Gourmet or Gourmand? A Chinese Feast

Osmanthus fragrans, Yuyuan Gardens

Osmanthus fragrans, Yuyuan Gardens (Photo credit: GlobalCitizen01)

 

Osmanthus fragrans

Osmanthus fragrans (Photo credit: TanWei)

One thing with still not being well is that I have had some time to write up some blogs I have always intended to write. I do now have the photos of China well sorted as I had to give a talk about the gardens we saw on Monday. That was rather hilarious as the virus has left me with no voice and so I very quietly croaked into the ear of N* who is an actress, who then repeated my words very clearly for everyone else… My brain has meant that I have been able to complete little academic work so expect a small snowstorm of blogs from me – especially about China and films. I have been stuck in bed watching them and have seen some good and some bad ones…

But here is something a little different for those of you like to eat strange and exotic food. Whilst in Beijing we were taken to a special place to eat Beijing Duck which is their speciality. You may have had duck portions with pancakes in some Chinese places but they would be nothing like this one… It was a half duck for two people and came complete with head. Our Chinese friend said that this was the best part but I turned my head whilst she crunched on it and refused to turn back to the table until she had finished! If we had had the whole duck we could have taken the bones home for soup apparently. Nothing if not frugal these Chinese diners. As someone who doesn’t eat meat the speciality was rather lame for me… But the lotus root was quite nice if a little sweet and the pickled cabbage was crunchy because of the shrimp!

Rice was very much a side dish and had to be ordered separately.

Chinese Gourmet Dinner: Or Gourmand? At the Dadong restaurant in Beijing famous for Duck. Each dish being enough for 4 persons.

  • Lotus root – stuffed with rice and osmanthus* and honey sauce
  • Pickled cabbage with dried fried shrimp
  • Chinese leaves and chestnuts in sweet wheat sauce [soybean]
  • Aubergine in soy and garlic
  • Duck with pancakes and sliced spring onions; radishes; cucumber; plum sauce; sugar for the duck rind and 3 different pickles.

*

Culinary uses

A small jar of sweet osmanthus sauce

Couldn’t resist adding the photo of the Osmanthus from Yuyuan gardens as that is one we visited!

In Chinese, the plant is called  () or guìhuā (桂花), and its flowers, called guì huā (桂花, literally “cinnamon flower” or “cassia flower”) are used, infused with green or black tea leaves, to create a scented tea called guì huā chá (桂花茶).

In Chinese cuisine, the flowers are also used to produce osmanthus-scented jam (called guì huā jiàng, 桂花醬 or 桂花酱), sweet cakes (called guì huā gāo, 桂花糕), dumplings, soups, and even liquor (called guì huā jiǔ, 桂花酒; or 桂花陈酒, guì huā chén jiǔ).[1] Osmanthus jam is used as an ingredient in a type of gruel called chátāng (茶汤), which is made from sorghum or millet flour and sugar mixed with boiling water. This dish is typical of the northern city of Tianjin, although it may also be found in Beijing. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osmanthus_fragrans]

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