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 gǔ||steamed spare ribs (排骨) in black bean sauce (豉汁)|
|剁椒蒸鱸魚||duò jiāo zhēng lú yú||steamed sea bass (鱸魚) with minced chillies (剁椒)|
|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 tóu||steamed fish head (魚頭) with chilli paste (醬椒)|
|粉蒸牛肉||fěn zhēng niú ròu||steamed beef (牛肉) with coarsely-ground roasted rice (粉)|
|蟹黃蒸燒賣||xiè huáng zhēng shāo mài||steamed siu mai (燒賣) topped with crab roe (蟹黃)|
|蒸:||zhēng||radical 140 (艸/艹)||Cantodict||MandarinTools||YellowBridge||Zhongwen|