Thursday, May 22, 2008

At a market in Shanghai

I love food markets. I can easily spend hours walking around and exploring. Especially when you are not familiar with many of the things sold there, like here in Shanghai.
Food markets here are just amazing, you can find just about anything. They are very similar to the markets in south of Europe in the way that it is all about seasonal and local. Below you can see just a few of the things you can find at a Shanghainese market.

It looks like cheese but is not. It is all kinds of shapes, textures, colors and sizes.

However a warning must be issued for the "stinky tofu". It is a tofu that is fermented in some kind of special brine which makes it smell worse than rotten. I cannot even explain how bad it smells. It is usually sold on streets deep fried. The name it self "stinky tofu" is a direct translation from Chinese.

All kinds of cucumbers.

All kinds of clams.

Chinese aubergine is thin and it has very delicate meat. The skin is very thin so you do not need to peel it.

All kinds of bean sprouts.

Noodle "factory" at the market. This reminds me of small tortilla "factories" you can find at Mexican markets.

Yes these frogs are very alive. Sold both at markets and supermarkets.

Same applies for turtles. Just minutes after this picture was taken a guy behind the counter slaughtered one with a pair of scissors. Looked VERY cruel.

All kinds of shrimps.

Fresh bamboo shoots.

Red beans, mung beans, lotus seeds, corn seeds, jujube dates, rice, sesame, flour, soy beans, peanuts, dried longan...just name it!

Ground black sesame is used for cakes, cookies.

Jelly fish...

Pork is the most consumed meat in China.

Another creature of the sea...sea cucumber.

Lotus root.


Water chestnut, peeled and unpeeled. Note the perfectly arranged pak-choy in the right corner.

Mushroom with a funny name: chicken feet mushroom.

Vegetables. Note the VERY long green beans next to the tomatoes.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

China is mourning

On 12 May south-western part of China was hit by a devastating earthquake that took the life of many people and left the life of the ones who survived in ruins. Help will be needed for many years to come in order to restore the life of the ones who survived. Please contact your Red Cross office to see how you can help or make an online donation.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

THE sweetest museum

I have visited the sweetest is called Taiwan Nougat Museum. Yes, it is a museum in Taipei dedicated to nougat!

The museum is situated in the nougat factory it self and if you are lucky enough (I wasn't) your visit will be at the same time when there is a factory tour that includes "do-it-yourself" activities. I only got to see the nougat museum and the shop that is attached to it.

Production of nougat started in 1956, after it was introduced from Hong-Kong by Ms Chiu Peng Yu-Ho. In the museum, which is very small and free of charge, you can see a nougat production line that is from way back in time.

You can also see the world's biggest piece of nougat (according to Lonely Planet) and it is all covered in gold. The staff didn't speak English so I never found out if it really was nougat or just a big piece of plastic.

The factory also makes other types of cookies, like Chinese wedding cookies and different types of western cookies. The package of the wedding cookie below says: "It is difficult to know at what moment love begins; it is less difficult to know that it has begun". Sweet!

There is also a room dedicated to all different types of typical Chinese cake molds, like cake molds for moon cakes. An entire wall was covered with those, looked really beautiful!

Last but not least, I bought some nougat in the shop and it was chewy and sweet as nougat should be. What was new to me was that it is made with peanuts. I liked it!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Lotus root

Lotus is a water plant and many parts of it are used in Chinese cooking. Lotus root it self is the root of the lotus plant and it is growing in the soil of the river bottom. It is the most beautiful looking edible plant I have ever seen. The root can be eaten raw or cooked, it is crispy, tastes delicious and is VERY healthy!

The most common way of preparing lotus root is in soups, stir-fries and candied lotus root filled with sticky rice. The later one is served on the New Years Dinner where candied lotus root symbolizes sweet relationship between husband and wife and sticky rise means they will stick to each other. How sweet!

I found a recipe called "Stir-fried lotus root slices" in the cookbook called "Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: recipes from Hunan province" written by Fuchsia Dunlop. It is a REALLY good book with lots of wonderful authentic Chinese recipes. I adapted the recipe by using one whole lotus root without breaking apart the sections.