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Thread: Chinese food

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    right here.

    Chinese food

    i got a giggle or two out of this.
    where's my beer?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Hartford Vt U.S.A.


    That was beautifull man. Got a hanky?
    Reminds me of the place in Mass. that got busted for pressing the cabbage between the parking lot and a sheet of plywood with a pickup truck.
    " Better to be a warrior in the garden than a gardner at war."
    "Ni hao darlins!" - wujidude
    "I just believe that qi is real and good body mechanics have been masquerading as internal power for too long." - omarthefish

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Chicago, IL
    I'm not a big fan of Chinese-American food. Give me Veitnamese or Thai food any day.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Chandler (Phoenix), Arizona
    Chinese-American food, fa_jing?

    Try my "HKV Egg Fu Yung" with white rice for breakfast:

    1 or 2 eggs
    a TINY bit of ground beef

    1 stalk scallion (minced)
    fresh potato (chopped)
    1 tomato

    a touch of parsley or coriander
    fresh garlic

    soy sauce
    oyster sauce
    sesame oil
    ground pepper

    1. Cook garlic and potato first in wok or skillet
    2. Remove potato, cook ground beef
    3. Add all the other ingredients, season to taste.
    4. Mix a tiny bit of cornstarch in water and add to skillet if you don't want your eggs TOO runny.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    where the unconscious speaks

    this never ceases to amuse me,

    and I always feel guilty that it does.
    haha. I just love it.
    "The truth is more important than the facts." (Frank Lloyd Wright)
    "The weight of the sun doesn't keep it from rising." (Cody)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Slightly OT

    Inside the world's largest collection of Chinese menus
    The Thread Tracy Mumford · Apr 28, 2016

    Harvey Spiller collected Chinese menus from all across the country -- and the world. These are some of the 10,000 menus acquired by the University of Toronto. Courtesy of the University of Toronto

    Fifty-seven banker boxes.

    One thousand one hundred pounds.

    Ten thousand Chinese menus.

    That's what Harley Spiller delivered to the University of Toronto when the school purchased his decades-in-the-making collection. It's the largest assortment of Chinese menus on the planet. The menus go back more than 100 years and come from all over the world, from 1920s California to 1940s India to Spiller's favorite place, just down the street from his New York apartment.

    "Anybody who's working in food studies knows about this collection," said professor Daniel Bender, director of the university's food studies center. "It's the Rosetta Stone of understanding the history of Chinese foods."

    This Chinese menu comes from Portland, Ore., in the 1950s. It is one of the 10,000 menus from Harvey Spiller's collection, which was acquired by the University of Toronto. Courtesy of the University of Toronto

    For the last year, librarians and archivists at the school have been sorting through the menus, studying how best to make the information available to the public. The menus don't just document the rising price of chow mein or the world's changing palates, Bender said. They speak to the history of Chinese immigration around the world.

    "The oldest one that we found in the collection is from 1896, which is a really interesting time. That's around the time, or shortly after, the United States and Canada and many other places passed very restrictive Chinese exclusion acts," Bender said.

    When countries closed their borders to Chinese immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, immigrants already in the U.S. found a loophole: Chinese restaurant owners were allowed to bring in workers for their kitchens. Thousands of people entered the country that way.

    "The Chinese restaurant boom and Chinese exclusion happened really at the same time," Bender said. "Chinese restaurants became popular at the same moment that Chinese immigrants were looked at with suspicion."

    This menu comes from Phoenix in the 1980s. It is one of the 10,000 menus from Harvey Spiller's collection, which was acquired by the University of Toronto. Courtesy of the University of Toronto

    None of this history was on Harley Spiller's mind when he started his collection.

    It began in the summer of 1981, when he moved to New York City. He was in his early 20s, and unfamiliar with city life.

    "I'm renting a room in a friend's apartment, and they were out and I was all alone," Spiller said. "I heard a scuffle at the door, and I thought to myself: 'Oh great, I didn't even make it a week and I'm getting robbed.' So I hid in the bedroom.

    "About five to ten minutes later, I poked my head out and went to see what was going on. It was a Chinese menu, shoved under the door.

    "It was interesting to me because I was an English major, and there were typos, and there were foods I didn't know were foods. I thought squid were in the science lab, fermented. I didn't know you could eat it. I was a meat-and-potato kind of guy.

    "Now I eat squid like peas," Spiller said.

    This menu comes from Empire Taipei in New York City. Moving to New York is what triggered Harvey Spiller's menu collection. His 10,000 menus were acquired by the University of Toronto. Courtesy of the University of Toronto
    That first menu shoved underneath the door sparked his fascination.

    "I couldn't afford to subscribe to The New York Times. I couldn't get magazines. So I read menus. They were up and down the avenues in my new town for the taking. I would take walks after dinner, check out the new neighborhood and grab those. They were spare-time reading material."

    For those who think the ubiquitous paper menus are worthless, Spiller disagrees: "A menu is a book. It has covers and it has pictures and it has sections like chapters. It's a container for ideas. That's a book!"

    Spiller went from casually collecting menus on the street to seeking out historical menus and menus from far-off locales. Older acquaintances ripped Chinese food menus out of their wedding scrapbooks for him. Friends brought them back from vacation.

    He dreamed of driving across the country, stopping at flea markets and buying up every old Chinese menu he could found. But instead, the flea markets came to him: eBay was invented.

    "In 1997, I was off: I bid on every single Chinese menu that came up on eBay the first year. I bought most of them, and then I looked at my bank account and I went cold turkey."

    The University of Toronto's Food Studies program acquired Harvey Spiller's collection of 10,000 Chinese menus. The collection will allow researchers to track the rise and fall of certain dishes across time and location. Courtesy of the University of Toronto

    That didn't stop the collection from growing, though.

    One weekend in 2004 or 2005, a team of nine people gathered to count the menus for the Guinness Book of World Records. They stopped counting at 5,006, which handily beat the previous world record of 4,001. They were still only halfway through the collection.

    As three decades of collecting came and went, though, Spiller decided it was time to find the menus a new home. He was delighted to hear about the University of Toronto's interest. Other potential buyers wanted to cherry-pick menus from the collection, choosing the most exotic or rare among them, but the university wanted the whole thing — and it wanted to make the collection available to the public.

    "It started as a lark but it's going to end up helping people writing histories and working on immigration studies," Spiller said. "It helps normalize the immigrant experience."

    Professor Bender agrees. "I like to think of that person who finds their own grandparents in that collection, finds the restaurant they worked at ... It's a bit like finding out your parents painted a great painting and now it's hung in a museum."

    Spiller's collecting days aren't over, though. He still has a collection of rare coins. And wishbones. And yellow pencils. And blue bottle caps. And plastic spoons.

    Harvey Spiller collected matchbooks from Chinese restaurants, too. They are included in the archive purchased by the University of Toronto. Courtesy of the University of Toronto

    "That's a collection that I started to see if anything could arise from a dumb collection," he said.

    Did moving the 1,100 pounds of Chinese menus out of his apartment free up any space?

    "You know how if you squeeze a bowl of Jell-O, it just squirts everywhere?" Spiller laughed. "It's like that. The shelves that were emptied were immediately filled."

    The menus allow researchers to track changing trends in Chinese food over the years. This historic menu is from a restaurant in San Francisco. It's one of 10,000 menus in the collection that the University of Toronto acquired. Courtesy of the University of Toronto

    Harvey Spiller started by simply collecting the Chinese menus on the streets of New York City, but later began seeking out menus from across the country. This menu from Seattle is one of the 10,000 from Spiller's collection. Courtesy of the University of Toronto
    Let me also take a moment here to point out our Dim-Sum-dian-xin thread.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  7. #7
    I love Chinese food but I love Japanese food more.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Giraffe Soup

    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  9. #9
    Chinese food is delicious. Link is not working anymore :C

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Sichuan food

    Szechuan for you old skool Americans. Sichuan food is my favorite Chinese food, and I have yet to visit Sichuan.

    Lost tradition feared as Sichuanese food booms in popularity
    By Chris Buckley New York Times
    June 21, 2016

    NEW YORK TIMES Lan Guijun prepares a dish of salmon stewed in a broad bean sauce at his Sichuan fusion restaurant Yu Zhi Lan in Chengdu, China.

    NEW YORK TIMES Lan Guijun prepares a dish of salmon stewed in a broad bean sauce at his Sichuan fusion restaurant Yu Zhi Lan in Chengdu, China.

    NEW YORK TIMES The kitchen at Lian Ying, a contemporary Sichuan restaurant in Chengdu, China.

    The kitchen at Lian Ying, a contemporary Sichuan restaurant in Chengdu, China.

    San hua kao ji, or three-flower roast chicken, adapted from a recipe by chef and restauranteur Yang Wen, in Beacon, N.Y.

    San hua kao ji, or three-flower roast chicken, adapted from a recipe by chef and restauranteur Yang Wen, in Beacon, N.Y.

    1 / 3

    HENGDU, China >> The tang of the famed cooking of Sichuan wafts through streets crowded with restaurants. Hot pots of chili and oil simmer like restless volcanoes. Chicken, rabbit and frog bathe in stews tingling with red and green peppercorns. Favorites like Pock-Marked Grandma Tofu abound.

    But along with all the pungent aromas, a whiff of panic is in the air here in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in southwest China.

    “Sichuanese cuisine really faces a crisis,” said Wang Kaifa, a 71-year-old chef who has been leading a campaign against what he sees as the creeping debasement of the region’s celebrated cooking.

    “The scene feels like it’s booming, but this is a chaotic boom that has had a lot of negatives,” he said. “Finally, they could become a sickness that brings down Sichuanese cuisine.”

    Such gloom seems surprising. Chengdu has a bustling food scene with many thousands of restaurants, from chic newer ones to hole-in-the-wall places called “fly diners.” Tourists go there just for the food.

    Sichuanese cooking has been conquering the world, making major inroads in New York, London and other intensely competitive dining cities abroad.

    But many in Chengdu worry that tradition is being lost and Sichuan*ese cooks are selling out for easy but fleeting hits.

    Rapid growth has debased much restaurant cooking. Menus are often narrowed to dauntingly spicy dishes, like boiled duck-blood curd and tripe in chili broth, ignoring the great variety and nuance of the cuisine.

    “Our taste buds have been battered into decline so that we demand it to be spicier and spicier,” said Shi Guanghua, a food writer and former restaurateur. “Sichuan*ese cuisine has become shallow and flattened.”

    In Chengdu, people dissect their meals with the reverence that other cities devote to sports teams. Lively debate surrounds finding the balance between preserving tradition and embracing new ways and new customers.

    And in this country where almost every problem prompts a state plan, the province’s government last year upgraded its guidelines for standard Sichuanese dishes. The guidelines advise, for instance, that “strange-flavored chicken strips,” a cold dish that includes dark vinegar, should use the meat of a year-old rooster.

    To outsiders, this alarm may seem over the top. But the angst over Sichuan cooking distills wider anxieties about the place of tradition, as China becomes increasingly unmoored from its past.

    “Shocks from commercialization and the simplification of tastes have created a crisis,” said Shi, who is on a supervisory panel for the restaurant-rating plan. “Sichuanese cuisine can’t survive without its traditions, but how to preserve them and reinvigorate them at the same time? That’s the focus of discussion.”

    Early this year, dozens of retired chefs formed the Sichuan Old Chef Traditional Artistry Society to restore time-honored ways they say are under assault. Its 160 members, most in their 60s and 70s, meet weekly.

    They gripe about young cooks who use new ingredients, like may*o*nnaise, and recall neglected classics, like sliced pig kidneys fried in fermented bean paste. Wang said he was inspired to start the society after watching while a 30-year-old chef from a five-star hotel added celtuce, also called asparagus lettuce, to kung pao chicken.

    “I was furious,” he said with a grimace. The dish should be an uncluttered mix of chicken, peanuts, stubby dried red chilies and spices, he said. “Young chefs these days just don’t understand what tradition is.”

    Of course no cuisine stands still. Classic French food evolves, as does every other cuisine. In Sichuan, the question is what elements to preserve and how to change without betraying the culinary heritage.

    A camp of chefs here hopes to remake Sichuanese cooking for urbane middle-class tastes in airy modern restaurants, building on the core of traditional ingredients and techniques.

    “You do have to maintain tradition, but it’s not a display in a museum,” said Yang Wen, a rare woman among the legions of male cooks here. “There’s no survival without innovation.”

    Yang is the chef at Lotus Shadow, where refined dishes, like braised shrimp infused with jasmine tea, are a world away from the homespun fare favored by old-school revivalists. “It’s preserving the essence of tradition while meeting modern expectations,” she said. “Sichuanese food has never stood still.”

    She has a point. Sichuanese cooking is classified as one of the eight great cuisines of China. But its roots are relatively recent. Over several centuries of war, trade and migration, outsiders brought in chilies, fermented bean paste, sugar and other spices, and their own cooking traditions.

    These influences melded only a few generations ago to create an unusually aromatic and versatile toolbox of flavors. Sichuan’s historic openness to other influences should be seen as a virtue, say some food lovers here.

    “The truest Sichuanese food has only about a century or so of history behind it,” said Wang Shiwu, a food critic at Sichuan Gastronomy magazine.

    “The attractiveness of Sichuanese food is that it’s a big melting pot. Whatever is attractive in your cuisine, I can absorb and adapt it.”


    1 3- to 3-1/2-pound chicken
    >> Marinade:

    2 tablespoons kosher salt
    2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine
    1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red Sichuan peppercorns
    1 tablespoon good-quality jasmine tea
    1 teaspoon black pepper
    1/2 cup coarsely chopped green onion
    1 tablespoon coarsely chopped ginger
    >> Poaching seasonings:

    1/2 cup kosher salt
    5 dried whole chili peppers, about 3 inches long
    3 tablespoons jasmine tea
    3 green onions, coarsely chopped
    3 1/4-inch-thick slices ginger
    2 whole star anise
    6 bay leaves
    >> Stuffing:

    1/4 cup good-quality jasmine tea leaves
    2 stalks green onion
    2 1/4-inch-thick slices ginger
    1 whole star anise
    2 bay leaves
    Wash chicken and pat dry, then ***** the thick part of the breast, legs and thighs with a sharp fork.

    Combine marinade ingredients in blender or food processor and pulse into coarse paste. Rub chicken cavity and skin with paste; put in plastic bag and refrigerate 10 hours or overnight.

    Combine poaching seasonings with 3 quarts water and bring to a boil in heavy 5-quart pot. Add chicken, breast side down; reduce heat to simmer. Cook, covered, 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand, covered, 30 minutes. Turn chicken and let stand, covered, another 15 minutes. Remove chicken, drain and let cool slightly.

    Heat oven to 400 degrees. Steep tea for stuffing in hot water about 3 minutes. Drain tea, reserving wet leaves. Stuff chicken with half the leaves and remaining stuffing ingredients. Coat chicken with remaining leaves. Discard tea.

    Loosely wrap chicken in foil; set it on baking sheet. Poke 4 to 5 small holes in foil to let steam escape and liquid to drain. Bake 30 minutes on middle rack.

    Take out of oven. Remove foil and drain any liquid. Leave chicken in pan, breast side up, and bake until dark brown, 45 minutes to an hour. Cool slightly, then gently pull off chicken meat in coarse strips. Discard skin, bones and stuffing. Serve chicken warm or cool with some of tea leaves. Serves 6 to 8.

    Nutritional information unavailable.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Panda Express

    How Two Chinese Immigrants Built A Billion-Dollar Fast-Food Empire More Successful Than In-N-Out

    Panda Express, the beloved fast-casual dining restaurant, was founded by Chinese immigrants who believe treating their employees right is the key to building their now billion dollar empire.

    The Chinese-American fast food chain made $2 billion in sales in 2015 — three times that of fast-food burger joint In-N-Out. According to Business Insider, Panda Express has no franchises and operates with 1,800 outlets in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

    Panda Express, which is headquartered in Rosemead, California, is solely owned by the same family that founded it back in the 1970’s. That couple, Andrew and Peggy Cherng, who are both 67, have an estimated net worth of $3 billion today.


    Andrew’s father, Ming-Tsai, worked at a restaurant in Taiwan after leaving Yangzhou, China in 1947. The family eventually relocated to Yokohama, Japan where his father found work as a chef. Andrew received a scholarship and moved to Kansas where he met his future wife and co-CEO Peggy at Baker University.

    Peggy, also a Chinese immigrant, was raised off the mainland in Burma. After Kansas, she transferred to the University of Missouri where she studied computer science and eventually earned her PhD. Andrew moved to Missouri to be reunited with Peggy and earned his master’s in applied mathematics.


    The couple wed after moving to Los Angeles and Andrew later convinced his parents to help him open Panda Inn on Foothill Boulevard in Pasadena in 1973. It was very much a family owned restaurant and business where his mother cooked the rice and Andrew focused on hospitality.

    Panda Inn was slow getting off the ground at first and the business struggled initially. The future Panda Express billionaire once had to try to lure people into his restaurant by offering deals such as three entrees for the price of two.


    In 1983, Andrew opened the first Panda Express in the new food court of Glendale Galleria. Peggy, a computer programmer at McDonnell Douglas at the time, decided to help her husband with the accounting and payroll for his business.

    Her technical knowledge allowed her to spearhead Panda Express’s growth by tracking purchasing history and shifts in customer behavior using pattern-recognition software. She said:

    “The kitchen area is low tech, but the management system can be high tech-how to catch the data, how to analyze data to see what’s most salable, what’s not selling, and to determine what to offer and what not to offer.

    “Andrew’s vision is that he doesn’t see anything that’s not possible. But visionaries need a system and structure to provide the growth.”


    Andrew takes the role of the charismatic leader and motivational CEO while Peggy is the chief technician in charge of operations, the financial tracking system and supply-chain management system. Though they may have differing roles, the couple agree that business is about the people. Peggy said:

    “The restaurant business is the people business, and people are our investment. If we want to be loved by guests, we have to focus on food with passion and service with heart, ambience and pride. If that value equation is really good, then guests will come.”

    Panda Expresses invests in their employees and the results show. Andrew said:

    “Our job is to develop people. When you have a good set of people and they’re in a good place inside and out-in their livelihood and in who they are — then chances are they will take care of the customer better.”
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Continued from previous post


    Panda Express is known for their better quality food and positive treatment of employees. The results are higher pay and better benefits. Panda Express pays $9.50 an hour for starting entry-level positions and about $14 an hour for assistant managers.

    Benefits for Panda employees include health care, paid sick leave, paid vacation, 401(k)s and company-subsidized college courses after six months. The company is focused on self-growth and encourage employees to read books like “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey and “Re-Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins.”

    They are also encouraged to join Toastmasters International and enroll in personal-improvement seminars such as Dale Carnegie Training and Landmark Forum.


    Of the Cherng’s three daughters, their eldest, Andrea, is the only one to go into the family business. Andrea said of her parents:

    “This idea of a purposeful or meaningful life is something that Andrew and Peggy are very dedicated to.”

    Andrea holds a law degree from Duke and an M.B.A from University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. She gained experience elsewhere in the private sector before she assumed her role at the Panda Restaurant Group with her parents.

    Her parents informed her and her sisters at a young age that the whole family were responsible for a number of dependents from the business. She said:

    “At dinner or the breakfast table my parents would ask me, ‘What are you going to do for our people?’ far before I could do anything for our people.”

    Today, Andrea heads the Panda Express Innovation Kitchen in Pasadena where she tests out new recipes and restaurant decor. She said:

    “The Innovation Kitchen is like a concept car. The products there can be replicated throughout the entire system three to five years out.”

    Her younger sister Nicole is a real estate investor while her other sister Michelle is a teacher.

    Written by NextShark
    I've always disdained Panda Express, but this article has changed my opinion.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  13. #13

    Chinese cuisine has gone off into the deep end in NYC. I was going to create a thread about the death of Chinese food, It is that bad. There has been a spiked increase in the use of frozen vegetables and the menus are essentially the "formula for success," meaning that they are the same for every restaurant. When I would call for food prepared a particular way the response is something along the lines of, "So, you want it Chinese style!". That, alone, should give you some idea about what is on the menu. The egg rolls are now contain bit pieces of pork and the worst part of the cabbage -- there used to be so much more in those things. Then again they are not a traditional Chinese food. I could go on but lets just leave it as a worsening situation in NYC that has been created by increasing rent, property values and a poor economy.

    Last edited by mickey; 06-23-2016 at 10:16 AM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Boob Buns

    A Restaurant In China Serves a Boob-Shaped Custard Bun That Lactates on Command. Watch.
    By Khushbu Shah June 24, 2016

    The year 2016 has showed the world that pretty much anything is possible: The U.K. actually voted in favor of leaving the European Union, the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency is very real and restaurants can make dim sum dishes that make you ask, "Is it bun? Is it the nipple of a lactating breast? Is it a vomiting baby?"

    Enter the Chinese dish from Hong Kong dim sum restaurant Dim Sum Icon that looks like all three:


    danielfooddiaryMUST WATCH. How u feel when boss chases u for work during weekends. LOL. ��
    Hong Kong has the weirdest dum sum ever, a vomiting Kobitos bun.
    That is milk custard by the way.
    Follow @DanielFoodDiary on Snapchat to see what I ate in #HongKong #DFDHongKong
    The dish — which is actually just a custard bun — is shaped like a perky breast. It has a strange baby's face that appears to vomit what Instagrammer Daniel's Food Diary wrote is "milk custard" when a hole is poked into the bun.

    In reality, the dish is not part of the female anatomy, it's just a "vomiting Kobitos bun." Kobitos is a character from a popular series of Japanese books. This bun in particular appears to be modeled off of the "Hiding Peach Bottom Kobitos." Still, there is no denying its resemblance to a lactating breast.

    This is not the only err, creative, bun Dim Sum Icon serves. It's also home to a bun that looks like it has the runs. When customers poke a hole on the backside of the Gudetama chocolate bun (Gudetama is a popular Sanrio character), the chocolate filling oozes out in a realistic manner that might make your stomach a bit queasy.

    danielfooddiary DIM SUM ICON

    Click video for sound

    danielfooddiary"That LOOK when someone s*** near you, literally" ��

    Warning: Video may cause some to feel uncomfortable. �� #DFDHongKong

    Makes the over-the-top culinary abomination that is Burger King's Mac n' Cheetos look G-rated, no?
    Worth the click to see the instagram vids. Well, sort of...
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Hoisin sauce

    Amusing article. Anyone who has ever done research on China can relate.

    The Mysterious Origins of Hoisin Sauce
    The elusive history of a classic condiment.

    The Internet-available information about hoisin sauce is all very, very shallow: it’s Chinese, it’s sweet, it’s good with many things. But what is it? Where does it come from? When was it created? Its name means “seafood,” but the sauce contains no seafood. The trail goes cold quickly if you want to know something substantive about the stuff that comes with your pho.

    I reached out to Hong Kong– based food company Lee Kum Kee, which has been making hoisin for more than thirty years, hoping they could answer me. Their response:

    Hoisin was traditionally used in southern Chinese cooking, specifically for seafood. The word hoisin is from the Chinese word for seafood. At that time it was used for stir-fries and dipping primarily. Now it has become a staple ingredient for all types of cooking and is used as a base, glaze, and marinade. It has become a multi-purpose sauce.

    For a company that could fill swimming pools with the stuff, I was hoping for a little more insight. Plus, there’s plenty of informed opinion out there to the contrary: in a 1997 issue of the Chinese food-focused magazine Flavor & Fortune, Eva Koveos wrote, “Ironically hoisin means ‘sea freshness’ sauce in Chinese, but it contains no trace of seafood and usually is not served with it; rather it is popular in Chinese dishes containing poultry and pork.”

    I was flummoxed. So I enlisted the help of Chinese-cuisine expert and scholar Fuchsia Dunlop to clear things up:

    Hoisin sauce (hai xian jiang) is mainly a Cantonese thing. Many sources on Chinese ingredients don’t mention it at all. I did find one entry in a good culinary encyclopedia that says hai xian jiang is a collective name for seafood sauces, such as shrimp sauce, crab sauce, and clam sauce. I also found one Hong Kong chefs’ handbook that says it’s made from a smooth black bean sauce with added “seafood (hai xian),” cane sugar, garlic, vinegar, and five-spice powder. I’ve also found some recipes online that are made with fermented shrimp sauce.

    So, without being able to answer you definitively, I would guess that it was originally a kind of sauce based either on fermented black beans or sweet fermented wheat sauce with some kind of dried/fermented seafood element added for extra umami flavor, as well as other seasonings, and that over time manufacturers cut back on the more expensive seafood ingredients. This seems the most likely explanation, because, as you know, hoisin sauce is more commonly used for ingredients such as pork, and not much for seafood, which would be the other logical reason for the name.

    This would explain the absence of any seafood and/or shellfish product in today’s bottled hoisin. But I can’t fully corroborate any one theory about hoisin’s origins. Maybe hoisin once had seafood in it, maybe it didn’t. Maybe it made its way from China to Vietnam in the twentieth century, or maybe it evolved out of another bean-based condiment in Vietnam. Maybe it’s from Mars.

    So after my futile quest for discovery, the most important facts about hoisin are those that you can confirm for yourself: it tastes good on char siu, Peking duck, and moo shu pork. It’s great in a Taiwanese-style pork bun. And it is very nice to have along- side a bowl of pho.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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