Meet the chef who once cooked for Deng Xiaoping
Liu Guo-zhu is the executive chef of the two-Michelin-star Golden Flower restaurant in Macau, specializing in imperial Tan cuisine, which comes from Beijing and has aristocratic roots. In an interview, he talks about cooking for China’s late paramount leader and why traditions are essential for Chinese chefs. What was it like cooking for Deng Xiaoping? He loved dishes with chili because he was from Sichuan. He liked to enjoy a bit of alcohol as well. Back in 1981, there was a big military exercise for six days and he insisted on watching over the whole thing. The exercise was in Zhangjiakou, near Inner Mongolia, and the weather was cold. The quality of lamb from Inner Mongolia was known to
This app wants to pay you to eat vegan
A Hong Kong-based new app is hoping to pay people to eat more plant-based meals. Every time users in the city eat a vegan meal and submit the receipt to the app, Pay-a-Vegan, they will receive a $1 credit to be redeemed in the service’s partner restaurants. Eiko Onishi, the founder of the app, said she wants to encourage more restaurants to offer vegan food and make life easier for vegans by giving them restaurant recommendations. “Instead of convincing people to open a new, purely vegan restaurant, it’s easier to ask regular restaurants to perhaps increase their vegan options,” said Onishi.  In recent years, entrepreneurs have eyed the greater China region as a potential market for plant-ba
Rich Chinese diners can’t get enough of this musky ‘white gold’
Averaging €300 for 100 grams (about $1,350 per pound) – but with the largest specimens selling for substantially more – highly sought-after white truffles from Italy’s northern Piedmont region are commonly called “white gold.” The Chinese love affair with these musky-tasting truffles has given rise to a niche industry of cooks, businessmen and millionaires from Shanghai to Singapore. They have become the main buyers of the expensive delicacy and the major protagonists in the annual truffle drama – the yearly auction in the Piedmont town of Alba. “Each year in Alba we stage the white truffle global auction, and for the past 15 years it has been held simultaneously through streaming in Hong Ko
Most of the Western world is still ignorant of Asian cooking
It’s a slow week night and I find myself vegetating in front of the TV, watching another season of MasterChef. As usual, feisty judge Gordon Ramsay is ripping into another contestant for his poor job of cooking a piece of meat and Joe Bastianich is shooting daggers at another for sloppy plating. As an Asian viewer, though, what’s been gnawing at me over so many seasons is how little Asian cuisine they actually feature. As people discover food from Asia, this geographic region has undeniably had the most profound culinary effect of any continent in the last 20 years. If you watch MasterChef, you’d think Asian food is still just rice, more rice and sweet and sour pork. This applies to many oth
Will China embrace plant-based meat? We’re about to find out
If anyone wants to convince Chinese people to eat less pork, the country’s favorite meat, now is a very opportune time.  Over the past four months, pork prices have more than doubled in China, due to an outbreak of African swine fever that has wiped out more than 30% of the country’s pig herd, which experts say will take years to rebuild.  Green Common, a plant-based food company based in Hong Kong, is hoping the pork crisis means more people are in the market for alternatives.  “There is a market for this product in China,” said Casey Hall, a Shanghai-based writer who’s been covering Chinese consumers for over a decade.  Chinese people are certainly opting for other kinds of meat, as risin
Can fake-meat startups make it in the home of alt-meat?
The Silicon Valley startup Impossible Foods makes a business out of convincing carnivores that vegan burgers can taste just as beefy as the real deal. But as the company’s founder, Patrick Brown, has set his sight on China, calling the country an “essential” market at a forum on Wednesday, the world’s largest meat consumer has responded with skepticism. Given China’s long history of making and eating faux meat, a Buddhist tradition that is also widely followed by non-believers, some commentators have dismissed the American company’s offering as uninspiring. “China’s vegetarian restaurant is the gem! We have had mock meats since forever, and they can beat those foreign synthetic meats in a h
Mooncakes filled with chicken and then some
The biggest fast-food chain in China, Kentucky Fried Chicken, has launched its own take on mooncakes, a (usually) sweet treat reserved for the Mid-Autumn Festival. The festival falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. This year, that’s on September 13. Meat-filled mooncakes aren’t uncommon – we’ve debated them before – but can you put chicken in mooncakes?  We brought in a bucket of KFC’s take on the festival staple to find out.
The lavish, expensive Cantonese dishes lost in time
Double-boiled pig’s stomach stuffed with chicken and bird’s nest. Wok-seared crab cake with bird’s nest and egg white. Wok-fried thinly sliced giant sea conch “snow flakes” with chicken fillet and crispy ham medallions. These are just some of the dishes that wealthy customers used to order in high-end Cantonese restaurants in Hong Kong decades ago. But, they eventually disappeared from menus because they were too laborious or difficult to prepare, or the price charged didn’t make them worth the effort. Malaysian-Chinese freelance food writer Agnes Chee had never heard of these dishes before. She later asked seasoned chef Chui Wai-kwan, who had been cooking for over 50 years, to make some of
Where is sushi from? Not Japan
Sushi is pretty ubiquitous: from nigiri, with its slice of raw fish on a pillow of rice, to the maki roll wrapped in nori, or seaweed. But the sushi we know today tastes and looks very different from how it did centuries ago.  First of all, the rice in the original “sushi” was not intended to be eaten. Mixed with salt, it was used to preserve the fish and then thrown out. Sushi’s origins aren’t even Japanese, says Nobu Hong Kong executive sushi chef Kazunari Araki, who has more than 20 years of sushi-making experience. The combination of rice and fish, he explains, originated in the third century along the Mekong River in Southeast Asia, where countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, La
Sriracha sauce is hot stuff all over the world, and it’s made in California
With a rooster in the center, surrounded by Chinese and Vietnamese writing, and the bottle topped with its iconic green squeeze cap, Huy Fong Foods’ Sriracha sauce is arguably one of the most recognizable condiments in the world. The sauce is lauded for its spicy kick, vinegary tang and garlicky aftertaste and has developed a cult following since it first tantalized tastebuds in 1980. Heat seekers are known to add it to almost any dish – drizzling it on pizza and sushi; mixing it into bowls of pasta or pho. Fans have gotten tattoos and personalized car number plates to declare their love for it, and astronauts have even taken it into space. Despite its ubiquity, though, there remains common