Meat is delicious, but too much meat is not good for your digestive system.
Let’s look at grains and staple food.
Mengjin, Henan Province, China
Near the end of May, it’s time for wheat harvest.
Wheat stalks are not yet completely yellow.
The grains produce a clear juice when squeezed.
Sugar in the grains hasn’t yet turned into starch.
This type of wheat is ideal for making 碾转—ground green wheat. Pronounced as “nian zhuan”, it literally translates into “ground and turned (wheat)”.
The dish used to be eaten when there wasn’t enough harvest, but now it has become a seasonal snack.
Threshing, winnowing, followed by stir-frying in a wok.
The wheat grains fried this way are sweet even without adding sugar.
But they also go bad easily in hot weather. So they have to be quickly ground on a mill.
(For some reason, I always thought things ground over a mill would turn into either powder (like flour) or water (like tofu). First time I know they can be ground into strips.)
Ground green wheat grains look like a greener, healthier version of the prawn crackers I used to eat as a kid.
鸡蛋炒碾转 stir-fried eggs with ground green wheat
凉拌碾转 ground green wheat salad with garlic, peppers, peanuts, sesame oil, and vinegar
Manshan, Gansu Province, China
Harvest season here is in October.
They can eaten in soooo many different ways.
Steamed whole potatoes are rich in amylopectin, one of two components of starch.
Potatoes can be ground using mortar and pestle,
turning into a sticky paste.
Or you can use a big wooden mallet,
pound the potatoes repeatedly, until they turn from this,
This glutinous ball of mashed potato is called 洋芋搅团—ball of ground potatoes
洋芋搅团 Mashed potato with chilli oil and garlic chives
The French have another way of eating potatoes.
Add milk to whipped potato.
Then add a whole lot of Laguiole cheese.
And you have 阿力高 Aligot
Wawu Mountain, Sichuan Province, China
Equipped with their special gear (hat, straw raincoat, sickle, and rain boots), a Sichuanese couple venture into the misty forest on Wawu Mountain. They would camp in the forest for two weeks every year.
Three hours of search yielded only a small pile.
The couple head deeper into the forest.
They are looking for a type of bamboo—bashania fangiana, or cold arrow bamboo. It only grows in three provinces in China, above altitude of 1,500 metres.
Fresh cold arrow bamboo shoots retain almost 90% of their water.
清炒冷笋 stir-fried fresh cold arrow bamboo shoots with garlic sprouts
Most of the fresh bamboo shoots are dried over charcoal fire.
Only the best (Best looking? Best tasting? I don’t know) dried bamboo shoots are chosen to make 龙须笋—“dragon beard” bamboo shoots. (Do dragons have beard or whiskers?)
Dragon beard bamboo shoots are made by cutting up the bamboo shoots into strips then drying them over charcoal fire.
They are used in chicken soup.
Yes, this dark, scary looking creature in the pot is a chicken.
龙须笋炖乌鸡 black-bone silky stewed with dragon beard bamboo shoots
Simpler recipes include cooking dragon beard bamboo shoots with cured pork.
Or boiling these bamboo shoots with wood ash, which contains potassium carbonate, which supposedly stimulates your taste buds. (I’ve never tried this, but I know potassium carbonate is used in making grass jelly, so maybe they’ve got something there.)
Bachu County, Xinjiang Province, China
There’s a type of mushroom that only appears for a month here in the Euphrates poplar forest.
Hidden either underground or beneath the fallen leaves, they’re extremely hard to find.
People have so little understanding of them, the mushrooms still don’t have a formal name.
The locals simply call them Bachu mushrooms, named after their hometown.
Spring is the driest season, with the rate of evaporation 50 times that of the amount of rainfall.
Bachu County mushrooms rely on the humus of Euphrates poplar, salt cedar and other desert vegetation.
They only require about one third the water needed by other types of mushrooms.
This dirt-covered, inconspicuous mushroom
cleans up nicely.
They can be stir-fried with mutton,
Or eaten together with noodles.
Like all mushrooms, Bachu County mushrooms pack more flavour once they’re dried.
Caught another thief-in-waiting.
Lake Tai, Jiangsu Province, China
At the bottom of the lake, all kinds of aquatic plants are grown to provide an ideal living environment for Chinese mitten crabs.
These plants help to lower the temperature of the water. According to a local farmer, if there’re too few plants underwater, sunlight heats up the water, and the Chinese mitten crabs would have no place to hide.
Look at the size of those furry claws! No wonder they’re called Chinese “mitten” crabs.
They are bottom dwellers, using the aquatic plants as both food and shelter. (I guess the human equivalent would be a person living in a gingerbread house.)
Sometimes they also go up to the surface. (For fresh air?)
Chinese aquatic farmers understand the crabs’ needs.
They would feed the crabs freshwater snails and clam.
Yangtze River Estuary, where the river joins the East China Sea, is the spawning grounds of Chinese mitten crabs.
At one time, over half of all crab zoea (baby crabs) in China used to come from this place.
The IJsselmeer, the Netherlands
To the biggest freshwater lake in the Netherlands, Chinese mitten crabs were an invasive species.
In the past, fishermen just tossed these crabs away, as they were worthless, and their sharp claws would cut the net.
But now, they keep the crabs, and toss out the fish 😀
The price of Chinese mitten crabs has increased twentyfold in the past decade.
The fishermen only catch the crabs, however, they don’t eat them.
It’s a waste of time, they say, to get so little meat after so much trouble.
Suzhou, Jiangsu Province
Where do the crabs go then?
China, of course.
When it comes to eating, there’s no such thing as too much trouble.
Much like how you would take apart a car, a Chinese mitten crab can be separated into many different parts.
Even the meat from inside the leg is not spared.
The crab shells are used as containers in cooking minced crab meat.
酥皮蟹 baked minced crab meat in crab shells
秃黄油 crab butter
Made with crab roe and crab tomalley.
First, crab shells are lightly fried in oil.
Add the seeds of tetradium ruticarpum (a type of tree often used in traditional Chinese medicine), ginger to remove the fishy smell and bring out the freshness.
Crab roe immersed in crab butter, with a little bit of salt and fish sauce added.
Then add ginger slices, vinegar, and stir, so the each grain of rice is coated with a layer of crab butter.
秃黄油拌饭 Crab butter rice
A dish like this requires 600 grams of crab butter, which comes from twenty or thirty crabs. In restaurants, price of such a dish ranges from 100 yuan to 300 yuan (about 15 USD to 40 USD).
Chenggong Fish Harbour, Taiwan, China
Every autumn and winter, the Kuroshio current passes through the seas near Taiwan.
Strong waves push schools of fish to the surface. Marlins follow them.
Fishermen follow the marlin.
The harpoon used to catch marlin requires a high level of skill, and is not easy to master.
For many days, the fishermen have nothing. (Like The Old Man and the Sea)
can be eaten raw.
立翅旗鱼鱼生 black marlin sashimi
The skin of marlin can be stir-fried with soy sauce and rice wine, with basil added last.
It has to be stir-fried on “high heat”, with “full flame”. What it means:
三杯旗鱼皮 stir-fried marlin skin
That’s all for today, folks.
Please ,Sir, I want some more . . .