羅宋湯
October 11, 2017 3:07 PM   Subscribe

 
Even without having clicked on the links that explore the full history (something I'll soon change). I feel like it kind of makes sense. These are two places that are geographically near each other. People are going to exchange ideas and cultural traditions with each other.
posted by Fizz at 3:25 PM on October 11


Oooh, I love reading about "uncommon" diasporas and their everyday lives.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:29 PM on October 11


> These are two places that are geographically near each other

Are you talking about Russia and Hong Kong?! They're not, like, anywhere near each other. At all.

Off to RTFA now!
posted by languagehat at 3:39 PM on October 11 [5 favorites]


My mom makes a mean hk-style borscht (with oxtail - mmmm). Once she made it when my dad had a Ukrainian coworker over for dinner, which led to the delightful moment when my dad leaned over to his friend and told him, "You know what we call this soup? Borscht!". Amusement and bafflement all around. I don't think my parents have ever eaten a beet in their lives (growing up we were aware that they like, existed, but they were entirely something that happened to other people. The first time I ate one was after I left for university.)
posted by btfreek at 3:45 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]


Are you talking about Russia and Hong Kong?! They're not, like, anywhere near each other. At all.

OMG, my stupid brain was thinking of China. I'm an idiot.
posted by Fizz at 3:52 PM on October 11


borscht (with oxtail - mmmm)

Oh man. I haven't had this in way too long.
posted by Splunge at 3:54 PM on October 11


My grandmother used to faithfully make Luo Song Tang for me as a child - I'd come home everyday from school and almost always there was a bowl of the cabbage tomato bone broth, with carrots, ginger, onion, and a little bit of oxtail that had been stewed long enough such that the broth had absorbed all the tasty beefy unctuousness the oxtail gave to the broth.

It wasn't until years later after my own stint of living in Russian speaking countries and talking with my grandparents that I realized she learned how to make that soup while the two of my grandparents lived in Harbin in the 1920s, which had a lot of ethnic Russians living there at the time, and they stuck around until the Japanese invaded. My Grandfather, at 89, still remembered quite vividly the davai chasy! ("give me your watch!") the Russian soldiers would scream at them as they traveled the rails through Russian occupied territory to escape the Japanese.

Man they went through a lot. Think I'll pick up some oxtail this weekend. I miss you, grandma.
posted by Karaage at 4:05 PM on October 11 [9 favorites]


So... Borscht is a very classic starter with HK style cafes (my aunt owns two of them in Vancouver). Generally though - they don't contain any beets and not a lot of beef - as HK Chinese are more fond of very light clean broths.

Hong Kong and Shanghai were great trading cities in their day (1940's for Shanghai, 1960's for HK) - with a crazy mix of enthicities inhabiting the city to conduct business. The best western style cafe in Hong Kong for many decades was the Cherikoff - of which there was a knock off version in Vancouver. One of my most vivid memories of living in HK was going to Tai Ping Koon (another old school Western cafe) - to have their Swiss Chicken Wings (which have NOTHING to do with Switzerland) and borscht and roasted squab. It was the absolute humid height of summer - but the place had their AC up to Arctic. There was a HK family at the table beside me (from the looks of them - Old Shanghainese Money) - who were having racks of fur coats sent up from the Siberian Fur Shop downstairs so they could pick out their coats for the upcoming season. To be honest - I have no idea why anyone would have a fur coat in HK. Unless it's to brave the crazy old AC of these restaurants.
posted by helmutdog at 4:23 PM on October 11 [3 favorites]


Was talking about borscht variations with a coworker a while ago which segued into "soups of our youths" and concluded "all cultures have similar culinary solutions when given the same problem/parallel evolution" re: HK cabbage soup/borscht.

Very interesting to find out we were wrong and there is a straight-line lineage of cabbage soup/lo sun tong (I had either never known that name or failed to make the connection between lo sun and Russian) from borscht.

I too will be picking up some oxtail this weekend.

re: Fur coats in HK; HKers have very different tolerances for cold than most people living in temperate places like Vancouver. Anything below 12'C is "cold" and the furs/goosedowns would come out. Today is about 12'C in Vancouver - I was out with a tshirt and hoodie (I came over young enough, my cousins moved here in their early teens and adjusted in a year or two, the older relatives took a bit longer).

helmutdog - which place in Vancouver is the Cherkof knock off?
posted by porpoise at 4:32 PM on October 11 [4 favorites]


Someone needs to write historical fiction about 1930s White Russians fighting piracy in the South China Sea.
posted by jonnay at 5:01 PM on October 11


Swiss Chicken Wings - the first meal my wife and I had when we moved to Hong Kong. As soon as I saw them on the menu I had to try them. What I got was a few wingettes with some kind of brown glaze sitting on a plate of instant noodles. Not great but not bad. Just odd. I still have no idea what they were supposed to be or what is was that made them "Swiss".
posted by awfurby at 5:05 PM on October 11


Tai Ping Koon (another old school Western cafe) - to have their Swiss Chicken Wings (which have NOTHING to do with Switzerland) and borscht and roasted squab.

I'm born and raised in Vancouver, but I do have memories of my folks taking me there for the exact same dishes on visits to HK.
posted by juv3nal at 5:07 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]


Haha, porpoise, I too grew up drinking "lo sung tong" and the connection to Russian soup blew my mind after childhood. Another thing I had a lot was macaroni in soup, so I was really pleased when that's what some dude took Anthony Bourdain to eat during one of his trips to HK.
posted by xtine at 5:31 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]


This is also making me think about the history of the dan ta (蛋挞), an egg tart that is also a mainstay of hong kong and Guangzhou dim sum.

Growing up on Chinese egg tarts, I was pleasantly surprised to make the link when I tried pastel de nata in Portugal, and realizing that Macau and Guangzhou had a long history of Portuguese contact/colonialism.
posted by Karaage at 6:06 PM on October 11 [3 favorites]


Growing up on Chinese egg tarts, I was pleasantly surprised to make the link when I tried pastel de nata in Portugal, and realizing that Macau and Guangzhou had a long history of Portuguese contact/colonialism.

The link is more explicit if you try them in Macau which has the charred tops that egg tarts in HK and exported to North America usually don't. The legit Portuguese ones have more crispness to the crusts though which is superior IMO.
posted by juv3nal at 6:10 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]


I wonder if the HK egg tarts are a derivative of the English egg custards then?
posted by Karaage at 6:20 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]


This is so great. Thanks.
posted by mwhybark at 6:23 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]


I grew up eating a lot of loh sung tong, with the slightly American twist of a bit of ketchup in the broth along with the tomatoes, nary a beet in sight.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 6:45 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the HK egg tarts are a derivative of the English egg custards then?

Wikipedia seems a bit six of one, half dozen of the other about it: "The English custard tart and the Portuguese pastel de nata are European forerunners of the Chinese egg tart which displays characteristics of both."
posted by juv3nal at 6:50 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]


Growing up on Chinese egg tarts, I was pleasantly surprised to make the link when I tried pastel de nata in Portugal, and realizing that Macau and Guangzhou had a long history of Portuguese contact/colonialism.

Portuguese cuisine is one of those weaponized memetic entities. The most recent copy of Milk Street magazine (what Richard Kimball is up to now that they dared take creative control from him in Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen) has them tracking down the best Piri-Piri chicken in South Africa. I mean, the Portuguese were a colonial influence for a half-minute before the Dutch took over... but! It's immigrant food, those fleeing Mozambique and Angola in the '70s brought it with them! Just as poor farmers in the Azores fleeing the volcano and Cape Verdeans seeking a better life brought it here to Southern New England.

Bakeries exist in Japan because of the Portuguese. Before the Dutch took over. And then we get to Hawaii, but, here, surprisingly, diaspora rather than colonialism. Whalers from Nantucket and New Bedford. Hawaiian King rolls? Portuguese massa sovada in slider form.

I mean, if you've never had Portuguese cuisine, and go to a Portuguese restaurant, and ask for their finest dish, you will be served a perfectly cooked steak swimming in an awful vinegar sauce, draped with flaccid potato-circle french fries and a poorly fried egg on top.

On the other hand, if you order blindly, and the dish has a "Mozambique" at the end, buckle up Buddy, and get ready to ask for more bread and water and another serving!

I had a stuffie for dinner tonight. It's half a quahog shell, graced with a giant scoop of cornbread stuffing rich with quahog meat and linguiça chunks, and I doused it with a locally brewed Piri-Piri hot sauce. I am sooo full right now....

I am going to google the hell out of Russian Hong Kong recipes, now, beginning with the non-Russian Swiss Wings, as I was curious!
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:10 PM on October 11 [3 favorites]


Just as a quick aside, just two days ago I was talking to a Russian co-worker, and on the subject of borscht, she said "I have no idea why there's a 't' when borscht is spelled in English." In Russian, it's just "borsch." The more you know!
posted by zardoz at 9:05 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]


> macaroni in soup

HA! This!

I make stock, and I have very semi-Cantonese semi-superstitions about stockmaking, but temper that with science.

Rillly rilllly good soup stock, dollar-store elbow macaroni, frozen carrot/peas/corn, and a ham bone or a sliver of air-dried ham is super comfort food for me
posted by porpoise at 10:14 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]


Just as a quick aside, just two days ago I was talking to a Russian co-worker, and on the subject of borscht, she said "I have no idea why there's a 't' when borscht is spelled in English."

I think it's because we get the word from Yiddish, where the "t" is present. But I suppose that only moves the mystery farther back in time...
posted by aws17576 at 10:16 PM on October 11 [4 favorites]


> "Hong Kong and Shanghai were great trading cities in their day (1940's for Shanghai, 1960's for HK) - with a crazy mix of enthicities inhabiting the city to conduct business."

While researching expat communities in Shanghai maybe a decade ago, I came across Morris "Two Guns" Cohen. Now there's an ... interesting historical figure. (He was also in Hong Kong when the Japanese attacked it in 1941, part of yet another story of derring-do in a life of derring-do, to make it more relevant to the FPP.)
posted by kyrademon at 3:11 AM on October 12 [2 favorites]


Just as a quick aside, just two days ago I was talking to a Russian co-worker, and on the subject of borscht, she said "I have no idea why there's a 't' when borscht is spelled in English."

I think it's because we get the word from Yiddish, where the "t" is present. But I suppose that only moves the mystery farther back in time...


Random guess: the "sch" at the end of "borsch" isn't quite pronounced like the English "sh" - it's a sound that English doesn't really have, that comes from higher in the back of the mouth, with the mouth more slightly open, for lack of a better description (it's the Cyrillic letter щ vs ш, and it's one of the hardest sounds in Russian for non-native speakers to pronounce correctly). Yiddish also doesn't have that sound, so "-sht" may well have come from an attempt to pronounce щ in a language that didn't have that phoneme.
posted by Itaxpica at 6:47 AM on October 12 [3 favorites]


helmutdog - which place in Vancouver is the Cherkof knock off?

Porpoise - the Cherkoff was located where Landmark Hot Pot is now. I went there in the 80's while still in high school. My best friend and I showed up for a quick meal with some kids from Hong Kong, who proceeded to pick up the tab for our food - which seemed so incredibly worldly at the time.

Swiss Chicken Wings - the first meal my wife and I had when we moved to Hong Kong. As soon as I saw them on the menu I had to try them. What I got was a few wingettes with some kind of brown glaze sitting on a plate of instant noodles. Not great but not bad. Just odd. I still have no idea what they were supposed to be or what is was that made them "Swiss".

The story goes that when these wings (basically glazed in a sugary soy sauce) were served to a foreign expat who was dining at Tai Ping Koon - he yelled out "these are sweet!" - and the chef mis heard him, and thought he said they were "Swiss", thinking he had stumbled upon some sort European recipe. Ha! You'll see Swiss Chicken Wings on alot of menus of HK Style Cafe's - and for some reason, they are always kinda pricey.
posted by helmutdog at 6:58 AM on October 12 [2 favorites]


> Just as a quick aside, just two days ago I was talking to a Russian co-worker, and on the subject of borscht, she said "I have no idea why there's a 't' when borscht is spelled in English."

I think it's because we get the word from Yiddish, where the "t" is present. But I suppose that only moves the mystery farther back in time...


Yiddish may have gotten the word from Russian, but more probably Ukrainian or Belorussian (not that it matters, since the word is pretty much the same in all three). But the -t is not a mystery, it's a natural solution to the problem of the complicated mess of final consonants in the original. Language borrowing is not done in a classroom, with drills until you get it right.
posted by languagehat at 7:50 AM on October 12 [1 favorite]


(I don't want to derail into Russian pronunciation, but I was curious if I was saying it right so I went to YouTube and found Russian 101 with Crazy Russian Dad: how to pronounce mysterious letters Ш and Щ and it's awesome, although this video is better in a technical sense.)

Also it's 22°F here at the moment and I have resolved to make HK borsch today.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:21 AM on October 12 [2 favorites]


Ok -- so I've never heard of the term "swiss chicken wings" until this thread. Then I suddenly stopped to think today... are these the chicken wings my mom has been cooking since I've been able to remember? Google search... OMG THESE ARE THE EXACT GLAZED CHICKEN WINGS MY MOM MAKES.

Huh, never expected Metafilter to fill in some knowledge about my mom's super HK cooking style! love it.
posted by xtine at 10:07 AM on October 12 [5 favorites]


This is a great post, full of new history to learn. Ummm borscht.
posted by Oyéah at 10:31 AM on October 12 [2 favorites]


I dated a woman whose family was originally from Hong Kong a number of years ago, and her mom taught me how to make Swiss Wings. I use the glaze as a chicken marinade (not just for wings!) every once in a while and it's delicious. The recipe isn't difficult. However, I never knew they were called Swiss Wings until this thread! I always thought of them as her mom's chicken marinade recipe.

You can use either a large bowl (it will need to be covered) or a ziplock freezer bag to marinate the meat. I usually leave it in the fridge overnight, then cook the next evening.

Recipes
- Each of these calls for a star of Anise. If you don't have that ingredient on hand, you can use fennel seeds. They have a similar flavor but are slightly sweeter.
- Also, corn flour or corn starch can be used as a thickener if needed.
- And finally, don't use regular soy sauce! Dark soy sauce has a very specific flavor and changing it to the regular stuff detracts from the dish.


* My Wok Life
* Nasi Lemak Lover
* The Missing Lokness
* DayRe (This one calls for actual liquorice to be added to the marinade!)
posted by zarq at 11:07 AM on October 12 [2 favorites]


Re: dark soy sauce, is that lǎo chōu?
posted by elsietheeel at 12:15 PM on October 12


Yep!
posted by zarq at 12:49 PM on October 12 [1 favorite]


The local Asian grocery doesn't have it, they cater mostly to SE Asian families, the local independent grocery only carries gallon size jugs of it, and the MegaMart only has some Joyce Chen brand "Double Dark" soy sauce, and previous experience has turned me off Joyce Chen brand products.

Off to Amazon, where I shall also buy Sezchuan peppercorns whilst I'm about it. And maybe some Za'atar and powdered sumac for shakshuka. (The local Indian grocer has harissa paste! And more varieties of cardamon than I knew existed, and garam masala they sell by the pound!)
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:58 PM on October 12 [2 favorites]


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