The Sensuous Gourmet & the Sichuan Peppercorn

Home Made Dim Sum and Exploring China
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Due to the high agricultural output of the region, ingredients for Hunan dishes are many and varied. Fujian cuisine is derived from the native cooking style of the province of Fujian, China. There are many eating places around the province that sell these specialities for two yuan, and which are thus known as "two-yuan eateries". It is derived from the native cooking styles of the Huangshan Mountains region.

Combining elements of cooking from northern Anhui, south-central Anhui, and the Hui-speaking areas of southern Anhui, Anhui cuisine is known for its use of wild game and herbs, both land and sea, and comparatively unelaborate methods of preparation. Chefs pay more attention to temperature in their cooking and are good at braising and stewing.

Since Beijing has been the Chinese capital city for centuries, its cuisine was influenced by people from all over China. Therefore, it is at times rather difficult to determine the actual origin of a dish as the term "Mandarin" is generalized and refers not only to Beijing, but other provinces as well.

Mandarin food is heavily influenced by other provinces' food.

By Lucy Wang

Shanghai does not have a definitive cuisine of its own, but refines those of the surrounding provinces mostly from adjacent Jiangsu and Zhejiang coastal provinces. What can be called Shanghai cuisine is epitomized by the use of alcohol. Fish, eel, crab, and chicken are "drunken" with spirits and usually served raw. Salted meats and preserved vegetables are also commonly used to spice up the dish.


The use of sugar is common in Shanghainese cuisine and, especially when used in combination with soy sauce, effuses foods and sauces with a taste that is not so much sweet but rather savory. A typical Shanghai household will consume sugar at the same rate as soy sauce, even excluding pastry baking. Non-natives tend to have difficulty identifying this usage of sugar and are often surprised when told of the "secret ingredient.

Lime-and-ginger-flavoured "1,year-old" eggs are another popular Shanghainese creation. The braised meat ball and the Smelly Tofu are also uniquely Shanghainese. Facing the East China Sea, seafood in Shanghai is very popular. Locals though favor freshwater fish just as much as saltwater products like crabs, oysters, and seaweed.

The most famous local delicacy is Shanghai hairy crab. Shanghainese people are known to eat very little which makes them a target of mockery from other Chinese , and hence the servings are usually quite small. A famous snack in Shanghai, in Mandarin: Xiao Long Bao literally: "small steamer buns;" in the local Shanghainese dialect: "sho lonpotsi" or "sho lonmeudou" cooked in a small bamboo steamer, is now popularized throughout China as a Dim Sum.

Xiao Long Bao, sometimes referred to as a soup dumpling, is a small meat-filled steamed bun unique because it contains soup stock, adding a sensual, surprising effect when eaten. Due to the rapid growth of Shanghai and its development into one of the foremost East Asian cities as a center of both finance and contemporary culture, the future of Shanghai cuisine looks very promising.

Unlike Cantonese or Mandarin cuisine, Shanghainese restaurant menus will sometimes have a dessert section. Hong Kong, as the crossroads of eastern and western cultures, has developed a blend of eating habit incorporating Chinese, notably Cantonese, and western cuisines. It is reputed as the "eating paradise". As a place where the world meets, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai and Indian restaurants are also very common. Most people serve Chinese cuisine at home.

While most people are of Cantonese ancestry, there are also many Hakka especially the indigenious residents in the New Territories , Teochew Chiu Chow, Chaozhou and Shanghai peoples. Home dishes are usually a mixture of these traditions. Rice is the main course of meals. Indigenous residents in the New Territories have a tradition to have poon choi during festivals. Cake shops in Yuen Long are famous for lo por cakes. Traditional breakfast food includes congee and yau cha kwai literally oil-fried ghosts ; however, bread and butter, egg, sausage, etc.

With over years of history, Macanese cuisine is unique to Macau. It is a blend of Portuguese and southern Chinese cuisines, with significant influences from Southeast Asia and the Lusophone world. Many unique dishes resulted from the spice blends that the wives of Portuguese sailors used in an attempt to replicate European dishes.

Common cooking techniques include baking, grilling and roasting. It is renowned for its flavor-blending culture. Typically, Macanese food is seasoned with various spices including turmeric, coconut milk, cinnamon and bacalhau, giving special aromas and tastes. Pickling is a very common form of food preservation and pickled cabbage is traditionally made by most households in giant clay pickling vats. Unlike the South of China, noodles tend to be the most common form of starch rather than rice.

There are several cuisines in Taiwan. In Taiwan, many of the diverse cuisines from the different parts of China converge. Pork, rice, soy are very common ingredients, as with many Chinese cuisines. Beef is far less common, and some Taiwanese particularly the elderly generation still refrain from eating it. This is in part due to a traditional reluctance to slaughtering precious cattle needed for agriculture, and an emotional attachment to such beasts of labor. Taiwan's cuisine has also been influenced by its geographic location. Living on a crowded island, the Taiwanese had to look aside from the farmlands for sources of protein.

As a result, seafood figures prominently in their cuisine. This seafood encompasses many different things, from large fish such as tuna and grouper, to sardines and even tiny fish the length of a thumbnail. Because of the island's subtropical location, Taiwan has an abundant supply of various fruit, such as papayas, melons and citrus. The scarcity of natural resources has made for hard living on the island. As the Taiwanese had to make do with very little, they showed remarkable adaptation, craftiness and creativity when it came to preparing food. From many of their dishes, the Taiwanese have shown their inventiveness in the selection of spices.

Taiwanese cuisine relies on an abundant array of seasonings for flavor: Soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil, Black beans, pickled radishes, peanuts, chili peppers, parsley, and a local variety of basil "nine story tower". The resulting dishes thus combine and layer interesting tastes which make Taiwanese cuisine simple in format yet complex in experience.

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Many of the non-dessert dishes are usually considered snacks, not entrees; that is, they have a similar status to the Cantonese dim sum or the Spanish tapas. Such dishes are usually only slightly salted, with lots of vegetables along with the main meat or seafood item. To barbecue in this manner, first build a hollow pyramid up with dirt clods.

Next, burn some charcoal or wood inside until the temperature inside the pyramid is very high the dirt clods should be glowing red. Finally, place some taro, yam, or chicken in cans in the pyramid and topple the pyramid over the food. Keep the items under the hot dirt clods until they are thoroughly cooked. Taiwan's best-known snacks are present in the night markets. In these markets, one can also find fried and steamed meat-filled buns, oyster-filled omelets, refreshing fruit ices, and much more.

As the province with the largest number of ethnic minorities, Yunnan has a great variety of food, and it is difficult to make generalisations. It could be argued, however, that Yunnanese food is quite spicy as compared to Sichuan cuisine and makes greater use of mushrooms than other Chinese cuisines.

Rebirth is one basic tenet of Buddhism, and this includes rebirth of humans as other animals, and vice-versa. As a result, many Buddhists do not kill animals and many also do not eat meat. Many vegetarian Buddhists are not vegan, but for those who are vegan, such beliefs are often due to objections about the circumstances in which the animals producing products such as milk and eggs are raised.

One theory behind this Buddhist dietary restriction is that these vegetables have strong flavours which are supposed to excite the senses and, thus, represent a burden to Buddhists seeking to control their desires. Another theory is that these are all root crops, and harvesting them requires killing organisms in the soil. The latter explanation is accepted in the Jain religion that sprung up in India at the same time as Buddhism, and quite possibly influenced its practices. A third theory is that these strong spices could be used to cover up the taste of meat. Practitioners were told to avoid dishes with these spices to ensure they could discern if food prepared by others was tainted by meat.

It is unclear, historically, what the original reason was for this restriction. There are no universally agreed-upon rules for permitted and not-permitted foods in Buddhism. In some regions, it is common for monks to eat no meat and drink no alcohol, but for the laity to, or for the laity to abstain only when they visit a monastery.

In some regions, even some Buddhist monks will eat meat or drink alcohol. In other regions, it is also common for Buddhists to believe that vegetarianism is better for their karma than eating meat, but to eat meat anyway and consider it something of a bad habit; and, in some areas, such as Japan, avoidance of wu hun foods is not a large part of Buddhism. Many Buddhist traditions state the Buddha himself taught that meat offered as charity to monks and nuns should not be refused, unless the killing was done specifically for the monks and nuns. However, other traditions state this to be inaccurate, and that the Buddha was strictly vegetarian.

While many debate Buddhist teachings, it is widely believed that the Buddha's final words were, "Be a light unto thyself," which might imply that he wanted each individual to choose their own path to Enlightenment; however, many Buddhists would ask what the sense of calling oneself a Buddhist is, if one is not trying to discern and follow the Buddha's teachings on foods and all other issues.

Saves time chopping and mincing, a safe alternative too! Garlic salt, also called garlic powder is even finer and stronger. A healthy root that can boost the immune system. Used in Asian cooking, it is often grated and added to wok prepared stirfry dishes right after browning the garlic. After rehydrating it in water, it can easily be grated using our kyocera ceramic grater!

Its naturally good for you. I have been told that Ginger is good for digestion and blood circulation. Goji berries can also lead to weight loss or better weight control as they help control blood sugar levels and ease your appetite. Packed with fiber, this fruit is both filling and beneficial to your health. A great natural snack, chew them up like raisins. You should eat some every day. Chefs Note: Great in vegetable soup or add to hot tea! Ours are wild picked, naturally organic, first rate 1 quality, tender and medium sized.

Packed with fiber, this tart fruit is both filling and beneficial to your health. I like them in hot chamomile tea. Chefs Note: Reddish brown color, slightly larger than pictured. Great reconstituted and baked in muffins, first rate 1 quality, tender and medium sized. The flavor of the Guajillo is distinct, slightly fruity with a strong piney, berry under taste.

Guajillo flavors dishes easily, a little goes a long way. Our 1 grade chiles measure 3 to 5 inches in length and is about 1 inch wide. The color is a brick red with deep burgundy tones and the skins is smooth. This Chile is between a 2 - 4 on the heat scale of 1 - Guajillo, combined with the Pasilla and Ancho, form the "holy trinity" of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces. Scoville heat units 2, to 5, Soak in warm water for a few minutes.

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This flavor comes from the presence of geosmin. We like it in pies and sauces. Spicy hot dishes are extremely rare in Cantonese cuisine. The spices are hot but more subtle, designed for marinades and sprinkling on foods. Americans taste buds do not necessarily align with the taste buds of people around the world; for example, there are many cultures that consume much spicier cuisine than the typical American.

Guajillo Peppers, Whole Dried 1 lb. We like ours in beef burritos and giambotta see recipe section. Diced saves time, or just soak them in warm water for a few minutes and use like fresh peppers! Choose whole or diced below. Hatch Peppers, Whole Dried 1 lb. A unique blend of colorful habanero peppers, sun dried and then ground. Be careful with this powder, it is the hottest pepper powder known to man.

A small pinch will season tacos for 6 servings! We heard this stuff will stop a grizzly bear in its tracks Don't Try It! Chefs Note: Just a pinch and I feel the hot burn of edible fire.

Hand mixed blend includes: savory, rosemary, cracked fennel, thyme, basil, tarragon, lavender, and marjoram. A flavorful addition to dishes from the Mediterranean region and French cuisine. Use in stews with baked tomatores or roast chicken, apply before grilling or baking to kabobs, chicken and white fish. Ours taste just like fresh dried herbs from the French countryside.

Click Here to see our Herbes roasted chickens! Manga Manga! Great in everything Italian. We use this blend in pasta, soups and sauces. Try it in your sauce or on a pizza too. It is very durable and turns on industrial strength ball bearings. The 48 3. Spices are not included. Made in USA. The small size measures 6 in. Scoville heat units 5, to 10, this is pretty hot. Slightly hot, kick it down a bit for authentic Mexican taste. No more burning eyes from touching the raw hot peppers. The spices are hot but more subtle, designed for marinades and sprinkling on foods. Use 1 Tbsp. Let stand 10 min.

Rub on meat or vegetables, and then grill over medium heat. Slightly hot, but for authentic Jamaican taste serve your fare with a bottle of pepper sauce. Hand-mixed from: ginger, brown sugar, sweet chili, garlic, paprika, allspice, lemon grass, thyme, ground nutmeg, black pepper, cumin, red pepper and jalapeno peppers.

Juniper Berries are used in marinades, roast pork, and sauerkraut. They enhance meat, stuffings, sausages, stews, and soups. Most juniper berries have a bitter-sweet aroma and are used in making Gin! Our Chefs use pink salt every day in our kitchens. It's often said to be the most prized salt on the earth.

Chefs Note: Love it in and on everything! Improve your appetizers and salads today. We grind it on salad and it's great in olive oil with herbs for dipping crusty bread! It is a natural product that will enhance your gourmet foods! Sea Salt, Pink 4 oz. It is hand collected on a remote Hawaiian Island and smoked over hardwoods to achieve exotic flavors. It is one of the most prized salt on the earth. Chefs Note: We also like to use it for marinating meats before grilling or roasting. A little bit goes a long way. Smoked Sea Salt, fine 4 oz. Our hand collected "Black Sea Salt" is also highly prized for its wonderful taste and exotic appearance.

Chefs Note: Yes, it comes from the "Black Sea" region! Sea Salt, Black 4 oz. Our Applewood Smoked Sea Salt is highly prized for its wonderful taste and exotic appearance. And perfect for a salt box, or the salt grinder. Chefs Note: Yes, it is a natural product that will enhance your gourmet foods! The flavor of apple and bacon with a woodsy finish. Try it on thick pork chops, finish with our cut rosemary. Applewood Smoked Sea Salt 4 oz. Our Smoked Sea Salt is highly prized for its wonderful taste and exotic appearance.

The flavor of alder is similar to mesquite with a crisp finish. Try it on steaks with coarse black pepper. Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt 4 oz. Try it on Mahi Mahi with olive oil, lemon and dill. Hickory Smoked Sea Salt 4 oz. Our Sea Salt is highly prized for its wonderful taste and exotic appearance. Chefs Note: An addictive natural blend that will enhance your gourmet foods! The flavor is unique with a crisp finish. Try it on Ahi Tuna or zucchini with olive oil and a drizzle of white wine.

Contains Sea salt, Maui onion, natural flavors. Maui Onion Sea Salt 4 oz. Naturally fortified with 84 trace minerals, it tastes great. The salt deposits were formed during the Jurassic period over million years ago. It is virgin pure, sweet and earthy with no after taste. Medium fine, perfect for the salt grinder , or works great right out of the resealable bag.

Pink salt 1. Chefs Note: Kick it around a notch! Once you use sea salt and fresh ground peppercorns, you can put the salt and pepper shakers in the closet for your next camping trip. Sea Salt, Coarse 6 oz. For great sauces and an alternative to garlic and onions, shallots impart a unique flavor to many foods.

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Saute' Chicken breast with white wine and shallots in the sauce is wonderful. Fra great appetizer, use artichoke bottoms, fill with shallots and sun dried tomatoes mixed with boursin cheese, cut in half and top with small parsley sprigs. It takes many pounds of shallots to produce 4 ounces of our minced freeze dried shallots.

Four ounces measures over 2 cups, this saves a lot of prep time! When adding dry, use 1 tsp. Marjoram is indigenous to the Mediterranean area and was known to the Greeks and Romans, who looked on it as a symbol of happiness. It was said that if marjoram grew on the grave of a dead person, he would enjoy eternal bliss. Sensual, we love it in everything! Chefs Note: A perennial herb that is commonly used in the cooking from France and Italy.

Marjoram is similar to Oregano with a more delicate flavor. Great in stews and red sauce! It is the best herb blend for fish, pork and chicken. Also great in salads and vegetables or rice pilaf. The sweet strong flavor of Mediterranean herbs is a real treat. Chefs Note: Summertime with Chef Christine inspired the creation of this wonderful blend! This is a healthy herb blend! Add sour cream to it and it becomes a great dip for hard or soft pretzels.

Nutmeg is commonly added to eggnog, puddings, and fruit pies. It is popular in The Netherlands and Italy, where it is used in vegetables, puddings, and stews. We like it in pies and sauces. Nutmeg is commonly added to eggnog, puddings, bechamel sauce and fruit pies. Our 2 oz. Whole nutmeg is excellent shaved in our Nutmeg Grater. A perfect ingredient in salsa, tacos, Chili con carne, Paella and any entree or appetizer where a great natural spice is desired! Medium hot taste. Save time and no more nicked fingertips! Basically a perfect small dice, it easily reconstitutes into any soup sauce or recipe.

Take a whole fresh Mahi Mahi and filet it, sprinkle with our seasonings, fresh lemon and drizzle olive oil, grill it for a few minutes, boil some Cappelini, a sauce of tomatoes, garlic and basil any you have a great meal in under 20 minutes! This oregano grows wild on the hilly mountainsides of southern Europe and is an essential ingredient in many of the dishes from the region. For Italian marinara sauce, Greek salads and Turkish kebobs, the sweet, strong flavor of Mediterranean oregano is perfect.

Our travel to this area has allowed us to import some wonderful Turkish Oregano, the best Mediterranean Oregano we've seen in years. Chefs Note: Dry oregano should be added in the beginning of cooking, so the flavor has time to come out and meld with the other flavors of the dish.

This is a very healthy herb! A powder made by grinding aromatic sweet red pepper pods. Chefs Note: Our sweet smoked paprika should be stored in a cool dark place and used in 6 - 12 months. We love the sweet and hot mixed together. Great in chili or sprinkled on deviled eggs! Chefs Note: Our smoked hot paprika should be stored in a cool dark place and used in 6 - 12 months. Paprika, Hot 9 oz. Chefs Note: It is great on pizza, in pasta or just sprinkled on noodles. These are the feshest peppercon blends we have ever experienced! Chefs Note: Nothing is better on a crispy salad than fresh ground pepper!

Our peppermills are grinding the pure goodness every day They are firm yet soft, large plump Green Peppercorns packed in brine with citrus to keep them fresh and crisp. These peppercorns are soft and juicy. If you never had them, you don't know what you are missing! Amazing in Pot Roast and Beef Stew. Toss one or two in soup to give it some jazz. Black, white, and green peppercorns all start as the same berry, but are picked at different times and dried and cured in different ways, allowing each to develop its own distinctive color and flavor.

Our fresh pack peppercorns are now available in resealable airtight glass jars! Click Here! We also have beautiful electric peppermills on sale! High Quality Bulk peppercorns are available below. Pink Peppercorns are named after its color and shape, not because of the flavor which is totally exotic and different from regular peppercorns, which have a red tone, but a much more intensive pungency. Chefs Note: Excellent choice for your peppermills, poultry and fish dishes or making stocks.

Nothing is better on a crisy salad than fresh ground pepper! Beautiful color, a great choice for the holidays! Pink Peppercorns 1 oz. A little bit hotter than black peppercorns. This is better in white soups and sauces! Chefs Note: Nothing is better in garlic mashed potatoes than fresh ground white pepper! Chefs Note: I sometimes take strip steaks and smash them into crushed peppercorns, sear them medium rare with a quick flambe of brandy and deglaze with demiglace.

This "Steak Aupoivre" tastes amazing. Our electric peppermill makes reaching for fresh ground pepper a treat! Chefs Note: Nothing is better in cream of mushroom soup! Not as hot as black peppercorns. This is great in stir fried Asian style foods. Chefs Note: Used in Chinese, French and fusion cooking. I sometimes take strip steaks and smash them into crushed peppercorns, sear them medium rare with a quick flambe of brandy and deglaze with demiglace. Excellent choice for salads, dressings and making amazing soups. These are the freshest peppercorns blends we have ever experienced!

Chefs Note: Nothing is better on vegetables and potatoes than fresh ground pepper and sea salt! Parsley, sprinkled on many food is possibly the perfect garnish. Use 3 tsp. For dill pickles, add fresh dill sprigs and garlic cloves. Also nice for sauerbraten and shrimp cocktail.

Our pickling spice has the proper blend of spices, mustard and bay leaves. Chefs Note: Hand-mixed with: yellow and brown mustard seeds, Jamaican allspice, China cassia, cracked Turkish bay leaves, dill seed, Zanzibar cloves, cracked China ginger, Tellicherry peppercorns, star anise, Moroccan coriander, juniper berries, West Indies mace, cardamom and medium hot crushed red peppers. A great blend passed on to us by Chef Giovanni's great grandmother.

Chefs Note: Pizza, if it tastes good, it must be good for you! Salt free! Pizza Seasonings - The Best! Rosemary has a tea-like aroma and a piney flavor. Rosemary's name is rooted in biblical legend. The story goes that during her flight from Egypt, the Virgin Mary draped her blue cloak on a Rosemary bush. She then laid a white flower on top of the cloak.

That night, the flower turned blue and the bush was thereafter known as the "rose of Mary". Greeks, who wove Rosemary wreaths into their hair, believed Rosemary strengthened the brain and enhanced memory so do we. It was also known as a symbol of fidelity. In the Middle Ages, Rosemary was used medicinally and as a condiment for salted meats. In Europe, wedding parties burned Rosemary as incense. Judges burned it to protect against illness brought in by prisoners. This herb contains fatty acids of terpenes, a naturally occurring substance that encourages cancer cells in tumors to stop reproducing and eventually die.

Today, research has discovered that when the terpene from rosemary is given alongside the chemotherapy drugs Adriamycin and Velban, cancer cells may begin to absorb the chemotherapy that they had previously resisted. We never get enough Rosemary! Ours is easier to eat, it's chopped to be smaller than most dried rosemary.

Chefs Note: It is really good stuff! Chopped to allow stronger flavor release and it's easier to eat! Rosemary, Fine Chopped 1oz. Saffron is the sun dried tiny stamen part from the flower of the plant, it is hand picked one week a year. It is used in French, Italian and Spanish cooking.

A small pinch of our Iranian Saffron will flavor and color four servings of food. We supply hotel Executive Chefs and many well know famous Chefs with this 1 grade saffron! Our Chef customers report using one half less of this saffron in the same recipes! Ours is packed in a beautful air tight reusable tin! Here are some Saffron facts and pictures Video of our Saffron, click here.

It is a very fine, dull green powder. Spinach Powder has a mild spinach flavor! Chefs Note: Packed with Beta carotene, this supewrfood naturally helps beat cancer. Spinach Powder is wonderful for adding color and flavor to fresh pasta, noodle and bread doughs. It can also be used in yeast breads, quick breads or muffins. Combine with penne pasta and sun dried tomatoes with garlic for a tasty pasta dish! These trees can bear fruit for over a century. The tree bears yellow flower that ripens into a brown star shaped spice. The Star Anise seeds are not as aromatic and flavorful as the pod.

Star Anise is an important spice in Chinese and Vietnamese cooking and is an essential ingredient in the Chinese five spice powder. Star Anise is not the same as Anise Seed. Star Anise has more of a robust flavor than the Anise Seed. Very popular in asian soups, it has a mysterious flavor! Ours is the best! We like to soak ours in very hot water for 10 minutes, chop them up and use them in soups and stews. Chefs Note: These tender morsels are often better than the fresh homegrown variety.

Chefs Note: We like to soak these strips in very hot water for 3 minutes, then and use them into sauces, breads and salad dressings. Chefs Note: We like to soak these in very hot water for 3 minutes, then and use them on grilled pizza and salads. Chefs Note: No slicing or dicing.

Never run out of tomatoes again! We like to sprinkle this on goat cheese hors deouvres and pruscitto wrapped melon.

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It is added with water to cooked meat and then simmered to merry the flavors and slowly steam the meat. Great in Tacos, Burritos and other spicy dishes! It is amazing with a perfectly grilled steak. Our tarragon is fresh and strong. It has great healing properties and can help reduce the spread of cancer.

It can be used to help prevent breast cancer. It helps heal damaged skin and can aid depression. Its tiny grayish-green leaves rarely are greater than one-fourth inch long. For use as a condiment, Thyme leaves are dried then chopped, or ground. Thyme is also indigineous to the Mediterranean.