Dan Hong Gao (Mini filled crepes)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

This is one of my favourite street foods. The vendor keeps two small metal pans going, and customers line up and choose their fillings. (These little snacks don't score very high on the Street Food Safety Index, however. I look for a clean cart and ingredients that are not all mixed up with each other, plus a batter with beautiful yellow colour from lots of eggs.)

The little filled crepes are completely fresh and tender and just a few bites each.

You can choose any mixture of sweet or savoury fillings. I like to mix up shredded potato and ya cai, and my favourite is peanut butter with one of the jams. Once the word 'tomato' somehow came out of my mouth instead of strawberry, so I ended up with peanut butter and ketchup. Ick!

SOS Cuisine

Thursday, November 13, 2008
The Food Value section on my sidebar has a new link: SOS Cuisine, a service that helps you plan one week's shopping and cooking for weeknight dinners. When I lived in Canada I used to spend an hour or so each week going to the websites of our local grocery chains to see what was on special, scrolling through multi page pdf documents and thinking that some central website should be doing this for me. SOS Cuisine does even more, planning a menu complete with prep time and nutrition information and calculating the cost for the number of people for whom you cook. You can choose menu preferences such as budget, low calorie, and exclude certain foods. The site tracks what is on special at local supermarkets and chooses what recipes would be most economical to make each week. The weekly meal plans that I've seen so far are based on an hour or so advance prep time, and then when mealtime comes around it is usually twenty minutes or less to get dinner on the table.

It's not perfect - the local specials information is based where the service originated (Quebec), and most of the users are francophones. So even though there is a complete English version of the website, it's tough for the French challenged to benefit from the recipe reviews. However, even if you are not local the sample menu plans and recipes are valuable for their own sake. Most 'health and budget' meal plan recipes are stodgy and unappealing, calculated to satisfy health requirements rather than provide pleasure, but the recipes on SOS Cuisine read like something you actually want to make. The service is also FREE.

Tomato Egg Noodles

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A broken yolk, edges browned to a crisp, covered with grease and sludge from the wok - in what universe would this be the correct way to cook an egg? But it's one of the best things I've ever tasted on top of a bowl of tomato egg noodles or added to an order of bedspread noodles.

Chengdu's famous tomato egg noodle house on downtown Huaxi street will reportedly soon be lost to redevelopment. There are other 'Huaxi Tomato Egg Noodle' places in town, but copycat versions of chains abound here and you never know if they have a real affiliation with the original or have just stolen the name. Anyhow, I really like this version on Yulin South street. The broth has a little sourness from preserved vegetable, a little garlic, and just enough salt for the tomatoes to shine. It's a perfect breakfast or light lunch for 4-5 rmb.