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TOPICS INCLUDE: Conferences and newsletters; Fresh ginger; Fermented bean cake; This magazine

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Letters to the Editor

Fall Volume: 1996 Issue: 3(3) page(s): 14

I know I oopsed and missed both of your conferences (there were only two, am I not correct), and I do not want to miss the third...is it already planned?
HERMANN: Thanks for asking and do contact Mrs. Lazarus about the next one poste-haste at (914)793-0813. Dr. Kutscher and others have this symposium planned and you might miss it if you are not quick with your dialing finger. It is scheduled for Friday and Saturday afternoons: September 27 and 28, 1996, and the topic: Changing Images of Chinese Food and Cuisine.

I heard that there was a newsletter about Chinese foods and foodways; are you also publishing that and may I subscribe to it?
Dear SUSAN: Flavor and Fortune is this institute’s only publication about Chinese foods and foodways. I wonder if you are referring to The Asian Foodbookery, a new quarterly exploration of all Asian foods and foodways. It began with the Winter 1996 issue and is edited by R.W. Lucky. This eight page item costs $14.00 for a year’s subscription. You can write to P.O. Box 15947, Seattle WA 98115-0947 for a sample copy; it costs $3.50. But then you might be referring to another newsletter called: Eat This published in New York by Ian Zaretsky (6 East 36th Street #5R, New York NY 10016. It, too, is eight pages, but not delimited to only things Asian. Nor is Down The Hatch, a bimonthly six page item edited by Robert Seitsema and published by the Mofungo Foundation, at 92 Perry Street #9, New York NY 10014. Sorry, do not know the rates for these last two items that are limited to eateries in New York City. Hope one of these is what you were looking for.

Can you comment on use of ground ginger as a substitute for ginger root for those of us who can not get it fresh.
Dear JEAN: It is hard to believe that anyone in New York City cannot obtain fresh gingerroot (also written ginger root). When Johna Blinn, a former assistant food editor of Look magazine published one of her many cookbooks titled: Fabulous Oriental (New York: Baronet Books, 1983), I was appalled to see substitution of the ground item for the fresh. She used one-half to one teaspoon per recipe. One can always substitute one ingredient for another, but the end product comes out quite differently. The Chinese rarely, if ever, use ground ginger in their cookery so making the switch to ground from fresh will produce a non-Chinese (and I think not tasty) final product. The best suggestion is to ask your market to start carrying fresh ginger for you. When you find some, peel the ginger, put it in dry sherry, and store in the refrigerator. It lasts several years that way.

Please tell me what is fermented bean cake, my brother just brought me a bottle. Advise how I might use it, if you do get to answer this request.
Dear PETER: How could we not respond after such a plea. Fermented bean cake (fu yu) is made from pressed beancurd (doufu/tofu) fermented in or with alcohol and packed in jars. It can be found plain or with hot pepper flakes and either way it is quite pungent. As you did not advise the color, let me tell you that there is also a red bean curd fermented with alcohol and red rice. The best varieties are those aged the longest.
To use them: The white varieties can be sprinkled with sugar and a drop of oil and eaten plain or with rice. They are also used in cooking vegetable and meat dishes; I prefer to mash the square(s) if used in this manner. One square mashed with one tablespoon each of soy sauce and tea is a great tossing sauce for any green vegetable, particularly the leafy ones. Fermented red beancurd (non yu) is used differently. It is one of many ingredients used making spareribs and other long-cooked dishes. Try it when making a steamed duck. I use two squares (about three tablespoons) mixed with three tablespoons each of soy, oyster, and hoisin sauces, and water as a rubbing sauce. I like it on many other meats, too, steamed, baked, or grilled.

I love your magazine, but do not think I have all the iisues you published. Can you advise how many there were.
GRACE: Thanks for your compliment, from a Chinese cookbook author (Best of China Harper-Collins) that is high praise. As to all issue to date, there are eight counting tis one. There was but one in Volume 1, four in Volume 2, and this is the third of Volume 3. If you are missing any, they can be had for five dollars apiece plus five dollars for postage and handling.

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