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China Visit - Xiamen and Shenyang w/Pics (Very Long Post)

China Visit - Xiamen and Shenyang w/Pics (Very Long Post)
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  • China Visit - Xiamen and Shenyang w/Pics (Very Long Post)

    Post #1 - February 7th, 2020, 10:11 am
    Post #1 - February 7th, 2020, 10:11 am Post #1 - February 7th, 2020, 10:11 am
    Apologies in advance for the super long post, but there's too much good food to share!

    We got back from China last weekend - my first time in China specifically during Chinese New Year, but not my first time in China. We visited 3 cities - Shanghai, Xiamen, and Shenyang. I've spent time in Shanghai before, and a day in Shenyang before but never been to Xiamen. We also visited a coastal town for a few hours a few hours south of Shenyang for lunch one day. Unfortunately due to the Coronavirus, we had to cut short visiting Suzhou near Shanghai and some river towns near Shanghai. For the record, CNY in China in a city that still allows fireworks is INSANE. The number of cities that still allow it are waning, but it's absolutely crazy.

    I had some amazing food in my visit as to be expected while visiting China. Unfortunately by the time we got to Shenyang, most restaurants had closed themselves due to the Coronavirus fears. We visited 1 restaurant, but that was it. Luckily, my wife's cousin's husband is a professional chef in Shenyang and cooked everyone a good 3 or 4 awesome dinners. My mother-in law and other relatives are also great cooks.

    Xiamen
    Since this city is not that well known to the west, I just wanted to introduce a little bit of it. The city is pretty nice and I like the natural scenery here. It is across the strait from Taiwan. There are some nice beaches along the coast:

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    My wife told me that Xiamen these days relies a lot on its food culture for tourism and that people are always inventing new food things there. They have apparently been relying a lot on what people share on the Chinese version of Instagram. The number of permanent residents is around 1.8 million, but there's another 1.8 million who own second homes here as the climate is more tropical and there's beaches. Beautiful city.

    First stop: Zeng Cuo An Village. This is a few food streets (and a few other shops) close to some beaches and close to Xiamen University (top 15 university in China). It used to be a fishing settlement back in the day. This was very busy and a lot bigger than meets the eye at first.

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    Xiamen version of an oyster omelette. Not bad at all.
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    Cup of bamboo shoot jelly with green onions, cilantro, probably some garlic, and sesame oil I believe. This was pretty good..
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    Tin foil grilled Durian with some cheese (apparently) in it. First Durian I have ever full on really liked
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    Xue Hua Su (雪花酥). I think this could translate to something like "snowflake crisp." It is a dessert that I think has some melted marshmallow, biscuits, and whatever else you want like fruit and nuts (whether pistachio, coconut, durian, cranberry, mango, etc). You can buy this packaged too, for example. If you look up the Chinese characters, you can find recipes online too.
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    Milk tea with peanuts, mochi, and red bean
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    Pork Jerky
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    Making fresh chili paste
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    Stuffing a mixture of meat into a raw egg yolk. Did not try because we were so full.
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    Soft shell chili crab
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    A lot of meat on skewers
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    Stinky Tofu is common here:
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    Elsewhere in the city..
    Xiamen Jiang Mu Ya - Xiamen Ginger Duck. Very good stuff.
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    Huasheng Tang: Peanut soup - a speciality of Xiamen. Exactly what it sounds like. Cheap and pretty good
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    Fruit teas. Very similar to what I've had and bought in Turkey
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    These look similar to Paletas
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    Next stop: Gulangyu Island. This place is FULL of places to eat. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Europeans built this up over 100 years ago. It has a bit of European charm to it via architecture and it's also full of tons of small inns so you can stay overnight or a weekend. Almost entirely pedestrian in nature and really easy to walk everywhere. You get here via ferry and this is one of the most visited attractions in China, so it can get PACKED. Buy your ferry tickets a few days ahead of time, at least.

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    I have no idea what to call this, but it's handmade noodles, being extruded and formed via gravity. Even my wife had never seen this before
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    Very fresh seafood and fish
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    Fresh peanut mochi
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    Dried fish powder. Really good
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    Xiamen is known for its fresh fruit. Always try it!
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    A piece of Chicago in Xiamen
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    For one day we went to a natural hot spring called Riyuegu about 30 miles away from our hotel. Definitely worth it for a relaxing day. The cost per person all day was $30 USD, and most clientele here are probably upper middle and upper class. There is a hotel here too and it attracts people from Japan and Korea. There is an eatery in the middle with some good food. Highly recommended if you are in Xiamen with a day to kill and want to visit a relaxing place

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    I am ALWAYS a sucker for Liu Sha Bao (sweet salted egg yolk bun). This one was better than most I've had in the US

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    Xiamen version of Nou Ru Lamian (beef noodle soup). Pretty good
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    Next Stop: Shenyang! This is where my father in law grew up - a city of around 8 million people in the NE of China and a 3 hour drive to the border of North Korea. My wife grew up not too far south of this city. We spent a week here for Chinese New Year with a lot of my wife's family. Definitely a week to remember for a variety of reasons but always great food around.

    Xue Mian Dou Sha ("Snow Soft Bean Paste"). These are a type of bun I don't think I've ever seen in the US. The texture is a little airier and the taste is a bit eggier than what you might be used to. On top is sugar (the "snow") and in the middle is red bean paste.
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    A great big fish
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    Pan fried silk worms. I'm not one to eat insects ever and I had this dish once before in Flushing. While not disgusting, I didn't think the Flushing one was that great either. These ones in Shenyang were a million times better than what I had in Flushing
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    A vast array of things
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    They produce a bit of kim chi in this part of China. Good stuff.
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    The weather in Shenyang is similar to that of Minneapolis - pretty cold (a bit worse than Chicago). People will leave pears outside to freeze and in the process they turn black on the outside. Pretty juicy on the inside.
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    My mother in law handmaking jiaozi (dumplings). So good.
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    A variety of dishes including dried beef, braised fish, jiaozi (dumplings), fish stuffed in cabbage leaves, shrimp, and pork feet. So very good - made by my wife's cousin's husband mainly
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    Again made by my wife's cousin's husband mostly. Pork soup with noodles. The chicken wings here were absolutely delicious
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    Another meal including shrimp with garlic and tomato with white sugar on top
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    They sell fresh strawberries and tomatoes on the street here in many places
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    We drove about 2 hours south to a smaller city to eat lunch at my wife's aunt's house. All of the food is homemade by her and really great. My wife's cousins are huge and I found out they can really drink. One of her cousins is a good 6'5" and 250 lbs, and his brother is a good 6'2" and 230 lbs, and they all put down 5 beers in the first 20 minutes of lunch. I'm not small but not THAT big. Let's just say I was pretty gone by the end of lunch. Pretty crazy but such good food
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    I posted about this in the "best thing I've eaten lately" thread. My wife's uncle made these. It's raw mantis shrimp that marinates for a day in a solution of water, garlic, anise, salt, a little chili pepper, etc. Seriously - better than any of the Michelin starred places I've had in NYC serve as far as raw shrimp dishes go. SO good. Best eaten in congee with duck egg. Peel these things and then either eat them straight up raw or put them in the congee.

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    Haw fruit soup
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    A more lightly cooked version of the silk worms. I had 1 - better than Flushing but still not totally my thing. My wife's family devoured these things
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    Soup with beef, noodles, and enoki mushrooms
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    Back in Shanghai, we went to a supermarket near my in-laws' place. Had to get our temperatures taken to enter. Beautiful dragonfruit
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    Really beautiful eggplant
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    We picked this up while at the airport in Shenyang. It is a famous type of chicken that you can get almost nowhere in the US called Guobangzi chicken from the town of Guobangzi in Liaoning. It is spruce smoked chicken and a whole process to do this. Really, really delicious and great with beer. This would be really popular in the US if it were marketed correctly. There used to be a few places in Queens that used to do it but not anymore. We did find through a grocery delivery service though that you can get it here. Haven't seen it elsewhere in the US. BBQ and meat lovers take note! You buy it as a whole chicken.

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    My mother in law made us this meal. One of my favorite Dongbei dishes is in there - pork ribs with sour cabbage soup. Also clams, shrimp, and fish dishes. So very good

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    We ordered pizza from Pizza Hut in Shanghai (LOL). Peking Duck Pizza and Durian Pizza. Both not bad

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    2019 Chicago Food Business License Issuances Map: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1AGfUU ... sp=sharing
  • Post #2 - February 7th, 2020, 11:34 am
    Post #2 - February 7th, 2020, 11:34 am Post #2 - February 7th, 2020, 11:34 am
    monster post, thanks for sharing
  • Post #3 - February 7th, 2020, 11:52 am
    Post #3 - February 7th, 2020, 11:52 am Post #3 - February 7th, 2020, 11:52 am
    Wow! Fantastic!
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #4 - February 7th, 2020, 1:39 pm
    Post #4 - February 7th, 2020, 1:39 pm Post #4 - February 7th, 2020, 1:39 pm
    I had more pics but it was getting ridiculous:) I thought of this forum while eating that chicken. It would do really well in the US.

    For the return trip too, our flight got canceled due to all the Coronavirus stuff going on. Luckily we changed to Cathay Pacific through Hong Kong and we luckily got to fly business class for the 15 hour flight. I dont fly business class too much internationally when not on business but some of the food served was actually pretty good, like the lightly curried cauliflower soup. They had a few decent Chinese foods at various meals too.
    2019 Chicago Food Business License Issuances Map: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1AGfUU ... sp=sharing
  • Post #5 - February 7th, 2020, 1:54 pm
    Post #5 - February 7th, 2020, 1:54 pm Post #5 - February 7th, 2020, 1:54 pm
    Wow, amazing. I will need to go back and look at this again. Great photos of your experience. Love the "gravity" noodles. Thanks!
  • Post #6 - February 7th, 2020, 2:12 pm
    Post #6 - February 7th, 2020, 2:12 pm Post #6 - February 7th, 2020, 2:12 pm
    Thank you for taking the time to put this together and share this.
    "I live on good soup, not on fine words." -Moliere
  • Post #7 - February 7th, 2020, 5:47 pm
    Post #7 - February 7th, 2020, 5:47 pm Post #7 - February 7th, 2020, 5:47 pm
    Amazing post.

    Thank you.
  • Post #8 - February 8th, 2020, 7:11 am
    Post #8 - February 8th, 2020, 7:11 am Post #8 - February 8th, 2020, 7:11 am
    G Wiv wrote:Wow! Fantastic!


    I wish you could find that Guobangzi chicken (沟帮子烧鸡) in the US really. Only a few places. There are 4 famous chickens in China and this is one of them:

    * Henan (河南道口烧鸡)
    * Dezhou (德州扒鸡) - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dezhou_braised_chicken
    * Fuliji (from Anhui - 安徽符离集烧鸡) - http://www.chihuoclub.com/snack/fulijishaoji.html
    * Guobangzi (from Liaoning - 沟帮子烧鸡)

    This video is actually from a guy in Shenzhen in the south but making it a certain way. Some of the ingredients used to make this are also used in Chinese medicine
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gW89H-cePjA
    2019 Chicago Food Business License Issuances Map: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1AGfUU ... sp=sharing
  • Post #9 - February 8th, 2020, 10:06 am
    Post #9 - February 8th, 2020, 10:06 am Post #9 - February 8th, 2020, 10:06 am
    marothisu wrote:This video is actually from a guy in Shenzhen in the south but making it a certain way. Some of the ingredients used to make this are also used in Chinese medicine
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gW89H-cePjA

    Interesting, the last link the chef is using caramelized sugar as one might use tea to color the chicken on a steaming rack over the toasting sugar. After the multi-spice braise.

    Quite a few Chinese, and Vietnamese for that matter, start with melting sugar to caramelized in the wok for color and flavor. Never seen it used as "smoke"

    I googled Guobangzi chicken weirdly it comes up with a few kung pao and one or two penile enlargement / erectile dysfunction links. :)

    Super interesting, a post I will be reading more than once.
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #10 - February 8th, 2020, 10:14 am
    Post #10 - February 8th, 2020, 10:14 am Post #10 - February 8th, 2020, 10:14 am
    G Wiv wrote:
    marothisu wrote:This video is actually from a guy in Shenzhen in the south but making it a certain way. Some of the ingredients used to make this are also used in Chinese medicine
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gW89H-cePjA

    Interesting, the last link the chef is using caramelized sugar as one might use tea to color the chicken on a steaming rack over the toasting sugar. After the multi-spice braise.

    Quite a few Chinese, and Vietnamese for that matter, start with melting sugar to caramelized in the wok for color and flavor. Never seen it used as "smoke"

    I googled Guobangzi chicken weirdly it comes up with a few kung pao and one or two penile enlargement / erectile dysfunction links. :)

    Super interesting, a post I will be reading more than once.


    Very interesting. Thanks for the info. Its definitely interesting but tastes great. Usually eaten (at least I'm told) while drinking beer. At least according to my father in law. Can be eaten either cold or hot.

    As far as googling goes, you'll have way better luck looking up the Chinese for it. Theres even a few recipes online for it in Chinese. 沟帮子烧鸡
    2019 Chicago Food Business License Issuances Map: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1AGfUU ... sp=sharing
  • Post #11 - February 8th, 2020, 10:27 am
    Post #11 - February 8th, 2020, 10:27 am Post #11 - February 8th, 2020, 10:27 am
    Here's a recipe for it. It's in Chinese but Google Translate might work OK. My wife could probably see later if anything needs correction if you're interested:

    https://www.meishij.net/zuofa/goubangzixunji.html
    2019 Chicago Food Business License Issuances Map: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1AGfUU ... sp=sharing
  • Post #12 - February 8th, 2020, 10:28 am
    Post #12 - February 8th, 2020, 10:28 am Post #12 - February 8th, 2020, 10:28 am
    marothisu wrote:Theres even a few recipes online for it in Chinese. 沟帮子烧鸡
    Chinese is not among my languages, of which I have exactly one*, English. :)

    I often watch Chinese cooking videos in Chinese with no subtitle but typically get a good sense of what is going on even without translation.

    *Not counting my 80-word restaurant kitchen offensive term/word with some ingredients tossed in Spanish.
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #13 - February 8th, 2020, 10:38 am
    Post #13 - February 8th, 2020, 10:38 am Post #13 - February 8th, 2020, 10:38 am
    G Wiv wrote:
    marothisu wrote:Theres even a few recipes online for it in Chinese. 沟帮子烧鸡
    Chinese is not among my languages, of which I have exactly one*, English. :)

    I often watch Chinese cooking videos in Chinese with no subtitle but typically get a good sense of what is going on even without translation.

    *Not counting my 80-word restaurant kitchen offensive term/word with some ingredients tossed in Spanish.


    Don't worry, me neither - ha ha. My Chinese is fairly limited. Thank God I have my wife for this stuff!

    Definitely interesting stuff in the videos. This type of stuff would do quite well in America if someone marketed it correctly. The flavor is unique but not so out of this world that would be a put off to most people in my opinion.
    2019 Chicago Food Business License Issuances Map: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1AGfUU ... sp=sharing
  • Post #14 - February 24th, 2020, 9:32 pm
    Post #14 - February 24th, 2020, 9:32 pm Post #14 - February 24th, 2020, 9:32 pm
    marothisu wrote:Dried fish powder. Really good

    Haw fruit soup

    Phenomenal post. Thanks for putting the work in.

    How is dried fish powder used and what makes it really good (I'm assuming it's more than just dehydrated and ground up fish).

    Is the haw fruit soup hot or cold? Is there a comparable common fruit flavor here to compare it to?

    Thanks!
  • Post #15 - February 25th, 2020, 9:17 am
    Post #15 - February 25th, 2020, 9:17 am Post #15 - February 25th, 2020, 9:17 am
    Thank you for posting that marothisu - it was wonderful!
  • Post #16 - February 25th, 2020, 5:26 pm
    Post #16 - February 25th, 2020, 5:26 pm Post #16 - February 25th, 2020, 5:26 pm
    MarlaCollins'Husband wrote:Phenomenal post. Thanks for putting the work in.

    How is dried fish powder used and what makes it really good (I'm assuming it's more than just dehydrated and ground up fish).


    Thanks!

    Powder was not really the right word. Really it's dried shredded/crushed fish. I think the English name might be more like "dried fish floss." You can use it in a lot of things - put it with rice, soup, congee, put it into breads, on top of a salad, on top of other meats, vegetables, etc etc etc. You could just eat it straight like a snack - the sky is really the limit. The chinese characters for it is 鱼肉松

    This is one version of it - this video has subtitles:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GctnADtU_x4

    Recipe (run through Google Translate). Get a fish that doesn't have a lot of bones and/or is easy to de-bone completely after steaming:
    https://www.xiachufang.com/recipe/182893/

    Is the haw fruit soup hot or cold? Is there a comparable common fruit flavor here to compare it to?

    Thanks!


    That one was hot. It was just haw fruit and goji berries in that. I'm not sure if there's a direct comparison. Maybe some over ripe apples, but still different. These should be readily available in the US anyway. My first introduction to them was actually a Chinese co-worker of mine in Chicago.

    There's all sorts of products made from this from sugary haw flakes to haw fruit juice. There is some potential weirdness with the FDA and a specific candy called haw flakes. Chinese characters of the fruit is 山楂 (Mountain Hawthorn). Very possible that stores would have haw fruit juice (山楂汁). Doesn't hurt to ask a store if you're curious. It's not something rarely eaten.
    2019 Chicago Food Business License Issuances Map: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1AGfUU ... sp=sharing

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