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just like mom's
a homemade chinese meal

by Yee-Fan Sun 
1 2 3 4

Not to pat myself on the back too much, but yeah, most days, Iíd say Iím a pretty decent cook. I like to cook; I do it often. And thatís the biggest part of it: most folks I know who cook often, cook well.

But when it comes to Chinese food, I have to admit: no matter how hard I try, my versions rarely taste as good as my momís. The big problem, Iím convinced, is that my mother provides the worst directions in the world. Whenever I get the hankering for some amazing dish I remember she used to make, Iíll send her an email requesting the recipe. What Iíll get back is something that generally looks something like this: Very easy! Chop the meat. Marinate in some soy sauce and cornstarch for awhile. Cook until ready. Stir-fry the vegetable with some ginger and garlic. Add the meat to finish.

No quantities, no times: my motherís recipes are decidedly minimalist. All of which works dandy for her, with her many, many decades of Chinese cooking expertise. Left to fill in the details on my own, though, something invariably gets left out. The end result is usually fine by other folksí standards. But in my own mind, knowing how the same dish tasted last time I had it at my momís, I canít help but be a little disappointed that mineís just not the same.

These days, each time I head back to my parentsí, I try to take advantage of the opportunity to watch my mom at work -- pestering her to show me the quantities, to help me narrow down the times, taking note of all those little technique tricks that she does without even thinking about them, but that make all the difference in the world. Check out two of the latest recipes Iíve managed to wheedle out of her. Add steamed rice, maybe a bowl of Chinese pickles, and you have a complete meal for fourÖ so much better than take-out.

bop along this way for the recipes...


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