To Live, Love and Learn: A Cookworm's Tale
The fact of the matter is, I do not like cooking South East Asian food, especially Chinese. I never get the taste right. I mean, the authentic recipes from China seem to be perfect, but they come out bland when I make them. And the Indian version of Chinese food (found everywhere in India, from the streets to the posh restaurants) is always very spicy and tastes more like North Indian food with Soy Sauce! So, usually, I stay quite far away from bringing China into my kitchen.
I realized this summer that I might as well cook Chinese. There was a lot of Soy Sauce, Vinegar, Oyster Sauce, Oyster Mushroom Sauce and a bit of Fish Sauce that my mother had stored for some reason. All of these things come with a specific expiration date, and these particular products were actually threatening expiration! I had only two options: throw them out or send them out in style. The latter it was!
I might as well say it: these recipes will produce Chinese food for the Indian palate. I used the Oyster and Oyster Mushroom sauce in one of the simplest of chicken recipes. You need 1 onion (finely chopped), some baby potatoes, 500g of chicken, 1 crushed garlic clove, 2 tablespoons of Oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon of Oyster Mushroom sauce, salt, sugar and some chopped coriander for garnishing.
Saute the onions in a wok with some vegetable oil until golden brown. Add the potatoes and chicken and stir fry till half cooked. Add the garlic, Oyster sauce, Oyster Mushroom sauce and continue till well cooked. If you like a bit of gravy, add some water and corn flour. Check the salt, add some sugar and remove from heat. Garnish with chopped coriander. Done!
For Chilli Potatoes, you need par boiled potatoes chopped in wedges, i sliced onion, 1 sliced capsicum, 2 chopped green chillies, 2 red chillies broken in half, i teaspoon chopped garlic, 1 teaspoon chopped ginger, 1 tablespoon Soy Sauce, 1 tablespoon Vinegar and salt to taste.
Heat some vegetable oil in a wok, add the red chillies, onions, ginger, garlic and saute. Add the potatoes, green chillies, capsicum, Soy Sauce, Vinegar, and salt in that order and check the taste. The Soy sauce should not be overpowering, it should just add some flavour and colour. Check if the potatoes are done and take it off the heat if they are. You can add some garnishing, but this one goes well without any too.
For the Stir Fry Rice, I used par boiled rice (1 cups), 1 chopped carrot, some chopped beans, quarter of a chopped capsicum, 1 chopped onion, i teaspoon Soy sauce and 1 teaspoon Vinegar, salt and sugar to taste.
In a wok, heat some oil, add the onions and carrots first and stir fry till nearly done. Add the beans and capsicum and continue stir frying. Add salt as you go, so that you have seasoning in every layer. Add the Soy Sauce and Vinegar, then add the rice. Stir lightly and cover to cook completely (again, make sure that the rice grains are not broken in the process of stir frying). Once the rice is done, add a pinch of sugar and take it off the heat. Coriander is a good garnish for this rice, but you can also do without.
This little Chinese meal wasn’t that bad. My parents liked it. But really, I’d much rather not cook Chinese again until pushed.