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TOPICS: Jade Chopsticks awards; Moon cakes; Chinese cleavers

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Newman's News and Notes

Summer Volume: 1997 Issue: 4(2) page(s): 14 and 17


JADE CHOPSTICKS AWARDS: These were held at New York University thanks to the kndness of Dr. Marion Nestle, chairperson of the Foods and Nutrition Department. ISACC (The Institute for the Advancement of the Science and Art of Chinese Cuisine), this magazine's parent, hosted the first of what hopes to be an every other year event. The ceremonies, with delicious tea thanks to Ten Ren Tea and Ginseng Company of Flushing NY, were accompanied by wonderful foods, thanks to four of the local recipients. Everyone who attended sampled and savored wonderful foods representative of the winning establishments. Congratulations to all eight honored winners in their respective categories. Awarded on April 18, 1997, and listed below (actually on page 14) of this magazine, they are:

For LIFETIME ACHEIVEMENT:
Tai Wen Dah of Uncle Tai's Chinese restaurant; 5250 Town Center Circle 143; Boca Raton Florida

In the Chinese NATIONAL LUXORY RESTAURANT category:
Susanna Foo's Restaurant; 1512 Walnut Street; Philadelphia PA

In the Chinese NEW YORK LUXORY RESTAURANT category:
Shun Lee Palace; 155 East 55th Street; New York NY

In the Chinese NEW YORK POPULAR RESTAURANT category:
Joe's Shanghai; 9 Pell Street; New York NY

In the Chinese SPECIALITY RESTAURANT Categogy:
Sweet-n-Tart Cafe; 76 Mott Street; New York NY

In the Chinese VEGETARIAN Category:
Poti Vegetarian Restaurant; 41-42 Main Street; Flushing NY

In the Chinese/Asian COOKBOOK category:
Nina Simond's Asian Noodles; William Morrow Company pulishers, New York NY

For Chinese research in NUTRITION category:
Professor T. Colin Campbell; Corney University; Itaca NY

CHANNELA website is an oasis of information about China and the rest of Asia, it is worth exploring. DO so at: http://www.channelA.com where there is extensive information about books, foods, restaurants and restuaranteurs, and more. The website is updated frequently and is truly wonderful and illuminating. We loved it and so negotiated, and recently announced a joint agreement between Flavor and Fortune and ChannelA. Our first effort eas the simulaneous announcement of the Jade Chpsticks awards concurrent with their presentations. ChannelA will feature one or two columns a month from a current issue of themagazine and I will host a question and answer column covering topics related to Chinese food and cooking. See some of the firts column there or in this issues' Letters to the Editor column. Browse the website we are cooperting with, catchmy column and those of others, read and print out terrific information be it about tea, treats, or other topics such as food, herbs, eateries, culinary personalities, and more.

MOON CAKES: (and moon cake molds) often bear auspicious symbols. The mid-autumn festival foods eaten on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month can look and taste differently in different provinces. Many specialize in their pwn particular cake size, shape, and even their own prepared fillings. Anyone out there collect recipes for them or the molds themselves besides me?

CHINESE CLEAVERS are rectangular and about eight inches long. Those for vegetables can be as narrow as one-and-a-half inches while those for meat measure three to four inches in width. Buy you dai doh or tsoi doh, as they can be called, with a thick back and a thinner blade edge. If chopping bones, you need one with a metal handle. For general household use, a four-inch bamboo handle (at one end of the blade) is less likely to slip and is easier to handle than its metal-handle cousin. Before purchasing any cleaver, hold as if ready to cut or mince and see if the weight is right. A cleaver should do the bulk of the work and fall evenly as you guide it towards a cutting surface. Cleavers of carbon steel are ppreferred even though they are prone to rust. Oil them after each use for the first three months and this problem often disappears. The reson for carbon steel is simple, that metal takes a better edge than does a cleaver of stainless steel. Sharpen or hone yours, preferably on a special stone (one-and-a-quarter by six inches and one inch thick). The sharpening stone should be coarse on one side, fine on the other. Oil the stone before use, and wash it with soap and water afterwards. That way, the stone does not get a rancid odor. As indicated, do not be lured into buying a cleaver with a stainless steel blade. They do not sharpen well, are always a mite dull and prone to slip when cutting quickly. Though nicer to look at, they are less lovely to use. Speaking of use, besides the usual cutting chores, the flat side of the blade can crush small items, the but of the handle is fantastic for crushing garlic. When looking for one, search out those with a metal blade end bent over the wooden handle. This assures blade and handle staying together, no matter the use.

One knife won't due, nor will one cleaver. Three different sizes suits me just fine. I prefer the smaller (in width and blade thickness) vegetable cleaver for its appropriate usage, a general all-purpose mid-weight cleaver for meat and heavier vegetables, and a heavy cleaver to chop through bones cleanly, one heavy enough and sharp enough not to splinter them.

                                                                                                                                                       
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