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

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 qiúgong bao king prawn
魚香蝦球yú xiāng xiā qiúfish-fragrant king prawn
西芹蝦球xī qín xiā qiúsauteed 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 tāngfishball soup
冬瓜丸子湯dōng guā wán zi tāngwinter melon and meatball soup (note the 子/zi here — [personal profile] 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 wánbeef balls
豬肉丸zhū ròu wánpork balls
蟹味丸xiè wèi wáncrab-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

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: 2010-07-09 03:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eatlovenoodles.blogspot.com
Us Cantonese are a pain as we call fish balls, yu dan 魚蛋, lit. fish eggs. Non-Cantonese of course call them yu wan.



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