私以为，一名厨子最重要的素质就是他的味觉，刀功火候都是其次。依稀记得电影《饮食男女》中的父亲本是圆山大饭店总厨，虽然手艺高超，但因味觉退化，美味不再，最终也不得不被迫退休。法国名厨Marcel Boulestin也曾说:“Cookery is not chemistry. It is an art. It requires instinct and taste rather than exact measurements.”
Chen’s 上海-style 葱油拌面* Cōng yóu bàn miàn
A Community Based on Bartering
When I first started to cook noodles for friends, I thought it was quite costly, thus I charged some money for each dish in order to cover up the cost. However, after some careful calculation, I found the cost is no more than 2 kuai for each dish. So I decided to tell my friends there would be FREE noodles every night, just come along and enjoy. However, although I already clarified that the noodles are free, some friends still came along with a bag of milk or a bar of chocolate, or simply offered to help wash the dishes and pots. This is actually what I love about this practice the most. Because we are not paying anyone to do anything — everyone is doing things spontaneously.
No ingredients, just taste it
Many times when my friends were finishing up their noodles, they might ask me how I make the 葱油 or how to cook the noodles. I always say “I don’t know.” It’s not because the recipe is a secret handed down in my family or that I don’t wanna share it. I really don’t know the recipe! Everytime when I make the 葱油, I simply taste it to see if the sweetness and saltiness match well. I always feel that to be a good cook, having a good taste is the most important thing. Great French chef Marcel Boulestin once said that “Cookery is not chemistry. It is an art. It requires instinct and taste rather than exact measurements.” I can’t agree more. If one cooks using an electronic scale, cooking will be less of an art and much less fun.
*Note: 葱油拌面, noodles with self-made scallion oil and soy sauce.
This article was written by Shiyun Sam Chen. Send an email to email@example.com to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Sam Chen