Sunday, October 12, 2008

Craving China's Food

Only a few days ago did I finally download the pictures I took in China from my camera. I know. I was craving the sweet mung bean soup that they eat in Wuhan when it's really hot, which is like every day, because it's so sweet and refreshing, and Wuhan got up to about 104 degrees while I was there. They served that soup every day in the cafeteria at the brewery, and it is delicious. I liked it so much I have actually developed a hankering for it. They call it green bean soup, or (lit. green bean soup, pronounced lù dòu tāng). It is served cold and refreshing - one of the few foods that Chinese serve cold, but it's also good warm or hot. It's often consumed as a beverage. You will almost never find a Chinese person eating lunch with anything to drink other than a bowl of soup, or maybe hot tea. Come to think of it, the only cold things I can recall them ever drinking were mung bean soup or beer.

Above is a picture of a cup of cold mung bean soup I had for breakfast on Hù Bù Xiàng (that's the name of the street, I can't translate it, but here are the characters - ). Note the slivers of ice floating in it. Hu Bu Xiang is a old little alley in Wuhan famous for breakfast food. There are dozens of eateries lining the street that each specialize in one food, and seat about 5 at a time. You get a serving of whatever it is, maybe go inside and sit down to eat it, then move on to the next one. After the cold soup we went for some savory, bread-style dumplings (second picture), along with my very favorite, the soup dumplings! The third picture shows Jarod eating soup dumplings, which are called Xiǎolóngbāo. Those little dumplings are filled with a vinegary broth and a little meatball. I could just about live on them. Next is a picture of the two cooks making the Xiǎolóngbāo.

There's a certain way you need to eat the dumplings when there's soup in them so you don't accidentally pierce the skin before you get it to your mouth. The best way is grasp it with your chopsticks near the top of the bun, where the skin is all crimped together, making it stronger.

So anyway, I got a hankering for the mung bean soup, and it couldn't be easier to make. There's three ingredients, water, beans, and sugar. I went up to Jay's International and got the smallest bag of mung beans I could find (called moong beans at Jay's), which was a 2 lb. bag. Now, as you can imagine, that's actually quite a lot of beans. The bag did not look that big, but suffice it to say when I was done making the delicious soup this evening, after taking it off the heat not once but twice to put more water in it, I actually ended up with about 3 gallons of soup.

But hey, it's a great breakfast food as well as snack, because it takes no effort to make (serve cold), can be poured into a cup and drank on the road, and it's packed with beanie goodness that will give lots of energy in the morning.

Here's a picture of Jarod and Jim standing out on Hu Bu Xiang after eating the dumplings. A few weeks ago someone asked me what people in China wear. I think he imagined they wear some kind of traditional clothing like what you might see in a painting. As you can see, the clothing found on the streets of China is exactly the same thing found on US streets.

Continuing the food gallery, here is a picture of the next stop - peppery gravy on noodles and a pan fried breakfast bread made with several vegetables. The bread was really good, but the gravy was kind of eh. That green bottle is my favorite beverage to get when I'm there. It's just called green tea (綠茶 - lù chá), but I do believe it's actually jasmine tea. I would get a bottle any time I was walking somewhere, and a couple for the room. Here are pictures of the man making the bread.
I have left no room to show the 3 gallons of sweet mung bean soup I made today, so I'll have to save them for another post some time.


skmckinn said...

I can't believe I missed the food post. MUNG BEAN SOUP?

skmckinn said...

Okay, I'm going to stop commenting and go to work, now.

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