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Meals and Menus in Hangzhou and Shanghai

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Restaurant Updates

Fall Volume: 2013 Issue: 20(3) page(s): 25

Menu and meal information that follows are from banquets and meals enjoyed in the two cities of Hangzhou and Shanghai. The trip was a fifteen-hour direct flight to the Shanghai's Pudong International Airport, and then a two-plus hour car ride to Hangzhou.

The next morning, I gave an invited talk about food sanitation and safety and related concerns in the United States. See the Dear Reader column, it is on page four, for a personal highlight at that meeting attended by more than one hundred Chinese business leaders, a few academics, a few invited guests from the Netherlands, Indonesia, Iran, and the United States.

This meeting was co-sponsored by the Hangzhou Commerce and Tourism Group, the Office of Hangzhou City Brands Promotion, the Hangzhou Association for the Advancement of Food Culture (HAAFC), and the Chinese Hangzhou Cuisine Museum. A founding ceremony for HAAFC took place the first day, there were two banquets that day; one at lunch at the (Lingyin) Zhi Wei Zhuang Restaurant, one at dinner at the Yi Jia Xian (Bao Chu Dian) Restaurant. See each of this in the Restaurant Reviews section of this issue of this magazine At the meeting, greetings began it with talks by local politicians, the HAAFC chairperson --Professor Zhao Rongguang, and people from the Hangzhou Civil Affairs Bureau, and the Hangzhou Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences. Needless to say, these food organizations fed all of us many magnificent meals including at these two banquets. They are the inspiration for many items in this article.

The recipes that follow these comments inspired us, as did two earlier visits to the exciting city of Hangzhou. All of these enabled replicating delightful dishes on these various trips; others may follow in future issues. Hopefully, the will encourage readers, long distance; to enjoy them, too!

Before and after the meeting, several of us enjoyed other meals, some near West Lake, others in Hangzhou or Shanghai before the equally long return trip home. One was at Lou Waui Lou in Hangzhou, one at a Hanti hotel, another two at two different Grandma's Home and Grandma's Kitchen, both in Hangzhou, then one each at Seafood Noodle and Chuan Liu Bu Xi, both eateries in Shanghai.

At that Hanti Hotel, on the third floor where we were housed overnight, we had no idea there was an eatery. When we went there for lunch the first day, our stomachs were hollering for help. Our first clue was stepping of the elevator and seeing a huge menu covering an entire wall. There were pictures of many dishes, lists of many more. The restaurant was around the corner, its tables mostly empty. It did have a name, but I did not see it, nor remember it. Some of us did come again for a dinner on a different day when it was full, and deservedly so. On both visits, a plastic tissue packet was on the table; it was all in Chinese, and our guide never touched it. Did pick up a business card, also on this page, with many addresses in Chinese. Both were our first clues, her not using the tissues should have told us not to use them unless really necessarty.

For your first assignment, before you go to Hangzhou, those addresses should be in your luggage. You will be glad you copied them because we only write about places where the food is good, the prices reasonable, and the service, also good. With these addresses, you can be an insider, able to seek them out. You now know to bring your own tissues, napkins or tissues cost money, not using them does reduce restaurant bills. Our host probably paid for the tissues we used as napkins. This is a common practice in China.

Sorry to advise, we took no notes at either Hanti meal. And we do suggest you check out those reviews in both cities where we did take notes, they are listed in the restaurant Reviews area of this magazine.

Pumpkin Sticks
This recipe requires peeling a green-skinned flat-topped kobacha squash, then cutting its flesh into sticks as if making French-fried potatoes. After that, heat half to three-quarters of a cup of vegetable oil in a wok or large pot, and squash sticks and fry them for two minutes, stirring continuously. Next, mash two salted duck egg yolks. Remove the squash sticks to a paper-towel-lined small bowl, and while the squash sticks are still hot, mix them with the mashed salted duck egg yolks and refry them for another minute; then toss them with a little coarse salt. Serve them hot.
Fish Song, Shanghai Style
3 Tablespoons smoked ham or duck, minced
1 Tablespoon lard or another solid fat
20 goji berries, each cut in half the long way
1 scallion, minced
1 slice fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
dash ground white pepper
5 large tofu skins
1 large yellow fish fillet cut into ten finger-size strips
1 cup vegetable oil (optional)
1. Mash minced ham or duck with the solid fat, then mix in the goji berries, minced scallion, ginger, sesame oil, sugar, salt, and pepper.
2. Cut each tofu skin in half making two large triangles, then put two to three tablespoons of the mashed mixture on the long side and roll the rest as if making a spring roll. Wet the pointed end to make it stay closed.
3. Now deep-fry these until golden brown or steam them over boiling water for twelve minutes. Then serve.
Fried Eel, Shanghai Style
2 eels, skin, insides, and bones removed and discarded
2 cups vegetable oil
2 scallions, diced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger juice
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
10 drops hot oil
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch mixed with one tablespoon cold water
1. Cut the eel into six inch long pieces, then each of these into four pieces, the long way.
2.Heat the oil in a wok or deep pan and deep-fry the eel until the pieces are crisp, then remove them with a slotted spoon to paper towels. Discard the oil or save it for another purpose. Do not wipe the wok out.
3. Add the scallion and garlic pieces and stir once or twice then add the sugar, rice wine, ginger juice, hot oil, and vinegar and stir two or three times.
4. Add the cornstarch mixture, and the eel pieces and stir until coated, then remove and serve.
Lion's Head, Shanghai Style
1/4 pound soft tofu, mashed
1 pound finely minced or ground pork
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon thin soy sauce
1/2 pound baby bok cai
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 whole water chestnuts, each cut in half
1. Mix mashed tofu with the minced or ground pork, and form it into four large meatballs.
2. Heat a wok or deep fry pan, add the oil, then fry the meatballs until browned on both sides, then remove them to a plate.
3. In the deep fry pan or a heavy pan, put in the meat balls and the water chestnuts. Add the sugar, ginger, and the soy sauce, and mix not touching the meat balls. Simmer over low heat for fifteen to twenty minutes, then remove them to a pre-heated serving bowl and cover with an upside down bowl or some aluminum foil. Add the bok cai to the liquid in the pan, turn up the heat, and boil for three minutes, then remove the cover on the meatballs, and place the greens around them. Reduce the remaining liquid in the pan to about two tablespoons, pour this over the meatballs, and serve.
Braised Lamb, Shanghai Style
1/2 pound boneless lamb loin, cut into two-inch cubes
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 carrot, peeled and cut on an angle into one-inch pieces
1 white long turnip (daikon), peeled and cut on an angle into one-inch pieces
1 dry chili pepper, seeded and cut into small pieces
1 one-inch piece of a cinnamon stick
4 star anise
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon mushroom soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
1 can whole chestnuts, drained, or two packages of pre-peeled cooked chestnuts
2 Tablespoons cornstarch mixed with two tablespoons of cold water
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1. Put the lamb pieces into a four-quart pot and add one quart of boiling water. Simmer for three minutes, then drain, and discard the water.
2, Put the oil into the pan the meat came out of, add the vegetable oil, the meat, the carrot, and the turnip pieces, and stir-fry for two minutes. Then add the chili pepper pieces, the cinnamon stick, star anise, sugar, soy sauce, rice wine, and the chestnuts and two cups of boiled water. Reduce the heat and simmer for one hour or until the meat is tender, then add the cornstarch mixture, turn the heat to high, and stir until thickened. Now put everything into a pre-heated bowl, pour the sesame oil on top and serve.
Beggars Chicken, Hangzhou Style
1 four-pound chicken, boned or not, chefs discretion, wings and legs not boned
3 Tablespoons thin soy sauce
3 Tablespoons Shaoxing wine
3 star anise
1 stick cinnamon
1 Tablespoon whole cloves
1/4 pound whole shrimp, shells and veins removed and discarded
1/4 pound smoked ham, cut in small cubes
1/2 pound dried bamboo shoots, soaked for half hour in hot water
10 Chinese black mushrooms, soaked in half cup warm water for half hour, then stems removed and discarded, mushrooms quartered
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 scallions, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 or 3 dried lotus leaves, soaked for fifteen minutes
string and mud or rice paste
1. Cut the chicken down the breast bone and clean its insides.
2. In a plastic bag, add the soy sauce, wine, star anise, and the cinnamon, mix them then add the chicken, tie the bag tightly, and put it in a bowl so it does not leak, then refrigerate overnight, turn it once or twice. In the morning, take out the spices and place them on a paper towel to drain.
3. Mix the prepared shrimp, ham, bamboo shoots, and mushrooms, and set aside. Lay out the soaked and drained lotus leaves ready for use.
4. Heat the oil in a wok, fry the spices for two minutes, then discard them, and add the ginger, scallions and ground pepper and fry for one minute before adding the shrimp mixture. Stir well, then add this mixture to the cavity of the chicken, and put it on the lotus leaves, and tie not too tightly with the string, Cover this with two inches of purchased clean mud or rice paste and allow to dry for one hour.
5. Bake in a 400 degree oven for two hours until mud is baked and hard around the chicken.
6. Remove from the oven crack with a hammer, and remove the chicken from the mud or rice lotus leaf wrapping and put it on a platter. Cut the string and discard, and serve.
Braised Dong Po Pork, Hangzhou Style
2 pounds whole piece raw pork
10 shallots, each one peeled and cut in half
6 slices fresh ginger, peeled
3 Tablespoons dark soy sauce
3 Tablespoons crushed brown slab sugar
3 Tablespoons Shao Xing or another Chinese rice wine
1. Boil pork covered with cold water for fifteen minutes then discard the water, and cut the pork into two- to three-inch cubes.
2. Put cubes of pork, skin-side down, with half the shallots, half the slices of ginger, the soy sauce, brown sugar, and the wine into a clay pot. Top with the rest of the shallots and ginger, stir the liquid, and cover the clay pot.
3. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, and simmer for ninety minutes. Then transfer to a clean clay pot that fits into a large steamer, and cover it.
4. Steam the covered clay pot over boiling water for another hour, then cool and refrigerate the pork squares until needed.
5. Reheat as many of the pork squares needed covered in the sauce until heated through. Then serve, each in a small casserole, and return any sauce to those in the refrigerator, until needed.
West Lake Fish with Shallot Oil
1 two pound croaker or carp
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Shallots, peeled and minced
2 Tablespoons mushroom soy sauce
2 Tablespoons Shao Xing rice wine
2 slices peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon crushed brown slab sugar
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1. Cut croaker or carp in half, discard the center bone, scale the fish, and discard the entrails.
2. Put the fish halves on a flat plate and slide them into boiling water, simmering for two minutes. Remove them to the flat plate and discard all but half cup of water.
3. Add the oil, shallots, soy sauce, rice wine, ginger, granulated and the crushed brown sugar to the pan.
4. Mix vinegar and the cornstarch and stir into the soy sauce mixture add the fish, and bring to the boil stirring carefully until it boils and thickens.
5. Carefully transfer the fish to a preheated platter, pour the thickened sauce over, and serve.
Shrimp in Fermented Red Rice Sauce
1 and 1/2 pounds of shrimp
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 Tablespoon minced peeled garlic
2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger
3 Tablespoons fermented red rice
2 scallions, minced
1/2 cup Shaoxing rice wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
dash of ground white pepper
1. Shell, remove the black veins from the shrimp, and discard both of these. Then dry the shrimp with paper towels.
2. In a wok or fry pan, heat both oils and immerse half the shrimp for two minutes, drain them and put them on a platter. Repeat with the other half of the shrimp. Remove all but one tablespoon of the oil mixture, then put the garlic and ginger in and stir-fry them for one minute, then add the fermented red rice and stir-fry another minute or two until this mixture bubbles.
3. Add all the rest of the ingredients, set the shrimp on a serving platter, and cook everything else one more minute. Return the shrimp to the pan, stir, then serve.

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