- November
Posted By : talkingofchinese
Chinese comfort food

Potatoes have always been my go-to comfort food. Fried, mashed, baked they are, without a doubt, a food I could get fat on.

When my Chinese fiance Peter first introduced me to congee (米粥  mǐzhōu – a rice porridge) I wasn’t that taken by it. The same went for thousand year old eggs/century eggs (皮蛋  pídàn) and many other dishes.

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皮蛋 pídàn

Recently, I realised how much my tastes have changed when we sat down at a Chinese restaurant the other day and I ordered a side of century egg and tofu (皮蛋豆腐 pídàn dòufu) without even thinking about it.

皮蛋豆腐 pídàn dòufu

Recently, sick with a cold I made fried egg and tomato (炒鸡蛋西红柿 chǎo jīdàn xīhóngshì) – something that my fiance’s mother makes all the time, not a “restaurant” Chinese dish but a home-cooked staple. It’s so everyday that I don’t actually have a photo of it on its own but here it is as part of breakfast one day.

炒鸡蛋西红柿 chǎo jīdàn xīhóngshì

I then went out and bought green tea (绿查 lǜchá) with grass jelly (仙草 xiāncǎo) after trying and failing to make my own green tea with boba (for more on my boba tea making ventures click here).

绿查 lǜchá with 仙草 xiāncǎo

The problem with new comfort foods that involve ingredients like grass jelly (仙草 xiāncǎo) and century eggs (皮蛋  pídàn) is that making them yourself isn’t always straight forward.

I went to a couple of Asian grocers before I found a tin of grass jelly (仙草 xiāncǎo) only to discover it was quite gritty and nothing like the grass jelly my favourite boba tea shop uses.

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canned 仙草 xiāncǎo

Since I had eaten whole century eggs (皮蛋  pídàn) before I decided to try buying my own from the Asian grocer but the yolk was much runnier than others I had eaten and I didn’t have the correct sauces to tone down the sulfur taste.

皮蛋 pídàn

Don’t get me wrong, I still devour mashed potato or hot chips but I now have a whole new set of comfort foods I can reach for!

Like this delicious Taiwanese desert 🙂


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  • Ha, the Ruby Ronin just had a funny post about that tomato and scrambled egg dish. I asked Andy about it, and he’d never heard of it. Though he makes fantastic scrambled eggs.

    He’s not a fan of potatoes, but we had so many leftovers recently that he made them into croquettes, with peas and pancetta. I shall convert him eventually! Didn’t realize how much I missed potatoes until we had them again.

    • That’s strange that Andy has never heard of it – I thought maybe it might be a southern Chinese thing (my fiance is from Shanghai) but according to google it’s eaten all over China..

      I was virtually raised on potatoes – think I might have some Irish in me somewhere!

  • I don’t know if I would call pidan “comfort food”, I don’t think it’s something you are supposed to eat too often! But I love it inside a 粥 zhou (congee). Zhou would be one of my comfort foods, hehe. It can be made with many different ingredientes.

    PS. Recheck the characters for green tea, it should be 绿茶 🙂 to write “ü” with the keyboard you have to type “v”.

    • I agree – pidan congee is definitely a comfort food but not pidan on it’s own.

      Thanks for the green tea character pick up 🙂 have changed it – characters are a battle I don’t think I will ever win!

  • Regarding the scrambled eggs with tomato dish, I don’t think it is confined to Shanghai or places in China north of Shanghai. My mom, who is from the Guandong province in the south, makes it all the time in Hong Kong. However, some Chinese who do not like tomato may not make it. My wife hates tomato, so she never makes it. May be Andy’s mom does not like tomato.

    Marta is correct that green tea should be 绿茶. To help you better remember the Chinese character for “tea”, 茶, please be aware that the top part of the Chinese character with two crosses side by side signify that the Chinese character represents something related to or derived from plants. However, you may point out that the Chinese character, 查, you used also has the top part that means wood. But Chinese characters that carry the word “wood” as the top part do not signify something related to or derived from plants. If the word “wood” is used at the left part of a Chinese character (e.g., 树 which is the Chinese character for tree), that usually signifies the Chinese character represents something that is related to or derived from plants, or something typically made of wood (e.g., 椅 which means chair). Remembering these, however, may not be easy for non-Chinese. Just keep at it and you will remember these.

    Finally, I agree with Marta that thousand year eggs (皮蛋) taste better in congee, one of the favorite comfort foods of Cantonese.

    • That’s a good point David – I remember hearing a story once where someone ate prawn heads because they thought it was part of a tradition but later realised some people ate them while others didn’t, it was simply down to personal preferences.

      Thanks for the character help – characters do my head in 🙁

  • Oh man, I relate to so many things on here. That photo of your fried eggs and tomato with the watermelon is SO CHINESE! Haha, I love it.

    I looooove pidan. In congee, on cold tofu, on its own… It’s absolutely amazing.

    What a great idea to write about Chinese comfort food! I’m trying to think what else I like… I think a bowl of 雪菜面 (xue cai mian)… oh man, definitely 混沌 (won tons) in soup. So amazing.

    Glad to see you’re slowly turning Chinese! Aha.

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