February was rough to say the least.
I went waay too hard in January and may have pooped myself out in the process.
At the beginning of the month I was still eating some German leftovers:
- because I bought too many potatoes, thinking I was going to eat potatoes with every meal, and couldn’t let said potatoes go to waste.
- because I wasn’t sure what Chinese/Fujianese foods to make. I had zero time to meal-plan/ didn’t dedicate any time to meal planning. Had all the ingredients, but little direction.
- because I was tired. I spent one too many nights up till 2AM or later writing blog posts (or editing videos). (Note to self: editing a video when you’re very tired is not a good idea.) If I didn’t get stuff done Thursday night, it likely wouldn’t get done until the next week. And if it got pushed back a week, I’d have to do twice as much the next week. With working a full-time job, that’s pretty much impossible.
This project is a full-time job in itself.
So…I didn’t meet my goals: posting on social once a day, posting to the blog once a week, and making one video in the month. It didn’t help that February’s inherently shorter, but even so, I did learn about Chinese food, more specifically Fujianese food (from where my mom’s side of the family originates from).
I grew up eating many a stir-fry; it was one of my mom’s go-to dishes for dinner growing up. Veggies, protein, a pile of rice, and you’re set. Surprisingly, I rarely make stir-fries myself, for whatever reason (lack of practice). I haven’t mastered them. I think it’s all about timing. I generally end up adding my ingredients in the wrong order, forgetting that carrots take longer to cook, and wind up cooking the entire thing far too long, making everything sad and limp. Regardless, that’s how I decided to start my month of Chinese.
By the end of the month I learned, “When in doubt, stir-fry it.”
You can stir-fry anything really: vegetables, meat, noodles, rice. I made so many stir-fries with some soy sauce, maybe some sesame oil at the end. If it tasted okay, I was satisfied. And on the plus side, I think my wok is finally seasoned (or is it?). Did you know that woks should be seasoned? Yep, just like cast iron pans, they’re delicate beasts.
One of the most valuable things I learned last month came from something my boyfriend told me. He said, “Chinese people don’t have recipes. If it tastes good, that’s it.” This really stuck with me. You see, with this whole blog in general, cooking new foods, especially foods I’ve never tried before, from places maybe I’ve never been can be daunting. If I don’t know someone from the region I’m learning about, or I haven’t tried the food before, how can I know that what I’m making is legit? How can I teach other people something I may not really know about?
I’ve gone into this with the intention of sharing my experience, not expertise. Because if I’m creating something, anything, I’m growing and that’s all I really want.
If it tastes good, I’ve succeeded.
New Foods I Tried (In No Particular Order)
Fujianese Stuffed Fish Balls
Fujianese Wonton Soup
Fujianese Peanut Butter Noodles
Chinese Rice Crackers
Fujianese Yen Wan Zi (Dumplings)
Chinese Restaurants I ate at
A Fujianese ‘fast food’ restaurant. Here I tried my first fish ball soup (fish balls stuffed with pork) in a simple broth, peanut butter noodles (the Fujianese equivalent to instant ramen, easy to make, salty, and delicious), and steamed dumplings stuffed with cabbage and pork.
The entire meal was only around $10 for two people, granted it was a lot of carbs.
Another Yelp find. At first it seemed sketchy, everything was in Chinese and there were no other customers inside. I was pleasantly surprised.
After receiving an English menu, I realized everything labeled ‘Foo Chow’ was a Fujianese dish. I ordered the peanut butter noodles (to compare to the last restaurant), the house noodle soup with seafood, Fujianese wonton soup, and clams in a red sauce.
Everything tasted homemade and had different flavors I’ve never experienced before. The wonton soup stood out to me the most, unlike the Chinese wontons I’ve had before, these were smaller, with a very thin wrapper in a slightly vinegary broth. So good.
I definitely don’t feel like I mastered Chinese food. I may have upped my stir-fry game (learned how to not burn things), but I still have a ways to go. It wasn’t until the 24th of February that I finally spent some time with someone that was Fujianese (they invited me to their house for dinner! Which was lovely).
I will say I learned a bit and ate some delicious food I wouldn’t normally eat. Would love to revisit Chinese food, maybe a different region.
On to the next thing.