As I have mentioned in my articles before, some of the greatest recipes and inspirations have come from friends. So it was when eight of us decided to celebrate a Chinese evening a couple of weeks ago and indulge ourselves with exotic and tantalizing Chinese food.
I was the first to arrive. We started out with cups of tea and were shortly joined by Louisa who had arrived with several bags of food. We continued to enjoy our cups of tea and discussed at great length what kind of Chinese food we liked and how it would be prepared. Before we realized it, Louisa had chopped, shredded, washed, peeled and prepared little mounds of the essential ingredients in bowls and plates ready for the big feast. Most, if not all, of the food required vegetable oil, so we just had a container of oil handy. Louisa also had on steady standby a supply of soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, oyster sauce, salted black beans, bean curd (tofu), Chinese dried mushrooms,
wood ears (dried gray-black fungi), dried chestnuts, and dried scallops soaking in separate dishes of warm water, salt, chopped garlic and ginger as well as two or three different kinds of noodles.
Guests continued to arrive until we were eight people in the kitchen. By then we had changed to a couple of nice red and white wines and the cooking began. About five or six of us were engaged in the egg roll department. It was quite chaotic but fun to learn how to fill the egg roll wrappers, fold them like envelopes and fry them. I was greatly flattered when Louisa selected my wok in which to cook the various foods that evening. My brother-in-law would probably be even more pleased, because he had presented me with this wok as a Christmas present a couple of years ago. We prepared, cooked and ate the spring rolls, while Louisa continued to prepare the rest of the meal. Since Louisa easily had two or three dishes cooking at the same time, I dashed from one place to another trying to keep track of the ingredients Louisa was using and what dishes she was preparing. I also chopped, added, stirred, fried and dashed around a bit more. Louisa¹s rule of thumb is that if you have not burned anything in the wok, you do not need to rinse it out before preparing the next dish. Just add a little more oil and go on to the next recipe.
You can place all the food on the table at once or serve it as you cook it. In either case, you should start with the spring rolls. Keep the rice and noodles hot on the table and serve the other dishes as you finish cooking them. When you serve the dishes as you cook them, you might want to provide a menu so that everyone knows what will be served and in which order. We dined on spring rolls first and then waited until all the food was ready before we sat down to eat. We found that we had eaten quite a few spring rolls and could not nearly do justice to the sumptuous meal for which we had been waiting. We concluded the meal with coconut slices in honey, accompanied by green tea. The coconut slices in honey can be purchased in a tin and the green tea can be made in a tea pot. Try to buy the green tea leaves rather than the tea bags, as the tea leaves give the tea a much better flavor.
To help you to prepare this meal, I have added a few ingredients and a general description of them. All the ingredients can be purchased in an oriental supermarket and quite possibly in the Asian section of a normal supermarket. I quite enjoy going to the oriental supermarkets and have found that the personnel there are usually quite helpful. Hope you will try some of these foods and enjoy them as much as we did.
Chinese Recipes :
Stir-fried Chinese Radish
Fish Balls in Sweet Chili Sauce
Sliced Chicken Simple
Soybean Curd (Tofu) with Sliced Chinese Mushrooms and Dates