Saturday, May 3, 2008

A Family Affair

I call this an old family recipe because it has such a personal history and so many stories that surround it, such as: when it almost blinded my Burmese-Italian cousin: “Darshan, I’m blind….IM BLIND!!”, or when it almost helped my sister lose her first boyfriend [we hoped], or when my dad [Pa], true master of the recipe, woke up the morning after the very same sister’s wedding to find a trail of rose petals leading from his bedroom directly to the szechuan chicken recipe [hint hint!].

But as experts in Chinese geography might have guessed, and as you can see from the scan below, the recipe is not Sri Lankan. Its ripped from Charmaine Solomon’s Asian Cookbook [a must have] and I still follow her pretty much to the letter. It may look slack [and sorry about the sm. type] but I’ve included a scanned version of our original family copy below to show the amount of use it has had over the years [notice the ‘tick’ up the top which must have been the first time Pa chose to cook it].

A word in favour of deep-frying: This is not a cooking technique to be derided or looked down on but a fine art of precision, texture and fish & chip shop sound effects. A few of the other contributors to Family Pies are responsible for purchasing my deep-fryer and well, its been a hot, crispy, slightly salty, 3rd degree burning love affair ever since. In short: don’t try shallow frying this chicken – Pa and Charmaine just won’t have it.

WARNING: Szechuan chicken is extremely tasty before you put it in the sauce [kinda like KFC] and will be snapped up by any kitchen hangers in the vicinity. It is also one of those slow-melding, burning dishes that pack extra punch and flavour on day two: often devoured with toast or in a Brewell in front of the Sega Mega Drive. So make extra – perhaps triple the current recipe?

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