Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Zhejang/Shanghai Home Dishes

A while ago on a random Saturday late afternoon, I felt inspired to make the foods of my maternal grandmother. Not sure what inspired this exactly as it was a hot day and one would think the last thing I would want was to slave over a hot stove. But inspired I was, so I invited Angeles over for some Chinese home cooking. Most Shanghainese restaurants or the Chowdowns I've been at Shanghainese restaurants around here have been really greasy, overly rich, with a ton of that goopy brown, sweet sauce. That is certainly not the Shanghainese food of my childhood.

Any meal that invokes my Grandma Chou (which incidentally is the same character as Wil's last name), would have to have steamed water egg in it. I over-cooked it this time a bit. But it's essentially eggs beaten with water. I added a bit of dried shrimp, sliced shitake, diced scallions. My Grandma Chou wasn't much into cooking as she had a cook and domestic help all her life, but there were a couple of dishes she would make personally for me as I was her most doted on granddaughter. This was one of them. As my mother wasn't much of a cook either, this dish is the one that to me tastes like "home."

The next dish was very simple and great for hot weather. Calamari sliced, quickly blanched, and served room temp with wasabi sauce for dipping.
Sliced bittermelon stir-fired with coarsely ground pork with a bit of black bean. Also good for hot weather as bittermelon has "ying" or cooling effect. I was surprised that Angeles liked this dish so much as bitter melon generally is an acquired taste.
Lastly, but no least, fish fillet cooked in rice wine sauce (zhao liu yu pian) with black mu-er, a type of mushroom/fungus. Very typical of Shanghai/Zhejang cuisine. Light, lots of sake flavour, and a bit sweet and musty.

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