One of the way I de-stress is to cook for the family. My repertoire has increased over the years, thanks to my mother who patiently showed me the steps for all my favourites. Of course mother’s still best, I am just learning the ropes so that when I finally retire in Taiwan, I can still enjoy an occasional hometown special.
Most of the steps are documented, and the ingredients recorded, however the proportion of the ingredients was never an exact science. Mother always uses gut feel. I have tried to put the amount down, but never seems to get it right. The trick is observation and tasting and adjusting to get it just right.
One of the most difficult dish I have learnt from Mom is Ngoh Hiang. The Teochew Ngor Hiang is stuffed with different tubers (carrot, water chestnut, etc), prawns, minced meat, and a few Mom’s secrets. These are mixed together with pepper and salt to taste. The Hokkien version adds five spice powder at this point, but we don’t. No MSG as well 🙂
Then the savory stuffing is rolled into bean curd skin (salted, not the sweet variety). It is a task that requires some skills as the skins have to be wiped with a damp cloth to soften them but then added the complexity of the skin breaking easily. After wrapping the Ngoh Hiang, the sausage-like raw product has to be steamed to cook and form the Ngor Hiang. Before serving, these steamed Ngor Hiang are fried to obtain the crispy and browned Ngor Hiang that we are familiar with.
The joy of cooking is the process. You shop for the raw materials and then start preparing the ingredients. It is more fun when the whole family is involved. And when the food is prepared, it warms my heart to see them finish every morsel of my hard work.
Sorry, I forgot to take the photos of the finished prawn noodles – we were engrossed in eating and forgot to take photos.