Saturday, February 21, 2009

Kou Shui Ji - Mouth-watering or eye-watering?

Here is a full dish you might see on a menu in a Sichuan restaurant. Kou Shui Ji 口水鷄 means "Mouth Watering Chicken" but is sometimes translated as anything from "Drooling Chicken" to "Chicken in Chili Sauce." It's a cold dish of tender poached chicken in a spicy Sichuan chili oil. It is sometimes served with noodles and/or peanuts, and it can be very hot.

Now, you should recognize two of these characters. Shui 水 we just learned yesterday. Ji 鷄, if you remember, has two variations, so the dish might appear as 口水雞.

The first character, though, is new to you. It looks like a square, but in Chinese calligraphy a square is how you draw a circle. It's kou 口 and it means "mouth." You won't see it a lot on menus, which is why I didn't give it it's very own post. You mght see it as a radical or portion of another character, though.

Kou is also something called a "measure word", which is a unit like "handful" or "batch." As far as I can tell, though, it is not used as a measure word in food, but rather refers to a unit of people, like "clan".

The Pinyin spelling is kǒu shuǐ jī, or kou3 shui3 ji1 (third, third, first tones)

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