May 4, 2011
I love you, Because
I love you Because sung by the late Jim Reeves
I had a private cooking class last Wednesday. My student is a young wife. Newly married and settled into her first nuptial home with her hubby, she wanted to learn to cook for her hubby and also for her family. She told me she grew up on her maid's cooking. Despite being of Teochew dialect, she didn't know much about the cuisine that goes with it. Nor have any family heirloom recipe stashed away any where in her maternal home. Her parents went to work, and left her at home with the maid. The maid took care of the household, cleaning, washing and preparing meals 3x a day.
Well, to be frank, she was one of the many young wives I used to teach cooking to. So many similar stories I have heard of them never knowing their roots and some never got to know what binds them to a family. There never seems to be any family bonding.
I shared with her my own story. How my mom raised me. And I grew up on home cooked food my mom prepared for the family. My mom taught me many skills. May not be all food and cooking related. But she told me about our heritage, our culture and what it means to be Chinese. Despite being Christian, she says we must never forget our roots, though anti-Christ it may seem, as long as we follow the Bible teachings, lived by it, practiced what the Bible says, we just observe our heritage, that was good enough.
My mom says that when you travel to faraway lands, your skin colour is no longer something that proves to others your heritage or culture. Its what that is within you.
So whenever I teach cooking, and especially with cooking, I shared a bit of our Chinese culture, its deep rooted heritage to my students. The very things that made us Chinese. A cut from the rest of the other races.
But it is also love that binds us together. I shared with her many of my family's recipes, re-created for our modern home. With 'advance' or more "user friendly" kitchen utensils. But I also taught her the old way of how things are done and why it is done that way, and moving forward to new age and time.
Since she was teochew, and Benny was also Teochew, I decided to teach her to cook a traditional Teochew dish..the humble Teochew Bak Kut Teh or Pork Ribs Soup.
She asked me "I thought its black in colour, the soup I mean. Why is this soup cleared?"
I told her "the Black soup was cooked with chinese herbs and that's Hokkien. The Teochew version was clear soup cooked with the most minimal ingredients. So you get to taste the sweetness from the bones of the pork."
Here's the recipe to share with all. Something I learnt just by listening to my uncle Freddy's rave about the Teochew Bak Kut Teh soup.
Teochew Bak Kut Teh (Pork Ribs Soup)
Recipe By Gina Choong
1 kg pork ribs(ask the butcher for soft bone, chopped into smaller pieces)
5 pcs of garlic cloves, smash to break it open, retain the 'skin'.
1.5 tbsp white peppercorns
salt to taste
2 litres of water
1. Heat up water in a large casserole pot(claypot)
2. Add garlic, peppercorns and pork to cook for 5 mins over high heat.
3. Once it starts boiling(bubbling), lower the heat, cover the pot to cook over low heat for 45 minutes.
4. If the water evaporates till half the pot, just add water to refill.
5. Add salt to taste.
6. Serve hot with freshly sliced chilli and some soya sauce.
A traditional dish served with just plain warmed rice. Benny's favourite, all the time. Now its also our girl's favourite soup dish. Simple and yet refreshing.