Posts tagged food history
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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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!

Pad Thai: Food History
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What is Pad Thai?

Pad thai is made with soaked dried rice noodles, which are stir-fried with eggs and chopped firm tofu, and is flavored with tamarind pulp, fish sauce, dried shrimp, garlic or shallots, red chili pepper and palm sugar and served with lime wedges and often chopped roasted peanuts. It may contain other vegetables like bean sprouts, garlic chives, pickled radishes or turnips, and raw banana flowers. It may also contain fresh shrimp, crab, squid, chicken or other animal products. Many of the ingredients are provided on the side as condiments such as the red chili pepper, lime wedges, roasted peanuts, bean sprouts and other miscellaneous fresh vegetables. Vegetarian versions may substitute soy sauce for the fish sauce and omit the shrimp.


Where did it come from?

A dish of stir-fried rice noodles is thought by some to have been introduced to Ayutthaya during the time of the Ayutthaya Kingdom by Chinese traders and subsequently altered to reflect Thai flavor profiles.

During World War II, Thailand suffered a rice shortage due to the war and floods. To reduce domestic rice consumption, the Thai government under Prime Minister Plaek Phibunsongkhram promoted eating noodles instead. His government promoted rice noodles and helped to establish the identity of Thailand. As a result, a new noodle called sen chan (named after Chanthaburi Province) was created. Pad thai has since become one of Thailand's national dishes. Today, some food vendors add pork or chicken (although the original recipe did not contain pork because of the government's perception that pork was a Chinese meat). Some food vendors still use the original recipe.

Come in to Windchimes today to try our version! You wont’ be disappointed!

The Tien Tisn Pepper
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One thing Chinese food has is great flavor! From sweet to savory it showcases how pleasurable eating can be.

One main element they use in dishes are peppers. They can range from a slight heat to making your mouth feel on fire. A common pepper used a lot in dishes is the Tien Tsin Pepper. You may know Tien Tsin peppers by another, more descriptive name – Chinese red peppers. These are the surprisingly hot, dried chilies that you sometimes find in you Kung Pao chicken or one of many other Szechuan or Hunan dishes. They’re popular to use as a flavoring spice that are removed prior to serving (unless you order your meal extra hot).

Can you eat the Tien Tsin Pepper? Think of it as a small cayenne peppers with extra pop and you’ll be on the right path for both looks and tastes. Tien Tsin chilies are branch-like thin, one to two inches in length. They age from green to a vibrant red, at which time they are picked and dried for their typical usage

The Tien Tsin pepper’s slimness is very reminiscent of cayenne, and it has a neutral, almost musty, flavor behind the heat similar to cayenne too. This is not a complex chili in terms of flavor; the heat is the star here. And that certainly colors how it is used in the kitchen.

All in all it’s a great element to any Chinese dish and makes each bite DELICIOUS!

Tien Tisn Pepper in Kung Pao Trio (look for the pepper flakes in the dish!)

Tien Tisn Pepper in Kung Pao Trio (look for the pepper flakes in the dish!)

What are Singapore Noodles?
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Singapore Noodles is a dish of stir-fried rice vermicelli seasoned with curry powder, vegetables, scrambled eggs and meat, most commonly chicken, beef, char siu pork, or prawns.Even though you would think it would a be a dish created in the town in which is named after it actually was Chinese-American creation.

This dish looks more complicated than it is. It consist of Rice vermicellia dried noodles, egg, meat and a handful of different types of vegetables. All of this can be personalized for you taste and YES, you can even make this at home!

Don’t believe me? Check out this simple recipe:

One of the most popular stir fried noodles, made at home! Made with Chinese BBQ Pork (Char Siu), prawns/shrimp, egg and vegetables with a signature curry seasoning. See notes for a quick Char Siu and subs. This recipe makes 2 generous servings. Recipe video below.

Course: Noodles, Stir Fry, Street Food

Cuisine: Asian, Chinese, Hong Kong, Singapore

Servings: 2

Calories: 555 kcal

Author: Nagi | RecipeTin Eats

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (Note 1)

  • 2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine (Note 2)

  • 2 1/2 tsp curry powder (hot or ordinary, Note 3)

  • 1/2 tsp sugar

  • 1/2 tsp white pepper (black also ok)

Stir Fry

  • 100g / 3 oz dried rice vermicelli noodles (Note 4)

  • 2 tbsp peanut oil , separated

  • 8-10 medium raw shrimp / prawns , shelled and deveined

  • 2 eggs , beaten

  • 1/2 medium onion , thinly sliced (yellow, brown or white)

  • 4 garlic cloves , minced

  • 1 tsp ginger , freshly grated

  • 1/2 lb / 250g Chinese barbecue pork (Char Siu), thinly sliced (Note 5)

  • 1 cup red capsicum / bell pepper

  • 2 tsp thinly sliced hot green pepper (adjust to taste, optional)

Instructions

  1. Combine the Sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix.

  2. Place rice vermicelli noodles in a large bowl filled with boiled water and soak as per packet instructions. Drain and set aside.

  3. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a wok or heavy based fry pan over medium heat. Add the shrimp/prawns, cook until just cooked - about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Remove and set aside.

  4. Add the egg and spread it out to make a thin omelette. Once set, use a spatula to roll it up, remove from the wok and slice (while still rolled up).

  5. Return the wok to medium heat and add the remaining 1 tbsp of oil. Add the garlic, ginger and onion, cook for 2 minutes until onion is slightly softened.

  6. Add capsicum and cook for 1 minute.

  7. Add noodles and Sauce, give it a few tosses. Then add the egg, pork,  shrimp/prawns, chillies (if using). Toss until the sauce coats all the noodles and everything is heated through - about 1 to 2 minutes.

  8. Serve immediately.

Notes

1. I use all purpose soy sauce (Kikkoman) or light soy sauce. I don't recommend dark soy sauce, the flavour is too intense.

2. Also known as Shaoxing wine. Substitute with dry sherry, cooking sake or Mirin. If you can't consume alcohol, use chicken broth.

3. Any generic curry powder is fine here. I use Keens or Clives of India, both general curry powders sold at supermarkets. I use hot because I like the spice!

4. Wai Wai is the brand I recommend if you can get it, for both texture and also it holds up well to lots of tossing action. Rice vermicelli is very cheap - usually $2 for quite a large bag - and nowadays you'll find it at everyday supermarkets.

I know it doesn't sound like much noodles but it expands, almost doubles in weight.

5. If you don't have store bought or homemade Char Siu  substitute with diced chicken, bacon, ham or pork, leave it out and/or add more vegetables. For a quick Char Siu, make a small quantity of the Char Siu marinade, marinade pork chops for 20 minutes then pan fry on medium until caramelised, or bake at 180C/350F for around 20 minutes. Then use per recipe.

6. How to tell shrimp/prawns are perfectly cooked: raw prawns hang straight, perfectly cooked prawns form a "C" shape and overcooked prawns are tightly curled into an "O" shape.

7. Adapted from Singapore-Style Rice Vermicelli by Saucy Spatula

8. Nutrition per serving.

But if you don’t like to cook just come into Windchimes and order it!

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!