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TOPICS INCLUDE: Lou Yang restaurant; Tofu size; Angong Niuhuang Wan

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Letters to the Editor

Winter Volume: 1995 Issue: 2(4) page(s): 8

From JONIE B. of FLUSHING NY: Thanks for your review of the Flushing Lou Yang restuarant. I live nearby and never tried it but surely am glad that your review made me cross their threshold. If you still need another for that banquet, count me in, and in the meantime, thanks for an excellen evaluation of a great restaurant, that in my opinion, better for dinner than for dim sum.
Jonie: Sorry to have not included you, but your letter arrived two days after twelve of us gathered for a Lou Yang Banquet. Let me advise that all fifteen courses were terrific, more sophisticated than any banquet I've ever had in these United States. The tab of $295.00 plus tax and tip came to $32.00 per person and was well worth every penny. Each item was fresher and of higher quality than one usually gets at the best of restuarants, and for a meal of that quality even the price was great! For the record, this banquet included Assorted Appetizers, a Mixed Seafood Soup, Steamed Carp Lou Yang Style, Nine Dynasty Chicken, Lou Yang Beef Steak, Shrimp with Garlic, Herbs, and Lemon sauce, Six Seafoods with Two Vegetable Combination, Deep Dish Fresh Frog with Scalion Sauce, A Selection of Seasonal Fresh Vegetables which included melting mouth peas, straw mushrooms, carrots, cabbage, and more. Eaight Precious Rice Cake Lou Yang Style made with black rice and Fresh fruit.

The seven items in the Assorted Appetizers foretold that this meal was goping to be a gem, and it was. The Chopped Whoile Lobster alone was worth the price, the lobster was the most succulent I've ever tasted, and the minimal white sauce unbelievable flavorful. Many of the dishes, six I think it was, came in giant tureens. They were ladles out to each of the guests, all seated in a private room upstairs complete with TV, which we turned off promptly. If another group gathers, I'll call you Jonie, but take my advise and gather your own dozen, call a day in advance as is required, and go on an empty stomach, because this meal meant for ten could not be consujed completely by all twelve hungry adults who went. And be advised that if some of them, myself included, are known for overindulging at banquets.

In the Braised Tofu and Mushrooms dish on page 18 of the last issue, I had two problems, so this letter is a cry for help. One of them was that I found the firmest tofu I could in my Chinese grocery but the package came as a pound and in no way could I get 12 two-inch circles from those four brown squares; the second is--was I using the correct tofu?
Dear Mary Joe: Sorry on both counts for not being more clear as to the type of tofu and for the error in the way the size read. The tofu preferred, though I've since tried it with the brown hard variety is both softer than that which you purchased and it was meant to be the white variety. What was called for was the firmest of the threee usual white varieties that Chinese stores carry. The softest is often called silken, the next firm in texture is almosy but not quite as soft and is just known as soft tofu. The squares are often 2 x 3 inches and half an inch in thickness. The soft variety tends to come in squares, two to four in a package, the silken kind always comes as one piece of tofu. The firm variety, just known as firm tofu, has rounded edges and is pressed so that the edges are thinner than the center part. What you purchased is known as brown tofu. It is made by pressing then boiling firm tofu with soy sauce, star anise, and sometimes other ingredients. Just to keep the record straight, if a recipe calls for bean curd cheese, they are referring to the fermented bean cake, sold in jars, each piece usually about half to one inch cube, and not fresh tofu. The fermented tofu comes plain, with chili, or fermented with red rice, then called red bean cake (or red bean cheese).

Now as to your problem with size, the problem was really mine, not yours. The firt preparation line should have read take two circles each one-inch in diameter instead of 'make two-inch circles.' Sorry for the inadvertent error, but thanks for teaching me that brown bean curd is another way to make Braised Tofu with Mushrooms; I liked it and hencefore will call it Tofu May Jo.

Do you know anything about the Chinese food/medicine Angong Wan?
Harry: I am no medical doctor and I usually avoid medical questrions as I am not an expert. I have never heard of that item as a food, nor have the few friends I asked. I wonder if you are talking about Angong Niuhuang Wan, a patent medicine? I read about that in Food Safety Notebook published by Lyda Associates (Palisades NY 10964...(914) 359-8282) several days after your letter arrived. That newsletter was discussin a letter in a British medical journal expressing concern about the heavy metals in that item and another patent medicine. They advised that long term use could lead to mercury intoxication and as such is potentially hazardous. Suggest you get medical advise.

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