Netflix recently premiered the series “Flavourful Origins” and the first series was all about my ancestral hometown Chaoshan 潮汕.
Chicken Bowl 鸡公碗 has historical and cultural significance to the Chaoshan and Minnan areas. In these areas since the early days, ceramic utensils and tableware have vivid portraits of black-tailed cockerels. As the saying goes, “To become rich, you must have a chicken bowl in your home to start!”
It turned out that in the initial farming society, cockerel’s crows were the the alarm bells which woke everyone up to start a day of work. And in these early days of hardship, mealtime was especially important and precious. Unlike the porcelain ware that upper class would used that are adorned with phoenix and dragons, the simple agricultural society would use bowls paints with these black-tailed cockerels.
“Chicken” 「鸡」 sounded like “Home”「家」in the Chaoshan and Minnan dialects, so “To amass wealth” 「起家」sounded like “to serve chicken” 「起鸡」. And it was not very often to have chicken in their daily meals, so these folks would paint the chickens in their tableware.
Chaoshan cuisine is famed for its simplicity, bringing out the original flavours of the ingredients. Every course has its own dipping sauce.
Crispy big intestine stuffed with glutinous rice 脆皮大肠酿糯米. There were bits of Chinese sausage and dried mushrooms in the glutinous rice. The intestine was fried to a crisp and this was a pretty substantial starter. To be dipped in the worcestershire sauce.
Braised Chenghai lion-head goose platter 卤澄海狮头鹅拼盘 was quintessential Teochew dish that every decent Teochew restaurant would have. Here the portion was just right to be shared for two, and if dining along, it would also be perfect with a bowl of rice. It came with 4 cuts of the goose, the feet, wings, breast and liver. The meat was tender, but I would not call it moist. It was a bit dry when served, but you can always asked for the braise to drizzle over the meat. To be dipped with minced garlic and chilli vinegar 蒜泥醋。
Organic pork meatball with motherwort soup 益母草农家土猪肉丸汤. Known for both taste and nutritional value, Chinese motherwort is usually blanched and added to soup and congee. Here, it was combined with pork meatballs, wolfberry and pork stock for a wonderfully simple yet tasty soup. Reminded of my mom’s homemade “knocked-out-a-la-minute” pork meatball soup, though instead of motherwort, we used 珍珠菜 looseweed. But both have that herbal, minty taste and a bit of bitterness in the good way.
Yam paste with gingko nuts 福果芋泥. Teochew love their sweet dessert, nothing more than yam paste. There are many combination – with pumpkin mash, with sweet potato, and recently, with gingko nuts. Their version was tasty but lacked the oomph from pork lard, which was added traditionally for added texture, smoothness and umami.
Besides these classics, Happy Family offers other classic Teochew dishes like fried oysters omelette 蚝烙, steamed mullet 乌鱼饭, Puning tofu 普宁豆腐, etc.
The service was prompt and warm. The food was reasonably priced. What I liked was the portion was just right for one person to have a proper meal.
家府潮汕菜(中山公园龙之梦店) Happy Family Chaoshan (Longemont Zhongshan)
Date visited : Nov 2018