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

東 (dōng) is the Chinese character for "east" or "eastern". I've mentioned this character before, as it forms part of the name 東北 (Dōngběi), a region which is home to a couple of dishes I've posted about previously: 地三鮮 (dì sān xiān) and 東北拉皮 (Dōngběi lā pí).

Dōngběi was once known as Manchuria. It includes the three northeastern provinces of China: Jílín, Liáoníng, and Hēilóngjiāng. 北 (běi) means "north", so Dōngběi is literally "east-north" — the opposite way around to how we'd say it in English.

Another context in which 東 appears on menus is as 東風螺 (dōng fēng luó), literally "east wind snail". According to Baidu Encyclopaedia, this refers to a number of sea snails in the Babylonia genus. I've seen these on dim sum menus, as 沙爹東風螺 (shā diē dōng fēng luó), which are sea snails in satay sauce, and as 咖哩東風螺 (kā lī dōng fēng luó), which are sea snails in curry sauce ("shā diē" and "kā lī" are phonetic transcriptions of "satay" and "curry" respectively).

Probably the most common dish with 東 in the name, however, is 東坡肉 (Dōngpō ròu). This is a dish of wine-infused pork belly, cooked using multiple methods (blanching, frying, braising, and steaming) over several hours. 東坡肉 is named after the 11th century poet and politician Sū Shì (蘇軾), who is more commonly known as Sū Dōngpō (蘇東坡); according to Wikipedia, he took this name from a farm he lived on, called Dōngpō (東坡), literally "eastern slope".

Other place names you might see on a menu are 廣東 (Guǎngdōng), the southern province which is the home of Cantonese cuisine (including dim sum), and 山東 (Shāndong), an eastern coastal province whose cuisine, like Cantonese cuisine, is considered one of China's eight culinary traditions.

東: dōng radical 75 (木) Cantodict MandarinTools YellowBridge Zhongwen

Characters mentioned in this post:
Other related posts:
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.

Date: 2011-10-28 03:32 am (UTC)
sashajwolf: photo of Blake with text: "reality is a dangerous concept" (Default)
From: [personal profile] sashajwolf
Ha. I am in Beijing right now and am gradually getting to grips with this sign as a navigational aid (most of the street signs come with arrows marking east/west or north/south). I think I'm probably up to about ten signs that I recognise now. I'm kind of hoping I get to use that knowledge again some time, along with the handful of spoken Mandarin phrases I have now!

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