The Art of Cooking!
Have been cooking for my family in recent weeks, trying to hone (or actually trying to remember) my cooking skills from my studying days in the UK.
A few things I notice as I do my ‘zhi-char’:
The actual cooking is just 1/2 of the whole process. As my sis says, anyone can just fry the meat dish once all the preparations have been done. True, I think the segment that requires more skill is the prelimary work that needs to be done. How to choose what ingredients to buy? How to know they’re fresh? How to select the parts for the purposes you want? (bones for soup, fatty meat for stew etc) How to marinate the meat without too much salt / pepper / sesame oil / soy sauce / condiment xyz?
Cooking is such a sensual experience. It involves all 5 senses in order to create a yummy dish. How do we know when a dish has been cooked just right? We look at it. (Steamed fish’s eyes bulged out nicely) We smell it. (Once the garlic and onion have been fried so that the aroma given out is just right, not too burnt!) We feel it. (Take one chopstick and poke the whole chicken to see if there is blood left on the chopstick). We hear it. (The oil must sizzle just right or it will not get cooked because the oil is too cold, or the food will get burnt too quickly if the oil is too hot) And of course we taste it. But with the proper use of all the 4 other senses, the tasting can become the last ‘test’!