December 10, 2018

Inspiration for Change

This episode is about how ordinary ingredients can be transformed into a multitude of amazing foods.

 

soybean

Soybeans are rich in protein, and cheap, but at the beginning, they presented a problem.

Slide2

Unlike rice and corn, nobody likes to eat soybeans by simply boiling them in water, since they don’t taste as nice, and they cause bloating.

big belly

But nothing stands in the way of the Chinese people. When there’s a will, there’s a way.

Gypsum is used as a coagulant

Slide3

to transform soybean milk

Slide4

into tofu.

Slide5

Whiter than snow, softer than butter, smoother than silk.

Slide6

Ancient City of Jianshui, Yunnan Province

jianshui

Tofu balls are sun-dried until they turn a colour of golden brown.

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They are then grilled over charcoal fire.

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Grilled tofu balls are eaten with different sauces.

Slide11

They kind of look like popcorn. Tofu popcorn, anyone? Healthier option than butter popcorn.

Slide12

Near a big water well, womenfolk produce handmade tofu. There are 128 such wells in the city of Jianshui.

Slide13

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Shiping County, Yunnan Province

shiping

These are tofu . . . blankets?
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Shou County, Anhui Province

Fresh tofu made from soybeans

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Tofu balls

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Tofu skin

Slide21

Tofu . . . dumplings?

Slide22

Tofu boiled with broccoli and luncheon meat

Slide23

And the famous beancurd (tofu pudding)

Slide24

A while ago, there was a heated debate online, about which version is the most authentic beancurd.

Battle line is drawn between the South and the North.

debate

Northern School beancurd is salty.

northern school

Made with tofu, fresh mushrooms, dried wood ear, minced meat, shredded ginger, cooking wine, light soy sauce, starch, and sesame oil.

northern school

Whereas Southern School beancurd is sweet.

southern school

Made with tofu, red bean, brown sugar, and ground ginger.

southern school

The dispute was never settled. Instead, the exchange of ideas led to a new creation–the spicy beancurd (my personal favourite. Everything tastes better with a dollop, sorry, no, a big spoonful, of chilli oil.)

spicy tofuspicy tofu 2spicy tofu 3

 

Tiantai Mountain, Zhejiang Province

tiantai

Monks at Guoqing Temple on the mountain maintain a strict vegetarian diet.

guoqing temple

Tofu becomes an important source of protein for them.

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Xiuning County, Anhui Province

xiuning county

“Hairy” beancurd is fermented with a type of mould called mucor.

Hard to believe this is tofu . . .

Slide27

It looks more normal once it’s fried.

Slide28

Or grilled (and chilli sauce added).

Slide29

milk

West Ujimqin Banner, Xilingol League, Inner Mongolia

ujimqin

Quark (not the elementary particle) is made from soured cow’s milk, kind of like cottage cheese.

Slide32

It’s made by curdling milk

Slide33

and then heating it.

Slide34

Milk tea

Slide35

Dali City, Yunnan Province

dali

The tradition of eating cheese in Yunnan is supposedly a result of Kublai Khan’s military campaign 800 years ago.

Slide36

Rushan (“milk fan”) cheese is made in a similar way, with a twist.

Slide37

Bai people dry sheets of Rushan cheese wrapped around bamboo poles.

Slide38

 

wine

Shaoxing City, Zhejiang Province

shaoxing

Shaoxing Huangjiu (yellow wine) is made from rice grains. It can be consumed directly, or used in cooking.

huangjiu

Xiuning County, Anhui Province

These rice ball-like things are jiuqu–a fermentation starter, made with various types of yeasts, moulds, bacteria, and water pepper.

Slide40

Glutinous rice mixed with jiuqu.

Slide41

Glutinous rice wine

Slide42

 

soy sauce

Another ubiquitous condiment used in Chinese cooking is soy sauce. People in Shaoxing believe everything tastes better with soy sauce.

 

 

 

Ancient City of Anchang, Zhejiang Province

anchang

The fame of Anchang smoked sausages is, in large part, due to the soy sauce used.

anchang sausages

Soy sauce is fermented in these giant ceramic vats.

Slide49

Mianyang, Sichuan

A sight like this has caused collective envy of the netizens, and inquiries about the possibility of making friends with the owners of these sausages.

 

 

 

With winter and the Chinese New Year approaching, nothing can stop the people of Sichuan from preparing their beloved sausages.

 

 

 

It’s necessary to hang the sausages at weird places, because there are thieves operating in broad daylight.

123

Even if they are caught red-handed, they show no remorse.

fe5c0cf6aba149c2bdac5266b31d357eddd4453824ba4a81b7e4a0d904091f5fc00b05bd0c54411f8a7844e2227d6176

Yilan County, Heilongjiang Province

Slide50

In parts of northeastern China, the only ingredient that goes into the soy sauce is the soy beans. No other grains are used.

Slide51

In the cold climate, fresh vegetables are not always possible to find. So pickled vegetables become important source of sodium and fibre.

Pickled cabbage is the most common.

Slide53

They go well with fatty pork.

Slide54

Recap

Simple soy beans can be transformed into so many different types of food

 

 

 

Invisible microbes add flavour to every dish

 

 

 

At the end of a long, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, good food is one of only three things that offer comfort (the other two are sleep and death).

No wonder Oscar Wilde said,

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.

 

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About fmiswriting

One out of 1.4 billion voices.

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