Tag Archives: chinese

Homemade Twice Cooked Pork Belly

This is LAW’s favorite dish and definitely one of my favorite ones to make because it is very, very easy, and very, very tasty. Twice Cooked Pork Belly (回锅肉) is a classic Sichuan dish. Every household has its own version of it. Common recipes include scallions, napa cabbage, and bell peppers. Twice Cooked Pork Belly literally translates into return-to-wok-meat because the fundamental part of the recipe is to boil the pork belly first (some use just water, others use broths with ginger, cloves, star anise, etc.), freeze it, then slice it up and return to the wok for stir fry.

My version breaks this fundamental rule but I promise it’s still really good. It’s very quick to make and goes really well with a bowl of steaming rice (下饭). I only use 4 ingredients:  Continue reading Homemade Twice Cooked Pork Belly

Location, location, location. It matters for restaurants too.

Vanessa’s Dumplings
220 E 14th St
(between 2nd Ave & 3rd Ave)
New York, NY 10003

The dumplings here are not good. Yet, I have them at least once every two weeks. Why? Because it’s the only place near me that specializes in dumplings and I ache for dumplings about once every two weeks.

I always get the basic: boiled cabbage and pork dumplings ($3.99 for eight). Cabbage and pork dumplings are classic. The cabbage adds moisture and sweetness to the meat. A quality dumpling would have thin, yet chewy skin, tender and flavorful, not-too-loose-nor-dense filling. As you can see here, Vanessa’s dumplings have thick skin, and despite the color of the meat, it actually is quite bland. Soy sauce and chili sauce is needed. In China, the classic way to eat dumplings is just to dip it in a little vinegar. The vinegar helps cut the flavor and fattiness from the dumpling itself.  Continue reading Location, location, location. It matters for restaurants too.

Yunnan Kitchen: decently tasty but also pretentious

Yunnan Kitchen
79 Clinton St
(between Rivington St & Delancey St)
New York, NY 10002

I’m not completely against non-traditional Chinese food. I love Baohaus, especially their fried chicken bao and fried fish coffin bao, which are both not traditional Chinese dishes. I also love Mission Chinese, a hip little modern Chinese place that even has a kale salad. That has got to be the least Chinese thing ever. But I still love it. ‘Cause they do it right. It’s hip in the right ways. They have crispy pig ears (totally Chinese) and use Old Bay seasoning (totally not Chinese). Danny Bowien experiments with all kinds of Eastern and Western flavors and brings them together in exciting, unpretentious ways.

Yunnan Kitchen, on the other hand, pretends to be traditional but also wants to be hip and pretentious. The space is occupied by mostly non-Asians (no offense) and the menu encourages sharing “delicious small plates.” Nuh uh. Chinese people don’t share small plates. We share big plates. Pet peeve of mine. Pictured above is the Cold Noodles ($12) with ground pork, pickled mustard greens, cilantro, and peanuts. This is a pretty classic dish – spicy, sweet, and nutty – but $12 is ridiculous for a tiny bowl of limp noodles. Check out Xi’an for some serious noodle damage.

We also shared the Beef Tartare ($13) with chili oil, green cabbage, and rice cracker. I liked the rice cracker and green cabbage combo but also felt like the portions were way too small for a $13 dish. The beef was lightly flavored. Nothing too memorable.

These Stir Fried Mushrooms ($11) with sawtooth herb, ham, and peppers was probably my favorite dish from the night. There were a number of different kinds of mushrooms sautéed with a smoked ham and spicy green peppers (green long horns?). My only suggestion to Yunnan Kitchen is to serve it on a sizzling cast iron plate. It smells so good, it deserves to come out crackling.  Continue reading Yunnan Kitchen: decently tasty but also pretentious

Shi’s Kitchen: Chinese New Year Red Cooked Pork Belly (Hong Shao Rou)

Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year has never meant so much to me as it did this year. Yes, it marks the beginning of the Year of the Snake, and yes, I am a Snake. That definitely adds to the significance. But Snake aside, for some reason, I felt ultra traditional this year and felt obligated to bring people together for a large meal. The years of my mother telling me the importance of family and home cooked meals on new years eve must’ve finally kicked in. Not only did I want to celebrate the occasion, I also wanted to do it right. All Chinese New Year eve dinners involve some sort of whole fish, some kind of whole chicken, dumplings, etc. My family specifically always also includes Sichuan Cold Noodles (四川凉面) and Red Cooked Pork (红烧肉). I have never made any of this on my own so this past Saturday was a first. Like all Chinese recipes, my mom didn’t give me exact measurements of anything. “Add sugar, soy sauce, ginger.” Errrr… how much of each? Go figure. Use your brain. Or how my mom would say it: move your brain. Anyway, I’m either a naturaaaal or had some beginner’s luck with me, because the pork belly turned out succulent, flavorful, and just delicious. Here’s the quick and dirty rough recipe to my family’s secret that has been passed down from my great grandmother in Sichuan.

Red Cooked Pork Belly
I was feeding a lot of people so I bought over 3 pounds of pork belly. Make sure you keep the skin (it ends up tasting ultra QQ)! First, I put the strips of pork belly in boiling water. Don’t ever have the meat touch cold water because apparently cold water tightens up the meat. After a minute or so of boiling, I removed the meat and tossed the water. The water smelled pretty damn porky. Boiling the meat helps get rid of that gamey flavor.

Red Cooked Pork Belly
I then patted the pork belly dry and cut them up into these little nuggets.

Continue reading Shi’s Kitchen: Chinese New Year Red Cooked Pork Belly (Hong Shao Rou)

Egg and Tomato, a homely meal (re-post)

This week has been busier than usual. I suck for not posting and I feel terrible about it. I’m going to suck even more after this because I am going to re-post a blog post from earlier this year when I made Egg and Tomato noodles for myself. It’s one of those weeks where I just miss home and crave homely foods, such as these noodles. Here is my post from March, 2012:

Still sick in bed.  I have very little energy today so I am going to repost a photo and add the recipe for it.  Egg and Tomato (鸡蛋炒西红柿) is a classic Chinese dish that every household makes when in need of a quick and simple dish.   Continue reading Egg and Tomato, a homely meal (re-post)

Homemade Stir-fried Japanese Tofu

I love Japanese Tofu (日本豆腐). Despite it’s name, it is actually a Chinese tofu made with eggs and soy milk. They are sold in tubes in Chinese supermarkets and are much more expensive than regular silken tofu – for good reason. The eggs make the tofu particularly smooth and silky and the extra protein makes it slightly more filling than traditional silken tofu. I also love the slightly eggy flavor. This was my first time making it and I’d like to say it was a success! Continue reading Homemade Stir-fried Japanese Tofu

Mission Chinese – amazing Modern Chinese cuisine

Mission Chinese
154 Orchard St
(between Stanton St & Rivington St)
New York, NY 10002

Wow. This is some legit modern Chinese food. I hate pan-Asian and in general, hate it when people try to mess with authentic Chinese cuisine. American Chinese food is only good when Panda Express makes it because they at least don’t pretend to be something they’re not. I would call Mission Chinese modern Sichuan cuisine. The dishes certainly diverge from the traditional but it does so in the best way possible: keeping the essence of the traditional while adding something new to make the dish bigger, better, faster, stronger. This is probably the goal of pan-Asian but pan-Asian tends to just sweeten everything too much, add too much grease, and cater to people who don’t know what the original is like. Mission Chinese seems to cater to people who know what Sichuan food actually is and want to push the boundaries further. It’s like an inside joke that you would only understand if you’re already well-versed in Sichuan food.

I started the meal with an Oolong Hai ($10), which was simply oolong tea, lemon, and soju. It was a deliciously simple cocktail that was definitely made with some well-brewed oolong tea. It was probably made extra strong to compensate for the inevitable watering-down-of-tea from the ice because the tea tasted strong and penetrated the soju from beginning to end of drink. It was only very slightly sweet, which tasted more like the floral accents from the tea rather than from any sugar or honey, though I’m sure they had to add something.

We ordered a variety of cold appetizers: Beer Brined Sichuan Pickles (napa cabbage, carrot, chili oil, sichuan pepper) , Beijing Vinegar Peanuts (smoked garlic, anise, rock sugar), and Smashed Cucumbers (salted chili, sesame paste, garlic) ($4 each). $4 is quite expensive for the tiny portions of dishes that, in my opinion, could be/should be complimentary (like Korean banchan). They were not incredibly special but the fact that they even had Sichuan Pickles and Beijing Vinegar Peanuts made me excited. I had not had them since I was in China. Truth be told, they weren’t authentic and these appetizers definitely lacked in quality. I quickly forgot about them once the hot dishes came. Continue reading Mission Chinese – amazing Modern Chinese cuisine

Xi’an Famous Foods, one of the most authentic Chinese restaurants in the city.

Xi’an Famous Foods
81 St Marks Pl
(between 2nd Ave & 1st Ave)
New York, NY 10003

This, my friends, is my go-to weekday spot when I don’t feel like cooking and want something delicious and cheap.  Xi’an is a city in China in the Shaanxi province that is fairly centrally located. Its cuisine therefore is heavily influenced by all regions of China, especially Sichuan for its spiciness and numbing flavors.  As the first capital of China and the start of the Silk Road, Xi’an cuisine is also influenced by Middle Eastern cuisine.  Hence, you’ll see a lot of cumin-flavored meats… I always get three things at Xi’an: a noodle dish, a burger, and a tofu dish.

Pictured here is the Liang Pi Cold Skin Noodles ($4.50).  This is a very traditional dish that originated in Xi’an.  The noodles are made from rice and are served cold with cucumber, bean sprouts, cilantro, and chewy tofu/bean curd pieces.  The sauce is garlicy, sweet, sour, spicy, and tingly all at the same time.  It honestly is an explosion of flavors and textures.  The noodles are very springy and chewy, which pair very well with the crisp cucumbers.  The cucumbers, bean sprouts, and cilantro add a bit of freshness to the spicy and oily sauce.  I always, ALWAYS get this in the summer because it is light and refreshing, especially compared to Xi’an Famous Food’s other noodles… I took my dad here when he came to visit and he thought that this was even better than what we get in Beijing.  He’s from Xi’an, so he would know.

The other noodles are all hand-pulled noodles.  There is quite a variety of flavors, my favorites being the Spicy Cumin Lamb, Spicy Hot Oil Seared, and the Pork “Zha Jiang” noodles.  These noodles are made with flour and are hand pulled to a tremendously chewy texture.  They are wide and flat, equivalent of a pappardelle pasta.  As you can see, the noodle dishes are saucy as hell.  You can generally adjust the level of spiciness though don’t go asking for zero spice because it just isn’t going to happen.  They pride themselves in serving authentic Chinese food and will only cater to your weak buds to a small extent. Honestly, if you can’t handle it, you should just force yourself to eat spice more often and you’ll soon appreciate it, I promise. Continue reading Xi’an Famous Foods, one of the most authentic Chinese restaurants in the city.

Hua Ji Pork Chop – my kind of Chinese fast food

Hua Ji Pork Chop
7 Allen St
New York, NY 10002

Woooooooooooo it’s Friday!!!!!!!!!!!!  I have a ton of stuff to do before the weekend begins so I’m going to leave this quick and dirty gem with you.  Hua Ji Pork Chop is quick, dirty, and absolutely delicious.  It’s located pretty far down into Chinatown in a dingy little space that has bar seating enough for 6.  With $5, you get three pieces of crispy pork chop, taiwanese 雪菜 (snow veggies… a kind of pickled vegetable that always goes with rice and beef noodle soup.  Trust me it’s good.), and some meat gravy, all over a bowl of rice.  Oh, and a bowl of soup.  All of these items come in a plastic take-out container so you either wolf down your food and leave, or you take it with you outside and squat on the sidewalk and eat like a real baller. Continue reading Hua Ji Pork Chop – my kind of Chinese fast food

Happy 236th birthday, America!

Though I was born and partially raised in the US, I still don’t feel quite fully American.  The red, white, and blue does not resonate as mine… nor does the red and yellow of the Chinese flag.  I’m stuck somewhere between, like many third-culture kids.  But nonetheless, America, you have provided me and my family with so much love food and care food.  Thank you and happy birthday!!

I’m going to be ironic and post about my favorite Chinese breakfast dish (well… one of my favorites) on this glorious birthday.  This dish, 牛奶鸡蛋 or Milk and Eggs, is something my grandpa always made for me because it is, in his mind, the most extravagant thing you could make for breakfast.  It contains milk, sugar, and eggs, three things that were so rare in his lifetime and my mother’s childhood that it has, to this day, remained special in our family.  Essentially, you poach an egg in milk.  Milk tends to burn very quickly so you must boil it over low heat.  Once the milk is boiling, you add sugar and crack a fresh egg in it.  You let it cook for a few minutes and turn off the heat.  You serve it immediately in a bowl.


When you eat it, you break up the poached egg so that the yolk spreads… making the milk taste faintly of egg.  The process of boiling milk makes the milk taste extra creamy so that even skim milk tastes whole.  Gosh this is so good.  Sometimes we add a little bit of oatmeal to the milk so that we get a little more fiber and texture.  Mmm…


Alright, off to the festivities.  I’m going to have a fancy hot dog party so stay tuned for my post on that.