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.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

SUDDEN CHINESE DINNER

The past few days I have been thinking about food. In hot juicy detail. It's far better than sex, and can be shared with more people. The same, obviously, goes for talking about the subject. Though if you wish to take this blogpost as a lascivious leer or soft romantic smile from a stranger, go right ahead.
I shall not stop you. Please also imagine me as talk dark and handsome while you're at it.

[Full literary disclosure: in complete contrast to the imagined hot and hunky stranger above, the actual blogger here is five foot eight and a half, of a rather Caucasian hue in general, with a trim beard and moustache which are distressingly more salt than pepper. Streaks of silver in the hair at the temples. Middle-aged -- handsomely mature by his own dodderingly misguided reckoning, but probably a super-annuated old fossil in the eyes of anyone under thirty -- and much more like a scholarly gnome or distant relative of Gandalf than the studly vampire lover of your fantasies.]

Now, while you are looking all blurfle-eyed and blushing, day-dreaming of the eternally youthful hero of Twilight or the vibrant and sweating habitués of The Raven in Toronto, amid scenes of pounding music, I shall describe some dishes I haven't made in quite a long while, as I seldom cook anymore.
But they would go well together at a small dinner.


薑蔥炆雞丁GEUNG-CHUNG MAN KAI DING
Ginger-scallion simmered chicken chunks

One pound chicken on the bone, whacked into chopstickable pieces.
Three scallions, sectioned.
Sliced ginger.
4 TBS sherry.
2 TBS soy sauce.
1 TBS sugar.

Wash and dry chicken, dust with a teaspoon of cornflour, add a dash of oil and toss to coat. Stirfry in scant oil to firm up. Decant temporarily to a plate.
Sauté ginger and scallion till fragrant, add chicken to the pan along with the sherry, soy sauce, sugar, and a splash of water. Simmer on low for ten to fifteen minutes.
Put in a shallow bowl to serve.


炸汁蝦 JAA JAP HAA
Fried sauced shrimp

One pound of medium prawns.
Three scallions, chopped.
A little minced ginger.
Two TBS sherry.
One Tsp. sugar.
A little hot chili paste.
Pinches of salt and ground white pepper.
Drops of sesame oil.

Batter:
One egg white.
One TBS cornflour.

Rip off the legs of the prawns, de-shell, and remove the vein. Rinse, dry. Whisk the egg white and cornflour smooth, dip the prawns, and deep fry in hot oil till golden. Note that if you have a wok, this will require less oil and be easier to do. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Sauté ginger and scallion till fragrant. Add the sherry, sugar, chili paste, pinches and drops, plus a little water. Cook till it starts to become glazy, add the prawns, and toss to coat.
Decant onto a plate.


鹹魚炆豬肉 HAAHM YÜ MAN CHÜ YIUK
Salt fish and fatty pork in clay pot

One pound of streaky belly pork (naam yiuk 腩肉).
Less than a fifth that amount salt fish, judged by eye.
Four or five whole shallots, peeled.
Four or five cloves garlic, left whole.
Some sliced ginger.
Quarter cup sherry.
One TBS fish sauce (yü lou 魚露).
One TBS sugar.

Blanch the pork whole fully till firmed up, drain and rinse under cold water. Dry it, and cut it into chunks. Soak and drain the salt fish, dice it small. And note that it is supposed to be a contributing flavour, not a dominant ingredient. Fry the pork with the ginger and whole garlic cloves till slightly golden, and decant to a clay pot.
Fry the dried fish similarly and add to the clay pot. Put the shallots in also, add the sherry, fish sauce, and sugar, and half a cup of water. Put the clay pot on low heat, and simmer gently for one and a half hours.
Before taking it off the flame, stir in a handfull of spinach leaves to wilt.



NOTE: Regarding the salt fish, it is best to use specimens which are solid, firm, and entirely unfermented (sat yiuk haahm yü 實肉鹹魚).
But these may be very hard to find in C'town.
By far the most common types of dried fish (described as "moldy perfume salt fish" - mui heung haahm yü 霉香鹹魚) are fully fermented products, delicious and perfect for eating during warm weather, which have been implicated in a higher incidence of naso-pharyngeal cancers in Southern China.
Cantonese people love that scrumptious salty-fishy taste, and consume more of it than anyone else (you knew there was a reason why you liked their food).

If you don't have any dried fish in your larder, you can modify the recipe above by using shrimp paste (haahm haa jeung 鹹蝦醬) instead.




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