Sunday, 14 February 2010

Food: Chinese Delicacy

Happy Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day!

Chinese New Year is a time for reunion, food and fun. Reunion, you will have that for sure; food, you can buy that as presents; and fun, you will find it if you keep reading and learning from my blog, so here's your presents!!!!

In the last entry, I have talked about the Chinese puddings / cakes and you have learnt those terms by now, today I would like to share with you some English terms of luxurious Chinese food.

In the top 4 Chinese delicacies, abalone comes first. When dried, they are called Bao Yu as pronounced in Mandarin Chinese.
Image from

Coming in second is the sea cucumber. Of the 650 species of sea cucumbers, only 10 have commercial value. [1]
Sea cucumber
Image from

In the third position, we have shark fins, which I terribly condemn and would never eat, the only delicacy of the four that contains highly toxic chemical called mercury (Hg). Mercury Poisoning can be deadly and shark finning is very cruel as I have discussed before. So try not to consume any -- for you and for the poor sharks.
Shark Fins
Image from inquisitr
I always hear people telling me, "since someone has killed it, might as well eat it." But I strongly disagree with this point. People kill sharks for their fins because you might-as-well eat them. If you would rather waste it than eat it, as more and more people are not eating it, price will drop and the poor sharks will not be economically beneficial, then no one will kill them!

Coming last is the dried fish maw. It is commonly believed that it helps to improve the skin condition of women and pregnant women.[2]
Fish Maw
Image from kaleidoscope.cultural-china

Conpoy / Dried Scallops

Image from flickr

Made from the saliva of cave swifts by the swifts themselves, the nests have been used in Chinese cooking for over 400 years.[3] However, it is now known that bird's nest can do more harm than good as it can be cancer-causing or carcinogenic . This has been mentioned by renowned Singaporean food critic, Chua Lam, in a TV shows, that bird's nest literally "nurtures the cancer (cells)" instead of the common Chinese saying "nurtures the (facial) appearance".
Bird's Nest
Image from llworldtour.files.wordpress

Known in the English-speaking world in its Japanese name, the mushroom carries the Japanese name of the tree (shii) of which it is cultivated on. During the Ming Dynasty (AD 1368–1644), physician Wu Juei wrote that the mushroom could be used not only as a food but as a medicinal mushroom, taken as a remedy for upper respiratory diseases, poor blood circulation, liver trouble, exhaustion and weakness, and to boost qi, or life energy. It was also believed to prevent premature aging. In today's modern medicine, it is used to manufacture many compounds which can treat various cancers. [4]

Shiitake mushroom
Image from

Grown in the ground in the Gobi Dessert and Qinghai Plateau in China. The more you eat, the more dessert you get because it helps to hold the soil in the ground. So, don't eat it, guys!

The Chinese University of Hong Kong has also researched on Fat Choy and found that it contains Beta-methylamino L-alanine (BMAA), a toxic amino acid that could affect the normal functions of nerve cells and could lead to degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and dementia.[5]

Fat Choy / Black Moss
Image from Google



  1. So don't eat shark fins, bird's nest and black Moss are better, but eat mushroom is good. Thanks your presents. Happy lunar new year & Valentine's day!

  2. No,no,no! Shark fins, bird's nest and black moss are all bad.

    Happy Chinese New Year to you too Sharon!

  3. Kung Hay Fat Choy! & Happy CNY! to all reading it ~

    Locky, Thanks for your presents ^^

    Shiitake mushroom obviously comes from china and it's a famous chinese delicacy over hundreds years.. how come it got a japanese name in english world? poor mushroom.. no real english name :(

    and how to speak it ? from cambridge dictionary => ʃɪˈtɑːki but when speak in japanese => shi-i-ta-ke (ʃɪˈ - ɪ - tɑː- ke)

    and fish maw.. "maw" mostly means to animal's mouth/throat/stomach.. but that's air bladder of the fish.. why called it "maw" ? ^^! anyway. but that's the fact what it is called..

    i think i remember the english name of them already.

    Celia :)

  4. Celia,

    I guess it all depends on where they become famous. Like the Shiitake mushroom, I guess there are historical reasons. Maybe the mushroom became famous to westerners when it is exported from Japan????

    Another example, ketchup is said to be from Cantonese rather than originally from English.

    Nowadays, many names are loaned and thus each word has at least two versions of pronunciations: the native language and the English version (UK/US). For the mushroom, you can use both.

    Fish maw can also be called swim bladder, but I guess maw is more common.