Category Archives: Chinese

Sweet and Sour Pork Recipe (咕嚕肉)

Sweet and Sour Pork, the ubiquitous and arguably the most well-known Chinese recipes in the world, is a classic Cantonese dish. Called “咕嚕肉” or “goo lou yok” in Cantonese dialect, sweet and sour pork is very pleasing to the palate because of the flavorsome sweet and sour sauce–the sweetness from sugar plus the tangy ketchup and sharp rice vinegar–with the crispy fried pork pieces. The green and red bell peppers and pineapple pieces are just icing on the cake.

The secret of an authentic sweet and sour pork dish lies in the perfect balance of the sweet vs. sour taste of the sauce. To master this dish, it’s not about the technique of stir-frying nor the use of the freshest ingredients, although both are equally important and wouldn’t hurt. To me, the sweet and sour sauce is the soul of this dish. If you fail the sweet and sour sauce, you fail the dish. With that in mind, I will teach you how to make that perfect sweet and sour sauce and share with you the secret ingredients I use…(get sweet and sour pork recipe after the jump)

Sweet and Sour Pork

While traditional Chinese/Cantonese sweet and sour pork recipe calls for the use of rice vinegar and ketchup to bring out the sour taste, I also use plum sauce to add some extra zing, plus a few dashes of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce and oyster sauce to complete a harmony balance. They are my secret ingredients and do make a nice difference in terms of taste, in my honest opinion.

Other than the sauce, the frying batter is no less important. A great batter recipe promises crispy and crunchy coating for the pork. In my recipe below, you will also find the instructions and exact measurement to make the batter. It is simply awesome!

Sweet and Sour Pork

Rasa Malaysia’s Secret Ingredients for Sweet and Sour Pork:

  1. Plum Sauce
  2. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
  3. Oyster Sauce (my not-so-secret seasoning medium)

So, discard the canned pineapple juice or orange juice in the Americanized sweet and sour pork recipe. Do try out my secret ingredients above the next time you prepare sweet and sour pork.

Anyway, once you master the techniques of making sweet and sour sauce, you can pretty much whip up any sweet and sour dishes in a jiffy: pork, chicken, fish, or shrimp…just don’t tell Panda Express my secret recipe! *wink*

Chinese Zongzi

Chinese Zongzi:
Zongzi is a traditional Chinese food, made of tasty glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. They are cooked either by steaming or boiling. Zongzi is a popular specialty consumed during the Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar, commemorating the death of Qu Yuan, a pioneering poet and patriotic official in ancient China during the Warring States period (475-221 B.C.), served as a minister to the Chu State. Known for his patriotism, seeing his country being destroyed Qu Yuan’s grief was so intense that he drowned himself in the Miluo river. According to legend, as he was deeply loved by the people, the local folk did what they could to search for him in the river. They rushed out in long boats, beating drums to scare the fish away, meanwhile packets of rice were thrown into the river to prevent fish from eating the poet’s body. Another version states that zongzi were given to placate a dragon that lived in the river.
Since then, it has been a customary on this day to enjoy zongzi as a memorial to the patriotic poet. In commemoration of the initial attempts to find Qu Yuan’s body, boat races are also held, and the day is also known as the Dragon Boat Festival.
Different kinds of fillings:

The fillings used for zongzi vary from region to region, but the rice used is always glutinous rice (also called sticky or sweet rice). According to the region, the rice may be lightly precooked by stir-frying or soaked before using. Today’s Zongzi is made similarly, with a serving of rice wrapped in leaves and tied together with string. There are lots of different kinds of zongzi, each with its own particular flavor, shape, and type of leaf for wrapping. The glutinous rice mixture is wrapped in leaves of wild rice, palm or bamboo. Bamboo-leaf zongzi is a specialty of South China. As for flavor, the Beijing style is the sweetest, with coarse bean paste. Guangdong zongzi is either sweet-tasting, with walnut, date or bean, or salty with filling ham, egg, meat, roast chicken. Zongzi need to be steamed or boiled for several hours depending on how the rice is made prior to adding the fillings. Once cooked, the zongzi can easily be frozen for later consumption. Frozen zongzi are available for sale in Chinese markets.
Various shapes:
The shape of zongzi ranges from relatively tetrahedral to cylindrical. Zongzi is usually four-sided with pointed, rounded ends, or pyramid shapes. Sometimes it is in the shape of a cone or cylinder. Wrapping a zongzi neatly is a skill which is passed down through families, as are the recipes. Making zongzi was traditionally a family event with everyone helping out, but that is less common now.
While traditional Chinese zongzi are wrapped in bamboo leaves, the leaves of lotus, maize, banana, canna, shell ginger or pandan leaves are sometimes used as substitutes in other cultures. Each kind of leaf imparts its own unique smell and flavor to the rice.

How to eat zongzi healthily:

 

Firstly, to help digest well, you can drink tea while enjoying zongzi. If eat accompanied by fruits and vegetables that would be helpful to help digest. For those whose stomach can not digest well, too much sticky rice will probably do harm to your stomach. So please pay attention not to eat too much at a time. Secondly, mainly zongzi is made of sticky rice which contains fat, salt and sugar, for instance, a normal meat zongzi will have 400-500 calorie which is approximately half bowl of rice, therefore the maximum per day for ladies is 3 and for gentlemen is 5. For those who have diabetes, please be careful as zongzi contains lots of sugar in it. We’d suggest you not to eat zongzi before sleep. For the left zongzi, you can put them into refrigerator and eat them as soon as possible to keep them fresh while enjoying the good taste.

Chinese Culinary Culture

Being one of the important fruits of China‘s age-old culture, the Chinese food and drink culinary art enjoys a high prestige both at home and abroad. The whole world looks upon eating a Chinese meal as a high-leveled enjoyment. The Chinese people whether living in or outside the county all share a proper sense of pride for such a rich Chinese food and drink culinary culture. Thus, to regard the Chinese food and drink culinary art as a culture, a science, or an art is entirely justifiable.

The Chinese culinary culture has a distant source and has become well established. The legend has it that the Chinese culinary culture originated with Yi Yin, a virtuous and capable minister of the Shang Dynasty (15th – 11th centuries B.C). It can be seen that China initiated the culinary art as early as the Shang and Zhou (11th century to 221 B.C.) times. With the growth and development of production and economy during various periods, the culinary techniques too registered step by step heightening and improvement—-from brevity to variety, from rudimentary to advanced stage, from day-to-day snacks to feasts, even to palatial dishes and delicacies. During about the time from the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 B.C.) and the Warring Stated Period (CA. 475-221 B.C.), to the Sui-Tang period the Chinese dishes began to be marked apart by Southern and Northern tastes. During the period of the Tang (618-907 A.D.) and the Song (960-1279 AD) dynasties, people went in a great deal for eating and distinct local colors were added to the Chinese dishes, such as the Northern food (”Lu” or the Shandong dishes), the Southern food (”Yue” or the Cantonese dishes), the Chuan food (Sichuan dishes), Wei Yang (Yangzhou) and the vegetarian foods. Records respecting each kind of dishes have been handed down. No matter the four oldest groups (i.e., the Sichuan, Cantonese, Shandong and Yangzhou groups) or the eight groups that gradually matured after the Tang and Song Dynasties (the Sichuan, Cantonese, Shandong, Yangzhou, Beijing, Anhui, Zhejiang and Hunan groups) or the Fujian, Jiangxi, Hubei, Henan, Liaoning groups, as well as the Muslim feasts prevalent throughout the country. Each of these famous groups has its own long history and characteristic traditional techniques; these put together have truly for the Chinese culinary culture produced a rich, sublime fruit borne out of the policy of letting a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools contend.

Shanghai is China‘s biggest port city. Since the Opium War and the opening of the five ports to foreign trade, it was thronged by traders from all over the world and was densely populated by the Chinese and foreigners, and the city became thriving and prosperous. In the wake of economic growth, the several big culinary blocs poured into Shanghai one after another. Till the 1920s, restaurants featuring the various kinds of dishes, like the Cantonese food, Sichuan food, Beijing food, Yangzhuo food, Ningbo food, Anhui food, Muslim feast, Tianjin food, Suzhou and Wuxi food and Shanghai‘s local dishes together with Western cafes, numbering near a hundred, had emerged in Shanghai. So the saying “Satisfying eating is in Shanghai” is actually not coined by the Shanghailanders of today, but prevailed already some 80 years ago. Undoubtedly local people would enjoy their own food quite much. each of these sayings is correct, because in each place there are distinctly-colored regional culinary blocs and the delicacies of different tastes available in Chinese food, a fact acknowledged the world.

Chinese Traditional Snack: Tanghulu

Tanghulu, or crystalline sugar-coated haws on a stick, do not require much promotion among young sweet-lovers in Beijing, despite the increasing competition from new generation snack foods like potato chips, popcorn and chocolate.

About 20 centimeters long, bright red in color with a perfect sweet-and-sour taste, tanghulu are a much-loved traditional confection in the capital city.

Every year as the weather cools down, tanghulu sales start heating up on almost every street corner in the city. Mobile food vendors carry large straw or plastic poles with dozens of tanghulu stuck in them as they make their rounds from one neighborhood to another.

Each vendor has his or her own distinct, rhythmic call. Many of the food stalls in parks, supermarkets or along the roadside add tanghulu to their menus. Buyers can watch the stall owners making the snack on the spot.

 

“Tanghulu has been my favorite sweet since I was a kid,” said Ma Long, a 27-year-old native Beijinger who works for a foreign company. “Childhood memories of tanghulu still linger in my mind today.”

Back in those days, most children couldn’t afford expensive treats and tanghulu, which cost about one jiao (1 US cent) each, were always the most popular, Ma said.

“Every afternoon on my way home from school, I liked to buy a tanghulu,” Ma recalled.

Although all kinds of snacks are available nowadays, made by either local or overseas manufacturers, Ma remains a staunch tanghulu fan.

“Nothing is more satisfying than eating a tasty tanghulu on a cold day,” Ma said. Ma’s passion for tanghulu is shared by many young adults including 25-year-old Wang Yan, a primary school teacher in Beijing.

“When I was young, my mother once warned me if I kept eating so many tanghulu, I would lose all of my teeth,” Wang recalled.

But the mother’s words did not dampen the young girl’s love of the snack. Every winter, she continued to spend most of her pocket money for tanghulu.

“Even now I can’t resist tanghulu whenever I see them in supermarkets or at streetside snack stands,” said Wang.

Though tanghulu are also popular in many other cities in North and Northeast China, they have become sort of unofficial, non-dancing logo of Beijing.

Auspicious symbol

For many Beijing people, tanghulu is not only a tasty treat, but also an auspicious symbol and highlight of the traditional temple fairs held during the Lunar New Year holidays in Beijing.

Tanghulu sold at the Changdian Temple Fair in Xuanwu District are regarded as the most auspicious ones by many Beijingers.

Dating back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the temple fair at Changdian was resumed in 2001, after a 37-year halt, and is now one of the largest such fairs in the capital city.

Many of the tanghulu sold at the fair are about one meter long and decorated with colorful flags on the top.

“A visit to the temple fair is not complete without buying one of these huge tanghulu,” said Ma.

 

Generally most buyers don’t eat them.

They take them home as a kind of auspicious token, which they believe will bring them good luck, fortune and prosperity in the coming new year.

Long history

Legend has it that tanghulu date back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Once an imperial concubine of Emperor Guangzong (1147-1200) fell seriously sick and the court physicians failed to find an effective treatment. The worried emperor knitted his brows in despair every day.

Then a doctor from outside the court volunteered to try and cure the concubine’s illness. After examining the patient thoroughly, the doctor wrote out a simple prescription: Simmer haws in sugar and water, and eat five to 10 of them before each meal.

The doctor said the concubine would get well in less than two weeks if she followed the prescription.

Neither the emperor nor the court physician believed the doctor’s words. But unexpectedly, the concubine got better and better and eventually recovered.

The story of the miraculous cure and the making of the healthy food quickly spread among the common people. Some food vendors began putting haws on bamboo skewers and selling them as snacks, and after a bap tism in hot sugar syrup, they became the tanghulu we know.

It was said that the first tanghulu had only two haws: a small one on top and a big one on the bottom, which made the treat look like a hulu , or bottle gourd.

This is why they are called tanghulu today, which means “candy bottle gourd” in Chinese.

And the name has stuck despite the fact that most tanghulu include four to eight haws and don’t look the least bit like a candy gourd today.

Back in the early 1900s, the most-sought after tanghulu were sold in food stores in the Dong’an Market in downtown Beijing. Most of these stores were not very large, but enjoyed a booming business every day.

In addition to haws, a dazzling variety of ingredients such as kumquats, yam, water chestnuts and Chinese dates are used to make tanghulu. But they are all made in pretty much the same way.

Take haws, for example. Wash the haws, take out the seeds, put the haws together on a bamboo skewer, then dip it into boiling syrup and take it out and allow it to cool to harden the syrup.

Ingredients like yams and water chestnuts have to be steamed before being made into tanghulu.

The most attractive varieties are sugar-coated haws with fillings. Each haw is cut open, filled with sweet bean paste, and then trimmed with the edible kernels of melon seeds.

Many tanghulu-makers stress that heat control is the key element in making good tanghulu. If the temperature of the syrup is too low, the tanghulu will be sticky; if the syrup is over-heated, candied coating of the tanghulu will look dark and taste bitter.

Among the many tanghulu makers, only a few have established fame or secured trademarks for their brands.

One famous tanghulu-maker in old Beijing was Xinyuanzhai, one of the oldest shops in the city that made and sold traditional snack food.

Built during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the store was particularly well-known for its special tanghulu product called tangdun.

Tangdun were made with only one large haw,although they were prepared in almost the same way as regular tanghulu. They were juicy and crispy and had a perfect combination of sweetness and sourness, and they were very popular up to the mid-1930s.

The golden days of both Dong’an Market and Xinyuanzhai have gone with the changing times. Few people remember Xinyuanzhai’s tangdun, while Dong’an Market has been replaced by the modern shopping mall, Sun Dong An Plaza, in 1998.

Surviving tradition

Many experts argue that the market still has an insatiable appetite for traditional snack foods like tanghulu and that the business still has potential for further growth.

Over the past few years, some tanghulu manufacturers from other provinces have begun to step into the market in Beijing. And they have come in with their own brand names, such as Gaolaotai, from northeast China’s Liaoning Province.

And Beijing manufacturers are feeling the heat of local competition.

Rising incomes and changes in lifestyle have created new demands that traditional snack foods do not fulfill, said Lu Zhonghua, manager of the Beijing-based Tanghuluwa Food Plant.

“For a long time, the business relied mostly on traditional techniques which had been passed on for generations,” Lu said. “With backward technology and poor management, we had trouble keeping our own tanghulu fresh and selling well.”

Now modern technology and modern management are becoming essential elements if one wishes to survive, Lu added.

Established in 2000, the company now operates over 20 outlets in the city. Most of them are located in large supermarkets and shopping malls. In addition to tanghulu freshly made on site, these outlets also offer packaged products, which have a longer shelf life.

“Packaged tanghulu are welcomed by customers who like to take them home to share with their families,” Lu explained.

Like Tanghuluwa Food Plant, many other snack stores are looking for ways to increase sales.

“Eating trends are changing and we have to display new products to adapt to market trends,” said Zhang Mei, who works in a tanghulu store in Sun Dong An Plaza. Every year, the snack bar presents new varieties with bananas, strawberries, cherries and tomatoes.

“Though the conventional types are still our best sellers, people are also interested to try new products,” said Zhang.

donkey roll about(Beijing)

ludaguan (donkey roll about), is a glutinous rice cake. It is made from steamed glutinous yellow rice flour, which is made into a flat cake, with fried bean flour and brown sugar powder sprayed onto the surface, and rolled up into several layers to make a cake.

Wonton Soup Recipe

Recipe: Wonton Soup
Serving: 15 wontons or 3 servings of wonton soup

Ingredients:

8 oz. peeled and deveined medium size shrimp
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
1/8 teaspoon fish sauce
1 small pinch of salt
3 dashes white pepper powder
1 oz yellow chives (chopped finely)
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
15 wonton wrappers
3 cups stock
Salt to taste
White pepper powder to taste
Sesame oil to taste

Stock Ingredients:

1 1/2 pound leg quarters (chicken thighs and legs)
1 1/2 pound lean pork
1 1/2 pound ham
10 cups water

wonton_soup1

Method:

Prepare the stock first by boiling all the ingredients in a deep stockpot. Bring it to boil and skim off the scum that surfaces until the stock is clear. Simmer on low heat for a couple of hours. Pour the stock through a sieve and set aside. Save the extra in a container and keep it in the fridge for future use.

Put the shrimp in a small bowl and rinse them under cold running water for about 5-10 minutes. (This step makes the shrimp crunchy.) Drain the water and pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and then cut each shrimp into 3-4 pieces.

Add half of the chopped yellow chives into the shrimp and marinate with the seasonings for 1 hour. Blend the shrimp well with the seasoning.

Place a wonton wrapper on your palm and put about 1 teaspoon (about 3-4 pieces) of the shrimp filling in the center of the wonton wrapper. Gather the corners of the wrapper with the other hand and give it a twist in the middle to “close” the wonton. Repeat until the filling is used up.

Add 3 cups of stock into a medium saucepan and bring it to boil. Add the remaining chopped yellow chives into the stock, add salt, white pepper powder, and sesame oil to taste and set aside.

Heat up another big saucepan with water. As soon as it boils, drop the wontons into the water. Stirring gently so the wontons don’t stick together. Continue to boil until the wontons are cooked and float to the surface.

Transfer the wontons out with a hand strainer and divide them into 3 equal servings. Pour a ladleful of stock over each serving and serve immediately.

wonton_soup2

Tang yuan(yuanxiao)

1. What is tangyuan and why do Chinese eat it?

Tang Yuan or Yuanxiao is the special food Chinese people eat at the Lantern Festival .Lantern festival is also known as “yuanxiao” festival, which is a traditional festival in china. It is said that the custom of eating tangyuan originated during the Eastern Jin Dynasty in the fourth century, which became popular during the Tang and Song Dynasty. The round shape of the tangyuan is a symbol of wholeness, completeness and unity. What’s more, tangyuan in Chinese has a similar pronunciation with “tuanyuan”, meaning reunion. So people eat them to denote union, harmony and happiness for their family. <
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2. What’s the difference between yuanxiao and tangyuan?
It is usually called as yuanxiao in north china while named as tangyuan in south china. It is small round dumpling balls made of glutinous rice flour with rose petals, sesame, bean paste, jujube paste, walnut meat, dried fruit, sugar and edible oil as fillings. The way to make Yuanxiao also varies between northern and southern China. The biggest difference is that the common method used in northern provinces is to pinches the fillings into even balls ,then put them on the basket which is filled with dry glutinous rice flour, and constantly shake them from time to time by adding water into it to coat the yuanxiao with glutinous rice flour. once the size is moderate ,it will surely have a rich fragrant taste both in fruit and rice! Meanwhile the method to follow in southern provinces is to shape the dough of rice flour into balls, make a hole, insert the filling, then close the hole and smooth out the dumpling by rolling it between your hands which will also have an amazing taste.
3. What can be used as fillings?
Yuanxiao can be classified into filled and unfilled ones. The filled yuanxiao are either sweet or salty. Sweet fillings are made of sugar, Walnuts, sesame Sweet osmanthus flowers, peanuts, red bean paste, or jujube paste. A single ingredient or any combination can be used as the filling. The salty variety is filled with minced meat, vegetables dried shrimp or a mixture. Tangyuan can be boiled, fried or steamed. It tastes sweet and delicious.

4. Tips on how to boil tangyuan?
1. Before putting yuanxiao into the pot, pinch the yuanxiao gently to have it cracked slightly which will surely help boil yuanxiao both inside and outside to have a delicious taste.
2. Use boiled water: fist put some water in the pot wait until it boiled then slowly put yuanxiao into water, but remember don’t put too many at a time otherwise it’s not easy to boil. Meanwhile use spoon to gently push yuanxiao around in one direction so that they cannot be stick together.
3. Add cold water: In the process of spoiling yuanxiao, every time the water boiled you are supposed to add some cold water in it, so as to keep the slightly rolling situation to insure the yuanxiao will be separated and the cover will not be broken as well. After boiled 2-3 times then wait for a while and you will have the yuanxiao ready for eat.
4. Distinguish whether it’s raw or cooked: you could use both you eyes and fingers: first look whether its cover is smooth while floating on the water surface or not, then use chopsticks to press down on them to see whether they are softer. If so, it’s time to eat the masterpiece you have just made!
5. Taken out of the pot quickly: After already boiled thoroughly if the yuanxiao cannot be eaten once only, it should be taken out of the pot in time, and put into pure boiled water, after cooling, put them in the plate for next time eating.

Chinese Food Recipes Tips And Guide

My friend simmon’s family cooks a Chinese food at least once a month. It looks like a tradition. Everyone clears the schedule. He sister, parents, He uncles, He brother gather around the family kitchen to taste meal from the Orient. Yes, Chinese food. They really love it because it is easy to follow. One of our favorite is the sauces. It’s very delicious for our tongue. Our family can adapt with the variety of flavorful spices.

The main taste of Chinese food or Chinese cooking depends on the ingredients of the sauces. If you are fan of Chinese food, you must know it. These cooking sauces are used in a variety of delicious authentic recipes. Fried rice, for example, is made of spices and sauces that make the delicious taste.

Kids really like a delicious meal. There are a lot of Chinese foods for children. Try to serve the dipping sauce in a little bowl to accompany appetizers like egg rolls, spring rolls or pot stickers. Let them choose the bowl and you’ll see their faces light up. By the way, there are so many different Chinese cuisine types of flavors that can be implemented into everyday menu. Some of the famous are sTheyet and sour sauce, garlic sauce, hot mustard and chili oil.

They use chili oil to enhance the flavor. Chili oil is made of chili peppers. Hot mustard and garlic sauce are delicious sauces. It is used for Chinese appetizers. And another favorite in Chinese food is sTheyet and sour sauce. If you interested with those sauces, you can try to give your family Chinese food for dinner. The sauces are easy to make.

Nowadays, the sauces have become very popular around the world because They can make it easily and it has a great flavor when you add to Chinese meals. It’s so adaptable. Chinese cuisine has become our favorite. You can try it out. Happy cooking!

Cooking With Spring Roll Wrappers – Add a Little Crunchy Fried Goodness to Your Next Meal!

After you’ve procured yourself a frozen package of spring roll wrappers – you will not believe how easy it is to make great spring rolls. But although these wafer thin squares of dough do roll up nicely into an Asian style spring roll snack – why limit yourself to the tastes of the Orient? Spring roll wrappers can be incorporated into the flavors of any cuisine and add a surprising and very tasty bit of crunch to any meal idea.

What Kind of Spring Roll Wrappers to Buy?

In truth there is only one kind of spring roll wrapper, but these are sometimes confused with egg-roll wrappers or with rice paper wrappers (which are used to make fresh Vietnamese style rolls).
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  • Egg roll style wrappers are thicker and usually smaller – and they look like egg pasta. These are not what you want.
  • Rice paper wrappers are dried and brittle and are an almost translucent white. Don’t get these either.
  • Spring roll wrappers are made from wheat flour and water and are generally sold frozen. They are very thin and resemble filo pastry in appearance. They are generally sold in about 4-5 inch square package sizes.

Keep these in the freezer indefinitely, removing wrappers as you need them.

How Do You Use Them?

You can roll your chosen filling up either by closing (folding over) the ends as you wrap, or by leaving the ends open. To seal off the rolls, mix together a small quantity of water and flour to form a paste like glue. Add a dab of this flour to the end corner of your wrapper paper and this will hold your seal.

How Do You Flavor Them?

As an idea to get you started. Take a single spring roll wrapper our and lay it flat on your work surface. Add on about 2 Tbls of grated carrot and a small pinch of salt.

You are going to roll this up “open ended” style like a cigar to add crunch, visual interest and savory taste to your plate, but you should also add in a complimentary seasoning that matches with the flavor profile of your dinner.

  • If you are cooking a Caribbean meal – you might add in a scant tough of ginger or cinnamon and after frying add another pinch of cinnamon outside.
  • If you are cooking Italian, you might add in a pinch of fresh thyme with the carrots and serve with a tomato “salsa” in an olive oil and garlic dressing.

Add in any spice or flavoring that would compliment the carrot (or whatever other filling ingredient you choose) and the other main ingredients on the plate.

Alternatives to Rolling?

You can also cut the wrappers into halves, and fry them in oil flat. When they are crispy, you can use them on your plate to create very professional looking napoleons! Try layering in flavored root vegetable purees between slices of fried spring roll pastry…delicious!

Or, fry them flat and toss them in flavored sugar for a crunchy garnish to your favorite dessert.

Or, proceed as above with the sugar, but layer in ice cream and fruit sauces for an impressive homemade ice cream sandwich!

Pick up a package the next time you find yourself in an Asian grocery store and start playing around with these very versatile and very tasty sheets of CRUNCH!

All About Chinese Chopsticks

As anyone who has been to a Chinese restaurant knows, chopsticks are the traditional implements for eating Chinese dishes. But far from being difficult and inefficient, they’re actually very versatile. They require a moderate amount of technique and practice, but in short order anyone can learn to use them well.

Chopsticks have been in use for over 3,000 years. They receive a mention in The Book of Rites dating from the Shang Dynasty that ruled China from 1600BC – 1100BC. In that time they’ve been made of ivory, bronze, bamboo and many other materials. Decorative designs may employ gold, silver, ceramic enamel or lacquer and other compounds. The Kuaizi Museum in Shanghai has collected over 1,000 pair, many of them centuries old.

Chinese chopsticks are usually about 8-10 inches long and often thickened or blunt at the ends. Both sticks are the same. Japanese chopsticks, by contrast, have narrowed ends, more pointed than their Chinese cousins.

To use Chinese chopsticks, place them both into one hand. Clamp them between the index finger and thumb, then move one to between the index and middle finger. The ends should be at the same point and both should lie in the same plane. In using Japanese chopsticks one stick protrudes slightly out from the other and they may be slightly twisted.

The trick is to have both a firm grip on each while being able to swivel one into the other in a pincer-like movement. That motion is performed by moving the index finger and thumb just slightly, opening and closing the pincer. You should be able to tap one end into the other and make an audible sound without losing grip on either.

Chinese dishes are prepared with all this in mind. Instead of large slabs of beef or whole legs or breast of chicken, meat is made bite-sized. Dumplings (Jiao Zi) are made so that they can easily be grasped between the chopsticks. The weight and size make it simple to hold them without opening the pincer too wide or falling out too easily. Rice can be scooped into the mouth by bringing the bowl up to the lips. Slurping soup is not considered rude in Chinese dining.

Despite the name, no stabbing or chopping is required or expected. In fact, in Chinese dining etiquette, such things would be considered impolite. There are several other traditional customs in the proper use of chopsticks, as well.

Sticking chopsticks vertically into a bowl of rice is considered poor taste. They resemble the incense sticks that are placed in rememberance of the dead. Unlike some Western circumstances, the Chinese don’t generally mix meals with mourning. In Chinese culture, eating even an ordinary meal is a celebration. Instead, rest them on the side of the bowl or plate.

Waiving chopsticks in front of the face or at other diners is equally bad manners. Neither should one suck on the tips or lick the length of the chopstick. Nor are they used to pull a food dish toward one. Chopsticks may be provided in or with a central dish to scoop food onto one’s plate. Use them instead.