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TOPICS INCLUDE: Do Chinese really drink milk; Kudos; Foods used on coinage; Hakka food; Using maltose; Jean-George in Shangai; Yank Sing: Salty Zongzi recipe correction

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Letters to the Editor

Fall Volume: 2004 Issue: 11(4) page(s): 6 and 7

From JOAN in NEWFOUNDLAND via e-mail:
Loved your website. But you clearly need to update the page with pictures of the eighth volume because the website tells me there are ten volumes and probably an eleventh one. Besides that, I have a question.: Do the Chinese really drink milk, and do they fry it?
JOAN: Thanks for the compliment, and the suggestion; also for the questions. Yes, a few Chinese do drink milk, the numbers are very small in China, and not as small for Chinese living outside their home country. However, southern Chinese particularly those in and around Guangzhou do make a delicious dish called Fried Milk. The first time we had it was at a private luncheon club in Hong Kong almost thirty years ago. Was amazed to see it and the shrimp in it not pink. Several years later, learned this was intentional because they were sliced thinly on all exterior surfaces. The pieces cut off can be used for soups or stuffings. This is not as simple as it sounds, but do try both the technique to fry the milk and to remove color from the shrimp. The recipe follows for the milk dish.

From BRYAN in DALLAS TX via the e-mail:
Issues received. Thank you so much, they are very well-written and comprehensive. I will send a check for a new subscription.
BRYAN: Folks such as yourself make doing the research and writing so very worthwhile. We appreciate your compliment, and your support. We hope to continue to satisfy you and all our readers.

From DELIA via e-mail:
Can you advise what foods, if any, the Chinese used on their coins, and when were they minted?
DELIA: Do not collect coins, though my husband does; but he is no expert on those from China. That said, did locate several experts who agree they knew of no coinage using food items, per se. Each one did advise that the earliest coins were made in the shape of a hoe and a knife, smaller than the items they mimic. They did concur that coins in China were first made in the sixth century BCE about a hundred years after they were invented in ancient Turkey. They added that China’s coinage exerted major influences on neighboring states, some of whom used the unique Chinese coins, and they were cast, not stamped. Before the making of coins, sea shells were used as money, specifically cowries. Neither they nor those of brass, silver, and a few in gold, had any food items or food words on them.

Thanks for the articles about various minority foods. Though not an officially recognized minority, any hope of doing one about the Hakka, and thereby advising where to get good Hakka foods?
NEDDIE: Hakka foods are the topic of a future article. Until then, do note that several Chinese-Indian restaurants spoken about in two recent issues, namely Volumes 11 Number 2 on pages 13, 14, and 28, and Volume 11 Number 3 on pages 15 and 16 do serve Hakka dishes. When in Beijing go to Behai Park and try The Hakka Restaurant there. It is on the eastern bank of Lake Shichahai in that park, and though we have not eaten there, readers and writers do tout it. We have read about their Perch Wrapped with Silver Paper, Steamed Vegetables with Lotus Leaves, and San Bei Ya. That last dish means three-cup duck. On our next trip to Beijing, want to eat and try Hakka food there. Should you go before we do, tell us about it and any other Hakka restaurants you visit.

From KENT via e-mail:
Did not find many recipes on Roast Pork in various Chinese Cookbooks. What is the secret of getting the skin crisp?
KENT: The last issue of this magazine in Volume 11 on pages 11 and 12 did an article about barbecued and roasted meat, but did not specifically address your question. The honey and sesame oil marinade in the first recipe, when brushed on the meat during cooking in a very hot oven, helps crisp the skin. Old-fashioned Chinese recipes use maltose and get the same effect. Check with a bakery supplier to purchase bottles of liquid maltose or take several blocks of Chinese brown sugar, add one tablespoon dark soy sauce and one tablespoon black vinegar and heat until melted. Use that liquid and baste every ten or fifteen minutes.

From DANNIELLE via e-mail:
Is it true that Jean Georges has a Chinese restaurant in Shanghai?
DANIELLE Yes and no. The restaurant is called Jean Georges Shanghai, and as indicated in the September 2004 Bon Appetit magazine, he does dazzles diners, but not with Chinese food. He serves dishes such as Foie Gras Brûlée and Steamed Grouper with Carrot Confit. Not sure he or we would call this a Chinese restaurant, just a restaurant in China.

From KECK waiting in MINNESOTA:
HELP! HELP! I received the magazine long ago and thanks. Dragon Boat races start tomorrow. I picked up the ingredients for the two zhongzi recipes on page 8 in Flavor and Fortune Fall 2001 issue and am in the process of preparing the salty zongzi. Seems to me that part of the 'preparation' directions are missing.
KECK and all: How right you are! We owe you and many others an apology. We know the e-mail reply got to you in time, and do appreciate the update you sent thanking us for sending the complete recipe. We also know you spent all night cooking, did take the dumplings to the Dragon Boat race and were complimented by many people who ate them and said they were good. Now for everyone who may want to replicate your efforts, here is the complete recipe. Apologies to M. Leung who did provide this magazine with a complete recipe, the truncation was our fault, not hers.

From SHERRY via e-mail:
Thank you for an outstanding magazine. My father was from China so I am extremely proud of my Chinese heritage. I have been searching for a magazine like yours for some time and was thrilled to find out about F&F.
SHERRY: How sweet those words. Thank you. They are extra sweet when they smooth our angst after a goof that went undetected for three years. Enjoy the zongzi as much as we delighted hearing your kind kudo.

From SHARON in SAN FRANCISCO CA via e-mail:
Recently read your review on the web of my absolutely favorite dining experience in the whole world, Yank Sing. I concur with every word of that review. Unfortunately, I moved away and they tore down the building on Battery. However, there is a second and newer Yank Sing in the Rincon Annex in SF, and still the little one in the alley on Stevenson. My dreams are drooling over memories of those wonderful lunches. Do renew your love affair with our fair city's most honored deem sum and KTDA (keep the dream alive). By the way, do you know that if you log on to Google and enter deem sum, all entries are Yank Sing?
SHARON: Thanks for reminding us of Yank Sing's great dim sum and, through your e-mail, updating readers about their other two eateries. For you and everyone, this wonderful restaurant and the cookbook by Henry Chan et al. published by Holt, Rinehart, and Winston in 1985 titled Classic Deem Sum that the restaurant does sell, are among the few, maybe the only ones to spell dim sum as deem sum. That is probably why the Google exclusivity.
Fried Milk
2 cups corn oil
1/2 pound large shrimp, shelled, veins removed, a thin slice cut off the outsides to remove the part that turns pink, and each cut in four
4 ounces pine nuts or one-quarter cup olive kernels
1 ounce package rice noodles
1 cup whole milk
6 egg whites
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 sprig coriander, coarsely minced
1. Heat oil in a wok, and blanch shrimp for thirty seconds, remove and drain.
2. Reheat the oil and oil blanch the olive kernels for one minute, then drain them, but keep separately from the shrimp.
3. Reheat oil and deep-fry the rice noodles until they expand; take them out immediately and drain these separately, then put them on a flat serving platter. Set oil aside for another use, leaving the wok very well oiled but without a puddle on the bottom.
4. Gently mix milk, egg whites, salt, sugar, and cornstarch. Heat wok and slowly but steadily pour milk mixture into the wok. Reduce the heat and stir-fry adding the shrimp after half a minute or as soon as it is about half coagulated.
5. Pour over rice noodles, sprinkle the olive kernels and coriander on top, and serve immediately.
Salty Zongzi
2 pounds sweet rice (also known as glutinous rice)
1 teaspoon oil
2 pounds mung beans
1 Tablespoon sugar
4 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms
2 teaspoons salt
8 salted egg-yolks
8 fresh chestnuts, peeled
2 teaspoons five-spice powder
4 ounces of lotus seeds, cleaned
2 teaspoons thin soy sauce
24 dried bamboo leaves
8 dried lotus leaves
1 pound roast pork, cut into eight pieces (optional)
String to wrap them into packages
1.Wash and soak rice and mung beans separately in clean water overnight. Drain each ingredient separately, and set aside.
2. Add oil, sugar, and salt to rice and mix well. Then divide the rice mixture into sixteen parts. Divide the mung beans into sixteen parts and set aside for later use.
3.Prepare the leaves by washing and soaking both the lotus leaves and the bamboo leaves. Then trim the lotus leaves, or fold each one into a square and remove or trim the pointed ends of bamboo leaves.
4. Put three bamboo leaves on top of one square of lotus leaf.
5. Clean and cut the stems off shiitake mushrooms and soak them in clean warm water until they are soft. Remove and discard the stems.
6. Prepare the (roast pork,) lotus seeds and chestnuts, as follows: If using dried lotus seeds, pre-soak them until they are soft; discard any bitter shoots inside. Cook the chestnuts until soft.
7. Put the (roast pork,) chestnuts, lotus seeds, and mushrooms in a bowl and add five spice powder and soy sauce and mix them well and divide this mixture into eight equal parts.
8. On the stack of lotus and three bamboo leaves, put one part of rice mixture, one part of mung beans and (one part of the roast pork mixture and on the pork mixture) add one salted egg-yolk. Put another part of mung bean on this and then another of the rice mixture.
9. Pick up the four sides of the leaves and wrap the mixture into a cube-like package and tie it up with some of the string.
10. Repeat Steps 9 and 10, making these packages until all the materials are used. This makes eight packages.
11. Put the packages into a big pot and fill with enough water to cover. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about seven hours. Drain and either serve, refrigerate, or freeze the packages until ready to eat them. Before eating, remove the string and leaves, and serve.
Note: In the North, people use soy sauce as a dip; in the South, some prefer theirs with granulated sugar.

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