Mar. 30th, 2011

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

I mentioned in Monday's post on chopsticks that one important consideration in preparing Chinese dishes is making sure that the pieces of food are cut suitably for picking up with chopsticks. Today I'm discussing two common Chinese menu characters related to cutting up food: 丁 (dīng/diced) and 片 (piàn/sliced).

As [personal profile] john points out in a comment on my post on 雞/jī/chicken, 丁 in the name of a dish may indicate that the pieces of meat will be boneless, though in my experience this isn't a hard-and-fast rule.

片 doesn't always literally mean "sliced". For example, 魚片 (yú piàn), though literally translated as "sliced fish", may also be used to refer to whole fish fillets rather than fish slices. Also, as [identity profile] sung noted in a comment on my post on 茶/chá/tea, the Cantonese name for jasmine tea is 香片 (hong pian in Cantonese, xiāng piàn in pinyin), literally "fragrant slice".

Here are some dishes with 丁 in the name:

宮保雞丁gōng bǎo jī dīngkung po diced chicken
酸辣雞丁suān là jī dīnghot and sour diced chicken
茄丁麵qié dīng miànnoodles with diced aubergine

and here are some with 片:

夫妻肺片fū qī fèi piànliterally "married couple's lung slices"; a Sichuan cold dish of sliced beef and assorted offal dressed with chilli oil
紅油耳片hóng yóu ěr piànsliced pig's ear in chilli oil
糖醋魚片táng cù yú piànsweet and sour fish fillets
熘肚片liū dǔ piànquick-fried sliced tripe
水煮肉片shuǐ zhǔ ròu piànwater-cooked sliced pork

丁: dīng radical 1 (一) Cantodict MandarinTools YellowBridge Zhongwen
片: piàn radical 91 (片) 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 See my introductory post to the Chinese menu project for what these posts are all about.


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