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Sep 22, 2001 06:38 PM

A question about Chinese restaurants

  • h

I think that I have eaten Chinese food 20,000 or 30,000 times in my life--I am not counting.

I do not recall any Chinese plate with salmon. In addition, although I have seen many Chinese art objects, none of them was based on salmon.

Does Chinese custom "ban" the fish frequently used for Japanese food? Do some of San Francisco's authentic(not ones with suhi bars) Chinese restaurants serve salmon?

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    1. re: Melanie Wong


      Only time I ate salmon in a "Chinese" restaurant was in a buffet in downtown Palo Alto.

      The large fish was just boiled or baked, and customers picked some portions.

      I forgot the name. Most of its items were Americanized sushi.

      1. re: Hiko Ikeda
        Burke and Wells

        I bet the name was "Miyaki," and it's awful. I went there once and "all I could eat" turned out to be three pieces. Bleh!



        1. re: Burke and Wells

          Right. I went there when it opened in the mid 90s. I remember I could eat all without an extra charge.

          Anyway, it was the beginning of a sushi boom in
          Chinese-type, Japanese-look Americanized Asian restaurants in the Bay Area.

        2. re: Hiko Ikeda

          While I have had salmon cooked in a chinese fashion in relatives' homes, I can't recall ever having it in a Chinese restaurant. The most common home preparation is steamed with black bean sauce, ginger and garlic. One specialty is salmon collar steamed this way which is so delicious with steamed rice for the pungent sauce. Also, my mother makes a roast salmon with chinese spicing that she learned to make from her mother who was from China. But in both these cases, I suspect that the choice of salmon is due to local availability here in California, rather than a tradition-bound choice. Not something I'd ever thought about.

          I checked one website which specified the range for each of the Pacific species of salmon. For the most part, they range the north coast of North America across Alaska and down to the Korean Peninsula or Siberia, and a few touch northern Japan. This may explain the absence you've noticed in Chinese art form. Also, not something I'd noticed before either. It is a notable observation on your part since the life cycle of the salmon offers such rich allegory. If it were well-known in ancient China, I'm sure that the salmon would have been celebrated in art and literature. As I'm sure you know, the symbol of a fish swimming upstream represents the young scholar.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Yum.......I wonder if some Chinese restaurants in the Richimond and Sunset areas in S.F. will start serving somehing like this.

            "The most common home preparation is steamed with black bean sauce, ginger and
            garlic. One specialty is salmon collar steamed this way which is so delicious with steamed rice for the
            pungent sauce"

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              It is odd that there seems no established Chinese salmon technique...since salmon has been so plentiful in No. Cal. One of the most delicious salmon dishes I've had was years ago in a little Japanese restaurant almost next door to Original Joe's...I believe it was "salmon nambanyaki (?)' A salmon belly broiled with a miso paste concoction spread on it. It was REAL good! It may be the lack of broiling as a standard Chinese technique. But you would think it would be steamed with black beans like rock cod.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Although it is a Japanese item, a simple modificatin will lead to a new Chinese salmon breakfast because rice porridges are very common for Chinese breakfast?


                1. re: Hiko Ikeda

                  Hey, let's keep all post titles addressed to all. I don't want to feel left out! Thanks.

          2. Aside from the occasional Chinese buffet which will include salmon, I've only seen salmon on the menu at less than a handful of Chinese restaurants. I think the problem is that salmon doesn't taste that great when cooked in typical chinese style. At Kimbo Restaurant in Victoria, B.C., I had salmon in black bean sauce and it wasn't very good. At Top Gun in Vancouver they had salmon in spicy salt, and while this sounded good in theory, the taste wasn't that great. The only tasty Chinese salmon I've had was here in Los Angeles at J.R. Seafood in west L.A. where they have a fantastic grilled salmon with minced garlic. However, I'm not sure if you can consider the dish to be Chinese in style and is probably a reflection of the restaurant's clientele which is half-Anglo. Unfortunately they don't have the salmon dish very often. One last place is a restaurant in San Bruno which I haven't tried. It's Shanghai Town, 189 El Camino Real, and I saw a sign in their window last fall as I walked by indicating they had some kind of salmon appetizer. Unfortunately, I had just eaten lunch and was on my way to the airport, so I didn't get to have any.

            7 Replies
            1. re: UCLAW

              "I think the problem is that salmon doesn't taste that great when cooked in typical chinese style."

              I thought so too when I placed my first post for this topic, but Chinese cooks have special talents to utilize all items locally available.

              By the way, although nobody here discusses Ishikari Nabe on this board, it is a common Japanese food.


              1. re: Hiko Ikeda

                OK, I read the recipe. How much Chinese cabbage is "4"? And what is a "velvet shank"?

                1. re: ironmom

                  Sorry, I can not answer. I eat, eat, eat, but do not cook.

                  1. re: ironmom

                    I think it means four leaves of Chinese cabbage. I don't know what velvet shank is, but it doesn't mention it in the direction part of the recipe. Maybe you don't need it? Also, by the why it's described, 2 bunches, perhaps it's some sort of herb?

                2. re: UCLAW

                  A few years I ago, I went to Chef Chu's in Los Altos. They had a salmon in black bean sauce that I thought was good. I can't remember the other dishes, so the fact that I remembered the salmon leads me to think it must have not been too bad.

                  1. re: Wendy Lai

                    I think that I went to that restaurant once, but I am not sure.

                    There are a lot of Chinese restaurants in that neigborhood.


                    1. re: Wendy Lai
                      Lynne Hodgman

                      When I left the Bay Area 10 years ago, there were some dishes at Chef Chu's that I really liked (Pork with Imperial Sauce, Orange anything...) but I don't know what it is like now! Because I visit the area frequently, would love some more recent input, as my family now goes consistently to Hong Fu in Cupertino.


                  2. The reason you wont see Salmon in Chinese restaurants here is that nearly all are Southern Chinese and Taiwanese in origin. The only place I have seen or heard of Salmon being eaten in China is in Manchuria: Liao Ning, Jilin and Heilongjiang. These provinces are close to Japan and the Siberian border. As Melanie has noted the food eating pattern would seem to accord with the location of the fish. There are no Northeastern Chinese restaurants in the US as far as I know. The method I have seen the fish served in Manchuria is as fresh sashimi..cut from the just killed fish and spread on a plate in fillets along side the fish body.The sashimi is served with a range of sauces and cold dishes. The method of cooking with black bean sauce which has been mentioned a few times is not authentic but a derivation for US consumption. Black bean cooking features in Hunanese and Sichuanese dishes..but both provinces are land locked with poor irrigation and so cant harbour salmon.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Panpan

                      Thank you very much for a good answer, but a question I have now is about "There are no Northeastern Chinese restaurants in the US as far as I know."

                      Don't Northeastern Chinese emmigrate to the United States?