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Archive for January 28, 2017

FOOD TRENDS: Top Chinese Dishes

General Tso's Chicken

Crab Rangoon

Best Wonton Soup

2017 Year Of The Rooster

[1] The most popular Chinese dish in America, per GrubHub results: General Tso’s Chicken (here’s the recipe from Spicy Southern Kitchen). [2] Crab Rangoon, a made-in-america concoction of cream cheese and imitation crab (here’s the recipe from Rasa Malaysia). [3] Wonton soup, fully loaded (here’s the easy recipe for this beauty from recipe Jessica Gavin). [4] Check out your Chinese horoscope here.


It’s Chinese New Year, more properly called the Lunar New Year, celebrated in Asia far beyond China.

The celebrations will start today and continue for through February 2nd.

It’s the Year of the Rooster, the animal sign for those born in 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005 and 2017 (the next Rooster year is 2029).

We’re not much into horoscopes, but we are into food and celebrating. Numerous Chinese restaurants feature special dishes or menus, if you don’t want to celebrate at home.

We find this a good occasion to take a look at the most popular everyday Chinese dishes in America.

GrubHub analyzed a year’s worth of ordering data from its 30,000 participating restaurants in more than 800 cities, serving 172,000 take-out orders and 4.57 million diners (survey data from 2015).

The most popular Chinese dish, General Tso’s Chicken, is also the fourth most popular dish among all the cuisines ordered on GrubHub. And the first and second aren’t even based in China: They are Chinese-American creations.


1. General Tso’s Chicken (deep-fried chicken chunks with hot chiles and sweet and sour sauce)

2. Crab Rangoon (fried wontons stuffed with cream cheese and [usually imitation] crab)

3. Egg Roll

4. Sesame Chicken

5. Wonton Soup

6. Fried Rice

7. Sweet and Sour Chicken

8. Orange Chicken (made with orange peel)

9. Hot And Sour Soup

10. Potstickers (leftover steamed dumplings that are fried)

Are your favorites on the list?

While you can’t argue with the data, note that the results may be skewed.

  • Data from 800 cities across the country may not be the same as data from, say, the 30 cities in the U.S. that have Chinatowns, and thus a broader selection of authentic Chinese food.
  • Peking Duck, our favorite Chinese dish and often the priciest item on a menu, isn’t a typical take-out order.
  • Where are the great noodle dishes (low mein, chow fun)?
  • While American dietary choices may not reflect them, don’t overlook the delicious greens, such as sautéed bok choy, Chinese broccoli and napa cabbage).
  • Ditto for the tofu and eggplant dishes.

    In alphabetical order, we hunger for:

  • Chow Fun (with Chinese broccoli and lamb or pork)
  • Eggplant With Garlic Sauce
  • Mai Fun Singapore Style (angel hair pasta with curry, pork and shrimp plus shredded bell pepper, carrot, Chinese cabbage and scallions or onions )
  • Mapo Tofu (with spicy ground beef and chopped scallions)
  • Peking Duck (roasted and served with pancakes, scallions and hoisin sauce)
  • Salt & Pepper Squid, or Squid In Black Bean Sauce
  • Spicy Sichuan-Style Lamb
  • Steamed Dumplings
  • Steamed Greens With Oyster Sauce
  • Wonton Soup (with lots of vegetables, including bamboo shoots, bok choy, mushrooms, snow peas, and non-authentic but delightful spinach and/or watercress—and for an extra treat, add shrimp [recipe])
    We very much like Hot And Sour Soup, Orange Chicken, a good egg roll and fried rice, but kept our list to 10 to match GrubHub’s.

    This has made us so hungry, we can’t wait until dinner. We’ll be calling GrubHub to deliver lunch!



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    TIP OF THE DAY: Pho & Ramen Breakfast…Or Perhaps Some Miso Soup?

    Asians drink soup for breakfast: Japanese miso soup and Thai pho, for example. Americans looking for something quick, hot, nutritious and comforting should consider the option.

    Both can be packed with vegetables, and carried in a travel mug or thermos.

    Your soup supply can also be part of a low-calorie, healthful lunch or snack.


    Miso soup for breakfast? Sure: That’s how millions of Japanese people start the day.

    All you need to make a bowl of miso soup is hot water and a spoonful of miso paste, available in many supermarkets as well as in Asian food stores. Seriously, it’s as easy as instant coffee.

    You can have it plain, add tofu cubes as served at Japanese restaurants, or add vegetables of choice, as shown in this video.

    The tofu can be cubed in advance; in fact, the whole soup can be made in advance and microwaved in a minute, which is especially convenient if you want your soup with cooked veggies.

    There are also instant versions in packets with freeze-dried tofu cubes, which just require water and heating.

    We were heartbroken when Pacific Organics discontinued their terrific pho soup base. It was so easy to whip up a delicious, nutritious noodle and egg soup that can be served for breakfast, lunch or a light dinner.

    Pho is one of our favorite foods in the world, especially when the broth is cooked for days to extract amazing layers of flavor (go to a Vietnamese restaurant that makes it from scratch, not from a commercial base. It may be one of your life’s memorable food moments.)

    Since then, we’ve discovered Nona Lim’s flavorful broths: pho, miso ramen and spicy Szechuan.

    All can be drunk straight or enhanced with noodles, eggs and vegetables. You can add meat for a hearty lunch or dinner dish, and top it with fresh herbs for color and more flavor.

    Savory Choice, which for years has been our go-to chicken broth base, now makes pho concentrate packets in beef, chicken and vegetable.

    You can also find powdered concentrates in Asian food stores and online.

    So what’s stopping you from making a delicious Asian breakfast?


    Ingredients For 4 To 6 Servings

  • 12 ounces Nona Lim plus one cup water or other equivalent* pho broth (substitute Szechuan broth or miso soup)
  • 5 ounces ramen (one packet)
  • 1 head bok choy or ½ head chard or kale, sliced into ½” ribbons
  • 3 green onions/scallions, green and white parts, chopped roughly
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped roughly (substitute basil, chervil, mint or parsley)

    1. ADD water to the the broth concentrate per package directions, then heat. When it boils, add noodles and cook for 2-3 minutes.

    2. ADD the greens and scallions and simmer for another 3-5 minutes, until the greens are bright and tender but still have texture.

    TIP: If you have wilting veggies in your crisper, or a piece of uncooked chicken or fish that needs to be used, this is a perfect way to use them up. Just shred/slice and toss ‘em in!)

    3. BRING a small pot of water to a boil, then add the eggs and simmer for 7 minutes and 20 seconds. Remove from water and place in an ice bath; peel when cool.

    4. LADLE out bowls of noodles and broth, adding a handful of fresh herbs and a halved egg to each.

    *The Nona Lim package plus the water equals 16 ounces of broth.


    Ramen - Egg Soup

    Nona Lim Pho Broth

    Savory Choice Beef Pho

    Kikkoman Instant Tofu Miso Soup

    [1] A delicious Asian breakfast, this soup triple-tasks for lunch and dinner. [2] Ready to heat: Nona Lim’s pho base (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [3] We alternate using both Nona Lim and Savory Choice concentrate packets (photo courtesy Grub Market). [4] A quick substitute: instant miso soup packets. There is also a version with tofu and spinach (photo courtesy Kikkoman).



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