Chinese cuisine in Canada may have come a long way since the days of sweet-and-sour chicken balls, but astonishing breadth and depth of Chinese regional cuisine (estimated at nearly 80,000 dishes!) means that there are countless dishes that we rarely if ever see in local restaurants.
Cheng Feng, originally from the province of Guangxi, found many of his favourite dishes were not available here, so he has put together a menu of recipes passed down from his grandparents that embody the flavours of his home town, the memories of his childhood, and the spirit of the home cooking of Xīnán, the South-western region of China.
“These dishes capture some very personal feelings and memories of mine, especially now that my grandfather has passed away and my grandmother is now near the end of her life.”
柠檬鸭 Lemon Duck Breast
Medium-rare duck breast with golden, crispy skin, with a glaze made from pickled garlic, onion and lemon, garnished with lemon zest.
柳州豆腐酿 Stuffed Tofu with Cucumber Skin
Puffed tofu cubes stuffed with sticky rice, wood-ear mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms and five-spiced ground beef. Topped with shiitake mushroom gravy and paired with pickled cucumber skin.
老友面 Lao-You Noodles
“Old Friend Noodles” are a speciality of the city of Nanning; thin wheat noodles with garlic, ginger, tomatoes and pickled bamboo shoots. Fresh, spicy, salty, sour and fragrant, they are served with bean sprouts, bok choy, lotus root, oyster mushrooms, and garnished with green onions.
A dramatic edible illusion – a crystal clear jelly sphere with flavours of cinnamon, lemon and raspberry jam, garnished with mint and lemon zest.
Cheng Feng was born and raised in the province of Guangxi in the South-western part of China, where his grandparents taught me how to cook when he was very young. Cheng came to Canada about 6 years ago, and works in the food and hospitality industry.
“I have not been able to find much of the amazing food that I grew up with in the many local restaurants I have tried in Canada, so it is my hope to share some of this genuine Southern Chinese home cooking with my new friends in this land that I am now proud to call home.”
Cheng is currently involved in supporting a sponsor group for a Iranian couple who are refugees in Turkey; if you would like to support his cause, the crowdfunding page is here.