I’m Chinese-Singaporean, my Dad’s side of the family is Cantonese, whilst my mum’s side of the family is Hokkien. Having been brought up in an extended family environment with my grandparents as my primary caretakers, the person who’s had the biggest influence on me is my late Grandma. She was a migrant from the province of Guangzhou in China, and spoke no English. That is until she met my late Grandpa, fell in love, got married and settled into her new home in Singapore. Her English was a bit of a mish-mash of everything, but her cooking style remain firmly grounded in her Cantonese roots.
The taste of food and the style of Chinese cooking can vary depending on where your origins are in China. Szechuan is renowned for their love of spice and flavour, whilst the Cantonese prefer a lighter style of cooking with simple ingredients. The Cantonese are obsessed with their stews and soups. Gran would almost always, prepare a clear soup to accompany a light vegetable stir fry, a meat or fish dish and rice for dinner. She takes a lot of pride in her soups, patiently brewing a cauldron over her charcoal stove. Her belief is that soups always taste better overnight after having the night for the ingredients to stew, soak up all of the yummy goodness from complimentary ingredients and release that amazing aromatic flavour. My favourite is her infamous lotus root with peanut and pork rib soup. I could have that soup for days on end, and it would always taste better on the next.
Growing up next to Gran meant that I’ve learnt a lot of her secrets in and around the kitchen. And I’m now sharing some of those with you in part 1 of this blog series.
Let’s kickoff with the 5 essential ingredients that you’ll be needing to create that perfect Chinese cuisine in the heart of your own home.