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Which Chinese dishes were an acquired taste for you?


Jan Finster
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27 minutes ago, Jan Finster said:

I think they call Chinese Hotpot also "Chinese fondue".

 

Conversely, fondue in Chinese is 芝士火锅.

 

Of the things mentioned in this thread, 臭豆腐 took me a while (didn't hate it to start with, but it took me a while to really appreciate it). Same with 苦瓜.

 

I've never had much time for 白粥, but 小米粥 is really nice, and many of the 白米粥 variations with other stuff in it can be really tasty.

 

I'm still not a fan of 豆汁、猪蹄、肥肠.

 

High quality 白酒 is fine as spirits go, the low quality stuff is pretty vile but no more vile than other cheap spirits IMO. But I'm not into spirits in general.

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20 minutes ago, Demonic_Duck said:

High quality 白酒 is fine as spirits go, the low quality stuff is pretty vile but no more vile than other cheap spirits IMO.

 

Well, a 2€/bottle Western European wine is great as table wine - but there's definitely something wrong with cheap Chinese spirits, since I couldn't even use a "Great Wall Wine" red for cooking!

 

And since we are talking about alcohol... what about wet peanuts or 水煮花生? I originally found them pretty gross but now they are okay - they mix well with beer regardless of their water content 😁

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1 hour ago, abcdefg said:

When a westerner tells me he doesn't like hot pot, I have to wonder whether it was because of a bad introduction; whether the hosts didn't order a tasty assortment of ingredients. It can be wildly varied.

Yep.  I had a bad introduction, and other bad follow up experiences.  It wasn't until I started having hotpot with people who knew how to hotpot that I became a huge fan.

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2 hours ago, xinoxanu said:

Well, a 2€/bottle Western European wine is great as table wine - but there's definitely something wrong with cheap Chinese spirits, since I couldn't even use a "Great Wall Wine" red for cooking!

 

By "spirits" I mean strong, distilled alcoholic drinks (Americans would say "liquor"). IMO cheap wine or beer is waaaay more palatable than cheap liquor. But again... I'm not much into liquor, so what would I know?

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I always had a few cubes of firmly-congealed pigs blood with my morning rice noodles 米线 as a student in Kunming. Cost an extra 1 Yuan. If the weather was especially cold or I was unusually hungry, some tofu went in there too. Bumped up the nourishment; bumped up the flavor. Breakfast of Champions! As to duck blood, well I can take it or leave it. 

 

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8 hours ago, Jan Finster said:

First time I had hotpot, my friends ordered duck blood cubes. Those are still "no no food" for me today... 

 

You're missing out! 鸭血汤 is one of my favorites in the "simple dishes" category. So much so that's I've been in touch with some butcher shops in Oslo to see if I can buy some of that delicious duck blood (but to no avail, only pig and ox blood available).

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I think there might be different varieties of bitter melon? When I was young, my mum used to cook bitter melon and I love that stuff, the bitter taste is mild and pleasant but I haven’t had it in ages so last year I bought one from an asian grocery in London and tried to cook it. It was sooooo much more bitter, I ate it but it wasn’t pleasant. 

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1 hour ago, amytheorangutan said:

I think there might be different varieties of bitter melon? 

 

I think you are right, @Amy. A few other factors influence bitterness of that melon. Young ones tend to be less bitter than older ones. You can usually tell by the size of the skin bumps. Second indicator is overall size. Dark vs. light color can be misleading. 

 

Two other things makes a difference in the bitterness of the final dish. First is how the melon is cleaned/prepped. Once it it is sliced the long way, be sure to scoop out all the seeds, but also scoop out the tough white membraneous pith that lines the center where the seeds are found. Eat only the green outer part. 

 

619547495_bittermelonsmallerpith.thumb.jpg.5d0a6e3030692683d5955e992fd2ca6f.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last thing is if you think you might have gotten a very bitter specimen, salt it after you chop it and let it stand about 10 minutes. It will exude some moisture. Squeeze it with your hand to expel even more moisture. That juice carries away some of the bitterness. 

 

Even with all that, I have sometimes been fooled and wound up having to make strange puckering faces after each bite of the finished dish. It's not totally predictable.  

 

501507930_bitterfaceboy.thumb.PNG.a3fbdc36636baa464ca8d82c542d029a.PNG

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8 hours ago, Zeppa said:

have you thought of writing a book about how you came to know Chinese food and learn to like it? It's always so interesting to read.

I would be interested to read this. What I imagined would be a book about your journey with a few recipes included that are relevant to the story ☺️

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14 minutes ago, abcdefg said:

Thank you @Zeppa -- I've thought about it. Would be easier to do when I'm in China, but it's not out of the question while stranded here in the US. 

 

Self-publishing is a lot easier nowadays... I imagine you would want to be in China so it's easier to get good photos?

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17 minutes ago, 大块头 said:

I imagine you would want to be in China so it's easier to get good photos?

 

Yes, exactly. So that I could easily get photos of ingredients or dishes or even restaurant menus to flesh out the text. I have a collection of such photos and they are all still in a desk drawer in my apartment in Kunming. I backed them up to hard drives, I did not use cloud storage. Even my camera is still over there. I had not planned on leaving for good when I fled on short notice, carrrying a minimum of important stuff, like a refugee in the night. 

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I used to take a keen interest in our local cuisine.  Enough so that I was thinking of making a cookbook. It wouldn't just be recipes, it would be a discussion of why the local people made these foods, the philosophy behind them, education in Chinese cooking terms and what is considered "delicious", and so on.  I had visions of myself as a modern Brillat-Savarin, "Tell me what you eat, and I'll tell you who you are." Plus, all the folks back home would see that I was an author now, and an Old China Hand as well.  

 

I went so far as to make inquiries about it.  A publisher that specialized in English-language books about China ruefully explained to me that China is a niche subject, Chinese cookbooks are a niche subject of that niche, and regional Chinese cookbooks are a niche of a niche of a niche.  At that point I just told him I'd send it to the print factory myself and pay their MOQ. 😃 He explained that this was "self-publishing", and that the public is prejudiced against the whole lot of self published books, thinking that they are written by self-proclaimed authors who are delusional about their writing abilities, or are obviously not good enough to be published since they were rejected by all the publishing houses. He was apologetic but I got the message. He suggested that the topic would be good material for a blog as I could collect people who were interested and they could follow along, and I wouldn't lose any money (this was back in the blogging era before social media exploded).  In the end I never did anything about it.  But I can wax rhapsodic on the local cuisine on the rare occasion someone asks about it. 😰  But usually they don't. 😩

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If I had something like that I wanted to publish, I'd self-publish on Amazon. I think you probably need to turn yourself into a 24-hour marketing machine on Instagram and Tikchat and whatever to make any money, but if it's just producing something as a hobby and putting it out there...

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On 1/13/2021 at 11:35 PM, xinoxanu said:

哈哈哈 they were totally trolling you!

Ugh the weird-food trolling. It's still happening to me. I think they ordered 臭豆腐 and something with blood, if I recall correctly. Too bad for the food trolls I eat basically everything (even had scorpion on a stick once, I was not impressed with the taste), so I don't even flinch. Not a big fan of blood cubes (I've tried the type made of pig blood), but I do like pig ear or pig face, and intestines. If I think long and hard, I think the only thing that had to grow on me was, weirdly, 珍珠奶茶. Didn't like the 珍珠 first time I tried it. I love the stuff now.

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