[thechat] Shipping costs

Madhu Menon webguru at vsnl.net
Wed Oct 30 14:29:01 CST 2002

At 09:15 PM 30-10-02, William Anderson wrote:
>[clicks on link]
>oooh, ken hom - the jamie oliver of his day :)

When I first picked up a wok (a Ken Hom wok, btw) in 1988, Ken Hom's book
"Quick and Easy Chinese Cookery" was the first book I ever read on Chinese
cooking. So yeah, he's been a significant influence in my life.  :)

Back then, getting exotic ingredients like oyster sauce, five-spice powder,
hoisin sauce, etc. was next to impossible. I had to depend on my father's
business associates to get stuff from UK for me. It was a good deal. I
cooked for them; they got me ingredients. :)

Oh well, since I'm rambling anyway, let me tell you about how I got into
cooking. When I was a li'l boy, I loved to eat Chinese food (yes, the
Indo-Chinese glop). Unfortunately, it wasn't much to my parents' liking.

One day, while flipping through an Argos catalogue (which was usually
around for my brother to order toys), I chanced upon the kitchenware
section. There was an item that caught my fancy. It said, "Ken Hom 12"
carbon steel wok. Comes with booklet, spatula and chopsticks." I thought,
"what the heck, let me check it out. Maybe there will be some interesting
recipes I can get mother to make." So I asked my father, who was leaving
for UK soon, to bring it for me. The poor man actually lugged the heavy wok
back to India.

Well, I read the book, tried some cooking, watched some cookery shows on
TV, and found I had a knack for it. Within a year or two, I was actually
churning out edible stuff. I watched the cookery shows every afternoon on
TV. Yan Can Cook was on Tuesday, and I was always in awe at the man's
deftness with the cleaver. I got my own cleaver, and was determined to chop
garlic and ginger like he did. It didn't turn out to be so hard (tip: get a
bloody sharp knife and eliminate fear from your mind) and garlic can
actually be minced in 5-10 seconds. In the past 14 years, I've surprisingly
never cut myself once while chopping stuff.

The most important lesson I've learnt in cooking is that it's not about a
list of instructions in the recipe. What is more important is to understand
how flavours interact, how contrast works, and what happens when you do
something. For instance, adding a touch of sugar to lime juice can heighten
the lime flavour without making it sweet. If you thought of sugar as just
being a sweetener, you'd never learn about how the two flavours can produce
something unexpected. (If you have time, read this:
http://www.thaifoodandtravel.com/features/balance.html - Balancing
flavours: an exercise)

If you're interested in Chinese cookery, pick up a copy of the late Barbara
Tropp's "Modern art of Chinese cooking"

(Not recommended for beginners. Tropp can be quite rigid on certain
principles like insisting on fresh-killed chicken, and it takes a
relatively experienced cook to know when compromises can be made. Despite
its authoritarian tone at times, it's a great introduction to the
principles and methods of Chinese cookery. But if you're just looking for a
quick fried rice recipe, don't bother with this tome.)

If you've actually read this far, you clearly don't have enough work to do. ;)

Thanks for letting me ramble.



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Madhu Menon
Internet User Experience Consultant

Content * Interfaces * Usability * Net Strategy

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