Red-braised pork belly (Chinese: 红烧肉) has been a staple of my childhood diet -- and now that I've moved out of Texas, it was the first thing that I was determined to learn how to make. It's made with a wonderful mix of spices, cooking wine, a soy sauce power duo, and more. What you end up with is soft, melt-in-your mouth pork belly from a two-hour long braising process, and a thick, subtly sweet sauce that's perfect for drizzling over white rice.
Wontons are a classic Chinese dumpling variation: instead of like their semi-circle cousins, wontons are made from a square wrapper and usually have less filling (but of course, this just means you can eat more of them in one sitting). They're literally a soul-warming meal, especially if you eat them alongside the hot soup, with a generous dollop of spicy chili crisps and green onions.
Happy Dragon Boat Festival! As the occasion calls for, today we celebrate with zongzi! Zongzi (also called Chinese sticky rice dumplings) are a traditional Chinese dish, consisting of various fillings wrapped in glutinous rice and cooked in bamboo leaves. As a native Texan, here's my best analogy: think tamales, except the Chinese version.
In Chinese, 盒子 (hézi) literally translates into box -- an edible box, of course. A typical “box” that you’ll see sold as a quick street food item consists of chopped chives and eggs (or some other variation of that) stuffed into a dough “box,” although that box is shaped more like a crescent moon. I like to think of them as the older cousin of dumplings. Both are like savory pocket pies, but hézi usually are larger, have more filling, and a crisper skin.
Turnip cakes are a classic at dim-sum restaurants, and have always been my favorite item (I save room for an entire serving for it each time...) While the more appropriate name is radish cake, they are an incredibly savory dish featuring veggies, sausages and rice flour. They're a bit of a time commitment, but nothing too extreme -- block out an hour and a half-ish, and you've got yourself some turnip cakes. And paired with some hoisin sauce and Lao Gan Ma chili crisp sauce...well, that's as good as life gets.