Wednesday, August 27, 2008

And now for something completely different!

I'm a horrible blogger. I leave for weeks and weeks, eat mountains of delicious food, and then don't even write about it. My first post in weeks has nothing to do with anything that has happened to me in the past two weeks. This is why I will never make it with the big boys (or often girls, actually) of the food-blogging world.


In any case, I found this little game, the Omnivore's Hundred, on Andrew Wheeler's blog, very good taste. It's a (very subjective) list of what every omnivore should eat at least once in his or her lifetime. Here are the rules:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (does Alligator count?)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp (the staple fish of any Chinese kitchen)
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns (See previous entry! Yay!)
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries (perfect on backpacking trips)
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (I think I might die)
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl (I don't think Bowle bar at my school's dining hall counts...)
33. Salted lassi (I think I've always ordered the sweetened kind, unfortunately)
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float (too bad I don't like root beer, because this seems like a lovely idea)
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly (teehee)
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects (I'm assuming ants out in this case)
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu (Really want to!)
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer (home made by me, in fact!)
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis (Almost as much as I want to try fugu)
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini (I've had them separately, does that count?)
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu (the famous Chinese "white wine")
77. Hostess Fruit Pie (in my 8 years in the states, never)
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant (no, but I’ve had lunch at Le Bernardin)
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse (Horsemeat rice noodles, anyone?)
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Hmmm... I'm only on 51.

Will have to go to Japan and Scotland to have fugu and haggis, respectively. And soon.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Shanghai Shengjian

I left the lovely banana house about a week ago. After a brief sojourn at the Grandparents' house, my parents and I left for Shanghai to look at the new apartment they're renovating. So I spent two days exploring the city and getting over jetlag.

I'll have a separate entry for all the cool things I saw in Shanghai, but first I have to gush about the most amazing street food I've ever tasted. It's more flavorful than my favorite eggy pancakes or the lamb kabobs every kid in Beijing loves. Oh my god they're good.

They're called Shengjian bao, (生煎包), literally translated as Raw Fried buns. Instead of simply steaming the pork filled buns, the raw buns are fried in a shallow cast-iron pan and covered with a bamboo top to capture the steam, which ends up cooking the rest of the bun. The resulting bun has an amazing crispy bottom, a soft top sprinkled with sesame seeds and chopped chives, and a filling with tons and tons of yummy juices.

The place I went to, Yang's Fry dumplings (I really don't know why they translated bao as dumplings, but every real Chinese-American knows that they're called buns), is a hole-in-the-wall place which apparently everyone in Shanghai has discovered, especially during lunch time. It has become so popular that an identical store opened right next to the original one, and there are a bunch more throughout the city.

The filling is made with little bits of gelatin that melts during the cooking process. So the resulting pork filling is actually floating in a sea of delicious juices, all held by the wrapping. I didn't know this the first time I bit into these buns, and the scorching-hot juices sprayed all over the table and my face. The fact that this little place doesn't provide napkins doesn't help the matter at all. As I discovered later, the right way to eat a fried bun to actually to first bite a small hole and suck all the juices out. Then dip it in vinegar and finally gobble it up. Yang's sell four for 4 yuan. Best lunch ever? Definitely.

These buns take an assembly line to make: one to roll out a whole strip of dough, two to roll out round skins, and two to fill the skins with a pork filling.

The buns are fried in these really really big pans.

Check out their golden and delicious crispy bottoms

Dip them in a vinegar and chili sauce = most amazing thing ever.

Every table needs a large pot of chili to keep the customers happy.

Definitely check this place out if you're ever in Shanghai. Yang's Fry Dumplings on Wujiang Road.