Despite obvious food safety concerns and the like, China is still a culinary paradise for many reasons, and is known for its countless ingenious ways of cooking various types of foods in weird and wonderful ways. I have to say, that prior to my arrival in China I was a bit conservative on the old food front and stuck to my guns regarding what I choose to ate. As time went by however, I began to open my doors to trying new vegetables that I initially wasn’t too keen on, and have since made these newfound preferences a key part of my diet here.
I’ll start with my new favourite vegetable, and one which has also satisfied the taste buds of many of my expat friends with the way it is cooked in China, and that is of course the humble aubergine/eggplant (茄子). I never used to pay it much attention back home but here, with its soft, squidgy and juicy texture I have to say I often find myself in need of a weekly aubergine fix. There are many ways the Chinese incorporate this purple delight into their food, though I have to say my favourite use of it is when they braise it with that lovely dark sauce.
Another on the list has to be Choy Sum(菜心)/Pak Choy(白菜). These healthy veggies can made in a variety of ways and I’ve often found that a light dousing of soy sauce goes nicely with then. Eating out in China (especially in the north) can be a pretty oily affair so I often order a dish of one of these beauties to balance out the amount of fat and chemicals that I’m also putting into my body!
My final mention of food that I’ve fallen in love with during my time in the Middle Kingdom (and there are countless others) has to be tofu (豆腐). Of course, I knew of its existence whilst back at home but it seems to have a reputation as a tasteless last resort for vegans and vegetarians alike so I never paid it any mind. In China, it’s cheap as chips and comes in so many different varieties I just don’t know where to start. I’ve sample several over my time here including the wobbly white variety and the “fake meat” style, though my favourite type has to be the “tofu balls” (豆泡), which are crispy, fried pieces of tofu in a spherical shape. I’ve come up with a recipe whereby they can be fried with tomatoes and green peppers, and can be sizzled in oyster/hoisin sauce. Lovely!
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