Thursday, 2nd March '06
Deferred Blogging, Part II: 初一
Having failed spectacularly to drag Vicki out on New Year's day, I was reduced to bumming around and enjoying some quiet time. Probably a good thing, because I woke up pretty damnned late and had (perhaps overambitiously) decided to cook for a good 10 people just to have an excuse to make a full-on, proper Chinese meal. See, I hate cooking purely for myself, and I really can't be arsed to put anything together nicely if I'm the only one whose going to eat it. So I get to cook and they get to eat. Cool.
It all started out well enough. Having shopped on New Year's Eve for all the required ingredients (and realising what a booming trade the CaHoa Chinese Grocery was doing for the festive season!) I was all ready to cook up a storm. And everything was going pretty decently... here's a breakdown of the menu:
I completely screwed up the soup, I have to admit. Potatos, carrots, golden needle and onions were all doing fine until I clever-clever go and add in BAMBOO SHOOT. Wah liao eh. You will not appreciate the frustration of not being able to read the packet's instructions because they're in bloody FAN TI ZI. In anycase, I didn't realise the blasted things were pickled in brine. And dad tells me the next day that to deal with the brine situation, one needs to boil the bamboo separately and throw away the water from that before adding it to the whole mix. Kaoz.
So my soup was disastrous by my stringent standards, although some of the folks ate it anyway. *Shudder*.
Huge grin on this one. I found the charsiew marinade in the grocery and decided to just whack. And it whacked out fantastically, if i do say so myself. About 11 people finished off the whole 20 chicken thighs, so I think things went well. My word, the smell of charsiew chicken baking in the oven drives me nuts.
A tribute to Dad, this one. Kailan and siaobaicai stirfried in oyster sauce with fresh prawns and squid. Totally Daddy's type of recipe. Later on someone told me that she didn't normally eat seafood, but she ate it and enjoyed it when I cooked it this way. Yay!
Deep Fried Wantans
This was a situation that made me super - if you'll excuse the bad language - DULAN for the next half an hour. DULAN. There was no other word to describe it. SIBEH DULAN.
I've mentioned the cranky YMCA fire alarms before, haven't I. In case I haven't, they go off on some psycho ringing frenzy every once in a while despite the utter lack of a fire. So there I was, setting some of those nice wantans from the CaHoa Grocery in a pot of boiling oil, right? And I completely forgot that the YMCA kitchen is NOT A CHINESE KITCHEN. Which means it doesn't have a hardworking cooker hob above the stove.
And all you readers out there that have tried deep frying wantans without a cooker hob (yes, all two of you) know what's coming next. Great big billows of SMOKE. Grease smoke. By this time, Freddy and Susann had taken over the wantan frying - and it was damn cute seeing the tall giant Freddy fiddling with the teeny wantans and the hot oil, but that's another story - and it was getting so smoky in the kitchen it was beginning to look like a club in Quebec. Add to that the fact that the kitchen has a grand total of ONE window which looks a little something like this:
See that little hole in the wall at the top-right corner? That's all there is for the window.
Needless to say, everyone else who was in the kitchen mucking around immediately beat a hasty retreat. Out of the the kitchen door. Out of the kitchen door which had A FRIGGIN' SMOKE DETECTOR OUTSIDE IT.
And the alarm goes off!
In quick summary:
Everyone sighs heftily.
Everyone looks dulan-ly at En Ying.
En Ying sighs heftily.
The old laojiaos at the Y (basically me and Zerk) know what happens next.
The rest of the newbbies don't know.
Zerk goes down to try to stop the inevitable from happening.
It doesn't work.
The inevitable inevitably happens.
The entire YMCA International House evacuates.
En Ying doesn't know where to put her face.
The firetrucks roll up in all their siren-wailing, lights-flashing glory.
The firemen pour out.
The firemen carry their equipment into the Y.
The firemen's equipment includes dramatic-looking props like rolled up fire hoses and axes.
Nice German girls tell En Ying not to worry.
En Ying is not worried; En Ying is laojiao enough for that.
En Ying is, however, freaking dulan.
En Ying kena diao about cooking skills or lack thereof.
Firemen discover there's no fire; that's what we SAID.
We all go back up.
En Ying discovers there are about 5 uncooked wantan left.
En Ying decides not to be an idiot. Those wantans can go and Suck It. (Tell me why I'm using BenKoh vocabulary all of a sudden?)
Those wantans go and suck it.
The Eating. Finally.
Yeah, so we all go up to eat and I'm a very crabby state of mind. I mean, it'll make for a good laugh the next day, but right at that very moment... anyhow. I grab a pot of rice and we're ready to go. The rest of it was just good bumming, talking cock and sharing stories and getting to know each other - most of the people who came were new, so we had sometime to find out a bit about them, which was nice.
I don't have all the photos from this event, owing to the Y's awful Internet connection and the fact that it keeps aborting photo transfers, so we'll make do with what we have. This might be the first you get to see of the new exchange students, actually.
From left: Zerk, Armando (Mexican), Mick, Rob (Aussies) and Anna (Swede) getting food. If you look closely at Anna's plate you can see my little pride and joy - the charsiew chicken. (And I don't need any chicken jokes from you, Bert.)
Me. My turn.
Rob telling one of his many stories of the night. Me and Anna. Zerk on what looks to be his second round of chicken.
Lingwei (the other Singaporean), Jess and Ulrike (Germans).
Armando, Mick, Susann and Freddy (Germans too).
And by the end of it all we were too sleepy for the Lower Deck so we all just went home.
[well, the pictures aren't going to take themselves!]