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Finally Back After Two Months

Who knows how long this connection is going to last so I have to type fast. Here goes:

Last week the tree that came in 150 pieces (exaggeration!) and took a week to assemble was finished…4 storeys (sp, I know) tall!

Christmas in Kunming - Golden Eagle Plaza Tree

Christmas in Kunming – Golden Eagle Plaza Tree

I spent Christmas Day at an upscale mall, taking care of haircut, highlights, mani, pedi and a little browsing around. The complex is so large and there are many Christmasey displays. This one caught my eye..it’s a maze in the round and looks beautiful at night – the Chinese do night displays so well:

Wangfujing Mall - Christmas maze in the round

Wangfujing Mall – Christmas maze in the round

I browsed around after doing the primping at the Hair Dresser and found a lovely Western flower shop. I couldn’t resist buying a container of 3 Hyacinth bulbs planted in a burlap bag to take home….very cute.

Hyacinths out on the ledge outside the Flower Shoppe

Hyacinths out on the ledge outside the Flower Shoppe

This flower shoppe had decorated a gazebo in from their shop with hanging callalilies wraped in ribbon.

Wangfujing Mall - hanging ribbon wrapped calalilies

Wangfujing Mall – hanging ribbon wrapped calalilies

OMG! Today I went with my friends to the humongous wholesale market a 10 minute drive from my house. It so huge you have to know which number of section and the floor for the article you want to buy….there is section A-G and then Section 8-11 and 7 floors. The purpose was to find New Years decorations, which we never really found, but New Years (well sort of) decorations in Section E on the 3rd floor and then paper to make a HAPPY NEW YEAR banner in section F on the third floor…how convenient. When I was there a few weeks ago to buy Uggs for the girls, I was in section 10 on the 2nd floor.  (Don’t ask about the charge to courier them to Canada.) This place is so huge, you could get lost in there in a minute and I have a compass built-in in my brain!

After we went for lunch. A Dai ethnic minority restaurant and I happily went thinking there are such new and different foods. My friends are originally born in Sichuan Province (hot and spicy food) and it was to spicy for them. Their eyes were watering. I ate a few bits and a bowl of white rice….Oh I forgot we also had pineapple rice – sticky black rice, steamed in a pineapple sell with chunks of pineapple in it. The recipe is going in my Yunnan cookbook, as it’s a traditional local dish.!

Yunnan Pineapple Rice

Yunnan Pineapple Rice

The following dishes were just so spicy one bit was enough to bring tears to my eyes!

Spicy Yunnan Woodear and Greens Cold Dish

Spicy Yunnan Woodear and Greens Cold Dish

Yunnan Spicy Plantain

Yunnan Spicy Plantain

Me making a terrible face from the one bite of each dish...OMG was that spicy!

Me making a terrible face from the one bite of each dish…OMG was that spicy!

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Dian Dou Hua, the Yunnan Version of Custard

Another specialty of Yunnan Province, Dian Dou Hua (豆花), or Dofu Hua (豆腐花) is literally translated as bean curd flower.

Dou Hua is soft, warm tofu served covered with toppings that add crunch and flavour. This popular Chinese snack or addition to a meal is custardy tofu topped with a variety of tangy toppings from mild flavours of green onion, soy sauce, and sesame oil to intensely flavored chilli oil, pickled vegetables, and stir-fried meat mixtures. The toppings are savoury, spicy, tart, and rich.

My first experience with Dian Dou Hua was in a Kunming restaurant called Square Street Restaurant near the International Conference Centre and the old Kunming Airport. This place serves up traditional local Yunnan/Kunming cuisine and they offer the most refreshing bright yellow and light German Beer made at their own microbrewery. The Dian Dou Hua must be ordered in advance (ordered in the morning for a dinner reservation). It comes to the table in a very hot crock-pot that has been cooked in a very hot and larger cooking crock-pot with many other orders of this simple yet delicious delicacy.

At the table, one must wait about 10 minutes for the dofu to do it’s thing – that is, it arrives in liquid form and congeals to a soft, custard-like consistency, just like ‘baby food’ – and smooth as silk. Once it sets up, the Dian Do Hua is ladled out into small bowls and served with a spicy, chilli oil sauce containing small amounts of ground meat, pickled vegetables and chopped chillies. I’m not much for spicy but in this province, the word is ‘spicy’ for most dishes and I am getting used to the attraction of hot and spicy. The combination of the smooth, mushy dofu and the crunchy, spicy topping is enchanting.

Perhaps they do the same thing here in Kunming, but I’ve never see it but in Sichuan Province in Chengdu, Dou Hua vendors carry a pole across their shoulders with two large baskets attached at either side. One of the baskets contains the steaming Dian Dou Hua and the other contains the bowls and fixings.  First, the tofu is spooned out and then some ground Sichuan pepper or prickly ash is added. Then a sprinkle of MSG, a tablespoon of soy sauce, chili oil, chopped preserved vegetables, bits of ground meat, crunchy dried soybeans, and last of all chopped green onion.

Last time I was at the Square Street Restaurant I took home a small container of the special sauce that they use. There is a dofu seller in my local wet market and I know they sell Dian Dou Hua. I wanted the same taste but eaten at home so today I purchased a 12-ounce cup of Dian Dou Hua for one yuan (the equivalent of 16 cents), heated it up slightly in the microwave along with a spoon of sauce and enjoyed a gorgeous mix of texture and taste of Yunnan for lunch.

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