Lamb Dumplings in Flushing

I just realized that I haven’t posted any dumpling pix in quite a while, so here’s some research from my Snacking in Flushing – The Best of the Best ethnojunket: takeout from Chinese-Korean Dumplings & Noodles, Booth 30, in Flushing’s stalwart New World Mall on 136-20 Roosevelt Ave.

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Luscious lamb dumplings, because who doesn’t love dumplings?

The inner workings.

So many great vendors there and we’ll go to a number of them. Curious about which ones we actually visit? Take the tour and find out! (Hint: The name of this ethnojunket says it all! 😉)

To learn more about my food tours, please check out my Ethnojunkets page and sign up to join in the fun!

Hay Hay Roasted

Prowling around Manhattan’s Chinatown, I spotted a display of roasted/BBQ meats hanging in the window of Hay Hay Roasted at 81 Mott Street, the space formerly occupied by Hoy Wong. The collective term for these favorites is siu mei (燒味), not to be confused with the popular dim sum dumpling, shu mai (燒賣). Since I had never sampled their wares (thanks, COVID) I was compelled to rectify the situation. The results:

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Whole Duck. I always ask for it not to be cut into pieces; in addition to cobbling together some impressive homemade faux Peking Duck buns (you can read my Faking Peking Duck story here), the carcass provides a base for an incredible duck soup.

Roasted Crispy Skin Pig. Sweet, succulent meat lounging under a blanket of crispy skin. What more can anyone ask for?

Honey Roasted Pork. Shoulda bought more.

Flushing Ethnojunkets Are Back!

Snacking in Flushing – The Best of the Best!

I resumed Exploring Eastern European Food in Little Odessa about a month ago and Ethnic Eats in Elmhurst more recently – now Flushing is stepping up to the plate! (And Bay Ridge is just around the corner.)

Ethnojunkets FAQ:

Q: What’s an ethnojunket anyway?
A: An ethnojunket is a food-focused walking tour through one of New York City’s many ethnic enclaves; my mission is to introduce you to some delicious, accessible, international treats that you’ve never tasted but soon will never be able to live without.

Q: Which neighborhoods do you cover?
A: My most popular tours are described on the ethnojunkets page but there are always new ones in the works. For the time being, I’m only scheduling Little Odessa, Elmhurst, and Flushing.

Q: When is your next ethnojunket to [fill in the blank: Flushing, Elmhurst, Little Odessa, Little Levant, etc.]?
A: Any day you’d like to go! Simply send me a note in the “Leave a Reply” section below or write to me directly at rich[at]ethnojunkie[dot]com and tell me when you’d like to experience a food adventure and which ethnojunket you’re interested in – I’ll bet we can find a mutually convenient day! (Pro Tip: Check the weather in advance for the day you’re interested in to facilitate making your choice; we spend a lot of time outdoors!)

Q: I’ve seen some tours that are scheduled in advance for particular dates. Do you do that?
A: Yes, in a way. When someone books a tour (unless it’s a private tour) it’s always fun to add a few more adventurous eaters to the group – not to mention the fact that we get the opportunity to taste more dishes when we have more people (although I do like to keep the group size small). You can see if there are any openings available in the “Now Boarding” section of the ethnojunkets page. Subscribers always get email notifications about these.

Q: What will we be eating in Flushing?
A: On this ethnojunket, we’ll choose from a seemingly endless collection of authentic regional delights from all over China: Heilongjiang, Shandong, Henan, Shanghai, Shaanxi, Guangzhou, Hubei, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and Japan and Taiwan as well. And as if that weren’t enough, we’ll finish with some amazingly rich Chinese influenced American ice cream! If you’re into cooking, we can also check out JMart, a sprawling Asian supermarket. All this within four blocks!

Here are just a few of the delicacies we usually enjoy on this ethnojunket. (Not that I’m trying to tempt you to sign up! 😉)

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Dim Sum and Dumplings and Buns – oh my!

Dan Tat – Hong Kong Egg Custard Tarts

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

Xiao Long Bao – Soup Dumplings

Oodles of Noodles

Jian Bing – Chinese Crepe

I hope you’ll sign up and join us! The cost is $85 per person (cash only, please) and includes a veritable cornucopia of food so bring your appetite: you won’t leave hungry, and you will leave happy!

For more information and to sign up, send me a note in the “Leave a Reply” section at the bottom of this page or write to me directly at rich[at]ethnojunkie[dot]com and I’ll email you with details.

I’m looking forward to introducing you to one of my favorite neighborhoods!

Happy Market Dim Sum Details

A week ago, I wrote about my visit to the ongoing revitalization of Elmhurst’s Food Court at 8202 45th Ave and promised to show you a close up of some of the dim sum I brought home from Happy Market, so here’s a quick overview of three examples:

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Beef Ball. Finely pulverized beef, classically served over bean curd skin with Worcestershire sauce on the side just as you’ve probably experienced in your favorite dim sum parlor. Tasty.

Siu Mai (or Shu Mai). A universal favorite executed perfectly here. These are larger than the typical dumpling and it’s clear why: I discovered a whole shrimp in one of these – no, not a baby shrimp, but a seriously good sized specimen! Big hunks of pork as well – the word “hearty” comes to mind. The texture of the filling is robust and chunky (as it should be) and its flavor is excellent.

Chiu Chao Fan Guo (or Teochow Fun Kor or so many other clever Anglicizations). The thick glutinous rice wrapper envelops mushrooms, peanuts, pork, Chinese chives and more; I cut one open to give you an idea of the inner workings. As juicy as it appears in the photo.

All were truly delicious and left me wanting more – and as I mentioned, it’s back on my Ethnic Eats in Elmhurst food tour. And if you’re curious about which of the many dim sum items we actually indulge in, well, you’ll just have to take the tour! 😉

To learn more about my food tours, please check out my Ethnojunkets page and sign up to join in the fun!

Elmhurst Food Court Redux

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I did one of my Ethnic Eats In Elmhurst food tours on Sunday. I always arrive early to ensure that the businesses we’ll be visiting are still open (hey, stuff happens), that they’re not out of the goodies we were specifically angling for (that’s happened too), and that my Plan B shelters against inclement weather are available (I’ve been lucky with that one so far).

As I walked past what used to be HK Food Court at 8202 45th Ave, the long shuttered entrance was open – and I smelled food! I tentatively entered and amid significant ongoing construction, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, there were three vendors preparing and displaying their wares in what was something between a dry run and an extremely soft opening. If you go – and you really should – be aware that all the signage hails from the original incarnation and bears no connection to the current vendors (see final photo). But they were indeed open to the public and that’s all the encouragement I needed.

Shortly thereafter, my guests arrived and we checked out the most sprawling of the three. I was told their name would be “Happy Market” and they had been there for only two days. (Timing is everything, right?). In addition to a tempting selection of Cantonese roasted/BBQ ducks, pipa duck, char siu, spareribs, and crispy pig, there was a steamtable set up that I usually associate with “four items plus rice” you’ve probably seen in Chinatowns everywhere, congee, and a considerable array of dim sum.

Everything we tasted was excellent so yes, it’s back on my itinerary. More details to follow, but here are five hastily snapped photos to give you an idea of how things looked; I’ll be doing reports as more vendors populate the new food court.

Having witnessed the demise of so many of our treasured food courts, this brings me joy and gives me hope. Stay tuned….
To learn more about my food tours, please check out my Ethnojunkets page and sign up to join in the fun!

Chinese Tea Tree Mushroom Spin-off

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Picking up from two posts ago when I wrote about some leftover Chinese restaurant takeout goodies my friend and neighbor had dropped off: The parcel also included something the menu listed as “Dry Braised Agrocybe Cha Shu Gu”; the truncated Latin Agrocybe Aegerita and transliterated Chinese 茶树菇 apparently refer to what’s known in English as tea tree mushrooms, aka willow mushrooms. The cap is small (about ¼ to ¾ inch) and the thin, striated, tough, crunchy stem is about 6 inches long. The flavor is purported to be woody or earthy, but the dish was so spicy that the true character of the mushroom didn’t penetrate the heat.

Like last time, I decided to stretch the leftovers into something lunchworthy, but the burn from the dried red chili peppers, hot green peppers, chili oil and the like was considerable. What to do? I remembered the famous quote, “Noodles hath charms to soothe a savage breast,” or something like that, so rice noodz from the pantry were pressed into service to temper the fire. I added homemade char siu (the last of the freezer supply), sliced onions and celery, the customary seasonings, and came up with what you see here.

Mission accomplished.

I isolated a few mushrooms at the outset so you could see the genesis of the dish.

Just curious: have any of you ever tried these?

Chinese Bitter Melon Spin-off

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A friend and neighbor was kind enough to drop off some leftovers from Famous Sichuan on Pell St in Manhattan’s Chinatown. One was described on the menu as Sautéed and Dried Bitter Melon which consisted of exactly that, sans embellishment. I decided that instead of consuming it straightaway as a snack, I’d stretch it into a proper lunch using whatever I had on hand. (You’ve heard me sing that song before.)

Perusing the interwebs, I found that both Chinese and Vietnamese cuisines (among others) include stir fried bitter melon with eggs in their repertoires – fair game for me to riff on. Now, what would harmonize with those two ingredients? If you’re savvy about such things, you’re familiar with Tomatoes & Eggs, the epitome of the homiest of Chinese home cooking; I had some grape tomatoes with unusually thick skins, rather tough for eating raw but perfect for stir frying. I incorporated some reconstituted dried shiitake mushrooms for umami and scallions for bite and happily, it turned out to be a great combination.

Here’s the “before” photo in case you’re curious about what started the ball rolling.

Stay tuned to check out what I did with the other leftover dish!

Two Flaky Treats from Jade Bakery

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From my last visit to Jade Bakery, 6223 8th Ave, Sunset Park, Brooklyn: Chinese egg custard tart (蛋挞, dan tat among other English spellings) and a pink winter melon pastry.

The inner workings:

The egg custard was rich and dense, firmer than others I’ve sampled, harmonizing perfectly with the flaky, tasty crust. A cut above.

Closeup of layers upon layers of layers! The filling was definitely sweet but with a subtle savory note at the same time; its texture was that of thick jam pointed up by an occasional unexpected shred of winter melon, a welcome contrast.

Suggested by my Number One Spy, who is never wrong.

Cooking with Canned Water Chestnuts

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Sticking with Chinese home cookin’ for the Lunar New Year (so I used sticky rice 🙃), this dish was cobbled together from hyperlocal sources: bok choy, leeks, and red bell pepper from my previous trip to the supermarket, lap cheong (Chinese sausage) ever-present in my freezer, and canned water chestnuts from the pantry.

Some advice about cooking with canned water chestnuts:

Don’t do it. Just Don’t.

Otherwise, it was a tasty dish.

(The same can be said for canned bamboo shoots, regardless of brand.)

But seriously, if you can make a case for using the godforsaken things, I’d like to hear it.

This message has been brought to you as a public service. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author. 😉

Chinese New Year 4720 (2022)

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)The two-week long Chinese celebration of the Lunar New Year begins today – it’s 4720, the Year of the Tiger. The Tiger is known for his strength, bravery, and particularly his ability to purge evil – and if ever we needed that specific set of superpowers, it’s now.

But even COVID can’t stop us from embracing all of the traditions that make this holiday so extraordinary. One that I particularly enjoy is the way in which wordplay and homophones factor into the selection of traditional foods specially prepared to mark the occasion. For example, at festive gatherings a whole fish will be served, because the word for fish (yu) is a homophone for surpluses.

So since I could definitely use some surpluses right now, I’ve made a whole steamed fish stuffed with ginger and scallions and bedecked with even more julienned fresh ginger, scallions, chives, and cilantro for the centerpiece. Accompanying the star of the show were snow peas and black mushrooms in black bean sauce, and char siu fried rice (homemade char siu, to be sure).

Now, if you read me, you know that of course there’s a backstory that involves the preparation of this feast, and I’m going to save the near miss details for a future post. But there is a Lunar New Year story I would like to share with you now, one I wrote a few zodiac signs ago, a mystery involving a particular nian gao (the traditional sweet rice cake and a homophone for high year) that resonates to this day. It’s all in my very short story, “The Case of the Uncrackable Case!”

新年快乐! Xīnnián kuàilè!
恭喜发财! Gong hei fat choy!