Earlier this week, I posted about less-common menu characters that are still worth learning. One of these characters is 球 (qiú), which literally means ball/sphere/globe.
I first came across 球 in the name of a dish I ate at Dragon Inn in South London — 南乳脆鱔球 (nán rǔ cuì shàn qiú), or crispy eel with red fermented beancurd. 南乳 (literally "southern milk") is the red fermented beancurd, 脆 means "crispy", 鱔 is eel, and 球 is... ball?
However, there are no balls, globes, or spheres in this dish. 球 actually refers to the way that the eel pieces curl up as they're cooked (see photo). It's also sometimes used in the names of prawn (蝦/xiā) dishes, since prawns have a similar tendency to curl. Below are some examples from the menu of Red & Hot near Euston Station in London. The English translations are theirs, not mine — the Chinese names don't specify that king prawns are used in the dish. Note that the dish names would still be intelligible without the 球:
|宮保蝦球||gōng bǎo xiā qiú||gong bao king prawn|
|魚香蝦球||yú xiāng xiā qiú||fish-fragrant king prawn|
|西芹蝦球||xī qín xiā qiú||sauteed king prawns with celery|
While 球 is also used on dim sum menus to mean balls-as-in-meatballs, the character I've most commonly seen used for this on other menus is 丸 (wán). 丸 primarily appears in two contexts: soup (湯/tāng) and ingredients for hotpot (火鍋/huǒ guō). Here are some examples:
|魚丸湯||yú wán tāng||fishball soup|
|冬瓜丸子湯||dōng guā wán zi tāng||winter melon and meatball soup (note the 子/zi here — john sheds some light on this in comments — and also note that the type of ball is not explicitly specified)|
|牛肉丸||niú ròu wán||beef balls|
|豬肉丸||zhū ròu wán||pork balls|
|蟹味丸||xiè wèi wán||crab-flavour balls|
The last three of these are common ingredients in Chinese hotpot, which is this week's dish post.
|球:||qiú||radical 96 (玉/王)||Cantodict||MandarinTools||YellowBridge||Zhongwen|
|丸:||wán||radical 3 (丶)||Cantodict||MandarinTools||YellowBridge||Zhongwen|