Chinese chili oil is taking the world by storm
In many kitchens in China you’ll likely find a bottle or three of Lao Gan Ma, a crisp chili oil infused with a potent mix of dried chili peppers, fried onions, peanuts, fermented soybeans and, yes, MSG. It is ideal for spicing up staple Chinese dishes such as dumplings and fried rice, delivering the perfect balance of heat and crunch, as well as a delightful hit of umami. It is also one of the bestselling condiments in the country, with sales of over US$770 million in 2019. Today, savvy foodies in the West are catching on, from chefs to critics to celebrities. In 2018, American professional wrestler John Cena waxed lyrical about Lao Gan Ma – in Mandarin to boot – in a video posted on Weibo. 
Aw shucks! How oyster omelettes won a war
There might be something fishy about the story of how oyster omelets helped the Chinese win a war, but there’s no denying the eternal pull of the humble mollusk. A street food staple in Taiwan and the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen, legend has it that a Chinese general named Koxinga created the snack to save his troops from starvation. It was 1661 and China was defending Taiwan from the Dutch, whose battle tactics were to limit the Chinese army’s food supply by hiding rice. Desperate for food, Koxinga is said to have plucked oysters from the beach, coated them in potato starch and deep-fried them for his men. The army was saved from hunger and later won the war against the Dutch. While the
Panda Express gets its very own knockoff in China
A restaurant named Panda Express in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming has been closed for investigation after the American chain of the same name said it was unauthorized and infringed its trademark. The US fast-food chain, which serves American-style Chinese food, said it would consider taking legal action, while the Kunming restaurant – which has an almost identical panda logo – was closed. The management of its landlord, Chenggong Seazen Wuyue Plaza, told news portal Thepaper.cn it was reviewing the outlet’s credentials. The Chinese version’s listing on the food review portal Dianping said its operations were suspended. The restaurant declined to take calls on Thursday from the Sou
From bone marrow to shortcrust: the history of the egg tart
With their silky smooth, eggy custard filling and flaky pastry crust, Cantonese egg tarts are hard to resist when walking past a Hong Kong-style bakery. It’s even harder when they’re fresh out of the oven. For customers at Tai Cheong Bakery, one of Hong Kong’s oldest egg tart shops, the Cantonese treat isn’t just a delicious dessert, it’s the taste of their childhood. “It’s the sweet and savory mixed together. It’s very nostalgic for me,” says one hungry customer in between bites. “When I was young, my mom would come home every day with a box of egg tarts.” “It’s the Hong Kong tradition. That’s why we love it,” says another. “We grew up eating this like a dessert or teatime treat.” Found in
The unexpected history of Chinese-Canadian food (Hint: it’s not ‘fake Chinese’)
Chop suey, chow mein, egg foo yong, deep-fried lemon chicken, spring rolls, stir-fried beef and broccoli. These are all dishes typically found on the menu of a Chinese-Canadian restaurant. They may not be authentically Chinese, but they are culturally distinct. Vancouver-born journalist Ann Hui, 36, took an interest in the culinary curiosities after learning that many immigrant restaurants in Canada’s Chinatowns were closing down or being repurposed as non-Chinese restaurants or bars. When Hui, a reporter for Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, dug deeper, she discovered there were many such restaurants across the country. In some cases, they were the only restaurant in town. That inspir