Tanzhang, Shaanxi Province, China
In this ancient-looking shop,
several thousand pieces of bread like this are made every day.
The flour used comes from their own farm.
This hairy looking “potato” is a grain of wheat.
Flattened dough is spread on heated pebbles, then covered with another layer of heated pebbles.
石子馍 “pebble” bread
A wheat field 4,000 km away from China.
Aided by the Mediterranean climate, wheat here matures in less than a year.
Wheat has to be ground into flour first.
It is one of the staple foods in western Iran.
They are produced in sheets, like printing newspapers.
Hot off the press.
Another staple food in Iran is this big sheet of flatbread called
which means “little stones” in the Persian.
Each pieces is about half a metre long.
Bakers sprinkle black and white sesame.
Then press and flatten the dough.
Sangak goes in an oven which is heated to 180 degrees Celsius.
They are sent into the oven with a long-handled shovel.
Can you tell them apart?
Sangak from Iran
“pebble” bread from China
Sangak can be eaten directly.
Or with barbecue.
Or eaten with
伊朗羊肉汤泡馍—dizi, Iranian mutton stew.
Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, China
There’s a similar dish in China.
It’s also eaten by tearing bread into small pieces.
Then add meat,
葫芦头泡馍—pork intestine stew with flatbread.
Other dishes made from wheat flour include
酿皮—cold noodles in sour/spicy/savoury sauce
裤带面— “belt” noodles
So named because they look wide like a person’s belt.
油糊馅—deep-fried flatbread with minced beef fillings
包子— “baozi”, steamed buns with meat fillings
The French have so many creative ways of using dough.
(I never really got the special appeal of croissant. Lying on a tray amongst dozens of other pastries in a bakery shop, it’s just another type of bread. Until the day I bought a freshly baked croissant, literally right out of the oven (I was standing about 4 metres away from the oven), and then I understood.)
The screen is not wide enough to accommodate this elongated bread.
(French pastries are best eaten fresh. I once had a 2-day-old baguette bought from a supermarket (not even a bakery, so who knows how old the baguette really was). I want to say it was tough as cardboard, if I’d eaten cardboard and known what it tastes like, but you get the idea. I always thought baguette would come in handy if you’re walking home from the grocery store, and you are getting robbed—whip out the baguette, and whack the bad guy over the head with it.)
He said, “No bread, no friends.” Haha. Is that a French saying?
Fuyang City, Anhui Province, China
A hawker is selling something on the back of a rickshaw, tucked under blankets.
The yellow ones look like baguettes that have gone on an eating binge after a diet.
The white ones that look like pillows are called, unsurprisingly
To knead the giant dough, you have you use an iron bar and sit on the other end of it, using your weight to drive the iron bar downwards (like Jook-sing noodles).
The piece of dough is pressed, then folded, pressed again, then folded again . . .
They look neater than my blanket.
They are tucked in under a blanket, allowing them to rise.
Once they wake up, they are lined up against the inner wall of a giant oven with a diameter of 1.6 metres.
Each piece of dough weighs 1.5 kg.
They undergo a sauna treatment with a temperature of 90 degrees Celsius.
They stay inside for 1.5 hours.
And come out fair, taut, and supple.
枕头馍— “pillow” loaf
The cross section is heart-shaped.
You can spread sweet and spicy watermelon and soybean paste over it.
Shunde City, Guangdong Province, China
Located in the Pearl River Delta, there’s plenty of fish here.
Once the grass carps are caught, they’re not eaten straight away.
They’re then kept on a diet, for them to reduce body fat and to cough up all the mud and dirt they’ve swallowed.
Then it’s time to meet the chef.
Eating raw fish has more than 1,500 years of history in China.
The red part of the fish meat is eliminated.
The white part is kept, and cut into slices thinner than 0.5 millimetres.
顺德鱼生—Shunde sashimi, with salt and vegetable oil
But not everyone is comfortable with eating raw, uncooked, unseasoned fish.
So eventually, condiments, seasonings, and other vegetables are used to: reduce the fishy smell, bring out more flavour, and kill off bacteria.
风生水起 sashimi with assorted seasonings
Meanwhile, in Japan
The earliest record of eating raw fish in Japan is from the 7th century, which corresponds to China’s Tang Dynasty.
The Japanese prefer saltwater fish over freshwater fish.
Eaten with wasabi, and soy sauce.
Hainan Hwee Kuan
白斩鸡—white cut chicken
Thailand long-grained indica rice is first stir-fried with chicken fat, ginger, shallots, and lemongrass.
Then add pandan leaves and a full head of garlic.
The cooked rice is hand-rolled into balls.
Now the chicken
Dip the whole chicken into lukewarm chicken stock, dip, take it out, and then dip again.
This is to prevent the chicken from being cooked too fast.
The number of times the chicken should be dipped depends on its weight.
Turn off the stove, but let the chicken stay in the pot for another 45 minutes.
The chicken is cooked till medium well and cut.
Dipping sauce is made with ground ginger, hot sesame oil, chicken fat, kulai pepper, “facing heaven” pepper, garlic, freshly squeezed lime juice, and lastly, chicken soup.
The sauce is sour, spicy, and umami all at the same time.
海南鸡饭粒 Hainanese chicken rice balls
Lima, “City of the Kings”, has over 4,000 Chinese restaurants.
Chinese chef who’s been here for several decades.
云吞皮—fried wonton with shrimp and pork fillings
锦卤馄饨—fried wonton with sauce
sauce is made of tomatoes and hawthorn.
柱候酱—Chu Hou paste, made with fermented soybeans, is a traditional Cantonese sauce (Chu Hou is the name of the inventor).
柱候鸡—boiled chicken with Chu Hou paste
A local invention, made with cassava.
Pork belly is deep-fried until its skin turns crispy
木薯扣肉—deep-fried pork belly with cassava.
Stir-fried sirloin with onions, French fries, and soy sauce.
To be continued . . .
Cat: Good food is good food is good food.Doesn’t matter where, what, or for whom it’s intended.
Tortoise:Is that why you’re stealing food from my bowl?