irene’s chinese food to eat before you die

the bean is back up in this business with a hilarious comment on the 100 Chinese Foods To Try Before You Die post, (originally from appetite for china). i’ve rescued it from the comments section where it might die without reaching its deserved readership, sorry for any repetition. irene, you are fucking funny and i love you.

from the mouth of the bean:


This is a sweet list. I think the more challenging task would definitely be to list items in order of importance/level of eat-before-you-die-ness instead of just alphabetical order. (Mei, you’re really getting into the hyphenated sentences… I like them, but they’re so hard to type!) Anyway, where do I begin?!

Let’s start with the obvious: Peking duck. Sweet, salty, crunchy, oily, all wrapped up in a thin flour pancake. What could be better? (Aside: in my exploits at college, I’ve found that burritofying everything (i.e. taking things and wrapping them in tortillas) is a really good and convenient way to live.) I remember when mom and I were living in BeiJing and we used to eat this stuff all the time, and it was so freakaleeking cheap that I wanted to cry when we got back to Boston and it was 40 bucks/duck.

Next, xiaolongbao. Little dragon bun/bag, i.e. a deliciously moist dumpling filled with shrimpy porky soup. Easy to burn your tongue on this one, so you can’t eat it in one bite, which is unfortunately, because that’s my classy signature move. I remember that I was taught to eat this in my wide-Chinese-style soup spoon so that I could save all the soup from getting sloshed across my plate, and therefore, undrinkable. These little guys also come in a bamboo steamy thingy with some big bai cai (bok choy, cabbage) leaves underneath them that are pretty freaking tasty.

Prawn crackers, also known as shrimp chips definitely bring back the memories, namely the memory of Mei deep-frying shrimp chips in our rice cooker (or our wok? I realize that rice cooker makes no sense) and then accidentally dropping in one of the plastic handles on the pot cover. And then we had shrimp chips, and a lump of greasy black plastic. Mei, was that also the time that a burning gob of flying oil hit you right in the middle of your forehead? She clearly has a long career of food-maverickism (<— definitely not a real word).

Crab rangoon. Freaking tasty. I do not care to comment on the authenticity of this dish. Only on the warm cream cheesiness.

Haw flakes: I haven’t thought of these in so long! Those grainy red discs of delicious jujube fruit will always be that part of Chinese school that I remember most fondly.

Tea eggs: delicious. I’m going to have to learn how to make these one day. I can’t imagine that it’s that hard.

Now, here are a couple that I didn’t see (or that I missed because my brain is fried from 50 pages of the American Journal of Sociology):

Rice cakes (in ovalette form). These little suckers have an amazingly satisfying chewiness, and can be thrown into stir fry, soup, whatever. Mmm, mmm chew.

You tiao (literally, oil stick). These guys are long, bready sticks that are so oily you have to eat them folded up in a paper towel unless you want grease stains all over yourself. They’re also delicious sliced, toasted, and stirred up in shi fan (congee).

Any kind of green vegetable. There’s an “oriental” grocery that Daniel and I sometimes go to, and the vegetable section is full of all of these unlabeled, leafy beautiful greens, and they are all so delicious. You really can’t go wrong.

Okay, procrastination time over! I’m giving myself half an hour for hygiene, and the rest of the day for work! Such is a Sunday afternoon, especially when I slept through Sunday morning.

Love you allz! Let’s see some comments up in here!

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4 thoughts on “irene’s chinese food to eat before you die

  1. mei says:

    how could i forget you tiao? one of the most aptly named food items on the planet. yes, this is a stick of grease. that is why it tastes delicious.

  2. mei says:

    also, the lump of deep fried plastic shrimp chip disaster was a totally separate experience from the time i tossed a frozen veggie burger into a pan full of boiling oil and had a sunflower-seed-sized burn on my forehead for a week. still glad that didn’t hit me in the eye. cooking isn’t exciting if there’s no risk of permanent bodily damage, right?

  3. By any chance, have you seen Jen8 Lee’s TED talk on Chinese food across the world? It’s fantastic!

  4. mei says:

    thanks doc! excited to watch that…

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