Making Julia Child Proud

After some extended prodding Fei Fei to teach me how to mach some traditional Chinese dishes, she finally caved. The dishes decided and the date set, today. Together we ventured to the near by farmer’s market to pick up the supplies:

  • Two Large Potatoes
  • One Large Eggplant
  • Salt
  • MSG Chicken Bouillon (the Chinese have switched from using MSG after all the heart attacks and all)
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Hot Pepper Flakes
  • Small amount of Pork

Let me add that Chinese Farmer’s Markets are NOTHING like what you could find in the states.  Allow me to paint you a picture. Immediately once you walk in you are flooded with smells of fruits, vegetables, fish, and poultry escaping the tightly confined space. The floors, for the most part, are slippery wet from fish flopping about in shallow styrofoam containers and squished fruits that have rolled away from the staked heaps. The air remains dense as you move deeper into the market, more invasions of freshly killed animals waft through the air, ever so often hearing the last cries of a chicken or the final swak of a duck. Nearing the meat section, you see large slabs of pork and cattle in various forms: nearly entire and untouched pigs and cattle hang from meat hooks; finely and seemingly ornately butchered flanks lay on pink-tented white display case shelves; and others fly from the skilled hands of butchers still preparing the uncooked bounty. As you begin exiting the market you pass by the spice section and find your nose dripping with mucus as you inhale the strong aroma of peppers spilling from large burlap sacks. There is nothing you can do to keep you from coughing as you gasp from the fresh air in sight and desire to get the burning sensation out of your eyes and throat. Only once your out do you comprehend the sensory overload that your mind is still processing from and feel a slight desire to escape back in to rediscover what you’ve just witness. But you have a meal to cook, so you vow to come back again with more time and tissues in hand.

Finally in the kitchen, Fei Fei gives instruction to clean the potatoes and cut them into slivers. It’s a delicate process as the knife was dull and the cutting board uncooperative–oh the woes of a community kitchen chef.

My attempt to be artsy and to cover up the shitty quality of the picture.

The first dish, pork and potatoes was successfully easy. The dish is extremely versatile and light on flavor, allowing it to be easily paired with a multitude of various dishes.  In reality, as far as what’s considered “Chinese Food” by American standards, this dish is probably the most far removed. Hell I’d easily eat this for breakfast with a side of eggs and bacon (Oh, the things I’d do right now for bacon and scrambled eggs with a little lot of cheese). Below are my rough notes on how to make it:

Potato Dish

  • Julian ptoatoes
  • Lightly boil
  • Dry wok over flame
  • Add oil
  • Add meat
  • Add potatoes
  • Keep stirring
  • Salt
  • MSG

Where the second dish lacked in distinctly Chinese flare, this one made up for it. Cleaning out the wok and beginning the same process of allowing it to dry over the flames of the stove, we quickly added oil and set to task. Knowing my love for spicy foods, Fei Fei made sure to make this dish feel that need. Adding ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes we allowed them to fester before adding the remaining pork, and finally throwing in the eggplant. Side note: Asian Cuisine does not use a lot of meat, thus roughly 6 oz. of pork was more than enough for two plates. Below you can find another rough way to prepare this meal:

Eggplant Dish

  • Cube veggie
  • Mince garlic
  • Sliver ginger
  • Dry wok
  • Add oil
  • Add garlic, ginger, spicy
  • Meat
  • Eggplant
  • Stir
  • Add water
  • Stir
  • Add cubes/chunks of Garlic
  • Keep stiring
  • Let sit
  • Salt
  • MSG

Both of these dishes are versatile and demonstrate the basics of Chinese cooking, needless to say, “Prepare yourselves for some Asian Sensations.”

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