December 17, 2018

Heart’s Message

 

 

Where did you learn your culinary skills?

To some, culinary skills bring to mind fancy creations like blanquette de veau, foie gras, or maybe bouillabaisse (or any dish with a French-sounding name).

Fine cooking has become such a rare skill now, a man refused to agree to a divorce because his wife’s cooking is too good.

But to most of the younger generations who grew up with electronics and the Internet, spending time in the kitchen wasn’t a big part of their childhood.

A lot of them are equipped with “survival cooking”, and that’s about it. That includes knowing how to boil water, and how not to electrocute/drown/poison yourself in the kitchen.

cooking

fishkitchen

That’s why some of the more traditional culinary skills are being lost, especially those that are passed down in the family.

蕨根糍粑 fern roots cake

Slide1

A lot of teaching happens in the family kitchen.

These fine-looking flowers produce rapeseed oi.

There’s an old saying 油菜花开疯子出来, which translates into “When the rapeseed flowers bloom, the crazies start to move.” I never really understood it. Maybe it’s because these flowers bloom around March in the spring, and the spreading of pollens in the air causes some kind of allergic reaction? Or maybe 疯子 does not refer to crazy people, but crazy dogs.

Slide2

Dried rapeseeds smell damn nice. If someone’s processing rapeseed oil in their house, the entire village can smell it.

Slide3

The method of processing rapeseed oil has a history of over a thousand years. The worker has to be able to wield a battering ram that weighs 100 kg, use it to basically “beat” the oil out of the rapeseeds. And the battering lasts for 3 hours.

 

 

It’s often the preferred oil used in certain dishes.

徽州臭豆腐 stinky tofu

Slide4

油炸锅巴 deep-fried crunchy rice

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牛肉锅贴 beef potstickers

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回锅肉 double-cooked pork

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红油 chilli oil.

I know how to make this! You only need red peppers and rapeseed oil to do it (maybe ginger and sesame as well, depending on individual tastes), and a big-ass extractor fan, since there is going to be a LOT of fumes, and also a tolerant neighbour.

Slide8Slide9

辣萝卜 radish in chilli oil

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蒜泥白肉 pork belly slices with garlic and chilli oil

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凉拌猪耳 pig ears in chilli oil

Slide12

In Shaanxi, making hung-dry noodles is a skill honed over decades. They need to do it in three stages. Stage one is allowing the noodles to dry. Stage two is stringing the noodles like guitar strings over wooden sticks, to stretch them out, giving them that special crunchy, bouncy taste.

 

 

I’ve been using the term 挂面 (“hanging noodles”) for years without understanding it. Now I do.

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宁夏手擀面 Ningxia hand-made noodles

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重庆小面 Chongqing noodles

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苏州头汤面 Suzhou noodle soup

Slide18

While some skills are family secrets passed down through the generations, more and more of such skills can be learnt at culinary schools.

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糯米卷 glutinous rice roll

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苏式小方糕 Suzhou square cakes

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枣泥拉糕 cakes with jujube paste

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三角团 triangle cake

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蟹黄烧卖 crab roe siu mai

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元松 sponge cake

Slide30

钳花小包 tiny bun with a flower  (This video teaches you how to make it)

Slide31

四喜蒸饺 steamed dumplings with four different fillings: ham, egg yolk, wood ear, and bok choi.

Slide32

金鱼酥 goldfish-shaped shortbread

Slide33

船点 boat pastry (because they were prepared for people travelling by boat in ancient time? Maybe)

The common fillings are sweet bean paste and lotus seed paste.

Slide34

Suzhou-style pastries are like the people of Suzhou—delicate, sweet, and easy on the eyes.

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Cooking skills are not just about knowing what ingredients to use.

蚝烙 oyster omelette

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烫干丝 tofu slices

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葵花大斩肉 “lion head“ meatball

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蓑衣刀法 a way of wielding a knife without breaking apart the ingredient

蓑衣刀法(1)

脱骨鱼 boneless whole fish

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Slide42扬州三套鸭 Yangzhou duck. Like a Russian nesting doll, the boneless domestic duck is stuffed with a boneless wild duck, which is in turn stuffed with a pigeon.

Slide43

扣三丝 thin slices of ham, chicken breast, and winter bamboo shoots topped with mushroom

Slide44

油爆河虾 flash-fried shrimp

Slide45

黄鳝啫啫煲 rice eel claypot

Slide46

 

After CNY meal everybody’d be carrying their stomach like this:

orange.jpg

 

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About fmiswriting

One out of 1.4 billion voices.

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