Chances are you live a stone’s throw away from a Thai restaurant in your neighborhood, and you’ve got a go-to local favorite for pad thai. These days I often find myself traveling north of Berkeley, where there’s quite a few wonderful Thai eateries clustered in Albany, El Cerrito and San Pablo locales.
Legend has it that an innkeeper caught a glimpse of the goddess of love in her bedroom and then rushed to his kitchen to create an egg pasta inspired by Venus’ belly button. Today the art of making tortellini is endangered, but several groups are devising creative ways to preserve the tradition.
From Warsaw to Wuhan, people around the world love dumplings. They’re tasty little packages that can be made of any grain and stuffed with whatever the locals crave. But where did they come from? Some think prehistoric people may have been cooking them up.
Eating foods that symbolize wealth, longevity and fertility is key to the Chinese New Year, which begins this year with a New Year’s Eve feast on Feb. 9. And, lucky for us, the northern Chinese tradition of making dumplings late at night has spread throughout the world.
For most Americans, Chinese food is about Fried Rice, Chow Mein and the occasional Kung Pao Chicken. But China’s a big country, and just like in the States, each region has its own specialties. The food from Shanghai is no exception. Here are some tried and true favorites you’ll find at a typical Shanghainese restaurant. If they do these dishes well, you’ll be golden.
It didn’t take long to figure out my contribution to an election night potluck: celebratory jiao zi dumplings made with bipartisan dough. Inspiration came from the toothsome, homemade, two-tone dumplings served during a recent 9-course dinner at China Stix
in Santa Clara. The meal, hosted by the Association of Chinese Cooking Teachers, included a hands-on demonstration of dumpling making with owner Frank Chang and his head chef. Tucked in the corner of a nondescript strip mall, the restaurant is nothing much from the outside. Once inside, though, you’ll find some of the best northern-style Chinese food in the Bay Area.