (1.5-2 min/side). Drain
  6. Make a sandwich with the bacon and bread. Enjoy!!!!!!

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There, easy and delicious. Next week is SHASMUN, so see you!

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

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Steamed Pork Trotters

Ingredients

  •  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

Directions

  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!

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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!!!!

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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.

Food

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!!!!.

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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.

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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

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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!!!!

Food

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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)

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Grilled Lamb Skewers

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Pickled Radish

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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………

Atmosphere

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

Service

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

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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

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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

Atmosphere

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.

Food

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

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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.

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(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.

Service

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!!!