Archive for the ‘Chinese’ Category

Broadway Dim Sum Café

Friday, July 9th, 2010

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As part of my adventure in exploring other cultural aspects of fried dough, dear friends Sara and Cassy had brought me into Chinatown for the beginning of investigating Chinese fried dough at Hing Lung. But just a block or so away was Broadway Dim Sum Café and our day of discovery continued.

Rather small and somewhat dank, this is an establishment which gives the appearance of desperately needing a good cleaning. It seems the ladies behind the counter don’t speak English, but thankfully I had translators with me to order the three fried dough offerings in the display case; fried sesame ball, fried fun gow, and fried meat dumpling.

Sadly, none of these were very good. All too oily and cold, they were not cooked through properly with unbalanced seasonings and some raw dough found in the middle. The fried fun gow had the most potential since it contained the least amount of dough around the meat, but there was such a pervasive flavor of old and stale oil as to overpower any potential goodness which might have existed. The fried sesame ball, which I know is supposed to be slightly chewy, was so rank as to be thrown away after a mere nibble. Not recommended.

684 Broadway
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 989-2038

Broadway Dim Sum Cafe on Urbanspoon

Hing Lung – Chinese Donuts and more

Friday, May 21st, 2010

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Several weeks ago, my friend, Cassandra, introduced me to her friend, Sara. We were talking about my doughnut obsession and Sara, in all her exuberance, offered to show me around the joys of Chinese fried dough, something which has almost completely alluded me. We set out for Chinatown and got to our first stop, Hing Lung, a bit late; it seemed that the classic pork liver-based porridge which is served with a special fried dough was already sold out for the day. But not to fear, there was still plenty for me to try.

The first offering was a long, slender fried dough known as youtiao (油条) — approximately 2″ thick and 9″ long. Wrapped in a steamed rice noodle, it is then known as zháliǎng (炸两). This is a classic dim sum dish, garnished with sliced scallions, sesame seeds, and served in a small puddle of sweetened soy sauce. The interior fried dough was still warm from the deep frying and crunchy, with a tender, light interior. I was somewhat anticipating the dish to be soggy, but the slightly custardy dough was not limp or too dense. The golden brown exterior had a distinct, light crunch to it and an easy tooth. The steamed rice noodle provides a savory complement along with a differing textural component. Because of the fried dough, it was rich and filling.

But that didn’t stop us from enjoying a separate Chinese cruller, the tánggāo (糖糕), or “sugar cake,”  a sweet, fried food item similar in appearance to youtiao but shorter in length and rounder, somewhat like a football. We ate this plain, although I believe it was this version that is often served with the porridge, soy milk, or rice congee for breakfast. Still warm, they were shaped with a seam down the center and are designed to be torn in half lengthwise.

A little investigating revealed this parable: The Cantonese name yàuhjagwái literally means “oil-fried ghost” and, according to folklore, is an act of protest against an official who is said to have orchestrated the plot to frame the general Yue Fei, an icon of patriotism in the 1100s who fought for the Southern Song Dynasty. It is said that the food, originally took the form of two deep-fried humans and  later evolved into two figures joined  in the middle, representing Qin Hui and his wife who both had a hand in collaborating with the enemy to bring about the great general’s demise. The two sides of the youtiao symbolically represent the husband and the wife and their demise is affected by deep frying them and then after their death, separating them for all eternity by ripping them apart and consuming them.

It was a very fortunate day, Sara and Cassandra were able to get me special access to the kitchen area and photograph the station where the chefs create the dough and fry them. There is a long, flour-covered work station and trays of the dough can be seen waiting to be worked and sliced before heading to the deep fryer. Unlike the Western-style commercial fast-food deep fryers which so many McDonalds workers are accustomed to, there are no inset baskets in which the dough is placed. These men of talent carefully hold a long-handled wire strainer and extra long chopsticks to grasp and hold the dough as it is cooking. They have to be careful to not allow the dough to sink to the bottom of the cavernous vat of scalding oil. It is hot, demanding work and while appears easy, requires deft and skill. What a fabulous day to just skim the surface of Chinese fried dough. According to Sara, I’ve got a long way to go in the exploration and I can’t wait to continue.

674 Broadway
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 398-8838

Hing Lung on Urbanspoon

Hall of Shame, Part II

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Yes, this is food from Panda Express; I suppose the dirge of Americanized Chinese food. Perhaps that is a stretch; they DO use fresh ingredients and DO NOT add MSG. But their best-selling dish is Orange Chicken with a serving size of 5.4 ounces comes in at 400 calories with 640 mg of sodium. Add fried rice with that and a 5 ounce serving comes in at 450 mg of sodium. And there is a Panda Express about fifty steps from my apartment which makes it all that much harder when I get jonesing for some fried dough.

The Crab Rangoon is not Chinese. It is a won-ton skin (essentially an eggroll wrapper which is an egg- and flour-based dough, rolled out very thin to contain a variety of ingredients). Some reports Crab Rangoon to have been developed in the 1950s for Trader Vic’s, possibly having come via Burma. For it is certain isn’t Chinese since its main filling is cream cheese studded with crab meat and scallions. Honestly, I don’t think I have ever detected a bit of crab — or even fake krab, known as surimi — within the Panda Express versions. But they ARE fried dough and along with their Spring Rolls, occasionally help me get over those cravings I get for fried dough.

It is bad and I admit it. The Crab Rangoon order contains three pouches at 190 calories with 180 mg of sodium. The Spring Rolls (vegetarian, ostensibly!), where you get two, are 160 calories but a whopping 540 mg of sodium. And then there is their sweet-and-sour sauce. Horrific, glowing orange-red sauce mostly based on corn syrup, that is 80 calories all on its own, with 180 mg of sodium. Perhaps by confessing this addiction, it will help me break from it. I know it is bad and I know it is fake and I know how detrimental it is to my overall well-being.

My name is Carrie and I am a Fried Dough Ho.