It all began when I was all of 6 years old, helping my maternal Grandmother and Father in the kitchen with small chores like washing and chopping the vegetables and lighting the coal fires in the little clay stoves as they prepared the daily meals for a family of eight. Growing up in Vietnam as a Chinese family meant that I was exposed to a wide variety of cuisines at an early age.
My Grandma was the first to open my eyes to the world of food. Every day, we would make three separate trips to the market to buy ingredients for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was amazing to experience the hustle and bustle of the market; and a feast for the eyes to see all the food that was fresh and vibrant.
As a child, I was given cooking utensils, a small clay pot and stove to play with. My fondest memory was being able to cook rice in my little clay pot over fire and actually eat it. This provided me with countless hours of fun. Vietnamese food has to be the cuisine that resonates with me most because of its freshness, lightness and use of aromatic herbs.
I like to play with food and recreate classics with a modern twist. I love cooking stir-fries because they take only a few minutes to cook and the high heat locks in the flavours of the ingredients with the intensity of the “wok hei”.
I always make it a point to share what I know. My dad taught me that if I was going to teach, I was to hold nothing back and so my best cooking advice is to learn to taste before you learn to cook. Once you know what something tastes like, you can use your imagination to recreate and reinvent a dish. If there’s one thing that I never trade with anyone in the Salt. It intensifies the flavours of almost everything it touches.
There really is no secret to it. The recipe is easy to do, but the herbs, salad and fish sauce really add that extra dimension.
When I realized that I won a weekly prize I was thrilled because it was something that I had come up with using a traditional recipe and made it my own. And about the choice of restaurant that Asian Inspirations has chosen, Flower Drum has had a strong culinary history and it’s been a while since I last visited so it will be good to experience to savour the food again. I would like to share my dining experience with a few of the participants that have enthusiastically entered the competition who would also appreciate this dining experience with me.
There were a number of dishes which made me drool! I fell in in love with Adrian’s Crispy Nori Crusted Whitebait and Charlies Chilli Mud Crab as I love my seafood. I particularly love fried whitebait and calamari, so the Crispy Nori crispy Crusted whitebait caught my eyes. I like the idea of adding nori to the coating to give the whitebait that extra natural sea lift and I can imagine myself munching on a whole bowl of these light crispy nori bait non- stop.
I could imagine the hot and sour taste of Charlie’s Chilli Mud Crab. Hot and sour flavours are delectable, especially in seafood. This dish reminds me of the Vietnamese Tamarind Crab which is one of my favorites but also the “Chinese Gone Jien Har Looke” because to its tomato sauce base. (Gone jien har looke is a crispy stir fried prawn dish cooked with a tomato sauce)
I would like to thank Asian Inspirations a wonderful contest. Not only has it given me such a great opportunity to share all my dishes but also inspired me to cook and share more and dine out less. Cooking is the best way to destress and find happiness within.
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