Dear readers, I want to first of all thank all of you that wrote in to tell us your wonderful Chinese cooking stories for a chance at our cookbook giveaway! We reviewed 'Chinese Feasts & Festivals: A Cookbook' and made the delicious Homemade Chinese Pork Jerky Bakkwa 自制猪肉干 from a recipe in the same cookbook. For a chance to win a free copy of the cookbook we asked for your best chinese cooking stories.
Well, we have chosen our two favorite stories (the winner's cookbooks are on their way!) and we thought that you might enjoy reading the winning stories as much as we did. I have to say, (excuse the cheesiness!) that it was wonderful to see how cooking really brings people together!
Cooking Story from Ivy of San Francisco:
"My Mom and a Special Memory"
My mother was born in Hong Kong. I'm an American-born Chinese. As long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by my mother's cooking.
During Chinese New Year's my mother would deep fry treats to give away to friends and family. Every year around this time, my mother would send me upstairs, closing off the two kitchen doors and all the bedroom doors. This would keep the oil from traveling through the house, thus keeping the house cleaner. This also kept our bedrooms from smelling like food, even when we cooked dinner in this fashion.
But this was special...I was to stay in my room until all the deep frying was done. I was to be safe from the hot oil. But I was lonely and also excited. I didn't want to miss anything happening in the kitchen! So I would wait impatiently.
When I thought the oil was hot, I would creep down the stairs. I still couldn't smell anything frying with the kitchen doors closed so I would sneak through the swinging back door of the kitchen. Quietly I would walk up behind my mother, trying not to scare her while she was dealing with hot oil. I would watch her work, waiting for an opportune time to interrupt her. When she would step away from the hot wok, I let my presence be known. My mother would be excited from making treats and knowing that I wanted to watch her cook so she would show me how to fry. Then, within minutes, she would glance at me and see the pimples starting to form on my face! I would get yelled at for sneaking out of my room and both of us would remember why I was always sent to my room to begin with. So back to the room I went with my pimples and all!
|Ivy's Daughter and Mother ~ photo courtesy of Ivy|
Now, at age of 45, I am still afraid to fry food. I'm even afraid to eat fried foods! Those pimples creep up on me right after I eat fried foods. Or I will see them upon rising the next day. To this day, having pimples reminds me of Chinese New Year and my loving and caring mom. For me, pimples aren't just about puberty. They have a special place in my heart." ~ Ivy
Cooking Story from Julia of Los Angeles:
"I stumbled across your blog looking for an authentic Chinese recipes to recreate my memories of my late grandma's cooking. She was an amazing lady who knew how to do everything even with little education. I loved her cooking, but never had a chance to learn from her as she became ill by the time I started to learn to cook in the kitchen. I think it is fantastic that you have created this blog for your daughter and to share with people like myself who never had the chance to learn to make these traditional Chinese dishes.
One of my fondest memories of Chinese New Year was watching and helping my grandma make all the delicious food. My favorite was the brittle horn cookie, "Kwok Jai." (油角/角仔) Grandma would make buckets and buckets of these to give to friends and family during this festive season.
As a child, I would sit at the dining table and watch her prepare the table with all the supplies and ingredients. It was so amazing to watch her mix and stir the ingredients together. Once the dough was made, I had the part to help her roll the dough into tiny balls and flatten them out using a Mexican tortilla tool. (We are in the US, wasn't she amazingly creative to find an easier way for me to help her.) I would continue to flatten these little dough balls while she filled the filling and folded the cookie together. I loved seeing the beautiful trays of these dumpling shaped cookies lying all over the dining room and kitchen.
As soon as we were almost done, Grandpa would start the oil in the kitchen to prepare to fry up these goodies. Grandma would let me continue to play with the tortilla flattening device while both of them were busy frying up these cookies. I would sit in the kitchen watching and waiting to eat it fresh from the wok. It was mouthwateringly delicious as I bit into the cookie and let the crumbly nutty and sweet filling fall into my mouth.
If you know the recipe for this, please share it one day. I hope I will win the book give away so I can continue to make more traditional Chinese food and to share Chinese history with my son as he grows up. I was raised in the US and it is definitely much harder to keep up with these Chinese traditions. I am going to try my very best to pass it on to the next generation." ~ Julia
Shout out to Ivy and Julia for letting us share their wonderful chinese cooking stories! And special, special thanks for all the loving mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and grandfathers out there who love us and teach us through their wonderful cooking! Happy Cooking and Eating!
More Fabulous Festival Treats at The Hong Kong Cookery:
Five Nuts Mooncake Part I 五仁月餅
Red Bean Paste Zong Zi 豆沙粽子
Chinese New Year Cake Nian Gao 年糕