kake: The word "菜單" (Chinese for "menu") in various shades of purple. (菜單)
[personal profile] kake

腰 (yāo) is the Chinese character for "kidney" (though [personal profile] snowynight notes in comments that it may only be used to mean this in a food context, not in general). It can also mean "waist" or "middle part". It appears on menus both to indicate actual kidneys and as part of the word 腰果 (yāo guǒ/cashew nut).

When used to mean kidneys, you may see it as 豬腰 (zhū yāo), which is explicitly a pig's kidney, or perhaps as 腰花 (yāo huā), literally "kidney flowers". In the latter case, it means that the kidneys have been cross-hatched before cooking so they open up like flowers when cooked, a similar treatment to that often given to squid.

Note that the radical of 腰 is 肉 (in its ⺼ form in this case). This is pretty common for offal; 肝 (gān/liver), 腸 (cháng/intestine), 肚 (dǔ/tripe), and 肺 (fèi/lung) all share the same radical.

Here are some dishes with 腰 in the name:

火爆腰花huǒ bào yāo huāfire-exploded [quick-fried] "kidney flowers"
韮菜炒腰花jiǔ cài chǎo yāo huā"kidney flowers" stirfried with Chinese chives
蒜茸腰片suàn róng yāo piànsliced kidneys with mashed garlic
腰果西芹yāo guǒ xī qíncelery with cashew nuts
腰果叫花雞yāo guǒ jiào huā jī"beggar's chicken" (clay-baked chicken) with cashew nuts

腰: yāo radical 130 (肉) Cantodict MandarinTools YellowBridge Zhongwen

Characters mentioned in this post:
If you have any questions or corrections, please leave a comment (here's how) and let me know (or email me at kake@earth.li). See my introductory post to the Chinese menu project for what these posts are all about.
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