Even musicians have to eat. Well, I never ate much when I was a lawyer and never ate much either when I was running 48th Street. But now thing things have settled down and living a much more simple life, I can indulge in one of the things I love in life : cooking good food. I would like to share my own recipe of cooking good food. It is not exactly the Yan-Can-Cook kind of thing. It is a little more complicated but much more tasty than your Yan-Can-Cook dish. The dishes I introduce are all manageable in a normal home kitchen. The dishes are relatively simple but the most important thing is that they taste good. For starters, here are few dishes which I would like to introduce :-



Stewed Scallops, Mushroom and Chinese cucumber

Chinese cucumber, two. Peel the skin in stripes and cut them into blocks.
Dried mushrooms and scallops. I don't know the science behind dried food. But one thing, the drying process trapped all the flavour and the flavour releases upon cooking. The drying process enhances the flavour of the item when cooked.
Vermicelli. You can get it anywhere.
Chicken broth. Any brand would do.


Cooking steps

Soak the dried mushroom and dried scallops in water at least two hours. It is best to soak the mushrooms and scallop overnight. The dried scallop is really a tough nut to crack. The thing is really hard as rock and takes time to absorb water to soften up.
Soak the vermicelli in water for at least 20 minutes.
Steam the mushroom and scallops in a wok for 15 to 20 minutes. This is absolutely essential for softening up the scallops.
Put the cucumber and scallop into a pot, preferable a Chinese ceramic pot as the pot retains heat and really brings out the flavour of the good. Pour in some chicken broth and start cooking it with a medium fire. The chicken broth should be inch high in the pot.
If you are in a hurry, put the lid on. Steam the mushroom and scallop in a wok for 15 minutes. But if you do that, the green skin on the Chinese cucumber will lose some of its colour. Doesn't affect the taste thought.
When the Chinese cucumber becomes soft, add in the vermicelli and the dried mushroom and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add Chinese Spring Unions if you like. If you want to thicken the soup, add cornflower powder. Mix the cornflower in cold water in a cup before pouring it in.


The final product

There you have it. The taste is not very strong but very subtle. There is an aroma in the food. Delicious.

With Abalone



Sea Water Crab Served Cold

First thing to do is to get some live sea water crabs. These crabs come in different sizes. The bigger the more expensive. But they taste the same. Size makes no difference.
It is necessary to kill the crab before cooking. If the crab is still alive, it will struggle during the cooking process and the legs and clamps will come off after cooking. You can pierce the breathing organs of the crab by sticking a chop stick through the gills of the crab. If this is too gruesome for you, skip this step and go to the next step.
Immerse them in tap water. The crabs will drown in tap water in half an hour's time. If you pierce the breathing organs of the crab, it will drown in 10 minutes.
Put the crabs in a wok and steam with hot water. Put the lid on. Generally speaking 20 minutes is good enough. After steaming, put them in the refrigerator to chill. Two hours will be good enough. The sauce to go with it would be vinegar or say sauce. If you got for soy sauce, add raw garlic and spring onion and a drop of sesame oil.


The final product

After the crabs are chilled, chop them up and serve.


Prawns Cooked With Chinese Wine

Fresh prawns from the market. Try and keep them alive before going to the next step.
A bottle of Chinese wine "Fa Due" is required.
Pour in the Chinese wine so that the prawns are completely immersed in the wine.
Put a lid on. The prawns will jump and lip wine all over the place. So this is essential. Otherwise instead of cooking in your kitchen you will end up cleaning your kitchen.
After soaking in wine for 30 minutes. Put them in a wok with hot water and cook for about 5 to 6 minutes.
When you see the prawns turn red they are ready.



The Final Product

There is a hint of Chinese wine in the flavour of the prawns. Real nice.




Steamed Tofu with Chinese Ham

This is one the most simple dishes here, but this is one of the best. The taste of Tofu is mild. The taste of Chinese ham is stronger. When you mix the two together, they taste so good it is hard to imagine.

There are two kinds of tofu; one has a softer texture and the other a harder texture. I prefer the ones with harder texture. For the softer ones, they don't hold up too well after cooking and often disintergrate to hundreds of pieces when you try to pick them up. This makes eating together with the ham difficult.
You need a can of Chinese ham. You can get them in supermarkets or Shanghainese retails stores.
Put an appropriate amount of ham around the tofu on a plate.
Put the dish in a wok and steam with the lid on. Steam for about 15 minutes.
After steaming, bring the dish out and tip away any water accumulated on the dish. Add Chinese spring onion and soy sauce. Now the next step is important. Use a saucepan to boil some cooking oil. Make sure the oil is red hot. Pour the oil over the tofu and ham and spring onion.


The Final Product

The best way to eat it is to each the tofu together with the ham. Their contrast in flavour will come out. Just heavenly.


Chinese Cabbage, Mushroom and Ham

Chinese Long Cabbage. Availiable anywhere.
Chop up the cabbage and rinse under tap water.
Next up you need Chinese mushrooms. Wash them under tab water and cut them into halves.
Put the mushrooms and cabbage into a saucepan and pour in chicken broth so that the broth comes up to an inch high in the saucepan.
Use medium fire to low fire to cook. Put the lid on and cook until the cabbage becomes soft. The mushrooms is easily cooked. By the time the cabbage is ready, the mushrooms will be ready.
Add in Chinese ham and cook with low fire for 5 minutes.
Pour corns starch into a bowl and add in cold water. Mix. the corn starch will thicken up the soup and turn it into sauce. Be careful not to put too much in. You can always put more, but if you put too much in, the sauce may become too thick.
Pour in the corn starch and mix. Cook with low fire and stir the contents of the suacepan. When the corn starch is heated up, it will turn the soup into sauce.

The Final Product




Steamed Scallops With Soya Beans

Scallops from the market. Get the big ones if you are rich or get the small ones if you are poor like me.
Wash the scallops thoroughly with water.
Soya beans will add to the flavour.


Oysters With Spring Onion And Ginger
One of the main problems with cooking oysters, at least in Hong Kong, is how to really wash and clean them. You really need to clean and wash them well before cooking. This is how you do it. Rinse them thoroughly in tap water.
Have corn starch at hand. The corn starch will help clean up the oysters.
Add ample corn starch to the oysters and mix the oysters in the corn starch. Add water to the brim of the bowl, add water. Stir and mix everything well.
Put the oysters under running tab water to wash away all the corn starch. The corn starch will carry away al lot of muck on the oysters. Repeat this process for 4 or 5 times.
Boil water in a saucepan. When the water is boiled, put the oysters in the saucepan.
When the water starts turning opaque and blue, you can take out the oysters. As to how long you cook it depends how much confidence in the oysters you bought. Eating oysters, fresh or cooked carries a certain amount of risk. The longer you cook it the less risky it will be. The the longer you cook it, the less tasty it becomes and pro-longed cooking can affect the texture of the oyster.
Remove the oysters from the saucepan to dry. Twenty minutes should be fine. The drier the oysters the easier it will be cooking them at the next stage.
Next up, you need Chinese Spring Onion, some chopped chili, chopped garlic and ginger slices.
More to come