Guide to Chinese Prepared Tofu and Other Vegetarian Fake Meat

I’m mostly vegetarian, so one of the best parts about living in China is the tofu.

However, I hardly ever eat that silky white slimy stuff that you buy in boxes in American grocery stores. Tofu options are on every menu (and are sadly sometimes accompanied by scraps of actual meat) and you can buy an array of prepared tofu that advertise as fake fish, chicken, etc. And at actual (usually Buddhist) vegetarian restaurants here, the vegetarian fake meats are extraordinary. Those are often not tofu, but rather seitan (AKA pure gluten!). My sister adores the mock duck, for instance, and that is usually seitan.

In addition to tofu, Chinese cuisine has a ton of soy-based sauces. Overall, I’m less fond of them than the tofu.

Anyway, so here’s what I have learned about all this delightful stuff:

  • Tofu is called 豆腐 (dòufu) and comes from soy beans (黄豆, huáng dòu).
  • Seitan is wheat gluten and is called 面筋 (miàn jīn)

Prepared tofu. A brand I have bought from larger grocery chains is 白玉 (báiyù). Found in the refrigerated section, often near prepared meats. They have a few flavors including 素啤酒肉片 (sù píjiǔ ròupiàn), which is sweet and can add flavor to an entire dish. Here’s a link to all Baiyu’s tofu-related products.

I’ve barely scratched the surface here on all the tofu that needs describing… the tofu that comes in flat sheets and can be cut with scissors. There is 腐竹 (fǔzhú) — is that soy? I’ll need to add some pics to this post and fill in a lot more when I find the time!

And if you want to explore non-vegetarian meat alternatives, there is an awesome thing called 鱼豆腐 (yú dòufu) which is not really fish or tofu, but like a kind of fish leftovers hot dog thing shaped into lovely cubes perfect for putting on skewers to barbecue or fry up with veggies. We enjoy tossing with Old Bay seasoning and frying. I have also made a decent pot pie with it.

I Lost Lucy

Lucy – I tried to write to the email address you left, but it bounced back. I posted a reply to your comment here.

bugAnyway, I have some other photos to post from Halloween. Unfortunately I don’t have any more of me in my fabulous bug costume. Hehe.

Jeremy and I spent Saturday night and all of Sunday vomitting and unable to move. It was terrible. Must have been food poisoning. Really awful. We’ve both pretty much recovered. We even went out for pizza last night. Yum!

Good Eats, No Meats

I returned to Nordica for dinner last night with some friends. We intended to catch their weekly BBQ, but we got there too late so we ordered off the menu. I had a very tastey mushroom quiche with a side salad for 18 RMB, and we shared a bottle of white wine (the brand was Great Wall, I think?) for 80 RMB. For dessert, everyone got a brownie except Karina who ordered the carrot cake which came with a great citrus frosting. Yum! Recommended, but next time I think we should arrive closer to 6:00 p.m. so we can do the BBQ (35 RMB) — of course, I might prefer the quiche to the meaty BBQ.

We poked around the loft area a little after dinner. There were several galleries/bars/tea houses that had a crowd — primarily local, from the looks of things. The paintings were not overwhelming, but it was really exciting to see art happening in Kunming. There were some really cool spaces — converted old buildings — and lots of nooks and crannies with very colorful, comfortable-looking courtyards. I would really like to explore the area more during the light of day.

Anyway, it was great to play after a brutal week of classes. The expectations at this level are a lot higher. I’m writing tons — both practicing characters and I have two essays due next week. Whoah! I was so exhausted by the end of classes on Friday, I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry. I need to learn how to pace myself. I totally neglected to study for my Friday classes so I was embarassingly ill-prepared — which of course made even more anxious during class. Bah. I think it’s surmountable, but I need to get my act together. Thank god I have the weekend to regroup.

Jeremy had a potluck dinner with his classmates last night. He prepared jambalaya with little shrimp (a New Orleans dish) as well as a treat for Roshashana, apples and honey. How very ethnic. That, of course, was the name of the game — everyone brought food from their home country. Sounds like it was an incredible feast! Jeremy especially enjoyed Caroline’s contribution of cheese and French bread. Sounds heavenly.

Go Fish

Ok, don’t eat fish. Not in the U.S. and not in China. I heard a horror story (Jeremy’s friend received a forwarded text message) about something mysterious infecting fish in China. And in the U.S. I guess there’s some terrible stuff with the antibiotics they feed to the fish affecting consumers. Yikes!

It’s really too bad. I like fish.

I’ve been asked to retract this crazy, alarmist, and inaccurate post.  I just heard a vague rumor about bad fish, but until some evidence is presented you really shouldn’t alter your eating habits. [Thursday, August 31, 2006, 7:24 p.m.]

No More Lonely Noodles

Jeremy is here!  And we have a little home.  And classes are about to start. Yay!
I’m really craving a routine.   Right now I don’t seem to be getting anything done, and my study habits are miserable.  I took my placement exam on Monday.  Wow, that was scary.  I think they gave me one of the higher levels, but I think I completely failed.  Hopefully I demonstrated some ability.  It will be exciting to have new books and classmates and things.

Since I’m living off campus, I had to register at the police station.  Last time I was here, I went to the same station.  I remember it being very confusing, but this time around they had an entire office dedicated to interacting with foreigners.  Of course I had to sit around a while, but it didn’t take long.  I suppose I was a little more prepared this time.  I had all of my documents in order.  That helps.
Jeremy gave me a camera, but I still need to buy a memory card.  There is a small internal memory, but it can only hold a few images.  I’ll soon fill this site with some good pics.  I already have a few on my flickr site. I have to admit that I’m still a little shy when it comes to pulling out my camera.  Sigh.

It’s been fun rediscovering a few restaurants around Kunming.  Yesterday we walked through the rain to a place that serves “box lunch” style meals.  It’s rare that you can order a single meal.  Most restaurants are family style, so it’s nice to have a place where you eat alone without being wasteful.  Of course, you can always order noodles in single servings, but that gets monotonous.  Noodles are lonely.