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Qingdao Dinner at Mr. and Mrs. Hu's Home

by Michael Gray

Personal Perspectives

Winter Volume: 2011 Issue: 18(4) page(s): 30

In 2009, when Mr. James Tang and his wife Mei opened M&T restaurant in Flushing NY, they believed this location to be the first Shandong restaurant in the United States. Reviews from Flavor and Fortune, the New York Times, New York Magazine, and the Village Voice were universally positive.

M&T, at 49-09 Kissena Boulevard whose phone is: (718) 539-4000, has become the center for Shandong people in the New York area. About every six months James or Mei try to return to Qingdao, their culinary city, for inspiration and foodstuffs otherwise not available in the USA.

Shandong Cuisine, also called yu cai food, is known for light seasoning and gentle, delicate flavorings. People here prefer the original flavor of foods along with fresh ingredients. This cuisine can be divided into two distinct divisions, those of the Shandong Peninsula and others of Southwestern Shandong style.

The Shandong Peninsula comprises the coastal cities of Qingdao, Yantai, and Weihai. Naturally, it emphasizes fresh seafood. Southwest Shandong foods consist of those from the provincial capital of Jinan as well as foods from Zibo and Liaocheng. Foods here are strong in steaming, deep frying or explosion in oil, as well as braised dishes. Shandong cuisine is also known for its soups, both clear and white. White soup can be made from rice plant stems or dandelion greens; they are famous for their aromas.

Late last year, Mr. Tang returned to Qingdao and was invited to dinner by his old friends, Hu Juntao and Mr. Hu's wife, Yao Xiumei. I was invited to join them. Upon arrival at the Hu-Yao home, it was clear they had been preparing for this meal all day. In all, twenty-one dishes were served. Pictures show some of the foods ready to be cooked or already cooked. One was reminiscent of my own childhood, it was the sliced tomatoes simply sprinkled with a little sugar.

Overall, it was a memorable evening with a lovingly prepared many-course family-style meal that included the dishes listed below. Not only are some of the ingredients shown, so are a few finished dishes.

Served were:
1. Brined Shrimp
2. Stir-fried Jellyfish Strips with Bean Sprouts
3. Lamb Chops with Stewed Tomatoes
4. Qingdao Small Tofu
5. Ginger Conch
6. Salt and Pepper Spare Ribs
7. Red Cooked Pork with Chestnuts
8. Brined Tiger Shrimp
9. Stewed Ham Hocks with Seasonal Vegetables
10. Steamed Oysters
11. Tomato Salad
12. Steamed Crabs
13. Tofu in Garlic Paste
14. Hot and Sour Cucumbers
15. Fresh Steamed Carp
16. Fragrant Ginger Snails
17. Savory Smoked Tofu with Scallions
18. Pickled Pig's Trotters
19. Rabbit Legs in Soya Bean Sauce
20. Cucumber and Jellyfish Salad
21. Spiced Beef

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