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Asian food in America
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yakitori


Chinese food
The history of Chinese food is a complicated buffet of regional cuisines and world influence. There are plenty of sources you can use to learn about this topic.

Recommended reading

Selected recipe histories


Japanese cuisine
On the Web

Recommended reading>

Selected recipe histories

ASIAN FOOD IN AMERICA
Asian food was introduced to the United States in the mid-1800's when Chinese immigrants from Canton began settling in California. At that time the food was consumed primarily by the Chinese community. Chinese food became popular with young cosmopolitans in the 1920s because it was considered exotic. It wasn't until after World War II that Asian cuisines (notably Chinese, Japanese and Polynesian) piqued the interest of mainstream America. Sylvia Lovegren's Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads [MacMillan:New York] 1995 describes America's 20th century Asian food fads. In the 1960s Polynesian theme restaurants and tiki bars were all the rage.

While Chinese food was introduced to America in the mid-19th century, Vietnamese (Japanese, Thai, etc.) cuisine was generally unknown to mainstream American diners until the 1970s. Coincidentally, this period also marks the genesis of fusion cuisine, a convergence of fresh foods, exotic tastes and interesting textures.

From the beginning, Asian dishes intended for American diners were adapted to suit expectations. Emphasis on basic meat and vegetables served in standard (sweet & sour, soy) sauces with fried rice became the norm. In many authentic Asian restaurants, there were two menus: one for people of Asian descent and another for tourists. The difference was more than language. Did you know? Some "classic" Chinese menu choices such as fortune cookies are not Chinese at all! They were invented in America. Molly O'Neil's article "The Chop Suey Syndrome: Americanizing the Exotic," New York Times, July 26, 1989 (C1) explains the process.

"When Europe began trading with the Orient, the seaport of Canton became the gateway to the West. The Cantonese readily absorbed these cosmopolitan influences and, being great travelers themselves, soon emigrated to Europe and America. They were the first to establish Chinese restaurants ouside their own country and to make Chinese cooking known to the West. As a result, most Chinese restaurants in the United States and Europe are Cantonese."
---The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook, Gloria Bley Miller [Grosset & Dunlap:New York] (p. 15)

"...in 1847, the first Chinese immigrants settled in San Francisco and were followed by thousands who helped to build the transcontinental railways. The meals of hundreds of California families were influenced by cooks who were Chinese and had been hired as housemen in middle-class homes. They seldom were permitted to prepare Oriental meals, but they held to their art of serving vegetables that do to lose their crispness or color...Other Chinese were cooks for the work gangs...In the early California Chinese restaurants there was a willingness to cater to customers--some proprietors served their non-Chinese clients only what they thought those diners wanted, that is, chop suey and fried steak. Better restaurants gained fame on San Francisco's Grant Avenue, on or near New York's Mott Street, in Los Angeles, and every other American city of consequence, and the developing tastes for genuine Chinese food resulted in a vogue for home delivery of such easily portable items as egg rolls and chicken chow mein in paper buckets. But it wasn't until after World War II that Americans began consciously to augment their Oriental kitchen repertoires by attending classes in Chinese cooking and avidly sampling new tastes that became available in restaurants specializing in Mandarin, Hunan, Fukien, and Szechwan dishes in addition to those from Canton. This influence on American eating habits came after new political relationships encouraged interest in largely unknown regions of the People's republic, and many more Chinese entrepreneurs arrived to join what had been dominantly a Cantonese population in the United States..."
---American Food: The Gastronomic Story, Evan Jones, 2nd edition [Vintage Books:New York] 1981 (p. 166-7)

"The Chinese settled their own Chinatowns within major United States cities, where they opened chow chow eateries, identified by their triangular yellow flags. At first these small, cramped eateries catered to their own people, then expanded their menus to attract curious Americans who dared cross into those mysterious cities-within-cities...The cookery in these new Chinatowns was basically stir-fired, rice-based Cantonese, whcih efficiently utilized every part of the animal... Americans not used to such economy were often dismayed by what they found in their rice bowl...Most of these eateries were primitive in design and atmosphere...Before ling, however, Chinese cooks learned how to modify thier dishes to make them more palatable to a wider American audience. In fact, most of the Chinese restaurants outside of Chinatown proclaimed in their windows that they were Chinese-American, lest Occidental customers shy away for fear of being served duck feet and bird's nests.By the 1920s, Chinese restaurants dotted the American landscape, and one was as likely to find a chop suey' parlor in Kansas City as in New York or San Francisco, even though the typical menu in such places bore small resemblance to the foods the Chinese themselves ate. Many dishes were cloyingly sweetened with caramel and sugar, inundated with pineapple chunks and maraschino cherries, and fried in thick batters, while the ubiquitious flaming appetized platter called pu pu...was first served as a gimmick by Victor Bergeron at his Trade Vic's Polynesian-American restaurants in Oakland and San Francisco. Won ton soup, egg rolls, barbecued spareribs, sweet-and-sour pork, and beef with lobster sauce were all concocted to whet Americans' appetites, and to this day, it is standard procedure for an American in an Chinese restaurant to be handed a two-columned menu written in English, while a completely different menu printed in Chinese will be given to a Chinese patron, who, in any case, would probably disregard it and order from the specials written in pictographs on the walls. "Going for Chinese" became very much an American expression, and when Americans began moving to the suburbs in the 1950s and 1960s, Chinese restaurants followed on their heels,particularly in suburban shopping malls....Perhaps more important to the success of the Chinese-American restaurant was its readiness to serve food at any and all hours and to pack it up and deliver it with dispatch, all at prices no other ethnic group could match. Chinese take-out went hand in hand with Americans' historic penchant for gobblingh up lots of cheap food in as little time with as little fuss as possible."
---America Eats Out, John Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 76-80)
[NOTE: This book has far more information than can be paraphrased here. Ask your librarian to help you find a copy]

"Much of what passes for Cantonese cooking in the Western World would sicken a traditional Cantonese gourmet. Canned pineapple, canned cherries, and even canned fruit cocktail; enourmous quantities of dehydrated garlic, barbecue or Worcestershire sauce; canned vegetables, corn starch, monosodiumglutamate, cooking sherry, and heavy doses of sugar are found in many of these bizarre creations. This fusion of pseudo-Cantonese and pseudo-Polynesian food can be traced to a renegade Cantonese chef at Trader Vic's in California. The basic formula appears to be: take the fattest, rankest pork you can get; cook it in a lot of oil with the sweetest mixture of canned fruits and sugar you can make; throw on a lot of MSG and cheap soy sauce; thicken the sauce to gluelike consistency; and serve it forth. The Cantonese regard the whole business as proof that Westerners are cultureless barbarians, but they cook it, and now even many Taiwan Chinese (having eaten Cantonese food only in cafes catering to American G.I.'s) are convinced that this is typical Cantonese cooking." ---Food in China, E.N. Anderson [Yale University Press:New Haven CT] 1988 (p. 212-3)

RECOMMENDED READING

  1. Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America/Andrew F. Smith editor
    ..."Chinese American Food," "Japanese American Food," and "Korean American Food."
  2. Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads/Sylvia Lovegren,"Chinese Food in America" (p. 85-113)
  3. Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States/Andrew Coe
  4. Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food/Jennifer 8. Lee
Chinese-American Cook Books:


Japanese-USA restaurants
Tracing the origin, evolution and dispersion of Japanese restaurants in the USA is a complicated and challenging project. Early print (English-language newspaper/ magazine) evidence provides location markers, but poor indicators of actual restaurant activity. Presumably, Japanese eating establishments existed in the earliest Japanese-American enclaves. The earliest of these coincided with Chinatowns. A study of Japanese immigration patterns may provide a more accurate predictor of the earliest restaurants in foreign cities. Also worth noting: strong Japanese presence in 19th century Hawaii (long before the state was admitted in 1958) merits examination.

At any rate, USA print evidence for Japanese eateries commences in the last quarter of the 19th century. The Mikado (opera) played a key role in enticing mainstream Americans to sample Japanese fare. A popular London exhibition inspired trendy New York chef/restaurateur Louis Sherry to feature Japanese inspired Anglo foods to the city's culinary elite. Tenuous relations between the USA and Japan in following decades temper the attitude/growth of ethnic restaurants. In the 1920s all things Japanese were chic and "bohemian'; during WWII Japanese-American restaurants were protested, unpatronized, confiscated, & shuttered.

It was not until after WWII modern Japanese restaurants, as we Americans know them today, flourished. In addition to standard Japanese restaurants, Tea rooms, Noodle bars, Steak Houses, and Sushi bars proliferated.

General overview
"Japanese restaurants were almost unknown in the United States until well after World War II. New York had a few in the 1930s--Toyo-Kwan, Daruma, and Miyako, for instance--all serving a simple menu of sukiyaki, teriyaki, and tempura dishes, which even squeamish Americans could enjoy. Sushi bars did not make an appearance until 1957 when Moto Saito opened Saito restaurant in Manhattan. Dressed in traditional Japanese garb, Saito would instruct her customers on the correct way to eat raw fish--something completely foreign to most Americans--and sushi and sashimi restaurants grew in number in the 1970s, creating in popularity a decade later. Other Japanese restaurants invented dishes especially for the American palate: New York's Nippon introduced negikami, rolls of beef wrapped around scallions in soy sauce. In California, the "California roll"--Japanese pidgin English for a morsel of sushi made with vinegared rice, avocados, and cucumbers--was a hit. By far the most impressive gimmick to come out of the immigrant experience was the Japanese steakhouse, opened with thirty thousand dollars by immigrant Rocky Aioki in New York in 1964. He called his twenty-eight seat restaurant Benihana of Tokyo, based on the idea of the Japanese teppanyaki steel griddle...By the mid-1980s Aioki's Benihana restaurants were located in every major American city, grossing sixty million dollars annually."
---America Eats Out, John Mariani [William Morrow:New York] 1991 (p. 80)

[1884: London]
"As one of the practical illustrations of food...a 'Nippon Rioriya,' or Japanese restaurant, has been opened by Mr. Matsusawa, of Tokyo. With Japanese chefs, chopsticks, and the small dinner service peculiar ot Japan, there is left little doubt as to the authenticity of the viands; they posses an aromatic flavor so totally different from that to which one is accustomed. Here is a specified bill of fare, for which a dollar is charged, including tea and sake, or Japanese wine, while paper napkin and a Japanese fan are presented to every diner: misoshiru, or soup from a fermented mixture of Soy beans, wheat and a salt; kuchitori, a dish composed of fresh eggs and sea-weed, fetched up from a depth of three hundred feet, kept for a long time and boiled twenty hours; hachimono, or roast; choku, dressed vegetables; ham, boiled rice; wanmori, soup; sunomo, salad; and konomono, vegetables, salted or preserved in miso (the fermented mixture above-mentioned). Be it observed that the courses do not follow one another in regular order, but are served altogether, in little porcelain saucers and lacquered wooden bowls, on a diminutive table, so that the diner can pick from each in turn, according to his own sweet will. The dining-room has been fitted up entirely in Japanese style, and the dinner is under the auspices of the Japanese Commissioner."
---"In the Food Gallery of the Health Exhibition, London, England," J.W.P., The American Architect and Building News, November 8, 1884 (p. 224)

[1885: New York]
"[Louis] Sherry's breakthrough came when the Mikado arrived in New York in 1885 and took the town by storm, just as it had in London. Overnight, all things Japanese were the height of fashion...Called upon to cater an exclusive post-theater party at a private town house, he created Mikado-themed cakes, with ices molded in the shape of the principal characters, each one holding tiny parasol."
---Appetite City: A Culinary History of New York, William Grimes [North Point Press:New York] 2009 (p. 113)

[1888: Seattle]
"Before I left the East I was told that ony one could obtain work in Washington Territory with entire ease. Trusting to this assurances, I at length found myself in Seattle with very few dollars left in my pocket...I had spent my last cent, with the exception of a few postage stamps, for a fifteen-cent dinner at a Japanese restaurant that day..."
---"Looking for Work," Morrison I. Swift, Christian Union, December 13, 1888 (p. 6)

[1892: San Francisco]
"There are Russian, and I believe Scandinavian and Japanese restaurants in San Francisco, but of these I can only speak by hearsay."
---"The Restaurants of San Francisco," Charles S. Greene, Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine," December 1892 (p. 8+)

[1896: Los Angeles]
"The Japanese restaurants, which are almost without exception 10-cent houses, are places where nobody need be ashamed to eat a meal. Their numerous imitators come very near them, but something is lacking, one thing being especially noticeable--the rude manner of the waiters. The Japs are universally suave and polite."
---"Ten-Cent Meals," Los Angeles Times, January 26, 1896 (p. 28)

[1903: New York]
"The St. Nicholas Garden has in a remarkably short time been transformed into a Japanese village. Every conceivable novelty characteristic of Japan has been introduced. Geisha girls serve tea, manicure the hands of everybody who wants them to and dress the tresses of visiting ladies. A Japanese restaurant stands on the side of a narrow street at the end of which is a prismatic fountain."
---"Stray bits from Stageland: Vaudeville and Gardens, Coney Island, Manhattan Beach," New York Times, August 30, 1903 (p. 25)

[1907: San Francisco]
"Ambassador Wright cabled information obtained through Japanese channels that Japanese restaurant and a Japanese bathhouse in San Francisco had been demolished by a mob."
---"Japan Complains of Fresh Assaults: Details of Rioting in San Francisco," New York Times, May 26, 1907 (p. 5)

[1949: New York]
"Miyako. 20 West 56th...Japanese restaurant which had many, many years of popularity behind it, acquired on West 58th Street near Ninth Avenue, when it moved into these more impressive quarters--a substantial manion which has been orientalized in decor and equipped with a picturesque iron-trimmed outdoor stairway. Ground floor has neat bar and cocktail lounge. Lunching and dining are done on main floor, in what used to be front and back parlors and library. The principal specialties are the tempura--split shrimp fried in egg batter for dunking in soy-bean sauce--and the sukiyaki. The latter is cooked at table on your own private stove. Into a deep pan go thin slices of pork, beef, or chicken together with spinach, celery, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, sliced onions, and cubes of curds. They start hissing and are silenced by soy-bean sauce, followed by chicken broth. By the time this panful, simmered to the correct degree of tenderness, is dished out into plates on a tray before you, your appetite is on trigger edge. Open for luncheon, cocktails, and dinner every day of the week except Monday."
---Knife and Fork in New York, Lawton Mackall [Doubleday & Company:Garden City NY] 1949, end edition (p. 212) [NOTE: This is the only Japanese restaurant profiled in this book.]

First Chinese, Thai & Vietnamese restaurants in the USA.


Thai-USA restaurants
Researching "first" or "oldest" ethnic restaurants is challenging because online access to newspapers is spotty and one has to employ a variety of geographical synonyms (in this case: Thai, Thailand, Siam, Siamese, Bankok). Most folks emigrating from Asian countries land first on the West Coast. That's generally where the first markets and restaurants offering Asian regional cuisine surfaces. Thai restuarants may be an exception to this rule.

Jennifer Cronk, Curator of Collections at the Aurora History Museum [CO], sent us an article from the Denver Post (undated, maybe 1963) featuring Lai-iad [Lily] Chittivej, who opened a Thai restaurant in Denver. A most unlikely place, until you read her remarkable story:

[1959: Denver, Chada Thai]
"Ancient Thailand's answer to the unsinkable Mollly Brown is living, appropriately enough, right in Colorado. And, she's kept afloat by the Chada Cafe at 408 E. 20th Ave., which she owns and operates herself (A chada is an elaborate gold crown.). 'Molly,' is Lai-iad Chittivej, whose American friends call her Lily. She has publsihed her own newspaper in Thailand, discussed socialism with Clement Atlee and advised Thai politicans. But now her major interest is her Denver food business, both for the sake of her children and because the political climate isn't healthy for her at home. 'I want my children to have a good education in a civilized country,' she said in an interview. 'There is no room for all smart students in Thailand, and the ones who fail to get into a university often commit suicide. Here the children have a chance,' After 26 years of marriage, to a Thai army doctor, Lily has five living children...Lily's husband came to Denver in 1960 to practice at Fitzsimmons and Colorado General hospitals. She owned a pharmaceutical company, which she sold to pay for her visit here. She planned to stay five months. But she liked Denver so much--and political pressures were so strong in Thailand--that she decided to stay, even when Dr. Chittijev returned home in 1961...Lily and her family keep the cafe humming six days a week, sometimes working in the kitchen until 1 a.m. 'We've had the place for some moths...Some of the Thais in Denver said it would be a big mistake, that Americans don't like spiced food. 'You go broke' they told me. But I wanted to prove I could succeed, and I did.' This is a far cry from Lily's life at home. Her grandfather was a wealthy landowner and her father was a captain in the Siamese Air Force in World War I...She fed the buffalos on her grandfather's dfarm and went on to study midwidvery...'I was a real society girl...Lots of servants, soft hands with long painted nails. I'd learned to cook a long time ago but had to practice a lot here. Then I taught the children.' The kitchen has replaced politics as her major interest."
---"Thai Woman in Denver: Food Business Replaces Politics in Lily's Life," Barbara Haddad, Denver Post (undated, 1963?, with photo of Lily.]
[NOTES: (1) There is conficting evidence regarding the year this restaurant opened. Most sources state 1959: "The Original Chada Thai, open from 1959 to 1972, was one of the nation's first Thai restaurants."---"Nibbles," Rocky Mountain News, January 12, 2007 (accessed via NewsBank database). The article above states Dr. Chittivej arrived in Denver in 1960; it does not state when his wife arrived. (2) Lily's Cook Book: Recipes from the Chada Thai Restaurant/Prampian Coutts and Lily Chittijev was published in 1975. It is 30 pages and we do not yet own a copy. (3)
Chada Thai exists today, managed by a family member. The location is different: ]

[1968: Los Angeles, unnamed]
"The menu here is crammed with noodles: Thai rice noodles, Chinese egg noodles, Vietnamese rice stick noodle soup, even stir-fried spaghetti. "My whole life I've been involved in restaurants," says John Mekpongsatorn, the 23-year-old restaurateur who created Noodle World, an Alhambra eatery that combines a Denny's-style fast food atmosphere with what amounts to a global tour of noodles. "My favorite thing to eat, of course, was noodles." Mekpongsatorn is the latest heir to a family dynasty of Asian cuisine that dates back to 1930 in Thailand. That year, his grandfather migrated from China to open a Chinese-Thai restaurant in Bangkok. In 1968, his father, Surabon, opened some of the first Thai restaurants in the Los Angeles area. John Mekpongsatorn decided his own restaurant would consolidate all his favorites in one menu, and offer hefty portions of quick, cheap, flavorful food. Noodle World, 46 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra. Hours 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily. (818) 293-8800."
---"Trip for Noodles Will Do a World of Good," Deborah Sullivan, Los Angeles Times, March 2, 1995 (p. 18) [NOTE: this article does not mention the name of Surabon's restaurant.]

[1969: Los Angeles, Thai Kitchen]
"The first Thai restaurant in Los Angeles...opened in 1969, on Vermont Avenue and Eighth Street, and was by all accounts little more than a food shop with a few tables. (It closed in the early 70's and no one seems to able to remember its name.)."
---"With Satay and Tiger Prawns, Fiery Thai Food Is a Hit in L.A.," Colman Andrews, Los Angeles Times, July 8, 1990 (p. XX6)

"This is some of what is burned and gone, just within walking distance of my apartment: Vim and Arunee and the Thai Kitchen on Vermont just north of Ninth, among the oldest Thai restaurants in Los Angeles..."
---A Neighborhood Just West of Downtown," Jonathan Gold, Los Angeles Times, May 7, 1992. (p. 27)

"Dining experiences in Los Angeles have been enriched by the recent addition of several Thai restaurants, serving a cuisine that resembles the Chinese, the Indonesian and the Indian, but makes its own clear statement that there are more flavors on heaven and earth than have yet been put together. The restaurants are worth the attention of connoisseurs, not only because the foods are subtle and rewarding, but because they are fresh and new, not yet weakened by the gentle American art of compromise. The Orient is a small, spare, ordered restaurant, owned by Parneet Kongkeo and his sister, Aree Kongkeo, who is the chef."---"Roundabout," Lois Dwan, Los Angeles Times, February 7, 1971 (p. 57) "One reason for the increase in Thai restaurants in Los Angeles is that we now have 6,000 Thai students here."
---"Roundabout," Lois Dwan, Los Angeles Times, April 4, 1971 (p. C64)

[1967: First Thai restaurant in London, Bangkok Restaurant]
"...The Bangkok Restaurant on Bute Street, oldest Thai restaurant in London...still has some chic."
---"Bangkok on the Thames," Charles Perry, Los Angeles Times, January 31, 1982 (p. K87)

"Bangkok, 14 Bute Street SW7...Open: Tuesday-Saturday...Seats: 36...Average price L1.50-L2.
The Bangkok, in South Kensington, is obviously a roaring success with local inhabitants; quieter parties from other parts of London like it too. It was opened in 1967 by Mr Bunnag and his family who still run it today. Mr Bunnag originally came to London as a diplomat with the Thai Embassy. He was here so long that he didn't want to move on. Opening a restaurant seemed to be a good way of staying. The cooking, which is as authentic as Mrs Bunnag can make it in London, is very simple, skilful and admirable. It's not a cross between Indian and Chinese; it lies somewhere between the two. Ginger and chilli give some dishes a hot spiciness; vinegar, soy sauce and ginger give others a touch' of sweet and sour. Everything is sliced thinly and cooked briefly and quickly. The menu is not long but everything on it is so popular it's never been altered since they began. Start with one of the clear clean soups or sate, which at the Bangkok is made form little pieces of marinated beef skewered and grilled, eaten with a peanut sauce, little squares of toast and thinly sliced pickled cucumber. Main dishes include fried trout with sweet and sour sauce, slices of beef with ginger, green pepper, chilli or oyster sauce; pork is sweet and sour, barbecued or with chilli; chicken is fried, cooked with chilli, with mushroom curry, or with ginger. Rice is recommended with all main dishes; plain, fried or with vegetables, but the best of all is Thai rice-noodles. These are noodles made from rice-flour, with egg, shreds of pork, bean sprouts, peanuts, vinegar, sugar and soy sauce all stirred in. It's very hard to stop eating them. Scalding hot jasmine tea is served throughout the meal; there is a wine list, ane Pilsner beer for those who like it. Desserts of of fresh orange in syrup or lychees. Service is rapid, everything is piping hot and spotless. The busy, brightly-lit kitchen is open to full view at the far end of the restaurant, more to save space than to display the dexterity of the cooks, but it is nice to be able to watch everything going on including the washing-up. The dining room is by contrast dark and elegant making much use of teak, black leatherette and cork. The clever Mr Bunnag designed all this himself. The whole restaurant is a beautiful example of what can be done with talent, taste and hard work."
---Cheap Eats in London, Susan Campbell with Alexandra Towle [Penguin Books:New York] 1975, 1976 (p. 180-181)

Good news! The Bangkok Restaurant still operates today in the original location.

First Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese restaurants in the USA.


Vietnamese-USA restaurants
Our survey of historic USA newspapers suggest Vietnamese-American restaurants first surfaced in the USA in the early 1960s. For a long time they quietly offered traditional food to expatriated nationals. As the Vietnamese War escalated and civilians immigrated abroad, more restaurants opened. The American palate traditionally welcomes exotic combinations and new flavors. In the 1970s Chinese food was "mainstream" and westernized Japanese cuisine (think: Benihana) was chic. The subtle blends of Vietnamese flavors took most Americans by surprise.

[1961]
The oldest print reference we find for a Vietnamese restaurant in the USA was published in 1961: Craig Claiborne wrote: "When it is a question of restaurants, New York could be called an international festival. The most recent establishment to join the roster of oriental dining rooms is the Viet Nam, 1245 Amsterdam Avenue (near 122nd Street). It is a small, poorly air-conditioned, unpretentious place with an interesting cuisine modestly priced. It is reputedly the only Vietnamese restaurant in America."
---"Restaurant on Review," New York Times, August 15, 1961 (p. 21)

[1971]
"There is apparently no Vietnamese restaurant in this country..."
---"She Learned How to Cook as a Girl in Hanoi," Raymond A. Sokolov, New York Times, July 22, 1971 (p. 40)

[1972]
"Eight years ago when Nguyen Ton Hoan went to work in Saigon, everyone he passed noticed his shiny chauffeur-driven limousine and the armed bodyguards who rode with them. Then, Dr. Hoan was Deputy Premier of South Vietnam. Now each morning he and his wife drive unnoticed the few miles from their home to the little Vietnamese restaurant they operate here [Riverside CA]...For nearly a year Dr. Hoan and his wife, sometimes with the aid of their children, have been serving imperial roll, shrimp Mekong and other delicacies to patrons who sit in booths upholstered in brown vinyl impressed with branding-iron-designs. The restaurant is wedged between a vacant storefront and a photographic studio in the this city 35 miles south of San Francisco. Dr. Hoan, 55 years old, greets each of his few patrons with a smile...He tells the inquiring diners that he is from Vietnam. Only rarely does he reveal his former role in the Saigon Government."
---"Ex-Saigon Aide a Restaurateur in California," New York Times, August 27. 1972 (p. 3)

[1973]
"It has taken a strangely long time for Los Angeles to acquire a Vietnamese restaurant. Paris has many and they are to be founding New York and San Francisco, but we have only the short-lived Le Relais, which was basically French with Vietnamese dishes to be specially ordered. The years spent in Vietnam, uncomfortable as they were, could not help but arouse interest in a cuisine that has been influenced by two of the greatest in the world and still manages to retain its own individuality...the Vietnamese do pretty much as they please; their way with food is entirely their own. Dishes may look familiar but they will not taste familiar. An all-purpose seasoning, nuoc mam, made form fish packed in salt and fermented, gives the characteristic flavor. There is apt to be a little hotness; scallions and cilantro, as well as other herbs, related by more pungent than sweet basil, are frequent garnishes, appealing to taste and sight. Nguyen Van Ung and Mme. Luong Thi Sinh, who recently opened Vietnam in Hollywood, also have a restaurant in San Francisco and I suspect they have already begun trying to please Americans who, predictably, are not to be charmed by fish sauce."
---"Roundabout," Lois Dwan, Los Angeles Times, September 16, 1973 (p. O65)

[1979]
"The oldest of the existing [Vietnamese] restaurants, Vietnam Pearl, opened in 1973 as Vietnam, a small, dark place on Hollywood Boulevard."
---"Vietnamese Food in L.A.: A Test Case, Lois Swan, Los Angeles Times, June 14, 1979 (p. N118) [This restaurant review also includes Than Phong (sometimes Mekong), 5051 Hollywood Blvd. and Saigon Flavor, 1044 S. Fairfax. No establishment dates offered for these restaurants.]

[1986]
"Today, America is home to almost 500,000 Vietnamese immigrants,...and there are Vietnamese restaurants throughout the country. Yet, in New York--a city that seems to revel in ethnic diversity and savor the culinary riches that provides--first rate Vietnamese restaurants offering authentic Vietnamese food are comparatively hard to find. In the Vietnamese restaurants that do exist, the kitchen repertory is often limited, Americanized or both."
---"Vietnamese Restaurants: Room to Grow," Craig Claiborne, New York Times, June 4, 1986 (p. C3)

[1995]
"In 1993, there were 12, 266 Vietnamese-born people living in the five boroughs [of New York City]...Most of those who are opening restaurants are clustering them in Chinatown...Although Manhattan does not have the largest Vietnamese population in the city, it does have the largest number of Vietnamese restaurants (at least 11 in Chinatown), along with two supermarkets and at least one bookstore...The first of Chinatown's Vietnamese restaurants opened in 1981; two opened this year alone."
---"Chinatown, Meet Vietnam," Elaine Louie, New York Times, September 20, 1995 (p. C1)

"In the last couple of years, Vietnamese restaurants have opened in midtown, the Upper East and Upper West Sides, SoHo, Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope. At least six new establishments have crowds of eager customers willing to stand in line for tables. More places are on the way. And many American chefs have begun to add touches of Vietnam--like the fresh salad rolls of vegetables, noodles and herbs in fresh rice-paper wrappers--to their menus."
---"Vietnamese Cuisine, All Around Town," New York Times, Florence Fabricant, September 20, 1995 (p. C6)

[1998]
"Ten years ago, you could count on one hand the number of New York restaurants serving Vietnamese food. Nowadays you need two hands, two feet and maybe a few more bodies to count them all."
---"Vietnamese," New York Times, October 23, 1998 p. E43)

[2008]
"Since the beginning of the Vietnamese diaspora in the 1970s, some regions of the United States have become home to large numbers of ex-pats. Southern California, Texas, and Virginia are known within the Vietnamese community for having Vietnamese restaurants of quality. The first large group of Vietnamese immigrants brought with them the spicier, herbaceous foods of southern Vietnam and the more Westernized flavor palate of central Vietnam. Later, the simple and inexpensive soups from the colder north became omnipresent in Vietnamese restaurants."
---"Keep on Truc-ing," Tricia Childress, Creative Loafing, May 7-May 13, 2008 (p. 57)

[2011]
The Reference USA database lets you compile custom lists by type of business and location. According to this source there are 1,840 Vietnamese restaurants currently operating in the USA. This count does not include food trucks or street vendors, composing a significant part of this culinary market. You can run the numbers for each state if you want. Ask your (public/school) librarian about database access.

First Chinese, Japanese & Thai restaurants in the USA.


Johnny Kan, restaurateur
Credited for introducing Americans to
Peking Duck and Chinese Chicken Salad, this innovative man laid the foundation for fusion cuisine. He also taught Danny Kaye to cook.

[1941]
"San Francisco--Once more the temple bells will ring out in San Francisco's old Chinatown; again the colored paper lantern will bob in the evening breeze, and the monster dragon will emerge to wind a sinuous course down Grant Avenue behind glaring torches and throbbing drums. San Franciscans and out-of-town visitors will throng the sidewalks and attend gay dinner parties at Johnny Kan's Cathay House, Tommy Tong's Lion's Den and elsewhere. In this manner the largest Oriental settlement, outside of China will mark its third annual Bowl of Rice party on May 2, 3, and 4. The proceeds of the parties are devoted to feeding China's destitute civilians..."
---"San Francisco 'Bowl of Rice,'" New York Times, April 27, 1941 (p. XX3)

[1941]
Photograph of Johnny Kan, courtesy of the Museum of San Francisco.

[1957]
"Nobody need be frustrated about not being able to visit China. Right here in San Francisco there is a complete Chinese city of 30,000 where anybody homesick for Peking can find dried fish stomachs, dried balloon-fish heads, dried duck feet and cerise cuspidors embossed with chirping robins. Alla same old country. Chinatown covers 12 square blocks, but the most exciting Oriental alley is Grant Ave., where the lampposts are pagoda lamps festooned with temple bells and dragons entwining the steel bamboo shafts. They cast an amber glow over the largest Chinese community in the hemisphere, while music from the old Yangtze eddies from the second-story windows with all the melody of a dozen lovesick cats. Long strings of lanterns looped between the lampposts, shine on the great restaurants like Kan's....Kan's where the visiting Hollywood stars come for supper, will not serve chow mein, chop suey or coffee. But inside Kan's gold walls you can find a dish called Precious Flower Egg which, one might think, ought to be delivered by armed waiters from Brink's. But is is only a mushroom omelet. And if you order it a day ahead, there is melon soup served in a pumpkin-size winter melon which has been steamed for seven hours. Peking Duck also takes a day to prepare, mainly because the skin has to be coated with honey and then faced toward a southeast wind. Sometimes, when Kan is becalmed, he has been known to use a Westinghouse fan. Peking duck is served with Thousand-Layer Buns, a lump of white dough that resembles a dumpling or may be a just-brown-and-serve roll served before it was browned. A thousand-layer bun is supposed to peel into 1000 layers but I could only get four out of mine, and there is talk among local wise men that the thousand-layer bun has been devaluated. Dishes like duck can be washed down with Three-Star Sparkling Cider, and an similarity between this Hong Kong bellywash and cream soda is purely coincidental. It is made after an old recipe by a local Oriental combine called Belfast Beverages, Inc....Of course, some Chinese places have become mixed up with American traditions, producing such ice-cream parlors as the Fong Fong Fountain which makes ginger, lichee and Chinese fruit ice cream, and serves chop suey sundaes..."
---"Tong Wars are Things of the Past in Chinatown But You Can Hooked on Chop Suey Sundaes," Horace Sutton, Los Angeles Times, July 28, 1957 (p. E8)

[1972]
"Funeral services will be held Monday for Johnny Kan, world renowned gourmet and Chinatown restaurateur, who died of cancer Thursday, He was 66. Kan, a native of Portland Ore., was credited with being the first Chinese-American to introduce Peking duck to Caucasian diners. Early in his career, he initiated the Chinese Kitchen, a 1940 venture said to be the first delivery service for Chinese food. Kan, who had lived all but his first four years in San Francisco's Chinatown, opened the first large soda fountain and Chinese bakery in Chinatown in 1935 and originated such concoctions as lichee, kumquat and ginger ice cream. After service with the Army in World War II, Kan made plans for the elegant establishment that became widely known to tourists--Kan's Chinese Restaurant. It became a gathering place for Hollywood film stars, celebrities and socialites. He leaves his wife, Helen; a daughter, Patricia Lee of Los Angeles; and two sisters, Ruth Wong and Mary Yip of Los Angeles. Services will be held at the Chapel of Chimes in Oakland."
---"Services set for S.F. Restaurateur J. Kan," Los Angeles Times, December 10, 1972 (p. A6)

[1974]
"For more years than I can recollect, I have been lunching and dining at Kan's in San Francisco, on Grant Ave. in Chinatown, which I have always felt was one of the outstanding Chinese restaurants in this country. Like every great restaurant, this is a place where, if you wish to plan a special menu for a party of friends, should consult with the owner several days in advance about what you want. Then you will get a really remarkable meal. Johnny Kan, who owned Kan's, was one of my oldest friends, and I have always considered his chef, Pui, to be one of the finest Chinese chefs I know. Johnny's widow, Helen, now runs the establishment in her quiet and efficient way and had done a tremendously good job of maintaining the high standards set by her husband. Recently, friends and I had a dinner party at Kan's which featured a number of my favorite dishes. We had Gold Coin Chicken, chicken cooked with Chinese ham, which is closely allied to Virginia ham, and extraordinarily good and some other dishes that were unusual and striking. One, quite different from most Chinese food in that it is called a salad, had a counterpoint of flavors that was captivating to the palate...."
---"A Contrapuntal Chinese Salad," James Beard, Los Angeles Times, September 5, 1974 (p. L6)

Sources for additional information: Museum of San Francisco & the San Francisco Public Library.


California rolls
The California roll [aka Kappa Maki, Cucumber Roll, California Maki, Kashu Maki] is a classic example of "American sushi," early fusion cuisine incorporating new ingredients into traditional Asian recipes. Food historians generally credit Ichiro Manashita, of the Tokyo Kaikan restaurant in Los Angeles, for "inventing" the California roll. Ken Seusa, of Kim Jo in Los Angeles, is also cited as the "inventor." The actual origin of this item is fuzzy. Why? California rolls, like many popular items evolved.

Our survey of historic USA newspapers confirms "California roll"-type dishes first surfaced in Los Angeles sometime in the early 1970s. These items were referenced under several names (see above aka). Actual descriptions of these early prototypes are rare. Those that exist confirm they did not include avocado, crab or mayonnaise. California Rolls, as we know them today, make their way to the plate in the late 1970s. The earliest reference we find for possible inspiration was an article profiling Chinese cuisine, circa 1973, featuring a recipe for "Cucumber Roll." In this case, the "roll" effect was the cucumber, not seaweed. Still? The concept is strikingly similar and worth noting. The earliest print reference we find describing the modern California Roll was published in 1978. The item was called "Kappa Maki."

About American Sushi:
"Sushi East and West. Many of the foods ordinarily associated only with Western cuisine harmonize astonishingly well with sushi rice...You will find this hybrid "East-West" sushi can be expanded to include many new tempting treats suited to your family's tastes. One tasty variation is the California roll, a slender mat-rolled sushi containing crab, avocado and cucumber. It is a great favorite in Los Angeles sushi shops, has spread to New York and is making a debut in Tokyo too. The creamy, rich, slightly oily avocado has something in common with the taste of fatty tuna."
---The Book of Sushi, Kinjiro Omae and Yuzuru Tachibana [Kodansha International:Tokyo] 1981 (p. 76)
Additional sushi history notes here.

When did California Rolls enter the scene?
"California roll....A form of sushi made with avocados, crabmeat, cucumbers and other ingredients wrapped in vinegared rice. It was supposedly created at a Japanese restaurant in Los Angeles named Tokyo Kaikan about 1973 for the American palate but has also gained popularity in Japan, where it is called kashu-maki, a literal translation of "California roll."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 53)

"California rolls, consisting of avocado, imitation crabmeat, and mayonnaise encased in rice with sesame seeds on the outside, are an excellent example of Japanese American food. The rolls were invented by Japanese chefs in Los Angeles during the 1970s for Americans who were squeamish about eating raw fish. California rolls became a popular addition to Japanese restaurant menus in the United States during the 1980s, and there were eventually exported back to Japan, although many sushi purists eschew them, as they were not a traditional Japanese food." ---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxfod University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 1 (p. 728)

Articles in the Los Angeles Times confirm Tokyo Kaikan was established 1973. This 1974 review confirms the establishment's popularity but omits reference to the "signature" California Roll some food historians attribute for being invented there. Of course, it is possible the item was on the menu and not sampled by the reviewer. It is more likely the item was added at a later date. We do know from an earlier review (LATimes, July 22, 1973 p. N71) the reviewer was familiar with "Kappa Maki," a cucumber-based sushi item. No other ingredients were mentioned. It is interesting to note "Maki" is the Japanese word for roll. But! "Kappa" does not mean cucumber. It is a mythological figure that associated with cucumber eating.

"The Japanese like their food to be beautiful and they want no precious taste lost to time or air. The beauty will often be in the presentation of the raw stuffs, arranged in patterns on the platters...There are also bars, to be found here mostly in Little Tokyo, usually preparing only one thing. Sushi is better at a bar...The new Tokyo Kaikan is the only place I know that combines four bars (sushi, tempura, shabu shabu, teppan yaki) with a trim formal dining room and the more familiar bar for American cocktails...Sushi can be either chirashi, which adds raw fish to a bowl of rice or the more familiar nigiri, the roll of rice with fish on top."
---"Roundabout," Lois Dwan, Los Angeles Times,, August 21, 1974 (p. F4)

"Tekka Maki (raw tuna laid on a bed of rice spread over a sheet of dried seaweed, then rolled up and cross-sectioned)... Kappa Maki (cucumber treated like the tuna mentioned above)...
---"Fifty four hours," Jessica Maxwell, Los Angeles Times, October 5, 1976 (p. J30)

"Southern California provides a top-notch opportunity to try sushi...sushi generally consists of nigiri--a small mound of vinegared rice, usually topped with a dab of wasabi (horseradish)--and a thin slice of seafood you select from the variety of fish, shellfish and other delicacies. Sushi selections are usually served in pairs, except for temaki--a sheet of nori spread with the vinegared rice and rolled up with strips of fish or cucumber in the middle...The avocado and crab roll--kappa maki--is very refreshing."
---"All About Sushi--Including Where to Sample the Best," Nancy Yoshihara, Los Angeles Times, January 17, 1978 (p. G4)

"There's a new breed of barhoppers in this town, but they're not searching for the perfect martini. Their prey is the silken flesh of fresh raw fish, served in thinly sliced slivers placed lovingly atop little mounds of vinegared rice. It's a traditional Japanese delicacy called sushi, dispensed by highly trained chefs to clients across shiny pine counters. To the uninitiated, the very thought of raw fish can be distressing, but these days, savvy Southern Californians--and others everywhere across the country--just can't seem to get enough of it...the sushi bar is a great place to make new friends...Those who go infor celebritywatching and know where to go can catch glimpses of such prominent sushi devotees as James Coburn, Richard Dreyfuss...Cheryl Ladd and Henry Winkler...Sushi is booming right now in Los Angeles...A self-described Japanese gourmet restaurant located at the top of the chic restaurant row area on La Cienga Boulevard, Kim Jo features a tempura bar and a tradtional Japanese menu. But its centerpiece is a top-of-the-line sushi counter presided over by veteran chef Ken Seusa. Mrs. Wade says Seusa invented the California roll, a crab, avocado and cucumber medley wrapped in rice and seaweed and one of the most popular items at any sushi bar. Mrs. Wade has several theories as to why sushi--and its riceless, straight-raw-fish companion, sashimi--have become so popular. 'No. 1. somehow or other Americans think Japanese cuisine is much more natural and dietetic than French, Italian or American cooking.' George Millman, part-owner of...Teru Sushi agrees 'Californian like clean and light food, which sushi is.'...Millman says a new breed of outgoing and helpful sushi chefs helped initiate Caucasians to the delights of raw fish."
---"Sushi Latest Food Fad," AP newswire [Los Angeles,] Indiana Gazette [PA], November 30, 1979 (p. 22)

"Another example of marrying Japanese techniques and American ingredients is the California roll. Loose sushi hand rolls are popular in Japan, but the version that calls for avocado, king crab meat, mayonnaise and rice wrapped in a sheet of papery black seaweed appeared in southern California sushi bars a few years ago. It has also become commonplace in New York and is apparently now being served in Japan as well."
---"Adapting American Foods to Japanese Cuisine," Florence Fabricant, New York Times, October 6, 1982 (p. C1)

Compare these recipes:

[1973]
Cucumber Roll

2 large cucumbers
4 cups water
salt
1 cup (1/2 lb.) crab meat
4 hard-cooked egg yolks
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Peel cucumbers, discarding ends, cut each in half crosswise. Put into water with 1 tablespoon salt, let stand about 20 minutes. Drain. Holding each cucumber piece upright and using a sharp knife, cut 1/4 inch thick around full length spirally to center. Dry well. Mix the crab meat, egg yolks mayonnaise and 1 teaspoon salt. Spread crab mixture on cucumber piece unrolled to lie flat. Reroll from center to outside to form pinwheel-type roll. Chill very well, about one hour. Slice 1/2-inch thick crosswise. Makes about 20 slices. Serve either on individual plates to eat with forks or chopsticks, or place each on a thin cracker or toast round so it can be eaten with the fingers."
---"Gourmets Go Chinese," Marjorie Krieg, Independent [Pasadena CA], January 17, 1973 (p. 16)

[1981]
"California Roll" (Rolled Sushi)

Makes about 24 pieces (3 rolls, 8 pieces each)
1 package nori (seaweed)
6 cups vinegar rice
About 5 to 6 pieces of cooked, chilled crab
1 California ripe avocado, thinly sliced
Sesame seeds, optional
Take a sundare (bamboo mat), lay flat on table. On it lay a piece of seaweed. Then spread vinegar rice the length of the seaweed, about 1-inch thick. Spread the same as for the sushi wasabi, the length of the roll. Put crab on, end to end, the entire length. Repeat using cucumber, then the avocado. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired. Begin rolling away from you, being careful to keep ingredients in place (when the edue of the surface touches the rice, lift it and finish rolling). Continue rolling, applying a slight amount of pressure to tighten the roll. Cut each roll into 3 pieces, about 1/2-inch thick. Serve with cut ends up."
---"Randi Oakes--The Flying Cook," Johna Blinn, Los Angeles Times Syndicate, News [Maryland], June 3, 1981 (p. D3)
[NOTE: Randi Oakes (actress) played the female officer in NBC-TV's popular CHIPs television series. She mentions the current popularity of Japanese Sushi in LA but was NOT a chef or professional restaurant critic.]

[1986]
"California roll
(4 servings)
Born in California, popularized by sushi chefs throughout the U.S., this sushi has also reached the shores of Japan, becoming a favorite with all sushi lovers. Its special filling of avocado, crab roe, sesame seeds, and cucumber make this roll beautiful and tasty.

4 crab sticks (steamed fish cake with crab flavor) or 1/4 pound cooked crab, shredded
1 small ripe avocado
1/2 European cucumber
2 sheets nori seaweed, toasted
4 cups Basic Sushi Rice
1 tablespoon wasabi paste
2 tablespoons crab roe

Slice crab sticks in half. Peel avocado and slice into 3/8-inch-thick pieces. Keep refrigerated until ready to use. Slice cucumber into julienne strips, 4 to 5 inches long. To assemble the sushi roll, follow the instructions for Futo-maki-Zushi. You should have neat rows of crab, avocado, cucmber, and crab roe fillings laying across the bed of rice. Don't forget to sprinkle with sesame seeds before you fill. You can have the rice side out by doing a reverse roll. On a bamboo mat lay a well-wrung piece of cloth approximately the same size as the mat. Take a handful of sushi rice and spread it over the mat. Lay a sheet of nori seaweed on top of the rice. Then lay the fillings as you would for regular California roll and roll it carefully, pressing with your hands to mold the rice into a roll. Gently remove the bamboo mat, peeling off the cloth at the same time. Cut the roll as you would a regular sushi roll."
---The Poetical Pursuit of Food: Japanese Recipes for American Cooks, Sonoko Kondo [Clarkson Potter: New York] 1986 (p. 147)


Bird's Nest Soup
Like
Shark's fin soup, bird's nest soup was traditionally valued for its healthful properties. It is most often served as soup. Is the traditional Chinese ingredient a real nest made by an actual bird? Yes. Mock bird's nest soup was crafted by Trader Vic for quasi-adventurous American diners in the 1960s. American Bird's Nest Pudding is totally unrelated, except for the name.

"One of the most distinctive Chinese delicacies is edible bird's nest (yen-wo), the white, translucent, gelatinous nest of various species of small swifts called swiftlets. The principal commercial species are the 'White-nest' or 'Edible-nest Swiftlet'...and the 'Black-nest Swiftlet'...The highest quality nests are those of the...'white' because they consist entirely of nest-cement, a salivary secretion, occasionally with a few feathers of nesting birds and bits of green vegetable matter...white nests, which require far less cleaning before use, command the highest prices by far, perhaps twenty-five times that of black nests... Why such an unusual food should have come into use at all remains a mystery, but one should note that in China birds' nests are not only a delicacy but a strengthening food and medicine...One reads...of the Chinese belief that the nest is made by a swiftlet from the windblown sea foam, that it is rich in minerals and other valuable elements form the sea, a distillation of the bird's qualities of vigor, strength, perseverance, potency, and fidelity. In traditional and modern China, bird's nest is considered nutritious and purifying."
---Food in China: A Cultural and Hsitorical Inquiry, Frederick J. Simoons [CRC Press:Boca Raton FL] 1991 (p. 427-429)

"Bird's nest (swallow's nest): Rare, expensive dried delicacy whose origins go back ten centuries. Not ordinary bird's nest, but an edible gelatinous coating produced by tiny swallows or swiftlets indigenous ot the South China Sea. The nests, beige in color, look like finely shredded and glazed coconut. Must be soaked and cleaned before use. When cooked, they separate into shreds and have a subtle, distinctive taste. (They're also high in proteins and vitamins because of the bird's diet of seaweed and marine plants.) Bird's nest soup is considered a mark of great hospitality and the high point in formal dinners. It's also used as a poultry stuffing and prepared with rock sugar as a sweet dish for wedding feasts. Bird's nest is available in three grades: The rarest and most expensive grades are the whole nests which look like small, shallow, transparent cups. (The best of these are nearly white, with few twigs and feathers.) Next are the curved chips of broken nests or "Dragon's Teeth." Last are ground-up bird's nest fragments, made into porous, brittle cakes."
---The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook, Gloria Bley Miller [Grosset & Dunlap:New York] 1975(p. 847)
[NOTE: This book has more information on bird's nest cookery. Your librarian can help you find a copy.]

"Bird's nest. The Eponymous ingredient of Chinese bird's nest soup is an expensive delicacy. The nests belong to a species of swiftlet, Collocalia whiteheadi, which is found in the Philippines and New Guinea. Patricia Arroyo Staub (1982) has explained that "The gathering of these nests is a formidable task of the intrepid sould who scale cliffs and mountains. Contrary to popular belief, the bird's nests are not found in the faces of the cliffs but in caves. Hence the gathering involves work in the nooks and crannies of caves which are dark and slippery. This makes it a rare and highly prized delicacy which is most precious to a Chinese food goumet and which has become popular among Filipinos...However, did to its ability to swell in boiling water, very small amounts are needed to make soup." In making thier nests, the birds cement scaffolding of tiny twigs together with a sticky substance which has been variously indentified as coming from regurgitated seaweed, such as agar-agar, or as being simlpy the bird's own saliva. Since it is the sticky substance which is finally absorbed by the persons eating the bird's nest soup, it seems to be an open question whether they are consuming a plant food or an animal food."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 74-5) If you want to learn more about this bird ask your librarian to help you find this book: Swifts: A Guide to Swifts and Treeswifts around the World, Phil Chantler. It is also possible this bird will show up in general bird identification books covering Asia.

"Bird's Nest Soup
8 servings
Ingredients
4 tablespoons pre-prepared bird's nest
2 tablespoons diced ham
1/4 cup water chestnuts
1/4 cp Cinese mushrooms
4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Preparation
Soak the bird's nest in lukewarm water for 30 minutes.
Clean off any foreign substance.
Soak mushrooms in warm water for 20 minutes. Dice.
Dice water chestnuts.
Dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 2 tablespoons water.

Cooking procedures
Heat4 cups chicken broth and add bird's nest. Boil over medium flame for 20 minutes.
Add water chestnuts, mushrooms and ham. Cook for 5 minutes.
Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and stir a few times.
Thicken with pre-dissolved cornstarch. Serve hot.

"The bird's nest called for in this recipe is the nest of a species of sea swallow that makes its home high on the coastal cliffs along the China Sea. These swallows build their nest out of various things floating in the sea, mostly an assortment of seaweeds. After years of exposure to the sun, rain and winds, the materials in the nests undergo a chemical change. The Chinese believe that ths chemical process lends a tonic value to the nests and that anyone who drinks half a cup of soup made from these nests is assured of good health and long life. Bird's-nest soup is expensive because of the scarcity of nests of the required variety and because of the labor involved in preparing them. Someone has to spend a lot of time separating feathers and down form the edible portions of the nest. Actually, the flavor of bird's-nest soup comes mainly from the chicken broth used in the preparation. Bird's nest in pre-prepared form is sold in Chinese food stores...and can be kept for years."
---The Pleasures of Chinese Cooking, Grace Zia Chu [Simon and Schuster:New York] 1962(p. 169-170)

"Mock Bird's Nest Soup
1 bundle long rice
6 cups rich chicken broth
4 large mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon MSG
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup finely minced fresh pork
1 cup finely chopped cured ham
1/2 cup chopped water chestnuts
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
2 2 /12 teaspooons chopped Chinese parsley
Cut long rice, with scissors, in quarter inch lengths and soak in hot water 30 minutes. Heat chicken broth. Meanwhile, wash mushrooms, trim stem ends and chop. Bring borth to a boil, add mushrooms, seasonings, pork and ham. Let simmer half an hour. Drain long rice and add to broth with water chestnuts. Simmer 5 minutes more. Stir beaten egg whites into hot brothe and serve immedately. Garnish each bowl of soup with 1/4 teaspooon chopped Chinese parsley. If not available, substitute regular parsley and use a little more--about 1/2 teaspoon per bowl. Serves 8 to 10."
----Trader Vic's Pacific Island Cookbook, Victor Bergeron [Doubleday & Company: Garden City NY] 1968 (p. 129)
[NOTE: Trader Vic also offers a recipe for
Mock Shark's Fin Soup.]

American Bird's Nest?
There is also an early American dessert called bird's nest pudding (aka crow's nest pudding). John F. Mariani describes it as "A very old New England fruit pudding (most commonly made with apples), usually with a crust and some kind of sauce. The finished dish somewhat resembles a bird's nest. It dates in print to 1833." (Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink [Lebhar-Friedman:New York 1999, p. 29). Recipe here:

"Bird's nest pudding.
If you wish to make what is called 'bird's nest pudding,' prepare your custard,--take eight or ten pleasant apples, pare them, and dig out the core, but leave them whole, set them in a pudding dish, pour your custard over them, and bake them about thirty minutes."
---The American Frugal Housewife, Mrs. Child, 1833 facsimile reprint [Applewood Books:Boston] (p. 63)


Chinese bread
Asian cultures are not generally known for bread. Grains are traditionally consumed as noodles, dumplings (wontons), and pancakes (accompaniment to Peking Duck) etc. But! Bread does exist. Steamed buns from North China is an often overlooked example. In cultures where fuel is scarce, *traditional* bake ovens requiring many hours of fuel were swapped for quickbreads cooked on the back of woks, steamed or boiled in water/broth. Some food historians assert the only places in the world without an indigenous bread culture are the North & South Poles. Why? The climate prohibits indigenous wheat or grain.

About bread in China

"A traditional form of steamed bread is prevalent in Northern China and Beijing, and is also distributed widely in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. The dough contains wheat flour, salt, a little sugar, shortening, and yeast. Round balls of it are placed in stacked bamboo baskets enclosed in a covered pot, where the bread rounds cook at a boiling temperature for about twenty minutes. Before being cooked, they may be stuffed with chopped meat (finely ground pork) or with shrimps or vegetables, with the dough forming pockets that are folded, knotted, and wrapped around the filling."
---The History of Bread, Bernard DuPaigne, translated from French by Antonio and Sylvie Roder [Harry N. Abrams:New York] 1999 (p. 226, 230)

"...what we today call mein ("noodles) was clearly a unique contribution by the Han to Chinese culinary art. In Han times, "noodle food," in a broad sense, was known as ping ("cakes"), while the character for mein was defined as wheat flour in the standard dictionary...That noodle foods came into existence in the Han period but not earlier may be explained by the simple fat that the techniques required for large-scale flour grinding were not available to the Chinese until the Han...We can...assume that the Han Chinese made wheat flour around the second half of the first century B.C. at the latest. The word ts'o was specifically coined for wheat grinding. Under the Later Han, a great variety of noodle foods were cooked, including boiled noodles, steamed buns (modern man-t'ou), and baked cakes with sesame seeds...The Western Chin writer Shy Hsi (late third and early fourth centuries)...made a special reference to the art of flour kneading in molding the flour dough into a variety of shapes."
---Food in Chinese Culture: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives, K. C. Chang, editor [Yale University Press:New Haven] 1977 (p. 81-2)

"The Chinese of Yuan and Ming times, as before and since, consumed cereal grains as the main item of each meal. That means rice, whether boiled or steamed or cooked into gruel, in central and south China. In the north, it means that they ate wheat or other flours made into steamed or baked breads..."
---Food in Chinese Culture (p. 200)

"In the North...wheat was eaten in the forms well known in modern times: dumplings, fried dough strips, and noodles. Ancestors of the modern shao-ping )"roast cakes," small breads covered with sesame seeds and baked on the sides of large ovens) were popular and apparently regarded as new. Shao-ping are actually diminutive versions of the standard Persian and Central Asian bread widely known as nan, and they were derived from that part of the world; in T'ang China they were exotic items baked by Central Asians in the big cities...Wheat-flour cakes of various kinds have been found in Central Asian T'ang sites."
---The Food of China, E. N. Anderson [Yale University Press:New Haven] 1988 (p. 66)
[NOTE: T'ang Dynasty was 618AD-907AD.]

"As told by E. N. Anderson...only among Turkic and Iranian groups in China's far northwest (Sinkiang) is true bread, presumably made with local yeast or sourdough leavening, the most important way in which wheat is consumed. Such bread, after baking on the inside walls of an oven is an inch or so in thickness, and often circular in shape and sprinkled with sesame seeds. This is, of course, and extension into China of Near Eastern practice, and indeed in Sinkaing the bread in question is usually known as nan, its Persian name. The Chinese, having had contact with Inner Asia and Iran since antiquity, prepare similar baked goods, too, but they are of quite minor dietary importance in China. Already in T'ang times a small, sesame-covered bread was sold by Central Asian bakers in Chinese cities, and it seems to have been a new introduction. Its descendant, most common of such baked goods in present-day China, is shao-ping...which are square, thin rolls, about six inches across, which are sprinkled with sesame seeds...Western influence, especially in cities with large Western communities such as Shanghai, has also encouraged the use of baked yeast bread...in Peking in the 1920's such bread was eaten only by families that were well off."
---Food in China: A Cultural and Historical Inquiry, Frederick J. Simoons [CRC Press:Boca Raton FL] 1991 (p. 89)
[NOTE: This book contains a section on the use of onions/garlic in Chinese cookery. While it does not specifically connect the use of these allums as an ingredient in Chinese bread (as one finds on a classic bialy), it does briefly mention: "Customary meals in Shantung inns consisted of rice, steamed bread, and garlic." (P. 158)]


Chop suey
Until recently, most food historians agreed "chop suey" was created in the USA in the late 19th century. A closer examination of Chinese texts suggests the recipe may indeed have originated in Canton. By the 20th century,
Americanized chop suey, casseroles totally devoid of any Oriental ingredients, became an economical family supper staple. Regional variations (Polish Chop Suey) reflected local taste and old world ingredients.

"The second famous "Chinese-American" dish to come out of the mining frontier is chop suey, the subject of some historical controversy. It has been common wisdom to say that chop suey...did not exist in old China. The stir-fried hash was invented, according to tradition, in a San Francisco restaurant during the wee hours one morning when a rowdy group of holidaying iners would not hear of the Chinese cook's plea that he had no food. Rather than risk a drubbing, the cook concocted chop suey of the day's scraps. Perhaps. At least one Chinese authority...insists that chop suey was intimately famliar to emigrants from Toisan, the region south of Canton that is the ancestral home of more than half the American Chinese. It does seem hard to believe that a people wracked by poverty had not thought to put together "miscellanious stuff" before they arrived at the "Golden Mountain."
---Bacon, Beans and Galantines: Food and Foodways on the Western Mining Frontier, Joseph R. Conlin [University of Nevada Press: Reno] 1986 (p. 192-3)

Mr. Conlin's alternate theory is confirmed here:
"Last of all, chop suey is not--as many would-be connoisseurs believe--an American invention. As Li Shu-fan points out in his delightful autobiography, Hong Kong Surgeon (1964), it is a local Toisanese dish. Toisan is an rural district south of Canton, the home for most of the early immigrants from Kwangtung to California. The name is Cantonese tsap seui (Mandarin tsa sui), "Miscellaneous scraps." Basically , it is leftover of odd-lot vegetables stir-fried together. Noodles are often included. Bean sprouts are almost invariably present, but the rest of the dish varies according to whatever is around. The origin myth of chop suey is that it was invented in San Francisco, when someone demanded food late at night at a small Chinese restaurant. Out of food, the restaurant cooked up the day's slops, and chop suey was born. (The "someone" can be a Chinese dignitary, a band of drunken miners, a San Francisco political boss, and so on.)"
---Food of China, E. N. Anderson [Yale University Press:New Haven] 1988 (p. 212-3)

More information, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

What is America Chop Suey?
A stir fried celebration of authentic, modified, exotic, and mainstream cuisine. Every dish tells a story. Early American chop sueys
mirrored original intent by featuring Oriental ingredients. They were considered exotic fare. Before long, "Americanized" versions, built with familiar ingredients (ground beef, tomatoes, macaroni), slipped into the pot. Any random economical dish composed of various ingredients could be called "chop suey." Desserts assumed this popular this moniker too. Think: Chop suey cake & Chop suey ice cream sundaes.

Mainstream American chop suey recipes divide neatly into two categories: company product promotions and collective immigrant experience. The common thread is "making do" with what's on hand tonight. The concept motivating this particular recipe transcends time, geography, culture and cuisine. Polish chop suey is found in Milwaukee. New England-style American chop suey is arguabley inspired by Italian cuisine. Could it be that "chop suey" was at one time the collective Anglo-American name for anything foreign?

"American chop suey. Of course the "real" chop suey is American, too, a nineteenth-century creation, its said, of the Chinese who cooked for men laying the track for the Pacific Railroad. This altogether different, twentieth-century chop suey enjoyed a certain faddishness in the teens and '20s. This recipe is reprinted from the Larkin Housewives Cook Book (1915). Larkin, as this recipe makes clear, not only processed and packaged a wide array of food but also sold a variety of kitchen gadgets."
---American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century, Jean Anderson [Clarkson Potter:New York] 1997 (p. 106)

"American Chop Suey. American food culture was formed in an environment that was resource-rich and labor-poor. There has always been a premium on one-pot sautes or quick stews, and these have sometimes acquired fanciful names like slumgullion (perhaps from Salmagundi), or mulligan stew (perhaps from slumgullion), or Finnish American mojaka...In old New England, a random collection of smothered meat and potatoes was known as potato bargain or necessity mess...During the Great Depression, the names of foreign mixed dishes, such as goulash, hodgepodge (perhaps from hachepot), or chop suey, were applied to quick assortments of meat, vegetables, and potatoes, and sometimes even to desserts with mixed ingredients. American chop suey, however, eventually became somewhat standardized, especially in institutional catering, as a stew or casserole of beef, celery, and macaroni--none of which seeems especially Chinese. Chinese restaurant chop suey was itself a poorly defined American invention and basically another mixed stew. A likely origin for American chop suey is a recipe for Chop Suey Stew in the 1916 Manual for Army Cooks, a text for many institutional foods of the twentieth century. The army recipe could be made with either beef round or pork shoulder, beef stock, barbecue sauce, and salt. By 1932, the Navy's cookbook had added cabbage and green peppers. Practical Home Economics (1919) has a recipe entitled Chop Suey that adds tomatoes and parsley and omits the onions and cabbage. All these early recipes leave out soy sauce, but suggest serving the stew over rice. More recent recipes simplify the service by dropping the rice and mixing in cooked macaroni, but they tend to restore some amount of soy sauce unless using Italian tomato sauce. As distinct from Chinese restaurant chop suey, American chop suey is in the early twenty-first century is usually made with beef instead of pork; the vegetables are usually restricted to celery and onions; and macaroni often replaces rice."
---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 1 (p. 35-6)

[1902]
"Chop suey, the national dish of China for at least twenty-five centuries bids fair to become a standard food in this country. There are some sixty Chinese restaurants scattered over the different boroughs of Greater New York whose chief attraction is this popular composition, and several American restaurants have endeavored to take advantage of its popularity by adding it to their daily bill of fare. There is a ridiculous amount of mystery concerning this dish. It is simple, economical, and easily made. The genera; formula is as follows: One pound of moderately lean fresh pork, cut into pieces a quarter of an inch thick, a half an inch wide, and an inch long; two chicken livers, chopped up to the size of dice; two chicken gizzards, cut into slices the size of a nickel, and each ring pinked with the lines almost meeting in the center. The heat of cooking causes the fibers to shrink and converts the circle into a many-pointed star. A quarter of a pound of celery cut into slivers, a quarter of a pound of canned mushrooms, and a quarter of a pound of green peas, chopped string beans, asparagus tips, bean sprouts, or salsify. These are thrown into a frying pan over a hot fire, covered with a cup of water, four tablespoonfuls of peanut oil, oilive oil, or melted butter, a tablespoonful of chopped onion, half a clove of garlic, grated salt, white pepper, and red pepper. If the fire is hot enough, these will cook in five minutes. The contents of the pan chould be stirred to prevent burning, and the moment the water boils out fresh water should be added in small quantities to prevent frying. The dish could be served promptly, and is not only palatable but wholesome and easily digested. In place of pork, mutton can be employed, while chicken liver and gizzard may be replaced by those of the turkey. Some Chinese cooks use the Indian soy, which is sweeter. The effect can be imitated by adding a teaspoonful of Worcestershire sauce and another of brown sugar or a teaspoonful of molasses. An agreeable modification results from the use of asparagus tips along with the other vegetable ingredients, whil the Singapore variety is obtained by stirring in a tablespoonful of curry paste. In the Chinese restaurants the cost varies from ten to twenty-five cents a plate, the expensive dish containing a fair amount of the best imported mushrooms."
---"Chop Suey More Popular: How the Favorite Dish of the Chinaman Is Prepared," New York Times, July 27, 1902 (p. 24)

[1914]
Chop Sueys
, Chinese-Japanese Cook Book/Sara Bosse & Onoto Watanna

[1915]
"American Chop Suey

Cook one half package of Larkin Short-Cut Macaroni in boiling salted water for twenty minutes. While this is cooking put two onions and one-half pound of round steak through a Larkin Food-Chopper. Brown in a hot pan with a piece of butter or beef drippings. Drain water from macaroni, add one can of Larkin Tomatoes, season with Larkin Salt and Pepper, then add steak and onions and cook slowly for thirty minutes. Serve piping hot. This is sufficient for six persons."
---Larkin Housewives' Cook Book [Larkin Co.: Buffalo NY] 1915 (p. 23)

[1931]
"Chop Suey

Buster Keaton Contributes His Favorite Dish--Chop Suey.
An iron pot is used in making this dish, greased with three tablespoons peanut oil. One cup raw lean pork is cut into cubes, put into pot and allowed to cook until brown. After the pork is brown a preparation of vegetables, mixed, is placed in pot and allowed to steam-- tight-fitting lid makes this possible--first cooking it 10 minutes while stirring. This mixture consists of two and one-half cups water, chestnut cut into cubes, two and one-half cups bamboo shoots, two cups Chinese greens, cut into small pieces, two cups chopped celery, cut into small pieces; once cup onions, chopped into small pices; three cups canned mushrooms, chopped into small pieces; five cups bean sprouts, one-half cup chopped salted almonds. After steaming for 30 minutes chicken stock is added to moisten. Next two tablespoonfuls cornstarch mixed with chicken stock is added to thicken it. If this becomes too thick a little more chicken stock is added to thin it. Next a whole roast chicken, cut into dices--being careful to use o skin or fat part of the chicken--is put into the iron pot and cooked slowly for 10 or 15 minutes with a cup of 'Soy' sauce added to season it and give it the proper dark color. (Most of these ingredients are purchased in Chinatown. This recipe takes care of about eight persons.)---Buster Keaton."
---Fashions in Foods in Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills Woman's Club [Beverly Hills Citizen:Beverly Hills CA] 1931 (p. 85)
[NOTE: Buster Keaton was a popular body-builder and actor.]

[1935]
"Gar Lu Gai Chop Suey
(Special chicken chop suey)
Ingredients: 3/4 lb. of bean sprouts, 1/4 lb. of thinly sliced bamoo shoots, 2 ozs. of mushrooms, 6 ozs. of thinly sliced onions, 3 thinly sliced tomatoes, 1/2 lb. of thinly spiced chicken, salt, cornflour water, 1 egg, sesame oil, Chinese sauce. Method: Soak the mushrooms in hot water for 15 minutes, remove the stalks, and cut into thin slices. Sprinkle a little salt in a hot oiled pan, put in the chicken meat and sprouts, the onions, and mushrooms and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes, cook for 1 more minutes, sprinkle with a little cornflour water and a few drops of sesame oil and cook for a further minute. Put on a hot dish and place over it an egg, previously well beaten and cooked in a hot oiled pan for 1 minute. Serve with Chinese Sauce."
---Recipes of All Nations, Countess Morphy [Wm. H. Wise & Company:New York] 1935 (p. 783-739)
[NOTE: This book also offers a recipe for Ju Yook Chop Suey (Pork chop suey).]

[1938]
"Plain Chop Suey

1/2 cup sliced raw lean pork (small, thin slices)
1/2 cup sliced celery
1 cup sliced Chinese cabbage (bok choy)
1 cup sliced onion
1 cup bean sprouts (gna choy)
1 teaspoon gourmet powder (mei jing)
1/2 teaspoon salt
a dash of pepper
1 cup stock or water
1/2 teaspoon black sauce (gee yeou)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Mix pork and vegetables in a hot, well-greassed skillet and saute 3 minutes. Add water or stock, salt, pepper and gourmet powder; cover and cook 8 minutes. Add black sauce and cornstarch which has been made into a smooth paste. Mix well and cook 2 minutes more."
---Cook at Home in Chinese, Henry Low [Pacific Printing:Hong Kong] 1938 (p. 255)
[NOTE: Book also offers recipes for Chicago Chop Suey (adding peeled water chestnuts & canned French mushrooms, no explanation), Fine Cut Chop Suey, Green Pepper Chop Suey, Mixed Vegetable Chop Suey, Mushroom Chop Suey, Tomato Chop Suey, Pineapple Chop Suey, Beef Chop Suey, Minced Beef Chop Suey, Chicken Chop Suey, Subgum Chop Suey, Sweet and Pungent Chop Suey]

[1947]
"Having trouble stretching that food dollar? Every American homemaker is faced with the same problem. With meat in the high-price bracket today, the budgeting cook is concentrating on casseroles and one-dish meals! The American Chop Suey recipe is designed to make 1/2 lb. of meat serve four people, and, too, by using the simmer flame on your gas range the exact amount of heat is tailored off so that there is no wasted gas...

American Chop Suey
1 Tbsp. fat
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 lb. lean, fresh pork shoulder
1 C. celery, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/4 lb. mushrooms, optional
1/2 c. cooked rice
1 tsp. salt
2 boullion cubes
2 1/2 C. boiling water
Melt fat in large skillet or Dutch oven. Add onion and fry until onion is yellow. Cube pork and brown. Add vegetables, rice, and salt. Dissolve bouillon cubes in boiling water and pour over top. Cover closely and bring to a boil. When steam escapes from the cover, turn flame to simmer and cook 35 to 40 minutes."
---"American Chop Suey," Betty Newton, Sandusky Register [OH], November 13, 1947 (p. 12)

[1952]
The Chinese Cook Book/Wallace Yee Hong [Crown Publishers:New York] (p. 121-124) offers recipes for Pork Chop Suey, Mushroom Chop Suey, Tomato Chop Suey, Green Pepper Chop Suey, Pineapple Chop Suey, Vegetable Chop Suey, Chicago Chop Suey, Fine Cut Chop Suey, Subgum Pork Chop Suey, Chicken Chop Suey, and Chicken Giblet Chop Suey.

[1955]
"California Chop Suey

1/2 lb. boned lean pork shoulder, cut into thin strips
1/2 tasp. salt
1/8 teasp. pepper
2 tablesp. salad or olive oil
1/4 cup coarsley chopped onion
1 1/2 cups hot water
2 bouillon cubes; or 2 teasp. meat-extract paste
1 cup celery, cut lengthwise into thin strips, then into 1" lengths
1 No. 2 can mixed Chinese vegetables or bean sprouts, drained
2 teasp. cornstarch
1 teasp. sugar
2 tablesp. warm water
1 tablesp. soy sauce
Canned chow-mein noodles
Early in day: Sprinkle meat with salt, pepper. In hot oil in large skillet, cook meat about 10 min.; do not brown. Add onion; cook 5 min. Add hot water, bouilon cubes; simmer, covered, 15 to 20 min., or until meat is fork-tender. Refrigerate. About 20 min. before dinner: To meat mixture, add celery; bring boil, covered; cook 5 min. Add Chinese vegetables; mix lightly; heat till boiling. Combine cornstarch, sugar, warm water, soy sauce; stir into hot mixture; cook 1 or 2 min., or until slightly thickened. Taste; season if necessary. Serve on heated chow-mein noodles, shoestring potatoes, or hot rice. Makes 4 servings."
---Good Housekeeping Cook Book, Dorothy B. Marsh editor [Good Housekeeping:New York] 1955 (p. 78)
[NOTE: This book also offers recipe for Bacon Chop Suey and Chicken Chop Suey.]

[1962]
"This Business of Chop Suey and Chow Mein

For those of you who have long wondered whata chop suey and chow mein are all about, it may be comforting to know that you have plenty of company. Many Chinese, too, have been baffled by these two concoctions with the Chinese-sounding names. On my last visit to Shangahi after Wrold War II, I was riding along a main thoroughfare when I spotted a neon sign that proclaimed to the world: GENUINE AMERICAN CHOP SUEY SERVED HERE. To the proprietor of that Shanghai restaurant, at least, chop suey was as American as turkey and cranberry sauce. Is chop suey a Chinese Dish? The best answer seems to be: More or less. Webster's dictionary makes a valiant attempt at defining chop suey as 'a melange served in Chinese restaurants, consisting typically of bean sprouts, onions, mushrooms, etc., and sliced meats fried and flavored with sesame oil.' In it usual wisdom, the dicitonary neatly side-steps the issue of wheter chop suey is a genuine product of China. But it is generally conceded by people who worry about such things that chop suey was indeed inventd by the Chinese--the Chinese who have migrated to America. The story of chop suey's origin has as many versions arae there are ingredients in the melange. Most versions attribute the invention of chop suey to the Chinese who came to this country during the last century to work on the transcontinental railroads. Their employment, of course, lasted only as ong as there were railroads to be built. Therefore, many of the Chinese laborers turned to other ways of making a living...Thus the Chinese restaurant came to be. At first the patrons of the Chinese restaurants were exclusively Chinese...One day, so the stories go, a group of Americans (they were either miners or prospectors or cowboys, depending upon which version of the story you choose) wandered into a Chinese restaurant. They tried, and were delighted by, those new Chinese dishes called 'chop suey.' They might have been somewhat less delighted had they known that they had been eating 'misclellaenous odds and ends,' which is what the word chop suey means in the Cantonese dialect. In any case, the American discoverers of chop suey soon spread the word, and the dish became firmly established in the New World. The evolution of chop suey was to go on for a span of years. After considerable experimentataion a number of 'standard' chop suey dishes won their honored places on Chinese restaurant menus, wehre they reamin now and, perhaps, forever..Today, prepared chop suey and chow mein are available in virtually all food stores and supermarkets. They are usually precooked and come in jars, cans or frozen packages. On the whole they are inexpensive and no more difficult to prepare than, say, heating up a can of spaghetti. But there are certain advantages to preparing chop suey and chow mein from scratch. For one thing, do-it-yourself chop suey and chow mein are even less expensive than the pre-prepared kind. For another, your own versions usually taste better because they retain some of the flavors that are inevitably lost in the packaging process."
---The Pleasures of Chinese Cooking, Grace Zia Chu [Simon and Schuster:New York] 1962 (p. 52-54)
[NOTE: This book offers a recipe for Beef Chop Suey, happy to scan/send.]

Polish chop suey?
Recipes published in Wisconsin and Michigan confirm the existence of "Polish Chop Suey." This recipe features ingredients familiar to Polish cuisine. Polish Hunter's Stew (featuring bigos and sauerkraut) is the likely inspiration. The earliest print reference we find for this dish (combining canned cream soups, and kluski noodles) is from 1993. We find no evidence this dish was "invented" in a corporate kitchen (Campbells, Lipton, General Foods, etc.). The "Chop Suey" moniker describes many Americanized recipes in different times and places. The edible connectors are little pieces of handy ingredient assembled to create an economical family meal. In America, casserole presentation makes perfect sense. These recipes are strikingly similar:

[1967]
"'Polish Chop Suey.'

Hunter's stew is an individual dish to each cook, some taking 3 days to make it and using almost any meat or poultry available. 'It's a Polish chop suey,' laughed Mrs. Edward Kaminsky of Hollywood, a bazaar committee member. It is a dish that gains flavor from reheating so the cook likes to have some left over for a second-day meal. All cooks add sauerkraut and fresh cooked cabbage, however. 'One of the reasons many Americans do not like sauerkraut is because they don't treat it properly,'... Mysliwski Bigos (Hunter's Stew)
1 qt. sauerkraut
Water
2 lb. head cabbage, shredded
1/4 lb sliced bacon
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 lb. boneless pork
1/2 lb. veal
1/2 lb. beef stew meat
1/2 lb. lamb stew meat
1/2 lb. venison, optional
1/2 lb. polish sausage, fresh or smoked
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
Salt, pepper
Rinse sauerkraut and drain. Place in saucepan, add enough water to nearly cover and cook over low heat 30 to 45 min. Cook cabbage in boiling water to nearly cover until crisp tender, about 10 to 15 min. Dice bacon and fry until crisp. Remove bacon and set aside. Add onion and cubed pork, veal, beef, lamb and venison, if used. Cook until meat is lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add liquid drained from kraut and cabbage, cover and simmer until meat is tender, about 1 hr. Dice sausage and add in meat along with mushrooms, kraut and cabbage. Add more water, if needed. Simmer 20 to 30 min. to blend flavors and finish cooking meats. Season to taste with salt an pepper. Makes 6 to 8 servings."
---"It's Time Again for Dozyniki, the Annual Polish Bazaar," Cecil Fleming, Los Angeles Times, October 5, 1967 (p. F24)

[1976]
"Polish Chop Suey

Temp: 300, Time: 2 hrs.
4 slices pork steak
1 pkg. Kluski noodles
1 lg. onion
3 cans mushroom soup
1 lg. can sauerkraut
2 soupcans of milk
Salt and pepper
Brown cubed pork steak and onion; add salt and pepper to taste. Add cooked and strained noodles, soup, milk, and sauerkraut. Bake until pork is tender. Serves 4-5.--Mrs. Ruth Powolisz."
---Kettle of Love, Ladies of St. Rita and Christian Mothers [Milwaukee WI] 1976

[1993]
"Polish Chop Suey

3-4 lbs. pork steak cubed
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 pkg Lipton onion soup mix
2 cups water
1 cup chopped celery
1 can mushrooms, drained
1/2 lb. Kluski noodles, drained
16. oz. can sauerkraut, wash or drain
Brown meat in little oil. Combine soups, soup mix and water. Add to meat and then add celery. Simmer till almost tender. Add mushrooms. In large casserole, layer half of noodles. 1/2 of sauerkraut and 1/2 of meat mixture, then layer rest of sauerkraut noodles and rest of meat. Cover with foil. Preheat oven 350 and bake for one hour. Additional sauerkraut can be used if desired... Today's recipe is shared with us by Theresa Zandt of Ironwood.'
---"Recipe corner," Ironwood Daily Globe [MI], January 13, 1993 (p. 10)

Related food? American chop suey & Chinese pie.

What about Chop suey cake?

Chow mein
Chow mein literally means "fried noodles." Food historians agree on two points:

  1. Noodles have been known to Chinese cooks since ancient times.
  2. No one knows exactly who made the first chow mein and when.
Historians also agree chow mein most likely migrated to America with Chinese immigrants in the mid-19th century. Yes, this food (and many others) has endured several changes over the years...from indigenious cooks to Americanized restaurant selections to canned versions and frozen entrees.

"Chow mein is related to and takes its name from "chao mian," a Chinese dish consisting of previously boiled noodles stirfried with meat and vegetables. There is, however, an important difference. In chow mein the noodles are deep fried in bundles, which are crisp and brittle when they emerge; whereas in the Chinese dish the noodles are soft."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 183)

"Chow mein.
A Chinese-American dish made of stewed vegetables and meat with fried noodles. The term comes from Mandarin Chinese ch'ao mien', "fried noodles," and probably was brought to the United States by Chinese cooks serving the workers on the western railroads in the 1850s. The word first appears in print in 1900. Although most chow mein bears scant resemblance to true Mandarin cooking, it has become a staple in Chinese-American restaurants...Owing to its inexpensive ingredients, chow mein has long been a lunch dish in American school cafeterias."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 83)

"If chop suey was...Chinese food for the American masses, chow mein was a dish for gourmets. Hard as it is to believe for those of us who have only eaten the horrid frozen or canned chow mein of the messes served under that name in doubtful greasy spoons, properly prepared chow mein can be very good indeed...The key to good chow mein is the noodles. Those nasty deep-fried things tasting of rancid fat that most Americans associate with chow mein are virutally unknown in China. Instead, the Chinese...stir-fry freshly boiled noodles in hot oil until they are crisp on the outside but still beguilingly soft in the center. The hot noodles with their contrasting crisp/soft text ures are then served with a stir-fried mixture of vegetables and strips of meat."
---Fashionable Food, Sylvia Lovegren (p. 91)
[NOTE: This book as plenty of information on the introduction of Chinese food to America...ask your librarian to help you find a copy.]

"Chow Mein, or "fried noodles," is a casual dish which calls for parboiled noodles (previously drained dry and chilled) to be cooked with other ingredients, somewhat in the manner of fried rice; that is, the noodles and the other ingredients are fried separately, then combined and cooked until nearly done."
---Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook, Gloria Bley Miller [Grosset & Dunlap:New York] (p. 630-1)

[1914]
Chow Main, Chinese-Japanese Cook Book, Sara Bosse & Onoto Watanna, 1914

[1938]
"Chow Mein Cantonese

Tong Jong Chow Mein
1/2 cupp raw lean pork (sliced fine)
2 cups shredded Chinese cabbage (bok choy)
1 cup shredded canned bamboo shoots (jook tsun)
4 oz. Chinese egg noodles (don mein)
1 teaspoon gourmet powder (mei jing)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugaar
a dash of pepper
1 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup shredded roast pork (for yuk)
Put noodles in a large pot of boiling water, boil 3 minutes and drain dry. Put in a hot, well-greased skillet, brown on one side, turn over and brown on the other side. Mix raw and roast pork, Chinese cabbage and bamboo shoots in a hot, greased skillet and saute 2 minutes. Add salt, sugar, gourmet powder, pepper and chicken stock. Cover and cook 8 minutes. Add cornstarch which has been made into a smooth paste. Place the fried noodles on a deep platter, pour mixture over noodles and top with roast pork."
---Cook at Home with Chinese, Henry Low [Pacific Printing:Hong Kong] 1938 (p. 245) [NOTES: (1) Note accompanying this recipe reads: "This is one of the most popular luncheon dishes among the Chinese." It does not comment where these Chinese people were living (Canton, California, New York &c.). Cornstarch ingredient strongly suggests USA. (2) Other recipes in this chapter are Subgum Chow Mean, Chun Fa Gai Chow Mein, Kwei Fa Chow Mein, Lan Fa Chow Mein, Beef Chow Mein (Ngow Yup Chow Mein), Chicken Chow Mein (Gai Chow Mein), Chicken Chow Mein with Green Pepper, Chicken Chow Mein with Mushrooms, Chicken Chow Mein with Pineapple, Lobster Chow Mein (Loong Ha Chow Mein), Shrimp Chow Mein (Ha Chow Mein) & Shrimp Chow Mein Chinese Style (Ha Yan Chow Mein).]

The history of pasta

La Choy is one of the oldest and most well-known brands of American-made mass-produced Chinese food sold to consumers and foodservice operations--you can ask them questions about their products.

Dim sum
Dim sum is a Chinese tradition originating in Canton. It made its way to America with Chinese immigrants, many of whom were Cantonese.

"...the ultimate in "small eating" is the Cantonese institution of iam ch'a (Mandaarin he ch'a: "to drink tea"). Drinking tea traditionally involves the consumption of snacks known as timsam (borrowed in English as dimsum, pronounced "deem some"). This phrase (the Mandarin is tien hsin) means "to dot the heart," a peculiar idiom of obscure origin, meaning something like "to hit the spot." "Dot hearts"...are found throughout China, but in Cantonese culture they become the sold food at huge luncheons or late breakfasts, while elsewhere in China they are definitely "small" affairs. There are hundreds of them...Typical tim sam are ha kaau...based on minced shrimp and other items wrapped in thin dough skin, siu maai...with meat filling and different skin composition; taro horns, chopped meat covered with mashed taro dough, rolled into a hornlike shape, and deep-fried; ch'a shao pao; other pao of other kinds; beef balls pungently flavored with soy sauce, ginger and so on; faan kun, oily chopped fillings wrapped in rice-flour dough skins...The commonest and most basic tim sam follow the pattern of some sort of starch staple wrapped around a filling of chopped meat, soy sauce, finger, water chestnut, or similar extender and texturizer, oil and flavoring."
---Food of China, E. N. Anderson [Yale University Press:New Haven Ct] 1988 (p. 215)

"Dim sum
an important institution of Cantonese cuisine which has become increasingly visible in 'Chinatowns' outside China has been China, has been described by Yan-Kit So...Literally translated as 'so close to the heart', they are, in reality a large range of hors d'oeuvres Cantonese people traditionally enjoy in restaurants (previously teahouses) for breakfast and for lunch, but never for dinner, washed down with tea. 'Let's go yumcha (to drink tea)' is understood among the Cantonese to mean going to a restaurant for dimsum; such is the twin linkage between the food and the beverage...The range of dimsum in a restaurant easily numbers several dozen and they come under these main varieties: the steamed, the fried and the deep-fried..."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 250)
[NOTE: This book has much more information & description than can be paraphrased here. Ask your local public librarian to help you find a copy of this book.]

Dining in Dim Sum

Related food? Egg rolls.

Egg rolls & spring rolls
Egg rolls (and their lighter counterpart, spring rolls) date back to ancient China.
Wontons (thin unleavened dough with fillings or as noodles) are a traditional part of the Chinese diet. It is quite likely that egg-roll type foods were made and consumed in the USA by the first Chinese settlers in the mid 1800's. It is also just as likely that most Americans never heard of them until about 50 years ago. Vietnamese spring rolls employ different tastes. Why are they called egg rolls? The dough is traditionally made with egg. Spring rolls are lighter, omitting the egg. Egg roll-type foods are part of traditional dim sum.

"Eggrolls are thin coverings of unraised dough, wrapped around various meat, seafood and vegetable mixtures, and then usually deep fried. Originally, these were special snacks served with tea when relatives and friends came to visit after Chinese New Year. Since the time was early spring, they came to be known as spring rolls...the eggroll, said to have originated in Canton and more familiar to Westerners, is larger...thicker. Eggrolls are served either as hors d'oevres or with dinner at any time of the year."
---The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook, Gloria Bley Miller [Grosset & Dunlap:New York] (p. 698)

"Spring roll...An Asian-American appetizer made of crispdough wrapped around a filling of various ingredients such as vegetables, meat, shrimp, and seasonings. Sometimes synonymous with "egg roll," it is considered somewhat more "authentic" and delicious than the latter. The name, which dates in English print to 1943, comes from the Chinese tradition of serving them on the first day of the Chinese New Year, which is also the first day of the lunar year's spring."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 308)

If you need more information on ask your librarian to help you find this article:

"Going beyond egg rolls," Newsweek, August 13, 1990 (p. 61+) --this article and several more are available full-text from the EBSCO

ABOUT VIETNAMESE SPRING ROLLS "When New York Times food writer Craig Claiborne wrote about Routhier and her Vietnamese spring roll, or cha gio, he catapulted her into the culinary limelight. In the 1985 article about upcoming young chefs, he praised her creation as "the best cha gio I have eaten since - in fact, I found them the equal of those in Vietnam." As they say, the rest is history. Between writing cookbooks and teaching classes, Houstonian Routhier continues to make her famous Vietnamese spring rolls for friends and relatives.

Rolled in parchmentlike rice papers, her spring roll consists of crab meat, shrimp, pork, Chinese mushrooms and water chestnuts. But this is just one spring roll recipe among hundreds, perhaps thousands. Like many good culinary ideas, the spring roll has been imitated and embellished again and again through time. There are fried spring rolls and uncooked ones. Some are filled with finely minced seafood; others brim with crispy vegetables and barbecued meats. With so many variations, no wonder the spring roll is one of the most misunderstood foods...The spring roll is a tradition that dates back many centuries in China. Because of its rich golden color, the spring roll is believed to symbolize a gold nugget or prosperity, and it plays a central role at Chinese banquets. You'll typically find spring rolls served on Chinese New Year's Day, which takes place at the start of spring. Chefs in other Asian countries such as Cambodia, Singapore and Thailand have adapted the Chinese spring roll and created their own versions. In Vietnam and Thailand, rice-paper wrappers made from cooked rice starch are preferred over lumpia wrappers. Brittle rice-paper wrappers are first soaked in water to make them pliable, then filled with either raw or cooked ingredients. They are then fried or eaten uncooked. Hence the confusion of getting a "fresh" spring roll at a Vietnamese restaurant when what you wanted was a "fried" spring roll.

Often, though, the menu will provide a clue. Uncooked versions are often referred to as summer rolls. They're often stuffed with boiled shrimp, steamed pork, vermicelli noodles, lettuce and herbs. These light, fresh-tasting summer rolls are uniquely Vietnamese and Thai, Routhier says. The Chinese, Malaysians and Singaporeans also have "fresh" spring rolls. These, however, are made with lumpia wrappers and are prepared at the table by the guests, who fill the wrappers with a combination of fresh and cooked ingredients, such as grated carrots, shredded cabbage and leeks.... The Chinese believe in the merit and charm of eating the spring roll undressed. The Vietnamese, on the other hand, love to wrap theirs with soft lettuce, basil and mint. "Like many Vietnamese dishes, eating it this way resonates with layers of flavors and textures - the crispy vegetables with the crunchy spring roll," Routhier says. In the last few years, spring rolls have moved from the menus of inexpensive Chinese and Vietnamese eateries to more expensive contemporary establishments. Spring-roll wrappers have become a popular food format for chefs and consumers seeking stylish snacks and appetizers..."
---"For fresh, contemporary flavor with ancient Asian flair, nothing beats; SPRING ROLLS," The Houston Chronicle, July 26, 2000, (Food P. 1)


Edamame
The use of soy, in all forms, is well documented in Asian cuisine. The same holds true for soy products in America. Historic references to edamame, on the other hand, are curiously absent. Our survey of American historic media and (newspapers, cooking magazines, trade journals, cookbooks) confirms interest for promoting this protein-rich snack was known to Americans of Asian descent in the early 1980s. It was not until the 1990s the product achieved superstar status, thanks to upscale urban restaurants and savvy food journalists. By the late 1990s, edamame was sold in supermarkets. Tracing American introduction is relatively easy. Food writers through the ages have been providing correct pronunciation and proper eating protocol when discussing unfamiliar fare.

Why the 1990s? Timing is everything. Public health officials were telling Americans to steer clear of cholesterol. Soy beans, in all formats, were actively promoted as a healthy, economical, and versatile protein alternative. Today edamame is readily found in most American supermarkets. Shelf placement poses challenges to store managers. Our local supermarket displays commercial edamame pouches in the fresh vegetable aisle, close to the "gourmet" salad accompaniments (croutons, Asian-inspired dried nut/fruit mixes, etc.).

What exactly is edamame?
"Edamame...In summer, pods of young soybeans (daizu) on the stalk are boiled and the beans eaten as a side dish with beer. Also called sayamame."
---A Dictionary of Japanese Food: Ingredients & Culture, Richard Hosking [Chartles E. Tuttle Company:Rutland VT] 1996 (p. 39)

Historic information and global timeline, Soy Information Center.

[1981]
"Question: I am a diabetic and have been using the food exchange list as a guide to the foods I eat daily. Born in the Orient and raised here, I am very fond of Oriental vegetables...However these vegetables are not in the standard exchange list and I do not know which belong to vegetable exchange list 1 or 2...[Answer] Exchange List 2...Soybeans, green (edamame), 1/3 cup."
---"You Asked About...Oriental Vegetables and Food Exchanges for the Diabetic," Minnie Bernardino, Los Angeles Times, June 11, 1981 (p. J8)

[1993]
"With the sake I like a little bowl of edamame -- fresh soy beans -- slightly salted and still in the pod. You pick them up and pop the beans into your mouth. (If you try to eat the pods, you will find that they are rather tough.) At first taste, they are slightly salty, and then the buttery richness of the beans comes through. If you think of soybeans as boring, these will change your mind."
---"Restaurants: Honmura An," Ruth Reichl, New York Times, September 10, 1993 (p. 20)

"Minnesota's Gillette cites the example of edamame beans, specially processed soybeans eaten in Japan as a salted snack similar to popcorn or peanuts. With production dropping on Taiwan, Japan's historic source, the beans are grown in Jackson and Martin counties in Minnesota on an experimental basis, processed locally and shipped to Japan. The Pillsbury Co. is reportedly investigating the possibility of processing this bean for export on a large scale."
---"Adding value to agriculture: New life for an old industry?" Ed Lotterman, Fedgazette, Jan1993 (p. 1)

[1995]
"At Nobu in New York, VIPs and repeat customers often receive a complimentary starter of edamame, or steamed fresh vegetable soy beans with kosher salt on the side. The beans, which are a brilliant green because they were harvested before reaching maturity and drying out, are served in the pod, and guests squeeze them out. Soy beans that have been dried are tan or yellow in color. Nobu general manager Richard Notar says that while many Westerners, including himself, become "addicted" to the steamed beans, the restaurant's Japanese chefs can't understand the excitement. In Japan, he says, edamame is akin to a "snack food." "
---"Joy of Soy: Protein-Rich Bean can Lower Cholesterole," Alan Liddle, Nation's Restaurant News, September 18, 1995 (p. 37)

[1997]
"We sampled a few appetizers. Edamame ($2) is a dish of quick-boiled soybeans sprinkled with a light dusting of salt, which, though simple, is incredibly addictive and perfect finger-food for a table of four."
---"Short Order," (restaurant review, Shohko-Cafe), Santa Fe New Mexican, February 14, 1997 (p. 87)

[1998]
"A delectable snack, edamame (eh-dah-MAH-meh) are soybeans, served boiled or steamed in the pod and sprinkled with coarse salt. Frozen soybeans are easier to find than fresh ones. To prepare, bring a pot of water to the boil, add the soybeans in their shells and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain and sprinkle generously with coarse salt--Japanese sea salt is the best. Serve edamame with cocktails before dinner. Make sure you tell your guests how to eat them: Hold the end of a pod in your fingers, close your teeth around the shell, and pull it slowly out of your mouth; the beans will pop out of the tough shell, which should be discarded."
---"Soybean Snacks," Gazette [Cedar Rapids IA], February 6, 1998 (p. 5A)

[1999]
"The Chinese call them mao dou, or hairy beans. The Japanese call them edamame, or branch beans. Neither name, however, expresses even faintly the fondness those cultures have for the soybean. Like the peanut in America, the soybean is a humble homegrown legume that everyone eats--often as a snack--and most adore. Soybeans are earning increasing fondness in this country, too. Enter any Japanese restaurant in Manhattan...and you are sure to spot a bowl of them, piled high and disappearing quickly. Served in the pod, they are eaten by scraping the oval beans out of the salty, fuzzy pod with your teeth. They're so tasty they're addictive. Trader Joe's, a national grocery chain, began carrying frozen soybeans 10 months ago. Sales now rival those of frozen corn and broccoli. Ford decades, pigs were the beneficiaries of most soybeans cultivated in the United States. Other soy proeducts, like tofu and soy mik, had for years been treated as esoteric health foods. Now that soy is being heralded for healthfulness, that perception is reversing...Next to a bag of chips, spybeans in the pod happen to be the world's easiest hors d'oeuvre. Simply buy a bag of the frozen beans...boil them for a few minutes, drain, cool and pile them into a bowl. This is how they are prepared in Japan, where they are served in practically every bar. In New York, edamame appears on the menus on most Japanese restaurants, ususally among the appetizers. It also shows up on Korean and Chinese menus, as well as on ones that are not Asian...In Japan, soybeans are sold in markets on the branch with their roots still attached--thus the name branch bean...A copper brown fuzz clings to the outside of soybean pods must be removed before eating. To get it off, Ms. Andoh said, Japanese cooks put te beans in a suribachi, a ceramic mortar with a grooved interior. Then they sprinkle on coarse salt and rub the beans against the mortar so that the fuzz sticks in the grooves, leaving just the bright-green pods. With this technique ther eis no need to salt the water when boiling them. All this work may be considered a necessity in Japan, but in America, it's tough to sell...In Japanese restaurants...soybeans are still mostly served plain. And cold. Eating them cold from the pod has been traditional since the 17th century in Japan."
---"Bet You Can't Eat Just One Soybean," Amanda Hesser, New York Times, September 8, 1999 (p. F3)

"Edamame, salted soybeans that are the equivalent of cocktail peanuts in Asian restaurants, will soon be moving into home kitchens. Karan Hall, a spokeswoman for one importer, Seaside Farms of Inglewood, Calif., says the demand for the fresh soybeans has risen fivefold nationally in the last six months. Nobu Next Door, Mirezi, Bop and other restaurants serve the snack warm with drinks. Edamame, fresh soybeans that are boiled and salted, are bright green and slightly fuzzy pods that should be popped open; each contains about three plump, slightly sweet legume-like seeds. Edamame are now available frozen in one-pound bags in shops that specialize in Asian ingredients. But by spring, they will be available at Kings Super Markets in New Jersey and A.&P. stores in the New York area, now that Haddon House, a food distributor, has started receiving shipments from Seaside Farms. Ms. Hall says the company is bringing in 28,000 pounds a week."
---"Food Stuff," Florence Fabricant, New York Times, January 27, 1999 (p. 2)

[2000]
"Move over tempeh, tofu, miso, soy sauce, and all you other processed soy foods the most up-and-coming variety of soybean is edamame, also known as vegetable soybeans. These soybeans in their most primative state--picked young and green, steamed or boiled five minutes, then popped out of the pods right into your mouth. With 36 percent protein, a good dose of vitamin C and phytoestrogens, or plant-derived hormones, soybeans have alsways garnered high praise as a nutritional powerhouse. Their taste, though, can leave something to be desired. Boiled mature (dry) soybeans have an unpleasant flavor and waxy texture, and tofu and tempeh are most esteemed for picking up other flavors. Edamame, on the other hand, are delectable in their own right, combining the best of garden peas and lima beans in flavor and texture. Popular in Asia for millenniums, edamame now occasionally show up in markets on this side of the Pacific. Although edamame taste like peas and lima beans and grow much like green beans, they are as easy to grow as those familiar vegetables, or even easier. Edamame tolerate summer heat better than garden peas..."
---"Edamame, the Soybean With the Advantage," Lee Reich, New York Times, May 14, 2000 (p. ST9)


Fortune Cookies
Food historians genereally agree the classic "fortune cookie" served in Chinese-American restaurants is a
Japanese-American culinary contribution. The cookie's actual "invention" is a classic example of food lore. Many claimants covet this particular title. None of the stories can be verified. We are left to examine the evidence and draw our own conclusions. There is agreement on these points:

Our survey of historic USA newspapers reveals three interesting tidbits: (1) The original shape of this cookie was scroll-like; the classic trifold bend was developled after WWII in order to improve the tensile strength of the item, (2) Up until the mid-1950s, fortune cookies were served at the beginning of the meal and (3) Fortune writing is an a uniqiue form of literature achieved by committee.

"Classic" origin stories
"Fortune Cookie: A Chinese-American cookie into which has been folded a printed message predicting one's fortune. Fortune Cookies are not known in Chinese food culture, but they have long been part of the hospitality of Chinese-American restaurants, which traditionally serve them free of charge with tea after the meal...An article by food historian Meryle Evans in Diversion magazine (Oct. 1987) provides several stories as to the possible origins of the fortune cookie. One story concerns Japanese landscape architect Makoto Hagiwara, who emigrated to San Francisco at the turn of the 20th century and designed a teahouse where, sometime before World War I, he and his daughter Sada Yamamoto began serving fortune cookies to the patrons. Another suggests that just after World War I a Los Angles baker named David Jung handed out such cookies containing words of encouragement to the poor and homeless people on the streets. He later started the Hong Kong Noodle Company and did produce cookies with fortunes inside. By the 1930s there were fortune-cookie factories one of the first being William T. Leong's Key Fortune Cookie Company in New York City. Until the late 1960s fortune cookies were always folded by hand. Then, Edward Louie, owner of the Lotus Fortune Cookie Company in San Francisco, invented a machine to do the job.... In 1992 Donald H. Lau of the Wonton Food Company in Long Island City, New York, planned to produce fortune cookies in Guangzhou, China."
--- Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (page 132).

"Fortune cookies...are a true California Cantonese invention, created by a noodle company in Los Angeles (loyal Angelenos insist it was San Francisco). They were unknown in Asia until American tourists began to demand them in the past decade or two."
---Food of China, E. N. Anderson [Yale University Press:New Haven] 1988 (p. 213)

"At the beginning of this century, San Francisco's Chinatown was a ghetto, rife with the problems that plague any poor neighborhood. But by the 1930s, the neighborhood's exotic image was being used to attract tourists. During that marketing effort, a restaurant created the fortune cookie for visitors who expected a dessert course that Chinese cuisine largely lacks."
"Fortune cookies: No ancient Chinese secret," Crain's Chicago Business, March 22, 1999, (p.2)

"It's fairly easy to trace fortune cookies backto World War II. English-language fortune cookies were already commonplace in Chinese restaurants in San Francisco and southern California. San Francisco was a way station for servicemen to and from the Pacific arena, and the influx of eager, bright-eyed young men during the was helped fuel the rise of the city's flamboyant Chinese nightclubs. Soldiers and sailors flocked to Chinese restaurants, where they were treated with the familiar--chop suey, chow mein, egg foo yong--and the exotic fortune cookies. From California, the cookies made an accelrated postwar journey across the country. Convinced that these San Francisco fortune cookies were part of truly 'authentic' Chinese cuisine, servicemen started demanding the treats when they returned home to the Midwest and East Coast. Mystified by eager to please their customers, local Chinese restaurant owners placed orders wtih California cookie makers. As demand around the country grew, local entrepreneurs in major cities set up their own fortune cookie companies...By the late 1950s, Americans were consuming an estimated 250 million fortune cookies a year...At the 1960 Democratic convention, both Senator Stuart Symington and Adlai Stevenson distributed them as part of their presidential campaign...It is the history of the fortune cookie prior to World War II that is murky. A number of families claim to be its originator, with elements of their stories sharing similar aspects. They all have an Asian immigrant inventor introducing the cookie in California sometime before World War I."
---The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, Jennifer 8. Lee [12:New York] 2008(p. 41-42)

"In its own special language the predition for the Chinese fortune cooky is now: 'Success will attend your every venture.' The fortune cooky's market is expanding. For one thing, that American institution known as the Chinese restaurant is once again on the march in New York City--with a splurge of new openings on the East Side in particular--and fortune cookies have become a standard item on Chinese restaurant menus...the cookies are now on sale at a number of supermarkets. And finally, fortune cookies are being used more and more to carry advertising messages instead of the conventional proverbs, poetry and predictions...The first thing tha must be said about Chinese Fortune cookies is that...they are not Chinese. No one in a position to say can remember ever having seen one in China. Some fortune cooky bakers declare that their product is a Japanese development of the Japanese rice cooky. Others maintain it was commercialized in San Francisco's Chinatown, having first been made by Chinese families there. At any rate, it was certainly once a flat rice cake of some sort and was folded into its present roughly triangular form by accident or for a practical reason: the shape is stronger and less breakable. The cookies have only been in restaurants about twenty-five years, cooky men agree."
---"Rising Fortunes," Armand Schwab Jr., New York Times, November 27, 1960 (p. SM84)

The Japanese connection

"'It may surprise you to learn,' said the Chinese Nationalist Republic emissary, 'that fortune cookies are completely unknown in China. None of us ever laid eyes on one before we came to America. It was the Japanese immigrants out on the West Coast who started the whole idea in the U.S. by stuffing philosophy into their traditional rice cookies.' Kingpin of the fortune cooky industry is Japanese-born Bunshichi Okuno, whos bustling bakery, Twixt Inc., of Long Island City, N.Y. turns out 750,000 proverbial and prophetic pastries a day stuffed with 600 separate and distinct sayings (with 400 more on reserve). He ships to evey part of the United States not already serviced by his brother, Yasuo Okuno, editor and publisher of the Umeya fortune cooky company in Los Angeles...The architecture of the contemporary Chinese fortune cooky is the result of years of tireless Japanese perseverance and experimentation. 'My father launched the idea of putting messages inside pastry when he came to Los Angeles 40 years ago...But in those days we used flat, round rice cookies and rolled them into a scroll with the message inside--sort of a Confucius tamale. These fragile cookies crumbled so easily that they remained mere novelties. But around 1912 came the turning point. My father had been experimenting for years with different shapes to give more tensile strength to the cooky. Shortly before World War II, he hit on the revolutionary idea of bending the dough into a half-pretzel horseshoe shape."
---"The Inside Story of Chinese Fortune Cookies, Leslie Lieber, Los Angeles Times,, June 7, 1959 (p. I25)

"I had never found anyone as obsessed with fortune cookies as I was until I arrived in Japan and met Yasuko Nakamachi. A researcher at Kanagawa University, she had spent six years following the global fortune cookie trail from the United States to Japan and back to the United States. She had first encountered these cookies in New York City Chinese restaurants some two decades earlier...But a few years later, while reading a Japanese book on confectioneries, she stumbled upon a reference to a regional snack--Japanese cookies folded around little pieces of paper...She thought they were a local snack until she made a visit to Kyoto in 1998...she saw a number of small, family-run Japanese bakeries selling cookies with a familiar shape. They were exactly like fortune cookies...the bakers called them omikuji senbei ("fortune crackers") or tsujiura suzu ("bells with fortunes")... At that point she knew it in her heart: fortune cookies were originally Japanese...She spent years sifting through Edo- and Meiji-era documents from various historical archives...She found references to tsujira senbei in nineteenth-century Japan, described as brittle cookies that contained a fortune in a fictional work by Tamanaga Shunsui, a humorist who lived between 1790 and 1842...Then a breakthrough: a reference to an old drawing of a tsujura senbei shop from a modern artist...an 1878 print of a man grilling tsujiura senbei."
---The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, Jennifer 8. Lee [12:New York] 2008(p. 260-261)
Additional information
here. Watch Jennifer's YouTube!

What about the fortunes?
"Fortune telling is against the law...Fortune telling, however, is permitted within limits. One is the fortune you get on the little ticket in the weighing machine...The other kind of fortune-telling, which is common here in Los Angeles, is done with the fortune cookie or fortune cake. This is the little rice flour cookie, twisted like a cocked hat, that you get at the beginning of the meal in a Chinese restaurant. It almost always starts the event with a laugh, and some folks take seriously the advice that is printed on the little slip of paper inside the cookie...Who writes them I have been unable to find out. There are a half dozen noodle companies making cookies in Los Angeles and they guard their trade secrets well. The Japanese have invaded the fiuled, as they have the chop suey restaurant business, much to the disgust of the Chinese who early developed the fortune cookie trade. The Chinese firms seem to be afraid that their competitors will steal their fortunes, though one could collect them easily enough by eating in Chinese restaurants and picking them up off the floor...The fortunes in the fortune cookies of the old-establishment Chinese noodle emporiums have a flavor all their own...dealing with fundadmental problems of men and women. Some have been handed down for generations, but they are still piquant. You break open your fortune cookie and pull out a little slip that advises 'Use your popularity and magnetism unselfishly.' Now perhaps you didn;t know you had magnetism and popularity before. Thus at the outset you are buttered up...hits one, which is very popular: 'If you have been getting kicked around call a halt now.' Everybody thinks he is getting kicked around more or less. He resolves to call a halt now then digs into the fried rice."
---"Fortunetelling Is Against the Law," Timoth G. Turner, Los Angeles Times, June 30, 1950 (p. A5)

"Mr. Okuno told us that the sayings used in his cookies must be passed by an editorial board consisting of three college graduates. Every three months the sayings come up for review, revision, and possible deletion...Where do fortune cooky people get their matrieal? They don't quote famous living authors for fear of being sued for plagairism...Mr. Okuno said that Twixt Inc., once wrote the National Association of Gagwriters--the fellows wo write the funny TV shows--and invited them to submit cooky sayings. 'They failed to come up with anything we considered worthy.'...The Key Key outfit's aphorisms and fortunes go through a careful editorial sieve before they are finally folded by hand into cookies. Philip Leong's father culls the bulk of them from Confucius' loftiest medications. The Lenog's pretty young wife, Margaret, who works in a nearby taily shop and is known as the 'Poet Laureate of Fortune Cookies,' translates them from Chinese into English. The whole batch is then dumped into the lap of Mrs. Cornelia Fredenbugt, and English teacher at New York's High School of Commerce, for a final primpng and polishing (Mrs. Fredenburgh was on vacation when the ungrammatical 'God helps them who helps themselves' sneaked into the Key Key line). What is the most popular fortune cooky every published? Waiters in ten Chinese restaurants said the cooky that made the msot sense to them when they served it to a customer at dessert times was: 'God loveth a cheerful giver.'"
---"The Inside Story of Chinese Fortune Cookies, Leslie Lieber, Los Angeles Times, , June 7, 1959 (p. I25)

"As for the fortune, its origin is even more obscure. There is fortune-telling in China (or there was; the city of Peiping, in what may have been a side-spread action, banned fortune-telling as un-Socialist two years ago) and Chinese now in New York playing a parlor game involving little sticks and fortunes. In Japan...fortune cookies are sold as a treat for children. Yet there seems to be no significant tradition behind them. Chances are that the first man who wrote a wise saying or prediction on a slip of paper and wrapped it in a cooky was simply an inventive genius parlaying the 'mystery of the Orient' and the wisdom of Confucius into a good thing...The standard story about fortune cookies has a bewildered diner fishing out a slip that reads: 'Help! I'm trapped in a Chinese bakery!' This is unlikely. But almost anything else may show up on the tiny slips of paper. In general, the messages are pleasant predictions, simple snippets of philosophy or lines of poetry. Their origin is informal...and their content is increasingly un-Chinese. The Key Key company's author is Margaret Leong, wife of one of the proprietors. 'My father-in-law used to do it...translating Chinese proverbs. But those old things don't go so good these days. Some people like poetry and some like fortunes so I try to mix things up. I read alot, and whenever I see something good I write it dowon. I read Bartlett's and a lot of poems,too'...Mrs. Leong's output is representative of the fortune-cooky literature. There is straigh poetry...clarivoyance...soothsaying...cliches and correct, if obscure, versions of cliches."
---"Rising Fortunes," Armand Schwab Jr., New York Times, November 27, 1960 (p. SM84)

Want to make your own fortune cookies? It's fun & you get to make your own fortunes! Tricky part is folding cookies, before they cool and harden. Small batches are easier to work with.

Fortune Cookies
3/4 cup soft butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup sifted flour
5 dozen paper fortunes
Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Blend in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in flour. Grease and flour cooky sheets. Drop six rounded teaspoonfuls of dough on each sheet at least 2-in. apart. Bake at 375 deg. 15 to 20 min. or until edges are well browned. Remove from oven, loosen cookies carefully with a wide spatula, keeping pan warm Gently fold each cooky in half, wrapping paper fortunes inside nd keeping top of cookie on outside. Pinch points together. Cool at once. Makes 5 dozen."
---"Fortune Cookies Not Hard to Make," Marian Manners, Los Angeles Times, February 3, 1963 (p. SF_A10)

Related food (hidden fortune-wise)? Moon cakes.


Five spice
This flavor combination varies according to place and taste. In China, proportions and number of ingredients are determined by the desired flavor of the finished dish. In Bengali cuisine, Five Spice contains the exactly that number of ingredients in equal proportions. This is an excellent example of why culinary terms need to be examined in social/period context.

China
"Five spices (Chinese), a Chinese ground spice mixture sometimes sold as 'five fragrance powder'. It is golden-brown in colour and consists of star anise, fennel, cloves, cassia (Chinese cinnamon) and sichuan pepper (or ginger and/or cardamom); so there may be six rather than five ingredients. It is used sparingly, e.g. in marinades for meat, fish, or poultry. The flavor of star anise is the strongest in the mixture."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson, 2nd edition edited by Tom Jaine [Oxford University Press:oxfo] 2006 (p. 302)

"...in Chinese cuisine, both medieval and modern, mixture is everything: spices, herbs and many other strong flavourings are called on not to impose themselves but to blend. This is the role of both Chinese 'flavour water' or cookng stock, and of the ubiquitous 'five-spice powder'. These are the reported ingredeints of a five-spice powder manufactured for the Chinese community in Penang, Malaysia: 'Chinese cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, orange zest, star anise, cloves, coriander, nutmeg, rice, chilli.' Five-spice powder contains more than five spices, it is true. In China itself the typical mixture is likely to include Sichuan pepper and perhaps fennel or licorice or dried ginger or galanga among the ingredients...The newest Chinese spice is star anise, which is ubiquitous in all modern Chinese 'five-spice powder' mixtures...Star anise is the dried fruit of a small evergreen tree, Illicium verum, native to southern China and northern south-east Asia. The fruit is shaped like an eight-pointed star."
---Dangerous Tastes: The Story of Spices, Andrew Dalby [University of California Press:Berkeley CA] 2000 (p. 78, 81)

Recommended reading:
Food in China: A Cultural and Historical Inquiry/Frederick J. Simoons ...details on the ingredients composing Five-Spice as they relate to China.

India
"Five-spice is a mixture of five spices commonly used in Bengali cookery. The standard ingredients are equal proportions of cumin, black mustard, fennel, fenugreek, and nigella seeds. Its name is a translation of the Hindi panchphoran."
---An A-Z of Food & Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 126)


Fried rice
As with many Chinese foods popular in America today, fried rice has a long and interesting history. Rice is an ancient food that plays an fundamental role in many cultures and cuisines. About rice from
Cambridge World History of Food. Fried rice and noodle dishes with vegetables are likewise ancient. They were typically composed of leftover ingriedents and cooked in woks. If meat was available (chicken, pork, etc.) it was added. According to Chinese food experts, fried rice is a specialty of Yangzhou. They do not attempt to put an exact date on the origin of this recipe.

"Fried rice, which originated in Yanchow province, is a versatile dish which combines cooked rice, onions, soy sauce, sometimes eggs, and just about any other ingredient--leftover or fresh--that may be on hand. The ingredient that predominates gives the dish its name: chicken fried rice, roast pork fried rice, shrimp fried rice, etc. When any ingredients are included, the dish is called subgum--or "many varieties"--fried rice...The [American] restaurant convention of ordering a dish of fried rice with numerous other main courses, or ordering it place of white rice, is Western and not Chinese at all."
---The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cook Book, Gloria Bley Miller [Grosset & Dunlap:New York] 1975 (p. 632-3)

"Fried rice...is a standard method of cooking leftovers, involving frying cold boiled rice with chopped-up meat and vegetables. In really superior restaurants, rice weill be specially boiled and dried for this, but usually old, unused rice is served. The common (and favorite) recipe, however is not Cantonese, but eastern, deriving from Yonchou in the lower Yangtze country; it involved mixing chopped ham, beaten egg, green peas, green onions, and other ingredients to taste, and then rather slowly sauteing the rice. The rice is neither deep-fried nor stir-fried, but chin-left to cook slowly in a little oil, producing a fluffy product with a slight crust."
---Food of China, E.N. Anderson [Yale University Press:New Haven CT] 1988 (p. 212)

"Fried rice with Choice of Flavors.
Chow Faan. There are more ways to make fried rice than I would care to count. Which is more authentically Chinese?...Fried rice, Chinese style, can be varied infinately by following a basic recipe and just changing the main ingredients used in conjunction with the rice. Roast pork, ham, chicken, or any type of seafood or preserved meats may be used."
---Jim Lee's Chinese Cook Book, Jim Lee [Harper Row:New York] 1968 (p. 272-3)

About fried rice in America
"The [American] restaurant convention of ordering a dish of fried rice with numerous other main' courses, or ordering it place of white rice, is Western and not Chinese at all."
---The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cook Book, Gloria Bley Miller [Grosset & Dunlap:New York] 1975 (p. 633)

Fried rice recipes, Chinese-Japanese Cook Book, Sara Bosse [1914]
---page through to read the entire chapter


Seitan, Wheat Meat & Fu
The origin and evolution Seitan (aka
wheat meat) and Fu are challenging to trace. Most popular references vaguely refer to ancient Buddhist origins, similar to that of tofu. A survey of American cookbooks and articles confirms seitan was known in our country by the 1970s. It became popular in selected vegetarian food circles by the early 1990s. Aveline Kushi's Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking [1985] devotes an entire chapter to seitan cookery.

What is Seitan?
"Seitan is a whole wheat product cooked in a broth of kumba, tamari soy sauce, and water. It has a rich, dynamic taste and lends itself to a variety of dishes ranging from cutlets to soups, salads, and layered casseroles. Similar in taste and texture to meat, seitan was developed by Zen Buddhist cooks in China and Japan and used instead of chicken and pork. Made from separating the starch and bran from the gluten (cereal protein) in whole wheat flour, seitan is also known as wheat gluten or wheat meat. In this country, wheat meat patties have become very popular served as grainburgers and make an ideal substitute for hamburger or other animal food entrees. In Europe, wheat gluten often forms a part of the traditional diet and is usually made with a little oil. High in protein, seitan creates strength and vitality and is quite filling. It can be made at home with whole wheat flour from hard spring or hard red wheat...."
---Aveline Kushi's Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking, Aveline Kushi with Alex Jack [Warner Books:New York] 1985 (p. 99-100)
[NOTE: Recipe for homemade seitan follows. Happy to share if you want. Recipes including seitan ingredient include: Seitan Kinpira, Sauteed Seitan and Onions, Seitan and Sauerkraut, Seitan with Vegetables and Kuzu Sauce, Deep-fried Seitan and Vegetables, Seitan Croquettes, Seitan Stew, Wheat Meat Burger, Sweet and Sour Seitan.]

Origins
"Gluten as a Separate Ingredient. Because they're both cohesive and insoluble in water, the gluten proteins are easily separated from the rest of the flour; you simply make a dough, then knead it in water. The starch and water-coluable substances wash away, and tough, chewy gluten remains. Gluten as a unique food ingredient was discovered by the Chinese noodle makers around the 6th century, and by the 11th it was known as mein chin, or the 'muscle of flour.' (The Japanese call it seitan.) When cooked, concentrated gluten does develop a chewy, slippery texture like that of meats from animal muscle. Mein chin became a major ingredient in the vegetarian cooking that developed in Buddhist monasteries; there are recipes dating from the 11th century from imitation venison and jerky, and for fermented gluten."
---On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of The Kitchen, Harold McGee, Completely Revised and Updated [Scribner:New York] 2004 (p. 468)

"Wheat gluen has long been separated form the starch and made into imitation meats for vegetarian cookery (Buddhist-inspired). Some of the imitations are close to the original; others stretch one's imagination."
---Food of China, E.N. Anderson [Yale University Press:New Haven CT] 1988 (p. 144)
[NOTE: Neither this source nor Food in China: A cultural and Historical Inquiry/Frederick J. Simoons place a date of first use.]

Seitan in the USA
"SEITAN, (SAY-tan), is a Japanese name for seasoned wheat gluten, or "wheat meat" as it is sometimes called. Not widely known in the West, except among Mormons and Seventh-day Adventists, wheat gluten has a long history of use in the cuisine of the Middle and Far East. Wheat gluten is made by first forming a dough with high protein wheat flour and water. The dough is kneaded and washed to remove the starches and bran. What is left is the concentrated gluten, or protein, of the wheat. To make seitan, wheat gluten is slowly simmered in a seasoned broth that usually contains tamari (a high quality soy sauce), kombu (a sea vegetable) and water. The result is a delicious, high protein, vegan food. A four-ounce serving contains 70 calories, 15 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat and, as with all vegan foods, zero cholesterol. Those with gluten sensitivity may be sensitive to seitan as well. Luckily, because of the high quality ingredients and cooking methods, some who are sensitive to other wheat gluten products find they have little or no allergic reaction to seitan. ."
---"Meet the Meat of Wheat," Timothy Aitken, Vegetarian Times, February 1997 (p. 88)

When did we begin calling seitan "wheat meat?"
According to the records of the
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the the phrase "wheat meat" was first used in May, 1976:

"Word Mark WHEATMEAT Goods and Services IC 029. US 046. G & S: FORMED VEGETARIAN PROTEIN USED AS A MEAT SUBSTITUTE. FIRST USE: 19760500. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19760500 Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING Serial Number 73667393 Filing Date June 19, 1987 Current Filing Basis 1A Original Filing Basis 1A Published for Opposition January 26, 1988 Registration Number 1485401 Registration Date April 19, 1988 Owner (REGISTRANT) WEISSMAN, JOHN INDIVIDUAL UNITED STATES 133 NOTTINGHILL RD. BRIGHTON MASSACHUSETTS 021354026 Attorney of Record HERBERT L. BELLO Type of Mark TRADEMARK Register PRINCIPAL Affidavit Text SECT 8 (6-YR). Live/Dead Indicator LIVE."

Looking for wheat meat cookbook? How to Make all the Meat You Eat Out of Wheat/Nina & Michael Shandler c. 1980. FT Library owns a copy. Happy to share pages.

What is Fu?
"Fu. Wheat gluten. This ancient product for which Kyoto is renowned comes in two forms. One is raw gluten (nama fu). A dough is made from strong flour (high-gluten flour) and water, and the starch is washed away by kneading under water. The resulting sticky substance is almost completely protein. Usually glutinous rice flour or some other flour is incorporated and coloring is desired. It is then steamed. Nama fu is made into all sorts of decorative shapes and has an important place in sojin ryori, being used in clear soups and nimono. The other fu is yaki fu, for which nama fu is grilled or dried in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. It is used in soups, nimono, and sunomono."
---A Dictionary of Japanese Food: Ingredients and Culture, Richard Hosking [Charles E. Tuttle Company:Rutland VT] 1997 (p. 41)

What's the difference between sietan and fu?
"Fu is made by kneading hard-gluten wheat flour with water for 30 minutes to an hour (this varies with the maker), separating protein (gluten) from starch. The starch is washed away with cold running water, leaving the pure gluten. In this form it is known as seitan, familiar to macrobiotic dieters. To complete the fu, flour made from glutinous rice is added, the sticky substance kneaded again, and flavorings or coloring added. The elastic mass is shaped into rolls and dipped briefly in boiling water. It is then placed in molds lined with wet cotton cloth, and steamed for about 20 minutes. Nama fu is fully cooked and can be eaten as is, but it is often added to soups or other hot dishes. Fresh fu...should be refrigerated as soon as possible after purchase...and eaten no more than a day later."
---"Fu and Yuba, Tasty Specialties of Kyoto," Amanda Mayer Stinchecum, New York Times, June 7, 1992 (p. XX6)

Origin & history
"The most characteristic foods of Japanese cuisine are delicate and often elusive in flavor, appreciated as much for their texture and consistency as for their taste. Bean curd is probably the most familiar of these foods in the West. Two are so special, so tied to place, history and freshness that they really be fully enjoyed only in Kyoto. Fresh wheat gluten (nama fu), its consistency chewy but tender and fresh bean curd skin (nama yuba)...Fu...originally came from China and was brought to Japan during the Muromachi period (late 14th to 16th century). The preparation and use of protein rich fu developed as part of the vegetarian cuisine that evolved in Buddhist temples...Because there were (and are) so many temples in Kyoto, and also because the city was known for the quality of its well water, Kyoto became famous for fu. At the height of its popularity in the 19th century, there were over a hundred fu specialty shops in the city, and the name of one street, Fuyacho, still attests to the aggregation of fu makers formerly in the ear. With the increasing popularity of Western-style food since the end of World War II, the demand for traditional specialties, particularly those that cannot be stored indefinitely, has gradually declined. Many young people are completely unfamiliar with them. Now there are about 10 establishments that make fu, but most of their business is the toasted and dried yaki fu, which keeps indefinitely and is shipped all over Japan. Used mainly in soups, it has a kind of breadlike quality when reconstituted and is quite different in flavor and consistency from the fresh stuff."
---"Fu and Yuba, Tasty Specialties of Kyoto," Amanda Mayer Stinchecum, New York Times, June 7, 1992 (p. XX6)

"Since the Meiji period [1868-1912], fu has also been mixed with leavening and baked into yakifu, a dry spongy food that keeps for a long time."
---Yhe History and Culture of Japanese Food, Naomichi Ishige [Kegan Paul:London] 2001 (p. 243)

Culinary applications
"Fu is a wheat gluten product similar to seitan but toasted, steamed, and dried. Light in consistency, fu absorbs liquid and expands several times in volume when cooked. Like seitan, it is easy to digest and gives energy. Fu can be enjoyed plain, garnished with grated fresh ginger and toasted black sesame seeds, or added to miso soup or tamari soy sauce broth, stews, salads, or cooked together with vegetables. At home, fu can be made using the basic method for seitan...Then gently toast in a moderately hot oven for a few minutes. After cooling, lightly steam to allow the fu to puff up. Cut into rounds and let dry in a cook place. Store in an airtight container. Dried fu is available in several forms in natural foods stores or Oriental markets: flat strips, large doughnut-shaped rounds, and small rounds. A good quality 100-percent whole what product is uranafu, which has a natural light brown color...Oriental food stores often carry a very white refined fu. It is attractively cut in fancy shapes, such as flowers, but contains artificial color and should be avoided. To prepare dried fu, soak for 5 to 10 minutes in hot water until softened and press out any excess water by squeezing between the palms of your hands; then slice into cubes or bite-sized pieces and add to miso soup, or boil, saute, steam, bake, or deep-fry for your favorite dish."
------Aveline Kushi's Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking, Aveline Kushi with Alex Jack [Warner Books:New York] 1985 (p. 106)
[NOTE: recipe for Fu and Broccoli Broth included.]


Shark's fin
Sharks have been feeding humans from prehistoric times forward. Chinese culinary traditions celebrate shark fins as banquet fare from medieval times forward.
Sharks Fin Soup is one of several examples. Americans discovered shark meat in the 20th century. Mock Shark's Fin Soup surfaces in the 1960s. In the 21st century, concerns are raised about "finning" ( sharks being killed specifically for their fins).

What is "shark's fin?"
"Shark's fin, and ingredient greatly valued in China, comes--obviously--from a shark, but not just any shark and not just any fin. Of the numerous species in the Indo-Pacific only a few are especially sought because they yield fins with the qualities required; and distinctions are also made between e.g. the dorsal fin and the ventral fins and others. Kreuzer...listed what he though were the most valuable fins, explaining that those of sharks shorter than 1.5 m (5') are preferred, and mention the pectoral fins of the sawfish shark...The value of fins, which are always sold dried, depends also upon their condition and on the length of unbroken cartilaginous 'strands' which they will yield after the very elaborate processing which they undergo in professional kitchens."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 716)

Origin & varieties
"Shark's fin...is another great delicacy in China, served at banquets and special dinners and, where found on restaurant menus, quite expensive. In the Dai Tung Restaurant in 1987 we found shark's fin dishes to be two to three times as expensive as bird's nest ones...Shark's fin seem to have first gained favor in Sung times...Domestic supply has long been too small to meet demand, and the Chinese have been forced to obtain sharks' fins from abroad. Late in the last century, the Indian ports of Bombay and Madras were identified as large suppliers of 'sharks' fins to China, mainly from the tiger shark...and shark-like guitar fishes...Other suppliers mentioned were the Philippines, Dutch East Indies, Burma, and the Hawaiian Islands...In the 1920's, most of the shark's fin imported to China came from India, where fins (from at least fourteen species of sharks, rays and certain other fish) were obtained in the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, and Indian Ocean, with Bombay and Karachi identified as very important in the shark's fin trade...The trade network may have been even more extensive in the 1950's..."
---Food in China: A Cultural and Historical Inquiry, Frederick J. Simoons [CRC Press:Boca Raton FL] 1991 (p. 431) [NOTE: Sung Dynasty 960AD-1279AD]

Culinary applications
"...the preparation differs according to whether the find is of lesser quality (loose of separated) or better quality (compact). Lesser quality fin is usually cooked in a sort of soup with chicken or crab flesh and served with them. Better quality fin...is cooked with ham or pork in a double boiler with water and wine until tender, for about three hours. Then it is carefully removed from the pot, separate from the other ingredients, and is put in another pan with specially-prepared chicken and ham bouillon. The fin is cooked for ten minutes to permit the bouillon flavor to penetrate it. Soy sauce and, if needed, salt is added, and the dish is served immediately...That the Chinese should develop such a dish is eloquent testimony to their unusual commitment to culinary experimentation as well as to the high regard in which they hold shark's fin, which, like bird's nest, is considered strengthening by the Chinese. In terms of food value, shark's fin...is very high in calcium and high in iron."
---Food in China (p. 432)

"Shark's fin...is a delicacy which belongs to the sphere of Chinese haute cuisine. It is only served at party dinners and banquets...In China, a shark's fin dish can almost be considered a culinary joke, for it takes 3 days to prepare, and only 3 minutes to eat. The reason why preparation of shark's fin takes such a long time is because in its original state, it is as tough as rhinoceros' horn. If it is be softened into a jellified state without destroying or changing its essential nature, it requires very careful handling."
---Encyclopedia of Chinese Cooking, Kenneth Lo [Galahad Books:New York] 1979, 1985 (p. 299)

How is shark fin prepared?
"When fresh, shark's fin has little flavor, but when cured its flavor is more pronounced. Curing fo the Chinese market as practiced in Malaya involved removing the fin, coating it with lime dust, rubbing the flesh with salt, and then sun-drying it...Ways of preparing shark's fin for eating have been described by various authors. The most detailed account we have found...is that of F.T. Cheng...who notes that preparation differs according to the quality of the fin, with more elaborate preparation for compact shark's fin of the finest quality. Whatever the quality...it is best to soften the fin by soaking in cold water for three days, through one can skip this stage if there is insufficient time. The fin is then prepared for cleaning by simmering for four to five hours or until the skin and bone can readily be removed. In simmering, the water is changed frequently to prevent the unpleasant odor of decayed flesh and bone from affecting the fin. Then the fin is cleaned, with careful attention to the removal of decayed flesh. Fin of low quality may lack sufficient gelatin to hold together and may be loose or even separate in the process of cleaning. Cooks make as special effort to avoid separation...for a dish of compact shark's fin is three times or more as expensive in restaurants as one of loose fin. In Canton, the cook uses a bamboo net in later stages or preparation to keep the fin compact."
---Food in China (p. 432)

"Shark Fins, Preparatory Cooking. Take two pounds of uncooked shark fins, afteer trimming off hard pieces, boil 6 hours; rinse in cold water and draain. Remove all bones aand clean until clear of sand. Place shark fins in a deep colander and put colaner in a pot with water to cover. Cook 5 hours rinse again and drain. Rub well between palms of hands and rinse again. Put into a deep bowl, pour boiling water over them. Clean in this way several times until all outer skin has been removed. Shark fins are dried and may be bought at a Chinese grocery store."
---Cook at Home in Chinese, Henry Low [Pacific Printing:Hong Kong] 1938 (p. 63)

"Shark's fins (skinless): Rinse in cold water. Soak overnight in warm water. Wash.
Drain. Simmer 1 hour with a garlic clove, small piece or ginger root or leek).
Rinse
Or: Soak 30 minutes in warm water. Wash. Drain. Simmer as above for 2 hours.
Or: Soak overnight in warm water. Cook 2 hours in chicken broth, using the bowl-within-a-pot method of steaming.
Note: Already processed shark's fins are available in some Chinese food stores, but must be ordered several days beforehand. They are quite expensive."
---The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook, Gloria Bley Miller [Grosset & Dunlap:New York] 1966, 1970 (p. 884)

[1938]
"Brown Shark Fin Soup

Hong Shiu Yu Tse
3 cups cooked shaark fins (3 lb. raw shark fins) (yu tse)
a few shreds of boiled ham
4 cups chicken stock
a dash of pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons gourmet powder (mei jing)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons rice wine (no mei jow)
2 scallions
1 piece crushed green ginger
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons black saaauce (gee yeou)
Boil shark fins 15 minutes in enough water to cover, after adding 2 teaspoons of wine, scallions and ginger. Rinse and drain. Heat chicken stock add shark fins, black sauce, salt, pepper, gourmet powder a 1 teaspoon of wine. Bring to a boil, add cornstarch which has been made into a smoooth paste, mix well and cook 2 minutes. Top with ham."
---Cook at Home in Chinese, Henry Low [Pacific Printing:Hong Kong] 1938 (p. 53)
[NOTE: This book also offers recipess for Shark Fins and Stuffed Chinese Cabbage Soup (Bok Choy Yu Tse), Shark Fins and Chinese Celery Soup (Hong Dun Yu Tse), Shark Fins and Chinese Mushroom Soup (Donng Koo Yu Tse), Shark Fins and Chinese Parsley Soup (Sai Lo Yu Tse), Shark Fins and Formosa Vegetable Soup (Sai ba Yu Tse), Shark Fins ad Breast of Chicken Soup (Samm See Yu Tse), Shark Fins and Chicken Soup (Gai Yeung Yu Tse), Shark Fins and Minced Chicken Soup (Gai See Yu Tse), Shrk Fin Soup with Fish Balls (Sou Kow Yu Tse), Shark Fin Soup With Crab Eggs (Hai Wong Yu Tse), Shark Fins and Crab Meat Soup (Hai Yu Tse), Shark Fins and Lobster Soup (Sien Har Yu Tse).]

[1966]
Shark's fin soup

"Although many Chinese banquet dishes are within the range of the home cook, several are not often prepared at home because they demand special skills and facilities. These include shark's fin [soup]...Shark's fin soup...requires particular culinary skills to produce a dish which is creamy, yet not heavy; rich in fragrance, yet still mild; with the shark's fin soft and gelatinous, but not completely dissolved...

"Shark's Fin Soup I
About 6 servings
1/2 pound dried shark's fin
1 cup white meat chicken
cornstarch
1/4 cup smoked ham
1 or 2 scallion stalks
6 cups stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Soak and process shark's fin.
2. Shred chicken; then dredge lightly in cornstarch. Mince smoked ham and scallion stalks.
3. Bring stock to a boil. Add shark's fin and simmer, covered, 20 minutes. Add chicken; simmer, covered, 10 minutes more.
4. Season with salt. Garnish with ham and scallion and serve.
NOTE: A rich clear stock should be used and the fins cooked until their gelatinous content dissolves partially, thickening the stock. The fins should be eaten when soft but still firm.

"Shark's Fin Soup II
8 to 10 servings
4 dried black mushrooms
2 scallion stalks
3 slices fresh ginger root
1 16-ounce can shark's fin
2 tablespoons sherry
4 cups water
1 chicken breast
2 scallion stalks
3 tablespoons oil
5 cups stock
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sherry
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup stock
1. Soak dried mushrooms.
2. Trim scallion stalks; slice ginger root and combine in a pan with canned shark's fin, sherry and water.
3. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, 25 minutes. Drain shark's fin, discarding the liquid, scallions and ginger root.
4. Meanwhile skin, bone and shred chicken breast. Shred soaked mushrooms; cut remaining scallions in 2 -inch sections.
5. Heat oil. Brown scallion sections lightly and discard. Add chicken shreds and stir-fry until they lose their pinkness (about 1 minute).
6. Add stock, salt, shark's fin, mushrooms, and remaining sherry. Bring to boil; then simmer, covered, 30 minutes.
7. Blend cornstarch and remaining cold stock; then stir in to thicken soup, and serve."
---The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook, Gloria Bley Miller [Grosset & Dunlap:New York] 1966, 1970 (p. 775-778)

[1968]
"Mock Sharks Fin Soup

6 cups rich chicken consomme
6 tablespoons chopped, cooked chicken meat
6 tablespoons cooked silver noodles
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 tablespsoon seived hard-cooked egg yolk.
Heat consomme to boiling point, add chicken and silver noodles and heat just long enough to heat chicken and noodles. Ladle into Chinese soup bowls and top each with a half teaspoon parsley and hlaf teaspoon sieved egg yolk. Makes 6 portions."
----Trader Vic's Pacific Island Cookbook, Victor Bergeron [Doubleday & Company: Garden City NY] 1968 (p. 128)

Related recipe? Bird's Nest Soup.


Sushi & sashimi
While sushi and
sashimi may sit side by side in contemporary upscale western-based Japanese restaurants, that was not the original intent. Sushi and sashimi evolved for two distinct culinary purposes. Amerian sushi, including California rolls descended from these traditions.

SUSHI

"Sushi marries the flavor of vinegared rice to the clean flavor of fresh raw fish and shellfish. The rice is deftly shaped into bite-sized 'fingers'. seasoned with a dab of zesty wasabi horseradish, and covered by a strip of choice seafood...Sushi originated as a way of preserving tuna, or curcian, a kind of carp. The fish was salted and allowed to mature on a bed of vinegared rice, after which the rice was discarded. Long before vinegared rice came to be eaten together with the fish and many different combination and ways of serving them evolved."
---Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art, Shizou Tsuji [Kodansha International:New York] 1980 (p. 285-288)

"The original of modern sushi is known as narezushi, a way of preserving fish by salting and fermenting between layers of rice...First the fermentation, then the salting were done away and and the rice (which once was thrown away) was converted to the sublime vinegared rice of today. Something approaching nigiri-zushi was available in a multitude of Edo (Tokyo) restaurants by the middle of the 19th century. The modern forms were not fixed...until the advent of refrigeration."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2nd edition, 2007 (p. 772)

"The beginning of all sushi making was a method of pickling fish practiced first in Southeast Asia. Long ago the mountain people of that region preserved fish by packing it wth rice. As it fermented the rice produced lactic acid, which pickled the fish and kept it from spoiling. It seems probable that it was during prehistoric times when this method of preservation was introduced to Japan along with rice cultivation. One of the for it eventually took was nare-zushi, a sushi made with carp in the vicinity of Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture. As had been th custom from the beginning, only the fish was eaten; the rice was discarded. The history of Biwa carp sushi, also called funa-suzhhi, is said to extend back 1300 years...Preparing nare-zushi takes from 2 months to more than a year. People in 15th and 16th century Japan came to think not ony that this was too time consuming but that it was a waste of rice...One thing the people of Edo were not noted for was their patience. In the middle of the 17th century, a doctor named Matsumoto Yoshiichi...hit upon the idea of adding vinegar to sushi rice. The resulting tartness was pleasing, and the time it was necessary to wait before eating the sushi was substantially reduced. Still, it was not eaten right away. In keeping with the culinary practices of the time, the rice and other ingredients were boxed or rolled up before consumption...By the early 19th century...nigiri-zushi came into being. It is often referred to as Edomae-zushi, possibly...becuase the fish and shellfish used in it were taken from the waters of the large bay on which the city is situated...By 1824 a man named Hanaya Yohei conceived the idea of sliced, raw seafood at its freshest, served on small fingers of vinegared rice...The stall he opened in the bustling Ryoguku district of Edo caught on at once...In old pictures the sushi shops of the Edo period (1603-1868) look very little like ones of today. For one thing, the cook worked seated behind a lattice. Still there is something familiar. A raised tatami-floored section for a small number of guests is shown in some pictures, and this might be considered the predecessor fo the tatami areas in some modern sushi shops. And then as now sushi could be delivered, after a fashion. Men walked around selling it from large boxes carried on their backs. In the middle of the 19th century, sushi stalls began emerging all over Edo. They were well patronized and endured until shortly after World War II. Many a proprietor of a splendid modern sushi shop got his start as a sushi stall operator. There were many ordinary sushi shops in the city, too...The stall had wheels and were hauled into place in the evening. Then the operator hung out his noren curtain to signify he was ready for business...He kept his wares in a box filed with ice, lifting the bamboo mat covereing it to display what he had to offer. On the stall's small counter, he set out one bowl of soy rice and another of sliced pickeld ginger. His sushi rice he cooked at home and brought with him in a wooden container. In winter the container was wrapped with straw wo the rice would not get too cold and unappetizing...The transition from sushi stall to the often elegant shop of today was gradual and began after the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923. For a while after shops began to be built, the stall remained, parked in front of the shop. Customers who were so inclined purchased and consumed theri food out of doors. The chairs inside the shop were mostly for the convenience of people waiting to have sushi packed in boxes to take out...Sushi stalls vanished form Tokyo streets forever after World War II...At first the stall was simply moved indoors to become the sushi chef's work space and counter."
---The Book of Sushi, Kinjiro Omae and Yuzuru Tachibana [Kodansha International:New York] 1981 (p. 104-108)

"...sushi has existed in Japan for more than a thousand years in the form of narezushi, which is also found throughout Southeast Asia and in rice-growing regions of China...From the fifteenth century, Japanese sushi developed in a direction different from the other Asia areas, beginning with the appearance of namanare-zushi. 'Namanare' means 'raw mature' and describes an intermediate phase between those states. Namanare-zushi is ready to eat between several days and a month after the mixture of fish and rice is enclosed under a weighted lid...The rice i seaten with the fish rather than discarded. Whereas narezushi is fish eaten as a side dish, the emergence of namanare-zushi was the point where sushi took on the character of a complete snack, combining staple and side dish. Narezushi developed originally as a method for preserving a large amount of fish caught at one time so it would be edible later in the year. In contrast, namanare-zushi was made in small quantities for use at festivals or feasts, and so was a luxury food rather than a preserved food. That meant that the types of fish were no longer limited to those caught seasonally in large quantities, and sushi diversified to include various sea fish, and even vegetables which were processed into vegetarian shushi. In place of the big cask used for large amounts of sushi, a small amount was made in a shallow wooden box, by topping a bed of rice with a layer of sliced fish, and applying an inner lid weighted with a stone. The finished product was sliced into long pieces. This is the forerunner of today's hakosushi ('box sushi'), and Osaka specialty...The next new direction in sushi making, devised in the late seventeenth century, was to produce a rice-and-fish combination with a tasty acidic flavour, not through fermentation but by simply adding vinegar to the rice. Thus lactic acid was replaced by acetic acid. This new 'quick sushi' was given a name that means exactly that, hayazushi. later, in the early nineteenth century, it became popular on the streets of Edo as nigiri-zushi, a convenient form that involves neither the vinegar dressing used for namasu nor the stprage technology of preserved sushi. This was the final stage in the transformation of sushi from preserved food into a fast food. The fact thet vinegar is still always added to sushi rice to give it a slightly tart taste means that a culinary tradition survives unbroken, if only barely, in the form of contemporary sushi."
---The History and Culture of Japanese Food, Naomichi Ishige [Kegan Paul:London] 2001 (p. 227-231)

Sashimi

"For Westerners, shashimi is perhaps the archetypal Japanese dish; thinly sliced raw fish served typically with grated horseradish or with a ginger and soy sauce. The preparation of the fish, with a villainously sharp knife, is a skill perfected with long practice."
---An A-Z of Food & Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 301)

"Sashimi, a Japanese term for a dish of sliced raw fish. The word is derived from sashi (to pierce) and mi (flesh), with no element specifying fish or seafood; and similar techniques can be used to produce dishes called sashimi chicken or beef, but these are rarities by comparison with the ubiquitous fish sashimi. Tsuji...has declared sahimi to be 'the crowning glory of the formal meal' in Japan...and emphasizes that its preparation is not just a matter of choosing supremely fresh fish but also of taking into account the seasonings at which the various species are at their best. Sashimi is presented wtih great elegance in an arrangement."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2nd edition, 2007 (p. 695)

"Sashimi is served searly in the meal so its subtle flavor may be enjoyed while one is still hungry and before one's palate is sates with cooked foods. Home meals a usually served all at once, but the sashimi should be eaten first, for the same reason...Sashimi is usually served on individual shallow dishes (or plates) in slices...Five or six rectangular slices rest like fallen dominoes against a high bed of crisp, shred-cut giant white radish..."
---Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art, Shizou Tsuji [Kodansha International:New York] 1980 (p. 159)

"In Japan the word sashimi frist appears in literature of the mid-fifteenth cnetury. Before that time raw fish dishes were always called namasu, a term which appears in literature from as early as the eighth century. Namasu is thinly sliced raw fish that is eaten with a vinegar-based dressing poured over it. The dressing may contain spices, such as a salted paste of grated ginger and the sharp-tasting tade...or miso...The there was a time when the words namasu and sashimi were synonymous, sashimi took on a different meaning when the current style was established in the Edo period. Namasu is cut into long cord-like pieces and dressed, whereas sashimi appears to have originated with city dwellers. Wasabi was a wild plant until sashimi became popular in the Edo period and the supply could no longer meet the demand, after which it became domesticated...Before modern refrigeration and transport technologies were developed, people in inland areas have very few chances to eat sea-fish sashimi, which made it the symbol of a great feast. From the 1960s sashimi has been a regular item on the Japanese dinner table..."
---The History and Culture of Japanese Food, Naomichi Ishige [Kegan Paul:London] 2001 (p. 224-227)


General Tso's chicken
General Tso's Chicken, like so many popular Chinese-American dishes, has an interesting history. A little legend, a little fact, and several claimants to the invention/introduction of recipe. Indeed, the genesis of this particular dish does appear to have Chinese roots. Tangy coated stir-fried chicken is representative of several regional cuisines. The dish, as we Americans know it today, is quite different.

This is what the food historians say:

"In 1974, Henry Chung opened his Hunan Restaurant in San Francisco, probably the first such eatery west of the Mississippi. The original list of Hunan specialties served in the United States incuded harvest pork, beef with watercress, and honey ham with lotus nuts. Soon diners also began to notice a dish of chicken chunks in a savory, spicy sauce. Shun Lee called in "General Ching's Chicken,"; other eateries called in "General Tso's Chicken," The restaurant impresario David Keh told Roy Andries de Groot of the Chicago Tribune a complicated story of how General Tso, a real military hero, had invented the dish in his retirement, when he had "turned his creative energies to the development and improvement of the aromatic, peppery, spicy Hunanese cuisine." In reality, however, the chef who invented General Tso's chicken, Peng Chang-kuei, was then cooking on east Forty-fourth Street in Manhattan. Born in 1919 in the capital of Hunan Province, Peng had been apprenticed to one of Hunan's most prominent chefs and ended up, after the Communits takeover, in Taiwan. There he met President Chiang Kai-shek, who appreciated his cooking skills...During this period, he invented a number of signature dishes, including General Tso's chicken, made from chunks of dark meat chicken marinated in egg whites and soy sauce."
---Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States, Andrew Coe [Oxford University Press:New York] 2009 (p. 241-243)

"Before Chef Wang opened Hunam in 1972, he and Michael had visited Hong Kong and Taiwan, where they'd been inspired by the General Tso's chicken dish at Chef Peng's restaurant in Taipei...In response, Chef Wang had created his own general's chicken dish, but with an American twist...The key...was to crispy-coat things...Chef Wang needed a name for his chicken dish. 'We all wanted to use the name of a renowned feneral from Hunan in the Qing Dynasty,'...Chef Wang introduced General Ching's chicken...In 1974, the local ABC news station in New York did a segment on Chef Peng's restaurant. Reporter Bob Lape...visited Chef Peng in his kitchen and taped the maked of General Tso's chicken. After the segment ran, about fifteen hundred people wrote in and asked for the recipe...Television is perhaps how General Tso's name achieved recognition...[Cher Peng]...recounted that he had created the original dish in perhaps 1955 or 1956, on the island of taiwan...He had named it after the general because he wanted to use a symbal of Hunan... I told him that the dish known as General Tso's chcken was now perhaps the most popular Chinese dish in all of America...Cher Peng asked me if I had tried General Tso's chicken at his restaurant and if the versions in America were similar..."The American versions are sweet,"...he spoke again. 'Chinese cusine took on an American influcence in order to make a business out of it..."
---"The Long March of General Tso," Fortune Cookie Chronicles, Jennifer 8. Lee [Twelve:New YOrk] 2008 (p. 66-83)

Who was General Tso?

"General Tso Tsungtang, or as his name is spelled in modern Pinyin, Zuo Zongtang, was born on Nov. 10, 1812, and died on Sept. 5, 1885. He was a frighteningly gifted military leader during the waning of the Qing dynasty, a figure perhaps the Chinese equivalent of the American Civil War commander William Tecumseh Sherman. He served with brilliant distinction during China's greatest civil war, the 14-year-long Taiping Rebellion, which claimed millions of lives. Tso was utterly ruthless. He smashed the Taiping rebels in four provinces, put down an unrelated revolt called the Nian Rebellion, then marched west and reconquered Chinese Turkestan from Muslim rebels...Tso emerges from several sources as a self-made man, born in Hunan province, a hilly hot-tempered heartland, whose cuisine rivals that of Sichuan for sheer firepower. (While Sichuan food is hot right up front, in the mouth, in your face; Hunanese cuisine tends to build up inside you, like a slow charcoal fire, until you feel as though your belly is filled with burning coals.) As a young man Tso flunked the official court exams three times, a terrible disgrace. He returned home, married and devoted himself to practical studies, like agriculture and geography. He took up silkworm farming and tea farming and chose a gentle sobriquet, calling himself "The Husbandman of the River Hsiang."...He was 38 when the Taiping Rebellion broke out in 1850. For the rest of his life, Tso would wield the sword, becoming one of the most remarkably successful military commanders in Chinese history. The Taiping Rebellion -- a movement that in part advocated Christian doctrine -- nearly toppled the Qing dynasty. It was founded by Hong Xiuquan, a Chinese mystic who believed he was the younger brother of Jesus...Tso made war, and war made Tso. He began his military career as an adjutant and secretary for the governor of Hunan province. He raised a force of 5,000 volunteers and took the field in September 1860, driving the Taiping rebels out of Hunan and Guangxi provinces, into coastal Zhejiang. There he captured the big cities of Shaoxing, still famous for its sherrylike rice wine. From there he pushed south into Fujian and Guangdong provinces, where the revolt had first begun and spread, and had crushed the Taipings by the time the rebellion ended in 1864. The Taiping Rebellion was the greatest upheaval in 19th century China. It caused massive displacements and shifts in population. Hundreds of thousands of people fled or emigrated, many to America, where they worked building the transcontinental railroad, which was completed in 1869...Indeed some believe it quite likely that the dish was whipped up for the general after some signal victory, just as Chicken Marengo was whipped up for Napoleon after he defeated the Austrians at Marengo on June 14, 1800. Still, the recipe is not particularly original -- the ingredients are used in many stir-fry Chinese dishes -- and the dark meat chicken argues for a humbler origin. It's a poor man's dish, not a feast for a field marshal. Is it possible that, struggling to carve out a new life in America under backbreaking adversities, and having heard of the sword skills of the remorseless General Tso (who had the top leaders of the Nian Rebellion executed with the proverbial "death of 10,000 cuts"), the overseas exiles indulged in some gallows-humor about their old enemy? That the chopped-up chicken dish may have gotten its name from the sliced and diced victims of Tso's grim reprisals? This might conceivably explain why General Tso's Chicken is very much an overseas Chinese dish, filtering the hot, peppery taste of Hunan cuisine, through the sweetening process of Cantonese cooking. Most of the immigrants to America came from coastal regions: Shanghai and Canton. The details of Tso's life are easy to document. But how the chicken got named for him is another matter. In "Chinese Kitchen" (Morrow, 1999), author Eileen Yin-Fei Lo says that dish is a Hunan classic called "chung ton gai," or "ancestor meeting place chicken." But to others, General Tso's chicken recipe may be no more ancient than 1972, and may have more in common with Manhattan than with mainland China...."Around 1974, Hunan and Szechuan food were introduced to the city, and General Tso's Chicken was an exemplar of the new style. Peng's, on East 44th Street, was the first restaurant in NYC to serve it, and since the dish (and cuisine) were new, Chef Peng was able to make it a House Specialty, in spite of its commonplace ingredients." My own research led me to the same city, but a different Manhattan restaurateur, who claims the dish is the brilliant invention of his former partner, a gifted Chinese immigrant chef named T.T. Wang. "He went into business with me in 1972," said Michael Tong, owner of New York's Shun Lee Palaces, East (155 E. 55th St.) and West (43 W. 65th St.). "We opened the first Hunanese restaurant in the whole country, and the four dishes we offered you will see on the menu of practically every Hunanese restaurant in America today. They all copied from us."
---"Who Was General Tso And Why Are We Eating His Chicken?" Michael Browning, The Washington Post, Apr 17, 2002, pg. F.01

Need more details? General Tso, The "Mystery Man"/Flavor and Fortune magazine

Empress Chicken
Dishes titled "Empress Chicken," are the same recipe as
General Tso only made with white meat rather than dark. Our survey of historic newspapers confirm the Empress first surfaces in the Hunan-American restaurants in the mid-1980s. We find no particular person or restaurant claiming the honor of invention. Generally, whiter meat=more Americanization.

We also found this:
"Empress Chicken will be served at the Empress Seafood Restaurant located on the sixth floor of the Xinqiao Hotel. Service begins August 28. Operated by the Hong Kong-based Galaxy (China) Ltd, the restaurant boasts a karaoke bar and a nightclub, in addition to a luxury banquet hall that can seat 70 customers at a time. The restaurant mainly provides Guangdong dishes, one of the eight major cuisines in China. It is introducing to Beijing the dish known as Empress Chicken, which enjoys an excellent reputation in Hong Kong. Empress Chicken doesn't taste like broiled or fried chicken. It resembles Peking Duck, in that it is roasted whole and emerges from the oven with a crisp, slightly sweet skin. The bird is sliced just before serving. Its skin is moist with the chicken's natural juices. To ensure that Beijing Empress Chicken tastes like its Guangzhou counterpart, Empress Seafood Restaurant plans to airlift Sanhuang chickens from Guangzhou daily rather than rely on local supplies. It will offer Empress Chicken in its dining room and also boxed for take-out. The restaurant has brought Yuan Shenglian, a famous Hong Kong chef, to Beijing to run its kitchen."
---"Empress Chicken comes to Beijing," Beijing Weekend 6 August 1993 (p.5)

Again no "inventor." General notes on Peking Duck & related dishes here.


Potstickers
Potstickers (aka pot stickers) belong to the dumpling family. Global and local, these delicious filled dough morsels are enjoyed in most cultures and cuisines. Ingredients, recipes, and cooking methods vary according to culture and cuisine. About
dumplings.

Chinese cuisine offers many different kinds of dumplings. They may be served for appetizers (dim sum) or with the main course. Dumplings may be steamed, boiled, sautéed or fried. Our survey of Chinese cookbooks, culinary texts and magazine/newspaper articles returned conflicting reports as to the origin of what we Americans now call “potstickers.” Some sources state this item belongs to the Northern provinces, where steamed wheat products are favored over rice. Other sources credit Cantonese cooks for introducing potstickers to the USA. Both theories have merit. Why the name? Presumably it describes how the product adheres to the cooking receptacle. The earliest USA print sources we find mentioning potstickers date to the mid-1970s (see recipes below). Popularity, measured by references in magazines/newspapers continues to grow in each century. So do the recipes and definitions.

About Chinese dumplings
The dumpling is a gastronomic ambassador across China's regions, ethnic groups and even religions," says Ted Anthony, a former China News Editor of The Associated Press. Though pork is a popular filling, the Chinese landscape and the adaptability of dumpling recipes are broad enough to handle the great variety of religious and ethnic dietary mandates in the country. Dumplings may be sweet or fiery hot, small as a pearl or as large as a soup bowl. But China's varying climates and topography have dictated one constant in the 3,000-year history of Chinese dumplings: The wrappings are traditionally wheat-based in the north and rice-based in the south. Though chefs can serve more than 100 varieties of dumplings, that "doesn't begin to scratch the surface of the variety prepared in the kitchens every day throughout every province in China," says San Francisco-based celebrity chef Martin Yan, who recently established his Martin Yan Culinary Arts Institute in Chengdu, located in the "spice box" province of Sichuan. "You are not using just one filling or one way of folding, or even one way of cooking," he says. "It is an art, an age-old heritage for thousands of years, different from city to city, village to village. The fillings could be anything: chopped nuts, fermented rice, red-bean paste and many varieties of vegetables, meats and seafood." The Cantonese call their version of the jiaozi "bao gee." In the south it may be steamed or deep-fried. Up north it usually would be boiled. If the jiaozi is flipped into a frying pan for browning, it would be called guotie, which translates as "pot stickers." Won tons, or hundun in Mandarin, are usually smaller and have a more irregular shape than jiaozi. In Xi'an, China's capital for 1,000 years, restaurants are famous for their dumplings. At this central Chinese city's Tang Dynasty Theatre Restaurant, which features music programs from the Tang reign, ending in 907 A.D., the first item on its extensive prix-fixe menu is a dumpling dish. In Shanghai, the steamed soup dumpling, or xiao long bao, is a popular item, prepared with a gelatinous dollop of soup, and usually a ball of seasoned pork, sealed in dough. As the dumpling is steamed, the gelatin melts to provide the diner with a burst of hot, nutritious food. ."
---“Reigning dumplings,” falseRichard L. Papiernik, Nation's Restaurant News, March 10, 2008 (p. 31,50).

"From the pot stickers and succulent dumplings of the northern provinces…"FOOD, CULINARY IDENTITY, AND TRANSNATIONAL CULTURE: Chinese Restaurant Business in Southern California,” Liu, Haiming Lin, Lianlian, Journal of Asian American Studies, June 2009, p. 135-162, 138)

POT STICKER RECIPES

“Pot Stickers with Beef and Water Chestnuts (Shanghai)
1 recipe for jao tze dough
Filling:
1 pound lean ground beef
¾ cup minced tangerine peel, soaked to soften and minced
2 tablespoon minced coriander leaves
1 teaspoon minced ginger root
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon each sugar and salt
½ teaspoon Oriental sesame oil
Combine filling ingredients and let stand 20 minutes to blend flavors. Roll dough as directed and fill, making bonnet shape…Place on oiled pan in one layer and steam over boiling water 15 minutes.

“Jao Tze (Peking)
1 recipe for jao tze dough
Filing:
1 pound lean ground pork butt or beef
2 slices ginger root, minced
2 green onions, minced
1 cup blanched, chopped Napa cabbage or spinach
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons rice wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon Oriental sesame oil
For dipping:
Rice vinegar
Chili oil
Soy sauce
Combine filling ingredients and let stand 20 minutes to blend flavors. Roll and cut dough skins as directed. Fill and shape into bonnet shape…Bring 3 quarts water to boil and jao tze and bring water back to boil. Immediately add 1 cup cold water. Bring back to boil and remove with strainer. Serve with rice vinegar, chili oil and soy sauce.

“Kuoteh or Pot Stickers (Fried Jao Tze)
Prepare jao tze, preceding, but do not cook. Heat 2 flat-bottomed skillets until very hot and add 2 tablespoons peanut oil to each skillet. Place jao tze in skillets in one layer. Cover and heat over low heat 5 minutes or until browned. Add 1/3 cup stock or water to each skillet, cover and cook 5 minutes or longer until liquid has completely evaporated. Turn out onto warm platter browned side up and serve.”
---Regional Cooking of China, Margaret Gin & Alfred E. Castle [101 Productions:San Francisco] 1975 (p. 166-167)

“Jao Tze Dough (Peking)
2 cups unbleached flour
½ teaspoon salt
Approximately ¾ cup hot water
Combine flour and salt. Gradually add hot water, stirring constantly with chopsticks or fork to form dough. Turn out on floured board and knead 5 minutes. Cover with dampened tea towel and let rest 20 minutes. Knead again for 5 minutes and roll into ropes 1 inch in diameter. Cut into 40 1-inch pieces. Roll out each piece into a 3-inch circle keeping remaining pieces covered with tea towel. Fill with desired filling and fold in desired shape. Yield: approximately 40 rounds…To Make Bonnet Shape. Make 4 pleats on one half of skin. Bring other half of skin up to form a pocket and fill with 1 tablespoon filling. Bring flap up and over to enclose filling and pinch edges together.”
---Regional Cooking of China (p. 161)

Related items? Wontons & Dim Sum.


Ramen noodles
Our research indcates Ramen-style noodles migrated to Japan, via China, in the 1920s. Instant ramen noodles were invented by
Momofuku Ando, a Japanese food manuracturer in 1958. The product arrived in the USA in 1970. Tasty, cheap & easy to prepare, ramen continues to play a key role in the American the dry-soup market

[1920s] RAMEN NOODLES TRAVEL FROM CHINA TO JAPAN

"Chinese-style ramen noodles of Japan are more elastic and hence chewier than the traditional Japanese wheat noodles (udon, somen, and kishimen). The difference results from the Chinese technique of adding alkali to the salty water that is used to knead the wheat dough. This also gives the noodles a pale yellow hue and a particular aroma. The were served in Chinese restaurants and by street peddlers from about 1920 as a dish called shina soba (Chinese soba), but because that name had a derogatory nuance it was changed after the Second World War to chuka soba (Chinese soba), or, more commonly, ramen. The word ramen probably came from the Chinese la mian ('handmade noodles') although there are other theories. The dish consists basically of noodles in a pork or chicken broth seasoned with black pepper and topped with slices of pork and various other items. In the post-war years, many Japanese who had returned from living in Manchuria or other parts of China opened ramen shops with great success. It was a time of food shortages in Japan, and not only did Chinese food in general have a reputation for high nutrition, but ramen with its meat broth and meat topping offered more protein than most traditional Japanese noodle dishes. Ramen shops have remained common throughout the county every since. Many distinctive local version of ramen were established as the shops in each region concentrated on the varieties of oup seasonings and toppings appreciated by local people. Among the best known is Sapporo ramen...which fatures heavy noodles...a rich thick broth seasoned with miso instead of the more common salt and soy sauce, and locally produced toppings of butter and maize...This proliferation of regional varieties is remarkable, as it runs counter to the strong national trend toward standardization of food which has accompanied the growth of nationwide distribution networks and the mass media since the 1960s. Now the local ramen dishes have themselves gone national, as chains of ramen shops specialized in particular styles have developed in the large cities. This relatively new Japanese food has indeed developed with great dynamism."
---The History and Culture of Japanese Food, Naomichi Ishige [Kegan Paul:London] 2001 (p. 251-253)

[1958] INSTANT RAMEN NOODLES

"Nissin founder, Momofuku Ando, has always instilled a sense of commitment and quality in Nissin products. Today, Nissin's corporate philosophy inspires this same commitment to taste, convenience, and quality. Mr. Ando began the company as part of a humble family operation back in 1948. Faced with sparse food sources after World War II, Mr. Ando realized that a quality, convenient ramen product would help to feed the masses. His goal was to create a satisfying ramen that could be eaten anywhere, anytime. In 1958, Nissin introduced "Chicken Ramen", the first instant ramen. Ironically, it was considered a luxury item, since Japanese grocery stores sold fresh Japanese noodles (udon) at one-sixth the cost of Mr. Ando's new food concept. Still, Mr. Ando was convinced that his revolutionary new method of preparation would sell. The concept seemed simple enough. All users would have to do is simply remove the ramen from its package, place it in a bowl, add boiling water, cover the bowl, and wait three minutes. The conservative Japanese food industry, however, rejected the product as a novelty with no future. They had never been so wrong. Soon, Chicken Ramen was selling beyond even Mr. Ando's wildest expectations. Before you could say "instant", more than ten companies were rushing to put their own versions out on the market. By the end of 1958, grocery shelves were crowded with this new staple for the Japanese kitchen."
SOURCE: Nissan Company Web
[NOTE: according to the article below, Mr. Ando's instant ramen product was introduced to USA markets in 1970.]

[1989] THE MARKET CONTINUES TO GROW

"Ramen--the word is Japanese, referring to a broth with noodles--has thin tightly curied noodles and has been one of the leading fast foods of Asia since World War II. Selling for anywhere from a dime to 75 cents a package in this country, it now accounts for 73 percent of United States dry-soup sales, by volume, in a segment of the market that also includes non-ramen products made by the Campbell Soup Company, Thomas J. Lipton Inc. and Knorr Soups...Campbell Soup, one of the world's largest soup companies, still does not have a ramen product in its national line...Lipton...only recently rolled out its Lots-a-Noodles instante Oriental soup nationally...Because of its low price and ease of preparation, many consumers first acquired their taste for ramen while in college...Ramen's intense taste, as much as its low price, helps account for its popularity...Despite ramen's growing popularity, there is reason for the tentative approach of the domestic soup makers. 'How much money can you make on a package of soup that costs 15 cents?'...Nissin introduced ramen to the United States in 1970...Asian ramen makers have offered cup rpoducts since 1974."
---"New Competition in Noodle Soup," Eben Shapiro, New York Times, December 26, 1989 (p. D1)

[1998] WORLD RAMEN SUMMIT CONVENES

"...the delegates of the World Ramen Summit recently said they're confident they can meet their objective: to sell the world more instant noodles. As part of their mission to get consumers to use their noodles, the ramen producers from around the owrld also created IRMA: the Instant Ramen Manufacturers' Association. Pretty heady stuff for the humble package of instant noodles--just-ad-hot-water, way-under-a-dollar snack that now commands a colossal world market. Noodle-slurpers around the world take in 40 billion packs of instant ramen every year--about seven for every man, woman and child on the face of the planet...[Momofuku] Ando, who was annointed IRMA's first chairman, said he never imagined that the convenient snack product he created would be such a success. 'When the market was young, there were many who didn't accept the idea of instant ramen noodles. But now instant ramen is enjoyed widely overseas and represents a piece of Japan's lifestyle,' he said."
---"Instant Noodle Makers Intend on Selling More," Seth Sutel, Philadelphia Tribune, July 7, 1998 (p. 2B)
[NOTE: IRMA is now the World Instant Noodle Association]

[2004] TRADITIONAL RAMEN SHOPS FLOURISH

"In Japanese ramenyas (ramen shops) a bowl of ramen holds a house-made aoup, springy noodles, the chef's own tare (a mix of soy sauce, sugar and rice wine to flvor the soup) and exactly six traditional toppings. The wait at top Tokyo ramenyas can be up to three hours. Remember the 1985 movie 'Tampopo.' in which a ramen chef undergoes training as rigorous as a boxer's to create the perfect bowl of noodle soup? That's ramen mania. And with new and authentic ramenyas opening in Manhattan, New Yorkers are getting a taste. Places like Momofuku, Mnca Ramen Factory and Rai Ken in the East Village offer Berkshire pork, free-range chicken and proprietary blends of organix miso paste...The difference between these richly satisfying bowls and packaged a]ramen, flavored mostly with MSG, is vast. 'New York might never have really great ramen, just like Tokyo might never have really great pizza...But I'm having a lot of fun trying.' In Japan ramen is more than a cheap cup of noodles. It is the national dish, cheaper than sushi, available everywhere and perpetually fashionable. With its rich, meaty broth, ramen is very different from other Japanese soups; in fact the dish is a relatively recent import from China. But since Ramen became popular in Japan in the 1950s, it has been a national institution: quick, inexpensive street food, as closely associated with young people and budget meals as it is here. One Japanese name for instant ramen is gakusei ryori, or student cuisine. Ramen stalls cluster around train stations, and vending machines provide customized bowls...Like American barbecue joints, ramen shops close when they run out of their key ingredient: soup...This only adds to their mystique...The ramen museum and theme park in Yokohama, which serves all eight major regional styles of ramen, receives more than 120,000 visitors each year,. This is not to be confused with the instant ramen museum in Ikeda, a separate tribute to the founder of Nissin Foods...Japanese diners start with the noodles, lifting them with chopsticks and sucking up the strands whole. (Biting noodles is considered unlucky in most Asian cultures, as they represent longevity). The toppings are eaten between mouthfuls of noodles. And last comes the broth, which grows richer and more flavorful as it cools, because the stgarch of the noodles and the flavors of the toppings have been released into the soup."
---"Here Comes Ramen, The Slurp Heard Round the World," Julia Moskin, New York Times, November 10, 2004 (p. F1)

Ramen Museum: Ramen Museum & Instant Raman Museum

Related foods? pasta, soba noodles & noodle bars


Soba noodles
According to the food historians, buckwheat originated in Eastern Asia. Archealogical evidence suggests this grain has been cultivated in Japan since very ancient times. How did it arrive on the island? Our books do not specify. Early Japanese cooks used buckwheat for porridge-like foods. Noodle-type recipes are thought to have arrived from China during the Tang Dynasty. Soba noodles are generally placed in the Edo period [16th century].

Our sources indicate soba noodles symbolize the wealth, peace and proserity resulting from the Edo period (17th century). While various sources confirm soba are popular New Years fare, it is not the primary food tradition for this particular holiday. That honor, understandably, belongs to rice. Below please find general notes on Japanese New Year foods, soba & buckwheat (the primary ingredient in soba).

"Here we shall briefly survey the foods and beverages associated with a few of the most important of the numerous annual festivals held throughout Japan...1 January. The most important of the festival days and the first day of the calendar, the New Year is a time for prayer for a year of happiness and ceremonies in anticipation of an abundant rice crop. Homes are made ready for the visit of the deity of the incoming year (toshigami), which may be understood in anthropological terms as a rice spirit. Large kagamimochi rice cakes which symbolize the deity are popularly displayed. New Year observances and the eating of mochi continue until 7 January. Zoni, a soup containing mochi and other ingredients such as leafy greens and fish, is traditionally the main dish of the morning meal on the first three days of the year. Similar dishes are customary at the New Year in southern China and in Korea. Before eating zoni on the first day, sake laced with medicinal herbs (toso) is drunk, another practice that was introduced from China, where it has now died out."
---The History and Culture of Japanese Food, Naomichi Ishige [Keegan Paul:London] 2001 (p. 64)

About soba
"Soba, the Japanese word for buckwheat, and for noodles made from buckwheat, which are traditionally preferred in the eastern half of Japan, especially in Tokyo. Buckwheat has been eaten in Japan from early antiquity, but it was in the 17th century that soba became common, though it must have been known earlier. The increased popularity of soba at this time was encouraged by a rise in the production of buckwheat, in the wake of the period of peace and prosperity that followed the setting up of centralized government in Edo (present-day Tokyo) in 1603 after decades of civil strife. Soba has always had a dual identity. In rural areas, where buckwheat was an important element in the daily diet, it tends to be made specially for festive occasions. On the other hand, it has always been readily available to city dwellers as a street food...In the Edo period (1603-1868), when buckwheat noodles first became popular, colored noodles were often made by incorporating various ingredients...into the basic dough--in the same way that spinach is sometimes added to pasta dough."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 732)

"Noodles came to be widely eaten in China during the Tang dynasty (618-907). For Japan, there is evidence of a food of Chinese origin called cakubei or muginawa what was eaten from the eighth century until the medieval age. Although some think it was a confection, the records of the ingredients and tools used to make sakubei have led me to believe it was a predecessor of the very thin wheat noodles caled somen...The debut of soba in the historical record was in 1574. Previously, buckwheat had been boiled whole to make a gruel, or ground up and kneaded with hot water to a texture resembling polenta. As the technique of rolling out dough became popular, udon [made with wheat] and soba became the two main types of noodles. Soba is traditionally more popular in eastern Japan, where dry field cultivation is more common, while udon tends to be preferred in Western Japan, where the warmer climate allows the cultivation of wheat as a second crop after rice is harvested from the paddies. Both types reached a height of popularity as snack foods in the urban noodle shops of the Edo period."
---The History and Culture of Japanese Food, Naomichi Ishige [Keegan Paul:London] 2001 (p. 77-9)


Moon cakes
Our research indicates these ceremonial cakes originated in China. The exact origins are unknown, rendering them an excellent example of edible folklore.

"Legend has it that mooncakes were cunningly used by women to start a revolution against the hated Mongol rulers in the 14th century. They hid paper strips with secret messages inside the cakes, year after year during the Moon Festival, when sending mooncakes to neighbours, friends, and families, a procedure so traditional and universal that the Mongols never suspected what was happening."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2nd edition, 2006 (p. 516)

"We feel obliged to mention one attractive and frequently-noted type of cake, which, if one story is true, played a significant role in Chinese history. We are referring to "moon cakes," about which there are different stories of origin... In traditional China, they were prepared and eaten at the time of the "Moon Festival" or "Mid-Autumn Festival," a festival in which household women may offer such cakes to the moon, the cakes later being eaten by members of the family. Moon cakes were also commonly exchanged as gifts with friends, thereby serving to strengthen ties with them. Moon cakes are made of gray or "moon-colored" flour; they are circular in shape, like a full moon; sweet; filled with stuffing; and may be stamped with the emblem of the deity and decorated with instructions of floral or other motifs, such as that of the rabbit, which is associated with the moon...Because they required elaborate preparation using special equipment, moon cakes are commonly bought in shops or restaurants rather than made at home. In North China...moon cake fillings are of just two types, a paste of brown dates or one in white sugar, but in South China fillings of considerable variety are used...As to the story referred to above...which is more of a legend, it is said that during a rebellion of the Chinese against their Mongol rulers in the fourteenth century A.D. messages calling for rebellion against the Mongols were baked into moon cakes at the start of the Moon Festival, and this led to an uprising and to the eventual overthrow of the Yuan dynasty. This moon-cake story bears a striking similarity to the one about India's Sepoy Rebellion, and the role of Chapitis in signaling an uprising against another foreign ruler, the British."
---Food in China: A Cultural and Historical Inquiry, Frederick J. Simoons [CRC Press:Boca Raton FL] 1991 (p. 88-89)

"There is another legend about the August moon. As the Yuan (Mongol) Dynasty was waning, Chu Hung Wu and his partner Liu Bo Wen were plotting to overthrow the Mongols (or foreigners). Their revolutionary movement was very popular but it took from 1356 to 1382 C.E. to unseat them. In the last and successful campaign to overthrow the Mongols, the uprising coincided with the August Moon Festival and the people fighting the Mongols hid their messages of war in the moon cakes to avoid detection. Chu Hung Wu with Liu Bo Wen's help eventually unified China and became the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty. So the moon cake became a symbol of patriotism, freedom, and independence. Unfortunately, much of the folklore is lost these days, and we enjoy the moon cake as just another Chinese delicacy."
---
Flavor & Fortune

"However mooncakes figure into this day of festivity involves another story. It is rooted more in history than myth, circa the 14th Century. China then was ruled by Mongols. Chinese noblemen, hoping to evade snooping ears of Mongol spies planted in their household to discourage rebellion, instructed cooks to roll messages of insurrection in round cakes being prepared for Moon Festival. Thousands of conspiratorial cakes thus were delivered, enabling rebels to rout the Mongols, in a coordinated uprising."
---"Mooncakes give Moon Festival a flavor out of this world," Richard Phillips, Chicago Tribune, September 11, 1986 (p. G7)

[1876]
"Moon-cakes once more adorn the street stalls, and some of them are put in boxes of a circular full-moon shape, which our Celestial friends send to each other like Christmas boxes."
---North China Herald, Shanghai, October 12, 1876 (p. 24)

[1892]
"To-day is the Mid-autumn Festival, and the people are busy...To-night is the great worship of the moon. For days dealers have been doing a good business selling large flat round mooncakes, inscribed in red characters with a suitable device. These will be offered with due ceremony to the moon this evening. After sunset each family will place a table outside the house in full view of the moon, and on it place the mooncakes. To these the master of the house will burn incense...6th October."
---"Kiukiang," North China Herald, October 14, 1892 (p. 13)

Note: the earliest print reference we find for Chinese mooncakes in a USA newspaper was published in 1884 [Biddeford Maine].

Related food (hidden-message theme)? Fortune cookies.


Noodle bars
The concept of noodles as "fast food" is traditional Asian. Large, flavor-filled bowls of noodles have been consumed in many regions of China for hundreds of years. The Western-style "noodle bar" is a recent restaurant trend capitalizing on the popularity of Asian flavors, quick service, and affordable eats. Noodle bars are marketed to upscale consumers as a "fast food" alternative. Our personal experience working in midtown Manhattan circa early 1980s confirms Japanese-style noodle eateries (mostly soups) were very popular. Dishes were moderately priced and majorly delicious. A survey of magazine and newspaper articles suggests this new wave of noodle bars crested in the USA during the late 1990s. Zao Noodle [California] is perfect case study.

"Specialized snack shops serving soba or udon noodles appeared in the large cites during the Edo period. At first udon was considered the relatively higher-calss food, for wheat was traded at strong prices while buckwheat was considered a poor man's crop that was grown to stave off hunger. By the end of the eighteenth century, Edoites had come to regard soba as the more refined of the two, and this was in fact due to the refinements in the soba products sold on the city's streets. The flour for soba noodles was changed from pure buckwheat, which provides a rough texture, to a mixture of 80 per cent buckwheat and 20 per cent wheat, which is still the standard today. The result was noodles that were finer than udon and had the special aroma of buckwheat, and also slid easily through the throat, a characteristic that was prized because Edoites liked to slurp down their noodles quickly."
---The History and Culture of Japanese Food, Naomichi Ishige [Keegan Paul:London] 2001 (p. 249-250)

"The Chinese fondness for snacks and "small eats" reaches a kind of apotheosis in the south [of China]...Noodle soups with meat (red-cooked beef or ch'a chai pork are typical) and won ton soups are even commoner. The amount of noodles per serving is large enough to make these dishes full meals in themselves."
---Food of China, E. N. Anderson [Yale University Press:New Haven] 1988 (p. 215)

"The parent of the growing chain, Noodle Bar Inc. of El Cerrito, was founded in 1996 by Adam Willner, who previously worked for the upscale Il Fornaio Italian dinner-house chain and San Francisco's Cypress Club, among others. He said the concept is a response to the growing interest in Asian foods by Americans and added that the full-service chain's mission is to serve "fresh, made-to-order exotic foods at accessible prices." How accessible? The per-person check average is between $10 and $11, vice president of operations Matthew Baizer reported. Willner, who is also the company's president, opened the first Zao Noodle branch near Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., in early 1997. That 1,500-square-foot restaurant seats 46 people and is the chain's highest-volume unit, with annual sales of about $1.6 million, he said. It wasn't long before college students, Palo Alto's affluent and food-savvy residents and visitors were streaming into the Palo Alto Zao Noodle Bar. Its menu featured such foods as Vietnamese vegetable summer rolls with Hoisin-caramelized onion dipping sauce; Shanghai noodles with ginger, garlic, chili, chicken and prawns; and seared salmon and soba noodles with gingermiso broth. The chain added two restaurants in San Francisco in 1999 and two more in that city and one in Seattle last year."
---ZAO EXECUTIVES USE THEIR NOODLES TO KEEP CONCEPT EXOTIC, ACCESSIBLE, GROWING ,"Liddle, Alan J. Liddle, Nation's Restaurant News, 04/16/2001, (p. 24)
[About
Zao]

"Every year a new trend surfaces in restaurants -- and noodle bars are becoming the thing for 1998. Patrons typically start with a bowl of their choice of noodles. Then they build up from there, heaping whatever they're in the mood for --meats, vegetables, sauces, etc. -- on top. Often, noodle bars cater to the Oriental food market, but they've been popping up in Italian eateries as well. The big question is: will this trend spill over into venues as well? Not surprisingly, it looks like California is the first to test this menu option. To be more specific, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles."
---"Noodling Around with a new concept," Athena Schaffer, Amusement Business, May 11, 1998 (p. 26)


Peking duck & beggar's chicken
Food historians tell us
duck cookery may have originated in China thousands of years ago. Peking duck is considered one of the most famous examples. Notes here:

"Peking duck,...a term most used for a special way of cooking duck which produces what is probably the most famous dish of Beijing (formerly Peking); and also the name for the variety of duck used in this dish, and now commonly bred in many parts of the world. Chinese authorities do not attribute a very long history to the dish. Roast duck had been recorded from the distant past, but his originally meant a Nanjing duck, of small size and black feathers, not artificially fattened. The story goes that the transfer of the capital for Nanjing to Peiking brought unexpected results for the duck which lived along side the canal used for grain supplies. These ducks, which like the Nanjing ducks were mallard ducks, were now able to geast on grains which fell overboard from barges, and they gradually became larger. In the course of time there evolved a new variety of duck, not only larger but plumper, and with white plumage. The plumpness was increased by the practice of force-feeding, mentioned in texts from the Five Dynasties in the 10th century AD. This new duck was appreciated outside of China...However, it was only in China, and indeed for a long time only in Beijing, that the special dish known as Beijing kaoya (in China), Peking Duck (in English), and canard laque (in French) was prepared." (description of dish follows)
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 593)

""Peking Duck"...is so famous that Chinese chefs my specialize in the dish, and restaurants serve only dinners of Peking Duck...Peking Ducks are raised in a special way, sometimes even with a particular oven in mind, and the dish is demanding to make and unusual in preparation and in the way it is eaten. Though there are different ways of preparation, varying in elaborateness, one described by Kenneth Lo...involved loosening of the skin of the carcass from the flesh by inflating with air; then hanging the bird up to dry; and, finally coating its skin with a sugary liquid before roasting. The roast duck has crisp, brown skin and tender flesh, and both are consumed, commonly rolled in a pancake with raw vegetables, such as spring onion and cucumber, and piquant sauces and flavorings, and then eaten with the fingers."
---Food in China: A Cultural and Historical Inquiry, Frederick J. Simoons [CRC Press:Boca Raton FL] 1991 (p. 301)

"One of the world's great delicacies is a dish called "Peking Duck." It is, however, more shadow than substance: the diner never sees the duck itself. This dish, eaten by wealthy Chinese, consists of just the crisp skin, roasted to a beautiful glossy brown in a long process which takes a whole day's labor. The meat of the duck is of such secondary importance that it used to be given to the servants for their meal in the kitchen. This intriguing phenomenon of waste of food and effort took place in a country ruled by the very rich, with a population that was very poor. Such excess was not limited to China: pursue the histories of all such cultures and similar examples can be found..."
---Jim Lee's Chinese Cook Book, Jim Lee [Harper & Row:New York] 1968 (p. 181)

About Beijing Duck

Beggar's chicken
Mud and clay (natural earthenware) have been use for centuries as a cooking medium. They are natural insulators and are excellent for slow cooking. Foods are cooked by steaming in their natural juices. Indeed, the first casseroles may have been made from mud. About
casseroles. We find references to stories about Chinese "Beggars Chicken" (and "Beggar's Duck") being cooked mud. Some of these web sites also mention Peking Duck. They are NOT the same thing. True Peking (Beijing) Duck is always slowly open roasted, never steamed.

Related food? Peking Duck.


Bean sprouts
Food historians confirm bean sprouts have played a key role in Chinese cuisine for thousands of years. Rich in vitamins (C & B), sprouts and easily grown, bean sprouts added texture and delicate flavor to any dish. Presumably, bean sprouts were introducted to by Chinese laborers in the 19th century. Like many exotic ingredients, bean sprouts were not considered "mainstream" by American consumers until the late 20th century.
Early American sprout references appear to be different.

Chinese origin
"Bean sprouts are produced by allowing seeds to germinate and grow for a short time to form shoots. The Chinese have been sprouting mung and soya beans for 3,000 years, and bean shoots, always popular in E. Asia, are now widely available elsewhere."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 64)

"The pulses may be consumed in various ways...Mung bean seed is...commonly germinated, and the sprouts are regarded as the best of all such sprouts, added to stews or soups, ; cooked as a vegetable, whether boiled or stir-fried; or consumed in other ways...Leaves and young shoots of some minor legumes, for example the pea, may also be cooked and eaten...Soybeans, broad beans, and black-eyed peas (cowpeas) are also germinated for sprouts, but are less tender. Bean sprouts in general contain good amounts of vitamin C and riboflavin and fair or good amounts of iron."
---Food in China: A Cultural and Historical Inquiry, Frederick J. Simoons [CRC Press:Boca Raton] 1991 (p. 92, 98)

"The mung bean is apparently of Indian or Southeast Asian origin. Usually a golden-green in color, it is known as lu tou (green bean) in Chinese...When Linnaeus named these closely related beans, he applied the Indian vernacular name, ming or mungo, to the wrong bean--the black gram. But the two are now considered one species, so his mistake is corrected. The mung bean is boiled and made into curd; its starch is important in making the thin transparent noodles known as beanstarch or peastarch noodles (fen-ssu), but its great fame is in the form of sprouts, for which it is the bean of choice. The soybean is the other bean normally sprouted, its sprouts being considered coarser. The two are sometimes misleadingly distinguished in English as "pea sprouts" and "bean sprouts." Mung beans are grown everywhere in China except in cold or very dry areas."
---The Food of China, E. N. Anderson [Yale University Press:New Haven] 1988 (p. 152)

American sprouts
Early American sprout recipes appear to describe top
greens produced by a variety of common vegetables. They could also possibly refer to Brussels Sprouts. Oriental-style bean sprouts surface in the mid-19th century California, and flourish, albeit in exotic urban culinary circles, in the 1920s. Think: The Chop Suey phenomenon. Bean sprouts were actively promoted by the goverment agencies and agricultural schools from WWI--WWII as inexpensive vitamin-rich food sources. Most recipes at that time did not venture past Chop Suey. Bean sprouts were "rediscovered" during the 1970s health food movement. From this point forward creative cooks found dozens of interesting ways to incorporate the humble sprout.

[1796]
"Greens and sprouts.

After you have picked and washed them as directed, put plenty of spring water into a pot or stewpan, and when it boils throw in a handful of salt, put in the greens or sprouts, and make them boil up quick; while they are boiling press them down with a skimmer, and try them often, that they may not be boiled too much; when done take them up in a clean sieve or cullender, and put them over the hot water a few mnutes to drian, but not too long, as the steam will make them yellpw; then put them in a dish, and garnish them with boiled carrot cut in any shape you please, with melted butter in a boat."
---The New Art of Cookery According to the Present Practice, Richard Briggs [W. Spotswood, R. Canpbell and B. Johnson: Philadelphia] 1792 (p. 28-29)

[1803]
"To boil Sprouts.
Pick and wash your sprouts very clean, and see there are not snails or grubs between the leaves, cut them across the stem, but not the heart; after they are well washed, take them out of the water to drain; when your water boils, put in some salt, and then the sprouts, with a little more salt on them; make them boil quick, and if any scum arises, take it clean off. As soon as the stalks are tender strain them off, or they will not only lose their colour, but likewise their flavour."
---; The Frugal Housewife, Susannah Carter

[1824]
"Sprouts and Young Greens.
The reciept written for cabbages will answer as well as for sprouts, only they will be boiled enough in fifteen minutes." ---The Virginia Housewife, Mary Randolph, 1824 facsimile editon [University of South Carolina Press:Columbia SC] 1984 (p. 121)
[NOTE: The recipe for Cabbage (p.120-121) boils the vegetable, cut in quarters if large, 'till the stalks feel tender.' There is a reference to them being 'dressed' but no instructions. ]

[1839]
"Sprouts and Other Young Greens.
Should be boiled in every respect like turnip sallad, served warm with the bacon, and seasoned at table with salt, pepper and vinegar."
---The Kentucky Housewife, Lettice Bryan, facsimile 1839 edition [Image Graphics:Paducah KY] undated (p. 203)
[NOTE: Turnip Sallad (p. 202) employs the "young tender tops that shoot forth from the turnips." This salad is dressed with a warm dressing composed of vinegar, bacon, salt and pepper. Ingredients and method suggest German-inspired "wilted salads," not bean sprouts as we know them today.]

[1914]
"How To Prepare Bean Sprouts
These come in cans, but it is better to make them fresh at home, and it is easily done. Take ordinary white beans, or dried lima beans, and soak over night in lukewarm water. In the morning take a large cloth, wet it, and set it on a table. Over this spread the beans. The cloth must be kept wet. In a night or two the beans will have sprouted. Use the sprouts as directed in the chop suey recipes."
---Chinese-Japanese Cook Book, Sara Bose
[NOTE: This book contains several references to bean sprouts in various recipes, including fried bean sprouts.]

[1918]
"In a California manuscript recipe I have the [bean] sprouts are cooked or sweated for five minutes in butter. The Chicago method is 'Either pour boiling water over beansprout or immerse so as to give it a boiling hot wash, but not to cook it. This is now ready to serve either as a salad with salad dressing or as a side dish with our appetizing sauce or other gravy."
---"Tribune Cook Book, Jane Eddington Chicago Daily Tribune January 8, 1918 (p. 14)
[NOTE: This passage refers to soy bean sprouts.]

[1923]
"W.A.H., San Francisco, asks that we give directsion for cooking bean sprouts sold in the local markets. Cover one pound of bean sprouts with boiling water, drain and dry. Chop fine half a cup of fresh pork fat, place in a iron frying pan and when hot add the bean psrouts and stir and fry for five minutes. Be careful not to burn. Season with three tablespoons of soy and a little salt and pepper; cover tight and let simmer fifteen minutes."
---"Early Shopping Food Pages," Cef A.L. Wyman, Los Angeles Times, December 4, 1923 (p. I18)

[1930]
"Probably the only way that most of us eat bean sprouts is in chop suey--the kind that is served us in Chinese eating places. There we accept them as an essintial part of the combination. The strong flavors of other vegetables in the chop suey, such as celery and onions, however, overshadow the bean sprout taste which doesn't help one to appreciate the flavor of bean sprouts alone. The flavor is delicious, begin much like that of young string beans. A few discriminating people and most of the orientals appreciate the value of the bean sprouts which are nothing more or less than sprouted Mung beans imported from the orient in large amounts. Soy beans are sometimes used bu they do not produce as tender and delicately flavored sprouts as the Mung variety. The Chinese force the beans to sprout by keeping them in a warm, dark place [65 degrees F.] for about four days, occasionally throwing warm water over them. Any housewife can prepare her own bean sprouts, but if she can obtain an excellent quality in cans or fresh sprouts in bulk. Canned bean sprouts may be purchased at almost every full line grocery. One may buy them fresh in bulk, especially in spring and winter, at Chinese markets. An increased use of bean sprouts by the American people would prove a healthful and pelasing addition to our common green vegetables. The inexpensiveness of the sprouts makes them available in every home. Bean sprouts are excellent for use either cooked or raw as a salad or in combination with other foods in a salad as well as in soups, stews, andmany other composite dishes. Because of the enormous increase of bulk and weight--ten pounds of beans yeild 50 pounds of sprouts--the caloric value is not high. Their chief value is in the minerals and vitamins A, B, and C which they supply. They are especially rich in vitamins B and C--the antineuritic and antiscorubic factors. If bean sprouts ar cooked, the cooking must be brief in order to avoid destroying the vitamin content. Two minutes' boiling is sufficient. After fiftenn minutes, probably most of the C vitamin is destroyed. In soups and stews, add bean sprouts just before the end of the cooking period. Lightly fried in good oil or butter,bean sprouts are both unusual and palatable."
---"Three Meals a Day," Meta Given, Chicago Daily Tribune, December 13, 1930 (p. 23)

[1943]
"There's a new popular interest in bean sprouts since food rationing. Bean sprouts, a potent source of vitamin C, having long been known as a necessary ingredient in many a Chinese dish. Mung beans, imported from China, have been cultivated in the Chinesesections of all of our large cities. Only lately have some of the rest of us become interestd in sprouting beans. Mung beans are now virtually unobtainable, but soy beans may be sprouted, and there's considerable research being done at present on the growing of soy bean sprouts from many of the common field varieties of soyas. The sprout of the Mung bean is all sprout and no bean, but when you eat soy bean sprouts the bean is still there. It takes soy beans twice as long to sprout as mung beans, but they are easily sprouted nonetheless. C.M. McCay of Cornell university's school of nutrition gives these instructions for sprouting soy beans: Whether a pound or a ton of beans is to be sprouted, two iems should be purchased. (1) soy beans that will grow [he suggest Chief, Richland, Dunfield, Illinois, and Moutn Carmel as most satisfactory of midewstersn varieties] and (2) a can of chlorinated lime. After this one needs a container for the sprouting beans. This sould nhave a wide mouth and a hole in the bottom for drainage. A flower pot will do for a few sprouts, a 20 gallon galvanized can with open top and a hole cut in the bottom will serve for one who wants to grow sprouts for feeding a hunderd. Inspect the beens to be sprouted first of all, McCay suggests. Wash them several times and soak overnight in lukewarm water. A pound of beans will need about 3 pints water. Add a pinch of chlorinated lime to the water. (For 20 pounds of beans, a peaste of 3 teaspoons chlorinated lime and a pint of water stirred into the 30 quarts of water that cover the beans.] Next morning pour off water and put beans into sprouting vessel, remembering that they will double in volume as they sprout. Cover beans with a damp cloth, then with a piece of damp cardboard to exclude the light. Water several tiems a day. If the beans are in a flower pot, tip the pot slightly so that water will drain away. Each evening sprinkle with a solution of a teaspoon chlorinated lime in 3 gallons water. This solution can be made up in a large container and measured into a sprinkling can. For 20 pounds of beans, spray every two or three hours, using the chlorinated lime solution every evening as with the smaller amount. The lime prevents growth of molds and bacteria. After the second day, the sprouting process makes beans warm and they should be sprinkled with cool water. They are ready to eat on the third to fifth day. Sprouted beans are perishable. Use them promptly in salads, vegetable dishes, chop sueys. They need only a few minutes of cooking. Remeber to use the bean as well as the sprout growing from it."Chicago Daily Tribune, January 14, 1943(p. 17)

[1947]
"Bean sprouts grown in Brooklyn were one of the items that attracted our attentionin a recent tour of the grocery department at Macy's. The tins in which the sprouts were packed bear the label of the Shing-Li Products company and the statement that the sprouts are grown by hydroponic farming. The dictionary didn't enlighten us as to the meaning of this term but a spokesman for the Brooklyn concern explaned how this oriental vegetable is produced here. Mung beans are used. First they are cleaned, put in tins and washed in water deep enough so that the spoiled specimens will rise to the top. The bad beans are discarded and the rest are set in concrete vats, each holding about 100 pounds. The beans must be watered every six hours for seven days. By that time they have grown sprouts that are long enoough to be cut. The sprouts the are packed in tins with water and salt. Chop suey and chow mein aren't the only dishes in which these crunchy, succulent sprouts may be used. Saute or fry them with steaks or chops. They're delicious, too, in gelatins and salads, stewed with tomates or as a dressing on chicken, turkey or game. Restaurants and retail stores all over the country are supplied by the Shing-Li company with the bean sprouts they have been preparing for the last six years. Macy's has a one-pound, two ounce tin for 15 cents."
---"News of Food: Brooklyn-Grown Bean Sprouts on Sale," New York Times,, August 25, 1947 (p. 14)


Sweet & sour pork
Sweet and sour pork (chicken, beef, shrimp, etc,), as most Americans know it today, is a far cry from the traditional Chinese cuisine. It does, however, derive from classical combinations of the "five flavors." In China, sweet and sour sauce is not traditionally paired with pork. It is a seafood dip. Other pungent sauces, such as hoisen and bean paste, are more commonly used in pork cookery. It is also important to note that tomatoes (tomato paste/ketchup are typically used in American sweet and sour recipes) are not native to China. They are "New World" foods.

"In China, vinegar is an important flavoring in dips, sauces (including sweet-and-sour sauce), dressings, and in cooking of all sorts. Sweet-and-sour sauce is common in a range of dishes, whereas other vinegar sauces and dips seem to be used especially with fish and other seafoods... "Since sweet, along with sour, salty, pungent, and bitter, is one of the "five flavors" of classical Chinese cooking, its use in cooking is commonplace but always with the intent of retaining a balance among the flavors. As a result, the amounts of sugar used are ordinarily quite small. Even sweet-and-sour dishes are apt to be a bit on the tart side, with sweet-and-sour sauce commonly served separately so that the discriminating diner may use it in appropriate amounts. There are, nevertheless, regional differences in use of sugar in cooking, as to counter the salty taste of soy sauce in red-cooked dishes."
---Food in China: A Cultural and Historical Inquiry, Frederick J. Simoons [CRC Press:Boca Raton] 1991 (p. 374, 381)
[NOTE: This book is an important reference tool for anyone studying the history of Chinese cuisine and its ingredients. If you need more information ask your school's librarian to help you find a copy.]

"Some say that the sweet-and-sour flavor principle originated in Honan, though others see its origin elsewhere in China. Wherever the principle first developed, the sweet-and-sour sauce of Honan and the north, made simply by mixing vinegar and sugar without tomato sauce or fruit, is, in the eyes of the Cantonese, lacking in refinement...Traditionally the Cantonese did not like sweet-and-sour dishes very much, the main exception being fish. They, like other Chinese, are amused at the popularity among Westerners of pork and chicken prepared this way; in fact, some Cantonese are now rejecting sweet-and-sour pork "because it is so thoroughly linked with the barbarians'."
---Food in China (p. 58)

"Sweet-sour sauce in most of China is also canonically associated with fish, and Chinese never cease to be amused at Westerners' fondness for this sauce on chicken and pork."
---Food of China, E. N. Anderson [Yale University Press:New Haven] 1988 (p. 192)

"About sweet-and-sour pork, the following may be said. Traditionally, this was a rare dish, and not well liked. Cantonese more often cook sweet-sour fish, especially yellow croaker. The recipe is northern and eastern in origin, though long borrowed into the south. It is best with freshwater fish in Honan. Real sweet-sour fish or pork is at least as sour as sweet and includes no fruit. Real Cantonese sweet-sour pork is a real dish, although not as good as the yellow croaker, but many Cantonese avoid it now becasue it is so thoroughly linkedwith the "barbarians."
---ibid (p. 212)

"The French habit of serving everything drowned in sauces would repel a Chinese gourmet; he prefers to dip the food in sauce at will, thus keeping it crisp and controlling the amount of sauce per bite. Sweet-sour dishes are often served with the sweet-sour sauce on the side, and among sophistcated Cantonese this is especially typical; the method of drowning the meat in the sauce, but Chinese restaurants outside the country, is a concession to undiscriminating tastes. Many dishes have their "official" dip sauce; in Cantonese food, examples would be chili-and-soy sauce for boiled prawns and vinegar for fresh crab; in Teochiu food, vinegar and freshly crushed garlic for steamed goose, and a strange, fascinating sauce with a malt syrup base for certain types of fish balls."
---"Modern China: South," Food in Chinese Culture: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives, edited by K.C. Chang [Yale University Press:New Haven] 1977 (p. 362)

About pork in Chinese cuisine
"The prolific little pig was an ideal food animal in the context of China's developing social system. When large populations are involved in intensive crop cultivation, their animal husbandry usually extends only to keeping a few draught animals, certainly not to rearing grazing stock food. The Chinese pig, however, was small enough to be kept in the house, could be fed on scraps at no cost to the owner, matured at the age of a year, and produced bountiful litters annually from then on, each consisting of up to a dozen piglets. It was hardly suprising that, for the Chinese, the words meat' and pork' became, and remain, synonymous."
---Food in History, Reay Tannahill [Three Rivers Press:New York] 1988 (p. 41-0)

Sweet and sour dishes are not unique to China. They are enjoyed by many cultures and cuisines:

"People everywhere enjoy the naturally occuring sweet-acid balance of ripe fruit, but deliberate production of sweet and sour by combining specific ingredients is more limited. A well-known modern use of sweet and sour is the meat and fish dishes from the Guangdong region of China. SE Asian dishes and Indian food have some sweet-sour items but generally tend towards the sour and salty. Further west, however, the use of sweet-sour combination reappears in subtle forms in W. Asia, the Middle East, and N. Africa. Here the sharp-sweet qualities of fruits such as apricots, pomegranates, and quinces are exploited in meat dishes. Across the Mediterranean, in Sicily, agrodolce dishes employ vinegar and raisins with vegetables...while in mainland Italy sauces based on similar principles are used with game. These may be of very ancient origin: a honey and vinegar sauce, with pine nuts, sultanas, herbs, and spices was described by Apicius. Sugar, redcurrant jelly, and sometimes chocolate are now used as sweetening agents in agrodolce sauces for meat. In Scandinavia and C. Europe, sweet-sour combinations are basic to the cookery...In the field of preserves, sweet...and acid...appear in the chutneys and brown sauces popular in Britain. These are descendants of 17th- and 18th-century attempts to copy Indian sweet-sour preserves of ripe mangues and other fruit. An earlier British taste for sweet-sour combinations can be glimpsed in sugar, fruit, and verjuice mixtures used in meat dishes in medieval times, a use which was then widespread in Europe."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 772-3)

Sweet-and-sour meat dishes featuring pineapple became popular in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. These were typically called "Hawaiian dishes" and were served in Polynesian-style restaurants. Think Trader Vics and Tiki lounges. About Chinese food in America.


Teriyaki, sukiyaki & yakitori
Food historians tell us teryaki (and sukiyaki, yakitori) were probably first made by Japanese cooks in the 17th century. These foods are intertwined ( 'yaki' means grilled) and the recipes include some of the same ingredients. What separates teriyaki from the other recipes is the sauce. Teriyaki dishes became popular in the United States in the 1960s, when Japanese restaurants began to proliferate (think Benihana's). Today, teriyaki (chicken, beef, pork, fish) remains a popular Japanese dish in Western cultures. Traditional teriyaki glaze is made with sake and mirin. Today, a wide variety of concoctions, both home-made and manufactured, are passed as teriyaki sauce.

ABOUT TERIYAKI
"Teriyaki, a term which refers to a special glaze applied to fish, meat, or fowl in the final stages of grilling or pan-frying. This glaze is sweet and is based on a trio of favorite Japanese ingredients: soy sauce, Sake, and Mirin. Teri means gloss and yaki...refers to griling or pan-frying."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 416)

"...such popular and internationally known dishes suchs as...teriyaki, which...developed during the Edo period, are...meant to be eaten with soy sauce." (P. 116)
---The History and Culture of Japanese Food, Naomichi Ishige [Keegan Paul:London] 2001
[NOTE: the Edo period began in the 1600s]

"In Japanese cooking, skillets are not summarily put aside in favor of charcoal fires and skewers...Since the use of a pan or griddle also is defined by the verb 'yaku', such cooking is a part of the wide 'yakimono' ("grilled things") category. Cooking skewered foods over charcoal is the orthodox Japanese method; the use of a pan is something of a stepchild or secondary technique, though often employed. Though many meats may be cooked both ways, some things are strictly skillet food...The various kinds of teriyaki are good examples. But a digression is in order to define teriyaki. In American-Japanese (and some Western) restaurants one often hears a menu-reader's voice wafting from some table, "What does 'teriyaki-style' mean?" As it has come to be known and adapted in the United States,the word teriyaki is applied to meat of shellfish, grilled on skewers or pan-broiled, which has been flavored either by marination or by application of a "teriyaki sauce." In Japanese cooking, teriyaki refers to a sweet sour-sauce-based glaze that is applied in the last stages of grilling or pan-frying to fish, chicken, beef, and pork. Teri literally translated as "gloss" or "luster" and describes the sheen of the sauce that goes over the broiled (yaki) foods."
---Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art, Shizuo Tsuji [Kodansha International:Tokyo] 1980 (p. 198-9)

"Chicken teriyaki is one of the most popular dishes on the menus of Japanese restaurants outside of Japan."
---The Japanese Kitchen, Hiroko Shimbo [Harvard Common Press:Boston] 2000 (p. 413)

About chicken

About Chicken in Japanese cuisine
: "Chicken was long held taboo [in Japan] as a foodstuff, but it appeared in seventeenth-century cookbooks. Eating the flesh of mammals for medicinal purposes was permissable, and sometimes healthy people ate it as tonic. The ususal medicine eating' fare was deer or wild boar...The meat of choice in the latter part of the nineteenth century was beef." ---The History and Culture of Japanese Food, Naomichi Ishige [Keegan Paul:London] 2001 (p. 146-7)

ABOUT SAKE (rice wine) & MIRIN (a sweet version of sake)
"Rice wine or sake, which was homemade by farmers, is a result of the alcoholic fermentation of a simple mixture of steamed rice, koji and water. Professional brewers would prepare sake by adding low-alcohol sake to newly mixed steamed rice and koji without previous filtering. This process causes saccharification and alcoholic fermentation at the same time and increases the alcoholic strength of the mixture. In contemporary commercial production, such a process is repeated three times to increase the amount of alcohol to nearly 20 percent. The mixture is then placed in a cloth bag and squeezed with a press. The pasteurization of the clear liquid from the press is the last part of the process. The latter technique was first mentioned in A.D. 1568, in the Tamonin-nikki, the diary of a Buddhist monk, indicating its practice in Japan some 300 years before Louis Pasteur. In China, the first country in East Asia to develop the technique, the earliest record of the process dates from A.D.1117."
---Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple & Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2001, Volume Two (p. 1180)
[NOTE: This book notes "Indeed, most traditional dishes served in homes and restaurants today had their origins in the Edo period. (P. 1181). ]

Sake making

SOY SAUCE
"Soy sauce. The universal condiment of China and Japan, is also widely used throughout SE Asia. It is the main condiment of Indonesia, where soya beans are grown extensively...Altough soya beans have been grown in China for at least 3.500 years, the sauce is a slighlty more recent invention. It was develolped during the Zhou dynasty (1134-246 BC) , and probably evolved in conjunction with the fermented fish sauces, many of which involved both fish and rice. The moulds Aspergillus oryzae and A, soyae are the principal agents in producing soy sauce, and the enzymes which they provide are similar to those which ferment fish sauce. These organisms are common and could accidentally have got to work on soya beans, with results which would have been recognized as a fishless fish sauce'. Early soy sauce was a solid paste known as sho or mesho. This developed into two products, liquid shoyu and solid miso. In China the liquid sauce is used more than the paste, while in Japan both are of equal importance. The European name soy' (similar in all languages) originates with the 17th-century Dutch traders who brought the sauce back to Europe, where it became popualr despite its high price."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 740)

YAKITORI
Food historians tell us although the ingredients (chicken/soy sauce) and cooking methods are ancient, this particular recipe is relatively new. Yakitori is popular Japanese dish is composed of bite-sized chunks of marinaded chicken grilled on a skewers. According to John Mariani's Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink [Lebhar-Freidman:New York 1999] yakitori entered the American scene in the early 1960s. This coincides neatly with the emergence of Japanese steak houses (Benihana's). Trader Vic's cookbook [1968] has a recipe for Yakitori, probably one of the first in an American cookbook.

"Yakitori. Bite-sized pices of chicken grilled on a skewer. Many parts of the chicken, including the skin and the gizzard, are used. Other birds are also used, especially sparrow, the head being crunched whole. Yakitori is a very popular tsumamimono and many simple drinking places specialize in it."
---A Dictionary of Japanese Food, Richard Hosking [Charles Tuttle:Rutland Vermont] 1997 (p. 172)

"Yakitori is a sort of Japanese chicken kebab. Chunks of chicken are threaded on to skewers and grilled by being basted with a sauce made from soy sauce, rice wine, and sugar. They are a popular Japanese snack, being served from yakitori stands and in yakitori bars. The word is a compound formed from yaki, grill, cook' and tori, bird'."
---An A-Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 372)

Related foods? Teriyaki & sukiyaki.

ABOUT SUKIYAKI
"The word sukiyaki seems to have originated as a compound of the words for plough (suki) and grilled (yaki). Several cookbooks from the Edo period describe a sukiyaki which consisted of fish or fowl grilled on an iron ploughshare over a charcoal fire. (The blade of the traditional Japanese plough is flatter than the Western counterpart an d hence more suitable for grilling)...Sukiyaki ingredients and recipes still differ from region to region, and from home to home as well...Sukiyaki is cooked at the dining table. Formerly a portable charcoal stove was used, and today the sukiyaki pan is placed over a gas fire...Sukiyaki...[is a] nabemo (one pot dish), a category that also includes fish, chicken and tofu stews. The nabemono ingredients are boiled over a heat source set on or in the table, and the diner plucks them with chopsticks. Eaten directly form the boiling pot, nabe cuisine is very warming, and is hence a winter food. Preparing the ingredients is quick and easy, and everyone sitting around the pot shares the pleasure of playing chef...The current style of cooking and eating one-pot stews, exemplified by sukiyaki, dates from the Meiki period but nabe cuisine has a much older history. The main difference is that instead of sitting around a single large pot, people in former times used personal cooking pots."
---The History and Culture of Japanese Food, Naomichi Ishige [Keegan Paul:London] 2001 (p. 232-235)

Related foods? Teriyaki & yakitori.


Wok cookery
Woks are inventions of necessity: in lands where fuel is scarce, foods must be cooked quickly. The semipsherical curve of the wok permits maximum cooking surface based on minimal fuel contact. This explains (in part) why foods destined for the wok are routinely chopped into small, thin slices. They cook faster that way. The wok is also the ultimate tool of kitchen convenience, as it can be used to boil, sautee, stir-fry, deep-fry and steam. As one pot cooks all, clean-up is likewise minimal. According to the food historians, woks have been around for about two thousand years.

"Wok is a Cantonese word; the Mandarin is kuo. The wok appears to be a rather recent acquisition as Chinese kitchen furniture goes; it has been around for only two thousandyears. The first woks I know of are little pottery models on the pottery stove modes in Han Dynasty tombs. Since the same sort of pan is universal in India and Southeast Asia, were it is known as a kuali in several languages, I strongly suspect borrowing (probably from India via Central Asia)--kuo must have evolved from some word close to kuali, The wok is virtually indespensible for stir-frying, and this I infer that this cooking technique was a Han invention, perhaps also borrowed or adapted from a borrowed technique. The great virtue of a wok, and its main special function in south Asia, is that when food is stewed in a a wok the liquid evaporates very fast, because the surface-to-liquid ratio is high and the smooth curve of the wok sides allows flame or heated air to rise rapidly, smoothly, and evenly along all the vessel.The wok may well have evolved as a tool for making curry, in which a reduction of liquid to a thick gravy or even a crust is generally desired. The fact that the wok is also perfect for stir-frying must have been appreciated for a long time as well. The smooth, even distribution of high heat is the wok's second vital, distinctive feature. This allows, among other things, a tremendous saving of fuel--few pans are more economical. A Wok should be thick and made of a rather slow-heating substance; otherwise it is hard to prevent the food's burning to the bottom of the pan. The original woks were almost certainly of pottery; pottery pans of similar shape with wide, shallow covers are used in Southeast Asia for slow liquid-reducing stewing. Today, good woks are made of cast iron...The old soft-iron wok, like its Western counterpart, the cast iron skillet, also added a good deal of iron to the diet, since some iron dissolved into the food."
---The Food of China, E. N. Anderson [Yale University Press:New Haven] 1988 (p. 184-5)

" Chinese cooking is the cooking of scarcity. Whatever the emperors and warlords may have had, the vast majority of Chinese spent their lives short of fuel, cooking oil, utensils, and even water', comments anthropologist E.N. Anderson. This points to the use of braziers. Originally made of pottery, these are now often galvanized buckets. While foods are frequently boiled and steamed, the brazier also offers the most famous Chinese method, stir-frying or ch'ao. The division in Chinese cooking between fan and ts'ai--the rice (or other cereal) and its accompaniment--is reflected in the modern kitchen with the rice cooker and the wok (Cantonese) or kuo (Mandarin). The wok is the standard curved pan ideal for stir-frying, as well as for deep-frying, boiling and, with racks in it, steaming. Its main function in south Asia (where it is known as a kuali in several languages) is quick stewing and evaporation. Stir-frying is likely to have been a Han invention, which makes it about 2000 years old. Although it is not directly mentioned in the texts, Anderson infers this from the great stress on slicing foods thinkly and evenly and the presence of a pottery model woks in the archaeolgical record. He also mentions models of large kitchen ranges with apertures for the curved bottoms of woks."
---A History of Cooks and Cooking, Michael Symons [University of Illinois:Urbana] 2000 (p. 78)

"Characteristic of cooking in the home is the chopping of ingredients into uniform small pieces, followed by their rapid cooking, usually sauteeing in a semispherical iron skillet or wok. The cooking is done with little fat but with a gamut of seasonings dominated by soy sauce, fresh ginger, scallions, sesame oil, Chinese vinegar, fagara, and chili peppers. Such preparation of food makes for a remarkable economy of equipment. In addition to a rice cookery, all that is needed to prepare any dish is a chopping board--a simple tree "slice" 5 to 10 centimeters in thickness--a cleaver, the wok, and a cooking spatula. In the city most people cook on a gass ring; in the countryside they have a brick stove with several holes on the top so that the wok can be placed directly over the flame. Since fuel is scarce and expensive, it is always used sparingly, which has given rise to the widespread practice of quick stir-frying over high heat."
---Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple & Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambrdige University Press:Cambridge] 2000, Volume Two (p. 1169)
[NOTE: This book has a long list of citation for further study.]

If you need more information on the origin of the Wok we suggest you ask your librarian how to find books on ancient China and chinese pottery.


Wontons
The history of won tons is intertwined with the history of stuffed dumplings and pasta foods enjoyed in by many cultures and cuisines. About
dumplings, pasta, ravioli & kreplach. (stuffed pasta products)

"Wonton (or won ton), the Anglicized form of two Chinese words meaning a 'small dumpling' or roll consisting of a wonton wrapper (made from the same dough as egg noodle) with a savoury filling, especially of minced pork with seasonings. Sweet wontons, e.g. with a date and walnut filling, also exist. Wontons may be steamed or pan fried or deep-fried; and are often served in soups, or as items in dim sum. One variation is to have open-faced steamed wontons, shaped to have a flat bottom so that they will stand upright; these are shao mai..."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 850)

"The stuffed dumpling, humble as it may seem, is a dish with a fascinating history, going back many centuries and interwoven into the cuisines of a number of countries. The story has often been told of Marco Polo arriving in China during the 13th century and discovering with delight that the Chinese were producing a variety of stuffed noodles that included won ton. So impressed was he that he brought the secrets back to Italy. That tale is considered apocryphal by both the Chinese and Italians, but wouldn't it be fascinating to know how the two cuisines are related?

"Similarly, what about the pelmeni of Russia? These are delectable Siberian dumplings filled with meat or mushrooms or potatoes or cabbage. What cook traveled the roads from Canton, or wherever, to the Irtysh River in the cold plateaus of Siberia, bringing with him the goodness of filled pasta? Or consider the kreplach, the filled dumpling held in such high esteem in the Jewish kitchen. The migrations of the Jews, carrying with them a culinary heritage from various parts of the world, are well known, as is the fact that many Jewish specialties are borrowings from the Russian. At what point did the pelmeni turn into kreplach, with its economical use of ground cooked beef as the filling?

"That use of cooked meat, probably from a soup or stew, is also characteristic of dumplings. The lack of kosher meat in medieval ghettos dictated that there be ways to stretch a meager supply from one meal to another. The uses to which dumplings are put are intriguing as well. They are probably most often used in soups, and yet a wide array of sauces may also be served with them. Won tons, for example, go deliciously with a blend of soy sauce, garlic, vinegar, grated ginger, hot chilies and the like, a combination that would seem odd to an Italian chef thinking of ravioli. For ravioli there is nothing like a tomato sauce with freshly grated cheese or alla panna - a reduction of heavy cream and cheese. Or (as they do in Rapallo when they serve pansotti, a form of ravioli) a salsa di noce made with walnuts and a form of ricotta cheese.

"Curiously, however, the Siberians and those who prepare pelmeni are not averse to serving them with a sauce somewhat akin to the Chinese soy sauce, vinegar and herb combination. Pelmeni are often served with a mustard sauce, sour cream and chopped dill. Kreplach, like the Chinese dumplings, are often fried in fat (butter or chicken fat, for example) rather than served in soup. What follow are our versions of these stuffed dumplings. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact yield of filled dumplings because it depends on the thickness to which the noodle dough is rolled out, the amount of filling allotted to each dumpling and the caution exercised by the cook in cutting out the dough to be filled."
---"Stuffed Dumplings: The Get Around," Craig Claiborne, The New York Times, February 10, 1982 (p. C1)

Where did wontons (as we know them today) begin? Food historians confirm wheat-based products (noodles, bread, etc.) originated in northern China. The first recorded instancce happen in the early medieval period. Our survey of historic sources does not find a specific person/place/year credite with the the creation of wontons or related products.

"During the Period of Division, boiled noodles were eaten druing the summer festival known as the Day of Concealment...which was held on the third geng-day after the summer solstice...The custom of eating boiled noodles can be documented as early as the Wei dynasty... ...Steaming was the most common method of cooking buns and small breads. The buns...were usually stuffed with some kind of filling...They were cooked in a bamboo steamer...Shu Xi's phapsody tells about other pastas, the most delectable of which is a stuffed dumpling called lao wan...which seems to be the ancestor of the modern [wan ton]...The poet says that the wrapper is made of wheat flour that is blended with a meat stock. Into the wrapper goes a filling made of minced lamb, pork, sliced ginger and onions, and flavored with cinnamon, fagara, throroughwort, salt, and bean relish. The dumplings are cooked in a bamboo steamer. The poet vividly describes how the cook quickly turns out one dumpling after another and drops them into the steamer...Ad the dumplings quickly cook in the steam, the filling swells in the wrappers to the point they seem about to burst... The poet tells how the dumplings are eaten...they are dupped in a sauce with chop sticks. The cause that they use is the ancient meat sauce called ai...which was made of a mixture of meat, millet yeast, and salt that was steeped in ale and allowed to ferment... The eaters of the dumplings are portrayed as a pack of ravenous beasts who gulp them down so fast, the cook cannot turn them out fast enough."
---"Gradually Entering the Realm of Delight: Food and Drink in Early Medieval China," David R. Knechtges Journal of the American Oriental Society 117, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1997) (p. 229-239)

"Cantonese are the past masters at the simple snack foods: wonton woup, noodles...and the infinite kinds of tim sam [ dim sum]." ---Food in Chinese Culture: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives, K.C. Chang editor [Yale University Press:New Haven CT] 1977 (p. 355)

"In the North, wheat continued to grain...From the many writings we have from T'ang, and especially from the extremely complete diary of the Japanese monk Ennin, who visited China in the 840s, we learn that millet was the daily staff of life in the north; wheat was considered something of a luxury...Ennin records that wheat cakes and dumplings of various kinds were special fare brought out to greet him and his entourage or eaten as the fancy food at great feasts..."
---Food of China, E.N. Anderson [Yale University Press: New Haven CT] 1988 (p. 66)

"Basic to an understanding of northern Chinese cuisine is the importance of wheat, sorghum, millets, and maize, rather than rice. Various of these cereals are cooked and served as porridge...the stuffed dumplings for which the north is noted are wrapped in skins made of wheat flour..."
---Food in China: A Cultural and Historical Inquiry, Frederick J. Simoons [CRC Press:Boca Raton FL] 1991

About krelpach (Jewish wonton)
"The traditional kreplach is similar to a wonton and was brought either by the Khazars to Polish lands or by Jews trading in China, who learned to make them there."
---Jewish Cooking in America, Joan Nathan [Alfred A. Knopf:New York] 1998 (p. 113)

RELATED FOODS?
dumplings, dim sum & eggrolls.


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23 August 2014