Fusion food sometimes sounds new and modern, like a fanciful restaurant theme. We forget that borders between countries and cultures have existed since far back in history, where ingredients, flavors, and recipes have been shared.

Chinese Borscht Title Pic

My late grandma Olia (on the right, below) grew up near the border of China and Russia, where she ate lots of this Chinese version of Borscht. She taught my mom how to make it and my mom taught me. My mom admits removing the potatoes and sour cream from the version Grandma Olia taught her (most Chinese versions don’t include sour cream) and I’ll admit, I made a few changes too. My mom always used canned beets and since I’m not a fan of canned products (due to the BPA in the adhesive), I use fresh beets. I also cut the veggies into smaller pieces just to make it easier to eat. (Caya obviously in mind.) The result is a healthy and hearty soup with meat and veggies that glow pinkish-red (which totally amuses Caya). It comforts to the core and I get nostalgic every time I take a sip.

Kelly and Grandma Olia 2

Funny thing is, I kind of didn’t believe my mom when I was a kid because I didn’t see this soup anywhere else. I totally thought she and Grandma Olia made this up. Low and behold, one day at a Chinese restaurant in Maryland (I was already an adult), we were served this soup! Since then, I have found a handful of other Chinese friends to know this soup.

Even more amazing is that I had a very similar version of this soup at  Bear 12-14 31 AVENUE, Long Island City, NY 11106 in Astoria/LIC, where the chef, Natasha Pogrebinsky, is Russian-Ukrainian. It looked and tasted very similar to my mom and Grandma Olia’s version, just topped with sour cream. I found that to be so fascinating when most versions of Borscht I’ve seen in restaurants have been that opaque deep red soup often without meat. In my mind, this soup created a bridge between the Russian and Chinese Borscht. I don’t know about you but I feel complete.

Chinese Borscht 2

Chinese Borscht
~8 quart pot-full

  • 4 lbs oxtail, 2″ segments
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 onion, cut into saute slices
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup small diced roasted beets
  • 3 1/2 cups diced cabbage

Instructions –

1. Bring a large pot (8 qt) of water to a boil. Add oxtail and bring back to a boil. Stir for a minute. Drain and rinse the oxtails.

2. Rinse the pot and return the oxtail to the pot with chopped tomatoes, onion, and 3 quarts of water. Sprinkle with salt, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and continue cooking covered for 3 1/2 hours.

3. Stir in carrots and celery. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add beets, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Stir in cabbage and simmer for 2 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve.

Chinese Borscht 9

*optional: You can serve the oxtail meat on the bone, which Caya loves (click for video), or you can pull the meat off the bone for a more elegant and less messy soup.

posted by jessica at 07:21 PM Filed under Fusion, Recipes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.