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A Bite of China II - Daily Domestics, common but unforgettable home-cooked foods
Home may be the warm harbor for every one, no matter how far one can reach it is always the starting point and destination in one’s life. People living in the same house make a fire and cook—they are bound together by love and foods. Simple pots and pans reflect the Chinese lifestyles, whilst daily domestics are just as different tastes of lives.
Red-cooked Pork is a very famous Shanghai food, which fully embodies the characteristics of thick oil and sauces of the dishes in this prosperous metropolis. Choose superior streaky pork with skin and boil in water and then drain well, slightly fry shredded ginger in hot oil, put the boiled pork inside and stir a few, add soy sauce and some water, stew till the pork enough cooked. The whole process does not require advanced skills but time and patience, which makes the dish a classic home-cooked kind in China. More exquisitely one can burn pork skin with raging fire in advance, the skin contracts rapidly under high temperature, and it will maintain tough taste even after long-time stewing in this way. Red is the label of appearance, this attractive color can be obtained by adding sugar, dark soy sauce, red yeast rice or fermented bean curd, depending on one’s preference.
As to some people one of their hometown memories would be pickles. Sour and crunchy, pickle is an essential food at Sichuan people’ homes. Flavors of Sichuan cuisines are quite rich, to create these complex flavors pickles are indispensible seasonings. Pickled gingers and peppers are used to cook authentic Stewed Fish in Pickles, a well-known Sichuan cuisine. Hot oil can drive out spicy flavor and acidic materials of pickles, which can not only make the fish more delicate but also reduce the unpleasant smell of the dish. There are all kinds of pickles at almost every home of Sichuan; the only difference is their tastes. Clean the most fresh and tender vegetables in the season and mildly dehydrate by air, and then put them into the mixture of salt and cold boiled water at proportion of 1 and 50. Carrots, gingers and cowpeas are only a few of vegetables which can be stored in jar and pickled. Peppers can be added to improve flavor, garlic to kill germs and Sichuan peppers to increase fragrance. Pour old brine into jar and clear water to the edge to inhibit unneeded bacteria. Over ten days later, the microorganism’s hard work endows the vegetables new lives—shiny, crisp and sour, pickles are ready!
Stewed Fish in Pickles
There is a kind of food which can be both served as dish and seasoning, i.e. dish go with staple food in China family recipes. Watermelons grown in sandy soil of Heze, east China’s Shandong Province are ripe in July. Sweetness of this fruit can not merely be enjoyed for one season in the area, Watermelon Jam, a daily domestic dish go with staple food can magically keep the flavor of summer to other seasons. The jam is made in midsummer: boiled soybeans ferment in the ten hottest days of a year, put the green-yellowish beans covered with mycelia into melon pulps, sprinkle with condiments such as salt, shredded ginger, Sichuan peppers, star anises, etc., keep turning and kneading to ensure all the ingredients suck enough sweet watermelon juice, and then store them in airtight jar. After about forty days the delicacy is formed, mellow jam aromas accompanied with sweet, even a small dish of Watermelon Jam can make people open the appetite.
A wild cane shoot grown by the Liao River in northeast China’s Liaoning Province is called cattail by locals, and the delicate part of its erect stem is edible. Both fresh and dried cattails can be served with meat, but before cooking the dried ones it is necessary to soak them in hot water, meanwhile, more soup is needed. Around one hour’s cooking a Braised Pork with Dried Cattail is prepared for eaters. Down to the east China’s Jiangsu Province, people in Yangzhou pursue another wild vegetable narrow-leaf cattail, which has position in lots of Chinese cuisines. Chop narrow-leaf cattail finely and mix with egg pulp thoroughly, spread into cake and fry with hot oil, that’s Cattail Omelette. Cane shoot, a mutation of the above-mentioned cattail in Liaoning, has spindle-shaped fleshy stem, and it is only nurtured in China and Vietnam. One of foods including this vegetable is Shrimp Roe Stewed with Cane Shoots, a most common Chinese home-cooked dish in summer.
It is too difficult to reel off even most of daily domestics in China since the varieties are so great. Though home-cooked delicacies differ from one another in thousands of households, happy families are all alike after all. As teaching mother tongues, older generations embed tastes in younger ones’ memories, and these familiar tastes always remind them the directions of homes.
- By Sophy (VisitOurChina)
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