My childhood dream was to become a food critic.
I was acutely aware of every breath I took being a sickly child with asthma, so one of my favourite past times was watching my mum cook.
If I can’t breath, it might as well smell delicious.
When Anthony Bourdain travels the world and asks what people’s last meal would be, it would usually be something that mum made.
For me, it’s 潮州粿條湯. Here are some stats:
Just when you’re about to eat, you boil rice noodles in plain water, and THEN you pour your chicken stock on top. Add scallions, fried garlic, cilantro, and preserved cabbage.
A lil rant now: rice noodles come n all shapes in sizes, just like Italian pasta. I hate it when English recipes say “rice noodles” or “rice vermicelli.”
It’s equivalent to a Linguine Alfredo recipe telling you to add “stringed pasta.” Which one? Spaghetti? Linguine? Capellini?
This may sound simple, but when this is made in my house, we pay attention to detail! The pickled cabbage must be dried outside for a week, mixed with rice wine and garlic, and then set outside in a jar for 3 months.
When the cosmos aligns and everything is perfect, the sensations I feel eating this are amazing! My lungs would suddenly feel relaxed and I’m able to breath. Flu? No problem. All the junk from my sinuses would expel like Hoover Dam.
I don’t feel bloated either because most of what I consume is liquid. My whole body enters this clean, transcendent state, toxins flush away.
You begin to question the nature of reality when you start adding deep fried rice flour dough.
The legend goes the the two halves represent the couple that defamed the Southern Song Dynasty general Yue Fei. As punishment, the dish becomes a pun everyone thereafter would say “Fry! Evil Devils!”
Something miraculous happens when you dunk this into the soup, you enter a state of paradox.
It’s crispy and soupy! It’s sweet and savoury! It all becomes balancing act! With each bite of karmic debt accounted for, the universe finds balance.
This is my Chinese chicken soup for the soul.