I grew up in a typical Asian family. No open display of affection was shown but rather, food was used as the vehicle in which love was transported from one person to the next.
As a child, this wasn’t something which made sense, especially when I would see my non-Asian friends’ families receive hugs and kisses from their parents. It wasn’t until I was an adult before I realized that whenever my mother would make a meal for us, it was done with the utmost love, usually a dish that was my favorite, or my brother’s favorite. The thoughtfulness and care put into the dishes were as though, the hugs and kisses were translated through the food — (the first time I watched Like Water For Chocolate, the film resonated in leaps and bounds for me).
The first time I had dinner at home with my brother’s entire family, my brother and I ventured to the wet market to buy ingredients for the evening’s meal. We made sure that everyone was taken into account. My sister-in-law is an avid crab lover, and I love shrimp. We bought some beef for the kids and ended up with more seafood just for good measure.
Between my brother, my sister in law’s dad and the amah, a meal was prepared in about an hour.
We made the Thai basil ground beef for the kids. It turned out exceptional well purely because the heat emission from the gas stove was seriously strong and the wok was a typical Chinese one, not the ones we use in the West.
Crab with ginger and scallions was great. The flesh was sweet and flavorful and the condiments enhanced the flavors well.
My son’s favorite turned out to be the “kwei fei” clams which I’m not sure if there is an equivalent in the West, but after much research I would say it’s closest to short-necked clams. They were steamed with fresh minced garlic and a light soy sauce and hot oil dressing added right after. The result is absolutely delicious. The clam had a nice firm texture but without being rubbery.
Poached shrimps are my favorite. In my brother’s household they are poached with ginger and scallions, but when I do it, it’s just in water and nothing else. A chili soy dipping sauce accompanies.
Just to balance our meal out we have some vegetables. Bok choy and choy sum, very commonly found in Hong Kong markets everywhere.
A simple meal at home with the freshest of ingredients can be had every single day here, if you are willing to go to the market before every meal.