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.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


A few years ago I wrote about savoury Chinese egg custard, that being eggs beaten with plenty of water and steamed till set. Additions can be quite varied, and may include seafood of a size that cooks fast, or if you are as white as I am, meat that has already been stewed or fried.
Bacon that has been slightly crisped, for instance.
Plus vegetable matter of various types.
But the focus is the egg.

I have also written about fragrances, as my apartment mate once remarked that if she smelled anything funny she always had to wonder whether it was me or her sneakers. She is of Cantonese extraction, and like many Chinese people finds white folk sometimes a bit too fragrant for her refined nose.
I had to assure her that it was her sneakers.
Always. I am extraordinarily clean.
And don't cook funky.

It may have been my pipe tobacco, though, as there is a gentle hint of burning fermented leaves in my vicinity at most times.
Which many people find pleasant.

This post is NOT about pipe tobacco, but about food. Specifically the wonderful combination of bacon and oysters, which I cannot eat very often because of a tendency toward gout. Regrettable. The last time I ordered hangtown fry in a restaurant I realized another reason to hold back:
Americans can't make omelettes if their lives depend on it.
Seriously. It should not ever be rubbery.
Learn to cook, you hosers!


Hou si jing suei daan:
Three large eggs.
One and a quarter cup of water.
Ten dried oysters, soaked, drained, cut in half.
Two rashers bacon, chopped and slightly crisped.
Pinch ground white pepper.
Pinch sugar.
A cautious drizzle of sesame oil.
Minced scallion for garnish.

Whisk the egg and water till smoothly blended. Incorporate the bacon and dried oysters, as well as the pinches of pepper and sugar. Pour it into a broad pyrex pie dish and steam it for ten minutes.
Garnish with the scallion and a drizzle of sesame oil.

One clove of garlic, coarsely minced and fried golden in a tablespoon or two of the bacon grease, is also nice on top.

蠔豉 ['hou si']

Dried oysters can be bought in Chinatown, many stores on Stockton Street have them. The best kinds are large, uniform, undamaged. Smaller darker dried oysters can be used to enrich soups, but good quality dried oysters will often be a featured ingredient in congee, or with fatty pork, steamed chicken, scallops and ham, or combined with black mushrooms, and especially at New Year with pork and black moss (好事發財).
They need to be soaked for two to four hours before use.
For the recipe above, rinse them with boiling water.
The soaking will plump them up sufficiently.
The boiling water is precautionary.

Another great dish with dried oysters, for your reference, is 富貴滿盆 ('fu gwai mun pun'), which like 好事發財 ('ho si fat choi') is an auspicious phrase. Both dishes are suitable for festive gatherings, especially Chinese New Year. Fu gwai mun pun ("fortune and honour in abundance") consists of dried oysters, sea cucumber, and black mushrooms, soaked and then braised together with chicken, rice wine, oyster sauce, and often, dried Lycium Chinense (枸杞子 'gau gei ji').

Many such recipes contain the suggestion to plate the food with broccoli florets surrounding it. But cooked lettuce is infinitely better.

There are no dried oysters left, I must buy more.

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


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