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TOPICS: Roselle; Great Chinese cuisines; Bubble tea

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Newman's News and Notes

Summer Volume: 2011 Issue: 18(2) page(s): 36 and 37


ROSELLE is made from a flower or its parts and used in teas, syrups, and pastries found in many Asian markets; so are its whole flowers. They are liked for their color, their flavor, and for health reasons attributed to them. The Chinese use these flowers or their parts in bakery products and in beverages. Botanically known as Hibiscus sabdariffa, roselle is a member of the Malvaceae family and its flowers, leaves, and stems are herbals in China and in many other Asian countries.

This plant was popular during the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911 CE), and a recipe using it in a beverage appeared in the last issue of Flavor and Fortune. That recipe indicated it could also be made with rose syrup, as can many roselle dishes. However, it did not say that the flowers could be put in a blender and used as a paste or syrup.

The Chinese use the flower and the syrup to help sleep soundly, normalize blood pressure, treat coughs, reduce urinary tract infections, and reduce cholesterol. A recipe using it in a pastry is at the end of this article.

GEAT CHINESE CUISINES can be seen and tasted taking a short walk in Flushing. Being able to try all eight is not possible, but tasting many of them is. Use the information below, go to their web sites, and grab a map to plot your way.

For those that do not live in Flushing, hop on the MTA's Number 7 train, it starts in Times Square. Get off at Main Street - Flushing. Doing so one is going from its first stop to the last stop. From there, hoof it a few blocks south on Kissena Boulevard or head that way on Main Street; these are two parallel blocks, and on one or the other one can eat different cuisines in many different restaurants.

Below are some of them, but only one for each cuisine. How did we select them, you ask? First choice went to those on one or the other of these north-south streets or around the corner from one of them. Second choice was for one already reviewed or ready to be reviewed in Flavor and Fortune. Get your walking shoes on, your stomachs ready, and try as many of these places as you can on one or more treks tasting foods from many of China's great cuisines. Those not on these two main streets might be around the corner and less than a block away from one or the other of them.

To enjoy five of the eight finest cuisines, walk to any or all of the following:

Guangdong or Yue foods are Cantonese. This cuisine can be had at New Imperial Palace off Main street. It was reviewed in Volume 17(2). Do read it before leaving home or take it with you.

Hunan or Xiang food tasting means get thee to Hunan House on Northern Boulevard. This representative is of Chairman Mao's home-town foods; it was reviewed in Volume 16(4).

Shandong or Lu cuisine, is considered by many as China's most sophisticated. It can be enjoyed with emphasis on foods of this province's most famous city, Qingdao. For it go to M & T Restaurant at 44-09 Kissena Boulevard. It was reviewed in Volume 17(2).

Sichuan or Chuan cuisine is around the corner from Main Street Spicy House. It was also reviewed in Volume 17(2).

Zhejiang or Zhe foods, Hakka foods too, are available at Flushing Restaurant Inc. It is owned by folks from Zhejiang and was discussed in Volume 17(3).

Not among China's great eight, but excellent nonetheless, the following are in the neighborhood of the others. Deyi Peking Duck House is on Main Street; Mellies has Taiwanese treats on Northern Boulevard, Taiwanese hot pot is at Ice Fire Land on 40th Road. Dongbei's Liaoning Province foods can be tasted at Golden Palace on Cherry Street; and foods from the Henan Province had at He Nan Feng Wei on 41st Avenue. Dalian delights are available at Jiang Ji on Kissena Boulevard, Shanghai dishes at DJDB on the same street but s afew blocks away, and Buddhist vegetarian dishes at Buddha Bodai on Kissena Boulevard. Look for the ones in this paragraph in the index listings on the magazine's web site. They, too, will introduce you to fantastic foods; all will expand your culinary knowledge, and your taste buds.

BUBBLE TEA may have more names than bubbles as it is known as boba, pearl tea, tapioca tea, BBT, QQ, zhen shou nai chai, and botanically as Manihot esculenta, that is but a beginning of all its many names. This beverage is made with something that becomes gelatinous after cooking. No, it is not grass jelly. Bubble tea is made from the tropical root of the cassava plant. Its beloved bubbles are dry hard round items boiled for several hours, usually two. Before boiling, they are gray, after boiling they turn black. These days they also come in several pastel colors which retain those shades after boiling them. Check out the article about this popular beverage in Volume 6(4).
Rose/Roselle Pastries
Ingredients:
1 pound tang or cake flour
3 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided in half
1 pound bread flour
3 Tablespoons toasted pine nuts, chopped or crushed with the side of a cleaver
4 Tablespoons roselle syrup, divided, or four flowers blended with two tablespoons syrup from their jar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Preparation:
1. Mix low protein or tang flour with half the butter, half the sesame seeds, and half cup cold water. Mix until this forms a ball, then set aside.
2. Mix bread flour with the other half of the butter, add half the pine nuts, and half cup cold water. Mix until this forms a ball, then set aside.
3. Mix syrup, all purpose flour, sugar, and the other half of the sesame seeds and the pine nuts, and set this filling aside.
4. Divide items in steps one through three into a twelve parts each. Then put the one with bread flour inside the one with tang flour and roll it into a ball. Flatten, roll it into circle about six inches in diameter. Repeat using all twelve parts.
5. Put the filling part in the center of the rolled dough and pinch it closed as one does with dumplings. Flatten slightly, then put it on a cookie sheet. Repeat until all twelve pastries are made. Let them rest ten to fifteen more minutes.
6. Heat oven to 350 degrees F, then bake them for twelve to fifteen minutes just until they are barely tan. Take them out of the oven, set them on a wire rack. When cool, serve.

                                                                                                                                                       
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