Posts tagged Best Chinese Food
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There’s are a lot of fruit in Chinese cuisine which leads to delicious meals but did you ever wonder why? Well, Jacqueline Newman has done the research on why! Check it out below!

Chinese Food Symbolism: Fruits (Part I)

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Foods and Symbolism

Spring Volume: 1996 Issue: 3(1) page(s): 16

Fruits are temple offerings. Did you ever wonder why? What about oranges? Did you get any this past Chinese New Year holiday? Were they fresh? The Chinese love fruits, they like them big and beautiful, and they prefer fresh fruits, though sugared ones are common at this time of year. Fresh fruit at the New Year symbolizes life and a new beginning. Sugared ones are a wish for a sweet year. Traditionally, the pomelo, mandarins or what we call the tangerine or clementine, as well as limes, bananas, pineapple, and water or winter melon are seen as temple offerings. And speaking of traditions, during the harvest festival, the Lunar New Year, and other special occasions, fruits are common gifts, as well as common offerings.

The orange is a prayer or wish for good fortune. That is why it is probably the most common food offering. As a harbinger of wishes for good luck, they are often eaten on the second day of the New Year. Why not the first, because once an Emperor distributed oranges to his officials on the second day of the New Year. Thus you are also wishing for officialdom if you eat them on this day.

The mandarin and other fruits in the citrus family have other interesting roles. For instance, after her wedding, the bride is given two of these fruits by her new in-laws. She is to peel them the evening of the nuptials and share them with her husband. These two fruits are symbolizing a family wish that the bride and groom share a happy and full life together. Also, the name of the mandarin in Cantonese also means gold, clearly a dual wish here adding hopes for a life loaded with prosperity.

I was told that in the north of China two types of dried fruits are placed under the marriage bed, both wishing for many offspring. These are dried lychees and dried longans. The reason for these particular items, the words for them also mean "to have children quickly."

Melons and the pomelo are symbolic of family unity, they hold out the wish that the family will, like the moon, stay round, large, whole, and also united. Families love to share them and many other fruits. That may be why they buy large fruits and share them together.

Pomegranates have special family meaning, too. They symbolizes fertility; this fruit is full of seeds. A picture is often a wedding gift, a special picture with one of these fruits shown half-opened. The meaning is a hundred seeds, or more completely, a hundred sons. The word for seed is zi, it is also the word for sons.

The pomegranate is one fruit not used for sacrifice. The reason, it is considered to be too seductive. If you see a pomegranate on an old sash or cap of office in an ancient painting, the meaning has nothing to do with the seeds of this fruit, rather, it is saying or maybe praying to keep the title or rank from generation to generation in the same family. As in the two meanings for zi, what we call a homonym, only in this case it the word shi which also means generation.

Banana, found on some offering altars are there for other reasons. This fruit's leaves are one of the fourteen precious items to scholars. So on the offering table or altar, you are finding a wish for education, brilliance in work or school, or a related thought.

Apples have meaning, too. They symbolize peace. The word for apple in Chinese is ping, the homonym of ping is peace. Should you wonder what a homonym is, think of the word bear, the big four-legged animal and then think bear as in to bear fruit. Now the blossom of the apple is different; it stands for beauty. If you see one in a picture along with magnolias, the meaning is a hope that your house be honored and rich (with beauty).

Apricots are symbolic, too, they can stand for or mean a beautiful woman. But beauty had best not be to give your husband a red one. If you did, it would tell him that his wife is having an affair with a lover.

The loquat in Chinese is called pipa, which is the name of a Chinese musical instrument. Now this fruit ripens in early spring. So young boys out with less than honorable women were said to be running with loquat blossoms. Peaches portend longevity, and one almost always sees them in the hand of a man. That could be because the peach blossom advises of a somewhat loose lady. One rarely sees these two fruits together. though in real life less han honorable women could be out with young boys.

Pears symbolize something else. For example, lovers should never share a pear because the word for pear is identical to the word for separation. Many fruits are shared, but never is the pear divided with a husband, a lover, or a friend. And, whatever you do, don't give pears as a gift, especially on the 15th day of the 7th month; if you did, you would be wishing a separation from or to someone loved.

Symbols in fruit and other foods are fascinating. Allow me to end with a tripartite Chinese image wishing you (with a peach, a pomegranate, and a finger-lemon) a long life, many sons, and every happiness.

Recipes to Try at Home: Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients

  • 4 cups water

  • 2 cups uncooked white rice

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 1 pound ground pork

  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

  • 1 (14 ounce) package firm tofu, drained and cubed

  • 2 carrots, shredded

  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

  • 1/4 teaspoon hot chile paste

  • 1 head iceberg lettuce leaves, separated

  • Add all ingredients to list

Directions

  • Prep - 15 m

  • Cook - 32 m

  • Ready In - 47 m

  1. In a saucepan combine the water and rice. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes, until water is absorbed. Set aside and keep warm.

  2. Heat oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Cook the pork, green onions, and garlic for 5 to 7 minutes, or until lightly brown. Add the tofu, carrot, Hoisin, and soy sauce, stirring frequently until heated through. Remove from heat, and stir in the sesame oil and chile paste.

  3. To serve: spoon a small amount of rice into each lettuce leaf, top with the stir-fry mixture, and drizzle with additional soy sauce or hoisin, if desired. Wrap the lettuce leaf to enclose the filling.

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Fresh, wholesome & tasty Asian wraps!

Footnotes

  • Optional additional stir fry ingredients

  • These may be used in place of or in addition to the tofu: chopped peanuts, peppers, shrimp, rice noodles, diced chicken, scrambled egg or bean sprouts.

What is Sesame?
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Sesame is a common ingredient in Chinese food but where does it come from?

Sesame  is a flowering plant in the genus Sesamum, also called benne. Numerous wild relatives occur in Africa and a smaller number in India. It is widely naturalized in tropical regions around the world and is cultivated for its edible seeds, which grow in pods or "buns". World production in 2016 was 6.1 million tonnes, with Tanzania, Myanmar, India, and Sudan as the largest producers.

Sesame seed is one of the oldest oilseed crops known, domesticated well over 3000 years ago. Sesamum has many other species, most being wild and native to sub-Saharan Africa. Sesamum indicum, the cultivated type, originated in India and is tolerant to drought-like conditions, growing where other crops fail.

Sesame has one of the highest oil contents of any seed. With a rich, nutty flavor, it is a common ingredient in cuisines across the world. Like other nuts and foods, it can trigger allergic reactions in some people.

Sesame seeds are sometimes sold with the seed coat removed (decorticated); this variety is often present on top of baked goods in many countries.

Sesame seed is a common ingredient in various cuisines. It is used whole in cooking for its rich, nutty flavour. Sesame seeds are sometimes added to breads, including bagels and the tops of hamburger buns. Sesame seeds may be baked into crackers, often in the form of sticks. In Sicily and France, the seeds are eaten on bread (ficelle sésame, sesame thread). In Greece, the seeds are also used in cakes.

History of Food: Lychee Fruit
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Since Lychee is this years lucky fruit I thought we should learn a little more about this history behind it!

Lychee: The lychee is also a spiky red fruit, a bit bigger than a cherry, with a pit surrounded by an inedible peel and somewhat translucent milky flesh. It is very high in Vitamin C and is juicy and sweet with a pleasing hint of tartness. It’s mostly eaten fresh but can also be canned. It can be found in many frozen yogurt places in the U.S. as a popular topping. It is also a popular flavor for many Asian drinks, snacks, and dessert products.

It is a tropical tree native to the Guangdong and Fujian provinces of China, where cultivation is documented from 1059 AD. China is the main producer of lychees, followed by India, other countries in Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and South Africa. A tall evergreen tree, the lychee bears small fleshy fruits. The outside of the fruit is pink-red, roughly textured and inedible, covering sweet flesh eaten in many different dessert dishes.

What are some of your favorite Lychee treats?


China Summer Fun
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Summer is just around the corner and if you need some places to think about visiting think about China. This huge continent has so much to offer during the summer months.

Check out some of the reasons and things to do here:

The Weather

From mid-May through mid-July, the rainy season kicks in across southern and eastern China. The rains are nicknamed the plum rains (梅雨 meiyu, or “may yoo” in Mandarin) for the season when the fruit ripens. Frankly, during those weeks, it feels as if nothing can grow but mold. But don’t be downtrodden; bring rain gear and you’ll be fine. Northern China doesn’t have the same precipitation pattern so make your itinerary include Beijing and Xi’an if you’re worried about getting too wet. After the rains end, you’re likely to seek shade from the scorching sun and blue skies that govern the later part of the summer.

There’s a lot to do in the summer months and some great festivals to try to catch as well. The summer months are the perfect time to tour Tibet as the weather is the mildest and most of the festivals take place in July and August. Visit beach cities like Qingdao and Xiamen to catch some rays, or head all the way down to Hainan to really cook on the white sand beaches of the island. If you’re hanging out in any of the big cities, Beijing, Chengdu, and Shanghai all have great outdoor venues and you’ll find many places to sit in the shade and drink tea - or something stronger - and relax.

 

Summer Activities

Beach: If it’s beach-time you’re after, try one of these destinations for sand and sun:

  • Xiamen, formerly known as Amoy, is a relaxing smallish city directly across from Taiwan that has great beaches, long stretches of the promenade, nice seafood restaurants, and a laid-back atmosphere.

  • Qingdao, most famous for its beer, is another smaller Chinese city with famous beaches and plenty of places to soak up the sun.

  • Sanya, a city on Hainan Island in the South China Sea, is the mecca for serious beach-seekers. Full of top international five-star beach resorts, you can take your pick and have a classy beach holiday. (Be sure not to miss the matching his & her Hawaiian outfits available in all the hotel shops...)

Nature: If you’re looking to see some nature and mountain landscapes then these are perfect choices:

  • Tibet enjoys its best weather in summer months and there's not a better time to go in order to catch great festivals.

  • Jiuzhaigou is a famous national park and reserve in Sichuan Province. Many ethnic Tibetans live there so it's culturally interesting but the reason to go is the scenery. Full of pristine forests and clear lakes, if you're coming from a big city you'll be relieved to see that there is some amazing nature left in China.

  • Mount Song & Shaolin Temple is a great destination if you want to combine a little history and religion with your nature walk.

  • Four Buddhist Holy Mountains draw thousands of tourists and climbers every summer. If you're really ambitious, perhaps you could make it to all four?

  • The Great Wall just has no match in China. No, it's not off the beaten path. Yes, you'll probably be there with hundreds of other tourists. But it's famous for a reason. Don't miss it if you're near Beijing.

Green: If you don't have time to head too far out, some Chinese cities have plenty of green, many have gardens which are famous:

  • Visit any Chinese park

  • Suzhou's famous gardens

  • Hangzhou and the West Lake or Moganshan.

  • The Giant Panda Breeding Base in Chengdu offers lots of green bamboo and giant cuddly animals.

Shanghai: In Shanghai, these are great summer activities:

Beijing: And in Beijing, any of these activities are great for summertime.

Summer Festivals

Summer Holidays

Qi Xi, Night of Sevens (Chinese Valentine’s Day) is not an official holiday, but a traditional celebration usually falling in August.

Chinese kids are off from school between early July and the end of August.

Unique Vegetables in Chinese Food: Bamboo Shoots
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China is a large continent which in turn brings a lot of different food varieties. One vegetable that is seen in a lot of different Chinese cuisines in Bamboo shoots. What are they you ask?

As the name implies, bamboo shoots are the edible shoots of the bamboo plant, which is native to Asia. They are cut from the plant once they appear above the ground to preserve their tenderness and because if they are left to grow exposed, they will turn a green color. 

Fresh bamboo shoots are available at Asian or Chinese markets, or you can find canned bamboo shoots at most local grocery stores. Fresh shoots need to be boiled until tender, then husked and cut into pieces. Canned bamboo shoots only need to be heated since they are pre-cooked.

You may have eaten bamboo shoots at a Chinese restaurant as they are often part of a stir-fry. You can try them at home in almost any stir-fry dish, including stir-fry beef with bamboo shoots and stir-fry mushrooms and bamboo shoots.

Next time you order your favorite dish from Windchimes thing…does this have Bamboo shoots in it?

 
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Happy Lunar New Year: The Celebration Begins
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Just because the new year has begun doesn't mean you're allowed to rest.

While most countries that observe Lunar New Year offer three to seven days of public holidays, celebrations don't end until the 15th day of the first lunar month, also known as the Lantern Festival. (Lunar New Year in 2019 lasts from February 5 to February 19.)

There is a list of superstitious dos and don'ts for the new year but the rule of thumb is to say a lot of "kung hei fat choy"or "gong xi fa cai," and avoid saying things that may sound like a less auspicious word.

During the festival, people will travel around to visit relatives, who will prepare snacks and fill up candy boxes for the visits -- except for the third day of the month.

It's believed that arguments are more likely to happen on that day -- February 9, this year -- called chi kou (or "red mouth"). Hence, most people will engage in other activities like visiting a temple. In Hong Kong, a major spring festival horse racing event takes place every year on the third day.

During the 15 days, married couples have to give out red packets filled with money to children (and unmarried adults) to wish them luck.

The seventh day is renri, or the people's birthday (February 11). when the Chinese mother goddess Nuwa is said to have created mankind.

The highlight comes on the last day, during the Lantern Festival (February 19).

Being the only day when young girls in ancient Chinese society could go out to admire lanterns and meet boys, it's also been dubbed Chinese Valentine's Day.

Nowadays, cities around the world still put on massive lantern displays and fairs on the 15th day of the festival.

Some create more sparks than others. Like Nuanquan, a small Chinese town that puts on a spectacular "firework" show by throwing molten metal against a cold stone city wall.

Kung hei fat choy!

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Chinese Food: A Christmas Tradition
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I was recently was looking over the numbers on Windchimes website and noticed that last month on December 25th there was a large spike in business. I know a lot of America celebrates Christmas on that day and typically spend it with family/friends and home cooked meals. But what if that wasn’t your holiday or you didn’t want to cook? The answer is Chinese food.

This is no surprise. The tradition of going out for Chinese food on Christmas day has been around since 1935 when Jewish American’s were one of the largest non-Christian immigrant groups along with Chinese people. That meant there were new populations that didn’t typically see December 25th as a holiday. While a lot of stores/restaurants were closed many Jewish and Chinese immigrants found something of a shared experience of celebrating who they were together in a safe space.

“Chinese restaurants were safe. There was definitely an era for Jews when they felt insecure about being American and being perceived as foreign, especially since a good, good number of them came from Eastern Europe,” said Jennifer 8. Lee, author of Fortune Cookie Chronicles and producer of the documentary film The Search for General Tso. “They knew at least in Chinese restaurants they wouldn’t be judged about being foreign.”

Today you can find more restaurants open on Christmas this tradition has stuck through and through. It’s even been popularized in movies A Christmas Story. Even though the original film has a few flaws on political correctness the remake of it in 2017 fixed that:

All in all Chinese food is a staple during the holiday season so maybe next year instead of stressing out on what to make why not make a new tradition and go out and celebrate at Windchimes! It’ll be great time!

2019: Year of the Pig
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A New Year means a new Animal in the Chinese Culture. The Pig is the twelfth in the 12-year cycle of Chinese zodiac sign. The Years of the Pig include 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031, 2043...

Earthly Branch of Birth Year: Hai
Wu Xing (The Five Elements): Shui (Water)
Yin Yang: Yin

People with Chinese zodiac Pig sign are considerate, responsible, independent and optimistic. They always show generousness and mercy to endure other people's mistakes, which help them gain harmonious interpersonal relationships. However, sometimes they will behave lazy and lack actions. In addition, pure hearts would let them be cheated easily in daily life.

  • Strengths
    Warm-hearted, good-tempered, loyal, honest, gentle

  • Weaknesses
    Naive, gullible, sluggish, short-tempered

    As the Zodiac Year of Birth (Ben Ming Nian) for people of Pig sign, 2019 could be a year full of ups and downs in all respects for them. They could receive support and help from their colleagues and leaders, but might feel stressful under too many regulations. The fortune in wealth is fair. Although they can expect a salary increase and also gain more income from financial products, there could be a lot of unexpected expenditure offsetting the favorable money increase. As for love relationship, single females of Chinese zodiac Pig may have a fairly good fortune and could start a sweet relationship in 2019.

Honey in China's Culture
 
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In the spirit of International Honey Day this Saturday I wanted to talk about the history of honey and how it plays into Chinese culture.

Talking about bees and honey in history must always include Ancient Egypt and Ancient China. But starting from the very beginning of times, we must say that bees are actually one of the oldest forms of animal life, since Neolithic Age, preceding humans on Earth by 10 to 20 million years. When they appeared, humans did whatever the other animals were doing at the time, meaning, stole the bees’ honey to feed themselves. Homo Sapiens and honey were together since the Stone Age.

As the centuries went on honey was considered an important medicinal remedy as shown in their writings dating from about 2000 BC. As with India, honey also occupied an important place in Chinese culture, another great eastern civilization. Honey is mentioned in the Shi Jing, or Classic of Poetry, an important book of Chinese theology written in the 6th century BCE. According to Ancient Chinese medicine, honey is a major component to earth, one of the five basic elements, and acts on the stomach and spleen meridians of the human body.


According to Chinese medicine, honey has a balanced character (neither Yin nor Yang) and acts according to the principles of the Earth element, entering the lung, spleen and large intestine channels. (as mentioned by earlier writings). During the Xin Dynasty, around 220BC, a book of Chinese medicine says: “Those who often take honey can keep fit, honey can cure indigestion, it can be used in medicaments to bind other ingredients together.”

 
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Need your Honey fix today? Try out our Honey Glazed Shrimp. Doctors orders!