Posts tagged Chinese Food Education
What is Egg Foo Yung?
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Egg foo young is an omelette dish found in Chinese, Indonesian, British, and Chinese American cuisine.

Literally meaning "Hibiscus egg", this dish is prepared with beaten eggs and most often minced ham. It may be made with various vegetables such as bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, sliced cabbage, spring onions, mushrooms, and water chestnuts. When meat is used as an ingredient, a choice of roast pork, shrimp, chicken, beef, or lobster may be offered.

In Chinese Indonesian cuisine, it is known as fu yung hai, sometimes spelled as pu yung hai. The omelette is usually made from the mixture of vegetables such as carrots, bean sprouts, and cabbages, mixed with meats such as crab meat, shrimp, or minced chicken. The dish is served in sweet and sour sauce with peas.

In Western countries, the dish usually appears as a well-folded omelette with the non-egg ingredients embedded in the egg mixture, covered in or served with sauce or gravy. Chinese chefs in the United States, at least as early as the 1930s, created a pancake filled with eggs, vegetables, and meat or seafood. In a U.S. regional variation, many American-Chinese restaurants in St. Louis, Missouri, serve what is called a St. Paul sandwich, which is an egg foo young patty served with mayonnaise, dill pickle, and sometimes lettuce and tomato between two slices of white bread.

In the Netherlands, which has a local variation on the Chinese Indonesian cuisine, it is known as Foe yong hai, and is usually served with a sweet tomato sauce. Strictly, according to hai in the name, it should contain crab, but it is often served without this ingredient.

There are several other variations in different countries of this dish but all have the simple start of an omelette. You should come in and try ours and see what you think!

Fried Rice: Why It's So Good?!
 
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What makes fried rice so good? I was floored the other day when I finally tried Windchimes' fried rice. It had a flavor that I had never tasted before and couldn't stop eating it. I couldn't stop thinking about it and had to go back to get it again. It was almost too good for words! Though, it got me thinking what exactly was fried rice and what is the history behind it.

The basics is fried rice is typically pre cooked rice that has been stir-fried in a wok or frying pan and is usually mixed with other ingredients such as eggs, vegetables, seafood, or meat. Most of the time it's made from left overs from other dishes and can be eaten on it's own or as a pair to another fish. 

While the exact origins of fried rice are lost to history, it’s believed that it was invented sometime during the Sui dynasty (A.D. 589–618), in the city of Yangzhou in eastern Jiangsu province. Yangchow (Yangzhou) fried rice is still the standard by which all other Chinese fried rice dishes are judged: morsels of fluffy rice tossed with roast pork, prawns, scallions, and peas. In American-Chinese restaurants, you’ll sometimes find it called "special fried rice." Today, fried rice dishes are found throughout China, particularly in the south, where rice is the staple grain.

But why is it so good? I think one factor that comes from it being so good is the nostalgic aspect of it.  For me fried rice was an easy dish I could make easily enough for myself when I first lived on my own. Something so easy as taking leftover Chinese food and throwing it into a pan and adding an egg to it (for protein!) and some veggies to make it a balanced meal. It was quick and good. I still think of those simpler times and every time I have fried rice I'm taken back to that place.

 
Cuban Fried Rice

Cuban Fried Rice

 

Fried rice has also spread to other countries putting their own spin on the popular dish. From Thailand to Cuba and Portugal to Japan. All these places have their own versions that have some basis of the original dish but making it their own and I can't wait to try them all!

Who is General Tso?
 
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General Tso is one of the most popular dishes at Windchimes. This sweet yet spicy, deep-fried chicken treat brings customers in but leaves them with the popular question of "who is General Tso?"

This dish is said to be named after Zuo Zongtang, a Qing dynasty statesman and military leader. There is no real connection to him or the dish from the Hunan Province and even his descendants, when interviewed, had never heard of the dish. There is also claim that a Taiwan-based Hunan chef named Peng Chang-kuei invented the popular dish. Peng started inventing new dishes and modifying traditional ones during the early 20th century when he moved to New York to open up a restaurant. He was not the only to lay claim to the dish. Shun Lee Palaces in New York City clamed to be the first restaurant to serve General Tso's chicken and states it was invented by a Chinese immigrant chef named T.T. Wang in 1972. 

"We opened the first Hunanese restaurant in the whole country, and the four dishes we offered you will see on the menu of practically every Hunanese restaurant in America today. They all copied from us."[2]

Even though there are several claims to the General Tso's history it can be reconciled that the current General Tso's chicken recipe was introduced by Chef Wang but as "General Ching's" a name which still has trace appearances on menus on the Internet (the identity of its namesake "General Ching" is, however, unclear); whereas the name "General Tso's chicken" traces to Chef Peng, who cooked it in a different way.

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He may not be an actual person but General Tso sure does leave customers at several Chinese restaurants very, very pleased! Thank you!

 

Inspiring Foods: The History of Moo Shu
 
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Last week I decided to be adventurous and try a new dish at Windchimes. I searched through the menu as my mouth watered at all the delicious sounding food when I finally found what i wanted. I wanted the Moo Shu Chicken.

This stir fried dish served with your choice of meat with cabbage, bamboo shoots, carrots and egg in a plum sauce sounded really good. Though there was an interesting element that caught my attention and was the reason i wanted to try this dish out. It came with a pancake?! What did that mean? I had to try it and I was not disappointed.

Afterward I was curious about how this dish was created since a lot of the Chinese food comes from different regions that specialize in their own flavors or types of food. This dish comes from the northern Chinese origin originating from Shandong, a coastal province and appearing in the United States in the late 1960s. Typically the Moo Shu dish is created with pork tenderloin, cucumber, and scrambled eggs, stir fried in sesame or peanut oil together with mushrooms and minced ginger and garlic. As this dish grew popularity in the United States the chefs had to start to modify the recipe to use ingredients that are easier and more available in the states. This is why they started to use green cabbage, carrots, scallions and bean sprouts a lot more in the dish. Like most dishes that are popular there are a lot of different variations of them from restaurant to restaurant adding their own flavor and twist on it.

 
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My favorite adaptation in the pancake that is served with the dish. The pancake is a white tortilla-like wrapper made of flour and is used to hold all of the contents of the dish. It's basically eaten like a taco and there are even some Chinese restaurants that began serving Mexican style flour tortillas with the dish. I love the way that food has come to grow and adapt to their surroundings and the culture around them that is different then their own. It really illustrates the beauty of America and how we are a melting pot of so many different cultures. 

 

Inspiring Foods: Mongolia & Indonesia
 
Kids in Mongolia 

Kids in Mongolia 

Women in Indonesia

Women in Indonesia

 

China is a large continent which boarders and in close proximity to other countries. Just as we’ve learned from previous blog posts there are different cooking styles/flavors from other regions of China. This also spreads over to the different influences that China has picked up on countries that are close by such as Mongolia and Indonesia.

Let's start with Mongolia. This country is sandwiched between China and Russia, both very large and in charge countries with their own complicated history to Mongolia but this didn't mean they wouldn't be influential. Since this is a landlocked country on a rocky, mountainous terrain they are not able to produce a lot of vegetables or spices limiting them to a meat and dairy based diet. A lot of the Mongolian people raise their own animals and have created several dishes such as mutton and even have their own version of a dumpling called Buuz. Even though Mongolian cuisine primarily consists of meat it is still influential showcasing how even when you are limited you can still make amazing food

Buuz - is a like a dumpling.

Buuz - is a like a dumpling.

Now on to Indonesia. The flavors in this country, since way more south of Mongolia and China, create a whole different palette. Their food consist of a lot of flavor and spices that really give your food a kick and a more complex flavor. Bali curry typically consist of meat that is cooked in a curry paste that is combined of several different spices to give it a unique flavor. This then is boiled in coconut milk and a variety of vegetables can be added such as potatoes, green beans, and carrots. As you can tell these dishes are both different but similar stemming from the concept of using what is around them where they live.

 
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Even though these two countries are very far apart they still have a common thread of food. Sure, their flavors may be drastically different but there is a reason why Windchimes has both on their menu. These two countries are important cultural influences to China whether you realize it or not. We live in an age where these different flavors be carried out in all parts of the world. With the ever expanding food scene we are able to give people not only a taste of China but other places like Mongolia and Indonesia.  There are so many cultural influences on food and that’s what makes it so magical. We are able to bring so much of ourselves and interests into it and share it with the people who are curious to try it. So, why not be that person and come in and try our Mongolian Style cooking and Bali Curry. I know you won’t be disappointed!

What's the Difference?: Szechuan vs Hunan Chicken
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Chinese cuisine is very important in their culture. It not only showcases the flavors of China but also the different regions that they originated from. Two particular styles of cooking that sometimes get confused with one another is Szechuan and Hunan. They seem similar but they have particular differences that you might not pick up on right away.

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Here's the breakdown:

Szechuan cuisin (sometimes also known as Sichuan) is a style of Chinese cooking originating in the Sichuan Province of southwestern China. This region is famous for their pungently, spicey flavors. There is usually a generous amounts of garlic and chili peppers in this dish along with citrus like spices that could produce a "tingly-numbing" senations in the mouth. This dish also pairs well with peanuts, sesame paste and ginger that can give it a more dynamic taste. Szechuan's flavor is known more for it's sweet and spicey taste rather it being just hot.

Hunan cuisin (also known as Xiang) originated in the Xiang River region and the Western Hunan Province. This style also has a "hot tongue numbing" seasoning known as 'mala'. It, too, has a lot of garlic and chili pepper with the addition of shallots. Though, it may seem like it is similar to Szechuan, Hunan is more for dry and purely hot with an oiler taste. Even though it's a more plain flavor there still is a range of fresh ingredients used that changes seasonally to combate with the weather around the region.

Who knew that cooking could be so regional!?! Come back and learn more as we unpack the Windchimes menu and find out more history where these food favorites comes from. 

Do you have a favorite? Did you even know the difference between the two? Come into WIndchimes today and try both out and see which one you like better!