Before I even begin with the intro, let me warn you that this is going to be a long post. Yes, this post is based on a recipe from China and hence it is bound to be lengthy...
So, when we started planning for this 30 day Culinary journey across the globe , the two letters that we found to be quite difficult were W and X.So it was decided that we can do a city beginning with this alphabet. At that instant I knew W would be for Wuxi[ Pronounced as Wu she], a city in China.
I was getting ready to post for this alphabet this morning and I had prepared a schzewan dish and then when I saw some of my fellow bloggers post for this alphabet, I realized that I had chosen a wrong dish and discussed with Sivalli and decided to cook a new one for this alphabet.Since I had chosen Wuxi I have to prepare something that is famous in this place / region.So I made a quick search look what I found!
A super simple but very healthy porridge from the Wuxi region...
Now,let's make a lengthy post...
When were in China, Wuxi was a 2 hour drive from the place where we lived. We have to pass this city any time we have to go to Shanghai to take a flight back home. In spite of being so close and on the way to Shanghai, we never really went to see that city.
Then finally after staying there for more than half a decade and me finally deciding to come back home to put lil one in school, we decided it was time to visit this wonderful place.
A cold and cloudy morning,we got up early and set out to explore the city.
The first place we went to is the Wuxi Film and TV studio is also called Taihu Lake Film and TV studio town and let me tell you it is not just any TV / film studio..
This place is built over an area of 35 hectares to film the famous historical TV series - The Romance of the three kingdom and this place is one of the must see in Wuxi. This place was built in 1987 by the China Central Television station.
Let's take a virtual walk through this place...
The buildings at the entrance and some shops that line the pathway inside.
The place has a lot of boards, thankfully in English as well, which explains the use of each building etc. It gives details of which part was filmed there and who played the part etc. It is quite interesting! All the buildings take us to the age old China!
Since the place is very vast and it was quite early, the place seemed almost empty! And we were lucky to catch a glimpse of a movie that was being filmed. The actor in that is supposed to be very famous but we could not recognize him..
There are a lot of tea shops and canteens that serve food and drink and they are also built to blend in with the other buildings.You really need a day to cover the whole area but since we had another important place to go to, we cut it short to half a day and went on to proceed to our next destination...
The Lingshan Buddha Temple is the Largest in China and is a sort of a tourist resort. In addition to the temple housing the Tall Bronze Buddha-88 meters, it also has some attractions like the Brahma Palace, Five Mudra Mandala, Nine Dragons Bathing Sakyamuni, Xiangfu Temple and many other Buddhist sites.It covers an area of 30 hectares
By the time we had lunch and got there, it was raining , yet that did not deter us! We got some disposable rain coats and went on to see this temple.
There is a huge foot print, the one you see on the bottom left,which is supposed to make your dreams come true. You pray in front of it and toss coins and it is said the thing you wished for will come true. And I did it too and my wish was fulfilled :)
All along the way are sculptures and statues with intricate carvings...We even say a stupa with Hindi inscription it!
And in center of a very large courtyard is a lotus on a pedestal. In the evening there is a light and sound show with a lot of water work. The commentary was in Chinese and could not follow most of what was being said.But what we did enjoy is the lotus rising above the pedestal and a little Buddha coming into view in the center and then rotating a few times before going back into the lotus.
We now just half way through to reach the huge statue.As you walk you can see Him at a distance. And there is a huge bronze hand that looks like Buddha is blessing you.The bright yellow line the mark made by thousands of people who touch the palm to seek his blessing and that is how tall you can reach the palm.So you can imagine how huge it is!
And then there is a laughing Buddha / lucky Buddha who is playing with a lot of kids. On the other side is a place where you write you wish and tie it to the post. There are ready made wishes written- like for long life, cure diseases, be blessed with a kid, get married etc. But you can also buy empty sheets and write your own wish and tie it to the 'tree'
We are there at last! The 88 m tall Buddha.But to reach His feet you have to climb the a whole lot of steps! It was really exhausting but all worth it!
From there we climb down and head towards the Brahma palace. Th first one you see in the pic below...
It has an awesome interior and the lighting on the roof is extraordinary. There is a stage in the center of a huge hall[pic1] and a lot of seats, around 1500 of them [pic2] and the pic 3 and 4 below show the lighting on the roof and how they change colors ever so often! IT was amazing!
There are a lot of things to see inside and this 1000 handed Buddha is supposed to be the Lord of fertility..Then there are the zodiac animals placed around the hall.
There are several souvenir shops inside and then from there is the corridor leading the way out...
You can read more about this temple and palace here...
Now to the dish of the day..
When I was looking for recipes from Wuxi, all I saw was sweet and sour
spare ribs, Watermelon chicken and stuff. I was so disappointed. But this site told me that Wuxi was very famous for its different types of porridge / Congee and I was so relieved!
Xiao Mi Zhou is nothing but small millet porridge. Small millet is what we know as fox tail millet. I remember once when we were picking up mixes for porridge, I saw a huge bin of this xiao mi. I was so intrigued and they looked kinda familiar. I got a small pack and came home and googled and got to know it is our own Thinai or fox tail millet!
The porridge is pretty simple to make and very nutritious. You can add any ingredient to it to make it more tasty and filling.
Generally ,as far as I have seen, the porridge is taken with sugar. But in some places, if asked we do get a savory version of the porridge. Peanuts, cucumber wedges, crispy fried shallots are given as the sides for vegetarians, while boiled eggs, sweet and sour spare ribs, etc are the side for the others.
I served this with Chinese Green Tea. Read the post to learn more on how to make it and why it is claimed to be the best...
Xiao Mi / Fox tail millet - 1/4 cup
Adzuki beans - 1/8 cup
Peanuts- 1/8 cup
Salt to taste
Crispy fried shallots
Roast the millet in a pan for a few minutes. Roast the adzuki beans in a pressure cooker for a few minutes. Add the roasted millet and the peanuts, around 5 cups of water, salt and pressure cook till the adzuki beans is done.Mine got done in 20 minutes.
Serve ganished with crispy fried shallots, a drizzle of chilioil and a few coriander leaves
You can also check out this Xi Fan or Rice Congee recipe that is quite famous in the place I lived.
- The ratio of the ingredients is totally up to you.
- You can omit the peanuts and adzuki beans and just cook the millet.
- The water and timing depends on the quantity and quality of the ingredients used.
- You can convert it to a sweet version by adding sugar / honey.
Labels: Blogging Marathon, Flavors from across the border, Miscbf, Step-by-step Pictorial Recipes, Touch of the Orient, Vegan varieties