You Si, the Painter that Paints Without a Brush

I had the opportunity to meet with You Si in Shanghai, China at an art gallery event. I was talking in a group that kept expanding and suddenly I found myself talking to a lively Chinese man with an infectious smile and lots of stories to tell. We established early in the conversation that we both used to live in New York and then we bonded over shared memories of the “city that never sleeps.” As it turns out my new cocktail companion was You Si, a Chinese artist who had moved to New York and lived there for more than two decades but had in recent years moved back to China to live in Shanghai. When I asked, “is any of this work yours?”, he replied, “no, none of this is my work, I am a guest tonight just like you.” Continue Reading →

Learning how to make Chinese barbecue pork bun (char siu bao) for my family

baked char siu bao

One of the things that my lovely wife S likes me to do is make char siu (Chinese roast pork). It’s one of the things I feel I can be immodest about. Over the years, I’ve really perfected the art of making it. She’s always bringing home gorgeous fatty slabs of pork neck from Huber’s Butchery for me to turn into yummy hunks of Chinese roast pork. Because we always have char siu in the freezer, I decided recently that I wanted to learn how to make char siu bao. I figured it was something we’d enjoy, and if I knew what went into it, something we could feed our son. Continue Reading →

Friday food porn: the best xiao long bao in Singapore, Padang Palace

Hands down, the best, soupiest xiao long bao in Singapore can be found at Padang Palace restaurant. I always go there just for their XLB and their dim sum. Continue Reading →

Dad’s Shandong-style Jiaozi, the best dumplings in the world

You know what they always say; daughters and their fathers have a special bond. Your dad is the first man you love, he’s your hero and will forever be the standard against which all future men must measure up against. Continue Reading →

Crispy roast pork belly

When my svelte and sexy wife S and I first started dating, one of her friends described me (behind my back) as a “very porky person”. I’m not sure if she was talking about my ever-growing mid-section or the fact that my favourite meat was and still is pork. I’m hoping that it is the latter.

Maybe it’s a Chinese thing — to love pork so much — but for whatever reason, it’s the one meat I don’t think I’d be able to live without. Take me off beef? No problem. No lamb? Wouldn’t miss it. Even chicken I could leave behind, but pork? No way. And, of course, I have a few favourite preparations. Top of the list are xiao long bao and siu yuk. I don’t think I’ll be making xiao long bao any time soon. That said, I do keep hoping (aloud and as often as possible) that S will one day master the technique of preparing these delicious soupy dumplings. But siu yuk, or crispy roast pork belly, didn’t seem too complex. I mean, if I could make pretty decent char siu, surely I could roast me some pig belly too. (keep reading)

Neil Perry’s Awesome Asian Dipping Sauce

When I was counting down my favourite meals of last year, I wrote that one of them was had at Neil Perry’s very sexy Chinese restaurant, Spice Temple. While I had originally gone in slightly skeptical, I left a believer. And while the food may not have been the most authentic, it certainly had flavour, and a lot of heart.

Since then, and because of that visit, my hot and hungry spouse S and I have been cooking more and more from Perry’s Chinese cookbook, Balance and Harmony: Asian Food. It was a book that we had originally purchased (before our meal at Spice Temple) because it was, well, pretty. As cookbook collectors, we occasionally buy texts not because we want to cook from them but because of the pictures, or the layout and design, or because we have all of the chef’s other books, or for any number of reasons. Neil’s recent books are beautiful. They’re a joy to look at, with clean design and gorgeous photos. And so, while we had poured over Balance and Harmony: Asian Food several times, we had never intended to actually use it as a real reference. When we wanted to cook Chinese, we usually turned to authorities like Barbara Tropp, Fuchsia Dunlop or Grace Young. But after that meal at Spice Temple, we decided to give Perry’s book a try. And we’ve been really happy we did. (Keep reading)