Pollution levels are measured by the Air Quality Index, which goes up to 500. Or, rather, 500 is as high as the scale measures: It’s the level at which “everyone” in the city is at risk for serious health problems if they decide they need to breathe that week. On a bad day, Beijing breaks right through that ceiling. At the time we talked with our source, during Beijing’s first official smog “red alert,” he said, “Pollution levels got up to 700 … I’m not even sure how that happened … Today’s the nicest day we’ve had, and it’s 401.” That’s right – a 700 on a scale that only goes to 500. At its worst, Beijing’s air reached levels of bad that the people who measure filthy air for a living hadn’t even contemplated.

If you’re an American and are trying to compare this to anything you’ve breathed recently, don’t bother. The absolute smoggiest parts of L.A. (the most polluted city in the U.S.) hit 130 on a bad day.Most of the city hovers from 40 to 70. In other words, a “bad day” of smog in Beijing is five to 10 times as bad as the smoggiest days L.A. will ever see.

5 Realities Of Smog So Bad It Blots Out The Sun

chinese cuisine series: 春节

Guys it is almost Chinese New Year (this year Feb 7th is 除夕 or “new years eve” and the 8th is the beginning of Spring Festival!)

Soooo, that means dumplings. (in the north anyways.) Here is a recipe for a popular dumpling filling, “三鲜” translated as “three fresh delicacies” - generally includes shrimp, pork and veggies, here it includes sea cucumber and bamboo shoots (fancy & delicious). 
Dumplings are eaten after the new years eve feast, close to midnight on 除夕。

Maybe I will post recipe for the wrappers next! :)

Three Fresh Delicacies Dumplings Filling Recipe


鲜虾仁200克、水发海参100克、冬笋150克、猪前夹肉200克、姜片10克、葱节20克、姜末20克、葱末50克、 鸡蛋清1个、精盐10克、胡椒粉3克、 料酒30克、味精10克、鸡精10克、白糖10克、香油25克、高汤350克。

Fresh (raw) Shrimp 200g
Re-hydrated Sea Cucumber 100g
Winter bamboo shoots 150g
Pork Shoulder or Arm meat 200g
Fresh Ginger (sliced) 10g
Green Onion 20g
Ginger powder 20g
Onion powder 50g
1 egg white
Fine Salt 10g
Ground Black Pepper 3g
Cooking Wine 30g
MSG 10g
Chicken Boullion 10g
White Sugar 10g
Sesame Oil 25g
Soup Stock 350g

WOW that’s a lot for just one type of dumplings! OK.


1.  Thoroughly wash shrimp and chop into paste (you can leave bigger chunks if you want!). Add some of the salt, egg white and stir until evenly coated;

2.  Put the sea cucumber into the wok/pan, adding the ginger slices, spring onion, part of the cooking wine, chicken boullion, soup stock and simmer until it picks up the flavors, then take out and cut into fine pieces;

3.   After finely chopping the bamboo shoots, put them into boiling water and simmer for a bit before removing;

4.  Remove pork skin and wash clean, shred into bits, add the rest of the salt, pepper, cooking wine, sugar, MSG, and a little water and stir until evenly mixed.

5.  Add in the shrimp paste, sea cucumber, bamboo shoots, ginger & onion powder, and sesame oil.
The filling is ready to go into the dumplings!

Notes: Dumpling filling should be sticky but not super-wet. If it’s like soupy, you put too much water. Should be paste.

p.s. I have used several different pictures, some of them obvs have different ratios - many people use chives and/or eggs in place of spring onion and/or sea cucumber - feel free to substitute here and there. Chicken would also be fine instead of pork but not traditional.