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

Now my dim sum month is over, I'm going back to posting about characters on Wednesdays. I'm easing back into it by starting with a character that turns up a lot on dim sum menus — 蒸 (zhēng), which means "to cook by steaming".

蒸 confused me a little when I first saw it, since it seems to have both the grass radical (艹) and the fire radical (灬), at the top and bottom respectively, which is where these two radicals are normally placed. We've discussed the issue of multiple radicals here before, though I prefer to stick to the strict definition of a radical: the component of a character under which it's listed in a dictionary, rather than just a component which appears somewhere in a character. However, like 瓣/bàn/petal, 蒸 does appear to have two radicals; it appears in my paper dictionary under both 艹 and 灬 (though CantoDict lists it under 艹 only, and Mandarin Tools concurs).

As well as being a common character on dim sum menus, 蒸 appears in other Chinese menu contexts too. Steaming is actually a pretty common Chinese cooking method, particularly for fish — the steaming process is quite a gentle one, mechanically-speaking, so the delicate flesh is protected. I'll be posting more about steamed fish on Friday!

Here are some dishes that use 蒸 in their names (a couple of which I've mentioned before):

豉汁蒸排骨chǐ zhī zhēng pái gǔsteamed spare ribs (排骨) in black bean sauce (豉汁)
剁椒蒸鱸魚duò jiāo zhēng lú yústeamed sea bass () with minced chillies ()
清蒸鱸魚qīng zhēng lú yú"clear-steamed" sea bass (Cantonese-style, flavoured with ginger and spring onions)
醬椒蒸魚頭jiàng jiāo zhēng yú tóusteamed fish head () with chilli paste ()
粉蒸牛肉fěn zhēng niú ròusteamed beef () with coarsely-ground roasted rice (粉)
蟹黃蒸燒賣xiè huáng zhēng shāo màisteamed siu mai (燒賣) topped with crab roe (蟹黃)

蒸: zhēng radical 140 (艸/艹) Cantodict MandarinTools YellowBridge Zhongwen

Characters mentioned in this post:

Date: 2010-09-02 07:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eatlovenoodles.blogspot.com
No discussion of steamed dishes is complete without the 清蒸 (qing1 zheng1 - sorry I can't do tone marks). Literally 'clear steamed', it refers to dishes like Cantonese dishes like 清蒸鱸魚 - steamed sea bass typically with ginger & spring onions.

I went to a restaurant in Beijing recently called 蒸 where nearly everything was steamed. It's will be briefly mentioned in a future blog post.

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