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2010.08.09

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Sticky

sounds perfect for the short but bone-chilling Hanoi winter...and not too many ingredients, which is sometimes a turn-off for me. I've never tried the rice toasting process - must add an extra flavour dimension? I'm going to give this a go.

Wen

Intriguing... I grew up with plenty of steamed pork patties, garnished with preseved veggie bits etc. Eaten with rice congee / rice. But never with rice mixed into the meat for the steaming progress.

So much to learn about Chinese food still, despite eating it my whole life :-)

foodbin

looks a bit lardy.

Jessie

you're going back to chengdu?!?! can i be more jealous?! :) let me know if you want some contacts, there we plenty more people i wanted to introduce you to last time and didn't get the chance...

Liz

I read this post from start to finish as I could not take my eyes off your mouthwatering descriptions. Been reading your blog for a while now and saved this recipe to try one day. I love sichuan food too and the combination of rice and slow cooked meat is hard to resist.

tian

as a chengdu native, i think it's more commonly called "fen zheng rou" instead of "mi zheng rou", and it's not pumpkins in it, it's sweet poptato.

Robyn

Hi Sticky - yes, toasting the rice gives a little flavor, esp if you toast with some dry spices. In the way that Isaan-style laab benefits from bits of toasted rice, though uncooked.

Wen - I feel the same way abt Chs food. I learned so much abt it even after moving to Malaysia.

foodbin - I'll take that as a compliment.

Jessie - Didn't return for 15+ years and now we can't stay away! I may take you up on that.

It's really delicious Liz. Let me know how it turns out for you.

Tian - Thanks for your comment.
I'll assume you didn't mean for it to sound as snarky as it does. I have in front of me a recipe book I picked up in Chengdu, in Chinese (I read characters). The contents are divided into various types of dishes (as cookery books usually are) and one of the categories is Mi Zheng Lei. We certainly did eat a few versions with pumpkin/winter squash and I saw plenty of kabocha-style squashes at the market.

As a Chengdu native I am sure that you have many insights to offer here. We'd all benefit and I'd love to hear from you again ... if you can lose the unpleasant tone.

YY

Hi Robyn,

Love your blog and it's wonderful to see one of my favorite dishes featured here. I do agree with Tian that it is commonly referred to as "fen zheng rou" or "mi fen zheng rou" and I'm guessing that's why they put it under the "mi zheng lei" category.

Thanks for the beautiful post and look forward to hearing all about your adventure out in Chengdu.

fotografiafoodie

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, I will have to try this one. Gorgeous. Beautiful.

Nga Seg Son

Hi Robyn,

Thanks for the enlightenment. I resided at North Eastern China (东北 ) for 7 years. I frequented Sichuanese Restaurant occasionally and the variation of this particular dish at the North East comes in a big bamboo steaming tray called Feng Zheng Pai Gu (粉蒸排骨). I have always wonder what the gooey stuff was guessing whether it was taro or pumpkin never thinking that it was ground toasted rice.

I am a Malaysian currently residing in Vietnam and I suppose the commentator above Sticky must be of Stickyrice fame.

I love your articles in the Wall Street Journal as well. I suppose for copyright reasons you can't paste the full article at your personal blog.

I don't see Tian's comment as coming across as harsh. Probably it is her transliteration of her thoughts from Chinese to English. It appears quite ordinary to me.

Oh, lest I forget I follow your Malaysian write-ups fervently and has visited the locations you mentioned in Ipoh. Will do a food trail of your Penang write up soon.


Regards


Nga Seg Son

Katy

Robyn, Tian,YY and Seg Son –this is my view:

Mi Zheng Le refers to any dish that is rice (in whatever form) steamed – be it with pumpkin, winter squash, taro or sweet potato (I personally can’t image the sweetness steamed well with the meat, but may just be a personal preference, it does seem a bit of an odd choice if I’m being honest) I am thinking of the taste of Taiwanese sweet potato, there may be a different type with different texture and taste in Chengdu.

I think the ‘misunderstanding’ lies in the character Feng 粉, it is rice in powder form. Whereas, in Robyn’s recipe, it is ground rice toasted. It is apparent that a dish with Feng is prepared with 米粉 (Rice powder, whatever rice is used but I would have thought something coarse powder) and hence as in Tian and YY’s “fen zheng rou” or “mi feng zheng rou”. Feng Zheng Pai Gu (粉蒸排骨) in Seg Son’s if done correctly as the term suggests – should also be prepared in rice powder.

Nobody is wrong and not much to disagree – the argument lies in whether the dish is prepared in grain or powder. I also think the cooking time in Robyn’s recipe would have been longer and slower because essentially you are cooking the grain too – whereas with Rice powder, the timing is significantly reduced.

I haven’t been to Chengdu, so I can’t say. But if two of you referred it to Feng Zheng and Tian as a native –it may be possible that the ones that sold on the street or some restaurants are prepared from rice powder, it makes sense in modern busy days. And the one in Robyn’s cookbook is a classic recipe steamed from toasted rice and of course what you had back in 1990s.

Is this agreeable, everyone?

Katy

Rice powder is not the right word - it should be rice flour.

Katy

Robyn, look at this and you will see what this is about: In Chengdu/Sichuan, they use rice flour 大米粉 to make the dish 粉蒸肉 Fenzheng rou. Your Mizheng rou is a classic recipe.

http://www.meishij.net/china-food/caixi/chuancai/419.html

Albert

Thank you for the great post. I use to make this dish with packaged (seasoned) rice powder from chinese markets. Now I am looking forward to making this from scratch. I wonder if it is always made with regular white rice, or is glutinous rice sometimes used sometimes as well?

Katy

Albert, are you the one from Taiwan who went to 建中? You know 糯米蒸肉,made with glutinous rice, pork belly, and steams well with starchy ingredients - taro, red potato etc. 荷葉糯米蒸肉is basiclly prepared the same way as Hunan zongzi (湖南棕子)? - I personally found it too bland. I prefer the Tainan zongzi, seasoned rice with salty duck egg. Hakka's too gooey.

Albert

Hi Katy, yeah, that is me. My grandma use to make 湖南棕子, and I agree that it can seem a little sparse in flavor and texture if eaten on its own.

What I was wondering though, was that if one can toast and grind glutinous rice for 粉(米)蒸肉, or is regular white rice better suited for this dish?

Robyn

Thanks everyone, for your comments.

Albert -- you could certainly do it with glut. rice but the texture wouldn't be the same. This rice coating isn't at all sticky or gummy as I noted it's a bit like lumpy mashed potatoes. I'm thinking of a certain Thai street food that is coated with ground sticky rice and steamed ... not the same texture at all.
That said, I don't think it would be *bad* with glutinous rice, just very different. And if you try it definately then do make sure the rice isn't ground too fine. Oh, and let us know here how it works out.
(I know I have had those pork chops you mention somewhere before, they sound so familiar, but at the moment I can't place them. Hong Kong maybe, years ago.)

Krista

Made the beef one this evening for dinner -- really liked the texture.

Robyn

That's great Krista, thanks for the feedback!

Katy

I forgot to mention that people mix white rice and glutinous too in Mizheng rou dishes - depends on the texture preference. Commonly higher ratio of rice to the other. This one is 1:1 though. Didn't know Pekinese prefer gummy rice! :-)

http://www.sbar.com.cn/caipu/69304/

Did it say in your book?

Robyn

Pekinese as in Beijing ren? Says who? (Can't open your link.) I find the rice in many places in China to be 'gummier' than say rice in parts of southeast Asia that eat non-glutinous rice, but nothing approaching glutinous rice's gummy-ness. More like Japanese rice stickyness, from the short grain I think.

I would not want any gumminess in this dish but that's an entirely personal preference. And I think it would make the dish off-putting to foreigners not accustomed to sticky rice.

Katy

1. Pekingese as in 北京的 (Beijing's)。Not the dog.

2. Says the internet:
http://www.sbar.com.cn/ (美食吧)

Bit difficult if you can't open the link. Try this 正宗老北京粉蒸肉; copy and paste it all either in google search (or the site above) and you should see links about the 'authentic old Peking Fen zheng rou'. 1:1 white rice:glutinous rice (大米与糯米1:1)

3.It is not gummy short grain rice I can assure you,I know what you mean. Like comparing sushi rice to basmati. It is glutinous rice 糯米 . I've seen it in other sites wth mixture of white rice and glutinous. But mostly higher ratio of white,like 4:1. (maybe 赣菜- Jiangxi 江西) Obviously as you said, it's the texture preference. It would be clearer if you can see the link with the photos. This one does look gummier steamed with the pork, don't think you can taste the rice as much as in yours.

Katy

Glutinous rice absorbs fat more than white rice? So I am guessing, instead of a layer of lumpy mashed potatoes, you get moist tender meat, all melt in mouth, not necessarily meat with a layer of gummy rice which foreigners not accustomed to?

Never tried any of these, but does it make sense?

eastingfeasting

that's another one Robyn,
you should do a variety of rice and texture review, i do find korean,japanese,vietnamese, thai rice are very different in taste and textures.
i'm the type that get physcially ill if i dont' have rice for more than a month, but will only eat basamati or japanese rice only onces.

Chris

I have been reading your blog as i'm going to Chengdu in December. I like to eat different foods, and pulled out the trusty "Land of the Plenty" to make this dish, once I had read you rave about it. I originally went passed the recipe because "Steamed Beef in Rice Meal" didn't sound that appetizing. I made it yesterday and its a wonderful dish. I don't know if I made it right, but it reminded me a bit of a chinese cous cous dish. Dunlop said the rice should be smaller than Cous Cous but not a powder, which is what I did. Thankyou for giving me another dish to try at home, and I look forward to trying many different foods when i'm in Chengdu!

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