Chinese American...Food

Maytel's Notes
In Thailand, Chinese food is mainly influenced by Teow Chiu people from Northern Quangdong, this cuisine is known as chew chow in Hong Kong. But Chinese Thai has, as Jennifer explains, has transformed into an "open source" food in its own right. In Cambodia, much of what is considered "special" or celebrationary food appears to be of Chinese origin, such as black chicken and various stir fired dishes. Consumption of specific cooler climate vegetables, such as wom bok or "chinese cabbage" in Cambodia rises at Chinese New Year, and other festival occasions. These vegetables are imported from Vietnam mainly. There is definitely an association in Cambodia of Chinese foods as luxury items.

I'm trying to recall if there are anything that is specifically New Zealand or Australian-ified about Chinese food down under. But we never really ate "chinese" take out much when we were young. We did obligatory Sunday yum cha when I was a child, on account of my father being Chinese Thai and having been educated in Hong Kong for the most part of his formative years. But at that stage we were the only family I knew that did this. I guess yum cha has become in many ways, the standard New Zealand lunch for many families now too. It makes me wonder how yum cha in NZ may have adapted to accommodate these new palates.

There's not much good yum cha in Thailand, even Bangkok. I find dumpling making standards are pretty low, especially compared Malaysia. In fact some of the best "canto-style" dumplings I've had were in Penang.

In many Australian and New Zealand cities, the recent wave of mainland Chinese is changing the face of Chinese restaurants from the sad old tired suburban take out stores that were once a common site in most neighbourhoods. What I did notice when we drove around the South Island is that Thai food seems to be the new Chinese restaurant in small country towns. And just as I once, as a child wondered about the poor isolated Chinese family who owned the only Chinese restaurant in say...whakatane or whatever, when in the South Island I couldn't help but wonder about the poor isolate Thai woman stuck behind a stove in a small country tow, with no lemon grass or Thai basil.


    I grew up eating Chinese food in country Victoria. Probably the only distinctive Australian Chinese dish that I can think of is lemon chicken, prepared by deep-frying a whole crumbed chicken schnitzel then slicing and pouring acidic lemon sauce over the top. Also, the option of Western dishes (e.g. steak and chips) on the menu, at least in rural joints.

    Apart from that is the extreme meat content of Australian Chinese food - which Australia shares with US/Canada at least.

    My feeling is that there is a broken line in Australian Chinese food: in the 1940s Chinese restaurants practically disappeared, and with them, anything distinctive that was developed since the 1850s.

    My local Thai joint is run by mainland Chinese expats.


    wow I just re-read my post, so many typos it is barely legible. I must remember to edit my posts better rather than shooting straight from the hip. Story of my god damned life.


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    A couple of popular Japanese Chinese dishes Jennifer 8 Lee didn't mention are: 中華丼 (chuka don: Chinese rice bowl), which is basically 八宝菜(happousai: Cantonese stir-fried dish) on top of rice, and 天津丼(tenshin don: Tianjin rice bowl), which is 芙蓉蟹 (fuyohai: crab meat omelet) on top of rice.

    The other day I found 中華丼 at a "Japanese food" stall in a shopping mall here in Thailand that serves things like curry-n-rice, which is, a very Japanized Japanese-Indian food, by the way.

    A stroll in a Japanese supermarket might make Chinese people dizzy with all the pre-made seasoning mix of "Chinese food" such as Cook Do's by Ajinomoto.

    Personally, anything with lots of sesame oil, ginger and scallion makes things taste Chinese for me. Add chili pepper and lots of lots of garlic in there and it tastes Korean. Thai lime, cilantro and lots of fresh herbs to make it Thai.


    interesting post & comments...(haven't watched video yet due to being in the wop wops with only painful dial-up connection). I guess the rural thai joints in NZ would use imported pre-made thai curry pastes - carried by most asian import stores worldwide.

    as for the state of thai and chinese food in Germany.... no comment!!


    i revise: here is a comment. thai & chinese in Germany stick to a similar template: sweetish glazed chunks of meat served with sweetish glazed chunks of vege. in the case of thai places they may be garnished with a few basil leaves and chilli slices, or even pineapple.
    of course there are plenty of red & green curries with tofu or soft strips of beef with mango but hardly any use of fresh herbs.

    i ordered some kind of suckling pig dish at a popular local Thai place and it came as deep fried pieces in a sweetly spicy glaze-like sauce.

    this coated, fried and glazed/sauced thing seems to be a prototype for US & English Thai and Chinese too... i have one english friend who can't stand chinese take out because of MSG but when he goes there he always gets the Lemon chicken that Phil described. the colour is frightening!

    it can be done well: many chinese take outs in USA and Canada do a version of General Tso chicken, slightly candied with heaps of chillies, that is really awesome in the best grimy way possible.
    also the american take on Kung Bao chicken can be great...
    i prefer cashews to peanuts.

    @Nalika: chuukadon sounds good

    ... cha-han (japanese version of chinese fried rice?) is made by most families all the time, no? love that spicy pickled mustard root stuff. nan te iu dake?

    Have got very fond memories of a chinese place in Sakuragicho that had sizzling soft shell crab, and anindofu for dessert (but is that dessert chinese in origin??)


    I can't believe that I forgot two staples of Australian Chinese food: the dim sim and the Chiko Roll. The Chiko Roll deserves a special mention because it contains sheep.

    I think that Australia is the only nation that serves elements of yum cha from a fish and chip shop.


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