Regional Chinese Dishes

I realize most of the “Chinese” cuisine consumed in North America is not terribly authentic, unless you are fortunate to live in a larger urban centre with a significant Chinese population.

I’ve moved around a bit in my life and always come across local “Chinese” specialties.

In Ottawa, Ont. “Open ended” egg rolls were a thing.

In Winnipeg, MB Dry breaded veal ( I doubt it was actually veal) was on every menu.

Here in North Western Saskatchewan I keep seeing different kind of wonton dishes- fried wontons cooked in a variety of sauces.

In Burgandy where I lived, Szechwan frog legs were on the menu.

So, what sort of local “Chinese” dishes does your area have?

I say “Chinese” in quotation marks as I realize there are many different styles. I’m just using it as an umbrella term as most of the food I see in the areas I’ve lived is Cantonese style.

In Peru, arroz chaufa. Its a fried rice darkened to dark brown with soy sauce. I thought it was, um, inferior to the local dishes, but it could be the version I tried.

1 Like

I meant to try that when I was in Peru but never ended up near a Chinese restaurant when I had the chance to dine on my own.

Growing up in a Chinese household, eating non traditional Chinese food was almost non-existent. But according to my non-Chinese friends, I guess “lobster sauce” seems to be the big New England/Boston area Chinese-American food that doesn’t exist elsewhere. I was always confused by what it is – some sort of flavored brown sauce with pork.

1 Like

Wow, veal!

I grew up on Long Island. The ‘chow mein’ there is something like bean sprouts, celery, onion, and maybe cabbage in a corn starch sauce. No noodles, not even those la choy packaged ones. This dish was old school by the time I was born, and I don’t think anyone in my family ever got it. After being exposed to the fried noodle dishes the rest of the world knows as ‘chow mein’, I accidentally ordered this on a visit back home a few years ago. Yuk.

Fried wontons used to be obligatory on the table, served with sweet orange colored ‘duck sauce’ and hot mustard. I understand that it’s less common to get these nowadays, at least for free.

Egg rolls are enormous, bumpy surfaced spring rolls.

LI restaurants used to place teabags next to the fortune cookies in takeout packages. You can get fortune cookies straight from the factory in the Bay Area, I even bought some for my wedding, but without the faint tea flavor, they’re not the same for me.

Has anyone encountered Chinese American food served on top of potato chips? A teacher of mine claimed he encountered this on a road trip across the US in the 60s. He thought it was gross, but it’s actually a pretty good idea if you eat it before the sogginess sets in.

1 Like

ok, I’ll play. :slight_smile: These may or may not be items stuck on the West Coast of the USA. I was somewhat amused that my wife had never heard of these items before I ordered them at a restaurant.

Yee Foo won ton. Deep fried wontons, served in soup. Most often on the menu as sup gum (ten ingredients) yee foo won ton. The deep fried won ton almost turns the soup into a thin gravy.

Sizzling Rice soup. Who hasn’t heard of sizzling rice soup? My wife, for one. My BIL for two, and he owns a Chinese restaurant in the South. Waiter brings a plate of crisped rice with a boiling serving pot of soup (most often chicken). With a flourish, he dumps the rice into the soup, creating a LOUD snap, crackle and pop and cloud of steam. Quite dramatic, and rather delicious.

Curry Tomato Beef chow mein. Not usually listed on most (or any) menus, but any decent American/Chinese cook can whip this up with one eye closed and a half-smoked Marlboro hanging off the corner of his mouth. No self-respecting FOB would be caught even LOOKING at this item on the menu, but scratches that itch, sometimes.

2 Likes

So the tea bags are meant to give flavour to the fortune cookies? Is it a nice taste?

Lol- twice I’ve learned my lesson about inadvertently “flavouring food with scent items.”

Never put bounce in the grocery bag with food items.

And, I once ended up with a very large bag of cardamom flavoured pretzels when I got home from the bulk food store. Gag.

So kinda like throwing crackers in your soup?
I’ve never been a fan of crispied stuff gone- soggy in my soup but, it could be good?

Just like your bounce example, hah!, I think the transfer of flavor is an accident, just a by product of placing the tea and fortune cookies next to each other. I don’t recall those flavors when dining in. That said, I’ve seen green tea powder (matcha) used to flavor green fortune cookies. Coincidence? I don’t know!

1 Like

I grew up in Germany, where most Chinese restaurants were Cantonese. Kroepoek (or krupuk) - large deep-fried shrimp chips were on every single menu as an appetizer or accompaniment… I guess the NA equivalent is fried noodles (not even close :-P).

Chop suey is also popular - usually a saucy stir-fry with your choice of protein, whereas lo mein or such things were unheard of.

1 Like

I don’t know if they do something completely different in Boston but Lobster Sauce (in both New York and California) has always been this, with no pork in sight:

1 Like

That just sounds very wrong. Maybe, if you want some crunch and there aren’t any fried won ton strips, but… WRONG. Next someone will say it’s served over French fries. ;o)

1 Like

I also grew up on Long Island, and I remember that “chow mein” from school lunchrooms. I never tried it, and to tell the truth it put me off of Chinese food until I got to college and had a roommate who majored in Chinese, and we were regulars at a newfangled “Mandarin” restaurant in town (Mu Shu Pork was a revelation!). Hyperbowler is much younger than me, and it only was in my mid-twenties (late 1970s) that upscale Chinese places started appearing on the Island, yes with those fried wontons and super hot mustard.

1 Like

Lobster sauce in Manhattan frequently contains pork. I’ve been eating around it for decades. Here’s Wo Hop’s version, for instance. And Peking Duck House’s. And Shun Lee West’s. Even the dish pictured in the Wikipedia post you linked to contains pork.

1 Like

I’m not partial to most of it, but here’s a discussion of the Boston take on Chinese food.

1 Like

So there’s pork in Shrimp with Lobster Sauce?? My grandmother would NOT approve. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

1 Like

Tell her to put some cheese on it. That shoves the whole thing so far into treif territory that it resets as kosher.

3 Likes

I take it that from your world travels, you’ve not run across sizzling rice soup?

The rice is prepped by slow baking, or deep frying. When added to hot soup, seems to have a popcorn effect. The rice doesn’t get “soggy” per se, almost becomes a light version of Thai congee. Mostly soup, with bits of rice. Anyway, not a major item on the food scene. Mostly just a delight for the tourist.

1 Like

In Pakistan there is this thing called Chicken Manchurian which in many home kitchens has (d)evolved into chicken braised in ketchup and sometimes canned pineapple. If you can find the real thing, it’s actually a great Pakistani/Indian-Chinese dish. Something like General Tso’s.

3 Likes

No, I have seen Sizzling rice soup on the menu, never have tried it though but I was referring to the deep fried wontons served in soup. That I haven’t seen.

Here’s a thread that includes a recipe for Boston-style lobster sauce.

2 Likes
“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold