Happy Summer Solstice! Chinese cold noodles or Liang Mian (涼麵) is a deliciously savory yet refreshing snack or meal that’s perfect for hot summer days. It’s a great dish to take to picnics, barbecues, camping…
When we were little, my mom used to name some of her classic dishes after more westernized foods so that my sister and I would be more receptive to them. Of course, this was before I became the worldly, confident individual I am now*. At the time, as a second-generation kid growing up in America, I’d much preferred a McDonald’s Happy Meal to whatever delicious five-dish Chinese meal my mom was preparing. It took me leaving home (for college) to really appreciate the home cooking I had taken for granted all that time.
Mapo tofu (麻婆豆腐) is one of those dishes that is almost always universally loved. It’s flavorful but simple, it’s got some meat but isn’t a meat dish and it’s spicy but not uncontrollably so. Recently, I learned mom has a go-to, quick-fire recipe she uses when she has a package of tofu in the fridge and some ground pork in the freezer*, which is about 97% of the time.
A few months back, I published a recipe for Chinese Spaghetti (aka Zha Jiang Mian). This was my 3rd or 4th time making this dish, so naturally, I undeservedly felt like a pro. That is, until my mother dearest momsplained all the ways in which I messed up. So recently, I revisited this dish, using mom’s suggestions and adding a little flair of my own.
Mom and I couldn’t agree on a name for this dish. The direct Chinese translation (油爆蝦) is Oil Pop Shrimp – which kind of sounds like a pimple gone wrong.
Mom has been making this dish since I can remember and to be honest, I wasn’t always a huge fan of it. Not because it’s not delicious (which it is), but mostly because I’m a lazy eater and to truly enjoy this dish, you gotta work for it.
There is no other dish (and one might actually consider this a ‘side’) that encapsulates my childhood eating memories more than Tomato Egg Stir-fry (番茄炒蛋). Because this dish is so quick and simple, it’s become almost as much of a staple as white rice at family meals. Mom serves it with almost everything. And yet, despite this fact, I have only recently attempted to make this dish for the first time.
The first time I made this dish, I was told it didn’t really count because I didn’t pickle my own mustard greens. This past weekend, thanks to my mom over-buying mustard greens at the store (“it was on sale!”), I tried my hand at a more authentic preparation. I liken this dish to a baked potato – you start making it in hopes that when you’re done (5+ hours later) you’ll actually be hungry for it.