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

手 (shǒu) is the Chinese character for "hand". It appears on menus in reference to human hands, animal "hands", and figurative hands.

As 手撕 (shǒu sī), which means "hand-torn", it refers to the chef's hands. 手撕 describes a method of breaking up an ingredient, usually chicken (雞/jī) or cabbage (/bāo cài).

As 手工 (shǒu gōng), which means "hand-made", it again refers to the chef's hands. You might see this as 手工 (shǒu gōng shuǐ jiǎo/hand-made dumplings).

As 豬手 (zhū shǒu), literally "pig hands", it means pig trotters. Note that there are a number of other terms for pig trotters, including 豬蹄 (zhū tí) and 豬腳 (zhū jiǎo).

Finally, as 抄手 (chāo shǒu), which literally means "crossed hands", it refers to a type of dumpling folded in such a way as to resemble a person's arms crossed across their chest (this Flickr photo is a good demonstration of what I mean here).

Here are some dishes with 手 in the name:

紅油抄手hóng yóu chāo shǒu"crossed hands" dumplings in chilli oil ("red oil")
雞湯抄手jī tāng chāo shǒu"crossed hands" dumplings in chicken soup
紅燒豬手hóng shāo zhū shǒured-cooked pig trotter
香辣豬手xiāng là zhū shǒufragrant-spicy pig trotter
海蜇手撕雞hǎi zhé shǒu sī jījellyfish with hand-torn chicken
手撕包菜shǒu sī bāo càihand-torn cabbage

Note that the mirror image of 手 — 毛 (máo) — also appears on Chinese menus, essentially in two main contexts. The first is related to the fact that 毛 was the family name of Chairman Mao Zedong, and reportedly his favourite dish was 紅燒肉 (hóng shāo ròu), or red-cooked pork. Because of this, 紅燒肉 is often listed on menus as 毛氏紅燒肉 (máo shì hóng shāo ròu) — "Chairman Mao's red-cooked pork". The second context is related to 毛's other meaning, "hairy". As I mentioned a while back in my post on 豆/dòu/bean, the Chinese name for green soya beans (edamame) is 毛豆 (máo dòu), literally "hairy bean".

手: shǒu radical 64 (手/扌/龵) Cantodict MandarinTools YellowBridge Zhongwen
毛: máo radical 82 (毛) 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.


December 2012


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