Mom’s recipe for spring onion oil has shallots, rendered pork lard & spring onions. There’s also a vegetarian recipe for spring onion oil without lard. Just add spring onion oil to ‘thick’ noodles eg egg noodle, udon, soba or spaghetti together with soy sauce, spring onions, rocket, peanuts and chilli oil. Street hawkers in sweltering Changsha sell Liang Fen, aromatic tossed noodle salad. Liang Fen has noodles, coriander, cucumber & mouth-numbing red chilli oil. In Yunnan Liang Fen is a cooling jelly topped with crushed peanuts, fresh fruit, sweet syrup, brown sugar & lime juice.
Tag Archives: food
This is the 3rd blog post from ‘Open Door Seven Items’. Bah chok mee (minced pork noodles) or char kuay tiao (fried flat noodles with sweet soy sauce) are infinitely better with pork lard! My grandma used delicately flavoured caul fat, a membrane from the pig’s abdomen, slowly rendered the oil & kept the crispy sprinklings. The ancient Chinese used soap made from the pig’s pancreas as they knew it secretes enzymes to break down starch & fats. If you’re irritable, with a Yang body, only eat chicken if gently poached with Yin ingredients like tofu or mushrooms. Lamb pieces poached with Chinese angelica root & fresh ginger are very good for keeping winter colds away. Oils like sesame oil are best extracted by crushing: it is the impurity that makes it so aromatic & healthy! The Chinese say, ‘hui jia chi fan’, have a meal at home!
Nian Gao cake is a gorgeous glutinous health-conscious Chinese New Year rice snack. Eat it with fresh grated coconut or in a yam or sweet potato sandwich, deep fried. It’s sticky & sweet to seal up the mouth of the tittle-tattle Kitchen God. This is my Mom’s recipe using her mom’s own caramel recipe. At Chaya teahouse we’re pairing it with intenser, darker oolongs & Chinese fruits. We wish everyone ‘Nian Nian Gao Sheng’: Increasing Prosperity Every Passing Year!
The second part of ‘Open Door Seven Items’ concerns ‘grains’. Wheat, millet, sorghum, rice & pulses are rich in ‘qi’ core energy, as the ancient Chinese wrote in their medical texts. To which we should add seeds and nuts. Ancient Chinese wisdom says: nutritional needs depend on our origins, our ancestors and our body type. A southern Chinese person moving to western China might find the rice too acidic or Yin, so they should add a little Yang cumin or cinnamon. Traditional Chinese Medicine explains some doughs need fermented ingredients or micro-organisms added to give them life and aid digestion. Thus Chaya Teahouse’s Hunan noodle sauce! The characters ‘Ji Er’ indicate 2 kinds of hunger: ‘er’ is the kind that comes from filling up on lots of the wrong foods. An aromatic bowl of steamed rice with a little vegetable, fermented bean curd or natto dish, is simple and satisfying.
Firewood is the first of 7 essentials for living in a traditional Chinese home. Keeping warm is deemed important: insomnia is a sign of a hot ‘yang’ head with a cold, ‘yin’ condition in the rest of the body. To keep warm wrap salt crystals in muslin cloth, heat gently & apply to any aching part of the body. Or warm yourself by soaking feet in cold water, then gradually add warmer water till sweat appears on tip of your nose. Modern long-haul travel confuses the body, so I fall sick every time I go between tropical Singapore & chilly London. Traditional Chinese Medicine tells us to dress appropriately (if you don’t dress warmly in winter you grow extra fat to compensate!) The ancient Chinese used healthy underfloor or under-bed heating, better than our dry radiator or electric heat. Heating with the use of mugwort goes direct to the body’s core, prevents having cold hands and feet even in summer. At Chaya Teahouse we often use mugwort incense to cleanse the room & create a gentle warmth. Fuel choices are important in cooking too. In ancient China the wealthy brewed tea in water over a fire of pine cones, and duck is roasted over wood from fruit trees, and rabbit over peanut shells. Poaching, stewing, steaming are better than stir-frying, especially as meat’s already ‘yang’ or full of heat by nature. Traditional fuel materials like firewood and utensils like claypots are best, creating a gentle heat, not too ‘yang’.