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: 2010-07-07 08:26 am (UTC)
john: Can of Chinese Diet Coke. Caption: anybody for a nice diet wax tadpole? (Diet wax tadpole?)
From: [personal profile] john
Re 丸子: from my year in Beijing, I think I may be able to shed some light! 丸子 are, in my experience, a more bready sort of meatball, more akin to the consistency of western style meatballs, whereas 丸 are less bready and more proteiny, if that's a word.

丸子 in Beijing came as 大丸子, which are large (2.5 inches across), porky, and in a thin gravy. If you know what a British faggot is like, it's kind of like that except less offal. (Sorry, couldn't resist the pun.)

They also came as xiao丸子 (small-xiao...I have forgotten the order of strokes in xiao and am on the iPad which I have set up for characters and not pinyin entry), in tangcu (sweet and sour) xiao丸子, which were about an inch across and in the much nicer brown sweet and sour and not the gloopy red stuff.

Re: 丸子!

Date: 2010-07-07 10:30 am (UTC)
superpitching: (Default)
From: [personal profile] superpitching
Good heavens faggots are delicious. Oh my goodness. Faggots.

Re: 丸子!

Date: 2010-07-07 11:45 am (UTC)
superpitching: (Default)
From: [personal profile] superpitching
You are not the only one. I am having a new exciting Pret sandwich instead - "hot smoked trout and horseradish", who is more surprised than I to report that it is actually delicious?

Re: 丸子!

Date: 2010-07-08 10:10 pm (UTC)
john: Various candles, in multicoloured jars, under trees in the evening (I heart BJ)
From: [personal profile] john
I hope you enjoyed your huo guo! (Or was it sha guo?)

I used the magic of the Internets to find some pictures! Do a Ctrl/Cmd-F for the word "wan" and you'll find 大丸子 at http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=759334&page=4

And I found tangcu xiaowanzi at http://www.foodeats.cn/group_thread/view/cps-8/id-3896 -- though I hope your character-reading is better than mine.

Date: 2010-07-07 10:23 am (UTC)
superpitching: (Default)
From: [personal profile] superpitching
Haaaa... I had forgotten that I did actually know the Chinese reading for 丸... who says Johnnys Entertainment teaches you nothing?? A fellow called 丸山 (Maruyama...) has a bizarre solo song where he chants the Chinese reading of his name "WAN SHAN..." over and over (I also think he shouts IECHYD DA (iechyd da... taiiyouu... I can't unhear it!) at some point but probably not eh)?

Here is a link if you feel particularly... inclined... warning, it starts with a good few seconds of, I think, monkeys chanting? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKaCR3HBAp8

So I also know 山 reads in Chinese as shan. Isn't that useful? He'll be coming round the mountain when he comes...

Date: 2010-07-07 11:47 am (UTC)
superpitching: (Default)
From: [personal profile] superpitching
What a quadlingual post this is, begob.

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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