Thursday, 18 December 2014

Grill The Foodie: China

Our regular series “Grill the Foodie” is all about getting inside a country’s food and eating experiences from the perspective of travellers as well as expats living abroad. We will delve into what makes world cuisine great and why travellers love to eat so much. We want you to be inspired by what is happening around the world, how others enjoy their food and how food can unite cultures.

This weeks Grill The Foodie Interview is with Ningning, originally from China, Ningning now resides in Perth, Australia. Although we have not met in person I know myself and Ningning would get along famously. We have a shared passion for Chinese Dumplings and Szechuan Hot Pot and what more do you need for a great friendship? I also feel her pain in not being able to access truly authentic Chinese cuisine in many parts of Australia, food in China is outstanding so read on to find out more about it with Ningning.


What part are of China are you from? 

 I am from Shandong province, in Northern China. My city is  800km east to Beijing on the coast of  the Yellow sea.

Being Chinese and having lived a majority of your life in China how do you think Chinese cuisine and culture has affected your outlook as a Foodie? 


The first 23 years of my life living in China has definitely set my foodie outlook. Pork is not only my favourite meat also an essential element in my diet, especially the pork belly (mouth watering), it doesn't matter how it is cooked (which cuisine cooks it) , lol! Chinese food is my favourite food (not that surprising) and when I go out to eat I normally choose wheat flour food ie, noodles, pasta, buns, roti, pancakes over rice because we don't eat much rice in where I am from. My dad hates rice, he doesn't eat rice AT ALL! A lot of my friends are surprised when I tell them I am not a big fan of rice, being Asian and all.

 We have lots traditions that are food related. for example, I HAVE TO have noodles on my birthday for a long life and mooncake for the moon festival as well as stick rice wrap for the dragon boat festival.

Growing up in China what are your strongest food memories from your childhood? 


DUMPLINGS!!! LOVE them! when I was little my family was like most of other Chinese families, used food vouches to get essential food due to the central government control (this was finally eliminated at the end of 80's when China transformed from a central-controlled economy to market economy).Therefore, dumplings were only for a treat for birthdays and moon festivals and Chinese New Year. And every time there were dumplings on the dinner table, they never lasted long......


Do you find Chinese food differs greatly from region to region and what is your favourite Chinese locality from a Foodie perspective? 

Yes, it is VERY different from region to region. As I mentioned earlier, rice isn't the main carbs for us while it is for almost the rest of Asia! There are 8 streams of Chinese food, I found a few website describing the 8 streams of Chinese food. You may find this website useful to help explain the various cuisines around China.

Now you are living in Australia what authentic Chinese dishes do you crave and immediately make a beeline for upon your return to China? 

There are soooo MANY dishes I crave that I can't get them in Perth... The top one is fried dough, called YouTiao in Chinese, it's like cereal for you guys, very basic and simple breakfast but I can't get it anywhere here :(

Being an avid world traveller where have you found your favourite cuisine or foodie experience? 

Besides China  I loved food in Italy, although I only went to Milan for a few days. I think because noodles play such an important role in my daily diet, all different sorts of pastas just fit in perfectly.

When you travel do you find yourself searching out a particular world cuisine?

When I am travelling, I prefer to eat the local cuisine unless on my birthday when I have to have noodles!

Does being a foodie affect the way you travel and experience a destination?

 I believe so, I always relate my travel experience with the local food, good food means good holidays!

Having lived in both Sydney and Perth which city wins for best Foodie cred? 

Of course Sydney! I used to study at UTS which is next to China town, they even have my local food restaurant there! I used to go to a restaurant whose owner is also from my province. I was very sad when my friend told me that they closed down a couple years after I left.

Now living full-time in Perth where are your favourite food haunts? 

Northbridge and then Vic Park, there are lots Asian places to eat at.

 Do you like to cook at home or head out to fulfil your food dreams? 

I used to hate cooking, but I cook at home a lot now. First reason being I can't find an authentic Chinese restaurant to get food I crave for and second reason being I have a mortgage :(
I just found out that the combination of soy sauce and oyster sauce makes stir fry veggies very tasty!

If you do cook at home feel free to share any favourite recipes or if you know anything about Chinese Hot Pot I would love to know. I am on a never ending mission to re-create Szechuan Hot Pot that I had in Chongqing. I haven't been able to nail it as yet, particularly the dipping sauces and the chilli oil broth.

OMG, do you like hotpot? I LOVE it, although I normally have it with tears. I don't know how to make the broth, I normally buy the package from the supermarket and boil it. There are 2 types of dipping sauces, I am not sure which one you had.. One is garlic mince with sesame oil, the other one is tahini paste (sesame paste) with some chive paste, fermented tofu, garlic, soy paste and if the hotpot is too spicy, some vinegar also helps.
Originally posted on Thursday, 18 December 2014 by

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