Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Category: Authentic Chinese (Page 2 of 2)

Chinese Tea

I recently read this post about different kind of tea that are popular in Chinese culture. It was definite the best representation of what people drink every day in China. Tea is still, even in modern days, the most popular drinks in China. Instead of soft drinks, tea products like green ice tea or green ice tea remains the best-selling causal drinks. At home, people drink quite a bit of hot tea even in summer.

The most popular kinds of tea include: green tea, yellow tea, white tea, black tea and Jasmine flower tea. Each of these kind tea can be produced in different location around China, but usually a specific location is more famous producing one of them because of the soil type and climate. There are also more specialized tea such as Oolong or brick tea from the southwest. People usually drink tea with porcelain cups with lids. My grandfather had one red cup that he used to drink Jasmine tea for decades. This is the only thing I asked to have after he passed away and it still smells like Jasmine.

It is quite important to Chinese to drink full-length, loose tea leaves produced from the most recent year. Most of the people do not drink tea bags and it is considered not in such good quality. Moreover, it is a pretty big deal to have tea from the most recent Spring. My parents buy new tea leaves every May because most of the tea are produced in March and April. And their last year’s tea is usually used for cooking instead of drinking. Since I moved to U.S. my parents have been getting new tea for me every spring and mailing it to the States. The postage is usually more expensive than the tea but it is just not possible to get this year’s new tea in loose leaves in U.S.

Drinking tea benefits my life in so many ways – it helps me to drink more water during the day, it prevents me from drinking soft drinks and therefore keeps me on a low sugar-diet, it also forces me into a habit of mini-breaks – I had to leave me desk and walk to a kitchen area where the hot water kettle is and it takes my eyes off monitor at least every an hour. It also helps me to stop drinking coffee. I drunk a lot of coffee during graduate school, but I never felt good after coffee. I felt short-breathed and more anxious. It was silly that I thought that I had to drink coffee to “fit in”, because all the graduate students from U.S. drunk so much coffee. (Just like I “had to” drink beer at parties.) Then I matured a bit and discovered no one cared how I lived my life, at least not as much as I thought. So I started drinking tea as my main beverage again. Now I drink coffee very sparsely – only when I am truly sleepy but cannot walk it off and coffee became more effective for me too.

Give tea a try if you are not drinking it regularly. I think it will change anyone’s life for better. I am here to answer all the questions from the type of tea and containers for drinking/carrying hot tea. Also, if you can find a store selling loose leave tea, definitely give it a try and ask for tea leaves from the most recent year. It will make all the difference in your experience!

Celebrating July 4th with Fireworks and …Noodles!

Happy July 4th everyone! We had great fun with friends shooting fireworks at our house! Hubby dressed in a red T-shirt and blue shorts and worn a full-size American flag as his cape. He even put a small flag on our American Bull Terrier. 🙂

We love food-theme parties. Back to California we hosted potato parties to which everyone bought a potato dish and we had competitions who made the best potatoes. And last year we hosted a noodle party where guest contributed a noodle or pasta dish. Our friends were all so creative and brought noodle dish from different part of the world and all of them were insanely delicious. So we decided to do it again this weekend.

Hubby spent a day deep-cleaning our place – it sound weird to clean BEFORE the party but our guests are all pretty mature so we did not expect any destruction. With two dogs the sofa can be a bit smelly, plus there were storms everyday and the dogs just kept bringing mud into the house. We wanted to make out guest feel comfortable. My job was cooking – I cooked cold sesame noodle last year and this year I could not wait but cooking my new favorite – Dandan noodles. And it was such a hit that it was gone in 10 minutes!


Red-Braised Pork on Father’s Day

Nothing like Mother’s or Father’s day makes me homesick, and nothing like an old-style red-braised pork with hard-boiled egg makes me feel instantly better! Red-braised pork is a very popular dish in China and it is a must-have for holiday gatherings. Every family cooks this dish in slightly different ways. In my family, red-braised pork is my mom’s specialty. She seal the meat first and steam everything instead of boiling it. And the eggs in this dish is my absolutely favorite.

Image via The wok of life

Authentic red-braised pork is cooked with pork belly with skin attached. It ensures that the pork contains at least 30% fat. And after it is cooked, there is supposed to be a thick layer of  pork fat on the top of the final product. It does sound horrifying to a lot of folks, but it made a lot of sense back to the 80’s when I grew up. For a long time, meat supply was limited in China and a slice of pork might be all you could get as meat for a week. So pork was usually thinly sliced or minced and stir-fried with veggies. The only meat dish by itself in my family was the red-braised pork and mom cooked it every Saturday night.

The Red-braised pork holds a special place in my heart because there is a family story behind it. During a big part of the 80’s, my sister lived in boarding school where the dining option was just horrible. As a teenager, she did not get to eat meat at all during the week. The only chance for her to eat meat is when she returned home on Saturday. So every Saturday evening, my mom will started cooking the pork as soon as possible, so when my sister walked in the door, she could have a decent dinner for one night a week. As a toddler I was really excited to eat meat too. So looking back, my parents probably did not eat much themselves. My sister usually took bus back to school on Sunday afternoon. My mom will pack the rest of the pork, and seal it in a jar for me sister to take to school. Just so she could enjoy it for one more dinner. So it is not difficult to understand why this dish was cooked with very fatty meat, and especially in my family. And in my heart, my mom makes the best red-braised pork ever!

I followed this recipe today and had to use lean pork – I just cannot find fatty pork belly with skin on in regular grocery store anywhere. And I was not committed enough to drive half an hour to the nearest Chinese store. It might not taste like mom’s, but hubby loved it and the whole house smelled so great for hours.Hopefully in near future mom and dad can come visit and I will have mom’s red-braised pork again!

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