Category Archives: Is it gross?

Is it Gross? – Buddha’s Delight

260px-delightful.jpgIt’s time for another round of “Is it gross?” Ed has returned as our special guest once again. Here’s today’s description:

Take two pig ears stewed in soy sauce. Chop these up into little pieces. Mix the pig ears with gelatinized pig blood and chicken kidneys. Place ingredients in a food processor. Add soy sauce. Process! Take the resulting mixture and bring to a boil. Add snow peas, onions, carrots, bamboo shoots, tofu, and Chinese napa. Serve this to vegetarians as “Buddha’s Delight.”

Ed’s response:

haha sounds Asian, not gross.

So despite my attempt to concoct the most foul mixture of meat products and serve it in a completely unethical manner, Ed has decided that my description is not gross but rather “Asian.”

Fortunately, for those of you who disagreed with Ed’s response and did find the mixture gross, you can rest assured that most Chinese restaurants do not taint their Buddha’s Delight with meat products. Vegetarians that cannot find anything better in Chinese menus will continue to find refuge in the sanctuary of Buddha’s Delight.

Looking back at my adventures in Chinese restaurants, Buddha’s Delight has always fascinated me as it seems to be ubiquitous in Chinese restaurants in the US. According to Wikipedia, Buddha’s Delight is an authentic Chinese dish enjoyed by monks (presumably of the Benedictine order — the article does not specify). The article also states that Buddha’s Delight is traditionally served during the first days of the Chinese New Year, which is a tradition that stems from the Buddhist practice of not eating meat for the first five days of the New Year as a form of “self-purification.”

News-flash: First, I’ve never met a Buddhist monk that ate meat during the other ~360 days of the lunar year either. And I’ve met about 5, which makes my anecdotal evidence compelling. Second, anything served “traditionally” in China needs to be available for hundreds of millions of poor people. Buddha’s Delight is essentially a bunch of vegetables thrown in water with salt and soy sauce added. Think about this next time you consider paying $15 for it.

Thanks for joining me in wondering if it’s gross. Next time: something REALLY possibly gross or not.


Is it gross? The thousand-year egg edition

pi-danOnce again, we ask the question, “is it gross?” We’ve brought back our contestant Ed. Here’s today’s “thing”:

Take a duck egg. Soak it in a brine of salt and industrial strength cleaning product for 10 days. Then, wrap it in plastic and age it for several weeks. Expedite the process by adding a lead oxide. Later, crack the egg open and serve with soy sauce.

Ed’s response:

what, gross!

Yes folks, it is indeed gross. But interestingly enough, what pushed today’s “thing” over Ed’s gross-threshold was the fact that it was served with soy sauce and not the industrial strength cleaning product in which it was prepared.

Today’s “thing” is in fact what the Chinese call pi-dan (pee-done). In English, it is often called “preserved eggs,” “century eggs,” or “thousand year eggs.” Back in the day (about a week ago), the Chinese compensated for their lack of a reliable food source with an abundance of preservatives.

Traditionally, pi-dan has been all about preserving eggs. The procedure for making pi-dan was packing duck eggs in a mixture of water and clay with a high pH level. The clay would turn the yolk translucent blackish-brown and the yolk blackish-gray. Pi-dan would then be served with xi-fan or rice porridge. In my (gross) case, just cut it up and serve it with soy sauce.

Now, pi-dan is all about making a whacky tasting egg. Serving with soy sauce is definitely the preferred method for grossing out your non-Chinese friends. Once tasted, the palate cannot cannot be cleansed. Other foods consumed within hours of preserved egg will just taste bizarre. Only time will get the taste out of one’s mouth.

Modern methods have reduced the fermentation period to mere weeks (yay modern methods!), making them easy to mass produce and distribute. But, when buying preserved eggs, be sure to find the ones without lead. Heavy metal poisoning messes you up good.

Is it gross? The Chinese Hot Pot Sauce Edition

The name of the game is “Is it gross?” Here’s how it works:

I tell someone something, and they tell me if it’s gross or not. Today’s contestant is Ed. Here’s today’s “thing”:

I crack an egg into a bowl and then add soy sauce and Chinese barbeque sauce. I then whisk it up with a fork to get all of the ingredients mixed up. Finally, I cut up silken tofu into squares and use the contents of the bowl as a dipping sauce for the tofu.

Ed’s response:

oh, thats not that gross

Ding ding ding! It’s not gross! In fact, it’s similar to Chinese hot pot sauce.

Best served on cold, wintry nights, the Chinese hot pot is a great way to get the family together (if that is truly your goal) and provide a meal that takes minimal effort to prepare. This is done by filling a hot pot half way with water and gradually adding vegetables, strips of meat, balls of meat, various varieties of mushrooms, and cellophane noodles.

Each member of the dining party creates their own hot pot sauce by mixing soy sauce, vinegar, Chinese barbeque sauce, and hot sauce. Proportions will vary depending on individual taste. Throughout the dinner, the hot-potters continually use chop sticks to poke at food in the hot pot to check for readiness and extract them individually to mix with their sauce and eventually consume (likely after blowing on it several times because it will be hot!)

The last best thing about Chinese hot pot is that it’s easy to clean. Instead of spending time scrubbing pots and pans, just ask your maid to clean the hot pot! Just make sure you unplug it first. You don’t want to lose your family time because of a felony manslaughter charge! If you do forget, however, be sure to use a broom to push your maid away from the electrical current, and call an ambulance immediately. This is yet another part of Chinese hot pot night that can be done as a family.