Archive for June 3rd, 2010

My brother-in-law is very superstitious.  In deference to him, there is no Part 13.  part 14 will be posted soon.

The Mouse wants good feng shui. 🙂

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It started back in 2008.  I took a picture of a vendor selling roasted sweet potatoes from a tricycle in Shanghai.  I thought it was just as interesting as some of the foods we ate during that trip. During this visit, I tried to take some pictures of the people who are connected to the foods we were eating.  

The Cat had a list of foods she wanted to eat during our visit.  Two items on the list were xiao long bao and shang jian bao.  Xiao long bao (“little steamer buns”) are small steamed manapua filled with a ground pork or pork hash mix.  If made properly, the pork will give off some of its fat and liquids to create a little soup within the bun.  

Xiao Long Bao

The Cat also had shan jian bao on her list.  Shang jian bao (“raw fried buns”) are also little buns stuffed with ground pork or pork hash mix.  Where xiao long bao are steamed, shang jian bao is pan fried (raw fried) then steamed in the pan.  The best I can describe the process is that it’s similar to potstickers and Japanese gyoza.  After the shang jian bao is browned on one side, liquid (I assumed it was water) is added to the pan and covered allowing the shang jian bao to steam. 

Shang Jian Bao

Within a couple blocks of where we stayed during this visit, there were several small restaurants that served mostly the local people.  The restaurants that served xiao long bao and shang jian bao prepared them at the front of the restaurant.  This is a picture of one of the restaurants from the inside.  The glassed area on the right is where the xiao long bao and shang jian bao were prepared.  On the left is the entrance and the sidewalk. 

Restaurant Interior

In the previous picture, the gentleman wearing the toque would call from the booth to come in and eat.  He must have suspected we were from out-of-town and started talking to The Cat.  We were on our way to somewhere and told him we would come back the next day.  The next day, we went for breakfast and ordered both xiao long bao and shang jian bao.  We also ordered several other dishes (see post on cheap eats).  Some of the dishes were displayed in the booth.  

Cheap Eats

More Cheap Eats

When we left, I wanted to take a picture of him urging people to come in and eat.  He suddenly turned shy and turned his back on me and told me to take a picture of the staff instead (sigh). 

Making Xiao Long Bao and Shang Jian Bao

In Ningbo, while searching for a place for lunch, we passed this noodle shop with this gentleman holding a large roll of dough (My guess is it must have weighed about 20 lbs. or more) slicing noodles from the roll (knife cut noodles).  The shop also had the soup for the noodles out front.  When he saw I wanted a picture, he posed with a big smile.  We didn’t eat at the shop.  The soup smelled very spicy (both The Cat and The Mouse can’t take very spicy foods). 

Making Knife Cut Noodles

On another day, we were having a late lunch.  I think we were the last customers in the restaurant.  The waitresses were taking a break, sitting by the window eating ice cream bars.  They said a regular customer occasionally will drop off the bars for them.  We teased them and told them that he must like one of them.  They quickly said that he buys ice cream for the whole staff. 

Ice Cream Break

The Cat guessed the waitresses may be from the Anhui region and came to Shanghai seeking a better life.  According to another waitress at another restaurant, they work seven days a week with no days off.  They are usually allowed to go home for two weeks twice a year.  The waitress said that even though it seems to foreigner’s eyes that their life is hard, it’s much harder in their home region. 

This is what the interior of the restaurant (that the waitresses eating ice cream) looked like.  If I ever own a restaurant, this could be one of the decor options. 

Restaurant Interior

Sorry, went off on a tangent. 

While walking around, we came upon the staff of a restaurant, all lined up.  the managers were going over the daily specials and announcements.  After the managers announced the specials or asked questions, the group answered in unison.  Reminded me many eons ago when I was in high school ROTC. 

Restaurant Team Meeting

On a related note, another group (not with a restaurant), the staff of a spa, was stretching and warming up before opening. 

Spa Staff

I guess Chinese businesses like to have staff meetings outside. 

We came upon this street chef cooking fried rice and fried noodles while walking back to our apartment one night.  Everything was set up on a tricycle.  He must have been good.  There was a line waiting for food.  Watching him, he seemed to have cooking skills.  The food didn’t stick and it smelled really good. 

Street Chef

More Street Chef

The gentleman in white was the street chef, the gentleman in red appeared to be his sous chef (organized the ingredients, “plated” the food in styrofoam boxes, and handled the cash). 


The Cat and The Mouse had fun watching and meeting these “food” people.

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You’re probably tired of reading about shoyu pork and chicken feet.  So I give you one more post.  I had chicken feet and ingredients left over from making the last shoyu pork.  I asked The Cat if it would be okay to cook chicken feet in the style of shoyu pork (see last post about Reese’s moments).  She approved of the menu.  The chicken feet prepared shoyu pork style, has to be cooked longer than shoyu pork.  In China, instead of naming a dish chicken feet, they sometimes name it phoenix claws. 

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.” 

Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2) 

Hong Shao Feng Zhua (Shoyu Phoenix Claws)

I used dried mushrooms, dried bamboo shoots, and fresh gobo.  We didn’t have green onions so it was left out. 

The Cat judged it with a paw up (good). 

This should be the last post about chicken feet or shoyu pork for a while, no guarantee though. 


The Mouse is eating a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

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PB,RB&B Sandwich

What do Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Japanese Dorayaki sweets, and Elvis have in common?  Sometimes I have these moments I call Reese’s moments (not M&M moments).  See Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reese%27s_Peanut_Butter_Cups.  It’s when I want to combine foods or ingredients not usually thought of being together.  Oftentimes, The Cat says “eww.”  

One of my favorite sandwiches ingredients is peanut butter.  Most times, its two pieces of bread (whole wheat of multi-grain) and peanut butter.  It used to be the chunky variety, but since my braces, its been the creamy type.  Jelly or jam is extremely optional and rare.  I also like the Japanese sweet that has two pancake-like pastries stuffed with red bean paste (Dorayaki).  See Wikipedia articles: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorayaki and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_bean_paste

In a moment of channeling a Japanese Elvis, I came up with this sandwich.  It’s basically a peanut butter and banana sandwich, except that I substituted the red bean paste for jelly. 

Peanut Butter, Red Bean Paste, and Banana Sandwich

 The red bean paste is stiffer than jam or jelly so it didn’t drip.  I used the coarse red bean paste to add some texture.  I can’t wait for my braces to come off to try this sandwich with chunky peanut butter and coarse red bean paste.  I also deviated from the King’s sandwich by not adding bacon and not frying it.  I think the flavors complimented each other. The Cat thought otherwise (she didn’t try it).  But she’s used to my experimentations (so long as she doesn’t have to try all of them).  I don’t think this is what the founders of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement had in mind, but it was made in the spirit of the movement. 

I’m sending this post to Deb for her Souper Sunday feature at http://kahakaikitchen.blogspot.com/.  At least it’s not as weird as chicken feet soup (hopefully). 


The Mouse thanks you very much (with curled lips). 🙂

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Whenever I go to a Japanese delicatessen, I always get their gobo (burdock root) and carrots.  The tempura, fried hash, and other okazu-ya selections are good but gobo and carrots rule.  I don’t know why I always liked it, but that and a couple ongiri (rice balls), and I’m a happy camper.   The gobo and carrots in the picture was in a bento lunch I picked up from our local Japanese restaurant (the dish is from our collection). 

Gobo and Carrots


Unfortunately, I neither have the patience nor the knife skills to cut up the gobo and carrots to matchstick size.  My version is more chunky and takes longer to cook, but still tastes good and ends up in my stomach nonetheless. 

Gobo and Carrots, The Mouse's Version

The following recipe calls for more gobo to carrot ratio.  I tend to go fifty-fifty.  And because I simmer mine longer, my version is softer.  But my version doesn’t get as stuck in my braces.  Here’s the recipe I kind of follow: http://justbento.com/handbook/recipes-side-dishes-and-space-fillers/classic-kinpira-gobo

Here ‘s the Wikipedia article on burdock root: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burdock


The Mouse

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