Dongbei, once known as Manchuria, stretches up toward Siberia from Beijing. Once a hotly contested pawn of empires and a flourishing industrial region, it has slid toward becoming China’s Rust Belt since the 1980s. Many of its young people now seek their fortunes elsewhere, including Flushing, where the regional cooking of China keeps putting out new and fascinating branches.
The region’s rich and warming food is especially welcome at this time of year.
Saturday will be New Year’s Eve on the Chinese calendar. At her restaurant Golden Palace, Jing Guang will make the soy-and-sugar-pickled pigs’ feet considered auspicious in her native province of Liaoning, in the far northeast of China. “The hoof can hold onto the things you want in the New Year,” she said. “Like children, and money,” she added, smiling.
At midnight, she will begin boiling fat homemade dumplings filled with pork and suan cai, pickled cabbage. Ms. Guang has what pastry chefs call a “white thumb” — a talent for working with flour. That’s important in Dongbei cooking. Along with dumplings there is bread. Lots and lots of bread: tortilla-thin pancakes, puffy steamed buns, stuffed rounds called bing and even steamed corn bread.