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…eggs 蛋
From a humble stir fry of eggs and tomatoes, to smoky tea eggs, to the opinion-dividing thousand-year-old eggs, eggs in all their forms and species are an indispensible part of Chinese cuisine, often providing a cheap form of protein where it may otherwise be lacking. And it’s not only chicken eggs. You might find a salted duck egg yolk peeking out from the middle of a mooncake, or a handful of diminutive quail’s eggs adding substance to a dish of red-braised pork.   

…eggplant 茄子
I often think that all the eggplant haters out there in the world should come to China to see what they’re missing out on. Chinese cuisine seems to have a way of transforming this often bland vegetable into something so silky it’s almost sensual. See, for example, the otherwise-homely dish known as “three earthly delicacies” (di san xian), in which eggplant is first deep fried before being tossed together with potatoes and peppers in a savory soy-based sauce.

…e-fu noodles 伊面
e-fu noodles, also rendered as yee-fu noodles or yi mein, are a type of egg noodles made from wheat flour. The noodles have a chewier, more elastic texture than other varieties, which is due to the use of soda water in the dough and the fact that they are fried before being dried into ramen-like bricks. They are also known as longevity noodles due to their extra long shape and are often eaten at birthday celebrations.

…edamame 毛豆
Along with boiled peanuts, edamame are the ultimate accompaniment to an evening spent squatting street-side on a tiny stool with a couple of frosty bottles of Yanjing. The Japanese name edamame refers specifically to immature soybeans still in the pod, which are then commonly boiled or steamed and served simply seasoned with salt. In China, you may also see them cooked in a highly fragrant broth called lushui (卤水).   

Photo: Wikimedia

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