Chinese recipes

Lotus root stir-fry (leen gnul siu chow)

In Buddhist culture, the lotus is a sacred symbol of purity. The root, which grows in mud, emerges clean and pure, unchanged by the mud. My Uncle Sam remembers eating raw, sliced lotus root at the August Moon Festival — a time of year when lotus is plentiful in China. Its crisp texture is

Braised cabbage and mushrooms (doong qwoo mun wong gna bock)

Napa cabbage, wong gna bock, varies in its water content depending on how old it is. Younger cabbage has more water and, therefore, may not need the addition of any liquid as it cooks. Older cabbage is drier and is sweeter in flavor but will need the addition of broth to prevent it from

Braised mushrooms (mun doong qwoo)

Chinese dried mushrooms, also called black, winter mushrooms, or shiitake, as they are known in Japan, can vary broadly in quality and price. For everyday cooking I generally use inexpensive ones, which have thin brown caps and a soaking time of only about thirty minutes. However for this dish, since the mushrooms are the

Shrimp with spinach and tofu (leung boon ho mai baw choy dul foo)

San Francisco has an Indian summer for at least one week every year, when the temperatures can reach eighty or ninety degrees. It was then that Mama would make us Shrimp with Spinach and Tofu, a dish she remembers eating in Shanghai in the summer, when the weather was unbearably hot. We always ate

Gong Bao chicken with peanuts (gong bao ji ding)

This dish, also known as Kung Pao chicken, has the curious distinction of having been labelled as politically incorrect during the Cultural Revolution. It is named after a late Qing Dynasty (late nineteenth-century) governor of Sichuan, Ding Baozhen, who is said to have particularly enjoyed eating it – gong bao was his official title. This association