Saturday, 20 June 2009
160509 M’sia Taiping home-style cooking
The Chinese way of showing warmth and welcome to guests is what I consider to be the best way of all; offer them lots and lots of food. Instead of saying ‘How do you do’, or ‘How’s the weather’, the common way of greeting someone (direct translation) is
‘Have you eaten?’
Perhaps this explains my obsession with food.
When we were in Taiping, my really generous and kind relatives insisted on cooking us lunch, despite us having had quite a filling breakfast. Thing is, this is the foundation of all the recipes we know, as in, they originated from here. How could we resist?
My relatives started their cooking at 8am that day, and this really made us appreciate it even more. They chopped the vegetables, marinated the meat, boiled the soup and just cooked and cooked away until it was lunchtime and we arrived to find a table full of plates, full of food, and lots of it.
This is the eight-treasure chicken dish, which was a first-time dish tried out that day. The eight treasures refer to the eight ingredients in the dish. From what I could see, there were Chinese wood-ear mushrooms, broccoli, Chinese mushrooms, gingko, chicken, another type of Chinese mushrooms, and 2 other ingredients which I could find but I’m sure went into the dish to complete the flavour.
Pineapple and cucumber pickle, which was so refreshing in its sweet, sour, light and fresh flavours. Perfect as a palate cleanser in between other dishes.
Yellow bean steamed fish head, and despite its exotic sounding name, this is quite a commonly-cooked household dish. Consisting of tau-choo (yellow bean paste) and chopped chillies, the fish head is steamed which makes the jelly-like textures of the meat even softer and more absorbent to the sauces.
Wild boar curry – now this is not an ordinary dish in any home-cooking. Wild boar is not commonly sold in the markets, so not many people know how to cook this dish, but my relatives have perfected the skills to make the pork extremely soft and tender, so much so that it almost falls apart when chewed. The potatoes are boiled before being cooked in the curry so they’re already fluffy and can absorb all the flavours from the curry.
Stir fried choi sum with garlic, crunchy and al dante with just a hint of garlic – delicious.
Ipoh beansprouts which are famous for being shorter than the other type of beansprouts, and juicier. The length of these sprouts actually increase the longer you leave them uncooked, so it’s best to buy them fresh on the day of cooking and have them earlier ie for lunch. Stir fried or quickly blanched in hot water, and garnished with fried shallots and some spring onions, this is one of my most requested for dishes.
Black bean pork ribs (tau si pai kuat) – another Taiping specialty. Pork ribs cooked in lots (and I mean lots) of black beans, and stewed until the meat becomes fall-off-the-bone tender, the gravy is best eaten with hot rice.
Such lovely home-cooked dishes from lovely people.