Finally, the 12-day ordeal working at my parents’ restaurant ended last Thursday. And of course, the day right after the last day, I got a huge headache that last almost 12 hours. So as much as I wanted to get back on schedule with blog writing, I thought better to take it easy the whole weekend. But it’s Monday! And I’m finally on my summer vacay. Doesn’t feel like it at all but I’m sure I’m getting there.
One of the perks of working in a Chinese restaurant is of course the food. I hardly ever make Chinese myself, cos I try to have a low-carb diet and Chinese food just ain’t that good without a healthy portion of rice on the side. But working at the restaurant for 12 days, I naturally had to throw my low-carb rule out of the window and indulge in carb-tastic goodness. Here’s 12 days of Chinese food:
Day 1, lunch. They sell these little fish the size of my hand in the freezer at Asian grocery stores and I guess they are sea fish, you can kinda taste it. I guess they were frozen pretty fresh cos the don’t require much preparation. Just a little bit of salt and into a hot pan. They would come out so crunchy that some of the bones can be eaten. For veggie, just some fried Chinese spinach. There are also two little pieces of leftover pork.
Day 1, dinner. I guess it’s not really Chinese, cos it’s Thai red curry stir-fried veggies and beef.
Day 2, lunch. Since we were at a restaurant, of course you gotta utilize that deep-frying machine. So I requested fried chicken wings, no batter, just seasoning and potato starch. I did make it a bit more Western by making a Tabasco mayo for a dip, cause you gotta have that hot sauce with fried chicken, right? Then for veggies some fried paprika, celery, mushrooms and snap peas.
Day 3, lunch. Steamed pork ribs is one of those traditional Chinese home cooking dishes that had been there from my childhood. I still love it. It got lot of garlic and black beans. To balance the fattiness of the ribs, for veggies there were fried kimchi, cucumber and paprika. A little fusion with Korean treasure kimchi never hurt no one. 😛
Day 4, lunch. When you run out of ideas as to waht to eat, then chuck everything you find in the fridge and make a dumpster stir-fry. There’s pork, dried shrimps, wood ear, mushrooms, paprika, carrot, shiitake mushrooms etc.
Day 4, snack. There are different deep fried items on the lunch menu everyday and my favorite is the fried shrimps, not the big ones but the little ones. This item is not on every Chinese restaurant menus, and I seriously don’t understand why not, it’s so good.
Day 5, lunch. One of those more colorful days. Finland is known as the land of thousand lakes, so their lake fish are plentiful. Among the best is this tiny little fish, I believe it’s called vendace. They taste fresh and sweet, and are very good for deepfrying and I usually eat the whole thing, bones and heads and all. For greens, there were fried mini pok chois. And for veggie dish number two, there were tomato eggs with some little shrimps and salted duck egg.
Day 6, lunch. Half-way through the 12 days, I celebrated with some pork chops. I love to use pork shoulders, as it’s a more fattier cut and also Finns view it as ‘the rubbish cut’, so we get it super cheap. Here are some pork shoulders with black pepper sauce and lots of onions. For veggies just some boiled romaine lettuces soaked in soy sauce and pork fat.
Day 7, dessert. It’s not necessarily Chinese, but mango and coconut combo are nonetheless very Asian. Here I had some fresh mangos, and coconut flavored mochi ice-cream.
Day 8, lunch. Chicken wings in satay sauce. The nutty satay sauce is always a best friend with chicken. For veggies, again, just some simple romaine lettuces.
Day 9, lunch. Stuffed jalopeño. Jalopeño peppers are not sold fresh that often so when I saw them fresh in the grocery store, I had to get a bunch. Everytime I eat a jalopeño fritter stuffed with cheese in the restaurant, I always imagine that it would probably taste really good with meat stuffing. So here we are, stuffed jalopeños with pork filling. The pork is mixed with dried shrimps and shells to make it tasty, then some basic seasoning like salt and pepper. The stuffed pepper was then pan fried and an oyster-sauce based dip was drizzled all over it. They were spicy and absolutely delicious. As veggies, there was some fried tofu, kimchi and shiitake mushrooms.
Day 10, lunch. There were tons of pork meat stuffing left so we made something else the next day, another traditional stuffed item: eggplant. As veggies, some simple gabbage and mushrooms.
Day 11, lunch. I’ve made mini omelettes many times myself, but it’s my dad that I’ve learned it from. So here’s some mini omelettes from the original souce and some fried veggies.
Day 11, dinner. I just had some leftovers from lunch like I do most nights, and then some beef fried noodles.
Day 12, lunch. Last day, one of the grand jewel of Chinese, especially Cantonese cuisine: crispy pork belly. I’ve seen it become a little bit of a trendy food nowadays, but I’m sad to say, you really can’t get the real deal anywhere. I’ve watched many recipes and videos of celebrity chefs making it, including Gordon Ramsay, but none of them makes it like my dad does. He used to work at a barbecue shop, so he learned a few trick. The secret is to choose a fatty enough belly, there have to be enough fat under the skin, or else it won’t get crispy. And the secret is to stab the skin with a sharp needle. A lot of holes, evenly throughout the skin, and all the way in so the fat can get through. The end result is a skin so crispy that it would stay crispy even after refrigeration and freezing, if you want to keep a batch for raining days. Just reheat in the oven. And for the love of God, do not throw away the fat dripping from the meat. That lard is going to take your simple fried veggies to the next level.
Here you go, hope you enjoyed this. 🙂 It’s Monday 17th of July, which means it’s Game of Thrones season 7 premiere! Yeah, in the US it’s on Sundays but for pretty much the rest of the world, it’s on Mondays. I’m off to watch it with Sir Atticus (yay!) and will start a new 7-part series for Tuesdays starting tomorrow to write episode reviews. I’ve done this before. Although not last year cos let’s be honest, last season had only two good episodes. But I have a feeling that season 7 would be great material. Fewer episodes mean fewer fillers, right? Let’s hope so. See you tomorrow.