A first look at “The Chinese Takeout Cookbook”

randomhouseThis post is a few months overdue – Chinese New Year was back in February! I received “The Chinese Takeout Cookbook” by participating in Diana’s virtual Chinese New Year potluck. This won’t be a full review because I haven’t cooked every recipe. I might make cooking dishes from the cookbook an ongoing series. I did get a chance to look through the book and decided to share my impressions.

To start off, imagine my surprise when I got the book and it was sent directly from Random House. I’ve never received anything directly from a publishing house. Pretty cool!

coverThe book has ten chapters, the first being an introduction to various ingredients and tools that are needed. The last chapter has recipes for various basics, like stocks and sauces. The main recipes are divided between the other eight chapters.

There are little historical tidbits among the recipes. I like the term “American-Chinese” for the food in the cookbook. These are not the original Chinese recipes, but rather recipes that have evolved in America.

The recipes look simple and not overly complicated. I think it is ideal for a busy cook or a person who is new to Chinese cuisine. I’m looking forward to trying out recipes from the book. In particular, I really want to learn all the different sauces.


Chicken wings for the Super Bowl and a recipe

The article “Why Chicken Wings Dominate Super Bowl Snack Time” on NPR reminded me of one of my favorite chicken wing recipes. I’ve made Siracha garlic wings many times for family and friends and they have always been a hit.

Anthony Bourdain went to Taipei!

It all started with this tweet:

I doubt I am the only one who has been wondering: when will Anthony Bourdain go to Taiwan and film a show there? “No Reservations” has multiple episodes all over Asia, including Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong. What about Taiwan? Now, it has finally happened. “The Layover” crew was in Taipei and tweeted some great pictures. I’ve embedded some of my favorite tweets.

More tweets, after the jump.

Preserved eggs: 皮蛋 and 鹹蛋

There are different ways to preserve eggs. 皮蛋 and 鹹蛋 are two specific ones. 皮蛋 is egg that has been exposed to chemicals. The egg white turns a see-through black. It has the texture of jello. The egg yolk turns a gooey grey-green. It has an unique taste that cannot be compared. 鹹蛋 is extremely salty egg. The egg white stays white, but has a different texture. It is not as bouncy as a regular hard-boiled egg. The egg yolk is extremely yellow, almost orange. The taste is extremely salty. I really like 皮蛋. Both eggs can be found in the Asian supermarket. I like to eat both with rice porridge. I also like to eat 皮蛋 on its own, with some soy sauce paste. I’m used to 鹹蛋 being duck eggs, but I think the ones I found were chicken eggs.

Pictures after the jump!

山本海苔店 x HelloKitty

山本海苔店 (yamamotonoriten; English site) has packaging featuring Hello Kitty. 海苔 (nori) is dried seaweed.

This can had strips of nori inside. The nori was flavored with citrus honey. It also had sesame seeds.

This particular box contained individual packets of nori.

I really like the pink design inside the tin box. I like how there’s a distinct difference between Hello Kitty’s regular bow and the bow made with the fabric tie around her head.

The packets are so cute! The front and back of the packets have corresponding pictures of the front and back of Hello Kitty.

As far as I know, these products are direct from Japan.

Ask 愛評網 where to eat in Taiwan

I first stumbled upon 愛評網 when I was finding restaurants in Taiwan. 愛評網 is a site that allows users to post rankings and reviews of restaurants. Amazingly these restaurants include upscale restaurants to chain restaurants to food stalls in night markets. The search terms are very flexible as well. Searches can be done by store name, location (or district), and even cuisine type.

My favorite part about 愛評網 is that it gives a very clear summary of the price point and recommended dishes. I also like that it gives users a lot of freedom to write about their experience and post a lot of pictures. It is a review site that provides the space of a blog. The extensive information on 愛評網 all come from the members. They are very thorough and often post photos of menus and dishes. Sometimes I feel like I’ve already eaten at a restaurant after reading a review. 愛評網 also includes categories such as beauty products, movies and entertainment, travel, and electronics.

Shark fin bans appearing in Asia

Shark fins are back in the news. In October, a bill banning the sale or distribution of shark fin was signed in California. The hope of the bill is that a reduced use of shark fin would lead to the reduction of finning, which is when the fin is cut off the shark and the shark is release back to the ocean. The wild shark population is becoming an environmental issue. The ban begins on January 1, 2013. Shark fins currently in the state can be sold or possessed until July 1, 2013.

Recently, The Peninsula Hotels announced a ban on shark fins in all hotels starting on January 1, 2012. The Peninsula Hotels are located mostly in Asia (including Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, and Tokyo). The announcement states that shark fin soup will still be served at events booked before the announcement and occurring after January 1, 2012 will still be accommodated.

The latest news is about a shark fin ban in Taiwan. The news was reported through videos from Reuters and Al Jazeera. The video from Al Jazeera is below. The images of shark finning can be disturbing.

The shark fin ban in Taiwan is reported to start in 2012. However, it is not an all-encompassing ban. The rule is that the sharks must be at port, not just the fins. I suppose a better description is that boats that practice finning will not be able to sell their catch at the docks in Taiwan. Only whole sharks will be allowed.

Unfortunately all these regulations are skirting the issue of regulating the amount of sharks that each boat is allowed to catch. The problem is a dwindling shark population, not the type of catch allowed in countries. I think limits should be set on the number and types of sharks allowed. Otherwise, there may need to be an all-out ban on catching sharks. We need sustainable fishing practices to save creatures in the ocean while providing nourishment.