Sunday, June 10, 2007

Every Family Must Have a Favourite Dish

There was a Chinese lady who was very kind to me and my friend, who was her neighbour. This lady was a very good cook and whenever I visited my friend, both of us would catch the fragrance of good food coming form her kitchen. She was a good looking and cheerful person. On could tell that she was a very happy person - happy wife,happy mother and most of all, happy daughter in law.

One day, because my friend was a non-Chinese, this lady commented that if we could learn some Chinese cooking from her, we could make our children very happy. Since she was getting a group of people together on a Saturday afternoon, we could join them. My friend was very shy because of her ethnic background. Of course when we went to the cooking class, we had all the stares. We could not break the ice . Every one watched my friend's knife skills,chopstick skills and cleanliness. Well she passed all the evaluation and was evaluated a good "kitchen person".

So on that afternoon I learned a great social lesson that women have their own values and expectations and not every woman would be friendly like the missionaries. The term "politically correct" was not in use yet. My friend kept on saying "never mind, they are like is ok with me" whenever I heard the term "ang moh K..."

So it was a good thing my friend did not understand Foochow or Mandarin at all.

It was in this cooking class that I learned that classroom environment was very important in helping learning to take place. A nervous , marginalised learner would not get much out of what the teacher teaches.

Any way, we both learned the method of cooking pork leg with onions in thick soy sauce. Both of us were only too happy to pay the fees for our lessons. It was very sad when we learned that this lady was moving away and could no longer teach any more cooking. So that ended our cooking course. We were just about to be interested when fate took away our cooking teacher. It is often said that the best of meetings happen like lightning. Short . And disappears fast before you can catch your breath.

As the years went by, I develop my dish which became increasingly and I started offering this dish whenever I was called for pot bless. My children like this dish too. And when my mother gave me her multi purpose Dutch Oven (wang neng woh) I was over the moon because this Chinese Dutch Oven is the most effective kitchen appliance in the world and it can really cook my favourite dish well.


l - 2 kg belly pork or pork leg (with skin on)
4 bombay onions, sliced
4 tbsp black soy sauce
4 tbsp black pepper (optional)
4 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp cooking oil
4 small bowls of water

1 bundle of lettuce

1. Marinade the belly pork or pork leg with l tbsp of black pepper and l tbsp of black soy sauce for an hour.
2. In a heavy pan, heat oil and stir fry the onions until fragrant.
3. Add sugar and let it caramelize. Add the soy sauce. Let the thick sauce bubble.
4. Add the belly pork, with the skin side down first. Simmer until the skin is shiny and nicely browned and soft.
5. turn over and let the pork simmer in the pan slowly. when the sauce dries up a little, add water, one bowl at a time.
6. This dish takes about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours of slow cooking. Do not let it burn.

Before serving, take out the pork and slice . Arrange according to your desire over a layer of lettuce.

The dish is sweet, oniony and peppery. But your loved ones will ask for more. The sauce should be thick, not watery, like thick cream. Enjoy!!!

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