Last week my brother and I cooked up a Chinese feast for dinner. That the meal had just three dishes did not seem to matter to us. With this being one of his first attempts at cooking ‘fancy’ food, my brother was over the moon with the way things turned out. To show off his newly-acquired cooking skills, we had invited a couple of friends too.
We prepared Chinese Fried Rice, Stir-Fry Vegetables and Honey Chilli Potato. For dessert, I’d also ‘beautifully’ decorated (or so I claim!) mango ice-cream with chopped banana on individual serving plates. It is altogether a different matter that people weren’t really enthused with my creativity and passed on the banana pieces to me, being entirely content with the luscious ice-cream!
You can read more about the dinner here.
The preparation resulted in some really hilarious moments. The potatoes were fried and ready for the Honey Chilli Potato and I had explained the process of sautéing to my brother, who prepared the dish. Chinese food requires little cooking. Everything is sautéed for just a few mins on high heat, so all ingredients have to be added quickly one after the other.
He confidently took to the stove and added the first couple of ingredients, but then he forgot what was to be done next. While he simply stood next to the stove sautéing all the stuff, I kept running around getting him this and that to add to the dish being cooked. Everyone had a hearty laugh at my expense!
Another funny moment was when the stir-fry was being cooked. We’d planned the dishes such that the rice and the potato would be readied in advance. We prepared the stir-fry just before serving the dinner so that we could serve it sizzling hot, straight off the cooking range. We have a two-burner gas stove and my ma planned that while we prepared the stir-fry on one side, she’d prepare hot rotis (Indian bread) on the other. Yes! My parents need roti for dinner, come Chinese or south-Indian food! What ma was not prepared for was the strong garlic flavour as the food cooked.
My mother’s allergic to garlic and has garlic-flavoured food only occasionally. Chinese food is flavoured with few spices and depends mostly on garlic and soy sauce to flavour the food. Mom walked into the kitchen just as we added the chilli-garlic paste to the pan and she literally had to run out due to the strong garlicky smell! She refused to come into the kitchen till the dish was done.
All in all, we had fun preparing the food and my brother was even more delighted with all the appreciation he got for his cookery. I too realised that Chinese food (at least the Indian interpretation of it!) is quick and easy to prepare and at and is more satisfying to eat than ordering the same at a restaurant.
We referred to this recipe but realised that quite a few things were unclear. So, we interpreted it in our own fashion.
HONEY CHILLI POTATO
Potatoes – 5
Dry red chillies – 4
Garlic – 3 cloves
Chilli-garlic sauce – 1 tbsp
Soy sauce – 1 tbsp
Vinegar – 2 tsp
Cornflour – 5 tbsp
Honey – 1 tbsp
Sugar – ½ tsp
Onion – 1 (small)
Spring onion (greens intact) – 2
Oil – 1 tbsp + enough to deep fry potatoes
Sesame seeds – 1 tsp
Finely chop onion, quarter spring onion bulbs and chop the greens
Soak red chillies in 1 tbsp of water and microwave for 1 min. Let it stay in the water for 15 mins
Meanwhile, heat oil for frying potatoes
Chop potatoes into wedges (we chopped them into fingers, but it became to oily…fatter pieces would have been better)
Add a tsp of water at a time to the cornflour and make a thick paste
Add potato wedges to the cornflour paste and mix well with your hands
Deep fry the wedges and keep on thick paper towels to absorb extra oil
Dry toast sesame seeds and keep aside
Grind garlic and red chillies with the water in which they were soaked into a coarse paste
Heat oil in a pan and add this paste
Add onion and spring onion. Mix well and sauté till onions turn translucent
Add chilli-garlic sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, honey, salt and sugar and mix well
Add fried potato wedges and half the spring onion greens
Cook on medium heat for 2 mins to allow the sauce to coat wedges and for the flavours to infuse
Remove from heat
Garnish with remaining spring onion greens and toasted sesame seeds