At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Friday, August 24, 2012


It wasn’t until after I got to work that I realized my trousers bore the evidence of yesterday’s curry-related mishap. I had left the house in an awful rush, you see, and had overlooked the bright yellow effect.

No wonder that dog sniffed my pants; I smell good!

Spent much of the morning at my desk. Except for very quick trips to the office kitchen while nobody was around, to dab at my clothing with soapy water and paper towels.
Let the thighs dry while they’re hidden from view.
Got most of the shocking colour out by lunch.

While I like curry of all sorts – and stay tuned for a fish curry recipe and a chicken curry recipe here sometime soon – my favourite meals are different entirely.

In no particular order:

Rice porridge with a fried dough stick and a cup of milk tea.

Rice-stick noodles in clear broth with bean sprouts and minced scallion, with a plate of grilled pork on the side.

Fish and bittermelon over rice.

Wonton noodle soup.

Roast duck, stirfried kailan, and rice.

And last, though not least:

Peppercorn-crusted baby lamb chops with sautéed asparagus and a plate of rice.

I like various kinds of rice porridge (chicken, or fish, or lean pork and preserved egg, etcetera), as you may have read here before. There's something simple, old-fashioned, and comforting about it, especially with the fried dough stick for sopping, and this meal almost begs for a nice strong cup of milk tea. Close to heavenly.

The rice-stick noodle soup with grilled pork combo is quite obscenely self-indulgent. Part of the joy is dipping the pieces of pork in hot sauce and savouring them, then mellowing the taste with noodles, and spooning up some broth for a total effect. The sweet crunchiness of bean sprouts adds immeasurably. Then repeat.
With a glass of cold drip-coffee and condensed milk afterwards, one is prepared for the world.
More importantly, one is ready for a pipe of flake tobacco and forty minutes of day-dreaming.

Bittermelon is one of my favourite vegetables, along with kailan and asparagus. All three can be stirfried with collops of fish, chicken, or pork. But the sweetness of fresh fish is a particularly nice counterpoint.

Wonton noodle soup. Wonton noodle soup. Wonton noodle soup!

Roast duck is self-explanatory.

You will note that from the rice porridge to the duck and mustard, these can all be found at restaurants and lunch counters.

The lamb-chops, alas, cannot.
Sweet tiny chops!


I hardly cook anymore, because eating at home is a solitary affair. Why make a nice meal if no one will share it?
Besides, the food store nearby no longer has a meat counter, the butcher shop down the street closed down years ago, and the Cala Market on California and Hyde is being rebuilt to become a Trader Joe's sometime this autumn.

Lovely little lamb chops are so easy to prepare too!

Just crack a spoonful of peppercorns, add a sprinkle of salt and a pinch of five-spice. Then rub the chops with olive oil and dab them in the mixture till coated - not too generously. Heat up the skillet, add oil, and when it smokes put them in.

Brown one side on high heat, flip them, brown the other side. You may turn down the flame at this point, but take care that they don't cook too long, lest they toughen.
When they're done, put the chops on a platter.

As you've used plenty of oil, and there are little bits of darkened pepper and other crud left in the pan, you should probably just pour it out and wipe, rather than deglazing.

While the chops are resting, blanch the asparagus in boiling salt water with a splash vinegar to preserve colour, rinse under cold in a sieve or colander after they've cooked for two minutes, then sauté on high with some slivered ginger. Flame with a generous splash of sherry. When the bubbling subsides, add a little freshly chopped parsley or cilantro to the pan, swirl, and decant to a plate.

Lamb chops look absolutely gorgeous on white porcelain, and the fresh green hue of asparagus is almost better than the taste.

A lemon-caper sauce, or a mustard glaze with broth added after sizzling the mustard - these go well with both the meat and the vegetable. Minced fresh herbs or paprika may be added to either.

A small salad (lettuce and sliced cucumber, plain vinaigrette) to promote digestion..... perfect.

It's a simple meal, only requiring rice to complete.

However, because lamb chops are commonly sold in packs of three, you will be faced with a charming and delightful dilemma.

"Please have the last one"

"I couldn't, you take it."

"No really you must."

"I insist. Go ahead!"

"But I'm full, please eat it!"

"It's so small, surely just little bite?"

"I couldn't possibly. Please, you should."

"Honestly I would love for you to have it!"

"No no no please! You look so happy eating!"

"So do you, so do you!  You know you want to....."

And so on.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.



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