Mr.Shan ‘s Kitchen in the Eyes of His Daughter
By Liu Lingzi
Sit by the fire, and share the flavours of life.
The soul of eating is to chew the delight in food. Chinese food harmonizes five essential flavours (sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty) and the art of Chinese cooking lies in the choosing and changing of ingredients. Even with limited cooking wares and seasonings, you can still cook different dishes that are pleasant both to the eye and the tongue as long as you slightly alter cooking procedures. Those who know the essence of eating value the good appearance of a dish, but they place a higher value on the ingredients themselves. As to the look of their dishes, Chinese are not very particular about plate presentation. Proper ingredients crash in a natural way, and when the crash is suddenly intercepted at the right moment, they evolve into special sceneries, sceneries on the plate.
In comparison to the dishes’ colours, smells are even more delicate. The aroma of food sometimes greets you directly and thickly, and sometimes presents itself subtly and softly. You will know which kind is more pleasant. But if a stinky mandarin fish (marinated mandarin fish is smelly but tasty) is served onto the table, the whole room will stink of its ‘incredible’ smell. But that smell is not a real stink. Although it could be offensive at first, you will gradually come to terms with it and accept it, because you know it tastes good. Therefore, it doesn’t actually disgust you, and instead brings laughter and jokes to the table. Everyone targets it as the first dish, wanting to finish it as quickly as possible, and then open the window and let out the smell. When served occasionally a paradoxical dish like this can be the spice of life.
As for the tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty, each can numb the tongue when it is too much. A good cook knows how much is the proper amount without the need to refer to a recipe. Having cooked for long, the cook already has a recipe of his own in mind. Cooking is just like singing—it is easy enough to sing with the lyrics and music, but it’s always hard to perfect the flavour.