Monday, February 7, 2011

vertical rituals

It is Chinese New Year, and while in the past I have marked it by occasionally throwing huge feasts of Malaysian Chinese food, this year I am marking it with quieter rituals.

Mee Sua is a dish my grandmother used to make in the middle of the afternoon. Thin, delicate floury noodles that cook quickly in a pork broth made with ingredients found in the pantry and well-stocked freezer - a sauté of shallots and garlic, minced pork and preserved turnip as a base for a simple but comforting broth. A swirl of egg for added texture. A garnish of crispy fried shallots in oil to annoint.

Today, I started to make jiaozi, Northern chinese dumplings filled with pork and leeks (so alien to my South-east Asian displaced Hokkien childhood but adopted now as part of my North American Chinese identity) but decided to throw them into a pork broth instead of pan-frying them or boiling them. The result was a cross between Northern Chinese dumplings and Meehoonke - a handmade unfilled dumpling made by tearing bits of dough from a ball of dough, flattening them quickly into discs before throwing them into boiling broth in the wok. The starch in the dumplings thickens the broth into an unctuous gravy in which the chewy dumplings float. Again, this is what my grandmother would make for a peckish beloved child in the middle of the afternoon.

As I cook, I feel like I am convening with my ancestors in the kitchen.
As I serve it to Junhong, I feel as if I am throwing a feast that connects, vertically, my grandmother to my son.

No comments: