Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Landscapes

Every year my friends and I pay homage to our origins by visiting the sanctuary of Chinese delights, the culinary and cultural icon thatis Overseas. Everyone I know has been to Imbi and hold sacred a list offavourites they never deter from. With my family, we must have the HolyTrinity -nam yue pai guat, deep fried soft shell crab and sticky sweet freshwater king prawns. Over the years, my closest friends and I have formed our own list by marrying dishes from each other’s list.

On the top of the list is beggar’s duck. This dish came about from one dinner I had with Ivy’s family. I’m not sure how I got invited to dinner that fateful night but I am ever grateful for being introduced to the devastatingly tender and herbaceous duck. One can only marvel at the landscape of duck resting on the stainless steel platter. A gentle prod with a fork and the moist dark flesh starts to fall off in chunks onto the thick aromatic gravy.

Surely the devastating char siu needs no introduction. Just look at it. I surrender in awe. Underneath that sweet, sticky and charred exterior, layers of soft translucent fat and pale tender meat wait to be discovered. It is the perfect aperitif. There is always just enough to leave us wanting more. Pure oral pleasure. On this occasion it was no different. We skipped on the yee sang as it is one dish they don’t make very well at Overseas. To celebrate the new year we ordered lap mei fahn. The waxed meats arrived separately from the claypot rice which we unceremoniously tipped into the pot. I had the honour of mixing it all up. The smokey, gamey meat and fragrant oil-soaked rice is an indulgence I wish I could have more frequently. Less is definitely not more with this dish. Even though my jeans were starting to cut of the blood circulation around my waist, I had two large bowls of the rice on top of everything else.

The deep fried soft shell crab was the last to arrive. This dish always brings me back to my childhood. I guess it was one of those dishes that parents would order for their children. Fried chicken, fried fish, fried, fried, fried - no wonder we are overweight. Anyway, it still taste as good if not better because now I can appreciate the taste and texture of the crab along side strands of chives and onions. I only managed two pieces this time. Over this lifetime I intend to work my way through the menu as there are hundreds of dishes I have not tried. Hmmm, must make more friends…

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