A New Yuan Shipwreck

A shipwreck dating from the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty (1271-1368 ACE), has recently been analyzed by a team of archaeologists from the Shandong Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology in China. The ship was found at a construction site in Heze City in 2010, and has been under study since that time. The ship itself was of wooden construction and measured over 21 meters long (over … Read more

Eggs with Shrimp and Pidan

One of the agreeable and delicious ways to enjoy pidan is with eggs. Some recipes use pidan along with salted eggs or salted egg yolks with or without fresh chicken or duck eggs to make custards or other egg dishes. This recipe, however, couples pidan with regular chicken or duck eggs and a bit of shrimp and spring onions for a tasty and mild dish. … Read more

Cold Tofu with Pidan

One of my favorite ways to enjoy 1000-year eggs is as part of a cold-tofu salad. This presentation of pidan is enjoyed all over China this way as well as in Taiwan, Japan and Korea. It is served as an appetizer or as part of a meal with many dishes eaten at the same time. For western cooks, it is simple to make, exotic, nutritious … Read more

Homemade 1000-Year Eggs Unveiled

We harvested the 1000-year eggs and are finally getting around to preparing and eating some of the crop. The color is right, and a few of them have the pine-patterning that their Chinese name suggests on their dark, amber-colored flesh. They taste good, but are MUCH milder than some of the Pidan I’ve had in China. They are also missing the strong ammonia-like scent that … Read more

Curry Through Foreign Eyes 5 – Japanese Curry

The next stop on our exploration of Indian Curry Through Foreign Eyes is Japan. Curry came to Japan by way of British sailors and merchants in the mid-19th Century. This happened sometime after Commodore Matthew Perry landed at Kurihama in 1853, and opened Japan to the world after centuries of isolation. The first recipe for curry in Japanese was published in 1872 by the renowned … Read more

Rice Omelets, Yōshoku, and A Little International Understanding

2014 began with our family hosting a Japanese college student for a brief homestay. A Facebook friend of mine had a daughter studying in the United States; she had some time on her hands over the Christmas break, and she decided to spend some of it with us. Despite the arctic cold front that hit the area and talk of, “polar vortexes,” moving through the … Read more

Making 1000 Year Eggs

So, as promised, I spent several hours yesterday making 1000 Year Eggs. That is, I coated a dozen and a half duck eggs with caustic mud, rolled and pressed them in rice chaff, and set them aside to dry. Later I placed them in a soil-lined ceramic crock and will let them sit for three to three-and-a-half months, before checking to see if I did … Read more

Culinary History Mystery 6 – Tomato Eggs

Tomato Eggs is a home-cooked Chinese dish that reminds students, travelers, and those living abroad of home. Just a whiff of this cooking and folks will tell tales of sitting in or near the kitchen as a kid as a parent made this dish – and how good it tasted! it is simple, elegant, and savory, and less than 10 – 15 minutes from wok … Read more

Communist Kimchi!

You may recall that in the Kimchi Chigae post I mentioned that I was developing a North Korean kimchi recipe. Well I worked the handwritten recipe with no ingredient amounts that you see here through three iterations – each less spicy than the last. And with some description and input from food and travel writer, Michael Y. Park, who brought the recipe out of North … Read more

Kimchi Chigae

I love kimchi. I have several jars of kimchi in my refrigerator at all times. Kimchi of Napa cabbages and Korean radish, cucumber kimchi, and now, thanks to food and travel writer Michael Y. Park – kimchi from North Korea as well. You see, Michael recently returned from a trip to North Korea with a handwritten recipe for North Korean kimchi in hand. He sent … Read more

Food and Wine Frescoes from the Wei and Jin Tombs

In an inhospitable area between the Gobi and the Taklimakan Deserts northeast of Jaiyuguan, China a time capsule was buried almost 2000 years ago. Underneath the treeless, grey sand that blankets the region today are a series of over 1000 tombs from the Wei-and Jin period (265-420 ACE). The walls of the tombs are decorated with frescoes that depict details from everyday life in a … Read more

Yak Snack Attack

I love yaks. I have many times admired their hulking, hairy majesty on the plains and hills of Western China, Tibet, and Nepal. Yaks are survivors – free-range animals manage to survive on some of the poorest pasture the world has to offer. Yaks are beautiful – from their natural flowing-haired glory of the wild to their domesticated cousins adorned by their humans with colorful … Read more

What Am I Making? 1: 1000 Year Eggs

The correct answer is indeed 1000 Year eggs! (Contest closed: January 26, 2013) The ingredients listed from left to right are: Duck eggs, rice chaff (for coating the eggs), black tea, lime and ashes (a combination of wood ash and charcoal ash.) For those of you not in the know, 1000 Year Eggs, or Century eggs are a Chinese delicacy, eaten all over the country, … Read more

The Uyghur Musical Instrument Workshop

In a world of mass production and consumption, it is wonderful from time to time to appreciate the beauty and increasing rarity of hand-crafted goods. One of the ways that I was recently able to do so was during a visit to a Uyghur musical instrument workshop in Kashgar. There I found a variety of instruments crafted from mulberry or apricot wood that, in addition … Read more

The Color of Pomegranates

He grabbed a pomegranate from the table next to him and flashed a shy smile my way as I approached. I nodded and a quick flash of steel followed by a skilled twist and the fruit was open. He placed half on the machine, spun the wheel and a few seconds later blood-red juice flowed from its silver jaws into my glass. The scent was … Read more

Silk Road in the News #7 – Roman Jewelry in 5th C. Japanese Tomb

New evidence of the power and reach of the Silk Road seems to be puzzling and mystifying scholars. Roman jewelry was recently found in in a Japanese tomb dating from the 5th Century ACE. Why this startles anyone is beyond me. The network of maritime and land traders that we now know as the Silk Road linked west and east as far back as 2000 … Read more