My grandmother turned 88 on July 1 in Calgary. Our family had a week-long celebration, with her children cooking dinner almost every night. Dishes ranged from curry crab to peanut butter chicken. Here’s a rundown on five of the many dishes.
1. Peanut Butter Chicken Noodle
Here’s a cold Chinese noodle dish — sesame chicken with peanut butter. Aunt Hanny used a flat, transparent noodle made from mung bean rather than starch. She garnished the dish with sesame seed.
2. Stuffed Chicken Wings
I never knew you could stuff a chicken wing as if it were a chicken breast. But Aunt Hanny did just that.
She cut the wings apart with a pair of scissors, then filled them with minced mushrooms and ham. Finally, she pan-fried them in satay sauce.
3. Curry Crab with Potatoes
Uncle Desmond cooked curry crab with potatoes. He cooked the crustaceans in coconut milk mixed with curry powder. He topped the dish with coconut shreds.
My uncle made many other crab dishes, too. One night, he served steamed crabs with a side of red rice vinegar.
4. Rice Sausages
Is a sausage a sausage if it has no meat? Aunt Hanny’s answer is yes.
I love eating fried pig intestine. So my aunt made me rice sausages using pork casing. She prepared the casing by trimming off the inner fat. To remove any unpleasant smell, she washed it with vinegar, salt and water. She then stuffed the casing with glutinous rice and peanuts.
She cooked the sausages in two steps. First, she put them in boiling water for a short time, then removed the partially-cooked sausages. Finally, she fried the sausages and cut them into slices. (There’s actually a name for this technique: parboiling.)
5. Homemade bread
Uncle Desmond showed us how to make bread from scratch. My sister, Esther, our cousin Oic Yan and I made Cyprus pockets — they look like pita bread — so we could stuff them with roast duck topped with hoisin sauce. We also made loaves of bread with walnut, almond and raisin.
I’ve never kneaded dough before. Slapping and hitting a big dough ball on a kitchen counter was pretty fun!
My uncle once ran his own pizzeria at a mall, so he knows how to work with dough. He brushed up on his skills by watching the TV cooking shows of British baker named Paul Hollywood. (The shows were dubbed into Cantonese).
Note: Thanks to my father, Antonio, for clarifying the type of noodle used in the peanut butter dish. He also noted that the rice sausage had to be boiled first before you can fry them.