May 31 • 23M

XO Soused S2 E3 - Eating bitterness

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A fortnightly chat about techniques and dishes from a professional Chinese kitchen, their history and their cultural setting
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How does a chef cooking Chinese cuisine incorporate bitterness into their dishes? Is bitterness truly necessary as sweetness, sourness, pungency and saltiness in Chinese gastronomy? Or is it trapped in a traditional medicine cul-de-sac? What did key Chinese gastronomic thinkers and writers think about bitter tastes and how did this thinking shift in recent centuries? What ingredients and techniques layer in bitter tastes and how have these changed over the course of Chinese food history?

a black and white photo of a man next to a large urn of herbal tea in a Hong Kong herbal tea shop
A herbal tea seller in Hong Kong. Credit: "testament to tea" by sabrina's stash is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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Further reading on drinking bitter tea: Mei, Yuan, circa 1790. Wuyi tea [武夷茶] in Suiyuan Shidan [隨園食單], translated by Sean Chen, Way of the Eating, 2019

Intro and outro music: 遊子 [wanderer] by

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