Saturday, February 9, 2008

Chinese New Year and the Goose

As you all know, today is the third day of the Year of the Rat. Chinese New Year is traditionally celebrated for ten days.
“……During Chinese festivals there was always much sharing of food, and that was traditional style Teochiu food that I have come to miss……”
Teochiu is the ancestral home of the Cockroach Catcher. I was born in Yunnan because of circumstances beyond my parents’ control—the Second World War. Outside China, Teochiu cuisine may not be as well known as Cantonese, Shanghai, or Peking cuisine. However it is no less tasty. I am of course totally biased as far as Teochiu food is concerned. To celebrate New Year Day, my wife made Teochiu Braised Goose . Most “foodies” know about this famous goose. My wife has developed her own recipe, which is adapted from the one my mother gave her years ago. She found our fish kettle just the right size and shape for the job. Braising a goose in a fish kettle has got to be a Cockroach Catcher first!

Generally, the goose is served cold with the meat sliced into large and thin slices. This is where the Cockroach Catcher’s surgical skills come in handy.
The sauce in which the goose is cooked is used for dipping and a second sauce of good quality vinegar and garlic and finely chopped chili is the traditional Teochiu way. The chili is of course optional and best not overused. If you cannot find good Chinese vinegar, a mixture of good balsamic and white wine vinegar will do very nicely.
A good Burgundy or top quality Rhone wine will go well with this dish. If you prefer white than there is no better match than the little known but wonderful Jurançon from the Pyrenees, the sweet variety is what I prefer as it has enough acid to cut through the fat of goose and the sweetness a good match for the sauces. Then there is always Champagne and my current favourite is Tattinger. The great thing with the basic Champagne from the great houses is its family characteristic. The Tattinger Brut will give you hints of their great Comtes de Champagne. Moet and Chandon remains my all time favourite. Yes, close your eyes and you can taste Dom Perignon.
Well, there is the fat. Goose fat is the true come back kid, thanks to the Goddess, who recommended it as best for frying potato chips. It has a high smoke point and is now seen as one of the best quality fat.
In the brief time my father ran the poultry farm, he kept goose too. We used to use the fat as butter for special Teochiu cakes. I can still taste them now. Alas, Bird Flu is threatening its supply n England.
This reminds me of the demise of my father’s farm, which was described in The Cockroach Catcher:
“……The farm was to be closed rather unexpectedly. There was nothing wrong with the running of it; and business was good. But “Bird Flu” struck and it struck bad, literally wiping out our whole stock. No farm along the river was spared. The sight of dead poultry was horrible. I do not know how they were cleared, but cleared they were, probably by the government.
Thus my father’s little entrepreneurial venture came to an abrupt end. I do not think he really ever recovered from that as he never went into another business venture and became very cautious……”

Buy the book: The Cockroach Catcher

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The Shrink said...

Hope you have a great new year, the food does indeed sound a mighty appealing way to kick off the Year of the Rat!

Am Ang Zhang said...

Thank you, and best wishes to you. Psychiatry should be fun too, don't you agree? I am so glad to have found Lake Cocytus.