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TOPICS INCLUDE: Israeli Chinese food; Tofu; Chinese cooking teachers; Asian foods in your pantry; Mexican-Chinese food

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Letters to the Editor

Spring Volume: 1997 Issue: 4(1) page(s): 8

Thank you very much for the last issue of 'Flavor and Fortune.' It is full of interesting reading material. However, Judy Ross' story in the last issue is far from being comprehensive, to say the least. There is a lot more to say about Chinese food here. With all due respect to Aharoni, he did not 'pioneer Chinese food in Israel.' Far from it. There were quite a few Chinese restaurants before his...the best was a Sichuan one, very distinguished indeed. Aharoni should get credit for glamorizing Chinese food.
DALIA: Thanks for broadening our knowledge of Chinese food in Israel. And, allow me to thank you for all the kind things you said about Flavor and Fortune. From a professional writer, those are nice words, indeed. Do write an article about Chinese restaurants that you visit in Israel, we would love your perspective.

I learned lots about tofu from your article last year, but not much on the different types and their nutritional and culinary differences, if any. Can you write another, or at least respond to this query advising are there nutritional differences in silken, soft, and firm tofu?
LILLIE: Flattery will get you everywhere! It is a pleasure to tell you about tofu, also known as beancurd. Firm tofu is dense and very good in stir-fry dishes. It is also good in soups, a good place to use every kind of tofu. Soft tofu tends to fall apart in stir-fry dishes. This is because it has more water in it than does firm tofu and, therefore, does not hold together well. Silken tofu is not made the same way as are the other two, it is more custard-like and is great to blend or use in soups and dishes where you might mash it making it cream-like. Firm tofu has about half an ounce less water than soft varieties and about twice the calories. It has about twice the protein, carbohydrate, fiber, calcium, and iron, as well. Silken tofu has about half again as much of most nutrients compared to softer varieties. These amounts are general because each manufacturer presses out different amounts of water yielding different nutrient amounts.

Do you know of any good Chinese cooking teachers near or in Duluth? LAURIE: I am sorry that I can not be your needed resource. For you and others, be advised that there is an Association of Chinese Cooking Teachers located in Foster City, California (1064-G Shell Blvd., zip 94404). If my memory serves me well on this one, I think that most of them live in that state. Try your local reference librarian, Adult Education Program office, Chamber of Commerce, even seek out Chinese names in your phone book for someone who can provide more help than I. Our mailing list does not have a single subscriber in you city, hope you will to be the first.

I recently heard that Asian ingredients have a growing presence in the American pantry. Do you know which are the most popular there and which might soon make an appearance to join those first ones?
DENNIS: I am not much of a sooth-sayer, and no one I spoke to knew anything about a survey that would answer your question. Those very people, five to be exact, suggested sesame oil, dried mushrooms of the Japanese variety, sweet rice, rice vinegar, and star anise. Several also mentioned things that might be in their refrigerators such as Asian cabbages, eggplants, and lemon grass. At the American Institute of Wine and Food conference titled 'Pacific Influences on the 21st Century Table,' there was a panel predicting just that. They talked about all of the above plus tropical fruits, kemper lime leaves, wasabi, fish sauces, fagara (Sichuan peppercorn), Mirin wine, and other ingredients.

The latest issue of 'Flavor and Fortune' is absolutely the best from my point of view. I loved the article on European Chinese restaurants. Here in Mexico they are all confused with luau restaurants--thanks Hawaii. Also there is a theory that the Mexican passion for hot cakes (pancakes) stems from Chinese railroad workers who moved down to work on the railroads here. Any idea whether this is true?
RACHEL: I never heard that theory, and wonder if any of our readers can answer your question. Though I am unable to assist you, perhaps you can assist us and report on Chinese food in Mexico?

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