How to Can Pickled Beans

This was the third session of the Food Preservation workshop held by the Richmond Food Security Society. The instructor for this workshop is Chef Ian Lai from the Terra Nova Schoolyard Society, a community based project that teaches kids about organic gardening and food appreciation.

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We had some freshly picked beans from the Terra Nova Sharing Farm. There were green, yellow and even some purple beans.

Ingredients

  • About 2 pounds of beans
  • 2 1/2 cups pure white vinegar or pickling vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon pickling spice
  • fennel seeds

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The difference between the Pure White Vinegar and the Pickling Vinegar is that the pickling vinegar has a slightly higher acidity like 7% while the pure white vinegar is about 5%. Ian commented that he only used pure white vinegar for pickling or cleaning.

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As a chef, Ian preferred Kocher salt which has a coarser texture where he can feel and see the salt.

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Pickling spices can be purchased from the bulk sections of many groceries stores.

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These fennel seeds are from the Terra Nova Sharing Farm too. They are used to flavour the pickled beans.

Source: Ian Lai

Yields 10 to 12 x 250ml jars or 5 to 6 x 500ml jars

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Creamy Couscous Almond Pudding

Minoo also prepared a creamy and rich Coucous Almond Pudding in the South Arm Community Kitchen. This recipe is a great way to start or finish your day, as it is ideal for breakfast or dessert.

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This Creamy Couscous Almond Pudding makes a healthy breakfast or dessert because it is made with whole grains. Whole grains provide essential minieral such as chromium which helps insulin to regulate blood sugar. Grains also provide vitamin Bs, which are essential for cell reproduction and help to manage stress.

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups (435ml) almond milk
  • 1/3 cup (75ml) sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3/4 cup (175ml) instant uncooked couscous
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp (0.5ml) almond extract
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup (60 to 125ml) natural vanilla yogurt to thicken
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) pistachios or almond powder as garnish
  • cinnamon as garnish

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You can make your own almond milk by soaking almonds in water, pureeing the two in a blender, and then filtering the puree through cheesecloth.

Source: Minoo

Prep time: 30 minutes;  Serves 6

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Edamame Dip

To tie to the Japanese theme, Minoo made an Edamame Dip at the South Arm Community Kitchen.  Edamame beans are soybean that can be eaten fresh. The preparation for edamame is usually boiled in salted water or steamed.

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Edamame is rich in carbohydrates, protein, dietary fiber, omega fatty acidas and micronutrients like folic acid, manganese and vitamin K.

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces shelled, edamame, about 2 cups
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup tightly packed fresh cilantro or parsley leaves
  • 1 large garlic clove, sliced
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon brown miso
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon red chili paste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream

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Source: Minoo

Prep time: 20 minutes;  Yield 3 cups

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Japanese Sweet Rice Cake Filled with Red Bean Paste (Yomogi Daifuku)

When we visited the Tera Nova Sharing Farm in spring, we were introduced to Yomogi, a Japanese herb. Terumi told us that Japanese made sweet rice cake with Yomogi and she volunteered to show us how to make it in the South Arm Community Kitchen. We were all very excited to learn how to make the popular Japanese sweet rice cake.

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The Japanese Sweet Rice Cake which Terumi demonstrated in the South Arm Community Kitchen is filled with Red Bean Paste. She calls it Yomogi Daifuku.

Ingredients

For the Yomogi paste:

  • 120g fresh Yomogi leaves
  • pinch of salt and baking soda
  • 40 cc hot water

For the filling:

  • 500g sweetened red bean paste

For the sweet rice cake:

  • 1 pound sweet rice flour (mochiko)
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy flour (kinako) or corn starch

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Source: Terumi

Prep time: 30 minutes;  Yield 24 pieces

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Yomogi is a herbal medicine used for treating asthma, inflammatory joint disease, inflammatory skin disease, sciatic pain, coughs, colds and infection. For more information, check out the following links:

http://www.planetbotanic.ca/fact_sheets/japanese_herbs/yomogi.htm

http://www.threetastes.com/blog/blog_files/yomogi.php

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Tiem Banh Dong Khanh (a.k.a. Tung Hing Bakery) on Kingsway, Vancouver

Maybe there are other bakeries that has equally good Banh Mi.

For me, I had only wanted Banh Mi from two places in town. It is either from Ba Le (on Kingsway not the one in Chinatown) or from Tung Hing. No, I am not a Banh Mi snob but it is just that I do not know of any other place who serves better Banh Mi.

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Tung Hing is located on Kingsway near the intersection with Inverness. It is also located just a block away from Ba Le. So every time when I wanted to get a Banh Mi I had a hard time deciding which one I wanted to go to. I find that I go to Ba Le more than Tung Hing but really both are equally good.

The name Tung Hing Bakery is an easier name to remember than Tiem Banh Dong Khanh for sure. Does anyone know why Tung Hing has two names? Or even what the Vietnamese name mean?

Anyway, Tung Hing is a smallish operation famous for its Banh Mi and also pastries. Unlike Ba Le which has a few tables, Tung Hing doesn’t have one … or at least I can’t recall they had any. Sometimes at work when I need to get away for sometime on my own to decompress, I would take a long drive to Ba Le, grab a newspaper and just enjoy a Banh Mi with a cup of ice cold Vietnamese coffee (with condensed milk!). That works all the time and I enjoy it.

With Tung Hing, it is always to-go for me.

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I am a noob when it comes to Banh Mi. And I am curious by nature. When I see all the ingredients all laid out there, I wanted to know what everything is.

But good luck trying to find out. They are machines behind the counter. I mean, they are pretty machines too but they are not programmed to smile … or to answer idiotic questions. I even had to stand aside and stare at the menu — and try to figure out for myself what I wanted. I don’t know why but serious and pretty girls scares me a lot. LOL!

Yeah, they work very fast. It helps if you know what you want. Maybe that is one reason why I like Ba Le a little better than Tung Hing.

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To me, a great Banh Mi is all about the baguette. Baguette has a short shelf life. It is best when just out from the oven. After four hours, they are really not as good and you can tell the difference. That is why I don’t even want to touch Banh Mi from places like T&T and such.

What makes Tung Hing and Ba Le stands apart from other places where you could grab such a sandwich is that they … (more…)

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Five Guys Burgers and Fries in South Surrey

It was Wils who told us that Five Guys opened their second outlet. And I knew it was where we wanted to bring the boys to because they love burgers. OK fine … they don’t like that mum and dad always brings them to Asian restaurants.

This time I did not tell them where we were going out for dinner. I just told them it is a long drive and that we are going to Surrey.

“Surrey?!?” they both exclaimed, knowing Surrey is the direction to the Canada-US border.

“Yeah” I said, “not only Surrey … it’s SOUTH Surrey”.

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And then I had to get lost on the way. The iPhone battery died and I was relying on that for navigation. So, I went round and round until I found 160th Street. To them it was not funny. 🙂

I had never been to this part of the world before. I mean, I drove past this place on the way to the US border crossing. I am just impressed how built up this whole place is. They have every big box stores you can think of.

When we arrived, they were happy to see that it’s a burger joint. At least it is not another Asian restaurant after driving so far.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J19w5TSTjcg&hl=en_US&fs=1&color1=0x2b405b&color2=0x6b8ab6]

Have you ever seen the video above before? It is not surprising that Obama goes to Five Guys for burgers since Arlington (minutes away from Washington DC is the where Five Guys first started.

Anyway, take note of Obama’s order number at about 1:20 into the video.

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For a supposedly upscale burger restaurant, the decor is a bit sparse. The whole theme is blood red and white with double checkered motifs.

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Like in most Five Guys restaurants, they stack bags and bags of potatoes and boxes of peanut oil in the dining area.

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Unlike other burger places, they have free peanuts which is stacked inconspicuously on the boxes of peanut oil. They are meant for you to snack on while you wait for the burger to be made. I think it is a good idea.

The peanuts are salted. Nice but I had better, crunchier ones. Am not complaining though since they are free … sort of.

Five-Guys-Menu

 

Click on the image above to enlarge the menu. It is a very simple menu … but kind of expensive.

You get either the plain hamburger, with cheese and/or bacon. The standard size is double patties. The “little” ones are single patties.

It is the toppings that is kind of wild. They have 15 to choose from and they are free with the burger.

The ones that they call “All The Way” includes Mayo, Lettuce, Pickles, Tomatoes, Grilled Onions, Grilled Mushrooms, Ketchup and Mustard.

Then there are the “Everything” which also includes Relish, Onions, Jalapeno Peppers, Green Peppers, A1 Sauce, BBQ Sauce and Hot Sauce.

I don’t know about you, but for me it is too much to think over each and everyone … same goes for Suanne. We just ask for EVERYTHING. Arkensen and Nanzaro is more adept in choosing the toppings. They just choosed 4 types of toppings. I just had to tell them “get everything, they’re free”.

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So the above is our order. Four burgers, a large fries and drinks came up to $45. I dunno … I find it expensive for burgers.

Oh remember I asked you to remember Obama’s order number? Well, his number is … (more…)

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A Discovery of Cantonese Cuisine — and Invitation to Dinner

We are continuing our journey of the Eight Great Traditions of Chinese Cuisine next with the Cantonese Cuisine.

This is the third in the series of eight dinners organized by the 8GTCC Team as we explore the rich traditions of Chinese cuisines. A few months ago, we had two very successful dinners. The first was the dinner in Alvin Garden on the Hunan Cuisine which was attended by 52 people. This was followed by a dinner focused on the Jiangsu Cuisine. That event attracted an even bigger response where almost 70 people attended the monstrous 17-course dinner in Shanghai Village.

We are now ready to take the wraps off the 8GTCC Cantonese dinner. For that past few weeks, LotusRapper and Joe had been working hard in putting together this event. I can tell you that between the two of them, they had been visiting quite a few restaurants (all on their own time and expenses too!) and doing a lot of research in the effort to learn about the Cantonese culture and cuisine.

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Being the cuisine leads, LotusRapper and Joe was just the people we needed to spearhead the Cantonese Cuisine. After all, both of them are Canto-Boys. So they will be taking us on a journey from the rustic farm house of Hunan and the ancient Chinese capital in the Jiangsu province to the riches and luxurious abundance of the Guangdong province.

The past few days were particularly frantic as LotusRapper and Joe were busy negotiating with the restaurant in the effort to finalize a fine menu with some of the best delicacies that the Cantonese has to offer. It took a while but they managed to finalize that late yesterday. Location wise, it is better than we expected as we get a private room for this. Not only will this be chance you will savour good quality delicacies but it will also be visually interesting. And to top it all, the restaurant had given us a special price too!

Because of the vastness of the Cantonese cuisine, at one point we were seriously toying with the idea of doing two dinners … one homestyle simple dinner and the other on the high-end luxurious one. While it would be easy to do a homestyle dinner, we thought we cannot make it unique and special as we wanted. I mean, for all the Chinese cuisines in Vancouver, the Cantonese cuisine is the one that everyone is most familiar with already. We even talked about doing the so-called sub-Cantonese cuisine like Chiu Chow and Hakka. We also seriously approached the thought of doing a Contemporary Chinese Cuisine, the likes of Bo Innovation and Susur Lee.

Long story short, we will now do what we felt best reflect the unique nature of the Cantonese. Their riches, extravagance and abundance are best reflected in their cuisine like no other Chinese cuisines … done in the style of a banquet.

The details of the 8GTCC Cantonese dinner is at the bottom of this post. I hope you will take the time to join us in this next exploration of Chinese Cuisine … and of the riches, extravagance and abundance of the Cantonese Cuisine.

Here … let’s start off learning a bit about Guangdong (Canton), the people and the cuisine … as presented by Joe and LotusRapper … and accompanied by a 1970s Canto-Pop song.

Take it away, Canto-Boys!

[audio:http://chowtimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Last-Message-Crazy-Song-Sam-Hui.mp3|titles=Last Message Crazy Song (Sam Hui)]

Let’s face facts: Cantonese cuisine is the fat, bloated rock star of all regional Chinese cuisines, cruising on excess and ripe for young punks to pick off. Largely credited both in and out of China as being the “best” of the regional fares, the region has an inflated reputation to live up to, the ego to do so, and – with all caution thrown to the subjective winds – the chops to back it up.

Geography of Guangdong

The actual physical region from which Cantonese cuisine derives will vary depending on who you ask. At times it’s synonymous with the Pearl River Delta; at other times takes the whole Guangdong province into consideration; at its broadest, the term includes Hong Kong, neighbouring Guanxi, and even Cantonese immigrant fare from outside the country. As Jakob Klein puts it, “the English term ‘Cantonese cuisine’ actually conveys some of this ambiguity quite nicely.”

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The province has primarily been a wealthy one, relative to other Chinese regions. This, to a large extent, is due to its physical location, tucked away at the sub-tropical southeast corner of the country, beneficially far from the cold, clammy hands of the Mongolian north, and the last home of the Song Dynasty before it fell to Kublai Khan’s Yuan Dynasty in 1279.

External Influences

Guangdong also has 4,300km of coastline facing the South China Sea. The Pearl River Delta, where three rivers converge and surround hundreds of small islands, feeds into this sea; the region is also home to and a term for its major cities, including Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and the SARs of Hong Kong and Macau. European merchants sailing through the waters – particularly the Portuguese and British – traded extensively through Guangzhou. In an effort to contain foreign merchants and influence to confined quarters, the Qing Dynasty restricted all foreign trade to Guangzhou’s 13 Factories (the so-called “Canton System,” running from approx. 1757 to 1842), where European and American merchants established trading companies to transact with the Cohong, a Chinese merchant association, due to a restriction on foreigners from dealing directly with Chinese civilians. The European demand for silk and tea soon created a large trading deficit until the British decided to import opium. The complex story, of course, continues further from there.

Ignored Tags: $935C

The limited seclusion from the Mongols, the proximity to water (and its bounties), the import of foreign goods (and ingredients), and the sub-tropical weather does well for Guangdong, and created a sequestered environment wherein its people could develop a cuisine based on an endless supply of fresh ingredients, flora and fauna.

Restaurants began to flourish in Guangdong throughout the times of … (more…)

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Magnetic Cafe on Garden City and McKim Way, Richmond

Updated: 4th July 2012: This restaurant had been replaced by Mochi Bubble Tea Cafe.

We did not realize it until someone told us that the Go Go Tea Cafe had closed and that it had reopened as Magnetic Cafe. You see, Go Go Tea was very different from other bubble tea restaurants. The difference is the way that the waitress dressed. I did not mention this on the Go Go Tea post but a reader did pick up on this omission and commented on the post.

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Go Go Tea is now gone. It is now called the Magnetic Cafe. The restaurant is located on the 2nd floor of the Cosmo Plaza.

There are parking in the building but it is kind of narrow and hard to navigate. The other alternative is street parking which given the stingy nature of Richmondites, hardly anyone ever parked on it ever since the city made this whole area pay parking.

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The restaurant looked exactly the same when it was Go Go Tea. As far as I am concerned, it is exactly the same restaurant except for the name.

While the place is clean it does show a little of its age. The last time we were in Go Go Tea was 2 years ago, so am not surprised.

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A few days after our visit, the Richmond Review actually featured Magnetic Cafe on the front page. The picture above is from the Richmond Review.

The waitresses here are dressed up in costumes. They have a name for this. It is called cosplay. While the picture above are tastefully done, when we were there, I must say some of the outfits were a bit too sexy.

So yeah, I think I saw that Arkensen and Nanzaro were a bit uneasy with mum and dad there. LOL! I did not talk about it and pretended I did not notice. Anyway, our boys are kind of shy with girls just like their dad when he was their age. They will grow out of it, am sure.

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The menu consist mostly of drinks but there are quite a lot of meal options (see the four pages of food). There are:

  • Appetizers which are basically Taiwanese style appys, mostly in the $4.50 range
  • Korean Hot Pots, at $7.50
  • Special Hot Pots ($10)
  • Hotpot Combos ($10) where you get to choose the soup base and one main dish
  • Hot Plates ($8.50)
  • Set Meals with Rice or Noodles ($8-$9)
  • Soup ($5)

So price-wise, they are quite within the normal range of similar restaurants.

Currently, they have a promotion going on that a free drink from the black and green tea menu (valued at $4.25) is free with a meal. This is only if you come in before 6PM. We were there at about 5:30PM and so we got the drinks for free (50 cents extra for added pearls).

We found it kind of funny that there were a lot of new customers walking in at 5 minutes before 6PM. I guess a lot of people know of their promo.

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We had the Taiwanese Oyster Pancake ($6). We ordered this because there were so much talk about the oyster omelette on chowtimes. LOL!

Unlike the crispy Chiu Chow-style oyster omelette from T-Hut, this one is the less starchy kind. We are glad this one is more … (more…)

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[CRA 2010 Signature Dish] Barbeque Duck 燒鴨 from Red Star Seafood Restaurant

All I can tell you guys (again!) is that LotusRapper and Joe had been working real hard at the 8GTCC Cantonese dinner. Can’t help it too because they are both perfectionists. But they are getting close, real close. The general plans are there in place but they want to cross the T’s and dot the I’s.

A couple of weeks ago, a few of us met at the Red Star Seafood Restaurant. We met there not only because Red Star is one of the better Cantonese restaurant in Vancouver and is on the list of restos to check out for the 8GTCC project. I also wanted to go there to try their Barbeque Duck which won an award in the difficult-to-perfect duck category.

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Believe it or not, I had never been to Red Star before even though we had posted about this restaurant twice before (the Granville location and the Richmond location). It was Suanne who visited the restaurant both times.

Suanne blogged about the Granville location of Red Star about 4 years ago. The strange thing is that she had dinner with a school mate of mine who I had not met ever since I left secondary school! Andy and I re-discovered each other quite by accident through Facebook. After so many years, I did not remember what he looked like but I remember his name. Andy had  moved to Portland for further studies and we lost touch. We were supposed to meet over dinner but fate had it that I had to go to London for work at the last minute. So Suanne represented the family in the dinner and she doesn’t know Andy at all!

Red Star had been operating in the Granville Street location for many years and had just recently opened a location in Richmond.

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Red Star is one of the well respected Chinese restaurants around town. It is a well managed place. No high glitz, tall crystal chandaliers like some of those super fancy place but it is still classy. The focus here is on good quality food and serving in real Cantonese style.

As expected the restaurant is very busy. It is full and had a long wait list at noon.

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Being a restaurant who serves nothing but the best, they could be pricey. Two pieces of brocolli costs $118. It has a small piece of meat on the side. Yes, for that price they thrown in a bit of soya broth — for free.

BTW, did you notice in the picture above that the smaller the “meat” is, the more expensive it gets?

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We were there for dim sum and so the above menu is for dim sum (clickable to enlarge).

I like their menu. It is on a pricey side. Red Star is not one of those $1.99 dim sum places. You get a few items at $3.75 (small) but mostly they are up to $6 for the more common dim sum.

It is the Specialty Dim Sums that I was really interested in (the image on the left above). They are pricier but for those of you who want more than siu mai, har gow and foong jau, this is the section you want to look at. If only I could have it ALL!

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We got the order form. But they are all in Chinese! We struggled for a little while and decided to ask for an English version.

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The waitress immediately knew what we wanted and told us that the numbers on the menu corresponded to the numbers on the order form. I don’t know about you but I thought it was good that it matches because most Chinese restaurants does not take the trouble at such minute detail to make sure they matched.

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Seconds later, the waitress turned up with a picture menu for us. That is so insulting. LOL!

Doesn’t she know who we are? Don’t give us kiddie menu. So, without saying a word, we took a half second glance at it and chuck that aside. We continued to struggle to order the food through the wordy menu.

Sigh … actually, I often felt like second class citizens in Chinese restaurants. I will never be looked upon by these restaurants as a dim sum aficionado because I can’t read Chinese.

You know, I actually took Chinese as a subject in school before? Fine, it was only in the first three grades but I was top of the class [giving myself a pat on the back]. I got a few kiddie-level articles printed in the school year book too. But after 3 years, I dropped out of that class.

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So I can’t read even simple words at all. I can only recognize the word “star” and “tea” above.

What does it say anyway? Does it tell the name of the tea in the teapot? If it does, I am mighty impressed that Red Star printed these for each type of tea they carry. I mean, it is totally unnecessary but it will show classiness.

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I made sure that they serve the Barbeque Duck. This is what I want to taste.

Red Star won silver in the CRA (Chinese Restaurant Award) category of duck. We ordered half a duck which is $16. It is a bit pricier than getting it from siu mei (defined here) places for sure but seriously, … (more…)

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Poon Choi (Big Bowl Feast) from Wonton King

Updated 28th Sep 2010: this restaurant had been replaced with Taste Good Wonton Seafood Restaurant.

Well. I was quite surprised to learn that there are so many people who are fans of Chiu Chow cooking yesterday when I wrote on the visit to the T-Hut Cafe. Growing up in Malaysia, I always associated the Chiu Chow people as frugal and hardworking people. Many of them run small businesses and is a close knit community determined to protect their unique identity.

The Chiu Chows originated from the province of Guangdong (Canton), the province that is dominated by the Cantonese. There is another distinct ethnic group in Canton and that is the Hakkas. While the Cantonese calls themselves the “pun dei yan” (the local people), the very name Hakka is translated as “the guests”. Yeah, they had suffered through the millenniums as the guest of the land in Canton.

In many ways, the Hakkas are known as the Chinese nomads and without a clear place to call their own. Many of them lived in the fringes of society and adopted an agrarian lifestyle. So, it is not surprising that the Hakkas lived communally. But despite the relative size of their numbers, the Hakkas are surprisingly politically strong. Prominent Hakkas includes Sun Yat Seng, Deng Xiao Peng and Lee Kuan Yew.

It is the communal nature of the Hakkas that created an unique and delightful dish called the Poon Choi (translated as the Big Bowl Feast).

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LotusRapper and Joe discovered this dish in one of their several forays to Cantonese restaurants in their search of a restaurant to host the 8GTCC Cantonese dinner. It was in a restaurant called the Wonton King which we blogged about before (see here).

Wonton King is located on SE Marine Drive and Fraser.

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We were at Wonton King (twice!) as part of the scouting trip for the 8GTCC dinner.

Wonton King is a well-known Cantonese restaurant serving common Cantonese fare. When Suanne and I were there last year, we had their award winning soup called the Wine Chicken Soup (see picture here). It was marvelous.

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In our first visit to Wonton King, we discovered that they serve the Poon Choi. Apparently, they had been serving the Poon Choi for more than 10 years already but is promoted only during Chinese New Year.

We had heard so much about Poon Choi and that is what prompted the return visit to Wonton King to try this dish.

The Poon Choi came in two sizes. The smaller version serves 6-8 people and the larger one serves 8-12 people. The picture above is the flyer-menu from last year so the prices we were charged now is higher by $10.

Anyway, we know that this is not a published menu at the time of our visit. The manager fished this flyer out to show us when we told him we are looking for something unique and out of the ordinary for the 8GTCC Cantonese dinner.

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The few of us went back to Wonton King just to have the Poon Choi — just the Poon Choi and nothing else. Anyway, the Poon Choi need to be ordered 1 day in advance. Because of the elaborate preparation required, you can’t just walk in to the restaurant and say that you want this.

They use the normal tabletop stove burner. On it they place a perforated metal dish to prevent the bottom of the Poon Choi from being burnt.

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This is the first time I had Poon Choi and have only seen this on TV. So it was pretty exciting seeing the real deal for the first time. On TV, they use real old fashion basin but here it looked smaller than I expected — even though it is still a huge pile!

We order the smaller version meant for six people and this costs $83.88 … lucky numbers.

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The food are arranged nicely. We had to turn it around to see everything that is on the top layer.

The is what wikipedia says about the origin of Poon Choi:

It was said that Poon Choi was invented during the late Song Dynasty of China. When Mongol troops invaded Song China, the young Emperor fled to the area around Guangdong Province and Hong Kong. To serve the Emperor as well as his army, the locals collected all their best food available, cooked it, and because there were not enough dishes, put the resulting dish in wooden washing basins. By doing so Poon Choi was invented.

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I enjoyed this a lot. It has … (more…)

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