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TOPICS INCLUDE: Advertising kudo; Sichuan pepper-salt; Chow Mein sandwich; Red yeast rice

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Letters to the Editor

Summer Volume: 2000 Issue: 7(2) page(s): 6

We print as many letters as space allows; and we reserve the right to edit them. Again, we’ve received an unusually large number since the last issue and thus have included more of them.

Just a note of thanks. Advertising in Flavor and Fortune has helped my business; the results are very encouraging. Yes, please renew my subscription and the ad. (Name withheld on request.)
SUPPORTER Delighted with your continued support and renewal. Ours may be a small niche market, but certainly it is very directed and our loyal readers do use our services as they did yours. Thank you.

Read a recipe for Sichuan Pepper-Salt in a major food magazine but it was too salty for me. I certainly could not serve that to my husband because of his hypertension. Is there any substitute for this seasoning that I could use?
RUTH: Many Chinese people use the Pepper-Salt as a dip for roast duck and chicken and other foods. When I make it I prefer less salt than was recommended there; but Chinese people would say use less. I make mine using equal parts of coarse salt and Sichuan peppercorns. People in the province of Sichuan roast the Xanthoxylum piperitum (hua jiao in Mandarin, fa jiu in Cantonese, and sometimes called 'fagara' in English) without salt to provide fragrance and taste for their dishes. They also use it without or with salt as a dip. To roast these berries, put some in a wok or heavy fry pan and keep the heat as low as possible. Stir until the room is fragrant and they turn dark brown. Cool, then grind and use or store in a dark place in a sealed container. I prefer mine rather coarse and use a rolling pin rather than a grinder as I saw a chef do in a Ningpo restaurant kitchen many years ago. I also crush them as needed because they lose both fragrance and taste very quickly when crushed or ground beforehand.

What other source in the world remembers Chow Mein Sandwiches? I never thought that some day I would think of Chow Mein as comfort food. Also, Flavor and Fortune has emboldened my ingredients shopping. I am finding more and more confidence to buy fish maw and white fungus as well s pickled vegetables and chili/garlic sauce. Thank you for all the great tips like Bubble Tea. You make life more interesting.
PHYLLIS: Your letter delighted us all, and thanks for the compliments. We would like to delight your salivary glands and continue to educate you and others about this unique regional adaptation of Chinese cuisine. For those that have the hard copy of this issue, there is a photograph of that sandwich, thanks to Imogene Lim, who researched and wrote about it. Also a picture of the original packaged Chow Mein Mix, still available in many supermarkets. We plan to forward your recollections to her about that beloved New England/New York speciality, the Chow Mein Sandwich. She collects every bit of information she can from those such as yourself that adore it; she will be delighted.

That herbal banquet menu was wonderful. It inspired us to visit the restaurant and see what they normally serve. The night we were there, though nothing was listed as herbal, we were told about Snake Soup, the special of the evening. We adored it, not sure we gained strength or virility, but we did gain a greater appreciation of really fine Chinese food.
BARBARA: We advised Mr Chuang, the owner, of your compliments and he said that herbal meals can be ordered in advance, just speak with him and tell him you read Flavor and Fortune; he does, too.

DENNIS in LA GRANGE IL inquires:
The information about Fujianese food was fascinating. Can you tell me if the red rice they use is the one herbalists recommend to reduce your cholesterol; and does it do just that?
DENNIS: Several readers wrote asking about what one of them called: Red Yeast Rice, but only you tied it to the foods of the province of Fujian. Yes, this fermented red rice made from the lees or leftovers when making wine made from red rice and yeast has long been used by the Chinese to promote cardiovascular health. A recent study by the School of Medicine at Tufts University in Massachusetts showed that cholestin, which is a red yeast rice product, was effective for seniors trying to lower their cholesterol by reducing the low-density lipoprotein portion of cholesterol, sometimes referred to as the bad cholesterol.

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