My grandfather did not speak or read a word of English when he moved to America from China at eleven years old. With a lot of hard work, he proudly became an US citizen and began his own Cantonese restaurant in Kingston, NY, from the ground up. He is not a trained chef but has a natural gift for combining unexpected flavors and ingredients into the most delicious dishes. Although the food on the menu is the absolute best Chinese food in the country, the really out-of-this-world dishes are the ones that he serves his family in the back of the restaurant. He doesn't read cookbooks or write down any of his recipes; all his creations are original. Growing up, I spent every summer with him eating these foods. Every morning, we would pick fresh vegetables from his garden that he would use to make the noon and evening meals with. He stuffed garden zucchini the size of my arm (of course, my arm was smaller then) with fresh lobster and shrimp. This is just one example of a simple summertime lunch for him. Without a doubt, his cooking is the greatest influence on my tastes in foods and my own recipes.
- What is the strangest food you have ever eaten?
- Growing up surrounded by Chinese cooking what strange foods have I not eaten. One thousand year old eggs (imagine a purplish congelled egg white and I won't even describe the odor), hot jellyfish relish (great with broiled salmon), bird's nest soup (the bird's nest is made from bird's saliva)...the list goes on and on.
- What do you cook when home alone?
- Lamb rib chops seasoned with S+P, & onion powder and pan-seared in olive oil with sauteed sesame green beans. The whole meal takes 5-10 minutes with easy cleanup.
- Your most treasured kitchen possession:
- My stainless steel slicing knife I bought in NY Chinatown. It's has a thick handle and a perfect balanced weight; it's the only knife I can cut vegetables with.
- The ideal number of guests for a dinner party is:
- 10 adults with a handful of kiddies running around