I visited China in 2006 as part of my world travels, with my now husband. We arrived to China on a train from Russia, and we had no idea of what to expect in China, from a cultural and food point of view. Having spent the previous 10 days expeiencing culture shock after culture shock, from Russia through to Mongolia, we figured we have adjusted to seeing new things on a daily basis!!
China was like no country we'd ever visited. As I said we arrived via train into Bejing from Ulanbataar in Mongolia. Crossing the border from Mongolia into China was really surreal. Our train came into the border crossing station in the middle of the night and the station was all lit up with Christmas Music playing on loud speakers!! (It was September). When all the paper work was completed, our train began its final journey towards Bejing, passing THE Great Wall!!! We thought 'what an introduction to China, this is going to be a great trip'!!
Out of all the countries we have visited, China is probably the strangest to us, but exciting to discover. The Temple of Heaven in Beijing was breathtaking, the wall was challenging to climb, the acrobatic show, mind boggling. The food was not what we expected. We were thinking about food from our local Chinese take aways at home. How wrong we were.
Our first meal in Beijing was a bit scary. Our guide brought us to off the beaten track traditional hot pot restaurant. This is were big pots of boiling stock on gas portable hobsare placed at in the centre of your table and the raw ingredients then selected by you, and cooked at the table by you, using only chopsticks. Thank goodness our guide selected an array of meats and vegetables for us. Looking at the English translation on the menu, we read all sorts of meats, dog and horse included, and literally every single part of the animal was on offer. Our guide assured us we were eating beef and pork!! But that saying that Chinese eat everything with legs on it, except a table, was beinging to ring truer and truer!
Peking Duck night was another highlight of our dining experience in China. Really authentic and really delicious and succulent. I will probably never taste another Peking Duck like it. In China there's no such thing as starters, everything is brought to the table as its cooked and rice is brought to the table towards the end of the meal, so it really is a different experience from ordering your prawn toast and wontons and then sweet and sour chicken with fried rice from your local take away.
I almost forgot about the Chinese New Year today. I had planned on doing a elaborate Chinese buffet meal for my family!!! But between this and that I totally forgot, so in a last minute dash, I whipped up a quick Chinese prawn with spring onion and chilli stir fry with rice noodles.
2012 Year of the Dragon (Source: friendfortheride.wordpress.com)It's ready in less than 10 minutes, so for those of you who wanted to salute the Chinese New Year and don't really have the time, take a look at this last minute Chinese Prawns Stir Fry
- 16 king prawns, uncooked
- 1/2 a red chilli, sliced
- 4 spring onions, chopped finely
- 1 thumb size piece of peeled chopped ginger
- 1 garlic clove, finely diced
- 3 tbp of light coconut milk
- 100g of rice noodles
- Put a saucepan of water on the boil and reduce to a simmer.
- Get a wok smoking hot.
- Add the noodles to the water and simmer for 2-3 minutes
- Add the chilli, ginger, and garlic to the wok and stir fry vigorously for 1 minute.
- Add the prawns and stir fry until pink, and add the spring onions.
- Drain the noddles and return to the pan and sitr in the coconut milk.
- To plate up, place the noddles in a shallow plate, and top with the stir fried prawns.