Chinese Banquet at Home

My son, Alex Miller, and new daughter-in-law, Yan Zhang Miller, are here from Beijing. It’s Yan’s first trip to the U.S., and after two weeks in New York, they will be taking a road trip across the country, ending in San Francisco, where Alex will meet with potential investors for his new China-based Internet company, Frogo.

The other night they volunteered to cook dinner. First of all, where to get the ingredients? I suggested the HMart in Hartsdale, the newest branch of a giant Korean-owned supermarket chain, which has aisles of packaged Chinese and Japanese ingredients as well as all things Korean and fresh Asian produce (and a cafe and a section with kitchenware and small appliances like rice cookers).

They returned with two bags of groceries including a whole beltfish or largehead hairtail, a fish new to me. According to Wikipedia,“Its flesh is firm yet tender when cooked, with a moderate level of fishiness to the smell and a low level of oiliness… also notable for being fairly easy to debone.” Plus various chilies, ginger, cilantro, garlic, noodles, eggplant, broccoli, cucumbers, tofu, spare ribs, spiced rice powder, and bottled kimchee. I got to sit back, watch and take pictures while they prepared this sumptuous, multicourse banquet:

Chopped kimchee goes into the soup pot

Stir-frying the eggplant with dried red chilis and garlic. Yan chose a nonstick frypan rather than a wok.

Sauteed cucumber with garlic

Hongshao Eggplant Garnished with Cilantro

Fried Beltfish with Ginger

Kimchee-Tofu-Caraway Soup

It was all delicious, but I most enjoyed the unusual caraway-flavored soup made with tofu and kimchee—Korean-style spiced, fermented cabbage—shown in its beginnings in the blue pot above. Here is the recipe as charmingly supplied by Yan:

Boil a pot of water. When it is boiling, put into water:
Couple of pieces of kimchee, including kimchee liquid
Tofu (very soft tofu)
2 cut-up tomatoes
Pinch of salt
a little bit of lemon juice
Turn down the fire, simmer for 15 mins
Put in some caraway seeds
Then done!

Then done! And the table is set.

About writedesigner

Graphic designer, writer, and gardener Ellen Shapiro is based in Irvington, New York. A frequent contributor to design blogs and magazines including Print, Imprint,, Communication Arts, and Etapes, she writes about trends, issues and personalities in design, illustration, photography, and visual culture around the world.
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2 Responses to Chinese Banquet at Home

  1. Pru Montgomery says:

    Dear Ellen,
    Welcome to Yan Zhang Miller to the US and congratulations to Alex on his beautiful bride! And to the whole family!
    How mouth wateringly delicious your photos are, Ellen. I have opened them at just the perfect time to enjoy them the most – right before dinner!
    xoxo, Pru

  2. sammynmick says:

    Oh, it looks so good! We’ve adopted 8 kids from China so I’ve been blessed with real Chinese food while we were in China!

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