Little Lantern Buns: The Xiao Long Bao

Following this week’s news on the Xiao Long Bao and seeing so many Chinese people so endearingly (and all the more because it’s so rare) express their passion and love for this dish, I want to tell you a bit more about its history and the way it’s made, for it is truly a demonstration of Chinese culinary excellence.


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Zhi Mei Zhai (Since 1600)

Amongst the many interesting cultural findings from my return to Guangzhou last year was 致美斋 or Zhi Mei Zhai, one of the four major soy sauce makers in China. Founded by the nobleman Liu Shou An during the Qing Dynasty, Zhi Mei Zhai has been making soy sauce for over 400 years, surviving even the Cultural Revolution (during which it was briefly named “Forever For the People”), because let’s face it, everyone needs soy sauce no matter what.


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Jiao Zi: A Spring Festival Recipe

Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, this year falls at the end of January. On Friday the 31st, we will be ushering in the Year of the Horse. People all over China will be jostling to travel back to their hometowns for the most elaborate annual culinary and festive extravaganza. Jiao Zi are one of the major new year foods of the North. In the West, they are simply translated as dumplings, but are a world away from the egg sized, suety doughballs consumed in stews and casseroles by the staunchly traditional British. Jiao Zi are the chewy bite size parcels of meat and vegetables wrapped in thin dough skins, pinched together, looking like miniature Cornish pasties, or ravioli.


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Mid-Autumn at Shanghai Blues

Generally, I tend to merit restaurants for the quality of their food rather than the niceties of the environment, however, having found that the Sichuan restaurant we had in mind for Mid-Autumn was not quite right for the occasion, we ended up paying a visit to Shanghai Blues on High Holborn. Housed in the Grade II listed building that was formerly St. Gile’s Library, I’d had my eye on the place for a review for a while, so we decided to “drop in cold”.


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