Sunday night dinner with the idiot cook and chief bottle washer
Believing is your first mistake.
My recipes come mostly in proportions for different ingredients rather than exact measurements. The fact that most taste buds do not work the same way, it will be more flexible if we use proportions to come in with a likeable product. Besides it will be far less typing for me.
Cooking is actually a very creative process. It can be therapeutic. Who said you cannot mix banana with hot chilli oil? Who said lime leaves and lemon grass should only be limited to Vietnamese dishes? We follow recipes because they represent the general preferable taste. It is a fool proof way to gain approval with the food we make. It is perfectly ok to explore and experiment. Michael Smith on Food TV pretty well sums it up by saying, “I will present you with a recipe and that is NO recipe!”
There are important elements in cooking.
There must be a good understanding of knife skills. It does not need to be fancy. The basic skills of knowing how to use the knife without hurting yourself become important and the efficient method of cutting will transform the tedious job of preparation into a more tolerable one.
You need time and patience when you are cooking. Chinese cooking and Western cooking take a very different approach.
Chinese cooking talks about speed. Cooking is done within seconds and serving is immediate. Taste is number 1 and appearance is secondary. Soya sauce dominates everything. It can even distort the natural taste of your food ingredients.
Western cooking usually takes more time. It talks about using ingredients that project the natural taste of the ingredients. It talks about blending the flavours together to present a new dimension. This reveals itself in the sauces. Western cooking talks about garnishes. It has to be both pleasing to the eye and the taste bud. Herbs and spices are widely used and identified.
We can take the good qualities from both cooking systems and employ our own version of cooking. This is how fusion food arises. Take the best from different system and incorporate them under one style.
After all said and done. Let us try a simple spaghetti (pasta) sauce here.
The fact I am a lazy person goads me to making things the unconventional way adds speed to my food preparation. This is a recipe that does not require long time simmering and ready to be used. Clean up is also minimal.
Bacon slices cut into strips
Garlic, cloves, peeled and bashed
Carrots, diced (for a more aggressive approach, carrots can be roasted ahead of time. Roasted carrot has a smoky flavour and the sugar will caramelize the same as the onions. We add carrot for 2 reasons, the colour and the sweet taste and it is a lot cheaper. 1 carrot should be enough)
Crushed tomato (start with a 14 oz can crushed tomato. You can adjust the quantity.)
There is a big discussion comparing fresh tomato to canned tomato. Canned tomatoes are usually picked at their prime for canning. They are the best quality at the time. There is no hesitation to using this. Fresh tomatoes are good too, but way too much work. You have to de-seed, take the skin off and all these. I take the short cut.)
Herbs and spices
Oregano, rosemary, basil, parsley, thyme, (the above are all dry ingredients for easy accessibility. You can also use fresh ingredients)
Crushed chilli pepper / chilli oil (I add this item for some heat)
Lemon juice, shredded lemon peel, (this is optional. The slight addition of lemon juice and peel would brighten up the taste)
Heat a pot, medium heat
Cut up bacon strips and cook in pot
The oil and grease would come out, lower the heat and crisp up the bacon
When the grease comes out of the bacon, put diced onion in, onions would slowly turn translucent and eventually caramelized
Put the carrots in with the onions as well
Peel garlic clove, bashed it and put in together with the bacon
When you see the bacon is crispy and dry, the garlic and onions are caramelized, put the can crushed tomato in the pot with the mixture.
The spices and herbs can go in and mix thoroughly.
Transfer the mixture to a blender, food processor. Blend the whole mixture up.
Season it to taste. If you find the sauce too sour, put some sugar in to adjust the taste.
The grease of the bacon would blend in a smoothening effect to the sauce. If you find the grease too much when cooking the bacon, you can certainly discard some of the grease. The smoky flavour of the bacon adds another layer of taste to the sauce. The salt from the bacon is probably enough and you can add just black pepper to taste.
When you are serving the sauce, you have to warm it up any ways. Just simmer it a bit and allow the flavour of the spices come through.
We are living in a glorious world. Nothing is more deserving than our tummy to receive all the wonderful foods. We learn the principle. We explore the danger.
The whole idea behind this is “Try, Try again”
The next time we will explore another dimension in food.