There are certain smells and certain tastes that I
will always associate with summertime. Of all the frozen and chilled
deserts in the world, there is one treat that I always crave in the
summer heat — a simple Chinese dish known as “sugar macerated tomatoes.”
This juicy, sweet and refreshing dish is somewhat like fruit
compote, although no cooking is required. All you need is fresh ripe
tomatoes and some plain cane sugar. Simply cut the tomatoes into
bit-size pieces then place them in a bowl and mix well with a sprinkling
of sugar. Cover the bowl with plastic and place into the refrigerator.
Remove after the dish is chilled and enjoy.
Sometimes big flavors
come in small packages — tomatoes being a perfect example. Although they
are packed with flavor, a sprinkling of sugar can draw the moisture out
and create a light flavorful syrup that’s perfect for summer
Another great tomato-based dish for summer is the
classic tomato, mozzarella and basil salad. One can easily spice up this
summer staple with other ingredients, such as fresh arugala leaves for a
boost of mild spiciness. This easy dish goes well dressed with extra
virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and freshly ground salt and pepper.
heartier fare, there is a variation on the classic Japanese egg on rice
dish that also incorporates tomatoes (see recipe). Instead of cracking a
fresh egg over cooked rice — for a simple “peasant” meal in bygone
times — one can place a ripe tomato inside a rice cooker. The moisture
from the tomato can help cook the rice, so it’s important to add less
water than one normally would.
Of course, there is plenty of room
to experiment with this dish. Mushrooms make a great substitute for
tomato. I personally prefer porcini, maiitake, matsutake (songrong in
Chinese) with a little bit of soy sauce for added depth.
there is plenty of room to experiment with fresh seasonal ingredients,
there is one thing to pay attention to — that is, make sure to put the
ingredients on top of the rice as it’s cooking in the rice cooker. If
the ingredients are mixed, the rice may not cook evenly.
recent discovery to share this time is the amazing marriage of avocado
and soy sauce. I had heard about this combination long time ago, but it
was only recently that I actually tried it out myself, immediately I
regretted not making any attempt earlier, since what I had heard was
Mixed together, the equally creamy and buttery avocado
drizzled with light soy sauce tastes similar to Otoro — that is the
under-belly meat of the blue-fin tuna toward the head, the premium
quality portion of the fish that has its own quality grading system.
pink color fine Otoro meat is marbled with exquisite fatty lines, which
gives it the amazing rich and creamy taste. It is quite hard to
believe, but turned out amazingly true. The combination resembles the
unique and sophisticated taste and texture of Otoro sashimi. If you can
find Japanese ponzu sauce — light soy sauce infused with yuzu citrus —
this would make the experience even more tasty.
Egg on rice with tomato ingredients:
2 cups rice
1 big tomato
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper (freshly ground preferred)
2 tsp olive oil
How to prepare:
Pour rice into a rice cooker and add water. Use about 6 tablespoons
less water than usual to compensate for moisture from the tomato.
• Add salt, pepper, olive oil into the cooker.
• Remove the stem of the tomato, make a cross cut on the top of the tomato to make it easier to cook through.
• Start the rice cooker as usual.
• When it’s done, toss the rice and tomato together with a paddle and consume.
the rice-to-tomato ration can be adjusted based on personal taste, but
remember to use less water than normal since the moisture from the
tomato will also seep into the cooking rice.
Some must-try summer foods in Shanghai
cooling, silky noodles, topped with dressing made from vinegar and
sesame paste, is a seasonal favorite. Before eating, try to mix the
dressing evenly with the noodles. Local people usually order shredded
cucumber as a topping to make the taste even fresher.
Where to eat:
Meixin Dimsum Shop
Address: 105 Shanxi Rd N.
Sweet and sour pork chop
is a hot dish served cold. The pork chops are braised in sugar and
vinegar to create a sweet and sour flavor. This flavor combination can
stimulate the appetite, easily lost in hot weather.
Where to eat:
Address: 5/F, 1266 Nanjing Rd W.
is a summer dish popular in Shanghai and neighboring cities. It is
composed of green soybeans, chicken feet, freshwater shrimp and duck
tongue; boiled and soaked in cold zaolu, a thick translucent sauce
decocted from Chinese yellow wine, various fragrances and spices such as
dried orange peels and star anise. It tastes salty and umami, with a
sweet and deep bouquet of yellow wine.
Where to eat:
Xindalu China Kitchen
Tel: 6393-1234 ext 6318
Address: 1/F, 199 Huangpu Rd
Sweet mung bean soup
sweet soup served cold is a popular local summer dessert. The mung
beans are stewed with sugar for several hours until they are ready to
melt in one’s mouth. Chefs usually add some mint for a more fragrant and
cooling taste. According to traditional Chinese medicine beliefs mung
bean have a high degree of yin, which can remove heat from the body.
Where to eat:
Address: 123 Nanyang Rd
summer dessert made from milk and walnuts is a local version of
ice-cream. It features a light fresh sweet flavor and silky texture.