Maple Roosters and Tofu Tumults: A Han Dynasty Banquet
This week, The Feast is bringing you a very special Canadian episode dedicated to Chinese New Year! We're exploring an opulent Han Dynasty banquet from the second century CE as the basis for our own Chinese New Year celebrations in Toronto. Join us as we search for the origins of tofu, find out the proper way to make a baijiu cocktail, & recite some foodie poetry from ancient China. All this & more rooster puns than you can shake a tail feather at on this week's episode of The Feast.
Written & Produced by Laura Carlson
Technical Direction by Mike Portt
Soundtrack by Looperman & Jahazzar
The Start of the Meal: Rice Wine for All!
A Modern Rice Wine Cocktail: The Maple Rooster
Without Han dynasty rice wine on our hands, we decided to go for a baijiu-based cocktail. Although baijiu cocktails seem to be few and far between in mixology books, we came up with our own variation on the Baijiu Collins, which we affectionately are calling the Maple Rooster. Please enjoy responsibly!
The Maple Rooster
Makes: One Drink
1 1/2 oz Baijiu
1/2 oz maple syrup
3/4 oz squeezed lime juice
3-4 dashes Angostura bitters
Soda water to top
Lime wheel for garnish
In a chilled highball glass, combine the first four ingredients. Top up the rest of the glass with soda water. Garnish with lime wheel.
Han Dynasty Kitchens: Keng & Other Dishes
A Modern Version of Keng? West Lake Soup
We tried our hand at what has been called the modern day successor to the original Kan Dynasty recipes for keng, a style of thick soup known as "West Lake". Named for a lake in eastern China, this popular soup around New Year's is thickened with cornstarch and often contains tofu as well as beef or pork. There are thousands of recipes online for variations of this popular soup, but we used this one from Chinese Sichuan Food as a base, swapping out the beef for pork.
Other Delights of a Han Dynasty Kitchen
The Origins of Tofu?
Should Chinese cuisine be recognized by UNESCO?
A great article by food culture professor, Zhou Hongcheng, on why China's absence from the "intangible cultural heritage" list might be a good thing...
Why UNESCO Should Turn Its Nose Up at Chinese Food (Sixth Tone)
Great Recent Books on Chinese Cuisine
Kian Lam Kho, Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees: Essential Techniques of Authentic Chinese Cooking (2015)
More on the History of Chinese Cuisine
K.C. Chang, ed. Food in Chinese Culture: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives (1977)