Bill & Sue-On Hillman's
Chinese Restaurant * Banquet Rooms * Showhall
222-10th & Princess
Chinese cuisine is a bright branch in the treasure-house of Chinese culture, and it is also a dominant one in the field
of world cuisine. Like music, dance, painting and drama, China regards eating as an art which is a comprehensive one combining seeing, smelling, touching, tasting and even hearing.
The core of Chinese cuisine is taste, and the purpose is to preserve health. It fuses nutrition and color, shape, appearance and taste perfectly. Thus eating Chinese food can not only satisfy one's appetite but also provide tonic effect.
The Story of Tea
China, the Homeland of Tea
Of the three major beverages of the world - tea, coffee and cocoa - tea is consumed by the largest number of people. China is the homeland of tea. It is believed that China has tea-shrubs as early as five to six thousand years ago, an human cultivation of teaplants dates back two thousand years. Tea from China, along with her silk and porcelain, began to be known the world over more than a thousand years ago and has since always been an important Chinese export. At present more than forty countries Chinese export. At present more than forty countries in the world grow tea with Asian countries producing 90% of the world’s total output. All tea trees in other countries have their origin directly or indirectly in China. The word for tea leaves or tea as a drink in many countries are derivatives from the Chinese character "cha".
The Russians call it "cha’i", which sounds like "chaye" (tea leaves) as it pronounced in northern china. The English word "tea" sounds similar to the pronunciation of its counterpart in Xiamen (Amoy). The Japanese character for tea is written exactly the same as it is in Chinese, though pronounced with a slight difference. The habit of tea drinking spread to Japan is the 6th century, but it was not introduced to Europe and America till the 17th and 18th centuries. Now the number of tea drinkers in the world is legion and is still on the increase.
The Story of Alcoholic Drinks
The Invention of Alcohol
China is one of the first countries to have invented alcohol as a drink. A large number of pottery wine vessels were discovered in Shangdong at the ruins of the Dawenkou culture which dates back 5,000 years. Recorded history tells about wine-making techniques of more than 4,000 years ago.
The earliest wines were made from food grains, mainly various kinds of rice, broomcorn and millet. As a result of improvements in brewing skills, the yellow wine made its appearance probably in the Warring States Period (475 - 221 B.C.)
From an ancient tomb of the Warring States in Pingshan County of Hebei Province, large numbers of wine-storing and drinking vessels were excavated in the 1970s. Two of them contain an alcoholic drink made from wheat 2,280 years ago. It is probably
the oldest liquor ever brought to light in the world.
The Story of Noodles
Noodles are a form a staple food very popular among the Chinese. They can be made either by hand or by machine and , by the way they are made, are divided into "cut noodles" or "dried noodles". Made I whatever way, they may be of different widths, varying from ribbons to threads. As a prepared dish, they can be served warm or cold, dressed with chilli oil or not, eaten with fried bean sauce, port or chicken sauce, duck chops and soup of any concoction.
There is also a variety of "instant noodles", which are precooked, dried and commercially packed. Before eating, all one has to do is to soak them in hot, boiled water for a few minutes. They are very handy for a quick lunch in the office or on a journey.
As noodles are always in the form of long strings, they are symbolic of longevity and are therefore indispensable at Chinese birthday parties.
The Story of Moon Cake
The Chinese moon cake is for the Mid-autumn Festival and is so called because it is made in the form of a disc representing the full moon of the festival.
The cake consists of a crust and stuffing. The crust is made in varying ways and with varying degrees of crispness, but the usual main ingredients are wheat flour, oil or fat, sugar and maltose. Part of the flour is mixed with water to make dough, and the rest is kneaded with fat. These arranged in alternate layers become the crust after baking. A wide variety of materials may be used for the stuffing; these include Chinese ham, sausage, walnut meat, pine nuts and almond. The usual flavourings are osmanthus flowers, rose petals and other natural essences.
Moon cakes are normally called by the fillings they contain - assorted fruits, five nuts, rose, ham, jujube paste, pepper and salt, and so on. The stuffing, as already shown, may be either sweet or salty or mixed in taste. There are literally a thousand and one kinds of moon cakes made in difference regions of China, but it is generally agreed that the best moon cakes are produced by three schools - Jiangsu, Guangdong and Beijing.
The Story of Spring Rolls
Spring rolls are a great favourite with the Chinese. They are also very much appreciated abroad. At receptions given by Chinese embassies or consulates, spring rolls often prove to be a gastronomic delight to the guests. It is not without reason that they are served by Chinese restaurants abroad at many times the price they are sold in China. In China, their appearance on the dining table with their inviting brown colour has rarely failed to cause foreign tourists to click their tongues in
The principal ingredient for the filling in spring rolls is usually bean sprouts, which are mixed with shredded pork, dried mushroom plumped and shredded, vermicelli, shredded bamboo shoots and the necessary seasonings. The fillings are deep-fried in oil and served hot when the wrappers are still crisp
The Story of Bean Curd
Bean curd may be justifiably called a great invention in old China.
An ancient work on medicinal herbs mentioned bean curd in these words: 'The method of making doufu dates back to Liu An, the Prince of Huainan. It is made of soya beans, either the black or the yellow variety.' Liu An (179 - 122 B.C.) was a grandson of Liu Bang, founding emperor of the Han Dynasty. Legend has it that the prince, in his search for a panacea to help him achieve immortality, experimented with soya beans and bittern and , through the chemical reaction, stumbled on the earliest bean curd. That was more than 2,100 years ago.
An analysis of 100 grams of bean curd shows that it contains water (85 grams), protein (7.4 grams), fat (3.5 grams). Calcium (277 mg), phosphorus (57 mg) and iron (2.1 mg). As a food of high nutritive value, it has met with widespread acclaim.
The Story of Roast Duck
The Beijing roast duck is a dish well-known among gastronomes the world over.
To cook ducks by direct head dates back at least 1,500 years to the period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties, when "broiled duck" was mentioned in writing. About eight hundred years later, Husihui, imperial dietician to a Mongol emperor of the Yuan Dynasty, listed in his work Essentials of Diet (1330 A.D.) the "grilled duck" as a banquet delicacy. It was made by heating the duck - stuffed with a mince of sheep's tripe, parsley, scallion, and salt - on a charcoal fire.
Today the Beijing roast duck ( or "Peking duck", as it has been called ) is made of a special variety of duck fattened by forced feeding in the suburbs of Beijing. After the duck is drawn and cleaned, air is pumped under the skin to separate it more or less from the flesh. And a mixture of oil, sauce and molasses is coated all over it. Thus, when dried and roasted, the duck will look brilliantly red as if painted. Perhaps that is why it is known among some Westerners as the canard laque or "lacquered duck".
A highly experienced chef of a duck restaurant can produce an "all-duck banquet" of over eighty dishes made of different parts of the fowl.
The Story of "Buddha Jumps the Wall"
This is a well-known dish of Fuzhou. It is made of an assortment of materials: shark's fin, shark's lip, fish maw, abalone, squid, sea cucumber, chicken breast, duck chops, port tripe, pork leg, minced ham, mutton elbow, dried scallop, winter bamboo shoots, xiang gu mushrooms, and so on. These are seasoned and steamed separately and then put into a small-mouthed clay jar together with cooking wine and a dozen or so boiled pigeon eggs. The jar is covered and put on intense fire first and then simmered for some time on slow fire. Four or five ounces of a local liquor is added into the jar, which is kept simmering for another five minutes. Then the dish is ready.
The origin of the dish is explained by a local story. A Fuzhou scholar of the Qing Dynasty went picnicking with friends in the suburbs and he put all the ham, chicken, etc. he had with him in a wine jar which he heated over charcoal fire before eating. The attractive smell of the food spread in the air all the way to a nearby temple. It was so inviting that the monks, who were supposed to be vegetarians, jumped over the temple wall and partook heartily of the scholar's picnic. One of the party's participants wrote a poem in praise of the dish, of which a line reads: "Even Buddha himself would jump the wall to come over." Hence the name of the dish.
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