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Tasty Dan Jia Cuisine

by: Kitty Choi

Hong Kong China: Hai Bin Publishing Company 2006, Paperback
ISBN: 988-202-315-0

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Summer Volume: 2007 Issue: 14(2) page(s): 21

Fishermen who live on their boats are called dan jai in Chinese, so dishes in this book are mostly seafood. It is said they eat cheaper items that sell less well. The volume's purpose is to introduce them and their rustic tastes to a broader audience.

Not only does the book share the recipes for these items, it also discusses God and Goddess worshiped by fishermen in South China, namely, Hong Sheng Ye (originally called Hong Xi) and Tian Hou (originally called Lin Mo Niang). It enlightens about their taboos and superstitions, a bit about their diets, and about their wedding customs. Among the latter is a three-day banquet for more than three hundred guests. The foods for it include not only prawns, crab, and shark's fin dishes, but also roasted piglets and more.

In the dietary department, Laver and Sweet Egg Soup help expel dampness from rheumatism and bones that ache, and women in need of recuperation should try Dried Pike Eel Maw and Red Bean Soup. Both of these recipes end the book; other fascinating ones are foundamong the fifty-six bi-lingual recipes. Some are commonplace such as Omelette with Baby Oysters and Steamed Fish in Egg Custard. Less well known ones include Preserved Sausage and Beancurd Skin Rolls, Taro Rice with Dried Shrimps, and Steamed Scallops with Chopped Garlic and Mung Bean Threads. With these recipes, Ms Choi respects long-held traditions and shares recipes that tout them.
Preserved Sausage and Beancurd Skin Rolls
1/2 pound dace or other white fish, minced
1 water chestnut, minced
3 tablespoons tangerine peel, soaked, then minced
1 Tablespoon dried shrimp, soaked and minced
1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon thin soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash ground white pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 sheets purple or black seaweed
2 Chinese preserved sausages, each about ten inches long
1 large sheet dried or soft bean curd skin, cut into two pieces
1 cup vegetable oil
1. Mix minced fish, water chestnut, tangerine peel, and dried shrimp. Add oyster sauce, thin soy sauce, salt, ground white pepper, and sesame oil and two tablespoons cool water.
2. Steam sausages for twenty minutes.
3. On one piece of bean curd skin, spread half the fish mixture. Top with one sheet of seaweed, and put one sausage at one end and roll, but not too tightly, into a sausage-shaped piece. Repeat with the rest of these ingredients.
4. Brush both rolls with about a tablespoon of the oil, and set on a steam-proof plate.
5. Steam over rapidly boiling water for five minutes, remove, and set aside to cool.
6. Heat oil, deep-fry the rolls until golden brown, drain on papertowels, then slice on an angle, and serve.

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