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TOPICS INCLUDE: Kudos and cash; Persian-Jewish trading pre Marco Polo; Australian Chinese cookbook; Mango; Xiamin delicacies

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Letters to the Editor

Fall Volume: 2001 Issue: 8(3) page(s): 6 and 7

We encourage your queries by post and e-mail, print as many as space allows, We do reserve the right to edit them.

I get such pleasure out of reading your magazine that I thought it only fitting that I make a contribution with my renewal. Of course everyone must have something they want to read about and I am no different. Can you write about something I have eaten since childhood despite an otherwise clearly Japanese household. While in college I was a houseboy and bought some fermented bean curd. The woman of the house thought it OK but her husband, an OBS/GYN specialist, smelled the stuff and threw it out saying he thought something had gone bad.
Mr. TAKUYA: Thank you for your generosity. Everyone at the Institute for the Advancement of the Science and Art of Chinese Cuisine wishes all our readers that renew, and close to ninety percent do, were as generous. We try to respond to requests of as many readers as possible whether they arrive with donations or not. Actually, we have been researching the background of preservation of Chinese foods and will be reporting about beancurd before the end of this, our eighth year publishing the magazine. You said you will certainly continue to read the interesting articles in this journal, so soon you will be turning pages about this fermented food.

From LW via e-mail from THE NETHERLANDS
: I would like to comment on Israel’s Chinese Wall, as follows: More than four hundred years before Marco Polo, a Persian-Jewish trading company called: The Rahdanites (which means ‘who knows the way’ in Persian) traveled between China and Mediterranean countries. They actually knew several ways to China: two by land and two by sea. One of these led through the land between Caspian and Black Seas, the land of the Chasares. This was home to a Turkish tribe converted to Judaism. Rabbinic writings of the Early Middle Ages tell of new products from China, one was a pastry shaped in many elegant forms cooked in water. Another was a stuffed pastry; it too, came in various shapes. In use still, is at least one of the food words used by the Chasares: Lokschen. It is derived from their word Lakscha, meaning pastry. For your information, the Chasares culture was destroyed in the 11th century by Russians. As to the Kaifeng-tribe, the first time Jews appeared in China was between the years 960 and 1126 CE. Probably they were merchants from Persia who built their first synagogue in 1163 CE. At the beginning of the Ming Dynasty the emperors issued an edict that all foreigners should marry Chinese wives. That may be why most Chinese (Kaifeng) Jews look Chinese. Do know that: 1)The Chinese Jews did not eat pork, 2)They did not speak Hebrew, and 3)About 1605 CE, their history was written by an Italian priest who went to China on a Christian mission.
LW: Thank you. You surely know your history.

I am a missionary of your publication which I have found a delight from the first read. Thank you and keep those issues rolling, please and
From BHF via e-mail:
You magazine is beautiful. Congratulations on yet another extension of your devotion to Chinese culture.
To PV, BHF, and others: Compliments are always appreciated. There are things to enjoy. Purchase a subscription for a friend or send a donation to ISACC, our parent organization. Both help move us from red to black and keep those issues rolling!

From TOM via e-mail: I have been searching for a cookbook for my brother-in-law and was wondering if you would mind helping me? He is looking for a book published in Australia; large, well-illustrated, and I believe with a recipe for camel’s hump.
TOM: The pleasure is mine, adore such a hunt, even an easy one such as yours. As owner of the world's largest English-language Chinese cookbook collection including dozens from Australia, your query is a challenge successfully completed. The book is The Complete Chinese Cookbook by Jacki Passmore and Daniel P. Reid. It has more than five hundred recipes and was published by Lansdowne Press in Dee Why West, Australia in 1982. For the record, it has two camel recipes. One is for red-stewed camel feet which they refer to as pads, the other is for deep-fried camel hump. Some years ago when in Qinghai, I did have stir-fried camel toes, the term used for the bottom of the feet of these animals. There were several recipes on the menu at the place I stayed at for both toes and hump, all stir-fried. I tried three of them and all were delicious. On more recent trips, was told that these and those for bear, an animal whose paws are also relished, are no longer available. Why, to stem the tide of animal poaching.

Is there a way to use mango in a crust? We have been eating in the same place for months and keep ordering this crab dish that comes with a ginger wine dipping sauce. I think that is the flavor we had yesterday in a Chinese restaurant in this city.
BILLIE: Only recipe that comes to mind, and you did not indicate lunch or dinner time, but we know one served for dim sum called Crab in Mango Crust. Should it not be what you mean, and because the return address was not legible to get back to you, we are trying this route and hope you can work with this recipe and get closer to the one you seek, should it be slightly different from the one you had. Check out the recipes at the end of these letters.

From WANG via e-mail:
Thank you for Flavor & Fortune. I was very excited to see a recipe for Xiamin Spring Roll in Volume 8(1) on page 25 in the Newman's News and Notes column. I am from the city of Xiamen and that is the way we do spring rolls. We do not fry them as restaurants here do. (Here, for this author is California, where Ms. Wang is studying.) Xiamen is a small city in the southeast coast of the Fujian Province that has its own style of cooking. Spring rolls are their most favorite dish. We usually have them around April 5th in mid-spring. In my family and most others, everyone wraps their own spring roll. We use seaweed, peanut powder, and hot sauce with ours. Other dishes you will not have in places other than Xiamen include a special fried thin noodle, sweet peanut soup, and 'tusundong' which is a very weird and delicious seafood served with mustard.
Ms. WANG: Thank you for your e-mail and for advising about this local specialty. We know of and love the fried noodles that are popular in your city and are familiar with the peanut soup. However, we do not know about the seafood dish you mentioned. Perhaps you or another reader can send us a recipe for that and explain a little more about it.
Ginger Wine Dipping Sauce
1/4 pound fresh ginger
1/2 cup Chinese rice wine
1. Peel the ginger, then rinse and dry each piece.
2. But ginger and wine and half-cup of water into a blender and run it at high until all the ginger is finely shredded. Put this mixture into a glass bowl, cover and set aside until morning.
3. Using a clean cloth draped over a bowl, pour the ginger mixture into the bowl and wring the cloth over the bowl so that all the liquid can be contained. Use immediately or store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.
Note: This can be kept up to two weeks.
Crab in Mango Crust
1/2 pound shrimp, shelled, deveined and minced
1/4 teaspoon sugar
dash of salt and pepper
2 teaspoons flour
1 ripe mango, peeled and coarsely chopped
8 crab claws, with or without their shells
1 egg white, lightly beaten
3 slices white bread, crusts removed and shredded
2 cups oil, for deep frying
1. Mix shrimp, sugar, salt and pepper, then divide this paste into eight batches.
2. Mix flour and mango and wrap this mixture around the crab claw, then put the shrimp paste around this, dip it in the egg white and then roll it into the shredded bread.
3. Heat the oil and fry the coated crab pieces until lightly browned, drain and serve.

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