When it comes to holiday celebrations, Warren and I are traditionalists. For Thanksgiving, a New England turkey dinner, accompanied by oyster stuffing, pan gravy, mashed potato and orange cranberry sauce, is the undeviating menu. For Christmas a prime rib roast or a ham would be added as we host a larger crowd. Lately though, there’s been grumbling by the family that we should be more modern and innovative with our Christmas dinner. But how does one inject creativity into a classic Christmas dinner? I decided to search for an answer in my Chinese cooking tradition.
When my brother got married in Singapore more than two decades ago, the wedding banquet included a braised wild duck dish. As a city state Singapore does not produce much of its food, never mind finding wild ducks. So the banquet chef at the restaurant provisioned imported wild ducks from Germany. In order to show evidence that the ducks were in fact wild, I remembered the chef showing us bullets left in the duck before butchering and cooking them. That was my first encounter with wild fowl.
As promised I have randomly selected a winner, or rather Warren did, for Diana Kaun’s new book The Chinese Takeout Cookbook. The winner is “gryhndldy.” Let me congratulate “gryhndldy” and I will be contacting you for your mailing information. Diana’s book is a wonderful collection of classic Chinese takeout recipes that you can reproduce at home. Diana’s recipes are easy to follow and use ingredients readily available in your local markets. For those who did not win the book go out and buy a copy. Make takeout Chinese food you can enjoy while controlling the quality of the ingredients, and not worrying about whether your neighborhood restaurant slipped in some MSG unannounced.
In 1953 Admiral Arthur W. Radford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Taiwan for talks with President Chiang Kai-Shek. The presidential palace chef, Peng Chang-Kuei (彭長貴), was asked to create a banquet to entertain the illustrious guest. After planning some traditional Hunan dishes, he decided to create a few new dishes for the menu. One of them was General Tso’s Chicken. Thus the world’s most famous Chinese dish was born.
The last six months of 2012 passed by me stealthily without my realizing it. The new year is here and I find I have neglected Red Cook during those months. But I’ve not abandoned Red Cook, so the report of Red Cook’s death was an exaggeration. With another Chinese New Year coming up, I am determined to restart my blogging effort. Please accept my apology for this interruption and I hope to engage you in Chinese cooking once again.