Thursday, December 29, 2011

Stir-fried bagels

Now it’s time to offer some appreciation for New York food in China — specifically bagels in Beijing.

The bagels — translated 贝谷 (beigu, or “precious wheat”) at Mrs. Shanen’s Bagels — are pretty decent. They are not simply rolls with holes that you find in some parts of the United States. These New York-style bagels, though slightly smaller, with a crisp crust and soft insides, are the product of a Brooklyn-bred Chinese-American entrepreneur, Lejen Chen, who wanted a taste of home when she moved to China. ...

The company makes about 26 flavors, ranging from chocolate chip to jalapeno cheddar to rye to cranberry walnut. But one flavor is distinctively missing: poppy seed. Because of the country’s association with opium, poppy seeds are illegal in China. ...

An interesting thing is how Ms. Chen’s staff chooses to eat them. It is not obvious to them that bagels should be limited to being cut in half and spread with cream cheese or butter.

Ms. Chen says the workers will slice up the bagels into little strips and stir-fry them in a way similar to noodles. “They would slice it and slice it again,” she said. The bagel’s chewiness allows it to absorb flavor without becoming too soggy. “They tried it and it was very good, stir fried with cabbage and sometimes bean sprouts.”
--Jennifer 8. Lee, NYT, on stir-frying anything in sight