Wednesday, September 30, 2020


On the way back from Marin three years ago, in Autumn, I realized that it had been too long since I prepared a casserole with typical Canto cured meats. And I remembered a business that has been in operation in Chinatown since Noah landed the ark. Which was in 1856.
Mow Lee. They cure meat. Chicken, duck, pork. Solid products.

774 Commercial Street,
San Francisco, CA 94108

Lap cheung, Chinese bacon, and interesting cuts of meat. Good winter food, traditional around New Year, as well as at the beginning of Fall. These things add flavour and substance to stews, clay pot dishes, and slow steamed dishes for over rice.

Commercial Street 襟美慎街

Meats cured in soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, star anise, and Prague powder. The easiest intro to such products is 蒸臘肉飯 ('jing laap yiuk faan'); steamed pork belly meat. Rinse the pork belly and steam for about twenty minutes with a little sliced ginger, then add it to the rice during the final fifteen minutes or so to lend fragrance. Simple. Good.

Cured pork belly is available at nearly every general grocery store along Stockton Street, as is its sister product Chinese Sausage. But why not buy a locally produced home-town version? Choose the strip that looks shiny and plump, nicely streaked. If you can, sniff it.
When buying Chinese sausage (臘腸 'laap cheung'), be aware that many brands nowadays use artificial casings, which are better stripped off prior to cooking, much like the casings on many Western sausages.

Vegetables can be also jazzed up with cured pork belly or laap cheung, or any of the other meats, especially duck thigh. Preserved chicken really should be steamed a little bit longer in my experience.

Mow Lee (the green shop front) is around the corner from the Eastern Bakery (東亞餅家 'tung ngaa bing kaa'), which is on Grant Avenue. Also a good place to shop. Famous for their mooncakes (now is the season!), pineapple buns, and the best coffee crunch cake.
Plus a full array of the usual Chinese filled biscuits.

Yes, this is an unabashed plug for two of the business which I really want to survive into the post-pandemic future. I rely on such places, and they do good stuff.

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