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TOPICS INCLUDE: About Len du Midi; Emperor Qian Long; White tea; Celebrating Double Ten

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Letters to the Editor

Spring Volume: 2006 Issue: 13(1) page(s): 6 and 34

From EUGENIE vie e-mail from HI
When browsing the internet for anything about 'lemper' which is an Indonesian delicacy. I found nasi rames translated as 'miniature rijsttafel.' I am Indonesian and believe that to be incorrect. Is Len du Midi Indonesian or Chinese?
EUGENIA: Thank you for writing. The answer to your question is: Neither. Len du Midi is a Netherlander; who reports what she sees, reads, learns, and researches about Indonesian/Chinese culinary influences in Holland. Clearly not every food, word, or thing remains the same when crossing borders.

A colleague told me that during the Qing Dynasty, one Emperor, specifically Qian Long, ate a very fatty cold pork dish. Do you know anything about this dish; and if so, can you provide me and others with a recipe for it?
LUCINDA: Once read about a trip Qian Long took going to Suzhou. After eturning from there and other southern regions where he tasted then learned how the pork dish I think you are talking about was made. He brought this and other recipes back to the palace. At the bottom of this set of letters is our version of what we read about in that recipe. The recipe features licorice, so do read the article about that Chinese food/herbal ingredient on page 23 of this issue. Other recipes there use that same item; you might enjoy them, too.

Having read about white tea in your magazine in Volume 12(3) on pages 7, 8, and 37, I want to advise about a very tasty one with flowers. I bought it in France, and am enclosing some samples. What are the flowers?LENNIE The product sent, and others can see the illustration, is not available in the United States, or at least we have not seen it. Perhaps readers can advise if they have. The box says its ingredients include tea, aroma of apricot, and flowers. We find the aromatics strong, sweet, and mostly apricot. Opened all but one and found no flowers in any of the nylon sachet tea bags; just the picture of one on the box. White tea is available in limited supply, and made from the lightest/slightest/youngest of unopened green leaves. We like to drink ours near the end of the day, never had it in this nylon pyramid-shaped tea bag, and never with anything added. We always brew ours from whole unbroken white tea leaves and not any put in a tea bag. Truth be told, after brewing the product sent, we prefer white tea without added aroma; we found this one too strong. Upscale vendors use these nylon shaped bags for whole or mostly whole tea leaves packaged as tea-bag tea. The packaging is good because the nylon or another polyester is heat sealed with no glue, staples, or taste getting into the infusion. Thanks for sending them and introducing us to the ever expanding Chinese packaged food market.

From MADDIX via e-mail:
Can you explain why some folk in San Francisco, this past year, celebrated an event they called: Double Ten?
MADDOX: To the best of our knowledge and that of a few elder folk born and raised there, Sun Yatsen, the first president of the Republic of China, raised funds there and elsewhere specifically to support a revolutionary effort. Those funds helped folk topple the Manchu dynasty on the tenth month and the tenth day in 1911. This celebration seems, to the elders we spoke to, of waning interest. That said, many of these very folk did report that on one of those days, they did go to Saint Mary’s Square to see its Sun Yatsen statue.
Licorice Pork at the Palace
2 pounds uncured belly pork
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
3 scallions, trimmed and each tied in a knot
3 slices fresh ginger
3 Tablespoons Chinese rice wine
2 sticks cinnamon
2 one-inch pieces angelica
1 whole black cardamon
1 teaspoon whole fennel
1 teaspoon whole cloves
2 slices licorice root
1 two-inch piece dried tangerine
1/2 cup dark soy sauce
1/4 cup rock sugar
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 red pepper, seeded and cut on an angle into one-inch pieces
2 teaspoons water chestnut powder
a few fresh green leaves such as spinach or a dark green lettuce
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1. Cut belly pork into three or four pieces. Then blanch in boiling water for two minutes, and rinse in warm water; then drain.
2. Heat a wok, add the oil, then stir-fry the scallions and the ginger for one minute, then add the rice wine.
3. Tie into a one foot square piece of cheesecloth (or put into a spice bag), the cinnamon, angelica, cardamon, fennel, cloves, licorice root, and dried piece(s) of tangerine, and stir into the rice wine for one minute, then remove this and the pork to a four quart heavy-bottomed pot.
4. Add the soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and the chicken broth. Add two cups of water, and bring this to just below the boiling point, reduce the heat, and simmer for two hours. At the end of that time, add red pepper and the water chestnut powder stirred with two tablespoons tepid water. Remove from heat, and after half an hour remove meat from the liquid and allow to cool before cutting it into one-quarter-inch slices. Discard the spice bag.
5. Put leaves on a platter, arrange meat slices on that, and the red pepper pieces on and around the meat. Heat half-cup of the cooled sauce mixed with the cornstarch, and stir until it thickens, then spoon over the meat and serve.

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