Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Delightful Disaster

Monkey "chop-ed" this post to be published here since 2 weeks ago.

I do not know how people get disillusioned into thinking that neil can cook (but surely you can too, if you had access to a wok and stove - but what comes out of that is entirely another matter, don't you agree?) And the same people somehow conjured the impression that neil particularly made good butter prawns. She insisted that I showed her how it was done so she could make it for her fiance. Ah, she didn't know what she asked for.

I was asked to make myself available and go to her place for the culinary exploration session, and I brought her along to help clean up whatever mess that may ensue (by eating it). We arrived at about seven, and most of the ingredients needed were cleaned and ready to be maimed.

The supposed highlight of the evening:

Those were an awful lot for 3 people, I casually noted. Eh, she said, someone else would be coming for dinner - wasn't I already informed? No, I guess I missed that SMS. The pressure to make an at least presentable dinner just increased. Gah!

She had cut the carrots and french beans the day before. There was also a pot of soup nicely simmering on the stove, started before we got there. The frying of fish cakes and the veges were done first and were a breeze. And with everything else completed, we began on the prawns, and the catastrophy started...

OK, this wasn't quite a catastrophy:

There were more screams than was wise or necessary when we deep friend the prawns, but it wasn't a catastrophy either:

To make the long why-disaster-happened story short, the crispy, crunchy, fine, meshy, golden-brown strands stir-fried with the prawns in any standard butter prawns dish are actually egg yolk stirred into very hot oil + butter. And what happend that evening that turned that dish into disaster was the good ol' Chinese thrifty-ness.

neil: I think we can re-use the oil used for frying the prawns, but it looks quite black
She: Is it very black?
neil: I don't know, your pan is black also... can't see
She: Throw it away la
She: Hmmmm...
neil: A bit wasteful ler...
She: How? Throw half and keep half?
neil: Hmmmm...
She: How much oil you need la?

(this conversation would make this the longest post you'd ever read if I continued...)

Anyway, in the end, we carried on using the entire lot of sooty-black recycled oil. You must be shaking your head - don't shake too much, careful that neck.

The eggs looked quite fine at first:


"I smell something burnt"
"Take them out!"
"It isn't the egg, it's the OIL!"

Disaster. The eggs looked black and overcooked even before they were tossed back into the work to be stir-fried with the prawns and curry leaves. Sigh. This dish actually looked better here in this pic that it really looked that evening.

By then, the mystery guest had arrived, and brought with him half a duck! We ended up having a table spread to the maximum with food, and we'd no idea how we could finish them all.

But of course, everyone enjoyed dinner very much. Dinner itself was good, if not great, and the company was grand.

At the end of the adventure, she agreed that she needed a lot more practice (and cooking instructions from someone better suited to give them!) before attempting to cook butter prawns for her fiance. Still, there is no denying that that evening was truly delightful, and very amusing.

Thanks, A, for inviting us over, and thanks, ST, for taking photos ;)

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