Thursday, December 13, 2012

Kindred spirits: U.S. soul food & Chaozhou cuisine

Now on Zester Daily, a look at Chaozhou's mesmerizing foods and how they echo soul food:

It’s a delicious mystery, the way that certain food aesthetics seem to bridge space and time, uniting cultures that would seem to be light years apart. There are no reasonable explanations for this, no instances of immigration one way or the other, no record of any foreign-style restaurant setting up shop in a small country town and changing the course of comfort food for all time. But it happens.

One such instance is the way in which the most delicious foods of Chaozhou, on the north coast of Guangdong province, resonate with the soul food of Black America. The three-course menu below highlights that commonality of flavor.

Tangy ribs are as popular throughout China as they are from Kansas City to North Carolina, and each region has its own take on the master recipe, but this Chaozhou version has to be up there in the ranks of the very best. Its secret? Sour plums.

These salty, dry, and most definitely sour little rocks are turned from mouth-puckering tea snacks into mouth-watering jammy sauces here, the tartness hovering inside the sweetness and the fruitiness of the plums providing the necessary balance. But to transform these breakfasty flavors into something divine, garlic and ginger wake up the palate and make you start wondering whether there are any immediate direct flights to Chaozhou...

Read the rest here on Zester Daily, where you'll find recipes for Fried Ribs with Ginger & Plum Sauce, Soupy Greens (aka The Dish that Secured the Country), and Steamed Taro Pudding with Ginkgo Nuts.